West Ham needed to sign a defensive midfielder this summer but they failed to do so. It is clear to all West Ham fans so why does Manuel Pellegrini have such a blind spot?
Declan Rice is one of West Ham’s most consistent outfield players and he definitely does not need replacing. But if the England midfielder suffers an injury, then West Ham’s midfield ranks can be easily breached. There will be no protection for the back four.
Moreover, against the bigger clubs, West Ham need to think about using two holding midfielders. This issue was laid bare in the 5-0 loss against Manchester City as the champions were rampant through the middle.
Carlos Sanchez: Problem not solution
Pellegrini seems to have ignored this priority position because of Carlos Sanchez. The Colombian midfielder is back to full fitness after spending much of last season out injured.
However, Sanchez is not the saviour for West Ham. Despite Pellegrini recently saying that Sanchez will have a key role, the veteran midfielder has always struggled since moving to East London.
Sanchez is not good enough to play for West Ham – even as Rice’s deputy. His £70k-per-week wages (Claret & Hugh) are ridiculous and age is not on his side. It is clear that West Ham need to shift the 33-year-old and bring in a younger, better player.
Conor Coventry: An alternative option
West Ham’s alternative solution to the defensive midfield conundrum could be right under their noses. Teenager Conor Coventry has shown that he has all the ingredients to become a future star.
The 19-year-old currently captains the U23 side and his performances have been consistent for the academy. He might be young but he is only a year behind Rice. Giving him a chance to deputise for Rice could bring the best out of Coventry.
Given Sanchez’s poor form, Coventry could get his opportunity. The Republic of Ireland U21 starlet was included in the official first-team photograph. If Pellegrini gives him a chance in the cup against Newport County, Coventry has to seize it with both hands.