Premier League football is back and West Ham have a new manager at the helm, bringing former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini back to England.
The Hammers have spent heavily to bring nine new faces into their senior squad, including landing Lucas Perez and Carlos Sanchez on Deadline Day, but face a tough start to the season away from home against Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s defeated Champions League finalists are widely backed as contenders to dethrone Manchester City from the summit of the Premier League this season and Pellegrini will be aware of the major task in front of his side.
The Chilean boss spoke to the press on Friday ahead of the game, where we picked up on three key things.
Backing Perez to shine
Signed as an outcast from Arsenal’s squad, Lucas Perez has endured a difficult time in the Premier League since his arrival two seasons ago and made just a handful of appearances in his maiden campaign, then returning to Deportivo last season.
The 29-year-old scored eight LaLiga goals and contributed a further six assists as his boyhood club suffered relegation to the second division, a significant improvement on the one goal he has to his name in the Premier League.
Despite the lack of experience in England, Pellegrini is confident that Perez can be a success and spoke about the Spaniard specifically ahead of the trip to Merseyside.
“Every season is different for players. Maybe with the way his team plays or because of other problems. Lucas has had a good career and has the quality to be in this squad and I hope he will be a success here.”
No special plans for Salah
The daunting prospect of facing Liverpool away from home in your first match in charge is increased due to the fact that the Reds have last season’s Premier League top-scorer Mohamed Salah at their disposal, who is ready to tear the league up again.
Keeping a player who scored 32 times in 36 league appearances last season quiet is an impossible task, with only Sergio Ramos displaying how to reduce the effectiveness of the Egypt international – injuring him early on.
However, Pellegrini is wary of the threats that Liverpool have across their ranks and will not have a special plan in effect to keep Salah under the radar.
“We don’t have any special plans just for him because it would be easier if Liverpool were just Mo Salah, but they aren’t. They have Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri. But Salah is a great player and we all saw what he did last season.”
Board keen to invest
West Ham fans have grown to be frustrated in recent years following false promises from the board, with boiling point reached in a defeat to Burnley earlier this year where some fans invaded the field to protest, but the owners have finally put their money where their mouth is.
Crucially, it appears that West Ham’s business was not brought around by Pellegrini throwing his weight about behind the scenes and throwing a tantrum in an attempt to get funds, like a certain Jose Mourinho, but instead emerged from the board’s desire to spend.
With nine senior arrivals and a summer that saw the Hammers smash their club-record twice, West Ham look well prepared for the new campaign.
“When I spoke with the owner, we agreed what the project would be for West Ham in the future. They wanted to invest money, as have most clubs in the Premier League, and I think we have improved the squad. The board have worked very well and we have a competitive squad.”