Tony Hanna's Musings
Last week I was each way on my opinion of whether West Ham should continue with David Moyes beyond this season. I am at the point now where I really hope he gets a new contract. When he was appointed I am sure most of us would have taken 13th and 42 points in a heartbeat? The football we played against Everton on the weekend was delightful and the way Arnie, Lanzini and Mario linked together was hopefully a taster of what is to come next season. But on reflection the advantage Moyes holds now is that he knows the players inside out. He knows what the team can do and what it can’t. He knows where we need to improve and he knows who is surplus to requirements. Get a new manager in now and he won’t know any of this until he has got games under his belt and the likelihood will be that our summer transfer budget will be spent on hopefully the best players we can buy in our budget, but without the knowledge of who we really need to get the best out of the team. So it is a thumbs up for David Moyes from me. Personally, I would keep Adrian as number one next season. To get a top keeper will be expensive and I just don’t see the need when the money is best spent elsewhere. The central defensive midfield role is the top priority and I would also like to see Mario signed on a permanent deal or at least for an extended year-long loan. As for signings, one of the first ones I would try and get done is Craig Dawson from West Brom. He is a quality defender who can play full back or as a central defender.
Back in mid-November when David Moyes became manager I asked in my article for your predicted finishing positions in the league. We were currently 18th in the table. Forty seven of you had a crack and there were five people who correctly predicted 13th. They were; Heedsy, Iron Mike, Milk Man, Dave Innots and Rob who had a cheeky double chance 13th/14th tip. There were a few including myself that missed by one; the others were hammermolder, Hammertime Mikey, Tom, IronFish, Daz and Paul Smith. Peter Jameson was the only one who had us getting relegated which is remarkable considering our plight at the time so I am sure he is very pleased to get the wooden spoon! Thanks to all for having a go.
So, it is goodbye to West Brom, Stoke and Swansea. At the beginning of the season I doubt many would have predicted that trio in its entirety getting relegated, especially with Brighton and Huddersfield in the frame. Which leads me to reconfirm one of my strong view points on relegation matters. I wrote an article a few years ago titled “Is three up, three down fair?” I followed that up this season with a similar piece. Last week I wrote an article “Survival in the League of Fourteen.” For those who missed it that article focused on how the PL has now become two divisions in one. An elite group of six with a separate division of fourteen clubs who are basically playing with a singular goal of avoiding the drop. When I started going to football in the 1960’s there were 22 clubs in the top flight, a league we fondly remember as the old first division. Every season two teams were relegated (9%) and the top two from the 2nd division took their place. The 1960’s through to 1980 was an era where up to fourteen teams every season had some slither of a chance of winning the title when the competition started. In the 23 seasons from 1958 to 1981 there were no fewer than 13 different Champions. I saw Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City all relegated. Forward to today and we now have twenty teams, a reduction of two, yet an increase up to three teams who will be replaced each season. With the elite six having no chance of being relegated that effectively means three from fourteen (21.4%) will drop – quite an increase from 9%. But when you get a season like this one when none of the clubs that were promoted last season have been relegated and none of last seasons relegated teams are promoted back, it effectively means in just two seasons that SIX of the fourteen bottom dwellers (42.8%) have changed. Middlesbrough could alter that stat if they are promoted through the play offs but I hope you see where I am going here? The effect relegation has on clubs is awful. Already we have clubs and forum sites looking at the lists of players at Stoke, Swansea and West Brom to see what players will be easy pickings. This whole scenario is only making this league of fourteen more unstable and the top six are loving it. Their financial stability and growth means they will grow even more powerful at the expense of the others whilst this system is in place.
The transfer news is very thin on the ground at present and I would imagine the decision on David Moyes tenure at the club will play a significant part on any early dealings. Here are some early odds that I am sure will fluctuate over the next week or so.
Manuel Lanzini is 1-2 (66%) to remain at West Ham with Liverpool at 5/2 (28%) for his signature. Looks like this could be a bit of re-run of the winter window, hopefully with the same result.
Joe Hart his future seems as up in the air as it was before he signed his loan deal with the Hammers last year. Celtic are 3/1 (25%) favourites and we are second favourites at 6/1 (14%) which just goes to show I think the bookies are just guessing as much as Joe is at present.
Craig Dawson is 14/1 (6.67%) to join the Hammers with Newcastle and Celtic the early favourites to sign a player who I think would be a great acquisition for our club.
Marouane Fellaini is 7/1 (12.5%) to become a West Ham player although the way the market is framed I think the bookies have as much of a clue about where he will end up as they do Joe Hart.
Shaqiri has a number of clubs showing interest after Stokes relegation and Everton currently lead the pack. West Ham are quoted at 6/1 (14%).
Elsewhere Spurs at 5/4 (44%) are leading the chase for Alfie Mawson and our January interest in him seems to have waned. Antoine Griezmann looks Barcelona bound and Liverpool are strong favourites to sign Jack Butland and Nabil Fekir. Burnley lead a pack of clubs for West Broms Jay Rodriguez whilst Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez could end up at either Man City or Chelsea.