Few had heard the name Scott Hogan before recent days but now he appears to have become the answer to West Ham United’s woes.
On the back of a humiliating 5-0 FA Cup defeat by a strolling Manchester City and rejections from Jermain Dafoe and Moussa Dembele, the east London club is wooing the Brentford striker with a £10million bid.
Hogan, 24, has hit 14 goals in 26 games and cost Brentford only £750,000 from Rochdale but West Ham see in him the potential to succeed where a succession of summer flops have failed. Simone Zaza has already left and is seeking a berth with Valencia.
The gulf in class between Pep Guardiola’s team and West Ham has again raised fundamental questions about the direction of the club. The recent upturn in form in the Premier League has been quickly snuffed out and confidence levels are falling again.
On Saturday, West Ham face another crucial test of their resolve with a derby against Crystal Palace. Supporters will be keen to see their team beat their fellow strugglers, now under the management of Sam Allardyce who divided opinion during his tenure at Upton Park.
After that it’s Middlesbrough. Those two games could represent Slaven Bilic’s last chance to proof to the board that he has the ability and energy to reverse what has been a gloomy first season in the club’s new home. Although a popular figure, too much is riding on West Ham’s prosperity to let matters slide unanswered.
Captain Mark Noble said: “It’s up to us to scrap for the manager and win ugly. Every manager is under pressure. If you don’t win two or three games you’re under pressure. That’s the nature of the game.
“You can imagine how I feel right now. We knew it was going to be tough against City but they were just too good on the night, it’s as simple as that.
Co-chairman David Sullivan said the performance didn’t match the turnout at the London Stadium and he was critical of his side.
He said: “Manchester City may be an excellent attacking side, but we allowed them to carve us open time and time again, which was very disappointing.
“Although it’s hard to take any positives out of the game, for 25 minutes, until we conceded what many experts thought was a marginal penalty, we were holding our own.
“At 1-0 down we had what seemed a simple tap-in to equalise, but the performance after that, and the result, was simply not good enough.
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