It’s not been an ideal summer for West Ham as they prepare for the start of the new Premier League season.
Speaking to CaughtOffside, Hammers legend George Parris has offered his insight on the situation, discussing David Moyes’ position, a possible transfer deal for Burnley defender James Tarkowski, and the potential loss of Declan Rice to Chelsea.
“There’s been a bit of upheaval which is certainly not ideal before the start of a new season,” Parris admits. “I think he (Moyes) certainly deserves the chance on the back end of what he did last season. This being a new season gives him the chance to start afresh. Obviously we’ve been a bit limited in the transfer market so come Saturday he’ll have to make do with the squad he’s got, there haven’t been any new additions, and one or two people who’ve left. It’ll be interesting to see how we start and the formation we see against Newcastle.”
It’s been a quiet summer in the transfer market for West Ham, which is not ideal for a club that only narrowly escaped relegation last season, but Parris is optimistic that the east Londoners might not be too far away from a deal for Tarkowski, who has shone during his time at Burnley to show that he could be a useful addition to Moyes’ struggling side.
“I think the bid is around £30million isn’t it? Another £10m I’m sure will acquire the player,” Parris says. “If he’s one of the missing pieces of the jigsaw then that’s what it might take I suppose. Burnley don’t really have to sell, but hard cash, once it’s there, is hard to turn down. Whether that gets done before the first game of the season looks highly unlikely at this moment in time.”
Is Parris concerned that Tarkowski could be being targeted with the view to replacing Rice? “From a personal point of view I certainly hope not,” he says. “We should be building a side around Declan in the next couple of years. He’s an England international, a homegrown player, and a vital cog in what goes on going forward. That won’t be a popular move if that was to happen. From our point of view it’s a good thing that Chelsea have bought a lot of players already, so will they still pursue him or not? Hopefully not.”
Rice is one of the biggest recent success stories to come through West Ham’s famous academy, but apart from that there doesn’t seem to be much of an opportunity for players coming through the same ranks that produced Premier League greats like Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole.
Could a lack of signings this summer mean that soon changes? Parris would certainly like to see more homegrown players coming through, and named one talent he has high hopes for.
“Being a fan, you always like to see their own come through the ranks and ultimately go on and play a lot of games for the club,” he says. “The lad (Ben) Johnson looks decent, he’s been in and around the team, had a few games at the back end of last season, it’ll be interesting to see if he can compete for the right full-back slot. I think it’s important to have that quality blend of youth and experience.”
One recent signing that hasn’t really paid off yet is Jack Wilshere, but Parris believes he could still have a big role to play if he puts his injury woes behind him.
“Hopefully I think for Jack you’d like him to have a full season just to show what he can do,” he says. “A few years ago he was in and around that England setup quite regularly. The challenge for him is to show that form again. If he can stay injury free he can provide some good passes going forward.”
With so much going on off the pitch, West Ham fans may well be relieved to see what the team can do on it as the new season draws closer, but Parris has cautioned that there are a lot of clubs who could be ahead of his old side in a bid to finish in the top half.
“Everyone always wants to finish in the top six, but if you look at what happened last season and where we’re at this season before a ball’s been kicked, top ten would be realistic,” he says. “When you talk about these things you can instantly reel off five or six teams who will most probably be higher than ourselves, but hopefully we’ll be a part of that battle for the top ten.
“The improvement will come from the end of last season, it was ultimately the best period of our whole season, so we just need to transform that again into a good start against Newcastle and in our home games. That will be vital just to steady the ship.”