With half term around the corner, and those dreaded ‘report cards’ in the post, I thought it was about time I analysed our new signings nine games into their West Ham careers.
It was a busy old summer for the Hammers, bringing in no fewer than 10 major first-team signings. Some have enjoyed a fruitful start to life in the East End whilst some are still yet to have their chance in Claret and Blue.
I’ve taken a look at seven who have been given an opportunity, with Alex Song Michail Antonio and Nikic Jelavic really to yet be given a chance due to fitness and fierce competition.
First through the door at Chadwell Heath was back-up goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who has enjoyed an up and down start to his career at the Boleyn. I was at his first-team debut against Lusitanos in the Europa League and despite keeping a clean sheet he looked shaky throughout. There were even rumours he was going to be shipped out within a month of his spell at the club with former Irons stopper Robert Green replacing him.
He stayed though, and fared much better in the following weeks whilst Adrian sat out through suspension. Although he conceded four against Bournemouth on his league debut, he was still rightfully named Man-of-the-Match for his display, making a string of fine saves to keep the Hammers in the encounter. He backed up that with back-to-back clean sheets at Anfield and against Newcastle at Upton Park. Long gone are the days of fearing injury to Adrian, it appears – touchwood – we have a ‘proper’ back-up keeper in our ranks.
Next up is Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang, who joined the club for an undisclosed fee from Sampdoria. Whilst looking like a fashion model with his chunky glasses and flat caps, Pedro has excelled since joining the club. He looks good on the ball, and adds calmness and bite to the midfield. Whilst we haven’t seen much of him, he is a player that many want to see more of.
The man, the myth, the legend that is Payet. Having joined with such a huge reputation from France, it is easy for a player to freeze at a new club. But that isn’t the case with West Ham’s new number 27. The Frenchmen just oozes class, and has already become a firm fans favourite. He has brought goals and assists to the Hammers midfield and he is a massive reason behind the Irons fine start this season. After all he is ‘better than Zidane’ as the song goes.
Grade: A* (top of the class)
Although Ogbonna has missed a large chunk of the season through injury, the former Juventus man has already made a big impression. He has built a solid rapport with Winston Reid and the pair look like a deadly duo. It is clear to see that the left foot, right foot combination gives the Hammers a great balance, and the two will hopefully be a long-term partnership at the back.
West Ham then re-signed Carl ‘Jenko’ Jenkinson on loan from Arsenal in the summer, and whilst the full-back has looked shaky at times, he has found his old form in recent weeks. Two goals in his last two starts shows a different side to his game and it could prove crucial. If he can cut out some of his sloppy errors from the defensive side he really could play a pivotal role in the Hammers’ season.
Manuel Lanzini was a real ‘WHO?’ when he first joined, but he has now firmly put himself on the team sheet week in and week out, and alongside Payet, the pair have rejuvenated a static side into a team full of flair, pace and ideas. Since joining from Al- Jazira, the Argentine has impressed with goals at Anfield and Selhurst Park as well as putting in promising displays whenever he has been called upon. He has a fantastic attitude and the skills to pay the bills. Lanzini, like Payet, is quickly turning into a ‘cult hero’.
The final player under the spotlight, is Victor Moses, a player I hope the Hammers look to sign on a permanent transfer next year. Whilst he appears to drift in and out of games, he is an individual who can turn a match on its head in a split second. It is that kind of moment of magic that can really make a player important, and Moses has a canny knack of popping up when it most matters with an assist or a burst of pace to put the Hammers back on the front foot. He will be a crucial player for us this season I am sure.
See, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now run downstairs and show your mum and dad the good news, you never know they might make your favourite tea and let you have dessert.
Come on you Irons!