Forgotten Iron may be Rice replacement


Blind Hammer looks at options for restructuring West Ham.

Forgotten Iron may be a Rice replacement

When Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Bobby Moore Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters retired we wondered how on earth we were going to replace them.

The reality is that such great players are rarely replaced with a player of similar mould and standard. The like for like replacement for Brooking has never been seen, Jimmy Greaves was a disastrous exchange for Peters. Clyde Best could never adequately fill Geoff Hurst’s shoes and we had to wait until the brief flourishing of Rio Ferdinand to finally find anything like a successor to Moore. Arguably, we are still struggling to find a goal-scorer to inherit the shoes of Tony Cottee.

Yet teams evolve , find different ways of playing, and can even find success, as West Ham have done in the last two Seasons in Europe.So obsessing about a like for like Rice replacement looks a dead end. We need to recruit in the team, but not necessarily to find an elusive clone for Rice.

If, for example Connor Gallagher was signed he would not be a Rice replacement. If James Ward-Prowse or Maddison were recruited would they fulfil a Rice role? Almost certainly not, but they could all give different strengths and pose different problems for opposition teams.

If we are looking for the ability to shield the defence, intercept and break up play to get the ball to Lucas Paqueta we may already have options for this role, even if not to the marauding current standard of Rice.

Home grown academy product may be Rice replacement option

One option is the forgotten man at West Ham, Connor Coventry. You might think he has fallen like a stone but in fact the Rotherham United Manager Matt Taylor has given rave reviews for Coventry, and has played Coventry in every game since he moved on loan to the Millers.

He said of the midfielder: “I love Conor to bits. He’s been excellent for us. His attitude, his endeavour, his intent, his out-of-possession work and the load got through in a short space of time, We’ve been delighted with all of that.”

He added: “He shows for the ball, he keeps the Millers moving, he tracks back, he competes well, he puts the team first…. He’s been important for us, no question…. He will go back to West Ham in a much better shape, with an understanding of his own game.”

Coventry may not produce defence splitting passes or thrilling runs but he may be able to do a job, allowing a Connor Gallagher, Maddison or indeed our own Paqueta to provide the thrills. He is still only 23 with a developing game.

A similar case could be made for Flynn Downes who is certainly ahead of Coventry in the pecking order at the moment. In all the games I have attended Downes has never let West Ham down.

Yet arguably the player who is the most obvious inheritor of the defensive midfield role is an international player who has performed this defensive midfield role for both club and country at the highest level is Thilo Kehrer.

If Kehrer was not already a West Ham player, I am sure he would now be being touted as a potential Rice replacement, with his record in playing the defensive midfield role at high profile club and country level.

Yet because he has thus far been used as a utility versatile, defensive player across the back for West Ham his skill set in the defensive role seems to have eluded all discussion.

He had an indifferent start but has grown in strength as he has adapted to the physicality and pace of the Premier League. As an interceptor, defensive shield, tough midfield tackler, and man marker Kehrer seems to me to have most if not all of the qualities to players West Ham are currently being linked with across Europe.

Perhaps it is time to look in house and save our bucks for finally setting up the striker power we need to provide the cutting edge in the PL next season.

David Griffith

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My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph.

My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season.

I became a season ticket holder in 1970.

I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle.

I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer


  • Buster says:

    The reason why West Ham are reportedly interested in top level midfielders is that both Flynn Downes (aged 24) and Conor Coventry (23) are not good enough for the Premier League. Downes had one year at Swansea after coming through the youth ranks of League One Ipswich. Coventry, has had similar experience through four loan moves at the same levels.

    Both players need to be moved on in this window.

  • David Griffith says:

    I accept that you don’t rate Coventry and Downs but am puzzled that they are disqualified for success because they come from lower league experience. on that basis we would never have recruited Antonio and Bowen, crucial to our success in recent years, let alone Cresswelll and Saïd Benrahma all of whom were recruited from the Championship. Antonio in particular tumbled right down the football pyramid before clawing his way back up, a better player for that lower league experience. Players like Vardi and Madison all prove that you can develop your game in lower leagues to eventually perform at the highest level. Arguably the Championship is a far stronger and competitive league than most other League 1 setups abroad and players would find adapting to the physicality of the PL less of a learning curve.

  • Buster says:

    David, Conor Coventry and Flynn Downes are not disqualified for success because they came from lower divisions….. but because they’re not good enough. Aaron Cresswell, Michail Antonio and Said Benrahma have all stepped up to the Prem with a fair degree of success. Since their moves to West Ham, Cresswell and Antonio were called up to the full England squad, whilst Benrahma continues to feature for his country. Coventry might one day be picked for Ireland, having played for their U17, U19 and U21 teams, however if he was eligible for England he wouldn’t get in. Downes will NEVER play for England. If West Ham intend to improve and challenge like Newcastle did last season, it won’t be with the likes of Coventry and Downes in their first team squad. Downes is our worst signing since Jordan Hugill.

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