By Matt Farr
West Ham favourite Dean Ashton has condemned the club’s recruitment policy amid their disastrous form in the Premier League.
The Hammers suffered their fifth straight defeat on Wednesday night, which left them perilously close to a relegation scrap, where they are now just five points clear of the bottom three.
Under-pressure manager Slaven Bilic has bore the brunt of the criticism from West Ham fans, as have the players, but ex-striker Ashton believes the club’s poor recruitment has been a major issue.
Ashton told TalkSPORT that West Ham failed to adequately strengthen their squad in last summer’s transfer window following an impressive seventh-placed finish, and they are now paying the price.
He said: “The recruitment hasn’t been good enough – it is as simple as that. They have brought in players for the Europa League.
“They were thinking they were going to be in Europe so they brought in players that would supplement the squad who had played European football. When they crashed out they had to play these players because of injuries.
“The squad is nowhere near good enough. Players that come in don’t improve the 11, and that is not good enough at Premier League level.”
West Ham were very active in the transfer market last summer, bringing in no fewer than 13 players. However, very few have gone on to have a lasting impact in the first team squad.
The likes of Simone Zaza, who has since quit the club, Alvaro Arbeloa, Jonathan Calleri and Gokhan Tore have proven to be particularly unsuccessful purchases by Bilic last summer.
Even Andre Ayew, who signed for a club record £20.5million, has failed to live up to expectation over the course of the season with just four goals and one assist from 19 appearances.
However, despite having the financial backing to make further improvements in the January transfer window, the club’s latest additions have also failed to bring about the desired change.
£8million man Jose Fonte has not improved the club’s faltering defence, while £10.2million attacker Robert Snodgrass has struggled to fill the void of the departed Dimitri Payet.
West Ham are next in action against relegation rivals Swansea on Saturday in what could be the biggest game in their season.
In other West Ham news, a reliable journalist has revealed why Michail Antonio was withdrawn at half-time against Arsenal.