While the ends must surely justify the means, West Ham have had to play a game which polarised the fans; a style of long-ball physicality which is as intrinsically linked to manager Sam Allardyce as “tika-taka” is to Guardiola.
This style was born out of necessity, with tall strikers being fed by old-fashioned centre-halves and laying it off to the oncoming powerhouse midfielders, but as Stoke have shown this season, play that style for too long and you could start to get sussed out.
Here are five players I feel that would not only help West Ham's progress next season but also help to transition from the outdated football which has so angered fans.
He may be a good foot shorter than Allardyce would like but the Malaysian-born Scot is a game winner. Excellence from a dead-ball situation and fantastic creativity are two things which West Ham are often lacking and Maloney has such attributes in spades. A pacey forward deceptively baby-faced despite reaching thirty this year, he'd be a star buy but one they'd need to snap up quickly come the looming Wigan fire-sale.
Óscar González Marcos
The 30-year-old Vallalodid playmaker has come almost out of nowhere to have a fantastic season for the Castile and Leon club, scoring eleven goals and assisting a further seven from his role as a classic number 10. A classy player with great passing range, Óscar would certainly provide the much-needed class to balance out West Ham's bully-boys in the mould of Djorkaeff in the Bolton team of old.
With Guy Demel comfortable on the other flank, left-back has looked a position West Ham have struggled to find class in with Joey O'Brien proving to be a willing runner but lacking the class to challenge at this level. Genoa's 26-year-old defender Antonelli has natural ability and fantastic tackling skills, not to mention that he's six-foot and an absolute tank in the air. With his salary at a reported €500k a year, West Ham would definitely be able to offer him a sizeable increase in addition to a transfer fee sorely needed by the struglling Ligurian club.
Already linked with West Ham in the January transfer window, Vitesse Arnhem's Ivorian powerhouse Bony would provide what the club sorely needs: goals. Scoring thirty goals in twenty-seven games in the Eredivisie this season is an indicator of his quality and the guy has pace to burn as well as a powerful frame. With him up-front West Ham could go swing in crosses but they could also knock a ball over the top and know that Bony has the class to finish chances (something that can't be said for messrs Cole and Carroll).
Rated by WhoScored? As the best tackler in Europe this season, the 23-year-old defender looks like he could be a real bargain. Comfortable at full-back or in the middle, Darmian averaged more tackles per game than any other player in the top five leagues in Europe and while Collins isn't scared to get his foot in from time-to-time, he's not quite in the same ballpark as the tenacious Torino player. Also a comfortable passer of the ball with an eye for an expansive ball, he could get picked up cheap from the Serie A strugglers as West Ham need desperately to replace the archaic James Collins to partner the underrated Kiwi tank Winston Reid.