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Darwin's theory of devolution as West Ham regress after two years of huge progress under David Moyes
Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Darwin's theory of devolution as West Ham regress after two years of huge progress under David Moyes

After two years of huge progress under David Moyes West Ham have regressed in worrying and unexpected fashion.

This may be the first time geologist Charles Darwin and West Ham have – and ever will be – mentioned in the same sentence.

But under Moyes West Ham had in many ways been following – in football terms at least – his theory of evolution over two memortable years.

Darwin states that all things arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.

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Although it was not so much natural selection but a rather deliberate selection by Moyes that has transformed West Ham and seen them inherit the variations and traits needed to firstly survive and then compete to a level not seen since the 1980s.

But it was the sudden, last minute links to a record-breaking but ultimately unsuccessful bid for Darwin’s namesake – Darwin Nunez – which has suggested a worrying devolution at West Ham following a hugely frustrating transfer window.

There have been two key pillars on which West Ham’s meteoric rise under Moyes has been built.

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  1. The diligent recruitment of talented but hungry players of the right character to want to play for and be successful with West Ham. Players identified and recruitment that is driven by (and this is the most important bit) the manager DAVID MOYES.
  2. Hard work and organisation.

Point two doesn’t work unless you get point one right. But to keep evolving at the rapid rate you need to in order to survive, thrive and compete in the Premier League – and Europe – you HAVE to consistently get point one right.

Well West Ham certainly did not do that during a dismally frustrating month as the window closed last night.

Fans were understandably expectant heading into January. Why wouldn’t they be?

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They know West Ham need another striker to have any chance of making a promising season a truly memorable one. And supporters have been calling for the club to sign a proper bonafide striker since before Sebastien Haller was sold to Ajax over a year ago.

Moyes himself had publicly admitted he wanted to make at least two signings.

Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky arrived in November as the club’s new co-owner and second biggest stakeholder behind David Sullivan.

And Rob Newman came in, appointed by Moyes, from champions Man City charged with helping to identify and sign top young talent in line with Moyes’s recruitment policy (point one above).

Hammers boss David Moyes with head of recruitment Rob Newman. Photo: West Ham

Darwin’s theory of devolution as West Ham regress after two years of huge progress under David Moyes

It may be too soon to judge but there was little sign last month that either had made any difference.

Indeed there was little sign that West Ham’s rise has enabled them to attract the players Moyes wants and needs to continue that evolution.

It was the links to Darwin Nunez that set alarm bells ringing, though.

Because it screamed the old West Ham.

In fact I would go as far as to say the most worrying thing about the window was not the fact West Ham did not sign anyone. But the fact we seem to have regressed to the incoherent scattergun approach to recruitment that is so synonymous with that bad old West Ham pre Moyes.

Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

The West Ham that threw out phantom bids for random players here, there and everywhere which even people with only a passing interest in football could tell you would never be accepted.

Bids for players to appease restless supporters. Bids for players in positions we don’t need to address. Dare I suggest bids for players that were not all being driven by the manager?

Take the Darwin Nunez situation as the example. Why would you make a record bid for a player on the last day of the transfer window, when his club – not just any club by the way the historic established European club Benfica – would have no time to sign a replacement.

These aren’t the dog and duck for goodness sake. They’re not going to sell their top striker and not have a replacement. They’re going for titles and have a massive, expectant fanbase.

Why would you make a record bid for that player when he had three days earlier jetted off thousands of miles away to South America to play for his country making the whole process next to – but not quite – implausible if not impossible.

Photo by Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

This is a player with a £100m release clause. That may be over the top, it may be ridiculous. But that is the release clause set by his club. Simple.

And West Ham randomly out of the blue on the eve of deadline day offer half of it?

If he is a player that has been identified by Moyes and/or Newman why wasn’t he lined up on January 1st?

Why wasn’t the process started then to ensure a deal gets done for a player Moyes feels is key to West Ham’s continued evolution?

Why instead are we offering half what his club believe he is worth with a few hours to go of the window? Low-balling and last minute and unsuccessful. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

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Cynics will suggest it is because – as the likes of first Simon Jordan and later Dean Ashton alleged yesterday – West Ham never had any intention of actually signing him. Phantom bids and faux ambition designed – as Jordan suggested – to be used as evidence to say ”well we tried’.

If they did and if the club’s recruitment was being run properly then it would have been done long before deadline day regardless of how difficult or not the window has been.

Ashton told talkSPORT he ‘laughed out loud’ when he heard reports West Ham had supposedly bid £50m for Raphinha and then Kalvin Phillips. There were plenty of Leeds and West Ham fans laughing too. What happened to Moyes’s Red Bull model of signing young exciting talent before they make a name for themselves?

Of course there is no guarantee signings would have made West Ham better or guaranteed a place in the top four, top six, progress in the Europa League knockouts or the FA Cup.

But that was the next step in West Ham’s evolution. And this failure to adapt, thrive, compete for players and reproduce – as other clubs as big as the Hammers have begun to of late – could be the start of a devolution that threatens our exciting new existence as a genuine force.

More West Ham news:

Mark Noble speaks on West Ham not making any signings.

Leeds deny what senior West Ham figure told Hay over Phillips bid.