The bubbles burst quickly at the Olympic Stadium. The second season at the new ground was supposed to usher in a new era for the East London club after a tumultuous first, instead results were poor, the fans revolted and Slavan Bilic was fired. In came David Moyes, to most a strange choice given his poor records at Manchester United and Sunderland but the Scot managed to stabilize the club and the Hammers finished 13th. However, Moyes was not seen as the future of the club and his contract was not extended. He was replaced by a familiar face to the Premier League, Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean was a left field choice but has a proven track record and a Premier League winners medal to boot. This season may finally see the Hammers reach their goals of breaking into the top half of the table.
West Ham have gathered together a squad of quality but not consistency. In goals Adrian is a top shot stopper but prone to mistakes. Winston Reid leads the defense alongside Angelo Ogbonna, but the New Zealander is getting on and the Italian is short of on pace. The purchase of Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena may remedy these problems but they are untested in the Premier League. Aaron Cresswell has a quality left foot that should provide quality delivery from set pieces. The midfield is where Pellegrini has really strengthened with Jack Wilshere, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmalenko adding real style and skill to the robust Mark Noble and Michail Antonio. In attack Pellegrini will have plenty of options, Andy Carrol provides a target man, Javier Hernandez can play in behind and Marco Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini threaten from the wings.
Manual Pellegrini was a surprise choice by West Ham, mostly because we had all forgotten about him once he moved to China, but he’s back and on paper he’s the highest profile boss the Hammers have had in while, Real Madrid don’t hire just anyone. In his title winning season City scored 102 goals to snatch the title away from Liverpool with their home form providing some massive wins and just one loss. West Ham will hope that he brings the same winning mentality to Olympic Stadium. Expect a 4-4-2 with pacey wingers Antonio and Yarmalenko out wide and a combination of Lanzini, Arnautovic, Carrol or Hernandez to provide the goals. Wilshere and Noble will hope to provide the steel in midfield to free up new signing Felipe Anderson.
What to Expect
The Hammers are potential dark horses this season. Pellegrini likes to operate out of the headlines and go about his business quietly, don’t be surprised if West Ham are floating in and around the European places just before the festive season. Keeping them there will be the real challenge. Any side arriving at the Olympic Stadium will be bombarded by die-hard fans who may finally believe that the good times have arrived and fast flowing football that will catch out any side who aren’t at the races. Are the Hammers ready for the big leagues? Time to find out.