Tony Hanna's Musings
Last week I gave my thoughts on the blog that a win against Bournemouth could influence the Board to keep their transfer powder dry in this January window. The extra buffer an additional two points would have provided may have allowed us to play a stronger eleven than what will now, in all probability, be selected for the Wigan cup game. However, with just one point gained on the weekend together with fresh injury concerns, David Moyes focus may have shifted back to adding a player or two to his depleted squad. With three games in eight days looming again, two of which are six pointers, I think the team for the Cup game will now have a strong influence of fringe and U23 players. The latest injury news suggests Lanzini will be out for at least 6 weeks and Arnautovic a minimum of three. Isn’t it just our luck that as soon as we start to see a brilliant attacking partnership develop we lose both players to hamstring injuries? To make things worse Andy Carroll is missing again and is likely to need surgery, there is the mystery injury to Antonio and together with an unreliable Sakho our attacking options are becoming quite limited. Even Ayew missed squad selection on the weekend due to injury.
On the bright side I thought our first 25 minutes against Bournemouth saw us play some of our best football for quite some time. The interchange of passing and one touch stuff was very easy on the eye. But as is often the case if you don’t convert your ascendancy into goals the opposition normally find a way to get back into the game. The visitors certainly finished the stronger and a point apiece was probably a fair result. David Moyes has suggested that Joe Hart will get his opportunity again this season and I do wonder if the England keeper were to have a good game at Wigan, whether he may be in the running to take over from Adrian in the PL team? There may be an argument that Adrian was at fault for the Bournemouth goal, or at least he should have done better. Personally, I would like to think that Adrian deserves a bit more of a go – I really don’t see Hart being at the club next season. Mind you, I was very disappointed to see Adrian flicking the ball up in the air before volleying away when being pressed during Saturdays match. It smacked of old bad habits returning and the sort of antics that I am sure will not go down well with our current manager.
One thing that did go down well, with me anyway, were some comments from Mark Noble a week or so ago in a Daily Mail interview. “I’ve known these people since I first came to the club. I want the very best for this club. I make sure, out of the players’ bonus, every staff member shares in that bonus. We can’t do it without them.” Mark was referring to the back room staff at the club and even the chef and Shirley in the kitchen. Now he is a very good player but I wish Mark was as good a footballer as he is a bloke because we would have a Messi or Ronaldo on our hands. It is lovely to see some good old fashioned values still exist in a game where greed more often grabs the headlines nowadays.
So, onto the bookies updates. It has been a much more difficult window to try and predict than usual – especially as nothing has happened for us so far! The winter window markets are always less reliable than the summer window markets and this year it seems even more difficult. My own view is that if we are to persist with a January window it should be reduced to a much shorter timeframe. The biggest argument for a winter transfer window is so clubs can buy replacements to cover long term injuries in key positions. If a two week window was in place I am sure the same deals would still get done but with much less of the hassle and uncertainty it brings to many clubs. I know deals can be complex and hard to do, but I am sure they would still get done if the alternative meant the agent misses out altogether!
Relegation The bookies seem to think we are safe and have us at 14/1 (6.67%) for relegation with ten other teams more likely to go down than us. Those odds may well tighten up on the back of our latest injury news. As for player transfers;
Andre Ayew is an even money chance (50%) to join old club Swansea. He has had a mixed spell with West Ham and one of the problems is where does the player fit or more pertinently, what is his best position? With our current injury problems I doubt we would entertain him leaving unless we had another striker lined up as a replacement. The market does suggest that a deal may be on the cards though.
Javier Hernandez – ditto above regarding a suitable replacement, but there has been money for Chico to move to Besiktas. He is still 1-3 (75%) to remain a Hammer.
Jonjo Shelvey is now odds on to stay with Newcastle. The current price of 2/1 (33%) for the move South does suggest a deal could still be done though. If rumours are to be believed the player would welcome the switch but the Geordies would want to sign his replacement first.
Michy Batshuayi is at 9/1 (10%) to join West Ham from Chelsea and this deal looks dead in the water now. I think any real chance of that transfer happening was on the back of Carroll going the other way.
Two players who are rumoured to be possible targets but are not listed with the bookies are Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario and Leander Dendoncker from Anderlecht.
A note to our Australian readers. The Wigan cup tie is being shown live on Foxsports ch1508 ESPN