One thing is clear, David Moyes had yet to learn what he was getting when it came to Gianluca Scamacca. To him, it was clearly a dog with a new toy wrapped in shiny paper type of situation at West Ham.
When news about the transfer came down fans were genuinely stoked for the player. First and foremost Italian number nines get a bad rep. They play in mostly a defensive system whatever team they are on in Serie A with an emphasis on defensive football, but when you have a player like Scamacca you tend to open things up.
For Sassuolo in the 2021-22 season, they saw potential in a player. Thanks to teammates like Giacomo Raspadori, Domenico Berardi and West Ham target Davide Frattesi they all played a role in feeding Scamacca as much as they could.
Throughout the summer transfer period, Moyes signed several players without actually understanding where and how to play them. It took him 6 months to realize Lucas Paqueta could not be a number 10 in his system. This system being one that relied heavily on its full-backs to counterattack and keep the ball away from the middle of the field and hench the ball away from Paqueta.
At Lyon, Paqueta was sometimes deployed in an attacking 10 role, but they made sure he had the ball and ran the offence. On the Brazilian National team, he stepped back into a number 8 role but still controlled possession and distribution. But there he was Moyes telling the fan base that he was a traditional number 10 and would adapt easily to his system, in order to keep trotting out Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice in his favourite formation of 4-2-3-1.
Moyes also signed Maxwell Cornet who has been injured since October. A return seems likely, but don’t hold your breath he can remain on the pitch when he does. When he did play he wasn’t on the wing during league play. Instead, Moyes would play him on the inside and use him in relief for Scamacca or Paqueta.
When Cornet played the wing during Europa Conference League matches he did a solid job feeding Scamacca and helping him create scoring chances. When and if Cornet comes back, Moyes has the decision to make, does he keep floating Cornet around the pitch or does he let him play to his strengths and keep him on a wing?
West Ham need to force Gianluca Scamacca to be their offensive focal point in new-look team.
This brings me to Emerson Palmieri another pick-up during the summer transfer window. Emerson was a solid pick-up to give aging and clearly a bit slower Aaron Cresswell some much-needed rest. One of the many failures of the previous season was not having enough depth and overusing Cresswell. Emerson was the answer to all that. Only again Moyes came up short in understanding how to deploy him.
Finally, in a 3-4-2-1 formation, Emerson has found a home and is not only playing up to expectations but helping create scoring changes for himself. Instead of going to that formation sooner where Emerson could have been more of a factor Moyes forced Thilo Kehrer to the outside and made him play in a full-back position, chasing down speedy wingers and getting exposed. In the 3-4-2-1 Keherer is back to a more familiar position and has responded well.
The new formation has also incorporated Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma where they can be more effective in the middle of the pitch instead of out way too wide. Where they both have less space to work. It’s been frustrating not to see where Scamacca would fit into all of this.
Here’s what concerns me about our only true number 9. Scamacca is a superstar in the making, there is no doubt about that. But the whispers keep getting louder that there’s a possibility that he’s homesick and that maybe a loan back out to Serie A is in order. AC Milan, Atalanta and possibly Lazio would take him in a heartbeat.
Or West Ham can step up and make him feel at home. They can end the rumours and make Frattessi the first player they bring in during the summer transfer window. This would allow for one of Scamacca’s best friends to join the team and someone who understands how to get him the ball. In a summer transfer window where Declan Rice is expected to leave Frattesi and Paqueta form a new midfield with Flynn Downes. Every West Ham fan should sign up for that.
In the past, West Ham would give in and just loan the player out instead of figuring it all out. What Moyes has shown without any humility, but at least he’s doing it, is that he’s willing to admit players were playing out of position and weren’t effective enough. Recent changes show that he’s willing to admit he was wrong. In Scamacca’s case, we often see him drift to the ball, which is great for a midfielder or a wing player, but he’s our loan attacking forward, he should be putting himself in a position where he is ready to strike.
In order to do that he needs to be fed the ball instead of trying to force a scoring chance all on his own. That means more balls into the box and more support in the middle of the field. If nothing else, Scamacca has shown fans he has a nose for the ball. You only after to reference his goal against Fulham earlier this season to understand the pure talent and instinct that he has.
That should never mean anything other than giving this man what he needs to succeed. At the age of 24, he’s entering his growth years, where you’ll see him take big leaps for the next 2 seasons. Why would anyone want to see him do that elsewhere? Fans should be patient. The organization should be patient and even Scamacca should be patient.
West Ham rarely has this opportunity to develop a world-class player who will ideally, once he’s feeling comfortable and playing in a system that speaks to his strengths, will every opportunity to bring this squad closer to the Champions league.
He belongs in the Premier League, he belongs at the London Stadium. He’s the most dynamic player West Ham have had since making the move from the Boleyn Ground. One piece of advice for him, get those frosted tips back that was a more confident guy.