I sincerely hope that the squad will learn the short-term lessons, galvanize and put another winning run together between now and the end of the season. In the longer term, West Ham must maintain its forward movement as a club. As I wrote on here months ago, the board are duty bound to consider their options where the manager is considered. If a superior manager becomes available (and I assume that they are currently exploring that) they will seriously consider making the change. Whilst there is no point appointing a new manager who is not a significant upgrade on the current incumbent. And I feel that the management situation will ultimately be resolved this summer in these exact same terms. But what I will say is if they can attract the right candidate then I personally would favour change at this forthcoming juncture. Ideally, what I would like to see in a replacement is a manager/coach who can develop the club’s young players as well as operate effectively in the transfer market.
In terms of the playing staff, we must continue to upgrade the squad. We need a new keeper to compete with Adrian, whilst developing the potential of Spiegel and Howes in the longer-term. One of the successes this season has been the effectiveness of our full-back/wings. Jenkinson and Cresswell have been a revelation, this season, and brought a whole new dimension to our play. We must resist any bids from Man City for Cresswell and attempt to land Jenkinson on a permanent contract. The arrival of Stephen Hendrie should give us more strength in depth and selection options; while I would definitely sign another right-back, in addition to Jenkinson, and if Glen Johnson is available on a Bosman, he would be a good addition. That would give us real strength in depth in those key positions. And with the likes of Oscar Borg coming through the Academy the future looks promising.
If Winston Reid leaves in the summer (as looks likely) then we need a top quality addition. Diijk, at Celtic, has been linked with us, but the club almost certainly has a number of other targets identified. The important thing is to ensure that any addition is an upgrade on Reid. It was undoubtedly the right decision to retain Reid for the remainder of this season and, if necessary, secure a replacement who can settle in over pre-season. Encouragingly, Tomkins seems to be realising his full potential and we now have Don Henry, Reece Burke and (the exciting) Reece Oxford in the pipeline; while Collins is probably good cover for another season or two, while the younger players come through. Who knows, perhaps Reid might even confound us and sign a new deal, although that seems unlikely in the present circumstances.
In midfield, Alex Song is a class act and his addition in the summer would send out the right message. Noble has signed a new 5 year contract and Kouyate has become the influential player that I confidently predicted when he signed. Plus there is much more to come from Diego Poyet and hopefully he will figure more in the first team before the end of the season. Controversially (as far as some are concerned) there is an argument that Nolan should see out the final year of his contract, with the proviso that his role is as club Captain and impacting from the substitutes bench. Nolan is a great Captain and influence on the squad and it might be a good idea to keep him for another season. Of course, much will depend on Sam Allardyce’s future, the first team plans of a managerial successor and whether Nolan is happy to see out his contract on that basis? Amalfitano has done well this season (prior to his transgression against WBA) and could be offered a new contract. Similarly, the prospect of finally signing Lassana Diarra is an intriguing prospect. Further forward, it would be good to see another creative play-maker added to compete Stewart Downing. Might we resuscitate our earlier interest in Yevhen Konoplyanka or even go for a promising youngster like Derby County’s Will Hughes?
Up front, there are a number of questions. Firstly, can the club afford to continue with an expensive, injury prone, striker like Andy Carroll? That aside, does he facilitate a style of play that we want to see at the club? Personally, I think if he is fit then he stays, but not as a permanent fixture like under Allardyce. Carroll offers something different and can compliment our other strikers. Ultimately, it will be interesting to see if the Lakaku rumours are true? If so, then it could be that Carroll will eventually make way for him. In terms of our other strikers, we arguably need to retain the services of Sakho and Valencia.