On Sunday May 19, West Ham United will play their final match of the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season at home to fellow promoted side Reading. Hopefully, at the end of this match, we will have secured another season of top-flight football.
Ideally, we would have secured our Premier League status earlier in the campaign, but as all Hammers fans know, we never make it easy for ourselves, and it could well go down to the last game. I can honestly say I would settle for 17th place this coming season, anything as long as we play the likes of Manchester United again in 2013/2014.
I just hope that we put on a better show than the last time we were in this division, where we finished bottom after a very disappointing season. There was no passion from some players, poor management by Avram Grant and a lack of talent in key positions. That season got off to a very bad start, losing the first four matches and not winning until the sixth against Tottenham on September 25th. If West Ham are to survive this season, we have to start quickly off the blocks, and our opening run of games suggests that could happen.
The last time we were promoted from the Championship was in 2005. The 2005/2006 season in the Premier League is one of my favourites as a West Ham fan. Tipped for a relegation battle, the Hammers comfortably avoided the drop, finishing ninth and were FA Cup runners-up to Liverpool, thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Players who were in the in the squad in the Championship stepped up to the plate and performed excellently. Players like Marlon Harewood played well that season and gelled well with the signings made in the close season. Signings like Danny Gabbidon and Yossi Benayoun played very well and were key players in the side.
I would like this coming season to be similar to 2006, but as long as we stay up I’m not too concerned where we finish. I think Sam Allardyce has made some good signings in the transfer window so far and hopefully there will be more to come. James Collins is a solid Premier League defender and should strengthen our defence. I like the look of Alou Diarra, our most recent signing. He looked decent at the recent European Championships against England and should add power to our midfield. Mohamed Diamé, a free signing from Wigan, has looked a steady player for a few seasons and hopefully he will perform well.
Modibo Maïga had a decent goalscoring record in Ligue 1 in France, scoring 24 goals in 59 league games for Sochaux. I don’t know much about him but hopefully he will score many goals for the team. I’m still not so keen on Jussi Jääskeläinen being our number one goalkeeper and I am sorry to see Robert Green leave. Jääskeläinen was terri c for Bolton a few years ago but he was on the substitutes bench most of last season so I’m not sure if his best days are behind him, but we’ll have to wait and see.
A lot of fans were very concerned last term about West Ham’s style of play. Songs like “We’re West Ham United, we play on the floor,” were sung throughout the season. I agree our style could have been better but as long as we were promoted and gained results I wasn’t too bothered. I feel we need to have variety in our attack this season, especially against top-quality defenders. We’ve got the players to pass the ball around; the performance at Barnsley showed that. It was amazing; we played them off the park for the whole game.
Overall I think Big Sam knows what he is doing. He has been in this position before with Bolton and knows how to keep teams up. I liked the way we were difficult to beat and could grind out a result in the Championship. Under Avram Grant we were far too easy to beat and couldn’t win away from Upton Park. We only won two away games that season, which is a terrible effort. Last season, West Ham won a record 13 away games which was brilliant, especially as our form at home was inconsistent.
The shape of the squad is looking good at the moment. But I still feel we can improve in certain areas. Guy Demel looks a weak link a right- back so we someone to play in his position. Another centre-back would be good to provide competition for James Collins, Winston Reid and James Tomkins.
A winger would be ideal, someone like Adam Johnson from Manchester City would fit the bill. Like other clubs, West Ham have been linked to a whole host of players in the transfer window. There has been rumours, especially on Twitter that we may break our transfer record, which sounds very exciting. If we can bring in a few quality players I think we will be okay this season.
I’m not expecting reworks from the Hammers this season but I think we’ll survive and hopefully it won’t come down to the last game. But like all West Ham seasons, it’s going to be fascinating.