There are only 2 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at West Ham.
Last season could be considered job done for The Hammers. A 13th placed finish, with relegation never looking too threatening, could be considered progress for a club that were tipped by many to struggle. However, fans were furious and embarrassed by the shocking performances in both domestic cup competitions and continued to be disgruntled by Big Sam’s style of play that’s labeled boring and unattractive. Many are surprised that Allardyce kept his job at the end of the season but Gold and Sullivan have kept faith in their manager and granted him a sizable transfer kitty that, it appears, has been spent wisely on several signings.
Allardyce is not at all popular with the Upton Park faithful but he has managed to keep West Ham in the top flight for a third season in a row. While he does prefer ‘long ball’ football, his teams are notoriously hard to break down and solid at the back. West Ham had an injury-plagued season with a number of defensive casualties whilst having to cope without new signing, Carroll, for much of the campaign. That said, Big Sam’s critics would argue that Carroll was too much of a gamble considering The Hammers blew the majority of their transfer budget last summer on the injury-prone target-man.
Enner Valencia is the marquee signing of this window for West Ham and their fans must be delighted that they snapped him up, especially given reported interest from ‘bigger’ clubs. The reported £12 million price-tag represents a fairly large outlay for The Hammers, but the Ecuadorian was in blistering form for Pachuca last season and, moreover, caught everyone’s eye at the World Cup in Brazil. He is a very pacey striker with an eye for goal, and is also surprisingly good in the air, possessing an incredible leap.
Mauro Zarate is another notable signing. We saw the little Argentine impress during a brief loan spell with Birmingham City and he certainly has the talent to be a real asset for The Hammers. However, he is famously temperamental and apparently lacks discipline so Big Sam will be praying he knuckles down to produce his best stuff this season.
Who is tipped to join them?
Despite having already made 6 first team signings so far, Allardyce has come out and said he fancies getting one more striker, another young centre back and added cover at left back.
Samuel Eto’o is odds on to arrive at Upton Park before the start of the new season, however Big Sam has announced that they will only sign the veteran attacker if he cannot find a younger striker. There is also reported interest in Peter Crouch, which could be a loan move until January to fill the void caused by Andy Carroll’s latest injury.
Shalke’s Antonio Rudiger is another player to be muted with a move to West Ham, and would be a fantastic signing. The young German international is an already an impressive, commanding centre back who would add steel to their back line.
Finally, Ronaldinho is set to name his new club this week and West Ham are amongst the list of potential suitors. It’s a move that would fulfill most Premier League fans’ dreams of seeing the Brazilian midfield magician grace our stadiums and would certainly see a soar in shirt sales. Unfortunately it does seem like an unrealistic venture.
Who should they sign?
Both Crouch and Eto’o would be good signings for The Hammers, with the latter showing last season that can still perform at this level with some decent displays for Chelsea. However, if Big Sam would prefer a younger model, Burnley’s highly rated Danny Ings could do a job for West Ham. At just 22, Ings would be a good option as young, able forward.
As for defensive cover, Croatian International Ivan Strinic would be an ideal candidate and could even challenge Aaron Cresswell, recently signed from Ipswich, for a starting berth next season.
If Andy Carroll could have been fit for the start of the season he would be the clear choice as West Ham’s key player this term. However the big man’s 4-month layoff is a real blow to their chances of getting off to a good start. When fit he has shown that he has the potential to be a very good player and has caused some of the best defenders in the league real problems at times. Unfortunately they will have to cope without him for the start of the season. While new signing Valencia won’t be quite ready for the first few games, he could have a huge say in their fortunes this season. If he adapts well to the league and The Hammers’ style of play, we can expect to see him banging in the goals this season.
Despite the gloom surrounding Carroll’s injury, West Ham have strengthened remarkably well this summer and have done some of the best business in the league. Compared to other clubs around them, they look as if they will be in much better stead to push up the table and perhaps find themselves in the top half come May. Providing their new strikers can remedy their age-old problem of lacking goals, we’re expecting The Hammers to finish in 9th place this season, which would represent serious progress.