Hammers broken midfield can't pass the ballHammers broken midfield is in desperate need of a playmaker

Hammers broken midfield is incapable of passing the ball

The composition of West Ham’s midfield has become a major concern. Not only does the team seem incapable of passing the ball to one another, but the manager appears to have overseen a massive deterioration in the centre of the team.

There seems to be a recent trend whereby West Ham are easily thwarted if the wingers and full-backs are shut down. This rather crude move by opposition teams forces West Ham to attack through the middle by passing, and they just can’t do it.

Fornals Mk II

James Ward-Prowse has been playing in a sort of hybrid defensive attacking midfield position without actually displaying any of the requisite qualities one might expect from an attacker. He doesn’t dribble or have a trick, lacks a final ball, rarely scores from open play, and lacks vision.

So why does Ward-Prowse play as a CAM? I’ve no idea. He works hard and can press, but those are not the qualities of a number ten. However, I don’t want to use JWP as a scapegoat; he’s merely a symbol of the overall problems with the Hammers’ midfield.

Tomas Soucek can tackle and head the ball exquisitely, but he’s not great at passing and lacks vision. Which brings us to Kalvin Phillips, who spent much of the first half against Burnley giving the ball away. So much so that he had his collar felt by David Moyes at halftime and was hoicked off.

Phillips is not the main culprit because he rarely plays, but he is indicative of a midfield that can’t pass the ball. That is why manager Moyes frequently abandons his starting tactic of playing Lucas Paqueta on the left wing. It’s a desperate attempt to get some control and creativity into the team. Unfortunately, this tactical masterstroke forces Ward-Prowse onto the left wing where he’s even worse than as a CAM. I used to believe that Pablo Fornals was poorly suited to being a winger, but JWP takes it to a whole new level.

Opportunity missed

Most bizarrely of all is the role of Edson Alvarez. The defensive midfielder and former central defender is frequently our best passer, and West Ham seem to have got themselves into a situation where the midfield can’t function without him.

There is an obvious solution, of course… buy a playmaker. How a club with a checkbook-happy chairman and a director of football can conspire to allow multiple departures in a transfer window yet sign only one ill-suited player is astounding.

As a sticking plaster, Moyes needs to play Paqueta centrally with three attackers ahead of him. That will also require Edson Alvarez to start, meaning only one of Ward-Prowse, Soucek, and Phillips can make the team. Call me pessimistic, but I just can’t see it happening. So I’d expect to see West Ham continue to surrender midfield for the rest of the season.


By Gonzo

West Ham fan for as long as I can remember. I was flukey enough to watch The Irons beat Bury 10-0 in my first ever game . . . True to form, West Ham then went out and signed their central defender 😬

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