Tuesday 12 December 2017

Allardyce failed with Lukaku bid

Romelu Lukaku signed for Everton on deadline day
Romelu Lukaku signed for Everton on deadline day

If Everton hand a debut to on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku at Upton Park on Saturday, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will probably be left thinking what might have been.

The Hammers have failed to score in the Barclays Premier League since their 2-0 opening day win over Cardiff whilst club-record signing Andy Carroll remains sidelined with his heel problem.

Belgium international Lukaku was brought in by Everton boss Roberto Martinez on transfer deadline day after impressing on loan at West Brom last year.

And, ahead of their meeting at the weekend, Allardyce admitted a deal for Lukaku escaped from his clutches following a summer-long pursuit of the 20-year-old.

"I chased him all summer to be honest," he said.

"But when it became the final day of the deadline we missed out and Everton managed to secure his position. We were more or less told he was going back to West Brom. We tried, but didn't manage to clinch it."

With Carroll still likely to be out for some time and yet to feature since completing a permanent transfer from Liverpool, West Ham have struggled to find the back of the net.

Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan struck in the victory over Cardiff but since then the Hammers have drawn a blank in the league, drawing 0-0 at Newcastle and Southampton and suffering a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Stoke, leaving Allardyce with a growing worry.

"We are concerned about it - there is no doubt about that," he conceded.

"It's not the fact that we are not creating chances - our quality of finishing needs to improve. Our defensive side is very good."

As well as Lukaku, West Ham had a number of forwards they were looking to bring in as the transfer window drew to a close but they were unable to acquire any targets.

Even a deal to bring former striker Carlton Cole back to the club after he left at the end of June failed due to his lack of fitness with ex-Fulham frontman Mladen Petric eventually drafted in.

The 32-year-old was signed on a free transfer and, although Allardyce has been impressed with his effort in training, the game against Everton is likely to come too soon for the Croatia international.

"Mladen Petric is training every day and trying to overcome the every day fatigue. He is going through a pre-season and that leaves you tired," he said.

"We're then waiting to find his recovery is quicker and he's into the football as well as the physical side. He's enjoying being back with a group of players he can mingle with rather than being stuck in a park or gym.

"We're hoping he can make an appearance in or around for the Cardiff game [on Tuesday night]."

That means Allardyce is likely to persist with Modibo Maiga as his main striker although there is an outside chance he could recall Ricardo Vaz Te in to a more central role than he is accustomed to.

Press Association

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