West Ham United have struggled in recent years, posting four bottom-half finishing in their last five Premier League seasons, but things could be changing for the better in 2018/19. Former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has taken charge of the club for next season and has already brought in three new players, while overseeing the exits of two ageing players.
Despite the Hammers being embroiled in a relegation battle for a lot of 2017/18, a mid-table finish will likely be expected of Pellegrini next season. The new manager is being backed in the transfer market and has a number of talented players to build the squad around. West Ham’s success will depend a lot of keeping their best players at the London Stadium.
There are nine other clubs tipped by bookmakers for the drop next season, which highlights how many deem West Ham more than safe. In fact, most betting offers around West Ham for next season heavily favour the London club finishing in the top-10 – a bare-minimum target for the fans.
Hammers defence is finally being strengthened
Last season, West Ham conceded 68 goals in the Premier League. They had Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City and the England international struggled for consistency. His form was so poor that he found himself replaced by Adrian midway through the campaign and United have since signed Swansea City’s Lukasz Fabianski to give them a more solid option between the sticks.
They’ve also bolstered the backline with Issa Diop signing from Toulouse and Ryan Fredericks joining on a free transfer from Fulham. James Collins and Patrice Evra were shown the exit door this summer with the London outfit opting for a more youthful transfer policy.
Diop will compete with Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid for a starting place next season, while Declan Rice will provide back-up at the heart of the backline. To have Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku as options at left-back makes Pellegrini’s task easy next season, while Pablo Zabaleta is expected to be a regular on the right.
West Ham can’t afford to lose attacking players
If United can fix their problems in defence, their talented attackers could take them places next season. Marko Arnautovic enjoyed a dream debut season at the London Stadium, scoring and creating 17 goals in 28 Premier League starts, while Manuel Lanzini contributed 11 goals in 23 starts. Javier Hernandez even netted eight times in 16 starts despite not being a regular up front and Andy Carroll will be an important player if he can stay fit – always a big if.
United may feel they underperformed and didn’t play to the best of their ability last season, rather than not having a squad good enough to do better. Pellegrini has real talent to coach at West Ham. Time will tell if he can get them firing on all cylinders.