In a season of mediocrity, no player was as mediocre as Havard Nordtveit. The Norwegian international doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, but he doesn’t really have many strengths either. Nordtveit, it seemed, was always close but never quite good enough. Despite his struggles, many fans would have liked to see more of Nordtveit. He only started 11 games in the league, and considering the injury and form issues that other midfielders suffered, there’s a decent argument to be made that Nordtveit deserved more chances.
Arriving after 6 successful seasons in Germany, the signing of Nordtveit on a free transfer looked like a shrewd move by West Ham. A regular starter for Borussia Monchengladbach, Nordtveit was known as a versatile player, capable of starting across the backline and the midfield. West Ham fans expected a calming and professional presence. A technically adept player to compliment Mark Noble’s guile and Cheikhou Kouyate’s athleticism.
It would be harsh to say Nordtveit was a failure. It would be too kind to call him a success. Instead, he was just sort of there. Nordtveit often disappeared from games, picking the simplest pass and the lowest risk option. Mixed in with there were some big mistakes and a few very good performances.
One of the big criticisms of Nordtveit is that he doesn’t always make flashy contributions to the team. With that in mind, I think fans were a little this season. Havard might not be a game changing player, but his calm and passing ability is still quite useful. Nordtveit’s struggles are not really his own fault. Rather, they’re the result of a team that’s lacked substantial midfield drive. Nordtveit is a decent player who would be best served by playing alongside a few strong partners in a midfield three.
That said, like the rest of of the team, Nordtveit simply wasn’t good enough. A player of his pedigree simply has to perform better.
Highlights and Lowpoints
Highs: Helping the team to safety against Everton and Stoke
After the 2-2 draw against Sunderland, West Ham looked set for a relegation battle. Stuck at 38 points, with a run of difficult games until the end of the year, fans were getting nervous. A rash of injuries allowed Nordtveit into the lineup, and despite fears of fans, Nordtveit played a key role in helping secure two crucial results. A pair of 0-0 draws, against Stoke and Everton, showed an impressive defensive solidity, and this was in large part due to Nordtveit’s performances.
A humiliating 5-0 loss and a dreadful team performance was underlined by an own goal scored by Havard. The hapless Norwegian was deployed at Right Back and he simply couldn’t compete with the speed of Manchester City’s attack. The result was so embarrassing it saw Nordtveit dropped for several months.
Nordtveit’s future depends on the investments West Ham make over the summer. If any new signings come into the midfield, it’s tough to see him staying. Considering recent reports link him with a move back to the Bundesliga, the only thing standing between Nordtveit and an early exit could be finding a replacement.
That said, I think it would be a mistake to sell Nordtveit. It was a difficult season for him, but Nordtveit has the ability to be a very useful player, especially if West Ham switch back to a three man midfield. With added depth on the back line, Nordtveit will have time to settle and perfect his game alongside Kouyate and Obiang. He’s too talented a player to throw away after one bad year.