The dawning of a new era

Resident ITK East Village Hammer spent the transfer window bringing us the latest news on West Ham's transfer dealings via the KUMB Forum. Now, with the window having closed, he takes stock of the situation and assesses West Ham's chances of a successful campaign.

For me, it was a 6.5/10 transfer window.

I'm really happy we've signed a few players from Ajax and James Ward-Prowse. They're exactly the profile of players I think we should be going for, and I'm chuffed with the quality of player we have brought in - we could have just done with two or three more.

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I believe we still have an unbalanced squad that could do with upgrades in a few key positions. We either have to do it now, or next summer. Both of those options will cost money, but the risk of not doing it now is that we go backwards, and can then no longer attract the Paqueta/Alvarez/Kudus standard of player in future windows.

West Ham have spent far too long underperforming and too long doing so under the current ownership. The Premier League has changed dramatically since 1992 and we have been in and out of it. What we should be doing, in this new scary and ever further professionalised era, is cementing our position as a top 10 team, never accepting we drop below that. Relegation battles are unacceptable if you have a wage bill twice that of the teams you are battling to stay up against.

As I've mentioned on the KUMB Forum, we have spent the same amount under Sullivan and Gold that we did since the Premier League's inception. Being in and around Europe is exactly where we should be and I see it as simply the club finally reaching what we should all expect as status quo. To those who say we've never had it better, I'd agree!

But that failure in the past shouldn't cloud your expectations of the now. That we have been in Europe for the last three seasons after being in frequent relegation battles is brilliant and almost entirely down to David Moyes. If you feel the need to credit the board too, that's fine, but bear in mind the ten years before DM joined us. I still feel he has to work with one hand tied behind his back.

A few of those criticising posters for complaining were adamant that we'd bring in a striker - Youssef En-Nesyri, or someone. We haven't. The whole "calm down, everything will be ok" is a great line, and of course it will be, but there should be valid concerns still over the way we still operate and do business. The fact that we don't have players lined up for the first week of the transfer window and the breadth of our scouting network is a choice.

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We spent a lot of time this summer targeting players in different positions - strikers and left wingers that we didn't end up signing. You might believe Moyes is happy with his squad, and he might be, but we also know he wanted it to be better and we are carrying a handful of players who he doesn't want. It points towards a slightly unbalanced side that unfortunately we have to constantly remedy.

Danny Ings, for instance, is a player brought in on big wages last winter because we lacked goals in a relegation battle - we now have to shift him by making a loss on the signing fee, or paying some of his wages on loan. That isn't a distinctive West Ham thing, but it has happened to us more than it should do to a team with our profile and spending power. Unfortunately it once again boils down to the professionalism of those at the top and an unwillingness to impose a structure that allows for evolution, not revolution.

So is this a new dawn under Tim Steidten, will Moyes get another new contract and is it David Sullivan's last season? The irony is, the more successful we are this season, the less is clear.

Sullivan wanted to sell up in the summer, wanted to bin off Moyes and still wanted to play around a bit too much in the transfer side of things. If Moyes continues on the trajectory of this season and we have more success, it may invigorate the old man to spend more nights in east London rather than a boat in the Pacific. Moyes might deserve another contract - some would argue he already does - and maybe then he gets to buy a few more players he wants and continue to evolve the team.

I have my reservations. We've been burnt before and I don't see enough change behind the scenes to be truly optimistic. I'm enjoying the football side of things for now and revelling in Michail Antonio's Indian summer, the impact of the new boys and keeping everything crossed we don't have any injuries. I don't think we'll do any business in January, because we generally don't unless we absolutely have to.

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What I'd love is for us to be picking our players now for the January window/next Summer, scouting them and building a profile of four or five players in every position on the pitch. One from a top league that'd be a fantasy pick, right down to a player who is 21, plying his trade in the Serbian Super League but has all the qualities to be a gem for the future. The next Dušan Vlahović, possibly.

Some have scoffed that our fans wouldn't accept being the new Brighton, but being the new Brighton is just a byword for professionalism. We should be buying cheap, and selling high. The difference is that we are a more established club, who should be able to hold onto the quality players for longer, and challenge for titles that Brighton wouldn't be near.

Let's not squander our position and allow teams like Brighton or Brentford to overtake us out of complacency.

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