Fans could see it coming in the summer but it only took one injury to expose the lack of strength in depth in West Ham United’s squad.
David Moyes switched formation early on to protect the team against the most obvious weakness at left-back and centre back.
It has worked a treat by bringing out the best in the likes of Arthur Masuaku, Aaron Cresswell and Fabian Balbuena.
Michail Antonio’s almost inevitable injury just six games in is threatening to derail West Ham’s excellent start.
Sebastien Haller and West Ham just don’t fit at the moment. And the debate over the £45m striker is causing division among supporters.
West Ham squad left short in key areas
But the problem stems from a lack of investment in the right areas from the West Ham owners.
It was clear for everyone to see the club needed another striker, another defensive or box-to-box midfielder and a quality left-back and central defender in the summer.
Yes if either Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek was to get injured, Pablo Fornals could revert to his more natural position in central midfield.
But beyond that Moyes only has ageing duo Mark Noble and Robert Snodgrass to call on.
Saturday’s opponents Fulham for example have eight central midfielders to call on in their squad.
Moyes knows his squad is light. He said last week West Ham need to get lucky with injuries if they are to have a successful season.
Speculation ramps up ahead of January window
With the January transfer window less than two months away speculation is starting to ramp up over potential targets for the Hammers.
And it is no surprise that many of them are sitting at the end of their contracts, meaning there could be one or two bargain signings.
Based on reports in the last week Moyes appears to be building a new shortlist of players to target in January.
The latest player to be linked – yet again – Haller’s former Eintracht Frankfurt strike partner Luka Jovic The Mirror (November 1st, page 61).
As unlikely as it might seem, this could be a stroke of genius from Moyes if he can pull it off.
It has been clear since the summer that Real Madrid are keen to offload Jovic.
But West Ham won’t be able to afford a permanent deal right now.
Moyes could fill gaps with some clever business
So a loan move for the second half of the season may be in the offing. That would work well for three reasons. It would give Moyes the added firepower he needs.
It would help West Ham decide whether Haller can save his Hammers career if he has a quality strike partner.
And West Ham could structure the loan in such a way that they insert an option to buy that helps them spread the cost to suit the club.
According to reliable West Ham insider ExWHUemployee Moyes also has his eyes seven other targets.
And each one of them will see their contract expire at the end of the season meaning they could be picked up in January for a cut price fee.
So if West Ham play their cards right they could pick up one or two bargains to fill the holes in their squad.
According to Ex on The West Ham Way podcast on October 28th, West Ham could target Josh King again after missing out on him in the summer.
And ExWHUemployee says Moyes also has Sheffield United’s John Lundstram, Porto striker Moussa Marega, Napoli centre-back Nikola Maksimovic, Torino defender Nicolas Nkoulou, Bournemouth centre-half Steve Cook and Huddersfield’s soon-to-be out of contract midfielder Juninho Bacuna on his list.
West Ham would suddenly look a serious squad if they were to land one of Jovic, King or Marega and Lundstram.
Moyes may get away with waiting until the end of the season to address the centre-back and left-back issues.
It seems January is promising be an interesting month for West Ham.