As ever the transfer rumour mill continues to spin and, while we are being linked to some exciting players, inevitably some of our better players are bound to be touted for moves away from the club. Given the progress the club has made coupled with the fact that most Premier League teams can demand substantial fees if the big boys come sniffing, we are in a strong position. For the record, I firmly believe our young French defender who had an impressive debut campaign in England will not depart this summer, and the club which has supposedly registered an interest are a very unattractive proposition unless players want ridiculous wages.
As I’ve stated in previous posts, Pellegrini and Husillos are working hard to improve the team and we are starting to create a very interesting side. Only time will tell how we get on, but it’s a compliment to recent acquisitions that teams are interested in our players.
I was wracking my brains this week in terms of what I could write about, and I was partly inspired by my six a side game on Monday evening. For those wondering, we won 4-2, and our opponents were slightly older with a couple of players not in peak physical condition (think Benni McCarthy, Neil Ruddock, or Brian Dear even further back). However, they are an experienced and organised outfit who attempted to sit deep and counter attack. It was interesting to have a lot of possession of the ball and have to break a team down; it can be frustrating but clearly you have to remain patient. I thought that my team’s experiences on Monday might not be dissimilar to what West Ham might encounter next season…
Quite a few teams in the lower half of the table playing at the London Stadium next season will be content to sit deep (some deeper than others) and try and punish us on the break. Some teams can do that to great effect, other teams such as Sheffield United, Burnley etc might not provide a potent threat on the break but will try to make it extremely difficult in the final third and rely on set pieces. With the arrival of 23 year old Pablo Fornals combined with the likes of Anderson, Lanzini, Wilshere and Yarmolenko, we have an abundance of forward thinking creators who will be integral to breaking teams down, especially at home. I think Fornals will have the ability to play as an 8 and sit slightly deeper sometimes as well as being very threatening as a no. 10. The ever present Mr Noble is often a progressive passer and will still be useful in us improving and winning more games next season. Even if the man from Canning Town does not feature quite as much, he will remain a great motivator for the squad.
It’s certainly encouraging to hear Pellegrini say he wants to play attacking football, and against the sides in and around us as well as below us, hopefully we can be clinical and consistent. There has been a lot said about whether another holding midfielder/box to box style of player will come in, and I do think we need more support for Rice. In line with us perhaps experiencing more possession overall next season, you could perhaps argue that more emphasis will be put on scoring goals and Rice will be entrusted with more responsibility. However, I’m sure Pellegrini is already considering his tactics for the opening day against the reigning Champions. We can’t afford to be naive otherwise we will leak goals not only to the elite teams but teams across the board.
There will be more pressure on us as we add better players and, at home, you always want to see wins but at the very least a team of eleven players putting in 100% effort while ideally playing attractive and free flowing football. If the club is to progress next season, consistently getting results against lesser sides will be crucial, and being able to do that whilst not always playing brilliantly is key. In the words of the rock group ‘Bachman–Turner Overdrive’ and their 1973 song, West Ham must be ’Takin’ Care Of Business’ against teams on a more regular basis.
With a Premier League winning manager at the helm and a very efficient Sporting director working together to push us forward, expectations should start to rise. I believe Fornals is a fantastic addition and he should excite fans while also improve the team and create serious competition for places. I hope to go to more games next season and, much like the six a side fixture where we had lots of the ball, I shall tell myself to follow the advice of Take That in having a little patience, pray the goals will come and we can rule the world…
Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.