IntroductionWest Ham, the Hammers, had a stellar 2013/14 season, finishing in 13th. But 2014/15 is set to be a big one for them. With the right signings and tactics, a Europa league finish isn’t off the cards for this ever improving side that Sam Allardyce has put together. West Ham will surprise many this season.
Finances & BudgetWest Ham have splashed the cash in the latest off-season, signing 6 players for undisclosed fees, but we do know that they broke the club record to sign Andy Caroll from Liverpool for £15M. Despite this spending you are still given a decent budget of £3M, which can be expanded depending on your goals for the season.
4-4-2The best formation for West Ham is the traditional English 4-4-2. It allows the strikers (Mauro Zarate and Enner Valencia) to get the space that they need to operate, and the CM’s (Mark Noble and Ravel Morrison/Alex Song) the oppurtunities to play killer balls through to them.
The LB and RB should be very attacking, so that they are nearly sitting directly behind the LM and RM, allowing them to either push forward even more and give them the chance to cross it in or pass it up field for the wingers. It is important that you now keep the CB’s relatively deep so that they can cover if a counter takes place.
4-3-3This formation is all about the wingers. Getting them space to cross the ball is crucial in this, and it will allow them to cross it in to Diafra Sakho, who is the best in the side at heading the ball. The DM is also important. Alex Song should be the player starting, he will be the one that acts as the knot between the midfield and defense, he has good tackling so the opposition should find it hard to get around him.
Again the LB and RB can push up to deep midfielders and can play even more passes towards the opposition goals.
Most people like to implement three tactics. But during my time with West Ham (3 seasons) I found that just rotating between these two was the best option for me early. As you get further into the save you might want to make changes, but until then, rotating these works best.
First 11 Positional AnalysisGoalkeepers:
West Ham are lucky to have two strong keepers that can easily rotate between each other throughout the season and cup games. Adrian from Spain is my first choice option, but Jussi Jääskeläinen from Finland will fit for one season, as he is 39. Adrian is 27, but in a few seasons, a new youngster should be looked at as an option.
At the RB spot, West Ham have a few solid players including Arsenals Carl Jenkinson, who unfortunately starts the game with a torn hamstring, so he will not be available for between 6 weeks and 3 months. He has a solid back up in Joey O’Brien, who will be very strong in the place of Jenkinson, but lacks the physical presence. The Ivorian legend Guy Demel is also in the team, but suffers from a torn hamstring like Jenkinson.
In the central defender role, West Ham are lead by New Zealander Winston Reid, who is the strongest CB on the team. Partnering him you have the options of James Collins and James Tomkins, who are both good enough to start if called upon. Cheikhou Kouyate can also play CB when he is not play DM.
Aaron Creswell is the best LB on the team, he is young, quick and can put in a very good cross to your strikers when he makes a run. He is a first team option for a number of years. Backing him up is Joey O’Brien, but he will most likely be your starting RB until Jenkinson gets fit.
As the best formation for West Ham is the 4-4-2, RM’s are going to be very important. Morgan Amafiltano is the best option for the position, he is strong and is very good technically. Stewart Downing can play on both sides of the field, and should be starting at LM, but he can easily start at the RM spot if called upon. Ricardo Vaz Te is also an option should you choose to play him.
Central Midfielders/Defensive Midfielders:
Mark Noble is the club captain, and the best starting midfield option, he is a club legend and he has many options that can be placed around him. Including Stewart Downing, who should be playing more at the LM. Ravel Morrison, the youngster with lots of potential, should you choose not to loan him out, will make a very good CM and can start in the first team. In the defensive midfield, the Barcelona loanee, Alex Song should start. As a backup you can have hot prospect Diego Poyet.
Matthew Jarvis has been crucial in the past seasons for West Ham, and you should definently start him at the LM spot. Stewart Downing, who can pretty much play anywhere in the midfield, can back him up. Ricardo Vaz Te can also play in the LM spot but I would not suggest you start him there.
The best attacking midfielder would be new signing to West Ham this season, Mauro Zarate. The Argentinian should be easily your first option as he is everything that you need in the position. Ravel Morrison is also an option if you are not playing him at CM. Kevin Nolan and Morgan Amalfitano can also be played in here if you want to play multiple CAM’s.
If the formation that you select does not give the option for an AMC, Mauro Zarate should be your starting striker. But he is lucky to have other talents in Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho to back him up. Valencia and Sakho are both very capable to start, both are quick and strong and will be an annoyance to opposition defenses.
WeaknessesThe major weakness is lack of youth. The average age of the squad is 27, this can be fixed easily. As you most likely need a new CB and RB. There is also a lot of dead wood around the club that can be sold to help improve your transfer budget. Players like Guy Demel, James Collins and Carlton Cole, all who are on large wages that will not make too much of an impact.
ConclusionWest Ham have a very solid side, and with the correct signings, sales and tactic use, they can quickly find themselves in the top sides in England. No doubt the first couple of seasons will be tough, but when you have one breakthrough season, it shouldn’t be hard to keep up.
Good luck with your saves guys and put your opinions in the comments!