West Ham face dangerous squad issues


Blind Hammer argues that replacing Rice is not the biggest concern.

Most of the transfer talk this summer has revolved around Declan Rice’s departure and any number of candidates for his “replacement”.

However as we stand we are far better equipped to deal with Rice’s absence than other deficits in the team. As I have previously argued we already have in Thilo Kehrer, a proven international who has played the defensive midfield role for both PSG and Germany at the highest level.

Thilo Kehrer a top class defender at his best

Admittedly behind him we only have the promise of Downes, and possibly Coventry to provide some cover. however as it stand Kurt Zouma, with Nayef Aguerd shielded by Thilo Kehrer playing a role that he has proven ability in at international level is not the biggest area for concern.

Recruiting a defensive midfielder is important but other deficits loom far more dangerously for the team.

Specifically if Antonio, as rumoured, heads away from the London Stadium we will be in far more trouble finding a way of playing without him. Problematically his age also means that we will garner virtually no transfer budget to gain a like for like replacement.

West Ham’s weakness in dominating possession would be far more exposed without the combative skills of Antonio to feed off what he himself has described as “scraps”.

We have also, to be frank got away with over using Bowen in the last 2 years. I am amazed he has not suffered more injuries given the extent to which he is physically targeted by oppositions who rightly regard him as our main threat.

This over reliance on the fitness of Bowen for a third season in a row is a gamble we cannot afford to repeat. At one stage, last season, we played him to virtual exhaustion, with no viable cover for his role.

As it stands we have unproven talents in Scamacca and possibly Divin Mubama. Danny Ings, despite his experience, has not convinced that he can adapt to Moye’s requirements. Unless these players really show up in pre-season this is again a gamble strategy which is not viable.

Now it may be that Moyes pulls a rabbit out of the hat, much as he did with Marko Arnautovic and Antonio to convert a wide man into a viable forward.

Candidates for this role do exist. Saïd Benrahma performed this role for Brentford and Cornet has shown he can score a goal, but unless they both sparkle in this adjusted role in pre-season this is again an untested and untried gamble in a season which could define the competitiveness of West Ham for the next decade.

My own view is that it is far more important to target the bulk of the Rice windfall to address deficits at the offensive front end of the pitch rather than the defensive back end. Most specifically this is the area where we have the least wriggle room for taking gambles on unproven foreign recruits. If anything was proven last year it was expecting foreign recruits to adapt from day one in the most competitive league in the world is not realistic.

This argues that we need to recruit at least one, preferably two recruits with proven offensive Premiership quality. A Lingard like player of 2 seasons ago , with proven quality but struggling to get game time at one of the mega rich clubs would be a good fit.

This is the real transfer priority for investing the Rice money.

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