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Striker Deficiency: West Ham's long history of underwhelming signings

Looking back at six years of (mostly) bad forwards signed by Gold and Sullivan, while the club cries out for new blood up front

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West Ham United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

With Simone Zaza’s departure from West Ham, the club have gotten rid of yet another unproductive striker. The problem is bigger than the Italian; Diafra Sakho’s November 27th goal against Manchester United was the first time a claret and blue striker scored this season.

To his credit, Zaza readily accepted the blame for his futility in front of goal this season and recently left the club after recording zero league goals in eleven appearances.

Since Davids Gold and Sullivan took over the Hammers in January 2010, they have signed 33 forwards; who have provided 131 goals in 705 games. A 0.19 goals to games ratio! The same as Carlton Cole over his entire career. We might as well have just stuck with Cole for 6 years.

Manchester City v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Like most transfer windows, Hammers fans are eager to secure a talismanic striker to lead the club to glory with 20+ goals per season. Judging by history, this is extremely unlikely to happen.

Let’s take a look back at every forward Gold and Sullivan have signed; many of these names will bring back fond nostalgia for the Zaza era.

2009/2010 Season

Final Position: Premier League – 17th

Benni McCarthy (Signed for £2.5million from Blackburn, January 2010)
11 games - 0 goals

The first signing of the Gold and Sullivan era came with a lot of promise after proving a dependable striker for Blackburn. He finished the 2008/09 season with 28(10), but was disappointing in the first half of 2009/10 - 14(1).

He was still deemed worthy to lead our impotent attack and contributed zero goals over the next two seasons for West Ham.

Mido (Signed on loan from Middlesbrough, January 2010)
9 games - 0 goals

Another January 2010 signing who didn’t score during his time at West Ham. Upon signing, Sullivan admitted that Robbie Keane was too expensive to sign, but boldly proclaimed:

“Then we have Mido. It would be one of the most amazing deals of all time. He doesn't want to be known as a 'has been' of English football, so he was willing to come here to play for a nominal fee, just £1,000 a week."

The most enduring memory of Mido’s time in claret and blue was a pathetic penalty miss in a 2-2 draw with Everton.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ilan (Signed on a free transfer, January 2010)
11 games - 4 goals

Of these three January signings, only Ilan contributed anything up front. His 4 goals in half a season made the Brazillian our fourth highest scorer of the campaign.

Unsurprisingly, West Ham only managed a measly 35 points that year. Luckily, we were the fourth worst team in the league and avoided relegation.

West Ham United v Wigan Athletic - Premier League Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

2010/2011 Season

Final Position: Premier League – 20th

Frédéric Piquionne (Signed for £1m from Lyon, July 2010)
54 games - 8 goals

Summer 2010, saw new Hammers boss Avram Grant sign the frustrating, Frederic Piquionne to lead the line. In an important January match with Everton, the Martinique international scored in the 86th minute to make it 2-1. He promptly got a second yellow card after taking his shirt off during the celebrations. The match finished 2-2.

Did I mention that we came bottom of the Premier League that season?

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Victor Obinna (Signed on loan from Inter Milan, August 2010)
25 games - 3 goals

Fans of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 will remember Obinna for his amazing stats, Top Speed 92 and Acceleration 91.

They will also remember how things fell apart whenever Obinna was asked to shoot, cross or pass. Welcome to West Ham United 2010/11.

West Ham United v Nottingham Forest - FA Cup 4th Round Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Demba Ba (Signed for £680,000 from Hoffenheim, January 2011)
12 games - 7 goals

Ba’s 7 Premier League goals were the lone bright spot of a soul-crushing season. He scored twice on his full debut against West Brom, as the Hammers fought from a 0-3 half time deficit to salvage a 3-3 draw.

Sadly, it wasn’t good enough and West Ham sold Ba to Newcastle after the club was relegated. He formed one of the most entertaining strike partnerships in recent memory with Papiss Cissé. What could have been.

Paul McCallum (Signed for £64,000 from Dulwich Hamlet, January 2011)
0 games - 0 goals

Signed from non-league Dulwich Hamlet, MacCallum was farmed out on loan until his eventual release at the end of the 2014/15 season.

Robbie Keane (Signed from Tottenham on loan, January 2011)
9 games - 2 goals

With West Ham firmly on the bottom of the table, the desperation signing of 30-year old Keane didn’t achieve the desired result. The washed up Irishman scored on his debut, but managed just one more league goal afterwards.

He was most likely a double agent from Tottenham who was sent to sabotage the rest of our season.

West Ham United v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images

2011/2012 Season

Final Position: Championship – 3rd (Promoted via PlayOffs)

John Carew (Signed on a free transfer from Aston Villa, August 2011)
19 games - 2 goals

The ghost of John Carew signed for West Ham as a free agent. By this point his career could be summarised with this Zlatan Ibrahimović quote:

“What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”

Surprisingly, I was quite excited for this one, Allardyce had just joined the club. I thought a proven big man would suit the Allardici style; but Carew was clearly on the way out and retired at the end of the season.

West Ham United v Middlesbrough - npower Championship Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Brian Montenegro (Signed on loan from Deportivo Maldonado, August 2011)
0 games - 0 goals

Paraguay Under 20 international Montenegro played once as a substitute in the FA Cup and was never seen again.

Sam Baldock (Signed for £2.75m from MK Dons, August 2011)
23 games - 5 goals

Ahh Sam Baldock, such promise. West Ham signed the 22-year-old and he had a decent season in the Championship. However, Baldock struggled to fit into Allardyce’s route one style of play and was eventually pushed out of the team by Maynard and Vaz Tê.

West Ham United v Blackpool - npower Championship Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Nicky Maynard (Signed for £1.7m from Bristol City, January 2012)
14 games - 2 goals

Another highly anticipated young forward who signed for the Hammers but failed to live up to expectations. Maynard lacked a true end product and was sold to Cardiff after six months.

Ricardo Vaz Tê (Signed for undisclosed from Barnsley, January 2012)
51 games - 15 goals

Vaz Tê was crucial to West Ham’s promotion from the Championship and contributed 2 goals during the playoffs. Most notably scoring the winning goal against Blackpool in the Playoff Final at Wembley Stadium in the 87th minute. One of the most important goals in the history of the club.

West Ham United v Blackpool: npower Championship - Playoff Final Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

5 years later and Blackpool are in League Two. Who knows what could have happened to West Ham had we not won?

10 of Vaz Tê’s 15 league goals came in the Championship; he never reached true Premier League quality and was sold in 2014.

2012/2013 Season

Final Position: Premier League – 10th

Andy Carroll (Signed on loan from Liverpool), August 2012 then (signed permanently for £15m, June 2013)
89 games - 26 goals

The marquee signing of 2012, Carroll is key player for West Ham to this day; recently scoring the best goal at the London Stadium to date.

Unfortunately, injury has hindered much of Carroll’s time at West Ham. We still hope for a full season of fitness from the big man, because Andy Carroll can be an unstoppable force.

Chelsea v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Modibo Maiga (Signed for £4.5m from Sochaux, June 2012)
34 games - 4 goals

I didn’t understand Maiga. Was he a striker? Was he a winger? Judging by his play, he was neither of those positions. Sadly, due to Carroll’s many injuries, it was often left to Maiga to spearhead the attack. Typically with mediocre results. The club shipped him off to Saudi Arabia at the start of the 2015/16 season.

Wigan Athletic v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images
Sean Maguire (Signed from Waterford, January 2013)
0 games - 0 goals

Maguire was never given a chance in the first team and returned to Ireland in 2015.

Wellington Paulista (Signed on loan from Cruzeiro, January 2013)
0 games - 0 goals

Paulista got everyone’s attention after he signed by announcing:

"I am coming to England to prove to everyone that I am one of the best strikers in Brazil and to get better and better."

Paulista was named on the bench for a couple of games, but that was as good as it got him.

Marouane Chamakh (Signed on loan from Arsenal, January 2013)
3 games - 0 goals

West Ham secured out-of-favour Arsenal striker Chamakh on loan. Everything looked great. People overlooked the fact that the Moroccan had only scored once in the past one-and-a-half seasons. Unsurprisingly, he was a total flop for the Hammers with zero goals in three games.

In December 2013 he scored the only goal in a 1-0 Crystal Palace win against West Ham, which I still haven’t recovered from.

West Ham United v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

2013/2014 Season

Final Position: Premier League – 13th

Danny Whitehead (Signed on a free transfer from Stockport County, June 2013)
0 games - 0 goals

Whitehead’s sole appearance came in the devastating 0-5 loss to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup in January 2014.

Mladen Petrić (Signed on a free transfer from Fulham, September 2013)
3 games - 0 goals

A noteworthy Croatian international who arrived at West Ham with great expectations. Petrić was at the tail end of his career and failed to hit the back of the net. Can you see a pattern emerging?

West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images
Carlton Cole (Re-signed on free transfer, October 2013)
49 games - 8 goals

After being unceremoniously released by West Ham in summer 2013, a dearth of striking options forced the club to re-sign Cole to a short-term deal in October. Ever the professional, Cole ignored his poor treatment from the club and re-established himself as one of the more consistent members of the team.

As many strikers failed at the club, it was left to Cole to carry the attacking burden, to varying degrees of success. But he always gave it 100% and we loved him for this.

West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Marco Borriello (Signed on loan from Roma, January 2014)
2 games - 0 goals

The experienced Italian joined the Hammers on loan. His seven international caps promised big things, but he failed to score in his two league appearances.

Jaanai Gordon (Signed from Peterborough United, January 2014)
0 games - 0 goals

Gordon still plays West Ham, but doesn’t look likely to make his way into the first-team. He was an unused substitute in that distressing 0-5 loss to Forest; and has spent the majority of his time on loan since then. Probably still trying to forget.

2014/2015 Season

Final Position: Premier League – 12th

Mauro Zarate (Signed on free transfer from Velez Sarsfield, May 2014)
22 games - 5 goals

The temperamental Zarate had some good moments in claret and blue. Regrettably, clashes with Allardyce caused the Argentine to be sent off for an unsuccessful loan spell to Queens Park Rangers in 2015.

With Bilić taking over, Zarate was given another chance and scored the first goal of 2015/16 campaign, in the Europa League. After 15 further appearances and 3 goals, Zarate was sold to Fiorentina in January 2016.

Wellington Phoenix v West Ham United - Football United New Zealand Tour 2014 Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images
Diafra Sakho (Signed for £4.25m from Metz, August 2014)
46 games - 16 goals

The Senegalese striker hit the ground running in England and became the first West Ham player to score in six consecutive Premier League games. He was less prolific after this and only added four more goals in the 2014/15 season.

The 2015/16 season saw the striker only record 5 goals in the league. Sakho is plagued by injury woes which have caused the striker to miss much of the current season too.

Bristol City v West Ham United - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Enner Valencia (Signed for £12m from Pachuca, July 2014)
54 games - 8 goals

Valencia was brought to West Ham after an impressive World Cup for Ecuador; upon arriving he said that most of his knowledge of the Hammers came from hooligan films like Green Street.

He suffered from a case of the Sakhos, whereby he started strong and faded away in the second season. Valencia is currently on loan to Everton’s bench.

Swansea City v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

2015/2016 Season

Final Position: Premier League – 7th

Nikica Jelavić (Signed for £3m from Hull, August 2015)
12 games - 1 goal

Jelavić underwhelmed for West Ham, managing just one top-flight goal. He now plays in the Chinese Super League.

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Emmanuel Emenike (Signed on loan from Fenerbahce, Jan 2016)
13 games - 0 goals

The Nigerian striker arrived on loan and was total rubbish. His only goal for the club came in the 5-1 spanking of Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup last season.

Blackburn Rovers v West Ham United - The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

2016/2017 Season

Current Position: Premier League – 12th

Simone Zaza (Signed for £5m loan fee from Juventus, August 2016)
8 games - 0 goals

Zaza is the fourteenth Gold and Sullivan striker to never score a league goal for West Ham. Despite his embarrassing penalty miss at Euro 2016, the club invested in the Italian on a loan to buy arrangement.

If Zaza made 14 appearances for the club the deal would become permanent, but the striker fell out of favour at the club and was sent back to Juventus.

West Ham United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Toni Martinez (Signed for £2.4m from Valencia, July 2016)
0 games - 0 assists

The 19-year-old was signed from Valencia and has been placed in the development squad. We are big fans of him as he has been scoring for fun in the U23 side. The Spaniard has recently started training with the first team. Please let him be good. *crosses fingers*

West Ham United v Norwich City: Premier League 2 Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Jonathan Calleri (Signed on loan from Deportivo Maldonado, August 2016)
6 games - 0 goals

Signed on loan after Argentina’s Olympic football team were knocked out of the tournament Calleri had a lot of potential. The glowing reputation from this homeland didn’t translate and the striker is firmly out of favour after scoring zero goals.

Ashley Fletcher (Signed for £700,000 from Manchester United, July 2016)
12 games 0 goals

21-year-old Fletcher appears to have a promising future ahead of him after he impressed last season on loan at Barnsley. He recorded his first goal for the club at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup quarter final.

Manchester United v West Ham United - EFL Cup Quarter-Final Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Andre Ayew (Signed for £20.5 million from Swansea City, August 2016)
12 games - 1 goal

Ayew’s West Ham career got off to a nightmare start after he was injured 35 minutes into his debut. Since his return, Ayew has been slowly coming into form and finally got off the mark on Boxing Day against Swansea. Perhaps he can only score goals at the Liberty Stadium?

A cool penalty scored in the African Cup of Nations for Ghana will hopefully give him confidence for when he returns to West Ham.

Swansea City v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

For those keeping track, that’s 16 of the 33 forwards bought by Gold and Sullivan that have never scored a league goal for West Ham. 48%!

Half way through another January transfer window the are fans crying out for a 20 goal-a-season-striker; I think the odds of this materialising are slim. To avoid more disappointment we should brace ourselves 2/3 mediocre nobodies to be signed instead. Better to accept the grim reality than get our hopes up

Read more from Jack Kavanagh at Culture Hash