Could West Ham have finished in a Europa League place without long term injuries?


West Ham have been safe for a long time, that is the positive news the bad news is that it doesn’t feel like the club have moved on and gone onto the next level. They are set to finish the season in 11th place, though if they can beat Watford away in their last game of the season they would squeeze into the top 10 and finish the season with 52 points. Last season the Hammers finished on 42 points so there has been a significant improvement.

However with the quality that the team possess and a world class stadium to go with it and a successful manager in Manuel Pellegrini perhaps we were expecting more. But the one noticeable problem for the club has been the amount of injuries that they have had to endure. And we are not talking about players missing one of two games or even a few weeks, but chunks of the season which must have greatly affected the team.

Jack Wilshire has only just returned from an injury that he picked up in September and Andy Carroll keeps coming back in fits and bursts but has hardly played this season. But even before the season started there were problems. Manuel Lanzini got injured for Argentina in last summers World Cup- his return date, last month. The case of the highly rated Andriy Yarmolenko is another head scratcher. Injured early on his West Ham career, he wasn’t expected back until March, now he won’t take any part in the season, Winston Reid has been another casualty of the season.

The clubs training facilities at Chadwell Heath have been cited as a problem in recent years but they have another two training grounds and the first team rarely train there although it has been known. Then there is the medical staff- are they up to the job? The probability is that they are indeed and that the clubs injury list is simply down to being unlucky. But then again why does it seem that the Hammers keep missing key players that can make all the difference for long periods of time?

Certainly deciding to bring in Wilshire and Carroll made no sense in the light that these were two injury prone players well before they came to West Ham- to end up with one was a surprise, but both seems odd. Of course on their day and when fit they can be a danger for any opposition team but they simply do not get enough games to play.

One can only wonder if West Ham with their best 11 playing regularly could have challenged for more this season? Perhaps at least 7th and a final Europa League spot in England and a deep run in a cup competition would have been welcome for a side who haven’t won a major trophy since 1980.

Every club gets injuries it is part and parcel of the game, but West Ham need to address why their injuries are taking a season and not a few weeks to mend, otherwise the club no matter who they bring in will be able to go forward.


Has Roy Hodgson made some bizarre decisions for England’s Euro 2016 team?


Jack Wilshire’s inclusion in England’s Euro 2016 squad was a shock when it was announced last week and it is a shock now. Whilst England manager Roy Hodgson has been usually fair in selecting his England team, especially in the qualifying stages, the mind boggles as to some of his choices for the major tournament.

This isn’t of course an attack on the Arsenal player, who when on form and when fit is certainly a natural footballer who can cause many problems for the opposition. However the problem for the 24 year old has been lack of games. This season the midfielder played just 3 games. The season before he put together just 14 in the Premier League. Indeed counting league matches only Wilshire has played just 103 times in a career that has so far lasted 8 seasons. Even if we were to take out some games for normal injury we could expect such an important player to make 30 appearances on average per season. So that initial figure of 103 is dwarfed when we think that he could have played almost 250 times.

Injury means Wilshire is missing out on competitive play at the highest level and his experience one would think would be missing. So it is a head scratcher given that Leicester City’s champion winning Danny Drinkwater was omitted in place of Wilshire. It makes no sense other than Hodgson still has preference for players that play for the bigger clubs.

A quick look at the current midfield set up has 3 Liverpool players in contention, whilst Jordan Henderson has become a better player under manager Jurgen Klopp, does the inclusions of Adam Lallana and James Milner seem justified over the Reds season?

Manchester United and Manchester City are represented by four players but it is Tottenham who have the most selections. The North London club who apart from imploding in the final two games of the season had been superb have 5 players.

Despite Leicester winning the league only one player from their team made it in the end and if Jamie Vardy had been overlooked there may have been a riot in middle England. Vardy is still the stunning story- a player that was plying his trade in non-league football just three seasons ago. Vardy had a superb season and will now round this up with representing England in a major tournament. Vardy has also been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, though the player has confirmed he will come to a decision after the Euro’s.