Monday, January 24

How West Ham got rid of dysfunction to fulfill its promise to Europe | West Ham United


SSomething strange is happening in West Ham. After years of dysfunction, they have started to make so many sensible decisions that you will want to see if they are the same club that once thought relying on Avram Grant to save them from relegation was a smart move.

The change in atmosphere around London Stadium is remarkable. This time last year, West Ham fans were in arms after Grady Diangana moved to West Brom. Even the club’s captain, Mark Noble, expressed his displeasure and, as a result of a troubled campaign, it seemed that the relationship between the West Ham board and the fanbase was hopelessly severed.

It is true that the resentment that has simmered since moving to Stratford in 2016 has not completely disappeared. Sixth place last season has not eliminated dissatisfaction from West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan and Vice President Karren Brady, which is clear from the plans for a “GSB Out” protest earlier. of the home game against Brentford on 3 October.

Hammers United, the group of fans organizing the march, speaks of the destruction of trust, loyalty and legacy. He’s uncompromising in his desire for Gold, Sullivan and Brady to leave – it’s not about results.

Still, the moment feels strange. The outlook has changed in the 19 months since Hammers United last protested. West Ham was fighting for relegation back then, but now it’s flying. David Moyes has built a committed and talented team and allegations of lack of ambition are hard to justify as West Ham is about to start their Europa League campaign against Dinamo Zagreb at Stadion Maksimir on Thursday.

The reply is that qualification for the main draw of a European competition for the first time since 2006 has come despite the directive. If it is fair to criticize much of what Sullivan and Gold have done since they bought the club in January 2010, it is correct to acknowledge the evidence they are learning.

David Moyes has done an outstanding job since his return to West Ham in December 2019.
David Moyes has done an outstanding job since his return to West Ham in December 2019. Photograph: Jed Leicester / Shutterstock

A lot of that comes down to admitting that it was a mistake not to appoint Moyes at the end of his first term in May 2018. Instead, hiring Manuel Pellegrini was a costly waste of time. West Ham was crying out for stability and Moyes has done an outstanding job since his return in December 2019.

The Scotsman offers a clear view. In his first transfer window, he made West Ham more robust in midfield by signing Tomas Soucek and increased his intensity in attack by diving into the Championship for Jarrod Bowen. They were smart purchases that strengthened obvious areas of weakness and underscored Moyes’s determination to target hungry, young players who will never see West Ham as an easy retirement home.

Once so gruesome, West Ham’s recruitment has gotten more cunning under Moyes. You don’t want to buy just for the sake of it. Unable to find market value, he has refused to sign a forward in the past two windows, leaving West Ham with injury-prone Michail Antonio as their only senior forward.

Nikola Vlasic, one of West Ham's summer signings, in action against Southampton.
Nikola Vlasic, one of West Ham’s summer signings, in action against Southampton. Photograph: James Marsh / Shutterstock

The fact that these commitments are still necessary is a reminder of past mistakes. West Ham regrets its excesses under Pellegrini. The roster is light because Moyes has had to trim the fat and hasn’t been able to raise a lot of money through sales. The two most expensive signings in West Ham history, Felipe Anderson and Sébastien Haller, left with heavy losses this year.

However, West Ham has moved on, learning to be patient. There was no panic during the summer. West Ham waited until the window was nearly closed and then made its move, signing Kurt Zouma for £ 29.8 million, Nikola Vlasic for £ 25 million and Alex Kral on loan.

There was a plan. Alphonse Areola, signed on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, could usurp Lukasz Fabianski, 36, as West Ham’s number one goalkeeper. Zouma will make the back four more difficult to trade after joining from Chelsea. Kral, a 23-year-old midfielder from the Czech Republic, provides cover for Soucek and Declan Rice. An exciting attacking midfielder, Vlasic mitigates the disappointment of missing Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, who shone on loan from West Ham last season.

Confidence in Moyes was key. Sullivan, the most powerful figure on the board, has become less involved in transfers, focusing instead on providing his manager with better infrastructure. The appointment of Rob Newman, formerly of Manchester City, as head of hiring this month and the arrival of Marc Rochon as analyst are positive steps.

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Much remains to be demonstrated. Next summer will bring a fight to keep Rice away from Chelsea and Manchester United. Despite all its progress, West Ham is still a long way from entering the elite. They have little European knowledge and will have to deal with a hostile atmosphere when they face Dinamo, who surprised Tottenham in the round of 16 last season. Mislav Orsic and Bruno Petkovic are threats to the hosts and there is no guarantee that West Ham will overtake a group that also includes Genk and Rapid Vienna.

This is what fans were promised when West Ham moved to the London stadium. This is the moment they have been waiting for since they left their spiritual home and everything that happened before this point – the battles for relegation, the invasion of the field against Burnley, the running track – will not matter one iota when the winger go out to Zagreb. air.


www.theguardian.com

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