A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…West Ham hired a new manager and got busy, busy, busy in the transfer window. So, what and who has arrived or departed and what does this mean for the team? I hope this article will give fans and FPL players a perspective which helps to give you some ideas for FPL picks over the season, some obvious and some maybe less so.
Change in direction
Our much-adored board decided not to renew David Moyes’ contract at the end of last season, dividing opinion amongst both fans and pundits alike. Many pundits felt Moyes deserved a crack after doing what he was asked to in keeping us up, a fair few fans felt he was sh*t and those in between that thought whilst he did what he needed to do he was not the man to take us to the next level (whatever that maybe). I think he was judged unfairly in part, many of the problems are long standing and deep rooted, and not just on the pitch – a lot stems from the move from Upton Park. I think you can credit Moyes with getting Marco Arnautovic (Arnie) to perform the way he did after the switch upfront and motivating him. Would I still have Moyes however? No, of course not given what is now in place.
But that’s football and Moyes is now yesterday’s news. I really didn’t know who we would get, Rafa Benitez was strongly mentioned which I would have been over the moon about. West Ham finally appointed a new manager in Manuel Pellegrini, he is a great appointment for (let’s face it) a mid-table to relegation battling club in recent years, so the big question and scepticism amongst fans was would decent money be available and actually spent?
We have also appointed a director of football in Mario Husillos, to deal with player recruitment, and less involvement has been promised by the chairman David Sullivan. Whilst Husillos can’t claim full credit some influence has been seen getting a few deals over the line and players the manager wants.
The players coming in
Fabianski (GK), Diop (DEF – CB), Fredricks (DEF – RB), Balbuena (DEF – CB) Jack Wilshere (MID – CM), Yarmolenko (MID – Winger/FWD) Felipe Anderson (MID – Winger/AM)
So far no one of note has been sold but do expect a few departures prior to the transfer window closing, James and Suj have covered some of the players on the podcast already so if you haven’t already listened give episode 70 a listen now
Post match view from attending game – Ipswich V West Ham friendly 28th July
A strong team was put out, of note was Arnie being given the captaincy in Mark Noble’s absence.
Starting XI vs Ipswich:
Fredricks Balbuena Ogbonna Masuaku
The formation was fairly settled in the first half but with some fluidity in centre midfield. Fabianski looked calm and assured, having only returned to training on Monday. Fredricks and Yarmolenko seem to be linking up well and this led to the first goal after 5 or 6 minutes, Yarmolenko holding the ball up and playing in the pacey overlapping Fredricks to cross for Anderson to head/shoulder it in. West Ham looked comfortable but after the goal there was more of a training match feel to it. The pitch seemed a little slow and the wind caused a few issues, Balbuena looked very good, calm and collected with time on the ball. He was however caught out for the equalising goal with Ipswich beating the offside trap, but he gave a strong case to start the season in the team. Ogbonna looks at risk based on this performance and Obiang and Kouyate look like being sold if the right offers come in despite Obiang putting in a decent performance though. Masuaku looked good going forward and seems to be in line to start the season, though he does have some question marks defensively – so Creswell should challenge. Creswell has not featured yet in the pre-season games but I have not seen news on an injury so far. In midfield Wilshere did not impress much and got booked – allbeit little harsh.
The second half saw a raft of changes with a mix of Under 23 players brought on, plus Noble, Snodgrass, Declan Rice (for 20 mins In a holding midfield role), Diop and Zabelatta all getting a run out. Ipswich had a bit more intensity and sharpness as expected as the Championship season starts next week. Noble looked good, but played very deep, Rice looked very good even managing a drag back and bit of skill, I think Pellegrini sees him as a defensive midfielder, he didn’t look completely comfortable but did okay and is popular with fans, putting in tackles and has a good range of passing. West Ham tried to put a bit of pressure on the opposition but the final ball or player was not quite right, but then Arnie got played through mid-way inside the opposition half, held of a challenge, went clear of the defender and slotted in to complete a 2-1 victory.
Pick or watchlist players for FPL
I won’t go into too much detail here as I will likely cover this in a different article, there are a lot of changes to the team and I’m expecting improvement. My view is that West Ham players are undervalued as a whole in FPL due to past season failures and struggles, but there are quite a few options now and as the season progresses there are some good enablers to if nothing else.
GK Fabianski – £4.5m
FWD Arnautovic – £7.0m
DEF Fredricks – £4.5m
DEF Rice – £4.5m (possible OOP)
MID Masuaku – £4.5m (reverse OOP)
MID Noble – £5.0m (Captain & penalty taker)
MID Anderson – £7.0m
MID Yarmolenko – £7.0m
I have eventually been caught up in the wave of optimism coming through in general amongst the fans but has now been tempered with a bit more realism personally. That said, the level of hope and support for the team can not be underestimated and it is such a massive turnaround which can only help the team on the pitch. There has been so much negativity in recent years, some will still complain if we finish second of course, but I know there is going to be an improvement in the league position this year it’s just a question of how much and how quickly. There will be more goals and a reduction in goals conceded so useful as it’s points for FPL. As a fan I’m really looking forward to the season and the 1st home game against Bournemouth in GW 2. Seeing the better-quality attackers, and more positive play should only increase our performance as the team gels, despite a tough start I think we will get one or to results against the big boys too. For my FPL team, Arnie is in and Fabianski at the minute as part of a two £4.5m GK, but lots could change through transfers and injuries before GW1, so in the word of a fellow Hammer Ray Winstone, ’I will be watching, analysing…’