Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Truth Behind West Ham's Drab Season


For West Ham fans the 2016/17 season was a frustrating campaign, with the title crushing win over Spurs and the Cup victory over Chelsea the highlights. While there are a number of explanations - adjusting to a new stadium, another harsh run of injuries to key players, the lack of pace in midfield - undoubtedly the main problem was in attack where none of their forwards managed to make double figures.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall with the panic signing of World Cup penalty comedian Simone Zaza after efforts to lure the likes of Carlos Bacca or Michy Batshuayi came to nothing. Thereafter, an impotent Hammers attack laboured away to limited effect with Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio the main lights in what was a drab offensive campaign. 

As usual, Andy Carroll popped up with a few decent strikes and an overall decent strike rate of almost a goal every third game - which was our most potent scoring percentage per game. When twinned with his contribution in terms of general physicality and at both attacking and defensive set pieces, it's hard to not be lured into continuing to hope that he will find a consistent run of fitness. However, it's fair to assume that Andy cannot ever be relied upon as our principal starting striker as he only managed 110 appearances in five seasons at the club.

Similarly, after a tremendous start to his career at the club, Diafra Sakho has succumbed to sustained injury problems and has been almost constantly absent for the past 18 months. With squad numbers at a premium, it's hard to justify having so many injury-prone forwards on the books (and Daniel Sturridge seems unlikely to improve matters!). As such, either Carroll or Sakho need to leave this Summer - Carroll is the more consistent performer but his wages are considerably higher. The outcome will tell us something important about how cash rich we really are!

Otherwise, the departure of Jonathan Calleri comes as no surprise but perhaps what confused some fans is that he was started ahead of Ashley Fletcher for the final half dozen or so games of the season? Andre Ayew seemed to find form after his early injury setbacks but is clearly not the natural poacher that the club need if they are to push into the top half of the Premiership next season.

As for developing talent, for all the talk of Toni Martinez being the next big thing, he endured a disappointing spell at League One Oxford, while Jaanai Gordon fared no better at League two's Newport County.

The bottom line is that we need to invest in at least two top class strikers this Summer.

NOTE to Messrs Sullivan and Gold: Top class players are rarely available on loan!

Let the transfer games begin!!!


 

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