It had been a somewhat quiet summer. Well, quiet for West Ham anyway. There are always rumblings in the background and they have gotten louder as the summer has gone on.
David Moyes has spoken about strengthening his defence, a clear weak point for a side that had shipped 62 goals in the Premier League last season.
Back in January, Moyes said he wanted to build a young and hungry team that consisted of players who had a point to prove.
The manager signed Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek and West Ham stayed in the top flight. A season that was a massive disappointment as over. The manager had been changed and Moyes had done his job for a second time.
Heading into 2020/21, it was time build and see what we can do with this supremely talented but horrendously under-performing West Ham squad. The “too good to go down” mantra had been peddled a lot and it turned out that Hammers team was as they did survive. – just.
Fast forward six weeks, West Ham haven’t recruited a defender at all and have been forced to sell one of their most exciting young players because they cannot shift on the other first team players they wanted to.
Anger towards the deeply unpopular board has increased about a hundred fold since last Thursday. If the supporters were allowed in the stadium, there is no doubt there would be protests ahead of the first game of the season.
Grady Diangana, who ripped up the Championship last season, has been sold to a direct rival in West Bromwich Albion for £18million with a 20% sell on fee. West Ham have so far been unable to sell Felipe Anderson or Manuel Lanzini so have had to sacrifice, in their eyes, by selling Diangana.
The club statement said was damning in itself, almost having to make an excuse for selling the academy graduate having seen the backlash it created: “The decision to sell Grady has been made reluctantly but – ultimately – in the best interests of the Club and with the aim to strengthen the squad in different areas at this time.
“The money received for Grady will be reinvested entirely in the team, in line with the manager’s targets. We believe that this will give us the best possible chance of ensuring we have a balanced squad to compete in the Premier League and capable of reaching our objectives and ambitions this season.”
Behind the scenes, the club believes they have got a good deal for the player. It will be reinvested into proven Premier League players, which Diangana could have easily become this season by the way, to help the Hammers move on up the table.
Instead, heading into next weekend’s opening game of the season against Newcastle off the back of a dreadful 5-3 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday and some frankly comical attempts at defending throughout. A new recruit cannot come soon enough.
Other teams have been splashing cash too. Newcastle, Everton, Aston Villa, Sheffield United and others have been spending this summer. West Ham’s under-fire owners have been pleading poverty in light of Covid-19. That seemingly isn’t the case elsewhere and blaming the Manuel Pellegrini era isn’t much of an excuse anymore.
We all knew that the Hammers had to sell to buy. But when your own players are up in arms as much as the fans, then you have serious problems.
Captain Mark Noble set social media alight on Friday night when he tweeted he was “gutted, angry and sad” that Diangana had been sold to a team that is likely to be a relegation rival this season.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere added to Diangana to “go and do your thing in a club that respects you” replying to a farewell message from the former Hammer.
What a sorry state of affairs just a week before the Premier League season gets underway.
The links to Said Benrahma disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Burnley’s James Tarkowski is the next player on the horizon and there is interest in the England international but it might cost north of £30million to get him.
West Ham are crying out for defensive reinforcements. Ben Johnson had a 30 minute nightmare against Bournemouth, Issa Diop has regressed alarmingly since his debut campaign and Aaron Cresswell can’t keep up with the modern day winger anymore
Moyes needs a centre back and a left back as well. One might arrive but will the other? If the club has to sell to buy then they’ll have to shift on another player.
Who is sellable at West Ham to raise funds now that Diangana has gone? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Signing a defender or two isn’t going to appease a fanbase that is frankly seething and at its wits end. This has been another PR disaster for the Hammers, yet another since the move to London Stadium in 2016, and unless we are convinced otherwise this weekend then another season of struggle lies in wait.