A lack of confident play combined with more injuries have opened the doors for other right-backs to leapfrog Fredericks at West Ham’s right-back position.
When West Ham collected Ryan Fredericks’ signature from Fulham in the summer of 2018, the club and the supporters certainly believed West Ham were signing the right-back of the future, a position at which the Hammers have struggled for years.
A player who had played the majority of his career in England’s second division, Fredericks came in with high hopes after helping Fulham achieve promotion to the Premier League for the 2018/19 campaign.
Fredericks brought qualities that had been absent in West Ham’s right-hand side of defense for years, a pacy player who showed confidence on the ball as he attacked and overlapped the wing, something suited to today’s modern game.
And while Fredericks certainly did not terribly disappoint in his first season with West Ham, he certainly did not shine. Inconsistent play that all too often featured a lack of confidence on the ball, combined with nagging injuries, caused there to be more questions than answers asked of the English defensemen heading into his second season in East London.
A Good Start to the Season
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As West Ham started off brightly, so did Fredericks. Besides a blip on the radar against Manchester City, Fredericks performed well, playing solid at the back while providing more of an attacking threat from the right-hand side. Even in losses, he performed well, exhibited by his man of the match performance against Crystal Palace in October.
However, his performances suffered as 2019 came to a close. Fredericks was poor against Everton and Burnley and displayed poor defensive placement on both goals versus Wolves in December. Admittedly, the entire squad’s performance in November and December of 2019 was poor, so Fredericks did not stick out as the only poor performer.
New Year, Same Story
As 2019 came to a close, West Ham were staring a relegation fight straight in the face. It was going to be important for all first-team players to step up and improve their performances, including Fredericks. Instead, a familiar story came up time and time again for the embattled right back.
Injuries reared their ugly head once again for Fredericks. He missed seven of the last nine matches before the restart due to injury. And even though Fredericks was still trusted as our starting right back heading into the restart, he could not stay healthy for the entirety of it, missing a couple of more games.
These injuries opened the door for others to potentially take Fredericks’ first-team spot. With Pablo Zabaleta nearing the end of his West Ham career, chances were given to youngsters Jeremy Ngakia and Ben Johnson. Ngakia performed extremely well against some of the best wingers and fullbacks in the world, including Andy Robertson and Benjamin Mendy.
And when Ngakia refused to sign a new contract with the Hammers, Ben Johnson shined brightly in the restart. Overall, many West Ham supporters believe that it is Johnson’s job to lose heading into the new Premier League campaign.
Final Grade: C
Simply put, Fredericks did not meet expectations. While he hasn’t been dreadful in the right-back position, he hasn’t done anything of note. He does use his pace to cover for some mistakes but once in a while, poor defensive positioning has led to opponent goals.
Fredericks also has not offered anything going forward, which is imperative for a full back in today’s modern game. He seems to lack any confidence attacking defenders and his crosses into the box are inconsistent in quality.
But the most frustrating thing about Fredericks’ West Ham tenure has been his inability to consistently stay off the training table. The second half and restart of this campaign saw Fredericks out of the lineup due to injuries far too often. I believe the right-back job is Ben Johnson’s to lose moving forward.