The GoatyGav Column
I was quite excited when Andy Carroll joined West Ham. At the time I felt like we were beginning to punch above our weight bringing the England striker to the club. Maybe on a higher level still Dimitri Payet was another example of a forward that raised the bar within the squad. You could argue that both players, during the time they spent on the pitch, were excellent value but, for different reasons, it’s not necessarily just about the minutes that they actually end up playing.
In the case of AC I think you can probably see where I’m going with this. Having played so few games for us Carroll, sadly, could never be described as having provided decent value for money. Over six full season the Geordie target man played only a hundred and twenty-six games. Regardless of the fee paid by the club his wages alone meant that his contribution of thirty-three goals in those matches, in all competitions, turned out a poor investment. Should he have played more often it might have been a different story however.
I think it’s safe to say that most West Ham fans were saddened by how things ended up with Payet. One aspect of his time at our club that I do find interesting was Slaven Bilic’s ability to get the best out of him. I’m not so sure that Dimitri doesn’t rue his move away from West Ham. It’s my firm held belief that he enjoyed his best football whilst with us in East London before things went sour and that, in no small part, owes to Slaven’s tutelage and management. All things considered you’d have to say that he was tremendous value for money for the club despite his signature song now being dedicated to a piece of claret carpet.
The value of a signing is influenced hugely by how much a manager can get out of a player. Looking back at Alex Ferguson’s time at Manchester United you would have to say that he was a top level manager when it came to motivating his playing staff. In the main Sir Alex’s recruits were not stellar signings. Quite often I was surprised that particular players were brought in at Old Trafford during his reign. Considering the likes of Schmeichel, Solskjaer, Bruce, Evra, Stam and Irwin the value for money was phenomenal but even the, already, highly rated, recruits like Ronaldo, Cantona, Rooney Cole and Van Nistelrooy reached their potential under the expert guidance of Alex Ferguson.
Part of this ability to eke out the best in players is the, deep rooted, knowledge of exactly how those players are going to fit in to the team and the qualities that they’re going to bring to the side. It’s a form of footballing intelligence that some managers seem to have in spades while others struggle with. Another aspect of the eventual value brought in by a player is the attitude/mentality they possess. In the case of Alex Ferguson this was as important as the player’s skill. How the player is going to apply themselves when they do arrive at a club is never a given but clever recruitment will ‘play the numbers’ to give the best chance of a favourable outcome.
Of course the chances of succeeding with player signings increases hugely with a manager’s ability to improve that player. Some top managers are masters of this. Pep Guardiola and Ferguson were both prime examples of that ability where others like Jose Mourinho have been more about top signings slotting in and doing a job.
Had Andy Carroll have signed for Manuel Pellegrini the Chilean manager may well have managed him better. It’s a hypothetical argument, I know, and we’ll never know but it’s certainly true to say that some gaffers know how to get the best out of their players and things may well have been different for Wor Andy. Andriy Yarmolenko, despite being a different type of player, will hopefully be the beneficiary of MP’s ability to get more out of players than previous managers at the club. Given time, and If he can just avoid any further breakdowns, he may prove superb value.
I’m confident that we have a manager at West Ham who falls in to the category of those who get more out of their recruits. It’s not always an instant hit. Sometimes players coming to the club take time to settle in to a side after a period of adjustment. At times last season the challenges that certain situations have brought Pellegrini have proven difficult but the professionalism with which he’s handled those situations, coming out the other side with players still contributing to the team, has been both admirable and favourable to other gaffers at West Ham in the past. Whoever we sign this summer I have faith that the manager will have applied all of his expertise in identifying as players with a high probability of delivering for us on the pitch. He’s one of those with that kind of savvy so in Manuel I trust.