Cornet is not enough

If you stick around long enough, eventually the transfer jigsaw at West Ham falls into place. The key moment is seeing your manager at a press conference with a face resembling ‘a monkey’s smacked arse’ as my old fella used to say.

David Moyes didn’t look happy, did he? Sending out a team against champions Manchester City pretty much the same as last season. Something in the region of £93m spent on transfers, and no immediate on-field upgrade in sight.


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The aftershocks of the collapsed Amadou Onana transfer still reverberating around West Ham. We are told that deal was five months in the making, the player Moyes and Rob Newman saw as the eventual replacement for Declan Rice. It was that important.

So, I do not believe for one second that we did not have a vague idea of the wages the 20 year-old and his sister-agent had in mind. It’s not possible, surely, to have omitted that question from the pre-planning.

Come on, we have been spoon-fed for months by client fans sites that there was £150m to spend, and that Danny boy was happy to lob in a few bob more to help us get some decent, top of the range additions to the squad.

Have the gullible out there - me included - been fed a load of old pony about how much we had to spend?

This is clearly what the board wanted us to believe. So how come when the key moment arrives does it appear that Moyes had to chose between players “for now” ahead of players for the future? You would think with all the build-up that we could, should, afford both.

The figures being banded about are obscene, and we have taken the high moral ground over the issue. But there are no morals in the transfer business, these are the sort of figures you have to contend with if you are going to make next level signings, transfers that will take us into the Champions League regions - and that’s what we all want.

But no. I agree that Onana’s demands were ridiculous, but there are a lot of folk at our club and outside in the cesspit that is the transfer window, who are stunned this deal has collapsed.

If Everton complete their highjack of the deal, and it will cost them approaching £40m and wages closer to £100,000 a week. We may well live to regret the outcome of these past few days.

Journalist sources in the window circus tell me they are “stunned” that this deal fell apart. That it was “five months in the making” and “was a major part of your jigsaw”.

And by that they mean Declan Rice. The shadow of his departure has hung over everything that Moyes and Newman have done over two windows. Newman was given the task of finding a replacement for Rice ahead of the January window. This was the outcome.

So why, with all the noise about £150m of transfer spend, does it come to this? The only player coming through the door this week is Maxwel Cornet (Maxwel’s Silver Hammer I hear the old timers who remember the Beatles suggesting - ask your dad/grandad) a very decent £17.5m buy, but a Will Stonehouse client, the agent that David Sullivan uses for every eventuality.

To replace Rice we need to be clever, cute and find something that has to work in five years time. It’s a gamble but at the last knockings, someone at Stratford towers put the block on it. Maybe Moyes in the fiscal circumstances may well have had no choice as he juggled the signings he wants for the here and now.

Just listen to him. He was not a happy bunny. “We are far from finished, we have to fill the voids”. As smacked arses go, that was pretty direct.


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He talked of no signings in January, of the need to replace Mark Noble and the half-a-dozen squad players who have departed, of the need to replenish the squad, the rebuilding process we are in. Actually ten players have left and the only tangible income has been the £500,000 for Aji Alesi and whatever the tribunal fee for Sonny Perkins is.

But all that underlines one of our side issues. We suffer now because of the amount of players we sign with no resale value; too old, injured, just get rid. And then there’s the kids we sign and don’t make it.

On one hand Moyes has one of the best value-for-money records in the division based on price, wages, output, achievement etc. Only Brighton and Brentford are better, so the guy knows how to run a frugal ship.

But what he has inherited you would not wish on your worst enemy, or Antonio Conte if you like. Our net spend, some £90m, is horrendous. Only Arsenal at £102.84m and Chelsea at £101.87m are worse (source PA). Forest £80.07m (not surprisingly rebuilding quickly), Newcastle £80.7m, Spurs £57m, Manchester United £56m, you get the point.

The best include Liverpool £4m, Leeds £623,000, Aston Villa £14m. You again get the point, we have nothing to sell and the rest have assets to bolster their transfer budget. Now you can see why Moyes has been so desperate to sign young players with potential and value in the long run, and it explains why he has passed on plenty of supposed targets that have gone elsewhere.

And he is having to break through the restrictions on spending imposed over the years, if he wants to step into a higher level.

The net spend in the Premier League over five years is interesting. We have spent net £188m, that’s roughly £30m a year. Manchester City £650m, Manchester United £630m, Chelsea £465m, Arsenal £428m, Liverpool £318m,Spurs £265m. And Everton...£359m, they don’t seem to learn, do they?

These are the sort of figures, football reality, Moyes is confronting. So ,maybe, just maybe, they should have gone for Onana.

Do not think for one moment that Moyes does not understand the magnitude of the task. He wants players to improve us, not fill the bench. And all the time the void that Rice’s departure will create dogs his every move. And now we understand more just why.

We’ve all heard about the agreement that Rice will stay this summer, a gentleman’s agreement, for whatever that is worth in this painfully unregulated football industry.

And we have all been aware that he will probably go next summer. But it has now become crystal clear. The ‘agreement’ with his advisors is that we will ‘listen’ to offers next summer. And the noise will be deafening.

It is this scenario that has dictated so much of Moyes and Newman’s approach, probably the complications that brought January’s vacant window to a close. "Let’s leave it until the summer" was the thinking.

So now Moyes has to concentrate on the here and now, the players he needs to maintain our current position. He needs another centre back, Feyenoord’s Marcos Senasi at £12m is being touted, as well as Wolves' Conor Coady. There has to be another midfielder as well as a striker, Blackburn’s Ben Brereton Diaz seems to be top of the list.

Moyes’ attitude is clear, though, there has to be more, quality as well as numbers. There's one month to go, hang on for the trolley dash.

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