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By Bulldog Drummond
Last season was West Ham’s 11th in the Premier League since their last promotion from the Championship, and since then they have won the Conference League (last season) and been runners’ up in the Europa League.
But they have only finished in the top ten of the Premier League a handful of times with finishes of tenth, seventh, tenth, sixth and seventh. They also got into the Europa League once by winning the fair play league. So the victory in the Europa Conference League was something to be celebrated last season – although it seemed to come at the expense of their league form. They finished 14th last time around, only 2019/20 was worse since their return to the Premier League in 2012/13.
Of course they do now have a lot of extra money coming in, thanks to the sale of Declan Rice (who had been at West Ham since he was 14) to Arsenal. But it is not clear that they have spent it wisely.
In fact Rice was one of four players they sold last summer and the money gained from that was spread among five players. Indeed despite the massive fee they received from Arsenal for Rice according to Transfermarkt they spent most of it straight away, leaving them with a profit of around £4m when the dealings were finished last summer.
The arrivals were Mohammed Kudus and Edson Álvarez from Ajax, James Ward-Prowse from Southampton and Konstantinos Mavropanos from Stuttgart. The purchases from Ajax (enabled by the financial meltdown at the club which is now bottom of the Dutch league) were fairly obvious ones to make, as Ajax were ready to sell anyone to anyone and West Ham spent around £78m on those two. Ward Prowse cost around £30m and Mavraponos around £18m.
The fact that things have not worked out for West Ham can be seen by the Last Six Games table, which we’ll be looking at once again this season as it proved rather useful in predicting outcomes last campaign. Here are the top six and the bottom four in terms of these last matches.
|17||West Ham United||6||1||1||4||7||13||-6||4|
Clearly things have not been working for West Ham. In broad terms the top six clubs are scoring goals but the bottom clubs aren’t, which of course is exactly what one would expect. But the difference is quite large. West Ham United are in the top half of the table for the whole of the season so far, and have scored 16 goals, but the level of scoring is declining – it is only seven in the last six. Arsenal have scored more than double that number in the last six games.
Meanwhile, the defence is looking like a real relegation defence of late. 13 goals conceded in the last six – over three times Arsenal’s level of conceding goals.
This decline in West Ham’s performance since last season shows us exactly why Declan Rice left – he was pretty much not just captain but the whole team. In simple terms, West Ham was last season a team with an approach which basically meant, play it through Rice. This season West Ham don’t have that approach, obviously and their own option seems to be counter attacking. Since everyone now knows this, they have no surprises. Four wins and five defeats in the last ten league and cup matches tells us pretty much all there is to know.
Worse their run of three consecutive wins came right at the start of the season, after which pretty much everyone seemed to work out what they were up to (which was by and large counter-attacking), and the run fizzled out. They can however still beat Luton and Sheffield United so probably won’t go down.
Most of all however West Ham miss Rice, which was of course why they stuck out for such a huge fee. He had cost the club nothing when he arrived aged 14, of course, was sold for a fortune, but they’ve not been able to invest that money wisely.
Indeed Some were shocked at Arsenal were paying that much for the player. Remember the Express with “Arsenal told they are massively overpaying for Declan Rice …” and “The proof that Arsenal are massively OVERPAYING for Declan Rice” in Football Transfers (there are many more such examples – although it seems rather hard to find any apologies for such ludicrous and inaccurate predictions).
Thus far it looks like Arteta got it exactly right.
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