Can you believe it’s almost August?
Two weeks from Friday, another English Premier League season kicks off. And yet, the transfer window will still be rolling along. On one side you have Manchester City, who have gotten plenty of their transfer business done already. On the other you have the 2016-17 PL runners-up Tottenham Hotspur, who haven’t signed a single player yet.
Then there’s West Ham United, who in the past week have gone about addressing one of their biggest needs: forwards. First came Marko Arnautović from Stoke City, who is almost certainly going to play off whomever West Ham chooses to deploy up top. In this particular case, that’s going to be Javier Hernández. And for roughly £16 million? You could do a heckuva lot worse.
For Hernández, it is crucial for him to play consistently. It is crucial for him to be the guy up top. He never was with Manchester United, which is why his career there ultimately faded away. He became such over a two-season with Bayer Leverkusen, and here we are. In 54 Bundesliga appearances with Leverkusen, Chicharito notched 28 goals. Though, 17 of those came in his first season with the club back in 2015-16.
He’ll need to get back to that as he returns to the Premier League, but it’s not going to be so easy. Then again, it hasn’t been easy for a West Ham striker in quite some time. Andy Carroll is almost always facing an injury crisis. Moreover, the Hammers have only had one 10-goal scorer from the forward position—Diafra Sakho with 10 in 2014—since 2010. Expanding that to midfielders and you’ll find Kevin Nolan, who also notched 10 back in 2012.
Simply put, that’s not going to cut it.
Last season, the Hammers finished 11th on 45 points—level with West Brom, just one ahead of both Leicester and Stoke City. Their goal differential (-17) was worse than all clubs but five. Three of those clubs, unsurprisingly, were relegated. Their overall goal tally (47) would place them in the middle of the pack. Hardly the type of performances you expect from a club who just put all this money behind a brand new stadium.
Javier Hernández isn’t going to be able to turn that around single-handedly. Surely he’ll stay healthier than Andy Carroll—though, the bar for that is awfully low. That said, it’ll be good for West Ham to not have to rely on Carroll as their primary target man. He and Hernández are entirely different strikers, and now manager Slaven Bilić has a little more firepower to balance.
Hernández and Arnautović look good on paper, and it should translate to productive in-game action. But West Ham still have a long way to go before they make any kind of noise in the Premier League.