West Ham United legend Tony Cottee believes David Moyes may live to regret the failure to sign a new striker with Michail Antonio facing a Premier League suspension, as he told talkSPORT (16 September, 9.40am)
How many games will West Ham play this season?
38 in the Premier League, at least six in the Europa League and then a couple in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. Suddenly, you are scraping 50.
Given Michail Antonio’s injury history – he missed 12 matches altogether last term – it is certainly unreasonable to expect the 31-year-old’s hamstrings to hold up during what is already shaping up to a grueling, muscle-twanging campaign.
The problem is, West Ham do not have another centre-forward in their squad – not a ‘natural’ number nine anyway.
The Hammers were linked with a whole host of strikers during the summer transfer window. But, due to a variety of reasons, deals for the likes of Martin Braithwaite, Munir El Haddadi, Youssef En Nesyri, Gaetan Laborde, Mohamed Bayo and Abdallah Sima failed to materialise.
Cottee, a prolific goal-scorer back in his day, believes this is an issue which may come back to bite David Moyes on the backside, especially with Antonio set to miss Sunday’s meeting with Manchester United after picking up a red card against Southampton last time out.
Have West Ham really made a big transfer blunder?
“The one thing they’ve got is a fantastic manager, who’s experienced in Europe and knows how to manage a squad of players,” Cottee said, before moving onto the negative.
“I was disappointed – the only disappointment of the window – that they didn’t sign a replacement forward for Antonio. He got suspended for the game on Sunday which is obviously not very good.
“You need cover. You can’t go into a European campaign without a recognised centre-forward. Let’s not forget, Michail is a converted centre-forward – he’s not an out-and-out centre-forward!
“So they do need to put that right in the January window.”
Fortunately for Moyes and co, Jarrod Bowen has tended to step up to the plate when tasked with filling an Antonio-shaped whole, even if a tally of eight goals in 38 games last season shows there is still a lot to improve on.
It remains to be seen whether Bowen starts during tonight’s Europa League clash with Dinamo Zagreb.
“It depends on what team they put out. I’ve seen a few reports this morning suggesting Declan Rice might not be playing and he’s a massive player. But if he doesn’t play, we’ve got Mark Noble with all his experience,” Cottee added.
“I’m expecting Antonio to play as well and he makes a big difference.”