An interesting window, which has ultimately proved quite fruitful, although I don't think anybody could criticise anybody else for believing at one point that our dealings were done after Lanzini, and that a free transfer for Joey Barton was the only likely outcome. It is rare that a Club goes for so long without making any transfers, and it seemed like a lost cause at one point, all building up to a crescendo of disappointment, where we would purchase one or two players on free transfers.
I have individual views on each player who has arrived, and varying views on each player who has departed. I have views on the manner in which the club has conducted itself at boardroom level. I also have views on the manner certain players have appeared to be treated. I have views on the nature of some deals. I have questions as to the extent of the net which has been trawled for some of the signings. However, I also have great commendations for some of the deals which have been established.
1. The New Manager.
A complete mixed bag so far. Wins against Liverpool and Arsenal have been spectacular, the losses to Leicester and Bournemouth disappointing, and the departure from Europe a complete farce. The six red cards we have received this season as of September 1st is also a major worry (even if one or two have been dubious). The manner in which Bilic dealt with the away tie in Astra was truly worrying. He has yet to truly find his feet with his best team, but he is definitely getting there. He doesn't have unwavering support from me yet, but he is getting there.
2. The New Players.
(A) Darren Randolph.
I don't think the net was trawled nearly far enough for our new reserve goalkeeper. I don't pour nearly the same level of criticism over him that some do, but I have posted that keepers like Shay Given, Brad Friedel, Paul Robinson, Victor Valdes, Adam Bogdan, David Ospina/Schnezy, seemed to be available, yet we went for a lower Championship free agent. In spite of this, he is an international, with plenty of league experience. I don't worry too much about his concession of 8 goals against Bournemouth, as often times the whole team is responsible for such a loss. I will reserve judgement until the end of the season, and he has endeared himself a little with a clean sheet at Anfield.
(B) Angelo Ogbonna
This is a man who on paper we are lucky to have. So far, on the pitch its been Jeckyll and Hyde. The man, once settled will be a rock in the heart of our defence, and will bring much needed European Cup experience to the club. He will find his feet, and I believe he will ultimately be the name on the team sheet who will be joined by one of the other centre backs at the club. Also, it looks like the deal didn't involve an upfront payment of the full fee. An international Centre Back, with Champions League experience, and two Serie A medals in his back pocket, who needs a bit of time to adjust. Yep, I think I like this deal.
(C) Carl Jenkinson.
Not a fan of this deal at all. This loan deal has multiple strings attached including a loan fee of £2 Million, and the existence of Jenkinson's five year deal, which he signed with Arsenal last month. He has started the season poorly, and has been the subject of a red card. His crossing hasn't really improved at all, and it seems that he needs either some time off. Unlike last season, it seems like he is less in the shop window, and the new contract will raise his asking price, regardless of at what level it will be set. Even if he goes on to have a good season, its hard not to feel that he will have played 70 games or so, over two seasons to Arsenal's benefit.
(D) Alex Song.
A deal which I would like to have seen concluded earlier, even though I can understand the monetary and commercial reasons for holding off. Yes, he blew hot and cold last season, but this is a world class player we have on our hands, and on his best days he will boss other teams off the park. The loan deal will also allow us rectify his injury issues, and perhaps if the right performances are forthcoming, and the injury clears up, there may be scope for an outright purchase in January? I feel that unlike Jenkinson, this deal has no strings attached, and the sale of a performing Song to West Ham, would ultimately benefit everybody.
(E) Pedro Obiang.
Another experienced Serie A player, who has got rave reviews from aficionados of Italian Football. Personally, I know little about him, apart from what iv seen, but so far, so good.
(F) Victor Moses.
The reason id be more willing to swallow this deal, as opposed to the Jenkinson deal, is that I feel we could woo Moses before the move to the Olympic Stadium (also if i recall correctly, Moses has expressed an unwillingness to return to Chelsea during the course of loan spells in the past). Also, I feel Chelsea will use the contract as leverage to cash in on the player at some point, and this gives them the protection they need, while also allowing Moses continue to provide reason for them to keep him. Moses is tricky, fast, and capable of beating players easily. Not a goalscorer, but a goof provider. I think this deal could prove to be one of the best.
(G) Dimitri Payet
This guy is sheer class, and our version of Shaquiri, Rondon, or Juanmi. A playmaker, with a serious eye for goal, and like Moses and ability to create things in tiny spaces. His season has started reasonably well, and it was a joke that Dechamps dropped him from the French team, ostensibly for the reason that he didn't join Chelsea or Arsenal during the window. He had a good preseason, really stole the headlines during the Arsenal game, and is already on the scoresheet for us. This is money very well spent.
(H) Manuel Lanzini
So far so good from a player who is something of a mystery. It was hard not to be slightly perturbed by the signing of another non-capped Argentine, with a good reputation in the Argentine league. However, Lanzini has scored goals, and seems not too shy in his new surroundings.
(I) Nicola Jelevic
A good out-and-out striker, but like Randolph I feel the net could have been trawled slightly wider. Jelevic is the harvest of a relegated team, which is always somethings I'm a little reticent to endorse given the relegation that such a player suffered, and its not as though Jelevic has been setting the world alight at Hull, also he is no longer a Croatian International. Be that as it may, he is a recognised striker, who knows where the back of the net is, and has scored almost 30 Premiership goals in three years, which isn't too bad. Also, he has played under Bilic before, which was probably a key factor in the transfer. Essentially, I have mixed views on this transfer, but I wish him well.
(J) M Antonio.
Cannot possibly comment, due to a complete lack of knowledge, but he seems to be a capable provider and scorer of goals in the Championship. Much like Cresswell, it would be wonderful if he could make the appropriate step up, and with highly positive results. Along with Moses, we have covered off the deficiency we have for wingers, with his signature.
3. Players Out.
(A) Kevin Nolan.
His time had come. An excellent captain, a good goalscorer, and a positive influence in difficult circumstances. Sadly, he had been on the wane in terms of his on-pitch influence for 2 years, and on some occasions let his frustrations get the better of him. Seemed like a package deal with Sam, and really shouldn't have been re-introduced to the team after returning from injury last season. In fact, he seemed to be shoe-horned into the team when he didn't need to be. I feel his departure was advantageous for both parties, and hopefully he finds a club quickly.
(B) Guy Demel.
Gave an excellent service over four years at the club, but last season suggested that he was a fringe squad player, let alone a squad player. At his best he showed some great form, was able to beat his man, and even grabbed a goal against Liverpool to boot. Injuries hampered him, but he was a very good player for his time here.
(C) Carlton Cole.
Iv said it before, this was a particularly strange relationship. Singed in 2006 he alienated fans by mentioning that we would be a platform for greater things, he then proceeded to struggle for his first season, and then lose his place to Freddy Sears during his second. Although finances (and Ashton's injuries and retirement) dictated, Cole was well worth his place in the team during 2008-2010 as he scored plenty of goals, and even picked up a few England caps along the way. But then his presence in the team became erratic. Yes, he retained his place during the Championship season, but after that he lost it, before being let go, re-signed, and then reduced to a fringe role, only required during Carroll's long spells on the treatment table. We then scuppered a move to WBA in January, and now he is in the footballing wilderness again. It reminds me of the type of guy/or girl who has a friend who they have no interest in, but they are willing to take out to events like weddings/discos etc as the +1 to "be seen", but at any point where something more attractive comes along, the other party is reduced again, only to be called upon every time the new relationship turns rocky. It is mutually advantageous to both parties, but it actually holds back both parties as they have become reliant on each others constant presence as a "back up plan", but with no intention of ever solidfiying. Essentially West Ham and Carlton Cole have been the "friends", with Andy Carroll, Dean Ashton, and Diafra Sakho as the "shinier options". Hence, I believe the time to cut the cord has arrived.
This is a keeper who needs to be playing regularly and playing well regularly. It was canvassed on this site that when Jussi arrived in 2012 his confidence was shot to bits and that it took time to bring him round to understanding his quality. He played exceptionally well during 2012-2013, was genuinely unlucky to lose his place to Adrian in 2013-2014, and was a virtually every present reserve keeper last season. However, given the confidence nature of his abilities, his absence from the first team could be an issue, and as a result it was better to release him to play somewhere else.
(E) Mobido Maiga.
M'eh. He has played a handful of games for us in the past 18 months. Given a great opportunity in 2013-2014 when he was the only fit striker on our books, which he really didn't take. Scored some important goals, and some absolute screamers, but he never set the world alight, or looked like he could change games. I always feel his opening day failure to score against Aston Villa in 2012, when one on one with Shay Given set the tone for his career here. Cut the mustard in France, didn't really do so here or at QPR. Again, I wish him well.
(F) Matt Jarvis.
The true extent of Jarvis' depreciation is quite unknown. Like Maiga he seemed to be back in the team based on a lack of options, as opposed to anything to do with his abilities. He has struggled to justify his high price tag, and has been in and out of the team over the past year. A loan deal could work wonders, and its always good to have the option to bring him home. Also, I feel we have more than enough wingers for the time being.
(G) Stuart Downing.
Being honest, I'm pretty displeased with this one. Downing, when played properly is a top player, who can terrorise defences and can score a goal. I also am displeased to hear him say that the Club didn't do enough to keep him. I feel given the current squad, and Valencia's injury, Downing could really have made the step up in terms of his influence, however, we won't know. The only upside is we managed to recoup the fee for a player who is now north of 30.
(H) Dan Potts.
Joins the list of youth players who just didn't have enough. Really though we had an excellent player, but his progress was not as rapid as it needed to be. I hope his time at Luton Town goes well, and he can return up the leagues in due course.
(I) Reese Burke & Diego Poyet.
Two loan deals that will help (in my opinion) our best potential youth players (along with Oxford).
My Overall View.
I think the window, while not as positive as last year's ended on a high note. As fans, we were right to be concerned. Between the Europa League debacle, the rampant indiscipline, the defeats to mid-ranking teams at home, the drip-feeding of information, and the attempt at convincing us that Joey Barton would be a "great deal", we were given major cause for concern. The victory over Arsenal could have been a flash in the pan (Cech's errors were particularly poor), and the weak first half performances against Leicester and Bournemouth could have become the norm. However, the really good actions of the team and the board over the past three days have really shown that there is much to be excited for this season.
The transfer window has provided us with an opportunity to remove accumulating dead-wood, and upgrade where necessary. I don't agree with every transfer, and I don't agree with the terms of every transfer, but if we can avoid long term injury, and players like Carroll and Valencia can return quickly, our squad will be well able to challenge for the best. I also hope that Bilic will reconcile with Amalfitano as I feel he also has something to offer the team. Ditto James Collins. Injuries will happen, and with Collins on board we can avoid having to look into signing a Roger Johnson, or Emmanuel Pogatetz to plug the gap.
The summer has also been useful in promoting some of our young players, and it seems that the likes of Oxford, Burke, Cullen, and Poyet are very much in contention for big things in due course, and are all emerging with early European and Premier League experience which will stand to them. Hopefully, the likes of Lee will also get a chance to play in the early rounds of the League Cup, and perhaps develop further.
I think we are well set for a good season, and hopefully the new players will jell quickly, and we can start looking forward to great things!