FIVE things that West Ham must address before next season

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Ravel MorrisonPreparations for the 2014/2015 season will soon begin at the Boleyn Ground, with the club returning to training at the start of July, aswell as taking part in a pre-season tour of New Zealand and participating in the ‘Football United Tour’.

Whilst abroad, we will come up against Hyundai A-League sides Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC, aswell as a more familiar opposition in Newcastle United. Although preparations for pre-season have already commenced, there are undoubtedly numerous issues that the club must address to ensure we begin the season firing on all cylinders and hopefully continue in a similarly fashion for the entirety of the upcoming campaign.

1) Manager:

Whilst in the middle of writing this article, I have conveniently read the news that boss Sam Allardyce will, following much speculation, definitely lead the club into the new season. This news puts a bit of a spanner in the works of this piece, considering I was planning on saying the board needed to sort out the manager issue as soon as possible. Therefore instead, I will say that if we are to have any chance of having a successful campaign this upcoming season, supporters including myself, must get behind the team whatever our views on the current boss.

The pressure and discontent from the stands evidently made its way onto the pitch this season and it’s fair to say the squad suffered as a result. Although the club’s statement has meant that I have had to alter this paragraph, I am certainly relieved that the board have come out and publicly backed Allardyce. Far too much speculation has done the rounds on social networking sites these past few weeks, and calls for David Gold and David Sullivan to ‘back him or sack him’ have definitely been answered.

2) Striker Issue:

The vast majority of Hammers fans will agree that Allardyce’s one striker system has been largely ineffective this season. The fact that Carlton Cole was our highest scoring striker with six goals this season – despite Stewart Downing’s impressive cross accuracy statistics – clearly indicates that we simply do not possess the quality up front to continue playing this way.

Andy Carroll’s return has been particularly underwhelming, as the ex-Liverpool man has netted just twice since his permanent transfer last summer, and the big man would undoubtedly benefit from having a second striker accompany him. You look at our bench, and the returning Modibo Maiga is the only realistic option to partner Carroll in attack – a worrying fact, I know. For me, this highlights another point that I am about to make – that we must strengthen and attempt to bring in some quality in the summer. A second striker alongside Carroll would be refreshing to see, and I believe a Shane Long type player would benefit largely from the Geordie’s knockdowns, and all in all, offer a different attacking threat next season.

3) Quality needed elsewhere:

Following on from my previous point, it is clear for all to see that additional quality must be added to the squad if we are to progress next season. I recently wrote an article about the need for a clear-out at the club this summer, and I stand by that view – the current playing staff is made up of far too many average players whose days at the top level of English football are up. As a bare minimum, acquisitions must be made in both full back positions, another natural winger must be purchased, and an out and out ‘goal scorer’ must join the squad if we are to have a successful campaign.

4) Ravel Morrison:

The curious case of Ravel Morrison. It’s clear for all to see that the boy has unquestionable talent, particularly as Sir Alex Ferguson described the England U21 international as “the best kid he’s ever seen”.

His break into the first team at the beginning of last season was a welcome sight for us supporters, considering Ravel is possibly one of the most naturally creative, ‘flair’ players we have seen at the Boleyn for years. Much has been said in the media about supposed fall-outs and bust-ups behind the scenes between Morrison and Sam Allardyce, and whether you believe it or not, the club must ensure the youngster settles down and signs a long-term deal before he is snapped up by another side.

Morrison has made several hints about his future on his social media accounts, describing rumours of a bust up at the club as “rubbish” on Twitter, aswell as posting a picture of himself at the Boleyn Ground amidst rumours of a potential exit on Instagram. I very much hope that is true, and the bottom line is that Ravel Morrison possessed undeniable talent, talent that West Ham would hugely benefit from – I just hope that any problems he may have with the current boss can be ironed out following the news that he will stay for another season.

5) Development of Youth:

Recent years would suggest that the ‘Academy of Football’ signs around Upton Park may as well be scrapped. For years, much of the West Ham ethos has been based on developing youth players into senior figures – including the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand.

Under Sam Allardyce, I for one cannot recall a single West Ham youth player that has made the jump to the first team on a regular basis. The likes of Dan Potts and George Moncur have, brief cup appearances aside, been unable to convince Sam Allardyce that they deserve to be in contention for a place in the first team – but the most notable disappoint is the absence of Elliot Lee this season. Even during Andy Carroll’s prolonged absence, Sam Allardyce refused to throw Lee in at the deep end for a run of games, despite the fact he was in superb form for the youth side this season. Despite this, however, Elliot has recently signed a long-term deal at the club, and I certainly hope this indicates that Allardyce is going to make more of an effort in promotion young, hungry, home-grown players. I am not for one second suggesting that any of our current youth side deserve a guaranteed starter’s place, but until we give them a chance how are we going to find out whether they can deliver at the highest level?

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1 comment

  • Joe says:

    Agree, Sam is in, behind him. Hope G and S pull the strings and give others a chance r5ather than the impotent Carroll, “what on earth possessed them to pay that sort of money for a Liverpool flop”. We have three players that are clear Liverpool supporters. How can you play a competitor when you are not 100% for them? The only r5eason they don’t play for them is Liverpool wouldn’t ’em with a barge pole. Carroll is a good player, no mistake, just not a good striker and as such you can not play him a s a loan strike, you are better with Tomkins up front.

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