Attacking Irons

Last updated : 05 April 2002 By Mike Reich
Defoe: England's future
Jermain Defoe
Jermain came to Upton Park in controversial circumstances. He had been a youth trainee at Charlton, but when it came to turning professional, he decided that West Ham was better for him than Charlton. However, The Addicks had spent a lot of time, effort and money making Jermain the player he was, and wanted compensation for their young prodigy.
It went to a tribunal, and, whilst the Hammers had done no wrong, Charlton deserved compensation in place of a transfer fee. West Ham were ordered to pay up to £1.6m, depending on appearances. Well, West Ham got a bargain in the young attacker.
He went on loan to Bournemouth last season, and almost got them in the play-offs single handedly - indeed it is worth noting that this season, without Jermain's prolificacy in attack, they are struggling at the other end of the table. He scored an unprecedented 12 goals in 11 fixtures, with at least 1 in each of the matches - matching the post-war record.
He has an exceptional record at England U21 level, and this season has been mentioned in the same breath as Michael Owen and England. Well, this World Cup has come too soon for the diminutive striker, but he has been a very useful asset to West Ham - often coming off the bench and netting with one of his first touches. He is one of the most important players to keep at Upton Park over the summer - something Glenn will undoubtedly manage to do.
Here next season? Important team member...10/10

Titi Camara
One of Harry's legendary signings in the wake of Rio Ferdinand's departure, Titi has, at best been a flop. At worst, and incredibly expensive flop. At a cost of £2.2m, Titi is also believed to be on an extortionate wage - one of the highest at the club.
Hammers fans have been largely unimpressed with him - he appears to be vastly overweight, and has yet to score in any of his 7 appearances for the Irons. Thankfully, hammers fans have thus far only been subjected to one substitute appearance of the Ghanaian since Glenn Roeder's appointment, and Glenn will be doing his best to shift Titi this summer under the category of 'dead wood'.
He certainly hasn't got much of a future at the club, and is a tasteless reminder of Harry's poor last season with the club following the string of abysmal signings following Rio's transfer.
Here next season? I hope not...2/10

di Canio: Controversial
Paolo Di Canio
What can you say about Paolo di Canio? Perhaps he can be summed up as 'a frustrating player'. He has the ability, the skills, the fitness and the will. But he also has the big mouth, the hothead and the Italian temperament. If he is playing, then you know that there is a player on the pitch who has the capability of creating a goal out of nothing. You also know that he can get extremely frustrated when he messes something up, or makes an error that he thinks he shouldn't have done.
Paolo, who has played for such clubs as Lazio, Celtic, Juventus & AC Milan, was signed for a bargain £1.7m by Harry at a time when Paolo had been exiled from Premiership football by the British media. The now notorious altercation with referee Paul Alcock led to an 11 match ban coupled with a hefty fine.
Many were sceptical about his signing, including the Hammers fans, but they quickly took him to heart, and within a few months they were chanting his name to the tune of 'La Donna Mobile'. In his first full season at Upton Park he was presented with the Hammer of the Year Award, and scored an outstanding goal against Wimbledon.
One of Paolo's biggest problems is one that he seemed to share with the manager that brought him to the Boleyn: namely, his inability to keep his mouth shut. He has on many occasions spoken to the press about an incident, and criticised either the manager, the board or the fans, only for him to later claim he had been misquoted. Well, there are only so many times that an excuse can be used, and it seems many fans are becoming exasperated with him.
However, not many fans would want him to leave. His fitness level is still extremely high for a 33 year old, and he certainly has another good season or two left in him. Glenn has repeatedly stated that he would like Paolo to stay, and didn't sell him to Manchester United earlier this season when the opportunity arose.
It is certainly worth noting that Paolo has been at West Ham longer than he has remained at any other club in his career, and he is settled in England with his wife and daughters. It would seem therefore that the love affair between Paolo and the Hammers faithful is set to continue for the time being.
Here next season? More likely to stay than not...6/10

Richard Garcia
Glenn offered the young Australian a contract in March, and the West Ham press office were unable to confirm whether he had actually signed or not as of yet. However, it is widely expected that he will sign the new contract and remain at Upton Park for the next couple of years at least. He has made 5 appearances for the Hammers this season, and he has played in a number of positions, from up front to anywhere across the midfield.
He went on loan to third division side Leyton Orient last season, and had Harry stayed he may well have been sold last summer, or let go for a nominal fee. Glenn has certainly given Richard a chance this season, and the Perth-born Aussie has certainly tried to make the most of the opportunities that have come his way this season.
He said of his full debut: "The boys really helped me play and enjoy myself in my first game. I tried to take it as any other game, there were a few nerves but I got into it more and more as the game progressed."
Glenn obviously thinks he has what it takes at this level, and it is widely expected that Hammers fans will see more of him next season at the Boleyn.
Here next season? New contract offered...9/10

Kanouté: Staying?
Frederic Kanouté
One of Harry Redknapp's best legacies is Fredi Kanouté. He came to Upton Park on loan at the end of the 99/00 season, and had a great debut against Wimbledon in the same match that Paolo di Canio scored his acrobatic goal of the season.
He is 25 this year, and is approaching the best years of his life. He is unlikely to make the France squad for this World Cup, but that is probably more down to the competition for strikers in France: Henry, Wiltord & Trezeguet to name but three. If he continues to improve, with particular concentration on his shooting, he could well play himself into future French squads.
He certainly has the potential to be a much better player than he currently is: at the moment I feel he is not playing as well as he can. But his season has been disrupted due to injuries, and it seems evident that he still has worries about his hamstring in the back of his mind.
With a good pre-season behind him, he could banish those thoughts, and concentrate on playing regularly again. A partnership with Defoe is certainly an interesting one, with Kanouté being more of a contributor than an out and out striker, and hence playing to his strengths.
Having said that, however, he has scored 10 goals in 21 starts this season - almost one every other game, and that is quite an impressive record for any striker, but an especially impressive one for a player who supposedly finds it hard to score goals.
There have been many rumours that Fredi is off this summer, with bids in excess of £10m being touted. The fact is though that Glenn wishes to keep Fredi in the team, and it would take an exceptional offer to persuade him to sell. Another striker is needed however, and if Glenn has to sell in order to buy, he may decide to offload the young Frenchman, and get two or three quality players with the proceeds.
However, the likelihood is that Glenn will keep Fredi, Paolo and Jermain, and add to them, in order to maintain and improve West Ham's strikeforce. After all, most of the top clubs have three or four top strikers, so why should West Ham settle for any less?
Here next season? Getting better with age...7/10

Paul Kitson
Paul was one of the players at Upton Park that had edged closer to the footballing wilderness as Harry approached the end of his reign at West Ham. And many an eyebrow was raised when Glenn handed him a start in the Charlton Away fixture earlier this season.
That match raised the eyebrows even further when Paul scored three good goals to make his comeback in style with a hat-trick.
He has made a total of 7 appearances this season, but has failed to add to his one-match tally of three goals. It was his goalscoring ability, paired with John Hartson's that kept West Ham in the Premiership in the 96/97 season. Signed in the February of 97, the pair led West Ham to Premiership safety.
John Hartson went on to score 23 goals the next season - one of the top scorers in the division that season, but Paul failed to make such an impact. One of the main problems was Paul's lack of fitness, and frequently recurring injury problems. He earned the nickname "Unfitson" from the fans, who were more surprised to see him on the teamsheet than in the treatment room.
With his contract expiring in May, it is widely expected that Paul will take his leave from the two towers on Green Street and earn a living somewhere else.
Here next season? Off on a free...2/10

Riza: Contract up
Omer Riza
A former Arsenal reserve, Harry signed Omer for a nominal fee of £25,000 back in December 1999, after he failed to cut the mustard at Highbury. However, since arriving at West Ham, Omer has yet to make it onto the pitch in claret and blue.
He went out on loan to both Barnet and Cambridge last season, but his main regret is not getting a chance at West Ham. He feels that had he been given the opportunity, he might have impressed, but it is right to move on now.
"I've had great experience here and I'll be sad to be leaving because I feel I could have done well, but now it is looking like I have got to move on and hopefully I will do myself justice elsewhere," he told the club's site.
It was another of Harry's gambles that didn't pay off, and Omer will be seeking brighter shores this summer.
Here next season? Contract's ran out...1/10