West Ham United Season Preview - Cause for Optimism?
Sam Allardyce is still the man that the West Ham United hierarchy believe will take the club into a new chapter of prosperity. The 2013/2014 campaign was a real up-and-down season for the Hammers as they went through spells of winning consistently, to losing almost every week.
Unfortunately for the former Bolton Wanderers boss, he experienced more downs than ups which led to many fans calling for his head. At a couple of points in the season, he had to win in order to keep his job.
For a newly-promoted team to finish 13th in their second season back in the top flight would be quite an achievement, but not for West Ham who are an ambitious bunch. The very name ‘West Ham United’ is often associated with the Premier League so when they were relegated a few seasons back, shock-waves were sent through Great Britain. They see themselves as a team that should be competing for a spot in the Europa League, but last season they just weren’t good enough.
The problem they had last season was the fact that they couldn’t find the net consistently enough and while they boast a sturdy defence, injuries tore their reputation to shreds. Conceding three or four goals was a rarity for the Hammers, but last season it happened all too often.
Allardyce has had two big issues to deal with this summer; adding depth in defence and giving the team more fire-power in attack. With the signings they’ve made, I can see quite a successful season on the horizon. A rise in the league rankings for sure and maybe a decent run in the cup competitions. Steady progress is what I’m envisaging for the Hammers.
‘Big’ Sam has been very active in the transfer market and has acquired some good players to give the whole team a boost for the new season. One of the problem areas for the Hammers last season was their lack of depth in defence and Allardyce has brought in three new faces. Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson will try their hardest to make their presence felt in their respectable positions. However, George McCartney left the club earlier in the window along with a bunch of youngsters as Sam looks to fine-tune his squad for the new season.
Not so much of a re-shuffle in midfield as only Diego Poyet has been signed by the club for this position. Although, Kouyate has experience in the centre of park. Lastly, West Ham’s attack has been greatly strengthened after Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate both caught the eye of the Hammers boss.
One to watch
My one to watch this season is most certainly Cheikhou Kouyate. The Belgian pro-league is a division that doesn’t attract much interest from us Brits, but it’s clear that Belgium is the place to look for top talent after the World Cup the national team had. Kouyate is actually Senegalese, but the point is that the Belgian pro-league should not be disregarded in your search for talent.
The reason why I think Kouyate is one to watch is the fact that he is incredibly versatile and seems to have all the attributes needed to make a real contribution to West Ham’s season. He’s tall, very good in the air, strong and brave. Everything needed to be a top-draw defender, but he had a whole different side to his game and one which allows him to play further up the pitch, in midfield. He’s surprisingly agile for someone of his size and he’s also gifted with the ball at his feet. He’s not scared to get the ball out of his feet, stretch his legs and start an attack by gliding through the opposition. He will certainly be a surprise package for the Hammers and for the Premier League.
As I mentioned earlier, I think West Ham will make steady progress which could land them in the top 10. They have the quality to do so, but also the togetherness to compete for the Europa League.
Sam Allardyce has addressed a couple of major issues that destroyed the team last season and for that I think he could be rewarded with the axe taken away from his neck. They may well have regained that infamous defensive stability and home form that served them so well in their first season back in the Premier League. Couple this with signings made further up the pitch and you have a recipe for success
Do you think The Hammers will finish further up the league, or even be more involved in a relegation fight? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .