Bowen, Soucek, Wilshere, the board – West Ham’s pre-season winners and losers


West Ham’s pre-season campaign is entering its final stages and after a month’s worth of preparation, it’s time to look back on who were the winners and losers.

The Hammers started their four-week campaign with a five-day trip to St Andrew’s in Scotland. Most of the squad were there though the likes of Declan Rice and Issa Diop missed out.

The matches got underway after a week of the campaign with two friendlies on the same day. One team went to Wycombe Wanderers and won 4-1 while another went to Ipswich Town and won 5-1.

Things were moving along serenely, seemingly, though the lack of transfer activity was certainly starting to become a bit of a concern as David Moyes had already said he wanted to strengthen his defence.

West Ham saw off Brentford 2-1 in their third pre-season friendly, a far from straightforward victory, before all hell broke loose with the sale of Grady Diangana.

The Hammers co-owners have failed to cash in on the likes of Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere so had to sacrifice their very promising youngster, selling him to West Bromwich Albion for £18million in a move that went down like a lead balloon among the fans.

Uproar ensued, Mark Noble called out the co-owners, Wilshere piled in too and the Hammers are now scrambling to re-invest that money. Then the Hammers were smashed 5-3 by Championship side Bournemouth at London Stadium in the aftermath.

What was quite a calm, although some rumblings, sort of pre-season has bombed into a full blown crisis with the Premier League campaign starting this weekend with a home game against Newcastle.

Winners

Jarrod Bowen

Jarrod Bowen scores against Bournemouth

The Hammers winger looks like he is carrying on from where he left off last season, netting three times across the pre-season campaign including twice against the Cherries to haul the Hammers back level having gone 2-0 down.

Bowen, who has switched shirt numbers this season from 17 he had to the number 20 he wore at Hull City, has looked impressive throughout pre-season.

If West Ham are going to have any success in 2020/21 then you suspect the 23-year-old will have a huge part to play.

Tomas Soucek

Before heading off on international duty, and being forced into isolation after coming into contact with some who tested positive for Covid-19, Soucek was having a stellar pre-season.

Having completed his £19million permanent move from Slavia Prague, the Czech star had netted twice and, like Bowen, carrying on from the end of last season.

The biggest win of his pre-season though came against Bournemouth, when he didn’t play and it showed how glaringly bad West Ham’s midfield is without him in it. Soucek has tested negative for Covid-19 so Moyes will be crossing his fingers the midfielder is available for Newcastle this weekend.

Declan Rice

He hasn’t played at all for West Ham in pre-season, making his first appearance of the summer for England instead, but like Soucek has only seen his reputation grow even further in his absence.

The Bournemouth match in particular, and to some extent the Brentford win, highlighted just how crucial Rice is to West Ham. He’ll be picking up some match fitness away with England now and Moyes will be hoping he doesn’t pick up an injury against Denmark on Tuesday night.

Pablo Fornals

The Spaniard has been another solid performer in pre-season, despite a little underwhelming against Bournemouth but then again, most of the Hammers players were pretty bad that day.

Fornals doesn’t look in any danger of losing his place to Manuel Lanzini any time soon, or Felipe Anderson for that matter and has been OK, if not brilliant in pre-season.

But he’s probably done enough to keep the shirt for the opening game against Newcastle at the weekend.

Losers

Jack Wilshere in action against Ipswich Town

Jack Wilshere

Using the term losers is probably a bit harsh but for arguments sake let’s say it is for those who have not quite had the pre-season that was hoped.

Wilshere had a stomping pre-season ahead of the last campaign but got injured and saw his season derail. This time, he has had a very underwhelming summer and not shown any reason why he should be included ahead of Pablo Fornals for the opening game against Newcastle.

Considering he is entering the last year of his contract and with two injury-wrecked years behind him, you’d have thought the midfielder would have tried to prove a point. He hasn’t.

Issa Diop

After struggling with injury this summer, Diop belatedly made his first start of the summer against Bournemouth and as is well documented, it was a horror show.

The Frenchman’s regression since his debut season is extremely alarming, having really struggled in 2019/20 and not looking anywhere near his level in his solitary outing so far.

Granted he would have been rusty but that’s a worrying sign. And with the Hammers chasing James Tarkowski, Diop’s spot is very much under threat.

West Ham’s co-owners

The sale of Grady Diangana to West Bromwich Albion might be one risk taken too far by the board who have been playing with fire since they moved to London Stadium in 2016.

Only Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in charge was one where the club wasn’t embroiled in a relegation battle. Another one looks on the cards in 2019/20 unless Moyes can get some desperately needed defenders in.

Anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady has ramped up ten-fold since the departure of Diangana and now the board are panicking, needing to reinvest that money to effectively save face.

The decision to sell their academy graduate just a week before the season started was a disasterstroke of massive proportions.





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