Premier League preview - West Ham
Championship: 3rd (Promoted via the play-offs)
FA Cup: Third round
League Cup: First round
After a stunning, nail-biting end to last season that left West Ham fans again dreaming of the Premier League much is to be looked forward to this term. The ups and downs that always seem to follow the Hammers were ever present in the 2011-12 season as they once again found themselves in the play-offs after looking solid for automatic promotion for most of the year.
The Hammers though secured promotion to the Premier League on a sunny afternoon at Wembley, Ricardo Vaz Te bagging the decisive goal three minutes from time to cue the blowing of bubbles all round the ground.
With Sam Allardyce in charge West Ham will hope he can bring the same stability to the club that he brought to Bolton, putting a halt to the inconvenience of being relegated and having to bounce back. With their current squad strength West Ham have all the attributes required to be a stable Premier League side. And with the addition of the French holding midfielder Alou Diarra giving the team that little bit of extra grit, they have every chance of a mid-table finish.
The Premier League is a harsh place though and West Ham need to make sure that goals do not dry up. In Vaz Te, Carlton Cole and Nicky Maynard West Ham may not have the firepower required to flourish but Kevin Nolan has the top flight experience under his belt and Sam Allardyce will be hoping for a healthy goal return from him.
West Ham are a couple of experienced players away from the finished article. The midfield has a good balance of experience and youth and in Jussi Jaaskelainen they have safe hands between the sticks. The signing of old-boy James Collins is a solid addition to partner young James Tomkins and this is sure to benefit the side as the season progresses. The full-back ranks look a little thin, however, while a proven Premier League goal scorer is needed too.
The first game of the 2012-13 season sees the visit of Aston Villa to the Boleyn Ground. West Ham will be hoping to get off to a flier with three points and set the tone for what they hope will be a season to remember.
Manager - Sam Allardyce: Allardyce will be hoping for the same success with West Ham this season that he enjoyed at Bolton for many years. The Hammers are in much need of someone to keep stable a side that in recent years has entered a good impression of a yo-yo.
Key Signing - Alou Diarra: West Ham have a real gem here in Diarra, a player who has served as captain for both club and country and will benefit the team during the tougher moments of the season. He is by trade a holding midfielder but can also be used at centre-back.
Key Sale - Ravel Morrison: A loan rather than a sale. Young Morrison will spend a year in the Championship with Birmingham City to get some valuable first team football. The intention is to give him more time to fulfil his potential and mature into the player his potential suggests he can be.
Keep an eye out for… West Ham’s Olympic Stadium bid. The decision on the future of the venue is to be made soon and represents an important moment for West Ham. The state of the club will be greatly boosted by playing in an 80,000 seat stadium and the Hammers are the favourites.
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