On January 4th West Ham United, in search of a goalscorer, completed the loan signing of Moroccan Marouane Chamakh from Arsenal. I think it’s fair to say at the time, the signing did little to inspire Hammers fans, two and a half months on very little has changed that feeling.
Chamakh has managed just two starts and one substitute appearance for West Ham since his arrival offering very little to the squad. He looked unfit, which is understandable given his lack of game time for Arsenal, and well off the pace. When you’re calling for Carlton Cole to be given the nod ahead of Chamakh, you know that Marouane cannot exactly be a world beater.
With Andy Carroll out injured and Modibo Maiga off to the African Cup of Nations, Carlton Cole was the only recognised fit centre forward. There was no doubting the need to sign a striker or two but was Chamakh the right choice, it doesn’t look like it.
In fairness hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is much easier to criticise Sam Allardyce for the signing given his lack of impact over the last couple of months. However the majority of West Ham fans, myself included, voiced these concerns when the Moroccan first walked through the door. These are the reasons why; Chamakh, who actually began his career very promisingly for Arsenal has hardly featured, let alone performed well for the Gunners over the past year and a half. Therefore we were bringing in a player well short of match sharpness as well as someone who was horribly out of form. Two years is a very long time to be out of form and away from the first team so asking the centre forward to immediately come in a do a job was always an optimistic and big ask.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Chamakh signing was the type of striker we had just signed. In Carroll and Cole we already had two big, powerful centre forwards who can hold their own when it comes to the physical battle. Chamakh is arguably the same type of player as these two, 6ft 2in with his main strength being his aerial prowess. And by the looks of things, the Moroccan is certainly not an improvement on Cole and in particular Carroll. I was hoping Allardyce would bring in a striker who had an eye for a goal and a quick burst of pace, but alas it didn’t happen.
I just look at the side now and think where Chamakh’s next minutes on the pitch are coming from. Allardyce very rarely moves away from one up front and a fit Andy Carroll will always be our first choice front man. Cole will more often than not be Carroll’s replacement and if things are not working, what’s the point on bringing on another tall striker with a lack of pace. I would even consider putting fellow loanee Wellington Paulista on the bench ahead of Chamakh as at least Paulista adds some unpredictability and clearly knows where the back of the net is.I would love Marouane Chamakh to prove me wrong in the remaining few months of the season and bag a few goals. However I just can’t see the striker playing much, let alone scoring goals. We will inevitably be paying the bulk of his wages which won’t be cheap again highlighting what was the point of his signature. I expect West Ham fans will look back at this loan signing in years to come and think what a waste of time that was.