West Ham’s recent recruits see Big Sam reverting to type
West Ham owners David Sullivan and David Gold gave manager Sam Allardyce a simple brief for the 2014/15 season, play better football and finish in the top 10. Coral offer odds of 5/2 for that to be achieved at Upton Park.
Yet the Hammers have made just one forward addition, in Argentine and ex-Birmingham loanee Mauro Zarate, for new striker coach Teddy Sheringham to work with. Big Sam has, in short, reverted to type, because his other summer business so far has seen him sign two holding midfielders and a replacement at left back.
Allardyce has taken a punt on Diego Poyet, son of Sunderland boss Gus, being a chip off the old block. Senegal international Cheikhou Kouyate has also arrived in east London swelling the central midfield options massively, although that is offset by the recent release of Alou Diarra and Matt Taylor’s free transfer to Burnley.
Nonetheless, Big Sam has new boys Poyet junior and Kouyate joining the likes of maverick talent Ravel Morrison, club captain Kevin Nolan, Hammers stalwart Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame. If Zarate is to be accommodated alongside Andy Carroll up front, that only leaves room for two in the middle of the park, unless Allardyce is switching to 3-5-2.
How can all these midfielders play? What Big Sam has in Aaron Cresswell is a great outlet up and down the flank from left back. He notched 13 Championship assists at Ipswich last term, more than doubling the number of goals he made in 2012/13.
Striking options are also on the agenda for Allardyce, however, with reports in the British press claiming he is winning the race to sign Ecuador’s World Cup star Enner Valencia. The versatile forward could play wide or through the middle, in like fashion to faithful retainer Ricardo Vaz Te.
Poyet is a raw teenage talent with just 23 first-team games in the Championship and FA Cup under his belt. If he can be as imposing as his father was in spells at Chelsea and Spurs, then he and Morrison could become an outstanding partnership. As ever with West Ham, then, the future looks bright, but they must beware of potential pitfalls. Odds of 6/1 say they shall go down.