Irons must strengthen squad in summer

Saturday 11th May 2013 13:32

Shaun Maloney: Should be on West Ham's shopping list

Shaun Maloney: Should be on West Ham's shopping list

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FanZone's Nicholas Wright feels Shaun Maloney, Robert Snodgrass, Nathan Redmond and Sascha Riether should be targeted by West Ham this summer.

West Ham may have defied expectations this season but they cannot hope to reproduce their good form next year without reinforcing their squad in the summer.

The Irons have consolidated excellently in their first season back in the top flight but the league table is somewhat misleading. If we don't manage to bring quality reinforcements in, we could quickly slip into a relegation dogfight yet again.

The first-team squad is frighteningly stretched and the fact we are currently fighting for a top-half finish with a threadbare squad is nothing short of remarkable.

The Hammers are faced with a difficult predicament: while Andy Carroll's impact on the team has been unquestionable, the cost of securing him permanently would devastate the entire transfer budget. The dilemma worsens, as there are areas of the squad that will still need strengthening no matter what. The trouble is it's one or the other.

With the team struggling to find goals, Carroll has found his shooting boots just in time in recent weeks with six in his last 11 games.

Carroll's goal-scoring record hasn't been the greatest this year but he holds the ball up, disrupts the opposition's defence and we have a real focal point for our attacks. He has shown his full potential and we look far more dangerous compared to when Carlton Cole leads the line. Although his fee and wages may be insignificant to a Chelsea or Manchester City, it represents a significant outlay by West Ham. He might be a bit expensive but he's a very young player and over time he could prove to be an exceptional signing for us.

The alternatives by comparison are inadequate at best. West Ham are rumoured to be looking at Stoke City striker Peter Crouch and Everton's Croatian frontman Nikita Jelavic. What exactly would either bring should a deal be struck? Crouch, with six goals to his name, leads a Stoke side straining to score and any deal for Jelavic would be solely based on habits of past rather than his long-term prospects in front of goal.

Take Carroll out of the equation and the pool from which to strengthen from looks exciting. With Wigan's survival becoming increasingly unlikely, a fire sale could become imminent and Shaun Maloney should be a definite target. Despite reaching 30 this year, he's a class attacker but they would need to snap him up quickly. He is a game changer with fantastic creativity, two things that West Ham are often lacking and Maloney has such qualities in abundance.

Excellence from dead-ball situations is also something West Ham have struggled with, Mark Noble's set-piece deliveries have been poor and Norwich's Robert Snodgrass could enhance this threat. He is an exceptional talent, hungry and intelligent he can bring service and goals to the team and would be a great player for West Ham.

Birmingham City continue to be beset by financial problems and the club are subsequently rumoured to be offloading up to a dozen players to balance the books. Nathan Redmond should be top of West Ham's shopping list. Redmond is going to be a top player and has pace, flair and a skillful direct dribbling game that could bring an important element of unpredictability to a one-dimensional West Ham side.

The full-back positions have been problematic for the London club too. West Ham haven't had a reliable left back since Stuart Pearce and George McCartney's return to the Boleyn Ground has been frustrated by injury. Joey O'Brien has performed consistently well on the left but cover is thin, with Dan Potts and Jordan Spence being the only back-ups. Furthermore, Guy Demel has been an often-exploited weakness at times this year. Shakhtar Donetsk's experienced Romanian left-back Razvan Rat will help the Hammers forge a more steely defence next campaign.

On the opposite flank, Sascha Riether has had a fantastic season and been one of Fulham's best players. On a season-long loan from 1. FC Koln, there could be a battle to lure Riether to the Premier League on a permanent basis and West Ham should carefully consider acquiring his services.

The squad has been punching way above its weight this season and while that is great, they could become unstuck at any moment.

The Hammers are blowing bubbles now, but the illusion will soon burst if we pretend these obvious deficiencies do not exist.

By Nicholas Wright, West Ham's FanZoner. Don't forget to follow @FanZone on Twitter!

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