The S J Chandos Column
Will Moyes target 'grafters' in the January transfer window?
Another winnable away game, another defeat at Watford! While the work rate looked to have been raised, we continue to play like a collection of individuals. Indeed, if you look at our squad and that of Watford there is no comparison in terms of the quality. Yet if that talent is not deployed and anchored within a strong team context, it is invariably wasted. The difference is that Watford looked like a team, played like a team (running, fighting and covering for each other) and were tactically well set up by their manager to do a tactical job, which they accomplished very well.
As I stated in a previous article, it was admittedly difficult for Moyes not to be able to work with his players away on international duty until a day or two before the match. In addition, we were also depleted by the injury absence of crucial players like Hernandez, Ayew and Antonio. But enough excuses, Watford is gone and dusted, as we all turn our attentions to this Friday’s home match against Leicester City. We still have the matches to get away from the relegation zone and the sooner we discover winning ways the better. This Hammers manager and squad of players should be able to avoid a relegation struggle with ease, but they have got to start finding form and consistency. In order to do that Moyes, Pearce, et al, need to drill organisation, work rate and consistency in to the players and build heightened morale and team spirit. Get those things right and the obvious talent in the squad can start to come to the fore and results will hopefully improve.
However, I have to say that there is something fundamental about the balance of this squad that concerns me. And I think it could be that there is not a sufficient balance between what we might call the ‘artists’ and ‘artisans.’ We all know about the famous West Ham artists, such as Brooking and Devonshire, and their starring role in successful Hammers teams; but what about the artisans that did the donkey work and won them the latitude to weave their magic. I am talking about the likes of Billy Bonds, Patsy Holland, Geoff Pike, Mark Ward, Peter Butler and Neill Orr. Do we have a enough of that type of player, who will run, tackle and cover and free creative players like Lanzini and Arnautovic to maximise their impact in the final third? Perhaps that is why Moyes is supposedly targeting an all-action player like Harry Arter, of Bournemouth, in the January window. In an effort to re-balance the team and inject more graft and hard running in to the side.
One existing player that we really do need back is James Collins. We need his experience and 100% commitment to the cause. Similarly, it is possible that Fernandes could be drafted in to midfield and give us more back bone in that vital area. While Obiang needs to get back to his best form and start shielding our defence better than he has hitherto done. What we also badly require is for Antonio to get fit and back to his very best. We miss his physical presence and menace in the final third. We fans can make these points all day long, however, (fortunately or unfortunately?) we now find ourselves totally in the hands of Moyes and his staff and they are the ones who must ‘crack the whip’ and build cohesion and togetherness in the squad. I guess that this is where Stuart Pearce will have a particular role to play in the coming weeks.
These are very troubling times at the club and it is going to take gigantic effort and leadership to turn this team’s fortunes around. It can be done, but all the coaching and tactical instruction in the world will be useless unless we have players ready to fight for the cause when they cross that white line. The current squad need to prove that they can do that ahead of the January transfer window. Regardless, it is likely that Moyes will be looking at adding players with battling qualities to strengthen the spine of the team when the window opens.
Lets just hope that a revival is well under way well before then and that makes all of our lives a lot easier!