Apart from the signing of a defender (Pablo Zabaleta) West Ham have yet to make any further signings in this transfer window to date. What are the reasons for this?
None of the players that we are allegedly interested in signing want to come to us? Perhaps we have set our sights too high? The very top players only want to sign for a club that will be competing in the Champions League, or at the very least a team that will realistically be challenging for a place in the top four. They don’t see us as a club in that position. Players just below this level with ambition might want to play in the Europa League at least, or be challenging for a place in the top seven, and they don’t see us doing this either.
The top six clubs from last season will almost certainly finish as the top six next season (albeit not necessarily in the same order), and in addition, Everton have the ambition and seem to attract players who believe that they might be the only club who can perhaps break into this elite group. Have you seen the way Everton have gone about their transfer dealing this summer? At the time of writing they already seem to have snapped up at least half a dozen new players in time for them all to gel in pre-season training, with even more to come. They can work on tactics, formations, and playing together so that they can hit the ground running when the season begins. Other mid-table clubs like Leicester and Bournemouth have already wrapped up some new signings too. Even promoted clubs such as Newcastle and Huddersfield have been successful in the market. Compare that to our position.
We don’t have the finances to attract top players in respect of transfer fees or wages? Given our position in the finance league tables that suggest we are among the top twenty richest clubs in Europe, most fans find this hard to believe. Add to this the increased TV revenues, the sale of Payet, Nordtveit etc. and others that we allegedly want to remove from the wage bill, the financially efficient stadium situation with a very low rent, and other factors, you would have to believe that we do have the money if we choose to spend it. Perhaps, despite all the talk of marquee signings, top quality players that will improve the team etc., the owners don’t really have the ambition to attempt to take us to the next level? However many forget that the top clubs generate huge revenues that are a long way ahead of us (even though we are in the top 20), and can afford to pay massive wages that we just cannot compete with.
David Gold has been at the fore on social media and Talk Sport saying “we have got to find the money”. I listened to his interview with Quinn and Brazil and some of the things he said were: “Without strikers, you struggle in the Premier League. You struggle in any division because strikers are your key players. You have to spend your money wisely but it must be on strikers, particularly strikers that have had experience with Premier League football – the very best we can afford.”
“We have tried the route of going overseas to bring in players – that hasn’t worked. We had a very difficult season because players we brought in from Europe didn’t make the grade and we paid the price. We struggled. We were actually flirting for some time with relegation because we couldn’t score goals. That is why we have got to bring in players with Premier League experience and that is what we are working on now. David Sullivan is working day and night in an effort to solve this problem. We have got good midfielders and a good defence ….”
Whilst not disputing that we do need goalscorers, if you look at last season’s league table we were not flirting with relegation purely because of lack of goals. Only a handful of clubs conceded more goals than we did. If you believe that the defence, and to some extent midfielders are responsible for stopping the opposition from scoring, then perhaps our players in those positions are not as good as David Gold thinks they are.
He also gave the impression that the club have little faith in the Academy players coming through. He quoted the case of Reece Oxford playing a couple of times. It is now two years since Oxford made his debut, and he was universally lauded for his performance against Arsenal. So why hasn’t he progressed from that time? What has gone wrong with his development? Why are we loaning him to a German side who believe he is good enough for the Bundesliga but not the Premier League? I don’t believe that that you can just throw in youngsters in big numbers, but few seem to be given the opportunity.
Perhaps potential signings believe there are other problems with West Ham? Our injury record is poor. Why is that? Our training facilities do not match up to those of other clubs – certainly not clubs among the richest in Europe, and many clubs without our finances have far superior facilities in this respect. Perhaps they don’t like our style of play? Perhaps they believe that the manager doesn’t have a strategy? Perhaps they believe he picks his favourites and shoe-horns them into the team without considering the overall picture? Perhaps they are put off in their dealings with the club when considering a move to us?
The Sullivan family have been very quiet so far. Perhaps they have some tricks up their sleeve, and suddenly we will announce some top quality signings, without shouting about them first? Perhaps all the speculation regarding some of the players we are allegedly being linked with is really a red herring to throw others off the scent of our real targets? Perhaps it is all media speculation? How many of the players who we are apparently interested in will be here next season? Is Andre Gray of Burnley really on our radar? Hernandez? Giroud? Iheanacho? Batshuayi? Does our scatter-gun approach put people off? Who knows anything for sure?
But we can all rest easily! David Sullivan is working day and night! Don’t go to bed! I remember the days when we broke world records to sign players. We certainly weren’t a rich club in those days, but players were keen to come here. Now that doesn’t appear to be the case. This transfer window has the same feel as the last summer window. I hope I am wrong. Let’s hope we can tie up our business in the near future with some decent signings, and not resort to transfer deadline day desperation.