Last year was a middling first season for me and West Ham. A half-decent Europa League run and a solid run to the League Cup Semi-finals brightened something of a damp squib in the league. Therefore, this year is vital. With no Europe to worry about, hopefully we can push on domestically. But first, let’s recap the summer of 2016!
First things first, all four of last year’s loanees will not be returning to play in the famous claret and blue. Alex Song was pretty good in midfield, but was earning £140,000(!!) a week, so he goes back to Barcelona. I was keen to have Carl Jenkinson back, but Arsenal refused to give me a figure at which they would negotiate. Shame, a new right-back would be a key target for the summer. Manuel Lanzini, a key figure in our first season, was keen to come back and of course we had an agreed fee to sign him of £5m, but unfortunately the Home Office didn’t fancy him and we couldn’t sort a work permit. Right, that’s all of them… What? Victor Moses? Sorry, forgot we even had him in the first place. Waste of space.
As we said, a new right-back would be key this summer, so I snapped up young Sam Byram for around £7.5 million. Pricey perhaps, but he’s young and already at a similar level to Jenkinson. With Joey O’Brien aging and already rubbish, I needed a back-up right back, so we dipped into the loan market to bring in Jon Flanagan. He provides cover on both flanks, so he should come in handy.
Next on the priority list was a replacement for Alex Song. A quick look at the transfer list showed young prospect Julian Weigl from Dortmund. For just £4.4m, he will come straight into the defensive midfield spot and at just 20, there is plenty of potential yet to be realised. With Lanzini not returning, we needed an attacking midfielder to compete with Dimitri Payet. Thanks to our scouting department, we brought in the 19-year old Croatian Andrija Balic from Hajduk. Who? No, me neither, but he looks tasty…
Another loan signing needed to boost our wing department, and Gokhan Tore comes in from Bayern. I really, really like this guy, and he seems to have the right wing all sewn up. He gives us a potential opportunity to sell Enner Valencia, should the big boys come calling.
Finally, I traditionally try to avoid the sort of names that everyone talks about in the FM Community, but with Geronimo Rulli available on a free, I just had to. He will come in to compete with Adrian for the place between the sticks.
In terms of transfers out, we lost four members of the squad. Mauro Zarate had failed to be involved at all in the first season, so he’s off to Derby for £1.8m. Darren Randolph wasn’t happy with being number two, despite him being awful, so he went for a cut-price £250k to Nottm Forest. For the same price, Canadian centre-back Doneil Henry went to Las Palmas in Spain. With Reece Burke and Reece Oxford coming through the youth ranks, we had no need for him clogging up squad spaces.
The biggest transfer out of the summer was Pedro Obiang. He failed to set the world alight in the first season, so I was happy to send him off to Juventus for £17.5m. Farewell Pedro.
Of course, we have moved into our brand spanking new stadium, the Olympic Stadium. To celebrate, I hosted German champions Bayern Munich. I wondered whether they might send a youth team out, but no such luck. Look at this eleven…!
Elsewhere in Pre-season we took a trip out to Australia for a training camp before a succession of friendlies against smaller opposition. Strangely, I was unable to arrange friendlies while we were down under, so I imagine the lads just trained full on for 10 days in baking heat. Lovely.
Now, here’s where I need your help. With Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho hardly banging in the goals, I’m searching for a new striker. I have £15m~ to spend, so I am welcoming any suggestions for second season wonders to sign. Comment below, or tweet me @nathdavidlewis if you’ve got any offers.
NEXT UP: SECOND SEASON SYNDROME?