When West Ham left Upton Park behind, they sold the move to fans on the basis of delivering Champions League football. Although you cannot blame the East London outfit for dreaming big, it seems as if the EFL Championship could be their next port of call.
It has been another season of woe for the Hammers leading to David Moyes taking the reins for a second time. The question is can the former Everton and Manchester United manager once again steer the club clear of relegation?
That was his remit when he took charge back in November 2017. After steadying the claret and blue ship, many felt that the now 56-year-old would be rewarded with a permanent contract for his efforts.
However, his appointment was deemed not glamourous enough by the West Ham fanbase and, although no-one could fault his the work he did escaping the drop, many felt that a new man would be needed to help them climb further up the table.
That man was Manuel Pellegrini. With the pedigree of winning the Premier League with Manchester City to go alongside him, he was deemed a much more attractive appointment and one that would help the club get closer to the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea.
If that was to be the case, it was never going to be an overnight success story. With a tenth place finish secured last season, you can understand why there was a real air of optimism going into this campaign.
With that in mind, where has it gone wrong? That is a question that Pellegrini will have asked after being relieved from his duties as manager and it seems as it’s quite possible that he has the answer.
Pellegrini has been vocal about West Ham’s hapless stand in goalkeeper Roberto. He has the belief that Roberto’s mistakes fundamentally cost him his previous employment status.
Although he clearly had a torrid time between the sticks, one must not forget that the former Real Madrid manager presided over his arrival.
Much has been made of club owners David Gold and David Sullivan meddling too much in transfer dealings and therefore the decision to step back and hand the reigns to Pellegrini and director of football Mario Husillos was viewed as a shrewd one.
However, last summer’s recruitment policy can only be viewed as a disaster and although Roberto will be the poster boy for poor transfer strategy, and one that cost Husillos his job, one cannot forget that the best part of £80m was also spent on the pair of Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals.
Haller was certainly a decent hand during the two years he spent at Eintracht Frankfurt. With a record just short of a goal every other game, the belief was that he would be the man to take on West Ham’s goalscoring burden.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The 25-year-old Frenchmen has scored just five Premier league goals this season, he has shown few glimpses of the player that created such problems for opposition Bundesliga defences.
Then again, that’s not to say that Fornals is exempt from criticism either. In a season that has seen almost as many Premier League appearances from the bench as actual starts (11 to 13), the young Spanish midfielder has only found the net once.
In fairness, his primary role is making goals rather than scoring them but, even by that metric, West Ham have got little return on their hefty investment. The former Villarreal midfielder has made just three league goals for his teammates.
The combined expenditure shows just how bad the recruitment strategy was last summer and although that undoubtedly has cost them a lot of money, dropping down a division will end up costing them even more.
Only recently David Sullivan stated that staying in the Premier League is “an absolute necessity” after posting financial losses of £27.26m. When you consider that they have spent £130m on transfers since the move to the London Stadium, you have to question who actually has been worth the money.
In the build up to the 2018/19 season, Felipe Anderson joined from Lazio for a then club record fee of £40m and, although there have been fleeting moments of brilliance, there has been nowhere near the required level of consistency from the Brazilian.
Arguably the only player who represented value for money since moving to West Ham is Lucasz Fabianski. The irony is that, by comparison, the Polish goalkeeper cost just £7m when moving from Swansea in 2018.
Now though, with David Moyes back at the helm and the transfer window closed, the focus is solely on matters on the pitch. If the Glaswegian can get these marquee signings to show their worth, then West Ham might yet avoid the drop.
But if the likes of Haller, Anderson and Fornals, in addition to new recruit Jarrod Bowen, fail to turn it on in the final third of the season, the picture could be very bleak. Those West Ham fans who were dreaming of Tuesday night football under the floodlights, may be planning a trip to Blackburn rather than Barcelona.
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