West Ham’s first season back in the Premier League was a great success. For a team that’s had its ups and downs, finishing in 10th place under second year manager Sam Allardyce was very optimistic for their loyal fanbase. Although the club is not anywhere near their glory years, they have room for improvement and seem to be making the right moves to slowly improve their status in the Premier League.
The Good – They remained in the Premier League and finished 10th.
The Bad – They didn’t look “10th place impressive”.
They started out pretty well and expectations were high at one point in time, especially considering it was their first season back in the top league. Things didn't look great for too long and the Hammers had an up and down season. Interestingly, their most impressive win was a 3-1 beating of Chelsea in the middle of their rough winter stretch. They finished off the season with a 4-2 win over Reading. They have some pieces to build around, which is key at this stage, so the fans shouldn’t be too worried, but they shouldn’t expect a top four finish either.
West Ham have enough solid rising players to build around but they could use more youth and raw talent. They are no longer known for their great youth players and all English squads that used to be a West Ham staple during the 60s, and they no longer develop players like Bobby Moore, who highlighted their golden era by leading England to the World Cup in ’66. Some are suggesting they should no longer call themselves the Academy of Football. Home grown or not, these players form a solid core for West Ham to build around.
Winston Reid – Reid was named Hammer of the Year and he truly deserved it. He played in 36 out of the 38 Premier League games and was a constant through the year. He had his best year of football so far and you can expect more of the same next year.
James Collins – Collins had a shaky starts but quickly cemented his spot in the back line. He is now a guaranteed starter next year alongside Winston Reid and the two should form a solid defensive duo that can compete with any and all Premier League strikers.
Mohamed Diame – Diame had a great start to his West Ham career but slowed down in the second half of the season. This could be attributed to an injury in December and I am fully confident Diame will return in good form next season and continue improving. He also needs to be a little more consistent and hopefully that’s the case in his second Premier League season.
Andy Carroll – Carroll was the biggest name for the Hammers last season but he didn’t play up to par with expectations. He had some injury problems early on but he clearly improved as the season went on. He is now here permanently, so expect him to continue improving on his form and score a lot more than seven goals this season.
Joe Cole – This one hurts. Joe Cole is one of my favorite childhood players and I’ve been a fan for a long time, but it really seems he is no longer himself. Injuries and inconsistency prevented him from making any noticeable impact in the Premier League last season and it doesn’t appear anything will change. Cole had some comments about wanting to play for the English squad in the World Cup next year, but if something doesn’t change drastically, he will be watching from home.
Modibo Maiga – Maiga can’t really decline much since he never had anything to contribute in the first place. He was a failed purchase and only started four games(he had 19 appearances overall). He only registered two league goals and failed to impress throughout the season.
These priorities must be addressed if West Ham hope to finish in the top side of the table again this season. West Ham have a number of important holes to address and must act quickly.
Striker – Even with the purchase of Andy Carroll, West Ham can still use a striker. They have no one substantial to back him up and need someone to play up top with him when they need to make a comeback. This is a top priority.
Playmaker – Something West Ham lacked last season is someone to create chances. Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan are solid midfielders but they lack speed and creativity. West Ham would sometimes find themselves playing the long ball, something Big Sam has been criticized over. They need a creative, quick, attacking midfielder who can play behind Andy Carroll and create chances.
Winger – Unless Joe Cole resurrects himself and Diame is the definition of consistency, West Ham could use a winger. They need speed down the side and someone who can beat their man and deliver a cross for Andy Carroll.
Speed in midfield – Weather this is on the wing on in the middle, the West Ham midfield needs to get faster and a little more technical. Most of their current players are not known for their speed or passing ability and that’s a big reason why the Hammers play the long ball too often at times.
Wilfried Zaha – West Ham are reportedly interested in getting Wilfried Zaha on a loan. Zaha would be a great fit alongside Andy Carroll or on the wing. He possesses enough speed and creativity to create chances and finish them. Things are currently a little congested up front for Manchester United, but if Wayne Rooney leaves Old Trafford, Zaha might not be available.
Romelu Lukaku – Lukaku might be staying at Chelsea, but if they acquire a top level striker, Lukaku might be loaned out again. He would fit well in West Ham’s long ball system and could even top his 17 goal total from last year.
Steward Downing – Downing has not been the greatest of fits with Liverpool and rumor is that he might be for sale. Downing would be a solid addition to the West Ham midfield that desperately needs help. He can also play on the wing and create some chances and he would be a starter with the Hammers.
Adrien Silva –This is a rumor from last year, but the Hammers should pursue this option again. Silva is a central midfielder who can provide the playmaking ability West Ham desperately needs and comes with both youth and experience at age 24. His name hasn’t popped up this summer, but West Ham should inquire.
Duvan Zapata – Another versatile attacking option, the 6ft 2in striker would fit great in the West Ham system and comes in for only £6.7million. Some reports have said the deal is already complete, but don’t assume anything for certain until West Ham officially announce the deal.
Do you think the Hammers will finish in the top ten next season? Will they land another big name striker?