Best Transfer Activity This Window?

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Yet another new COS member Effra weighs up West Ham’s transfer window against their fellow “Top Six” brethren.

Weighing up the comings and goings across the Premiership clubs with similar UEFA and cup aspirations as West Ham, I don’t think anybody has had an obviously better window.

Sure, there’s no headline signing like Duff at Newcastle or Berbatov and Zokora at Spurs. But Tottenham have lost one of their key players of last season in Carrick, as have Blackburn in Bellamy, and given Tottenham’s recent history of foreign acquisitions, I wouldn’t bet on both Berbatov and Zokora delivering by Christmas. With less than a week to go before the season we’re sitting on four strikers and an 80th minute substitute who will snatch a few, whilst Newcastle and Bolton have depleted front lines and thus far nothing to show for their desire to spend big money on new goal-scoring faces.

Of course Ashton’s injury is such a psychic blow (why does it have to happen to a West Ham player again – find me a West Ham fan on Tuesday who didn’t find themselves screaming at some point, surely after joining the increasingly dismal ‘Footballer’s Book’ club it should have been Lampard) that it’s difficult not to lose perspective, especially for those already disappointed by Pardew’s transfer activity this summer in the absence of another Ashton-like signing. But what Pardew has done this window is strengthen us where we needed it.

We needed a second goalkeeper because of Carroll’s dodgy back. Despite the media obsession with him, Sheringham is here to coach now, as he slows the play down too much to be the fourth striker. Cole seems cocky but has at least as much potential as Marlon once did under Pardew’s influence. Four new full backs do seem excessive, but two of them can play centre half where we definitely need more cover. I saw Paintstill play for Ghana at Griffin Park on Tuesday night and the guy’s great. He’s quick, strong, gets up and down the pitch, reads the game well, looks to organise the other defenders, and has a lovely touch and pass. . Pardew says he now just wants another right-sided midfielder. But in concentrating on the right flank, he’s also saying that he is happy with the left. That suggests that he’s confident that teenager Kyel Reid has what it takes when Etherington needs a rest, which is very exciting. Elsewhere, Bowyer has the hunger, and can play across the midfield.

It’s also just as important for clubs like West Ham that the transfer window closes without some player making it impossible for the manager to keep him, and though I won’t relax until midnight on the 31st, Yossi’s agent seems to have piped down. With our ambitions for the season centred on winning a cup, we can afford our main striker to be crocked for three months, and not many clubs can say that. West Ham threw away 9 points last Christmas (that’s not counting the Chelsea game) because there was no cover for Gabbidon at centre back, and no imagination without Yossi, and then 12 points putting out weakened teams to pursue the FA Cup dream.

Keeping the successful team he did have and getting a more resilient squad so that doesn’t happen again is what Pardew had to do this summer, and he’s just about there.