Indecision, Insecurity Derailed West Ham's January Transfer Plans
“We have come to support the club,” Daniel Kretinsky told the Evening Standard days after he purchased a 27% stake in West Ham United, “but – to manage supporters’ expectations – that doesn’t mean spending big in the January transfer window.”
Sensibly, most West Ham fans took Kretinsky, a billionaire from Czechia, at his word. With the Hammers flying high in the Premier League table at the turn of the year, it always seemed unlikely that the club would splash ludicrous sums in January.
However, there was an expectation that West Ham would do something, anything to bolster David Moyes’ squad last month. After all, the London Stadium club were in prime position to challenge for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Now, let me put this unequivocally. I don’t believe West Ham will qualify for the Champions League, nor did I believe they would before the January transfer window slammed shut.
I did, however, hope that they would at least try, given the circumstances.
I’m not angry at West Ham’s total inertia in the transfer market. But I’m incredibly disappointed that ‘not spending big’ turned into ‘not spending at all’.
Indecision Costs West Ham, Again:
As reported by the Evening Standard, Moyes is trying to introduce a new recruitment strategy at the London Stadium. The 58-year-old wants the club to take a more holistic, long-term approach to transfers, making expensive flops a thing of the past.
His vision is admirable.
West Ham, backed by dildo merchants rather oligarchs, cannot afford to repeatedly make expensive mistakes in the market. The same logic should apply to football clubs and gamblers: only spend what you can afford to lose.
However, the Moyes Doctrine is a double-edged sword. It assumes (correctly, I’d argue) that West Ham haven’t taken a long-term approach to making transfers in the past. Implicitly, it suggests the club failed to do its due diligence before signing the likes of Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller.
West Ham have a reputation for making transfers on a whim; Moyes – a manager famed for his caution in the market – is committed to righting those wrongs. Cool, it’s the right thing to do.
Zach Lowy @ZachLowyWest Ham have had one of the most disappointing transfer windows in Europe. Fifth in the league, one point away from fourth, fighting for Europa, and didn’t bring in a single player despite needing depth. David Moyes’ impact has really papered over the ownerships’s cracks.
However, the dial was shifted too far in January – by Moyes, by the recruitment department, by the owners. As I wrote last month, West Ham needed to add players to their squad in January. Not doing so is a total failure – stemming, mostly, from systemic indecision and insecurity.
West Ham’s Inferiority Complex:
It’s worth stressing this point:
West Ham are fifth in the Premier League, strolled into the knockout phase of the Europa League, and could go deep in the FA Cup. Also of note: Declan Rice won’t stick around forever.
However, Michail Antonio is the team’s only centre-forward, centre-back is a weak spot, and Moyes doesn’t have a tonne of depth to call upon. Andriy Yarmalenko, for example, isn’t someone he can trust to make an impact from the bench.
Instead of addressing those issues, West Ham dawdled, delayed, and watched January pass them by. Moyes didn’t trust his recruitment department’s recommendations and wasn’t willing to risk pushing the board to sign the wrong player. So, they signed nobody.
The situation screams inferiority complex. Well-run clubs trust their scouts, one-hit wonders don’t.
Briefly, let’s debunk the ridiculous speculation linking West Ham to Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha.
Firstly, the Hammers entered the transfer window vowing ‘not to spend big’. With Leeds United struggling in the bottom half of the table, signing Phillips or Raphinha would’ve come at a significant cost. Secondly, there isn’t space in Moyes 4-2-3-1 for either player.
To be blunt, this is another example of the club making a token gesture to appease supporters. “Bidding” for Phillips allowed West Ham’s owners to shout “we tried” when, in reality, they didn’t.
talkSPORT @talkSPORT🤦♂️ “This is a standard way of operating by Sullivan & Gold.” 😳 “Who told West Ham #lufc’s Kalvin Phillips was ready to go there?” 📢 “We can all bid on players and let the media know of our ambitions!” Simon Jordan thinks #WHUFC’s board aren't being serious in their bids. https://t.co/zfMFIF3zxi
Frankly, it isn’t good enough.
West Ham could’ve made an impact in January – they simply chose not to. To illustrate my point, here’s a list of acquisitions that went through last month:
Dan Burn, Brighton to Newcastle, £13m
Auston Trusty, Colorado Rapids to Arsenal, Undisclosed
James Sands, NYCFC to Rangers, Loan (with option to buy)
Nat Phillips, Liverpool to Bournemouth, Loan
Callum Chambers, Arsenal to Aston Villa, Undisclosed
Aaron Ramsey, Juventus to Rangers, Loan
Wout Weghorst, Wolfsburg to Burnley, £12m
Daryl Dike, Orlando City to West Brom, £7m
The Hammers didn’t need to ‘spend big’ this winter but they had to do something.
With fixtures and injuries piling up, the second half of the season will be a slog for Moyes and his players. West Ham’s cautiousness will cost them come the end of the season. Truly, it’s a shame.