The GoatyGav Column

I don’t do transfer speculation often – generally preferring to reserve my opinions about players until their official signing has been announced on the WHUFC site. As a club West Ham are linked with hundreds of potential new players in each window. The rumour mill, fuelled by pure speculation in most cases, goes in to overdrive. But despite my reticence in commenting on prospective club targets I do think it worthwhile discussing what’s missing from the current squad and areas that are in need of further strengthening.

Since Cheikhou Kouyate and, to a lesser degree Pedro Obiang, moved on the biggest miss, for me, has been a dynamic and combative box to box midfielder. I know that many saw Check as having suffered bad form for a good season and a half before he was sold to Crystal Palace but I thought the wrong player was allowed to leave with Obiang having less impact on games than his Senegalese midfield contemporary. I know that many will disagree however I’m always of the belief that good players don’t suddenly become bad players and the phrase “form is temporary, class is permanent,” is one that I strongly believe in. I see Check’s sale as a mistake, borne of impatience, which Crystal Palace are now benefitting from.

So here we are today needing a ‘beast’ to dominate the middle of the park the way that Check used to. This area is where I believe that the board and team management should be looking to invest as the number one priority. I’ve heard, and seen, a few players identified to fulfil this role and it’s here that I’d like to see your next signing made. Personally I think that attacking midfield is already more than well catered for. If we could just get some of our more gifted manipulators of a football, in those areas, linking up and working better together then much of the excitement that I felt at the start of the season would return for sure.

With the recent, repeated, injury to Ben Johnson we’re also looking slightly light at full back. Now that Fredericks is out the requirement has become more of an imperative. Elsewhere in defence, namely at centre back, I believe that we are well catered for. With the return to fitness of Winston Reid we now have four central defenders of quality who should be trusted to do the job for us. Whether that should be as a back three or as a pairing is another discussion but, with some excellent young prospects like Alese, currently out on loan at Accrington Stanley, and Akinola, having just made a huge impact in his first game back after a year out with injury, this is a very healthy state of affairs at the base of the outfield spine. Which links rather nicely to our third area needing an addition to the squad.

I could feel the collective hearts of our fanbase sink when ‘Super Fab’ broke down again in the game on Friday. David Martin has done well, with the exception of the one mistake made after he replaced Lucasz, however another experienced keeper is needed. Whether Darren Randolph will eventually sign or not isn’t really known. No disrespect but the amount being discussed for a transfer fee I do find quite surprising. Despite all this the good news is that, according to the official site, a scan has shown that Fab may only be out for a couple of weeks. Let’s hope so.

Lastly I think that further striker backup should be sought. Should Seb Haller pick up an injury, and considering he gets kicked up in the air every time he plays this is a likely scenario, we will be looking extremely light. Yes, Antonio can play there and is nearing a return, however he’s really not at all effective up front on his own and I can’t see a starting line-up with him and Ajeti any time soon.

So that’s it IMO. Seventeen more days to make four key signings. I doubt we’ll end up seeing all four positions strengthened but those are the ones I believe are most important. Overall I think we’ll have enough to stay up however that wasn’t what I had envisaged at the beginning of the season. I hope the boys push on and start putting points on the board towards a top half finish.

Away from the first team the ladies thought they’d secured a draw but lost two-one to Tottenham Women. The same score as the reverse fixture but this time the local rivals clinched victory deep in to injury time to take all three points.

Without squad captain Connor Coventry and dynamic winger Nathan Holland the U23’s winning run came to an end with a three-three draw away at Reading. Holland linked up with former Hammer Marcus Browne who’s on loan to Oxford from Middlesboro. With Oxford three-nil down at half time, to fellow promotion chasers Rochdale, Holland was introduced and had a positive impact with Oxford winning the second half one-nil. Coventry was a starter for Lincoln City who drew one all away to Shrewbury. It will be interesting to see how the loanees get on for the rest of the season.

Have a good week all