With Everton’s 96’ goal against Southampton, safety was assured for West Ham United, who spent some time in the relegation zone while teetering near 18th for the bulk of the season. With David Moyes replacing Slaven Bilic, the squad looked fitter and more focused for spells, but regressed to their previous shaky form, bowing easily to top sides while needing last minute heroics to salvage points against bottom sides (and let’s not forget the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Swansea). West Ham enter a summer of severe uncertainty, a manager with an expiring contract, a wanted man in midfield (who may only increase his value with a good showing in this summer’s World Cup) and a defense that is, at best, leaky.
With all of that out of the way, it did not necessarily have to be this way. West Ham lost a crazy amount of points from winning positions this year (conceding in the 93’ against Bournemouth on Boxing Day being one of them). This comes down to squad mentality and, again, defense. Both of these can be fixed this summer, but it is up to the Board to ensure the team is ready to make a run at the top half. (Remember when we were supposed to be challenging for a spot in the Champions League? We need to crawl before we walk.)
It starts at the top. This is not an article to discuss the future of David Moyes, but it is a major factor in the club’s next steps. But let’s redefine what the top could mean, starting with a Director of Football, which is rumored to be in the cards. A Director of Football could mean a change of fortune for a club and would potentially soften the blow of a new manager, whoever that may be. The concern is that a prolonged search for a new manager, should Moyes be let go, is player recruitment would take a backseat. While the same could be said about both a new director and a new manager, getting the club hierarchy settled straight away needs to be a top priority. If the Board want to keep Moyes, so be it, just make it known right away, if they are going to let him go, they better have a replacement lined up immediately. If there is going to be a director of football, appoint him early to steer transfer policy and to be in sync with the manager. For a club that always seems just a touch dysfunctional, this would be a huge step and send the right message to the (disgruntled?) fanbase.
In addition, whoever ends up in charge needs to address the defense. We cannot rely on Winston Reid and James Collins coming back into the side to save us, we need new recruits and/or Reece Burke needs to get a shot. Getting younger and more athletic in the back line is a must, just look at the impact Declan Rice has had on the side. Bringing back both Burke and Reece Oxford (who actually may want to stay in Germany, which would be a major blow) could inject pace into a defense and midfield that looked out of gas and out of sorts one too many times this year.
What we do this summer will give us a clue into how we are all going to be feeling at this time next year. Could we be comfortably mid-table or will we again be leaving it to the penultimate weekend to ensure safety?
What’s it going to be, Mr. Chairman?