With a defensive minded manager, and five defenders on the pitch West Ham still managed to allow multiple goals from set pieces and defensive meltdowns. It seems that tactics, training, and formation are not the issue so it clearly is the quality of players. Swansea’s offensive masterclass was merely a microcosm of the player woes West Ham have had to deal with all year.
Adrian earned his time in net over Joe Hart this season. Taking his one opportunity against Manchester City, Adrian provided a performance that gave his defenders confidence. Slowly but surely this has faded since then.
As a Cup keeper on a team with depth and skill to challenge for both League Cup and FA Cup, Adrian would thrive. He would get plenty of game action early in these tournaments, and would then swap game time for game intensity.
Of course, the threat of a quality keeper is always important to keep your starter sharp and looking over his shoulder as well. Adrian could provide that in spades… if his pride would allow it.
A possible suitor as a new starter? There are two trains of thought: a veteran who can take the reigns and settle the squad with his experience (a la Begovic). Maybe Ben Foster of likely relegated West Brom or Fraser Forster of Southampton- both are great shot stoppers with Premier League experience.
Or, a young up-and-comer who is playing to legitimize there career. Should Stoke City get relegated West Ham should go all in on Jack Butland. He will have World Cup experience and is a class player. He can command a backline and is brace when coming out. That would be a next level signing for West Ham.
*honourable mention: Neil Etheridge of Cardiff City
West Ham are in desperate need of a stud on their backline. Angelo Ogbonna has been a revelation for Moyes but if he is West Ham’s best defender they will struggle to move up the table.
Highly touted free agent Stefan de Vrij of Lazio would be other worldly. He is a Dutch international, and a breakout star of Serie A. He would walk into West Ham’s team and add legitimacy too.
Another player who would challenge to start for the team would be Ahmed Hegazi of West Brom. Another player plucked from the corpse of a relegated team, Hegazi is a hard-nosed defender who man marks really well.
The most predictable of the three needed players, the quarterback of the team has been missing. An every game player who control the transition between offence and defence is in dire need.
Whether it is William Carvalho or Leander Dendoncker, both will be playing in the World Cup and would bring invaluable experience to the team. A strong defensive midfielder relieves the defence while releasing the offence simultaneously.
Look at the top Premier League teams: Chelsea have Kante, Manchester United have Matic, Liverpool have Henderson, Manchester City have Fernandinho. They may not all play the specific CDM role, but they provide the services of a two-way midfielder.
The biggest If with all of these needs is IF West Ham stays up. It’ll take a remarkable finish to the season for the Hammers to remain. If they do, it should be a summer with tonnes of movement.