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Prepare for the most competitive PL season yet



Blind Hammer reviews the competition for PL success this season.


We all enjoy optimism before a new season and West Ham have high expectations and pleasingly, the club have concentrated on transfer quality rather than quantity.

I argued here, a couple of months ago, that West Ham should put all their eggs into one quality basket and I am delighted this is the approach Pellegrini has taken rather than spreading resources across all perceived squad weaknesses.

I knew little about Haller and nothing about Fornals before their arrival, but both seem additions who will make a positive difference to our season.

The problem is that others have also strengthened.

Aston Villa have invested £110 million in acquiring 11 players. The evidence is that their reward is far more likely to resemble the performance of Wolves rather than that of Fulham who invested so unwisely. Villa started their recruitment early, as soon as their PL status was confirmed, and not like Fulham at the last minute. Most of their new squad has had most of the summer to embed.

Villa’s newfound strength was remarkably demonstrated by Manager Dean Smith’s sanguinity before the playoff final. He explained that since Villa’s acquisition by billionaire Nassef Sawiris, whose family is the wealthiest in Egypt, and is the co-owner of NBA team Milwaukee Bucks, immediate promotion was no longer an essential. Their long-term financial future was secure.

So, the midlands now have Villa, as well as Wolves supported by billionaire investment. The days of the midlands as an irrelevant backwater compared to the automatic dominance of London and North West clubs may well be ending.

Whilst Norwich do not have the financial muscle of Villa, the way that their squad, last season, outperformed investment poured into teams like Villa and Leeds was remarkable. They showed that they will not be pushovers. Norwich exceeded Wolves goal tally from their similarly dominant promotion season. Norwich have unearthed gems from apparently nowhere including their new goal scoring sensation and player of their season Teemu Pukki.

Sheffield United achieved promotion despite owner McCabe proprietorship dispute with Prince Abdullah Mosaad. This has not prevented the Blades achieving record shirt sponsorship deals and smashing their transfer records. Whilst they may struggle, they are likely to present a greater challenge than that provided by their Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield.

Alongside these recruits Leicester, as well as Everton, have shown continued investment to achieve their dream of breaking into the top six. Even Brighton, expected to struggle, have smashed their transfer record in signing Adam Wester.

For some time now Bournemouth, Burnley and Watford have all punched above their weight. There seems little to indicate this will now change.

Only Newcastle have serious cause for pessimism, despite their dominant victory against us in pre-season.

So, whilst we dream of top 7 or even 6 position, our optimism needs to be tempered against the harsh reality of competing squads, many of whom are exceeding our own investment.

How West Ham fare next season will rely much on how we manage to escape injury to key performers like Haller. If Lanzini and Yarmolenko continue their rehabilitation, then this squad is undeniably stronger.

Yet to break into the top 6 or even 7 requires that clubs currently occupying that position to fall. Of the current crop Arsenal and Wolves are the most vulnerable to challenge.

If West Ham are to break into this group who have access to greater resources, they will need not a little luck, and most of all avoid serious injuries in their undeniably improved squad


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About David Griffith

My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph. My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season. I became a season ticket holder in 1970. I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle. I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel. David Griffith aka Blind Hammer

5 comments on “Prepare for the most competitive PL season yet

  1. A good article, every year we must believe we can do better than the previous season. I have to say i am disappointed with two signings to the first team especially when you consider we lost 1 first team player so in my eyes we have improved the first team by 1 player. I think we all would say we needed probably 4-5 top quality signings to the first team this summer to break into the top 6. Unfortunately the manager has not been given the funds for this so I for one will be delighted to finish between top 10 again with us probably finishing between 9-12th. I do accept the emergence of Johnson, the return of Reid, Yarmo and Lanzini will improve us but even with this we have no signed a top left back, a top CB, a top CM and a top wide player cum striker – all signings that were needed to bring us to the next level. COYI..

  2. We have already had a glimpse of the potential with a fluid & dynamic midfield. I agree that we need to be injury free but we also need to be more savvy in terms of set up. Because of the high line we are going to ship a load of goals. Top 6 or 8 finish? …nope. However a good run in either cup & mid table finish will be a pretty decent season. Sit down, strap in & enjoy the ride because it’s going to be entertaining! COYI

  3. Pretty much covered it all in this piece.My worry( and it seems the worry of most fans) is if we start to pick up injuries the strength in depth is not there.This was a problem last season.We have sold ,loaned or moved on about 15 players academy included and brought in 2 plus 2 goalies.Attack looks fine but look how Hertha cut swathes through our midfield and defence for their 3 goals.At minimum we need a defensive MF and cover at centre half.

  4. Bang on 64 nowhere near strong enough right the way through.they won’t sign any more players and if they do it will only be a cheap back up ,so all these people who are saying we need 3\4 more players are dreaming even though they are right..sorry but they have not invested enough IMO and as e you say if we get injuries we are done or if haller needs time were do the goals come from..I think they have made a mistake by not investing more ..at best we will be the same as last year IMO

  5. After todays game I am more convinced than ever we do not need a CB, we need a CM with legs. We were ran ragid at times in midfield in the second half. I am more convinced than ever we also need another forward. We have no pace up top in either Haller or Chica and after Yarmo’s display today we have no pace on the right wing. Please West Ham do not buy another CB, please get a CM and RW/CF before Thurs. Btw Wilshere had his best half for us since we have signed him. Pity though he could not maintain that in the time he was on the pitch in the second half.

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