At the start of the last season many predicted a poor campaign for West Ham and continual progress from Wolves, this did not occur on both counts. Question marks surround this year too with Wolves appointing a new manager and The Hammers embarking on a packed fixture list due to Europa League qualification.
Starting with West Ham, David Moyes belied his recent form as a Head Coach leading the team to a 6th place finish. The signings of Coufal and Soucek were the highlights, both men hit the ground running which is no mean feat considering many other COVID transfer signings struggled last term. Jesse Lingard also breathed life into the attack in 2021 while on loan but its fair to say all 3 men’s impact could have been so much different and where would the club be then? Most definitely they would have been down the other end of the table, players like Cresswell and Diop raised their games in support of their hungry new teammates, Declan Rice was also given some top quality help. New arrivals are still to come this summer, with more games the squad need a influx of quality in all areas to maintain competitiveness in all competitions.
The major position of need though is striker, Bowen, Benrahma, Yarmolenko, Fornals & Lanzini are all capable wide forwards or 10’s but cannot play as a 9. Only Antonio (converted from the wing) offers a threat from central striker but how often does he play 5 games on the trot without becoming injured? Minimum of 2 new players need to come in one with a top pedigree to take the team forward and maybe a promising young player to blood in at a slower rate. Elijah Adebayo at Luton Town has shown promise since he joined from Walsall in Feb 2021, this type of talent will only become more expensive by Jan 22 if he continues the current trajectory. Recent Fulham loanee Josh Maja is another who should be considered. Experience wise Danny Ings or Neal Maupay fit into the team formation with both being adept to playing up front on their own, Ings gives more of a guaranteed goal threat. Returning to Prague for a player can not be ruled out with the impressive Abdallah Sima available at a reasonable price.
Bruno Lage has a massive job on his hands and if he does not hit the ground running then he could be out of a job before Christmas. The squad has been reinvigorated with numerous new players but the concern is the spine and heartbeat of the club. Their is a distinct lack of British players and the previously reliable players have left or are about too like Neves, Moutinho and Traore. Players from the previous campaigns will need to find their early form and promise as they showed a distinct level of staleness all last season. Injecting Morgan Gibbs White would be a positive start especially with the fans.
Raul Jimenez returning to fitness is a massive plus if he can find the form which propelled to one of the best strikers in the league. No one took his goal scoring mantle when the life threatening injury occurred against Arsenal. Reviewing the squad now Rafa Mir will burden the plan b option after a lively La Liga spell last season. The concern with him being he’s never scored in English football, 17 games for Wolves and on loan at Notts Forest.
Predicting incoming talent to Moulineux can be done by reviewing the portfolio of talent super agent Jorge Mendes represents from Spain and Portugal. Using this rationale if they was to bring in further new signings in each sector of the field the new men could be Reuben Vizo (defence), Renato Sanches (midfield) and Rafael Leao (striker). Newspaper reports earlier this year stated they was looking to bring in talent already plying their trade in England but business this summer already concluded disagrees with that notion.
Both West Ham and Wolves are more likely to struggle this season than succeed, results by December in the league and Europe in the case of the Hammers will be the evidence while the jury is the returning fans!