Ahhh, January. The start of a New Year and yet another transfer window. Hope for a better year, or continuance of a good year past, dodgy “in the know’ accounts on Twitter and ridiculous speculation in regards to who your club is going to bring in. Isn’t it a magical time?
For many Hammers fans the question is going to be what positions does the club bring talent in for? What had been such a wonderful start of the season has started to fizzle out after losing Momo Diame to injury. With him we had a ball winning midfielder who had no trouble breaking up the play and then taking the ball back down the other end of the pitch.
His knack for a pass made his creativity absolutely essential in every match he played. We have no lack of ball winners in the squad, as many of our lads like to get stuck in for a tackle. But creativity is not something one can just will or train hard to learn. It’s an ability one is born with.
The technical side to utilizing that creativity can be honed, but there is no replacement for the skill and intelligence required to think of the passes others can’t make. This is the first gap the club need to replace. Whether it’s filled in the January window? Who knows.
We certainly don’t lack depth in the middle of the park, as we have a number of talented lads who play that role. So we don’t need a player with all the wonderful qualities of Diame. We need a player who can create, ball winning duty can be left to the likes of O’Neil and Noble.
Even if only on loan til the end of the year, if we can get a creative spark back into the squad prior to Diame’s return we’d do well to snap that opportunity up. A long term deal is certainly preferable but creative midfielders aren’t exactly churned out with regularity and the price is generally steep. A loan player for now with an eye on another free signing of a player with a creative streak in the summer could be what the doctor ordered.
What a wonderful sight it was, in the early months of the burgeoning season, to for once have a rock solid defense. Initial puzzlement over last season’s standout, James Tomkins, being dropped for last season’s disappointment, Winston Reid, was soon replaced by a love for the New Zealand international.
Always willing to get himself in front of a shot and seemingly popping out of nowhere to get a foot in quickly have made him a fan favorite. New, old, boy James Collins return to the club was marked by his best game all season in the opening fixture with his old club Aston Villa. West Ham supporters thought we were in heaven.
Then the cracks started to show and Collins started making mistakes. Inconsistency has plagued the lad throughout his career, preventing a man with the natural size and talent to be a top class defender from ever making it to an elite club. This past Saturday, against Reading, was yet another blunder.
It was the last straw for many. While it’s not completely unreasonable Big Sam was already looking for another central defender for coverage in January, now it has to be a priority in our eyes. We’d be lucky to get someone in the mold of Collins, without the penchant for errors. His experience is invaluable, the sort of thing young players such as Tomkins and Reid can only be served well to learn from.
It may be early days for a Tomkins/Reid partnership in the center of defense, but perhaps Allardyce would be more willing to give it a shot if he has an experienced central defender waiting in the wings in case it doesn’t quite pan out.
If that is going to be the case, perhaps another central defender isn’t the course to take. A EPL quality full back would be a massive pick up for the club. Joey O’Brien does the job, but he’s not the sort of quality we need. Bringing in another, more talented, full back could do a lot of help out not only in defending but also in moving up the pitch.
Finally the last thing we need an improvement on? The club needs to get another striker in. Andy Carroll, while industrious and willing to give 110% any time he’s been on the pitch, isn’t doing the job. We brought him in for goals and he’s failed miserably in that aspect.
Taking Carroll on loan was far from a mistake for West Ham. It was a real signal of intent for the upcoming season, a show of force if you will. No longer was being a bottom of the table sort of squad, eeking out survival, going to be acceptable. The club really wanted to compete and has done so admirably thus far.
But if you bring in a striker and he doesn’t score, it’s been a bust hasn’t it? Carroll, barring a legendary season, was never likely to stick around. So it wouldn’t exactly be sad days to bring in another, permanent, striker to carry the club forward. Whoever discovered Demba Ba is hopefully scouting the lower clubs in France and Germany to find us a scoring machine at this very moment.
Alas, this is all wishful thinking. Seldom as a West Ham fan does one get what they want, which may be part of the appeal of the club. When we have those moments of success it’s all the better. We had an absolutely fantastic transfer window this past summer. May that continue this January.