Lopetegui Needs To “Quiet Some Bats”

7 May, 2024
written by Member Post

Lopetegui Needs To “Quiet Some Bats”

By Barry Meikle

 

Bear with me while I make this somewhat laboured analogy. In a baseball game, a pitcher throws eight solid innings. The pitcher, during his eight-inning stint, allows a couple of hits and a few walks, but no runs score. Then in the ninth inning he loads the bases before being relieved of his duties by his manager.

Let’s suppose the next pitcher up allows just the one hit – a home run – and all of a sudden, the team is down 4-0. Who’s to blame? The pitcher that gave up the home run, or the guy that got them in that position in the first place.

It may seem slightly harsh, but this is the situation in which David Moyes has left the West Ham United squad. We now have the prospect of Julen Lopetegui coming in from the bullpen and, through no fault of his own, having to clean up someone else’s mess.

The mess is an aging squad, littered with disheartened, under-used players and other younger ones who haven’t been given a chance to show what they can do. Couple that with us potentially struggling to fill the required eight home-grown player slots in a squad of 25 with established players. We will fill them, of course, but with who?

Cresswell and Ings are aging, aren’t really good enough anymore and ideally need to be replaced. However, when they have been pressed into action this season, they have performed admirably. Ben Johnson is refusing to sign a new contract and will be off in the Summer.

Aside from these three, we have James Ward-Prowse who should stick around unless his beloved Southampton come calling if they achieve promotion via the Playoffs. Kalvin Phillips will, mercifully for him, go back to Manchester City after the most disastrous loan spell at the club since Alex Kral.

Jarrod Bowen will surely attract interest in the Summer and may decide to bite the bullet and put improving his England prospects ahead of the consequences of thinly veiled threats of violence from his girlfriend’s father.

And that’s pretty much it. Flynn Downes should return from Southampton and will likely play a more prominent role next season. Of the Academy players, we have Anang, Casey, Scarles, Earthy, Orford and Mubama with a grand total of 6 Premier League substitute appearances between them this season – and Mubama has five of these. Not nearly enough if we’re truly serious about developing them. Potts and Marshall will return from loan, and I hope they’ll see some game time next season. But at 21 and 20 respectively, it’s now or never for them.

Of the non-English players our goalkeeping situation should be solid enough for the next 12 months with Areola and Fabianski. Defensively, I’d only really be inclined to retain Mavropanos, Aguerd, Emerson. Coufal will stay after the club triggered his extension until 2025 and, if nothing else, the best ability he seems to possess is availability. Let’s not kid ourselves that we don’t need an overhaul at the back after conceding 70 goals and counting this season – the most for 57 years. Ogbonna is out of contract and Zouma looks done. Kehrer will return from loan at Monaco, but I wouldn’t bet on him sticking around.

In Midfield, even if Paqueta does leave, we’re fairly set with JWP, Soucek, Kudus, Alvarez and the returning Benrahma. Up front, Antonio shows flashes and maybe he needs a new manager to help him rediscover his scoring touch. Cornet hasn’t exactly put himself in the shop window and, terrifyingly, has three years left. Ings will pick up the last year of his ridiculous contract too – why wouldn’t he? Bowen, should he stay, may be our only genuine goalscoring threat and this is an area that must be addressed in the Summer – and properly this time.

So, it looks a little bleak right now and David Moyes had the temerity to state that “the club is in a stronger position than when I returned back in 2019”. I mean technically it is, but only when looking in the rear-view mirror. We have replaced our regular mid-table finishes and two flirtations with relegation in our first six seasons back in the Premier League since 2012, with mostly solid top-half finishes and two flirtations with relegation in the six seasons since. And, as he loves to remind us, we have competed in Europe for three consecutive seasons for the first time in our history and won our first major trophy for 43 years.

Of course, I will be eternally grateful to him for that win – the first in my living memory as a Hammers fan. I will treasure the memories of that day forever, even if it was spent in a mostly empty local sports bar with a neighbour, in my adopted Canadian hometown of Guelph, Ontario in the middle of the day with a scattering of just-off-the-course, bemused, golf buddy barflies wondering why this Scottish fan of an English team, with awful jerseys that they’d never heard of, was so delighted by it winning a competition they didn’t know existed.

If we shift our focus to look in the other direction, we return to reality with a bump. This website has already written about our “Big Summer Rebuild” and it needed three articles to grasp the full scale of the problem.

So, returning to the baseball analogy, let’s hope Mr. Lopetegui keeps those bats quiet. We all need to pray he doesn’t leave a misplaced pitch over the middle and allow that home run. Of course, the Spaniard will get the blame, but the real damage will have been done by the man who loaded the bases, walking off into the sunset enjoying his legacy of the club in “a stronger position” than when he found it.

 

Thanks Barry, a great read and a well written article! 

Comments

You need to be a member and be logged in to comment and get involved with the community. Its free to join here.

6 Comments

  1. Great read Barry and some well made points!

    2
    0
    • Thanks AD! Very much appreciated.

      1
      0
    • Thanks David. I know you would at least understand the baseball references. 🙂

      1
      0
  2. That was an excellent read Barry, you should do it more often!

    1
    0
    • Thanks mikea! Appreciate the feedback. I’d love to write more often but finding the time is the hard part. There’s also often a short shelf-life of relevance with the subjects I want to write about.

      0
      0

Submit a Comment

Follow Us On Social Media

Recent Comments

Player Links & Rumours Rated

Ratings will be updated as transfer window develops.

Player

Position

Age

Club

Potential Cost

Rating

Conor Gallagher

CM

23

Chelsea

£35m

Conor Gallagher

CM

23

Chelsea

£35m

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This