West Ham have had a difficult few weeks in the build up and start of the season. The sale of Grady Diangana to West Bromwich Albion caused outrage towards the owners from all corners of the club. David Moyes has admitted the unlikelihood of signing James Tarkowski and the Hammers fell to an opening day 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United at the London Stadium on Saturday.
It appears that West Ham will face a season of struggle. Little investment in the team, a poor defence and owners who seem to have their priorities confused could cost the Hammers their Premier League status.
West Ham Facing a Season of Struggle
When an exciting young prospect goes out on loan and proves themselves in the Championship, they deserve at least a substitutes chance at first-team football.
Grady Diangana made 30 appearances in the Championship for West Brom last season. He scored eight goals and set up seven.
But none performed on a consistent basis last season, exempting Michail Antonio who finished the season with 10 goals. Haller’s return of seven goals was poor for an outlay of £45 million. Pablo Fornals and Yarmelenko also underperformed for the potential they possess, only showcasing their talents in fits and starts throughout the season.
Diangana’s return could have kept these players on their toes, or possibly challenged them for the first team places. He would have returned from the Hawthorns full of confidence at the end of last season and West Ham now won’t be able to get the best from his experience. It’s a monumental loss for West Ham as one of their most exciting prospects is now a Premier League rival. To make matters worse, the £13 million received will fall way short of recouping Diangana’s future potential.
The impact of Dianaga’s sale caused division at the club before the season even began with Mark Noble and the fans critical of the youngster’s sale. It was a move dictated by the owners David Gold and Sullivan which should have been more thoroughly considered.
Long-Term Defensive Troubles
It is no surprise Moyes wants to bring Burnley centre back James Tarkowski to the London Stadium. The 27-year-old is a proven Premier League centre-back, makes few mistakes and is the influence the Hammers desperately need.
West Ham only kept seven clean sheets last season, with only relegated Norwich City and Bournemouth recording less (five each). Their 62 goals conceded was also the fifth-worst defensive record across the 2019/20 season.
The individual errors leading to goals is also concerning. Between them, centre backs Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop contributed to six goals conceded through errors. By comparison, Tarkowski made one mistake leading to a goal in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons combined.
A similar story unfolded in the Hammer’s loss to Newcastle on Saturday. West Ham’s 2-0 defeat was their fifth straight opening day loss and they were punished for poor defending and poor finishing.
Andy Carroll‘s towering presence and Callum Wilson’s pace for Newcastle caused problems for Moyes’ side on Saturday. The ease in which the Magpies created a host of chances will be a concern for West Ham. But it was a scenario they were familiar with which makes matters worse.
Rice: ‘It was Poor’
Declan Rice confronted the issues in his post-match interview. Speaking after the Newcastle loss, the midfielder was blunt and honest in his assessment of the Hammer’s performance.
He said: “I don’t think we could have played any worse, to be honest with you.
“It was poor as a team and individually. The manager has said to us that it was such a poor game from us and there is no time to be playing poorly in the Premier League and we found that out last season.
“We started well and then we went through a dip in form and we found ourselves in the deep end and it’s not enjoyable.
“We created some chances but it’s about turning those chances into goals. It was the first game and we definitely wanted to start on the right foot and get the three points but that wasn’t to be. So now we have to focus on the next game.”
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