West Ham supporters in the Transfer Tavern have used the last few weeks to look back on their side’s campaign so far, and indeed look ahead to what might be in store for their team between now and the end of the season.
The Hammers began the campaign with high hopes after sealing a 12th place finish in the Premier League last term, alongside some very shrewd additions over the summer in the form of Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic. Yet manager Slaven Bilic lost his job in November after seeing his team slip into the bottom three, but David Moyes has since breathed new life into the club, and although they aren’t safe from relegation, their prospects are a lot brighter now than when the Scot took over four months ago.
Subsequently, many Hammers fans are reasonably confident of their side’s chances of remaining in the top-flight this season, although they are well aware that their team must continue to perform in the final ten games to preserve their top tier status.
In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident West Ham fans to discuss, not least the news that defender Jose Fonte has completed a move to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
And while this is unlikely to come as a huge blow to Moyes give the 34-year-old’s seemingly lowly position in his pecking order, a replacement will be needed over the summer, and as such they must seek to go after Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling.
And that’s because the England international possesses the quality and indeed the experience to turn the Hammers into genuine top seven contenders.
Ultimately, the Premier League is so tight at present that any side from seventh down to second-bottom Stoke City could still finish in the top half, so the margins between success and failure are remarkably small. And they probably will be next season as well.
For West Ham though, it’s plainly clear what needs improving over the summer, and that is their defensive ranks, with Moyes’ side having conceded 46 goals in their 27 Premier League games, more than all but three of the other 20 teams in the league.
And while things have been better under the former Everton and United chief, there is still much room for improvement, and it’s improvement that would surely come about were they to land £16.2 million-rated ace Smalling (as per Transfermarkt).
The 28-year-old may have endured a testing few weeks for the Red Devils but there is no doubting his defensive ability – one does not play 275 games for the Premier League giants if one is not a good player.
And with experience in and around the top of the division, as well as the latter stages of cup competitions, Smalling knows exactly what it takes for one to achieve their aims, and having a player of that calibre in the heart of the backline can only be a good thing for West Ham and manager Moyes.
The England international of course worked under the 54-year-old during the latter’s ill-fated time at United so the Scot knows exactly how influential he could be to this Hammers side, a team that will certainly be chasing a top seven finish next term were they to avoid the drop this time round, as seventh could well offer European football.
And to enhance those chances further, they simply must land the United centre-back over the summer.
West Ham fans… what do you think? Let us know!