An uneventful summer could hit West Ham and David Moyes hard.


Heinmark Noble joked, as he rode off into the sunset, that as he lay on the beach this season, Craig Dawson would mark Erling Holland, he couldn’t have known the prophecy would come true so soon. will be done

It seems like only weeks ago, as Noble bowed out on an emotional afternoon at the London Stadium, the Hammers did their part to ensure the Premier League title race went to the final day, with the champions The chosen one was drawn 2-2. their final reality.

But on Sunday, Manchester City return to Stratford to begin the defense of their crown, bringing Holland with them, and it’s hard to shake the nagging feeling that West Ham aren’t quite ready.

It has been a somewhat disjointed pre-season, as their international stars such as Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen returned late.

Friendly results, while never too readable, have been poor, with two wins, four draws and one defeat in seven matches, although some were played with split squads.

Injuries come at odd moments, none more so than the one that has already ruled the summer’s marquee defensive signing, Naif Agard, out for the first two months of the campaign.

The Moroccan’s £28million return from Rennes in mid-June showed an early sign of intent, with David Moyes making as many as seven additions as part of a major push to improve the quality and depth of his squad. tried to

With Burnley’s Maxwell Cornet fifth and on course to be in the window for about a month, that target is well within reach, but as things stand Moyes’ squad still feels a little thin and he’s still on it. There is also a degree of dissatisfaction. Affairs are over.

For example, West Ham were right to turn down Jesse Lingard’s extortionate wage demands and have no intention of meeting Amadou Onana either, but it is hardly ideal to push the pursuit of both.

Moyes doesn’t always hide his frustrations well — just ask this German ballboy — and he’s made it clear during the first season, translating his and the club’s ambitions into new faces through the door. It takes time. It didn’t escape his attention, either, that when Sunday’s opposition agreed a deal to sign Kalvin Phillips, it was for a fee lower than the Hammers’ offer in January.

Concerns have been heightened by fears that at least five of the top six looks set to become more clear, but that West Ham fans are eyeing Arsenal and Tottenham with envy and concern for the European race. What his recruitment could mean is, as with most summer gloom, a testament to the way Moyes has subverted expectations with the success of the past two seasons.

There is much to be satisfied and excited about. Cornet’s arrival would take in close to £100million this summer, without the departure of a single player of real value to fund it. Rice’s immediate future was never up for debate, and neither was Jared Bowen’s.

After 18 months of trying, a centre-forward has finally arrived, and an interesting one at that in Gianluca Scamacca. Just months after the club’s first European tour in a generation ended only marginally prematurely, another is already set to begin, provided they come through the qualifiers in Denmark or the Faroe Islands.

And as for this Sunday, Pep Guardiola’s side are at once a nightmare first opponent and yet perhaps also offer an opportunity.

City themselves are notoriously slow starters, beaten by Nuno Espirito Santo’s Tottenham on the opening weekend of last term, and neither they nor Holland looked particularly sharp in the Community Shield against Liverpool last week. , as all criticism of the Norwegian display was somewhat muted.

It will be much harder to call it a free hit for the Hammers, who took a point from City when they met in May and should have had all three, but a home defeat by the champions will hardly be a crisis. Start

A positive result, and any summer frustrations will soon be over.