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West Ham’s Season: Insight from The Athletic’s Experts

Unpacking West Ham’s Season: Insights from Roshane Thomas, Benji Lanyado, and Ayo Akinwolere

In an enlightening discussion on The Athletic Football podcast, Roshane Thomas, The Athletic’s West Ham reporter, and Benji Lanyado, founder of Picfair and a season ticket holder, shared their insights with host Ayo Akinwolere on West Ham’s recent performances and the future under David Moyes. This conversation sheds light on the challenges and expectations surrounding the club, offering a unique perspective on West Ham’s season.

West Ham’s Defensive Struggles

The conversation opened with a reflection on West Ham’s defeat to Arsenal, highlighting the team’s defensive woes. Benji Lanyado pointed out the “aberration” of the match, emphasszing that despite recent losses, including a significant defeat to Arsenal, such outcomes shouldn’t be surprising given the team’s fluctuating performance. He specifically mentioned, “none of that is wild,” referring to the recent results, but acknowledged that the scoreline against Arsenal brought existing anxieties about David Moyes to the forefront.

Roshane Thomas echoed these sentiments, describing the Arsenal match as one of the “worst West Ham performances” he’s witnessed. He criticised the defensive changes made by Moyes, notably questioning the switch in defensive pairings which contributed to the team’s vulnerabilities.

Moyes’ Future and Leadership Concerns

The discussion ventured into the realm of leadership within the team and Moyes’ uncertain future. Thomas suggested that in light of the team’s struggles, a player like Kurt Zouma or Declan Rice in the past should step up to unify the squad. He reminisced about a crucial team meeting last season that acted as a catalyst for improved performances, hinting at the need for similar leadership now.

Impact of Player Absences

Photo: IMAGO

Benji Lanyado highlighted the significant absence of Lucas Paquetá, describing him as playing football “like it’s on a Copacabana,” underscoring his importance to the team’s attacking dynamics. The conversation also touched on the January transfer window, with Lanyado questioning the logic behind letting go of attacking players when there were clear gaps to fill.

Roshane Thomas provided insights into West Ham’s transfer strategy, mentioning attempts to bring in new talent like Ibrahim Sangare and stressing the departure of certain players who wished to leave. This, according to Thomas, left West Ham “absolutely weak of options on the flanks.”

Reflections on Moyes and the Squad

Both speakers reflected on Moyes’ impact on the team and the integration of new signings. Lanyado praised the acquisitions of Kudus Mohammed and others but questioned the strategic fit of Kalvin Phillips given the team’s existing midfield strengths.

Thomas praised the improved recruitment under Moyes, citing the example of Mohammed Kudus, who could have ended up at Chelsea but was convinced by West Ham’s vision. He stressed Moyes’ role in enhancing the team’s profile and the importance of stability and leadership within the squad.

The conversation concluded with a nuanced view of West Ham’s season, balancing criticisms with acknowledgment of Moyes’ historical success. Despite the current challenges, both Thomas and Lanyado expressed a degree of optimism about the team’s ability to turn around their fortunes, emphasising the critical role of leadership, both on and off the field, in navigating the remainder of the season.

As West Ham continues its journey through a turbulent season, the insights from Thomas, Lanyado, and Akinwolere provide a compelling narrative on the complexities of football management, the impact of strategic decisions, and the perpetual quest for success in the competitive landscape of the Premier League.

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