West Ham have been living in a nosebleed area in the Premier League for two seasons, and much of that success can be pinned to the club’s top professionals.
But with the team moving in, and David Moyes taking time to get new signings to the first team, it’s time for the club’s oldest professionals to slip off the bench or visit the new pastures in the January window.
Despite a few new faces arriving at the club over the summer, David Moyes chose the 2021/22 West Ham squad to kick off the brand new 2022/23 campaign.
Manchester City dismantled the illustrious and illustrious Erling Haaland on opening day, and West Ham had taken in 32-year-old Michael Antonio up front. Poor boy has been doing this since the pre-Covid days.
How should the club deal with the old boys in the trenches of West Ham as the new forces advance to the front line?
Ballon D’awson has been the subject of much transfer speculation in the summer window, with West Ham willing to allow the bloody full-back to leave the club if they could bring in a replacement. That replacement was apparently Jan Bednarek, but he got the navy blues and muddled blues and found himself at Aston Villa on deadline day.
This left the cult hero of West Ham in a kind of forbidden land.
Despite being a solid part of West Ham’s defense in the past two seasons, he has only been a third or fourth choice centre-back. He knows it, the club knows it, West Ham fans know it. Fortunately for Dawson, West Ham have had bad luck when it comes to injuries, and “you’re probably going to get some games this season” has become “you’re the only fully fit defender”.
In the summer, it was revealed that Dawson was commuting to East London from Manchester, the Midlands, or somewhere in between – nobody’s really sure, and my map of the stars’ homes was lost. That’s a lot of ginsengers at highway service stations.
Perhaps this was a PR line to make people feel sorry for him about his need to leave the club. You certainly succeeded. No one would envy him for this step now, especially since he was such a revelation and he never complained about the price of fuel.
Moise’s next stepHis contract expires in the summer. Sell it at a discount to a championship club like Stoke in January, because that’s between Manchester and the Midlands. Then he can’t head off in the last minute of a crucial game at the end of the season, leaving West Ham to miss European qualification. Which is bound to happen if he joins the wolves.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the season opener against Manchester City was seeing Fabianski among the sticks.
West Ham spent the summer luring Alphonse Areola back to the club after his loan spell last season. Looks like he was making a lot of money at PSG and needed a little convincing.
So everyone was a little upset when the 29-year-old France international returned to his role as cup goalkeeper, and Fabianski was still number one.
The 37-year-old has done a fantastic job for West Ham in his four seasons at the club and he certainly knows how to save a penalty. But he started to get a bit afraid, and his command of the area became more and more suspicious.
He was wrong on one of Chelsea’s goals (in a match that shouldn’t be talked about again) and may not pass on the confidence to his defense like he did before.
Perhaps Areola helps his cause by taking off the earrings; Moyes doesn’t look like a man who admires shine.
Moise’s next stepSwitch roles, Fabianski becomes the goalkeeper of the cup, especially in the penalty shootout. Areola is the man of the Premier League.
There was a time when West Ham’s main attacking threat came from Aaron Cresswell’s trusty left foot.
In the 2020/21 season, Cresswell provided eight assists, more than Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool. But since Cresswell wears claret and blue, the media completely ignored this fact, as did the England coach. But English coaches largely ignore the left-back players at West Ham… See Julian Dix, Frank Lampard (the original) and companion man Georges Paris in 1986.
Sadly, Cresswell has been in steady decline in the past six months or so, reaching a low in the 19th minute with his dismissal against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-final, removing all the wind from West Ham’s sails.
The 32-year-old doesn’t have the legs anymore to chase a slashed ball over the top, and his instinct is to pull on the shirt of the attacker hitting him with speed.
Just three assists last season will show he hasn’t had the impact he once had, even in a squad that has had its fair share of big men. Rarely are people on the edge of their seat from Criswell’s free kicks.
Criswell dominated the left-back position for several seasons, with Arthur Masuaku and right-back Ben Johnson being his only major rivals.
Now with the arrival of Emerson, Maxwel Cornet and Thelo Kahrr – who despite not being a traditional left-back have all played this position before – Cresswell may be spending a little more time on the bench.
The Liverpool-born player’s contract is also expiring at the end of the season, and he is said to have already bought a house again on Merseyside.
Moise’s next step: Use it as a sub effect and in cup competitions, he may be able to take action on the left side of three defenses. He is entitled to a one-year contract extension if West Ham qualify for Europe again for the 2023/24 season. The rental market is booming if he needs to leave his new home.
West Ham took many severe blows in the 2021/22 season, but perhaps one of the biggest came a few months into the campaign.
The club was flying high in fourth as Liverpool came to east London in early November. In the 22nd minute, Ogbonna came off limping due to a severe looking injury. Despite displacing the powerful player, West Ham somehow dug deep and achieved one of the results of the season – a 3-2 win.
It was later revealed that Ogbonna had suffered a torn cruciate ligament and would be out for the rest of the season.
Without the first-choice defender, West Ham vacillated, never winning again in the league until Maswako’s odd goal handed them a 3-2 win over Chelsea in December.
With West Ham just missing the Europa League at the end of the season, it was all about what it would have been if Ogbonna’s imposing presence had rallied the four defenders for the rest of the season.
Ogbonna is now slowly returning to first-team action but at the age of 34, properly extending his contract while injured in next June’s AFC Champions League, West Ham may wave goodbye to him at the end of the season.
Another player West Ham fans will be sad to see go.
Moise’s next step: He continued to use it in team rotations, before being forced to make him the first choice in the center back when everyone was injured. He extends his contract at the end of the season, if he does not wish to end his career in Italy.
The hardest decision for the group, as Antonio was the definition of the warrior horse for West Ham since he was taken to the spearhead.
It is a surprise since he joined the club as a winger who could not cross and had hamstrings made of blue.
Now he strikes fear into the hearts of European defenders with his raucous rounds, and that is precisely Lance Corporal Jones’ definition of “They do not like him from their father’s army.”
Unfortunately, the Premier League defenders are a wiser group and Antonio can sometimes look like a miser as he makes his way down a dead end on the left flank looking to cross the ball into the six-yard box where he should be right.
Antonio turns 33 next March, and those lung-damaging long rides are starting to catch up with him. The phrase ‘blowing out of his ass’ has not been used much about the West Ham player since Kevin Nolan played his last full season in the Premier League.
On the plus side for Antonio, he is still an effective defender and can drag defenders all over the field, reducing their energy. You know you’ve been in a game when Antonio is fifth.
Fortunately, the club has finally bought another striker in Gianluca Scamaca To help shoulder the burden of being West Ham’s only striker, so West Ham’s top scorer in the Premier League can finally get a well-deserved break.
Moise’s next step: Antonio The final effect can be sub. Not many defenders will want to deal with him in the deposits of any game. The other option is to take him to the wing where he is still a threat on both sides of the field. A valuable asset for a few more seasons if wrapped in a little bit of cotton wool.
Supporting Alexandra Burke’s career in pop music while taking the third choice for goalkeeper money is Darren’s tough job. enjoy it.
Moise’s next step: a new deal for three years?