Imagine a typical man and woman going out shopping for a pair of shoes. The man will try two or three shops at the most, find something that is good enough or better than what he already had, before spending the rest of the afternoon in the pub. The woman on the other hand would try every possible outlet, including those that she knows will be too expensive, with a belief that the next place might just have something better. Eventually she ends up buying something she saw earlier in a panic because she had ran out of time. Both of these behaviours can be observed clearly during a West Ham transfer window.
Players that are surplus to requirements at top six clubs would suit the man down to the ground . They have a proven ability (even if no longer good enough for the high rollers), require little effort to find (in fact they may even come looking for you) and are unquestionably an upgrade on the status quo, although with a few notable exceptions that bar isn’t set particularly high. Players such as Smalling, Giroud, Zabaletta, Bony and Hart would make the perfect man purchases. Our woman meanwhile is dreaming of designer labels such as Bacca, Lacazette or Batshuayi no matter how unfeasible those purchases might be – who knows, maybe she can borrow one from a rich friend.
Somewhere between the extravagant dream and the merely adequate is the sweet spot of transfer activity that Everton are exploiting with the recent signings of Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen; moves that reinforces a squad already comprising several other exciting young talents. Their own challenge will be the futures of Lukaku and Barkley and how they respond to their eventual departures , developments that will certainly leave them with a healthy pile of cash to invest on further signings. With a much more progressive outlook, Everton are showing West Ham a very clean pair of heels in the race for seventh biggest club status.
Of all the players so far linked with a move to West Ham during the current window the potential signings of Henry Onyekuru and Kelechi Iheanacho are the most enticing for me; although I have a feeling that they would be far too adventurous for the current board-manager regime and that both will end up elsewhere. Of course, they could well end up being massive gambles as both are still very young and ‘Youtube’ compendiums can be very misleading. A few years back I was very excited about being linked with Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou based on his ‘Youtube’ prowess and then disappointed when he ultimately signed for Fulham. Yet his time at Craven Cottage was a huge disappointment even though he has since been banging them in freely for Benfica.
My personal challenge with a team featuring both Onyekuru and Iheanacho would be in remembering, writing and pronouncing their names, something that was far easier for the average Anglo-Saxon when surnames were mostly single syllable. Old Roy of the Rovers comics would often incorporate a speech bubble device where a supporter at the back of the crowd handily summarised the action for the lazy artist up against a submission deadline. This was difficult enough to believe, without time standing still, when the players involved were Blackie Gray and Roy Race but now it would necessarily cause a rift in the space-time continuum.
The other striking name being bandied about regularly in the media is Oliver Giroud of Arsenal. He certainly passes the better than what we’ve got test but I’m not convinced that he is exactly what is needed. A fitter version of Andy Carroll who has a reasonable scoring record at Arsenal but then again has Ozil, Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain setting up chances for him. In our setup he could well turn out to be John Radford Mk 2 and I would much prefer the club to be on the lookout for a pacier, more mobile front-man.
The sacking by Southampton of Claude Puel shows what a lucky boy Slaven Bilic has been to keep his job. Most likely, Slav had accumulated sufficient brownie points from the 2015/16 season that our conservative board were swayed to give him stay of execution for the time being. I was more interested in reading the various online comments regarding Puel’s sacking which were polarised between Saint’s supporters, bemoaning the style of football/ lack of entertainment served up under his stewardship and, what I took be mostly patronising comments from neutrals (i.e. armchair supporters of big clubs), who suggested that Southampton should simply be thankful for an eighth place finish and were mad to sack him. Sometimes you have to wonder to what degree entertainment is meant to feature for the majority of clubs in the modern game, their part is to make up the numbers and hope for survival if you listened to many in the media.