From dark horse challenger to relegation candidate was a short journey for West Ham, who are fighting for their life just above the relegation zone.
It has been a rough season for the East London club, with Manuel Pellegrini sacked by December and a familiar face David Moyes hired to do what he had already done once before – save West Ham from relegation. This time Moyes took on a longer term contract and plans to remain in charge for at least one more season. Perhaps that in mind, Hammers made some interesting moves to finish the January transfer window.
West Ham have had issues with injuries throughout the season and potential key players have seen little action other than treadmill. Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini, not to mention Jack Wilshere have all spent time in the sidelines because of the injuries and it’s not like Hammers would be soaked in quality anyway. There are of course several problems in the squad, namely the defense overall, but Moyes took a practical approach in January and fixed what he could with what he had.
Hammers managed to acquire three players in the January transfer window – and all three were very much needed. After no.1 keeper Lukasz Fabianski got injured, the downhill slide started. Roberto Martinez couldn’t catch a beach ball in the net and 3rd string David Martin was barely an option, although he did keep a clean sheet against Chelsea and Southampton. Moyes picked up former West Ham keeper, Irish national team workhorse Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough. Fabianski still carries the heavy load, but Randolph gives a decent backup if needed.
Another issue has been the center of the midfield, with only Declan Rice and Mark Noble available for any defensive duties. Pablo Fornals has shown some promise, but is too light for defensive duties and likes to play higher up. Moyes’ answer to the issue was Tomas Soucek, the most valued player in Czech top tier and Slavia Prague. Soucek commands the midfield in the center, was a captain in Slavia and has also scored 8 goals in Czech league. He did also score in Champions League against Dortmund and Inter. With 24-years of age, Soucek is already an established player and gives West Ham an excellent backbone in the middle of the field.
To complete his window, Moyes was still in hunt for an attacking player, who could compliment the lone striker Sebastian Haller. Jarrod Bowen of Hull City was caught on the radar after scoring a hefty 16 goals for the struggling Championship side. Bowen’s pace and skill in the offense was “too good” for Championship level, but it remains to be seen if he can reach his potential in the EPL. The 23-year-old will slot in nicely either just behind Haller in the forward role or to the right flank, where he has caused the most havoc previously.