VAVEL's 20/21 Season Previews: Mood at West Ham anything but optimistic
(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

The complications caused by the Coronavirus pandemic means the 2020/21 campaign is already upon us, less than two months since a 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa ended another frustrating season in East London.

The Hammers were unbeaten in their final four fixtures as they fought to secure their league status, with comprehensive victories against fellow strugglers Norwich and Watford in addition to a valuable point earned away at Manchester United

Moyes, who took over from Manuel Pellegrini in December of last year, should be heading into the opener against Newcastle with an air of optimism surrounding the club following the positive finish, however the mood amongst fans is anything but.

At the time of writing, West Ham are the only Premier League club yet to make a signing while three players have left the club...

Recapping pre-season

In addition to a training camp in Scotland, West Ham have prepared with three friendlies. The first two games were both held at the same time on August 28th in order for the club to assess all first-team players and some of the youth prospects. 

The Hammers won both matches, scoring nine goals in the process, beating Wycombe 5-1 and Ipswich Town 4-1 respectively. This was followed by another victory, this time a 2-1 win against Brentford at London Stadium with Andriy Yarmolenko and Tomas Soucek grabbing the goals.

However, the most significant result of pre-season was a 5-3 home loss to recently relegated Bournemouth, a result that highlighted serious defensive frailties.

This was particularly worrying considering the starting back-four from the Betway Cup loss is likely to be the same defence that lines up against the Magpies on Saturday night. 

 

 

Transfer business

West Ham do still have until 5 October to make much-needed improvements the team, however in terms of arrivals, this section is simply N/A. Defensive additions are the priority, with at least one full-back and one centre-back needed to shore up a leaky backline. 

Burnley's James Tarkowski has been the most recent subject of interest, and the Clarets are said to have rejected a £27m bid for their star defender.

 

 

If true, it seems a strange strategy for the Hammers to shell out such a large fee on one player when they clearly require more than one signing to improve.

As previously mentioned, there have been three departures from the club this summer. A combined £10m loss was made on strikers Albian Ajeti and Jordan Hugill as they moved on to Celtic and Norwich respectively, leaving Sebastien Haller as the only natural centre-forward at the club.

The final and most high-profile transfer was the sale of impressive academy graduate Grady Diangana to recently-promoted West Brom, the club at which he excelled while on-loan last season.

The exciting young winger also impressed during pre-season on his return to East London, however he was surprisingly sold to the Baggies for just £18million despite being tipped to play a big part in the team this season.

It is widely speculated that the decision was taken by the owners against the wishes of the manager, leaving Moyes angered and betrayed after being undermined.

Fans took to social media to express their anger at the decision, one of those supporters being club captain Mark Noble

 

 

With the window still open, the Claret and Blue faithful fear the worst is yet to come as Chelsea look poised to make a move for club golden boy, and England international, Declan Rice. 

Who is West Ham's key player?

Although Rice remains West Ham's best player, if he is to leave this transfer window, even greater responsibility would be given to the impressive Tomas Soucek.

The 'Czech Footballer of the Year' made a massive impact following his January arrival from Slavia Prague, with the midfielder contributing at both ends of the pitch, displaying his attributes as a box-to-box midfielder.

Soucek popped up with three very important goals during the run-in, and at 6' 4", his presence and aerial prowess could see him hit double figures this season. 

 

 

Physically imposing, comfortable on the ball, and a player who gives everything, the 25-year-old looks built for the Premier League, and he will be integral to his team this season. 

Notable mentions also go to Sebastien Haller and Jarrod Bowen, both of whom are in for a big season 

A breakthrough talent 

The 'Academy of Football' has some very impressive talents currently knocking on the door of the first-team. Promising defenders include Jamal Baptiste and Emmanuel Longelo, while the likes of Mesaque Dju and Amadou Diallo are among attacking prospects. 

 

 

It is also worth mentioning Ajibola AleseJosh Cullen and Conor Coventry, all of whom could feature this season after going out on loan last campaign. 

However, due to a lack of natural goalscorers in the side, one player who looks poised to play a part this season is Ademipo Odubeko. The 17-year-old striker, who joined from Manchester United last year, is an Irish youth international with an eye for goal. 

The youngster received praise from fans on social media following his impressive performance against Southend United in the EFL Trophy, scoring with two sublime finishes as the West Ham U21s won 3-1.   

 

 

Supporters will be hoping young players such as Odubeko are given a chance in the team, and do not suffer a similar fate to Diangana. 

Key dates

Saturday, 12 September - Matchday One | West Ham vs Newcastle

Saturday, 17 October - Matchday Five | Spurs vs West Ham

Saturday, 26 December - Matchday 15 | West Ham vs Brighton

Sunday, 23 May - Matchday 38 | West Ham vs Southampton

 

 

Writer's verdict 

With the current squad, I struggle to see West Ham finishing higher than 15th, although I do believe they will have enough to avoid relegation.  It is all dependent on the business done during the rest of the window.

I would be more optimistic if signings are made, although this looks unlikely. A left-back, central defender, central midfielder and back-up striker are all needed. 

However, from the other side of things, my view would change if there are more departures. If Declan Rice joins Chelsea, and the transfer fee received is not sensibly reinvested, the Championship beckons.

It is a grim outlook considering the promises made by the board to the fans as part of the move from Upton Park to London Stadium, but it is the reality, and it will be the case for as long as GSB remain at the club. 

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