It has been alleged that our would be saviour, Carlton Cole, has returned with disappointingly lows levels of fitness.This has been stated on Jack Sullivan’s twitter account and, it would appear, that the club are now looking at other free agent options. It may be that Carlton Cole trains at the club, to work on his fitness levels, and the club will review his situation in due course. That could mean bringing in another free agent, who presumably managed to maintain his fitness levels at an acceptable level.
There is no more to say about Carlton Cole’s situation for the time being, lets just see what happens on that front. So who else might be in the frame to join? I am sure that there are a number of formerly highly regarded strikers, well past their best, on UEFA’s free agents list. However, there is another interesting possibility being discussed on the Hammers blogosphere. Apparently, 27 year old Romanian international Ciprian Marica is still looking for a club and could provide a possible solution.The former Shaktar Dontesk, Stuttgart and Schalke striker is 6ft 1in and can play as a target man, a second striker and even out wide. And that is a versatility that may appeal to Sam Allardyce. In terms of goal scoring prowess, he is not prolific. Marica has to date scored 68 goals in 330 league and cup appearances, an approximate 1 in 5 ratio. However, his strike rate improves at international level, where he has scored 21 goals in 61 appearances for Romania, roughly a 1 in 3 strike ratio.
Marica’s contract expired at Schalke last July. He is a former team mate of Razvan Rat at Shaktar and a current colleague in the Romanian international squad. Perhaps that link might be instrumental in brokering a deal. In the summer. the player was linked with a move to Arsenal and there has been prior interest in him by such European big hitters as Lazio, Inter-Milan and Marsailles. He could do a job deputising for Andy Carroll, in terms of leading the attack, but he does not appear to be the type of prolific goal scorer that we need. Still, he may be worth a contract, if his personal terms are acceptable. And at this juncture, he is probably one of the better centre forward free agent options one there.
There are other reports this morning that West Ham are also interested in signing another free agent, ex-Chelsea defender Khalid Boulahrouz. The 31 year old defender has recently been released by Sporting Lisbon and is allegedly known by the somewhat disturbing nick name of ‘Khalid the Cannibal!’ He was signed by Jose Mourinho in 2006 for Chelsea but struggled to convince, failing to dislodge their favoured centre back pairing of Terry and Carvalho. It does raise the issue of whether he would fare any better with us. With Reid, Collins, Tomkins and Chambers in the squad do we even really need him? Perhaps Sam Allardyce wants extra defensive cover in the aftermath of Diarra’s injury? Whatever the case, he is likely to come in as cover and it begs the question whether the deal is justified in terms of the best use of allegedly limited resources.
So, we finished our transfer dealings early did we? If that is true, why is the club now seemingly looking for possible striking options in the bargain bins of European football? Because they need to, because they know that our strike force is much the same as last season and that it previously fell short of expectations, especially in away games. It needed upgrading with the addition of a good quality finisher and we ultimately failed to do that. A fit and in-form Andy Carroll can change things if he avoids last season’s recurring injury absences. But it is a fine line to tread and we need back up options. The club need to find an option(s) that will suffice until January, when hopefully things can be put it right.
The club should do itself a real favour and allocate the funds to land Jordan Rhodes in January. Although it might prove difficult if he maintains his hitherto prolific strike rate for Blackburn Rovers. We should have signed him from Huddersfield Town and also this summer. Hopefully it will be third time lucky in January. It is amazing that a striker with his goal scoring record has not yet attracted any top tier interest. And it says something about the prospects of home grown talent in the overseas player obsessed Premier League. The Club must also ensure an early clear out of some of the fringe players to facilitate one or two new signings. Who knows, if the club start planning the transfer business now, they might just get it right come January!