West Ham: Crucial January mistake comes back to bite the Hammers

David Moyes, Manager of West Ham United (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
David Moyes, Manager of West Ham United (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

Januaries have thus far defined David Moyes’ tenure as West Ham boss. His first win in his current tenure was after New Year’s day 2020, a 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth that preceded a much-needed upturn in form.

He signed Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen, too, that very month — both of whom are now key players in his starting XI. Even last season’s miracle loan of Jesse Lingard, a catalyst in their ultimately successful chase for European football, came at the end of the January window.

January 2022, however, seems a turning point for all the wrong reasons — notable not for the moves Moyes made, but for those he didn’t.

While on the hunt for badly needed reinforcements for his injury-hit squad, the Scot rued the lack of availability of his prime targets, while simultaneously overlooking any and all viable backup options, presumably for not being an adequate enough upgrade on his starting XI.

If this is the case, it is made contentious by the fact clubs lower down the table than the Hammers pulled off spectacular moves. Burnley, for example, sold long time striking talisman Chris Wood to Newcastle mid-window, then replaced him with the Bundesliga’s second-best striker statistically over the last three seasons, all within a fortnight.

One wonders if Wout Weghorst was ever considered by Moyes — if he had, surely a move to a European team would have appealed to the Dutch international more than one to relegation-threatened Burnley.

What moves West Ham did attempt?

What moves West Ham did attempt, they dragged out too long. Marseille’s Croatian international Duje Caleta-Car was chased throughout the window, only for his deal to fall through right at the death.

An agreement for powerful Colombian striker Duvan Zapata, meanwhile, was negotiated so late in the window that the move could not be completed in time — even with the famous PL “deal sheet” time extension.

West Ham’s failure to get any move through in a whole month is made all the more surprising by the fact fresh investment arrived with new part-owner Daniel Kretinsky, while the previously-empty role of Head of Recruitment was filled by former Man City scout Rob Newman.

The consequences of these transfer failings have been clear to see, with West Ham’s spectral fitness and form issues coming home to roost just after the January deadline passed.

A failure to replace the injured Angelo Ogbonna in the heart of defence with Caleta-Car has brought down the number of senior centre backs to three, only for Kurt Zouma to then seriously threaten that situation further with his recent controversy.

Michail Antonio, meanwhile, has had such a sharp drop off in form that Moyes must seriously be considering converting winger Jarrod Bowen into a striker permanently.

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With the points drying up in the league, and a crucial Europa League Round of 16 tie looming, one wonders if Moyes would be so choosy in the window if he could go back in time to January 1st of this year. Chances are he wouldn’t be.