Let’s get one factor abundantly clear from the off.
Wherever West Ham end within the Premier League this season, it has been a beautiful marketing campaign that has seen the membership take monumental strides in the precise route.
David Moyes, fairly rightly, will take the lion’s share of the plaudits for turnings issues round on the London Stadium, and virtually actually will probably be in with an opportunity of profitable Supervisor of the 12 months come the top of the season.
He would most likely win it as properly, have been it not for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis profitable 15 video games in a row to leap from eighth on the flip of the 12 months to Premier League champions elect within the area of two months.
However for all the nice within the east finish – and searching again at 2020/21 with West Ham tinted glasses on, there’s been loads of it – there’s a feeling that the membership’s fledgling European dream is sloooowly slipping away.
Again-to-back defeats towards Newcastle and Chelsea have come on the worst potential time, and there is now a really actual risk that not solely will Champions League qualification slip by way of the membership’s fingers, a jaunt into the Europa League may too. Even the Europa Convention League may elude Moyes and co, ought to Everton maintain totting up sudden factors from video games they actually must be dropping.
By way of dissecting why that is taking place, we may go down the rabbit gap of not signing a back-up striker in January or we may delve into questionable staff choice costing West Ham in video games they might have had an opportunity of profitable, had they totally backed themselves and gone for it.
However happening these two avenues can be a myopic tackle what’s a broader, but altogether less complicated problem.
West Ham have accidents all around the store and, taking a look at it objectively, they do not have the squad depth to deal with it.
Yep, the Hammers’ journey to Burnley subsequent Monday is now a must-win recreation of their seek for a tour of the continent, just because accidents to key gamers are crippling the Hammers (there’s additionally some severely sh*t officiating doing the rounds within the Premier League, but the less said about the better).
Now, granted, the point about a lack of depth could immediately circle back round to why West Ham did not sign a proper backup to Michail Antonio in January.
But doing that would overlook some of the extenuating circumstances. Namely, good players aren’t available for good prices in the winter window, and chucking bundles of money at a striker for the hell of it really wasn’t a good idea given the club’s appalling track record of signing strikers circa the last decade.
Furthermore, it’s not just up front where there’s a lack of resources at West Ham – so it may actually have been wise to withhold spending money for the summer window, particularly as nearing £30m was committed to signing Said Benrahma from Brentford (a figure that now, with the benefit of hindsight, looks very, very steep). Jesse Lingard was also available on loan, so.
Truth be told, a lack of quality cover in pretty much every position is why the Hammers were fighting tooth and nail against relegation last season, and is exactly why there has seldom been any kind of sustained push for a top six finish for, well, ever.
In terms of the current playing squad, if you’d have asked any West Ham fan who the club couldn’t afford to lose to injury, it’s a dead cert guarantee that Declan Rice would have been top of at least 95% of people’s lists. Tomas Soucek would also have been a name thrown into the mix, and it’s likely you’d have heard calls for Lukasz Fabianski, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell and the aforementioned Antonio, too.
With out these gamers accessible, the tough (really it is not harsh, simply true) actuality is that West Ham have not acquired the expertise (as in, good, good gamers) in reserve. That is no slant on those that are on the periphery, it is only a reality (for those who’re pushing for a prime six end, which West Ham are).
Mark Noble, as a lot as he is cherished, adored and worshipped, is not going to interrupt up play and canopy the bottom to wherever close to the extent Rice does, neither is Ben Johnson going to capably present the identical degree of creativity down the left that Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku can.
It isn’t private, it is simply not going to occur.
There’s solely so many gaps that may be plugged with no knock-on impact, and it’s miles larger than Noble is available in for Rice and Johnson is available in for Cresswell/Masuaku. When Rice would not play, Soucek is not as efficient (as a result of he would not have the licence to pile ahead) and when Cresswell would not play, the standard of diagonal lengthy balls in behind dramatically reduces (impacting the effectiveness of Jarrod Bowen) and West Ham’s risk from set performs reduces.
Cresswell has probably the most assists of any Premier League defender this season, by the way – that is a huge miss.
Now all of this is not to say that West Ham cannot obtain the seemingly unimaginable. They will, they usually nonetheless would possibly. This 2020/21 season is like no different, and what we have now seen from Moyes’ staff is an unrivalled spirit, work ethic and urge for food to rock the Premier League’s conventional ‘prime six’ apple cart.
However for it to occur, the likes of Rice and Cresswell have to get match asap and the notion that West Ham have the ‘best run-in on paper’ should be forged to at least one facet. Champions League qualification can be unbelievable, Europa League qualification can be juicy and, hell, Europa Vauxhall Convention (regardless of the sodding factor is known as) qualification can be actually, actually good – however a win towards Burnley is a should, or West Ham’s magical season might not get its fairytale ending.
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