Striking problems for West Ham United
- Credit: PA
West Ham United are facing the prospect of dropping into the Championship for the third time in 17 years and while there are many reasons why this is the case, the lack of goal scorers is a key factor.
The poor recruitment of strikers over the years is typified by club record signing Sebastien Haller. The Frenchman cost £45 million in the summer having scored 20 goals in all competitions for Eintracht Frankfurt last season. This season he currently has seven goals.
West Ham have never had a striker score 20 goals in a Premier League season, the most achieved by any striker was the 16 by Paolo Di Canio in the 1999/00 season, so why has the club never been able to find that elusive 20-goal striker?
Roshane Thomas, West Ham staff writer for The Athletic, said: “It all comes down to recruitment. In the last five years West Ham had Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, but the best striker was Marko Arnautovic and he was a winger converted into a striker.
“If you look back over West Ham in the last 10 years the one position they’ve always struggled with is striker.”
The most goals scored by any West Ham player in a Premier League season in the last five years was the 11 by converted winger Marko Arnautovic in the 2017/18 season.
If you compare that with Wolverhampton Wanderers in only their second season back in the top flight, their striker Raul Jiminez has 15 goals this season and has already scored more goals in a Premier League campaign than any West Ham player has for 20 years.
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The list of strikers signed in the David Gold and David Sullivan era in particular have been underwhelming, with names such as Simone Zaza, Mido and Benni McCarthy not managing a solitary goal between them during their respective times at West Ham.
The club did splash the cash to land Mexican goal scoring legend Javier Hernandez at the start of the 2017/18 season, however the most he scored in a campaign was an underwhelming eight.
Are the club simply recruiting the wrong strikers or are the strikers they have signed not being utilised properly?
Thomas added: “Haller has struggled a lot because he’s playing up top by himself. If you watched him at Frankfurt, that’s not how you get best out of him.
“At Frankfurt he played in a 4-3-3, that’s how you get the best out of him. He’s made good progress in his partnership with (Michail) Antonio, the partnership between them does work but it’s not going to be prolific.”
Michail Antonio has only scored twice this season and West Ham’s second top goal scorer – Haller leading the way with seven – is Robert Snodgrass with five goals.
The only other strikers at the club are Xande Silva and Albian Ajeti, neither of whom have figured since the season resumed.
Thomas said: “I feel like someone is going to be a hero during these next couple of games and it could be Ajeti or it could be Silva.
“If you keep bringing on (Felipe) Anderson and (Manuel) Lanzini who have done nothing all season you’re going to get the same result, which is nothing.
“Bring on Ajeti, bring on Silva, they could get us an important goal, they could get us a last-minute winner.”