Tony Hanna's Musings
If rumours are to be believed Manuel Pellegrini will get around a £65 million transfer kitty plus any incoming monies from player sales to spend on new arrivals. Some fans have called for a mass clear out within the squad but I doubt very much whether that will happen – at least to the degree some might wish for. Others, like myself, can see the validity of moving on a more manageable number of players and here are my thoughts on which ones we should keep and which ones we should move on. It is all hypothetical so feel free to agree or disagree. When the window shuts prior to the first game of the season I will follow up this article with one that critiques the present views.
I would keep Adrian. It will depend on the full transfer kitty available whether there is value in paying 20-30m for a new keeper when there are much greater priorities with regard to strengthening the team. We will definitely have to spend some dosh on at least an understudy unless Pellegrini identifies a good loan or a free transfer move in the market. Despite Hart enjoying some of his best years under Pellegrini at City, it would be a huge surprise if his loan deal at the Hammers was renewed by his old boss. Youngster Trott will inevitably be kept as third choice.
Zabaletta still has one year to go on his contract. He is another player who played in Man City’s title win under Pellegrini. It makes little sense to sell at this point of time as even if the manager wants to sign a first choice right back, Zab would make a great back up – keep. I doubt any West Ham fan wants the club to sell Rice but there may be quite a few that would move Reid on given his injury record. However, with a lucrative long term contract in his pocket I doubt very much that he is going anywhere, but we did manage to move both Fonte and Ayew to pastures new in the last window so never say never! I would sell – if the opportunity arose. Players who have hamstring problems, especially later in their careers, will spend more time in “physio room” than on the pitch. Antonio, who will feature later in this article is another player who falls into this category. Ogbonna had an excellent season and will be a keep for me. There is a lot of sentiment for James Collins at the moment and quite rightly so. On a small contract with bonuses for appearances, I would – keep. Based on tweets from ex players in the past few days though, confirming Ginge was let go, I doubt he will be in the equation for next season. Cresswell is an interesting one. He has been poor at full back in recent times but can deliver a good cross and free kick. Since moving next to Ogbonna in a back three he has performed much better and he does seem to have built a good understanding with Masuaku. I am on the fence a bit with “Cressy” but I have my suspicions that the new boss may want to play four at the back and on that basis I would – sell. On to Masuaku and before his indiscretion at Wigan he was fast becoming a fan favourite. Arthur had been in most fans top three picks for HOTY at the time. We missed his drive forward for six matches but he is no left back either and if he is to remain a first team regular under Pellegrini it would probably be as a left sided midfielder – keep. Byram comes under the Reid and Antonio banner – sell.
Noble will not be sold but if Pellegrini spends big on two quality midfielders it could relegate Mark to becoming a fringe player. It will be interesting to see how this situation pans out. Kouyate was one of the first names on the team sheet a few seasons ago but since Payet’s departure his performances have become inconsistent and erratic. There is no doubt he still has the engine but whether he has the ball control and skills required in a Pellegrini midfield is doubtful. There is still a good fee to be had so – sell. Pellegrini’s arrival will almost certainly whet the appetite of fellow South American Lanzini. In an advanced role behind Arnautovic, and when fully fit, it is an exciting combination. Keep. Mario’s loan deal is now over and if we can get the player on another loan deal, or buy at around 20-25m I would – buy. Young Fernandes is another who missed much of the season with injury. We did see what a good player he could become in the match at home to Southampton, but there have been too many other games where he has not delivered. He still makes a good squad player – keep. Obiang is another who has had injury problems over the past two seasons. Fit and at his best he is ok, but is he really at the level we need to be if we want to become a top ten team? I doubt it –sell. Antonio is bordering on the midfield or the striker section. I was excited with his arrival from Forest after seeing his rampaging runs, tearing apart Championship defences. We have seen some cameos of the same at West Ham but too often he has been played out of position. Right back or right wing back exposes his defensive weaknesses and whilst he scares the death out of centre backs when he has played as a striker, his finishing and final ball options are often poor. He reminds me a bit of Ayew in that – ‘what really is his best position’ – and for me it is wide right of an attacking three and I doubt we will ever play that formation. Given he would command a good fee and taking into consideration his hamstring problems –sell. Robert Snodgrass has been on loan at Aston Villa and I would be surprised if West Ham knocked back any acceptable offer considering certain unwise twitter comments that were made public earlier on in the season. Sell.
Forwards This will be interesting! Arnautovic, our top scorer and HOTY is an obvious keep. I doubt too many will disagree. Hugill is one of the strangest signings since Savio. Good judges I know who have actually seen him play more than late substitution roles tell me his control and first touch is to put it mildly, not that good. Perhaps he was a security blanket signing should we have got relegated, I don’t know. Whatever we can get for him – sell. Now to the two players who will probably cause the most disagreement between our readers. Andy Carroll. We all know his injury record and we all know how good he can be at his best. The much maligned striker only has one more year of what was initially a very lucrative contract to run. He will be a free agent after this next season and I would suggest any suiter’s would have to cough up around 10-15m should they want to buy during this summer window. This really is one I am on the fence with but at a push I would – keep. Hernandez is probably one that will divide opinions even more. Right from day one I was one of the few that doubted he would be a success at West Ham. I wrote the same in an article at the time and even made bets with fellow fans that he would not achieve goal targets. Yet some fans believe he is the best striker we have had in years and it was down to Moyes and Bilic not playing him in the right position or system that saw him have a season he would like to forget. In reality, in today’s PL is he ever going to be anything more than a super sub? That is what football is often all about – opinions. My opinion is –sell. I doubt either Carroll or Hernandez will be happy at the thought that they probably won’t be automatic starters next season. It was doubted that the latter would stay at the club because of this and he would push for a move but under Pellegrini I think it more likely that AC may be sold and Hernandez be assured of more game time. I watched a youtube clip of Pellegrini the other day and he stated that he believed that there were three things he needed to install in the players minds at clubs he managed. One of those things was to make all players in the squad realise and accept that they all had an important role in the team, even if they weren’t being selected. All the players need to believe in a common goal, where everyone feels important. The video is below.
Youngsters Oxford and Burke are ones where I would grab any reasonable fee we can. The former’s attitude appears to be a problem and the latter needs to be moved on for the good of his own career in my opinion. Cullen, Haksabanovic, Browne and Quina will most likely be given more time as squad players and it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for Samuelson and Martinez. In my “sell” choices there are only two players who played regularly in the second half of the season, Cresswell and Kouyate and I would imagine we would get around 30m for the pair. Senior players who either spent too much time on the bench or in the physio room could command up to 65m. They were Reid, Obiang, Antonio and Hernandez. Out on loan player Snodgrass may fetch 10m. Fringe players and youngsters in Byram, Hugill, Oxford and Burke could possibly collect 25m. I doubt all those players mentioned would be moved on, but if they were Pellegrini’s 60m transfer kitty would be bolstered to around 190m to buy around eight or nine new players. Considering that I would imagine we would also still be looking for a few loan deals and possibly some “frees”, I reckon our new manager has got a good platform from which to work from.