West Ham Transfer Roundup: The Window To Watch

With little action to report we dwell on the gossip, rumour, blather and insinuation of the transfer window.

With less than seven weeks to go before the season opener, and with the imminent start of pre-season training, my confidence for the new campaign has descended to lower basement level along with the old paint pots, spare lawn mower parts and unopened gym equipment.  Any hopeful notions that West Ham would pull off a succession of inspired signings and get them on board for a full pre-season have rapidly evaporated.  Had the requirement been for cosmetic changes to a mostly functioning squad rather than a much needed overhaul of playing staff then the lack of early activity might not be so worrisome.  No news, in this case, is certainly not good news.

Mostly probably the scarcity of news is making me paranoid as, to date, the transfer window has been dominated by big talk of huge transfers rather than actual deals being struck.  Moreover, if some of the numbers being quoted are to be believed then you won’t be getting much for less than £20 million this year as the full effect of the new TV deal kicks in with a vengeance.  The most significant news of the past week has been the appointment of Mauricio Pellegrino at Southampton and the impending appointment of Frank de Boer at Crystal Palace.  Both are ambitious moves and throw in big spending Everton, a determined Leicester and newly promoted Newcastle and my sense is that, unless something unexpected happens, any thoughts of a top half finish next season are little more than a daydream.

So who are the rumoured signings that can return my glass to its half-full status?

The issue around buyback clauses continues to complicate any deal for in demand striker Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City.  A number of clubs are said to be interested including West Ham, Leicester and Palace.  Iheanacho has an impressive scoring record for City coming on as a substitute and tucking away chances created by de Bruyne and Silva against shell-shocked opponents.  Whether he would be as prolific left up front on his own at the London Stadium remains to be seen; but it seems fairly certain that he will end up with whichever Premier League club is willing to accept City’s terms.

It has been reported that Henry Onyekuru is now in possession of a shiny new UK work permit and is weighing up the various options presented to him by Arsenal, West Ham and Birmingham.  I always understood that work permit application came after a job offer but maybe footballers now have different rules.  Unless Onyekuru is prioritising the opportunity of regular starts over all else then he is most probably Emirates bound.

It is said the Gunners are also keen to bring in Alexandre Lacazette, and that such a move that will prompt the departure of Oliver Giroud with West Ham an oft mentioned potential destination, although Lyon are also rumoured to be showing an interest.  Giroud is a player with a proven Premier League goal-scoring record but, for me, I can’t get past the fact that he will be thirty –one years old at the end of September.  With an already ageing squad and an apparent reluctance to blood youngsters elsewhere in the side this is not a forward looking strategy.

It seems that Arsenal cast-offs are all the rage at the moment and expect to hear about the return of Carl Jenkinson anytime soon.  Until that happens we will have to make do with speculation about battling it out with Huddersfield for Jack Wilshere and a bold swoop for wayward wallflower Theo Walcott.  I have, in the past, been an admirer of the Hammers-supporting Wilshere but don’t believe that yet another injury prone midfielder is exactly what is needed right now, unless the club needs to fulfil an obscure diversity target as part of the London Stadium deal.  Winger-cum-striker Walcott is something of a luxury lightweight, the type of player who regularly does well playing against West Ham rather than for them.  In any case his reported salary is likely well out of our league without causing massive disruption to existing wage structures.  It is wages, more than transfer fees, that sets the big boys apart from the pack and is the very reason why Tottenham will eventually struggle to hold on to their most prized assets.

The Daniel Sturrdige rumours blow hot and cold which is highly appropriately for the player himself.  Lots of talent but hampered by a sulky attitude.  Not ideal when what is required is a team prepared to work their socks off for each other.

Another name to hit the West Ham transfer headlines this week is Yann Karamoh, a teenage striker currently strutting his stuff with Ligue 1 side Caen.  On the face of it, given the current regime’s nervousness with young players, this seems an improbable signing unless seen solely as ‘one for the future’.    With cash rich Champion’s League qualifiers RB Leipzig also said to be in the hunt any interest may be largely academic anyway.

One very creative report I read claimed that West Ham had missed out on a player who, from what I could make out, we were never interested in.  This was former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou who has just moved from Hamburg to Montpelier.  I am not sure whether we are in the market for new defenders (apart from Carl Jenkinson – you heard it here first!) although there have also been mutterings about Nathan Ake from Chelsea.  Ake has had impressive loan spells with both Watford and Bournemouth and now looks set to be yet another profitable sale from the Stamford Bridge trading academy.  If we are actually in the market for a versatile defender then Ake would be a great option.

I have still yet to understand how Reece Oxford is good enough to play for a mid-table Bundesliga side but not a mid-table Premier League side with an ageing back-line.  Add to this the further speculation that Reece Burke will now be sent out on loan for the third season running and the club’s commitment to young players is concerning.   I would much rather see the better academy players developed by gradual introduction into our own first team.  Anyone who thinks that the departure of Havard Nordtveit will open the door for Josh Cullen next season has a very trusting and optimistic nature.

It looks like we will say farewell to Enner Valencia very soon.  I had high hopes for him on his arrival after the 2014 World Cup but he wasn’t really cut out for the demands of English football.  Despite that he would have been far more value at West Ham during last season than the hapless Jonathan Calleri.

Who Will Strike When The Irons Are Hot?

The search for the elusive West Ham striker seems stuck in a Groundhog Day!

Every football club is consistently on the look-out for a top striker.  This is the second successive summer where the pursuit of a regular goal-scorer has been the transfer priority for West Ham.  A hat-full of names have come and gone from the radar without success.  The failure of last year’s recruitment is now history while this time around the same names have been bandied around for several weeks but with no tangible progress and few clues coming from the club.  It is early in the window but we seem to be stuck in a stale striker loop of Batshuayi, Iheanacho, Onyekuru, Giroud and (occasionally) Sturridge.  Now that  Wenger has carved “Arsene ❤ Oliver” on the Emirate’s dressing room door that list may now have become shorter still.  I cannot be alone in wanting to hear news of more enterprising links or, better still, of completed transfer swoops.  Yet even the normally resourceful  ‘In-The-Knows’ have become increasingly desperate in their struggle to bring crumbs of  transfer comfort to the anxious ears of troubled supporters.

There are two main possible scenarios as I see it:

The club have a clear idea of their preferred transfer targets and are working diligently and discreetly behind the scenes to put together the proverbial deals that will turn those targets into signed-up West Ham players.  Such deals may or may not be contingent on the domino effect of other transfers being finalised;

The club are adopting the more commonplace and indiscriminate scatter-gun approach in their search for anyone who might, or has in the past, scored a few goals.  Such targets are weighing up the potential wages, attraction of playing in London against any other better offers that could come their way.

Whichever of these two scenarios (or somewhere between the two) is closer to the truth, the twenty goals per season striker looks just as elusive as ever.  Of course, this is a feat not yet achieved by a West Ham player in a Premier League season where Paolo Di Canio’s sixteen in the 1999/2000 season remains the record to beat.  You have to go back over ten years to find a season where a Hammer scored more than ten league goals in a Premier League season; and back to 1986/87 for the last time a West Ham player scored twenty top flight league goals (Tony Cottee, 22).

It is true that goals are not as easy to come by as they once were, and there are now not as many games in which to score them, but despite this, the twenty goal barrier has been breached seventy times in Premier League history.  Admittedly the top six clubs feature most frequently in the hit list but there are also entrants from the likes of Newcastle, QPR, Sunderland, Blackburn, Norwich, Southampton and Nottingham Forest.

The absence of a top notch striker may not necessarily be such an issue where goals are freely distributed around the team.  Last season, for instance, West Ham netted a creditable sixty-five times in the league (equal fourth highest overall) without any individual hitting double figures.  However, almost all successful teams have at least one prolific goal-scorer.  Then there are forwards who have other attributes in their game and are adept at creating chances for others; players, such as Sanchez at Arsenal, and I’m sure if assists were counted back in 1999/2000 then Paolo would have had earned a fair few to sit alongside his already impressive goal tally.

The undoubted advantage of the clinical striker is evident in those circumstances where chances are few and far between; you will find them converting that breakaway to snatch victory in tight away matches or snaffling the half chance at home against unambitious bus-parking opposition.  Of course, it’s great and makes more headlines for a player to nab a hat-trick in a 5-0 romp but the true value of the best strikers is in nicking points from positions where they looked unlikely.  I have always thought this was where Frank McAvennie just edged out Tony Cottee during the famous ’86 season.  How we would dream to have such a thrilling partnership again nowadays but I guess one striker is a big enough ask and two is just being greedy.

One Man, One Goal, One Transfer Vision?

As the rumours continue to fly in from every direction what is the summer transfer strategy at West Ham?

Ten days into the transfer window and fifty four days to the big kick-off and it’s ‘quiet, too quiet, out there‘. Well, it’s not really so quiet if you continue to follow the hundreds of rumours circulating on the internet but it is in terms of actual done deals. According to the Premier League website only seventeen deals have been completed so far this window with Brighton leading the charge with three in-comings followed by Everton, Leicester and Manchester City with two each. West Ham are one of eight clubs to boast a single new recruit to date.  We are all expecting more activity but other than knowing that new players are needed, particularly in the striker department, is there a coherent plan being out together at the London Stadium?

The early business conducted by Everton and Leicester is interesting given that these are two clubs who, along with the Hammers, will have their sights set on leading the mid-table mini-league that exists below the top six. Both clubs will potentially have high profile departures (Lukaku, Barkley, Mahrez) during the summer and appear to be targeting younger, lesser-known talent as replacements and to bolster their squads. Everton, who have the added distraction of a Europa League campaign (provided they are not outwitted by eastern European opposition in the third qualifying round) have already invested heavily and can thank a ‘buy low sell high‘ transfer policy in the past which has seen big money roll in when selling players such as Fellaini and Stones, in addition to this year’s probable transfers-out income. Over the last five years the gross transfer spending of both Everton and Southampton has outstripped the Hammers significantly and yet West Ham’s net spending is greater than those two clubs combined. It is a real concern that history will once again repeat itself with the club treading water in survival mode through a safety first approach of ageing players of proven Premier League ability.

Nobody likes to think of their team as a selling club but the reality of modern football is that if you have an outstanding talent, either one brought through an academy system or picked up from a lower league, then they are unlikely to hang around for long once the top clubs come calling. Good seasons for Manuel Lanzini or Pedro Obiang next term could well turn out to be their last at West Ham. It is an unfortunate fact of footballing life but one that can be turned into a positive through an effective scouting setup that reinvests the proceeds wisely.

Naturally there is no guarantee that buying young players will result in saleable assets but, as the saying goes, you have to speculate to accumulate. Only time will tell whether Leicester’s purchases of Harry Maguire from Hull and Sam Hughes from Chester turn out to be as inspired as the signing of Vardy.   My assumption is that West Ham do have a scouting network which monitors players in the lower leagues despite the limited success over the years.  My sense is that where any risks are taken it is on young overseas players introduced by agents rather than as a result of those unearthed by our own scouting.  West Ham have had some recent success with the capture of Antonio and Cresswell from the Championship after they had become established players but I can’t believe there are not more gems to be found for those looking hard enough.

The same names remain in the frame as far as the desperate striker search and most don’t come across as particularly promising. Michy Batshuayi doesn’t sound too keen to end his exile on the Chelsea bench by moving across London, the buy-back fee suggested by Manchester City in the Kelechi Iheanacho transfer hasn’t been well received in east London and Henry Onyekuru may struggle to get past immigration. The default option could, therefore, end up as Oliver Giroud and although he is undoubtedly better than what we have now, is he exactly what we need?  I see Giroud as a short term fix to a long term problem, at best, with no sell on value.

Possibly Bilic does have his own vision, reminiscent of the Croatia national team style, where Giroud is nodding and stroking home the numerous chances served up by a speedy wing merchant such as Adama Traore. While Traore clearly showed tremendous energy and potential against an obliging West Ham defence very little finally resulted from it.  His contributions at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa were a largely disappointing and sporadic style over substance. His signing would be a major gamble and there have to be questions as whether West Ham have the patience and wherewithal to develop such a player in a scenario where we have been reluctant to provide opportunities to our own academy players.

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Lamine Kone

In what I can only assume are mischievous fabrications we have also be linked with a number of central defenders, most notably Chris Smalling and Lamine Kone. Last I heard West Ham were planning to send exciting young defenders out on baffling season long loans to Germany for the very reason that we are already well stocked with experienced centre-backs.  Some reports claim that the Hammers are in pole position to sign the Sunderland defender but the only Kone I would want to see at Rush Green is the one that players dribble around in training.

As well as no significant change to playing personnel it also remains as you were elsewhere in the club hierarchy. David Sullivan continues in his role as self-styled Director of Football while Slaven Bilic is still at the helm of team affairs, along with the same coaching staff who struggled to deploy a fit, disciplined and organised outfit for the majority of last season. What was it that Einstein is supposed to have said about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? The one change that I am aware of is Gary Lewin replacing Stijn Vandenbroucke as Head of Medical Services; good luck with that very demanding role, Gary!

Interestingly, a very different approach to pre-season has been announced with the focus on training camps rather than a magical mystery tour of exhibition games; apart, that is, from a proposed morale sapping drubbing by Manchester City in Iceland the week before the season opens. As the rationale for the training camps is to provide team bonding then it would be highly preferable to get any new signings on board in advance. You are only as good as your last training camp and memories are still fresh with the Dubai jolly last February which preceded a five game losing streak. With a clutch of players recovering from injury it is not difficult to imagine a slow start to the 2017/18 season.

Let’s hope that there is a plan out there somewhere and that we will end up delighted with both West Ham’s transfer business and a storming start to the season.

 

You’re Just A Fit Andy Carroll

As the list of West Ham transfer targets continues to grow, Everton show the way with two shrewd young signings.

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.

Matches Made in Heaven: The Fixtures Computer Has Its Say

Next seasons fixtures have been belched out by the computer with just 59 days to go to kick-off.

The Fixture Computer has completed its complex computations, the lights have stopped flashing, all whirring and clicking has ceased and floppy disks have been dispatched to the anxiously waiting media.

True to form, West Ham have been scheduled to play every other team in the league two times during the season but despite this certainty there is plenty of opportunity to agonise over the order of games.

The season kicks-off on 12 August (TV schedules permitting) with a visit to the Theatre of Defeats where Jose will be unveiling several hundred millions of new talent. The following weekend is meant to be a home game against Southampton but as the retractable seating will yet to have been bolted back together after the World Athletics Championships then this match will need to be rescheduled; I assume by swapping it with the Saints away fixture in March 2018.

The first game at the London Stadium will be against relegation fodder, Huddersfield Town on September 9 while they are still in the Premier League honeymoon period of insane effort and optimism. At least the transfer window will have finished by then and all the last minute loans will be in place.  A good start to the season is always welcome as it serves to relieve any early pressure or uncertainty but it would be a surprise to earn such a luxury this coming season. Still there is always the odd early season surprise.

Injuries, suspensions, fixture congestion, cup runs and loss of form are all more likely to impact the progress of the season than the order in which the games are played. Nevertheless, if we do experience a repeat of last season’s poor performances the run-in is not the one you would have chosen; featuring as it does four of the big six (plus Everton) in the last eight games. Fingers crossed that we have accumulated forty points by Easter.

To date it remains pretty much as you were at West Ham and at this stage the Hammers must be regarded as at least a metaphorical twenty points behind in the polls. Never say never, though, and all that is required are inspired signings, better tactics, sharper training, improved fitness and a more objective approach to team selection and we could end up as contenders.

The fixtures in full:

Saturday 12 August

Manchester United v West Ham United

Saturday 19 August

West Ham United v Southampton

Saturday 26 August

Newcastle United v West Ham United

Saturday 9 September

West Ham United v Huddersfield Town

Saturday 16 September

West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United

Saturday 23 September

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday 30 September

West Ham United v Swansea City

Saturday 14 October

Burnley v West Ham United

Saturday 21 October

West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion

Saturday 28 October

Crystal Palace v West Ham United

Saturday 4 November

West Ham United v Liverpool

Saturday 18 November

Watford v West Ham United

Saturday 25 November

West Ham United v Leicester City

Wednesday 29 November

Everton v West Ham United

Saturday 2 December

Manchester City v West Ham United

Saturday 9 December

West Ham United v Chelsea

Tuesday 12 December

West Ham United v Arsenal

Saturday 16 December

Stoke City v West Ham United

Saturday 23 December

West Ham United v Newcastle United

Tuesday 26 December

AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United

Saturday 30 December

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

Monday 1 January

West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

Saturday 13 January

Huddersfield Town v West Ham United

Saturday 20 January

West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth

Tuesday 30 January

West Ham United v Crystal Palace

Saturday 3 February

Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United

Saturday 10 February

West Ham United v Watford

Saturday 24 February

Liverpool v West Ham United

Saturday 3 March

Swansea City v West Ham United

Saturday 10 March

West Ham United v Burnley

Saturday 17 March

West Ham United v Manchester United

Saturday 31 March

Southampton v West Ham United

Saturday 7 April

Chelsea v West Ham United

Saturday 14 April

West Ham United v Stoke City

Saturday 21 April

Arsenal v West Ham United

Saturday 28 April

West Ham United v Manchester City

Saturday 5 May

Leicester City v West Ham United

Sunday 13 May

West Ham United v Everton

The West Ham “You’ve Been Done” Deals

Past transfer performance is not an indicator of future cock-ups!

There is a general consensus that the two transfer windows last season constituted largely abysmal business by the club.   It is hard to disagree with that assessment where the shortcomings were amplified by what was viewed as a relatively successful recruitment campaign during the summer of 2015.

If you were to peer further back through the rear-view window, however, it would not be difficult to conclude that, as unquestionably bad as last season’s incomings were, they were fairly typical of West Ham’s transfer dealings over the years, and that rather it was 2015 that was the exception to the rule of unspectacular recruitment.

According to the information available on the Soccerbase website West Ham have signed a grand total of 224 players (excluding loans) in the years since their first promotion to the Premier League .  An assumption as to what makes a good signing might be where the player has gone on to provide dedicated and commendable service to the club or else has been subsequently sold at a generous profit following a period of development at West Ham.

Of the 224 signings, over half (114) went on to make less than twenty starts for the club and although some may have been considered a gamble for the future this appears to be a damning level of success; recognising that a handful are still on the books and may yet establish solid careers in the claret and blue.  A further forty three players made less than fifty starts while just twenty six reached the milestone of a hundred starts or more.  Three transfer signings stuck around to earn the long service award of 200 starts (Green, Lomas and Sinclair) while the rest of the top ten is made up of the mixed bag that is Reid, Repka, Mullins, Carlton Cole, Etherington, Dailly and Moncur.  James Collins, one of seven players regarded as so good we signed them twice (Bowyer, Hutchison, McCartney, Hislop, Sealey and Feuer) would have made the top ten but his two stints at the club have been treated as separate careers.

Unsurprisingly, West Ham’s biggest money signings have been in the more recent years as transfer fees increased alongside TV and other revenues.  The club’s thirty most expensive signings (again according to the Soccerbase stats) have cost a combined total of £220 million and averaged just over 50 starts each.  Among this select group, five managed to make over one hundred starts (Repka, Upson, Parker, Kouyate and Faubert) while only two of this top thirty (Payet and Bellamy) were sold on for any meaningful profit.

The conclusion that I am left with is one of an underwhelming history of transfer business by the club and one which requires a huge improvement if it is live up to the billing of either the fifteenth or eighteenth biggest club in world football (depending on whether you believe Forbes or Deloitte).  So far our transfer powder has been kept mainly dry this summer as we anxiously news of those done deals.  As eternally optimistic supporters we all hope to dream regardless of the contrary evidence that history has generally delivered nightmares.


A body that calls itself the CIES Football Observatory (part of the International Centre for Sports Studies ) have come up with what they say is a science based algorithm (!) to estimate the transfer value of the top 110 players in Europe’s top leagues, each with a value of at least €40 million.  Their computations take account of factors such as performance, age and length of contract and lead to the conclusion that Neymar (at €210 m) is the current top transfer banana, followed by Alli (€155 m) and Kane (€153 m).  Even more comical entries in the list include Raheem Sterling (€98 m), Eric Dier (€85 m), John Stones (€71 m) and Nathan Redmond (€60 m).  Needless to say, no Hammers appear in the list and there is not even a place among the also-rans for a certain Mr Payet.

Part Two Of The Top Ten West Ham Sick-Notes

Concluding our look at the unfortunate West Ham players whose careers have been blighted by injury.

Today we conclude our look at the top ten players whose potentially sparkling careers at West Ham were cut short, curtailed or stopped before they even really started by the Hammer’s injury curse.  Part One Of The Top Ten Sick-Notes can be found here.

5          Paulo Futre

When he signed for West Ham on a one year deal in the summer of 1996, Paulo Futre was nearing the end of a distinguished career that included a man-of-the-match European Cup win with Porto in 1987.  Originally scheduled to make his debut in the season opener at Highbury he withdrew from the squad at the last minute upon discovering that he had been allocated the number ‘16’ shirt rather than the coveted number ‘10’ that his contract apparently stipulated.  Some days later a swap deal had been arranged with John Moncur; the number ‘10’ for free use of Futre’s villa in the Algarve.  Futre made a substitute appearance (as number ‘16’) at home to Coventry and then his full number ‘10’ debut in an enthralling home game against Southampton at Upyon Park where the Hammers came from behind to win 2-1.  Futre showed same wonderful touches in a West Ham side that included Bilic, Raducioiu and Dumitrescu.  His introduction to English football was completed on the day by a trademark Benali tackle which earned the Saint’s full-back a red card.  Sadly Futre’s dodgy knees got the better of him with his West Ham career fizzling out by November 1996, having played only a handful of games.

4          Diafro Sakho

Signed from French Ligue 2 side Metz, most believed that Diafra Sakho was yet another in a long line of cut price strikers who would be passing through West Ham.  To everyone’s surprise he hit the ground running with a return of eight goals from his first ten appearances, including six from his first six starts.  Sakho then started to experience a run of problems with his back (which may have been a pre-existing condition when he signed) and which led to a dispute between the club and the Senegal national team; this followed his withdrawal from the African Cup of Nations and his subsequent involvement in a cup tie at Bristol City for the Hammers.  He finished the 2014/15 season as top scorer with twelve goals from twenty six appearances.  The following season repeated the pattern with an encouraging start interrupted by injuries, limiting his participation to twenty four matches amid rumours of a fall-out with the management.  Further injuries in 2016/17, whether to his body or his pride, resulted in Sakho turning out on just occasions.  With a relatively creditable twenty goals from his fifty or so appearances it is unlikely that he will be seen in a West Ham shirt again.

3          Dale Gordon

Allegedly the love child of Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, Dale Gordon (or Disco Dale) joined West Ham for a fee of £750,000 in the summer of 1993 as West Ham’s prepared for their inaugural season in the Premier League.  Gordon started his career at Norwich before a big money move took him to Glasgow Rangers where he experienced mixed fortunes with injury limited his contribution to a brace of Scottish Championships and several cup wins.  On joining West Ham he claimed that his injury woes were behind him and secured a place in the record books by scoring the Hammer’s first ever Premier League goal, in a one-all drawn game against Coventry.  Best known for his moustache and fancy step-overs, Gordon played in a run of ten games at the start of the 1993/94 season until injury stepped-in.  In his autobiography, Stevie Bacon claims that although Gordon’s injury was reported as a ‘training incident’ it actually happened when he overturned a buggy on the golf course.  Regardless, Gordon spent most of the next two years on crutches missing the whole of 1994/95 and playing just twice the season after.  He retired from football in February 1997 having played just eleven times in three seasons.

2          Andy Carroll

Until recently West Ham’s most expensive signing, Andy Carroll initially joined West Ham on a season long loan at the start of the 2012/13 season.  Carroll made an immediate impact on his debut, against Fulham, setting up two goals before having to leave the field due to injury.  There was a further long injury lay-off over the winter months and he finished his loan spell with seven goals from twenty four appearances; despite the fact that he had picked up a heel injury in the final game of the season, this was felt to be sufficient evidence for West Ham to offer him a permanent six year deal.  Carroll missed the first half of the next season, returned to action for the run-in but then suffered an ankle ligament injury during the 2014/15 pre-season, once again restricting his game time.  Groin problems during 2015/16 meant that he was again used sparingly, and usually from the bench, but he was able to feature in a total of thirty two games overall.  In 2016/17 it was the knee’s turn to cause him grief, this time restricting his contribution to eighteen starts.  In total Carroll has appeared for West Ham in 110 games over five seasons scoring thirty goals. Although past performance is not an indicator of future results it would be a brave or foolish man that decided to build a team around Mr. Carroll.

1          Kieron Dyer

One of the many players to arrive during the mad Icelandic spending spree in the summer of 2007, Kieron Dyer made his debut for West Ham in an away win at Birmingham before featuring for England against Germany at Wembley just a few days later.  Unfortunately, his West Ham career had peaked very early as a double break to the leg, following a bad tackle in a League Cup tie against Bristol Rovers, kept him out for the remainder of the season.  Rehabilitation was slow and it was not until January 2009, after seventeen months out, that Dyer featured again as a substitute in an FA Cup tie against Barnsley.  A series of hamstring injuries continued to plague Dyer during both the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons where he made a combined total of nineteen appearances but failed to play an entire ninety minutes at any time.  It was more of the same in the 2010/11 although he did finally get to play a full game once more; a two-two draw with West Bromwich Albion in which he earned the penalty, converted by Piquionne, to give the Hammers a temporary lead.  Dyer was finally released in June 2011 at end of a four year spell at Upton Park, where he was reportedly the top earner at around £80k per week, having appeared in thirty five games with no goals.