Welcome back to the third instalment of The West Ham Way. You’ll remember at the end of the last post I mentioned that I had a clear vision for Season 2 which meant there wouldn’t be wholesale changes, just a few additions to areas I thought we could improve on.
Improving the Goalkeeping Standard
With Fabianski getting on a bit I thought that now would be the ideal time to start blooding his replacement(s). I had been scouting Wuilker Farinez for some time and as he’s FM20’s Predrag Rajkovic he was someone that I was keen to sign, but with him still being young for a goalkeeper, 22, I wanted to bring in someone else that would bridge the gap between Lucasz and Wuilker, provide cover and bring up the home grown quota.
That cover would come in the shape of Jack Butland, transfer listed at Stoke for £2.5m, 11 caps for England and a ‘keeper that I’ve championed in real life as a good signing for West Ham it was a no-brainer to bring him in as a ‘Backup’ goalkeeper.
Finding that Passing Centre Half
I wanted to find a player that could pick the right pass from the back, you’ll all have seen the defender who panics and launches the ball in to the stands rather than pass to a player 10 yards away from him and that’s what I had been getting from Balbuena. My number one target had been Ferro, from Benfica, he seemed to have everything I wanted and even though we could get Benfica to accept our offers he was reluctant to join the club, despite me spending a lot of times watching him in various games for club and country.
I didn’t have to move out of Portugal to find another player that could fill my requirements, he wasn’t as gifted as Ferro, but he had similar characteristics and the potential to develop him. Plus he was a lot, lot cheaper at £6.25m. Welcome to West Ham, Toni Borevkovic.
Getting Those Wide Receivers
I will preface this statement with this, prior to the latest Match Engine update I was seeing my fullbacks get into positions where they would have more attempts on goal than my strikers so I wanted to see if playing an attacker in those positions would generate a better goals to opportunity ratio. In my mind I wanted lightning fast players and Wenderson Galeno was a player that was instrumental in my FM17 save with Villarreal, with his media description ‘Explosive Winger’ he destroyed teams for fun once I’d given him a chance of first team football in Spain, rather than rotting in the reserves at Porto but alas, times have changed and he’s no longer tagged as an explosive winger and he’s made his way to the exciting Portuguese side, Braga. The beauty of selling clubs is that they often have talented players on low release clauses so £13m was exchanged and Galeno became a Hammer.
The left side wasn’t so easy to find, I’d looked at players like Dwight McNeil, Emile Smith Rowe & Mohamed Fares all of whom were priced exceptionally high for obvious reasons. I then happened across a scout report for a young Dutchman that had come through the Ajax academy but had left for England early on and now found himself an exciting prospect in Germany, Javairo Dilrosun. He had everything I wanted, potential, speed, flair & could cross a ball, but Hertha Berlin played hardball and after a lot of negotiations, monthly payments and add-ons we finally agreed on a deal worth £48m. Pricey.
That, I thought, was the conclusion to my summer transfer business until another scout report landed in my inbox, full of gold stars, a high rating and that little acronym that gets us all intrigued ‘Wnt’. Becir Omeragic isn’t a player I’ve heard of but much like Camavinga I saw an investment opportunity when the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal & Barcelona were interested in him. I can’t say for certain that I’m fully behind the scouts recommendation, but at £14m we took the risk to bring him into the club.
Exit Stage Right
As with every season there will be players coming in and players leaving and this season I wanted to reduce the wage bill and start to move on some of the players that weren’t justifying their wage.
- Manuel Lanzini & Arthur Masuaku both left for Turkey, joining Galatasaray for a combined £21m.
- Ryan Fredericks left to play with Young Boys in a deal that could rise to £8.5m.
- Albian Ajeti’s time at the club didn’t prove to be fruitful so we accepted a £6m deal from Lille.
- Winston Reid never recovered from that injury and the time was right to move him on to Jeonbuk for £4.1m.
- Jordan ‘David Moyes is my agent’ Hugill was shipped out to Hull for £3.5m.
- Robert Snodgrass is a Nantes… player now, I was reluctant to sell Snoddy as he had the ability to play in a number of positions, but the squad depth I had kind of made him West Ham’s version of John O’Shea.
- Felipe Anderson didn’t get a great deal of game time in the system we played and when Manchester United were interested in him I thought we’d be able to move him on for a reasonable fee, but the bid never came. We organised a loan deal to Getafe for the season and we’ll look at what we can do with him next summer.
- Similar to Anderson, there were a lot of clubs interested in Michail Antonio, we’d accepted bids from Villa and Newcastle but on deadline day he rejected them meaning we had no option but to accept a loan offer from recently promoted Portsmouth.
So that’s where we’re up to right about now, we’ve got potential coming in and some expense going out. I was disappointed that we couldn’t move Jack Wilshere on, he’s the only player on above £100k p/w and I’ll certainly be looking to do some business in January to get him out of his contract early.
As I mentioned on Twitter, this is how I see us lining up for the start of the season:
Will it stay like that? Will the wide player experiment come back to bite us in the arse? Will Jack Wilshere turn in to the Messiah? I suppose you’ll have to come back and find out later. Thanks for reading and Come On You Irons!