After £90m+ Was Spent This Summer, West Ham Must Deliver Under Pellegrini7 min read
Last season could not have got much worse for West Ham’s board of directors, as they were the subject of some vitriolic abuse from their own set of supporters at a home game against Burnley at the London Stadium. They might have only just moved into the former Olympic Stadium, but Hammers fans had made their displeasure public early on with complaints over the lack of noise and atmosphere inside.
A consistent protestation from the West Ham faithful has been the club’s lack of spending in the transfer window, instead opting for favourable loan deals or small transfers that makes the club flirt with relegation instead of building upon their Premier League foundation. There has been many summers and January transfer windows where the right calibre of player has come up, but West Ham have either not been able to fend off opposition or simply will not go to such lengths in terms of wages and fees.
However, this summer, something has changed inside the boardroom. With a total spend of £93 million, West Ham were the fifth biggest spenders behind Liverpool, Chelsea, Fulham and Leicester City. In terms of net spend, with the players that are slowly but surely leaving the east London club, it reads as an £81 million investment so far.
Without European football to offer prospective players, fans will be somewhat surprised at some of the players they have signed. Their new club-record transfer, Felipe Anderson, formerly of Lazio, will certainly fit into that category. The Brazilian playmaker has been on the tips of many of Europe’s finest tongues for the past few years, excelling in Italy with the Rome-based club. Anderson has consistently produced over 15 goal contributions in the past four seasons with Lazio.
The former Santos youth graduate will bring a fresh source of creativity and attacking brilliance to West Ham, mainly plying his trade off either the left or right wing. The Brazilian’s ingenuity and goal threat was not on show in the Hammers’ opening game against Liverpool, which was always going to be difficult, but as he settles into Premier League football and the chemistry starts to blossom with his teammates, fans will start to see his true colours.
West Ham have also signed Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Pérez who will help in the attack, while young defenders in Issa Diop and Fabián Balbuena can grow in stature and fulfil their potential in years to come, as well as the more mature Ryan Fredericks. Carlos Sánchez is likely to be used as a back-up midfielder in case of Mark Noble or Declan Rice’s absence, but Lukasz Fabianski, signed from Swansea, will be West Ham’s number one goalkeeper moving forward – the Poland international has been one of the more consistent players in the Premier League over the past few years.
There can be no complaints from Hammers fans over their recruitment this summer after splashing out the biggest sums on transfers they ever have in the history of the club. The next step for Manuel Pellegrini – another summer singing – is to be able to use his powers of influence and pedigree in order to gel this team to become a collective unit, and not a team full of individuals.
It will be near to impossible for any team in the Premier League to challenge the top six this season and break into a Champions League qualification spot, but that last remaining Europa League place will be heavily contested. The likes of Leicester, Burnley, Everton and West Ham will be vying for a seventh-place finish, but it all depends on how quickly Pellegrini can work his magic not only on the training pitch, but also for the players to emulate his demands in a game scenario.
Against Liverpool on the opening weekend, it was always going to be a struggle to break them down and get past their incredibly combative midfielders who love to press relentlessly and high up the pitch. For a newly assembled squad, travelling to Anfield was probably the worst fixture they could have been given to start their campaign. However, what goes around comes around, and the Hammers take on Bournemouth in their first home game of the season – a team they will be expected to beat in front of 60,000 onlooking fans.
The Hammers have five of the top six in their opening nine fixtures, which is cruel by any stretch of the imagination. What is most important for West Ham is the style of football they do play and their need to pick up points along the way to potentially ‘easier’ fixtures. Pellegrini will work his players to the bone and make sure they are not only defensively diligent, but also give them the attacking freedom they desire in order to provide fans with entertainment and find the back of the net.
It is a long season ahead with many twists and turns along the way, but West Ham fans should be optimistic about what the campaign might bring them their way. Whether it be a good run in one of the Cups, or a seventh-place finish, there will be no shortage of emotion and entertainment for those Hammers fans.