Bowen signing another case of muddled Hammers thinking?
The clock may have gone red on the January transfer window but with the initial paperwork down, West Ham got their man by signing Jarrod Bowen late on Friday.
Bowen has shone for Hull City in the Championship in recent years, scoring 16 goals this season, and was expected to join Crystal Palace after the Eagles appeared to move ahead in the running for his signature.
The Eagles were unsure about Hull’s £20m asking price though and the Hammers swooped in to complete the deal.
David Moyes said he was “delighted” with the move and has backed the new boy to take the step into Premier League football in his stride.
But where will he play? Bowen’s preferred role is as an inside-right, cutting in on his favoured left foot to strike a goal.
5️⃣2️⃣ goals in 1️⃣1️⃣5️⃣ league appearances
— West Ham United (@WestHam) February 4, 2020
The 23-year-old could well prove a star but Moyes also has Andriy Yarmolenko to fill the role. The Ukranian is battling a back from a thigh injury but could be back by the end of the month and after a strong start to the season, will demand a place.
That could force Moyes to stick to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 but the boss has shown since taking over that he wants to play a five-man defence, just like during his first spell in charge.
This is despite the defenders available clearly not being comfortable in that shape. However, using that tactic could bring the best out of fellow January arrival Tomas Soucek, who looked sharp in central midfield in Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Brighton.
With than mind, where do attacking midfielders Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini slot in…and more importantly, Michail Antonio?
Antonio was the Hammers’ best player in Saturday’s draw and his pace and skill helped them go 3-1 up, only for the team to slip when he had been withdrawn.
Like Bowen, Antonio thrives in the space of the wide areas but with Soucek likely to feature alongside Declan Rice and Mark Noble in midfield, he will be forced to play up front.
It all seems a bit of a mess. From the outside looking in, this appears a case of signing players without a plan and this is not the first time West Ham have been guilty of such folly.
In 2017, the board bought both Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez. Back then, Arnautovic was a winger who wasn’t keen on tracking back so needed protection. However, Hernandez is famously a striker who needs a partner due to his diminutive striker so already one of them couldn’t play.
Such muddled thinking is a worry in the club’s current predicament. With 13 games left, and Manchester City next up, the Londoners sit 18th in the table and require clear thinking to survive.
There is no doubting that Moyes and the West Ham board have the right intentions. However, as might happen with Bowen, there is a worry their desire to invest in the team may prove counterproductive.