Saturday, August 20, 2022

West Ham Season Preview: Can The Hammers Repeat Last Season’s Heroics?

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

There is no lack of excitement from West Ham fans ahead of the start of the new Premier League campaign. With the brilliant Slaven Bilic at the helm, they will feel great things are possible. They achieved a top 7 finish for the first time since 2001-02, a record points tally in the Premier League era. The East London club are blessed with one of the best players in the league whose stock rose even higher at Euro 16. Last but not the least, The Hammers’ have a new home in the 55k capacity Olympic Stadium putting an end to their more than 100-year stay at the historic Boleyn Ground. If the Hammers can beat Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League playoffs, they will also have Europa League next season adding more value to the club.

It would be a historic season for West Ham this time around. If Slaven Bilic can play his cards right, the Hammers can make their name among the giants of English football in coming years. In his maiden season in English football, Bilic took the side very close to a top-four finish. The Croatian bolstered his squad massively this summer and it won’t be a surprise if we get to see the Hammers in Champions League next season ahead of the big boys of England.

Transfers

Ins

Andre Ayew – Swansea, £20.5m

Manuel Lanzini – Al Jazira Club, £9.4m

Arthur Masuaku – Olympiakos, £6m

Toni Martinez – Valencia, £2.25m

Havard Nordtveit – Borussia Monchengladbach, free

Sofiane Feghouli – Valencia, free

Gokhan Tore, Besiktas, loan

Domingos Quina – Chelsea, free

Ashley Fletcher – Manchester United, free

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Andre Ayew of Swansea City during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Bristol Rovers and Swansea City at Memorial Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND – JULY 23: Andre Ayew of Swansea City during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Bristol Rovers and Swansea City at Memorial Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Outs

James Tomkins – Crystal Palace, £10m

Stephen Hendrie – Blackburn, loan

Elliott Lee – Barnsley, free

Jordan Brown – Hannover, free

George Dobson – Walsall, loan

Kyle Knoyle – Wigan, loan

Joey O’Brien – released

Nathan Mavila – released

Leo Chambers – released

Amos Nasha – released

Josh Cullen – Bradford, loan

Josh Pask – Gillingham, loan

Lewis Page – Coventry, loan

West Ham United's English defender James Tomkins prepares to take a throw in during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester United at The Boleyn Ground in Upton Park, in east London on May 10, 2016. / AFP / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
West Ham United’s English defender James Tomkins prepares to take a throw in during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester United at The Boleyn Ground in Upton Park, in east London on May 10, 2016. / AFP / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Fees Courtesy- Sky Sports

How have West Ham fared in the transfer market?

In one word, exceptional. However, the Hammers still need to complete a few more deals before the transfer window ends. The first business they did was to sign Manual Lanzini on a permanent deal. He was a big success at the club last season on loan from Al Jazira. Bilic proved that he is master of the transfer market with the free transfers for Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit. The two players made their names in Spain and Germany over the years and adds a lot of quality to the West Ham team.

Arthur Masuaku was another good addition from Olympiakos who can fill in the void of Cresswell in the left-back position until the Englishman returns from injury. Gokhan Tore, on loan, was another addition of true quality. Deals for Domingos Quina, Ashley Fletcher and Toni Martinez prove West Ham’s intent for a solid future of the club.

West Ham had been linked with plenty of top European forwards like Batshuayi, Lacazette, Ben Yedder and many more during the course of the summer but had only disappointment in their pursuit for a quality number nine. Andre Ayew was brought in from Swansea on a club record £20.5m and it seems like Bilic sees the former African Player of the Year as a centre-forward but West Ham should have moved for an out and out number nine, not a makeshift forward. It would be foolish to say that Ayew is not a solid addition but West Ham playing him as a forward does not make much sense.

Tactics

Slaven Bilic will need some time to find out his strongest starting XI. If West Ham can make it to the Europa League, the plethora of options available for selection will come in handy or else there is a chance that having too many players in the same position will diminish the morale of the players. Bilic can opt for both 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations and has to find out the best chemistry himself. With the squad West Ham right now, none of the players apart from Payet, Cresswell (when fit) and Feghouli are assured starters. The competition in the team will help each and every individual to deliver their best.

Expectations and predictions

Premier League has come to such a point that predicting anything is an impossible job. However, with a quality manager and a quality team, West Ham are expected to challenge for a top-four finish this season. With the squad depth West Ham have, Bilic should realistically target long runs in domestic Cup competitions and in the Europa League if the Hammers can qualify for it.

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