How are West Ham shaping up ahead of the new Premier League season? Here's the lowdown on what's new at Upton Park...
West Ham finished 13th last season but a points tally of 40 wasn’t particularly convincing and there were some murmurs of discontent regarding the fare served up by Sam Allardyce at Boleyn Ground. With pressure from the board as well as the fans, Allardyce will need to start strongly if he is to change the mood around Upton Park. With the club set to move into the Olympic Stadium in 2016, stakes are high for the Hammers.
Attacking coach Teddy Sheringham returns to the club as part of the initiative to encourage more positive play in the hope of placating supporters and there are certainly some intriguing signings for fans to cast their eyes over. Mauro Zarate and Enner Valencia could excite, Carl Jenkinson looks a solid acquisition on loan from Arsenal, while robust midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate has all the hallmarks of being an Allardyce favourite.
Winston Reid has established himself not only at the heart of the Hammers defence but also as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League with his ability to do the basics very well. Among the division’s top four clearance makers in 2012/13, he was sorely missed when out injured last term and Allardyce will surely be counting on the Kiwi to hold things together at the back while he tries to get the forward line to gel.
With Andy Carroll suffering further injury problems, that puts pressure on the others to deliver. Valencia looks a talent but - when it comes to club football - this is a big step up, while Zarate is a mercurial figure rather than a reliable scorer. However, perhaps the biggest concern remains behind the scenes where some reports would suggest Allardyce has work to do to convince those both inside and outside the club that he is the man to lead West Ham to a bright new future.
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- West Ham played a higher percentage of long passes than any other side last season (17%).
- No Premier League side dropped more points from leading positions in 2013/14 than the Hammers (20).
- The Hammers posted a 25.9% crossing success rate, the best in the top division last season.
I don’t know what to expect from West Ham this season. I don’t like the murmurings from the board, saying they want a different brand of football under Sam Allardyce. What a thing to say to a manager before the season starts! It’s very awkward. They’ve not got their best centre-forward, Andy Carroll, who is going to be injured for a while and if they don’t start well Sam is going to come under severe pressure. Winston Reid is their best centre back and they need to keep him fit. But it will be a tough season for them. They need a good start or the vultures will be circling for big Sam.
Possible West Ham XI