It seems like a lifetime ago since that day in May when an 87th minute goal from Ricardo Vaz Te red West Ham into the Premiership. So many issues had been debated in a frustrating season and it would seem any cracks were firmly papered over by a fantastic day and a vital result.
In this era the transfer speculation has gone into overdrive with media forms such as Twitter giving more people a chance to voice their opinions on how the club is performing in the transfer market. To my annoyance the amount of negative opinion about West Ham has been staggering. The main complaint seems to be that our team is not good enough and that many of the players we have are ‘Championship’ players.
Looking at the squad compared to that of the last time we were promoted this set of players actually have far more Premiership experience with the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen, McCartney, Nolan, Noble, Taylor, Collins and to a less extent Tomkins all having played most of their careers at the top level.
Compare that to 2005 and the team which started the season (Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Mullins, Reo Coker, Harewood etc) this side should have the know-how to compete at this level. We lost a number of players during the summer but everyone has been replaced.
Losing Robert Green was never ideal but he clearly wanted out and his sideward move to QPR seemed fuelled by either wanting more money or a change of scenery. He has been replaced by an experienced keeper in Jussi Jaaskelainen and a younger keeper in Stephen Henderson from Portsmouth.
In defence, we let Abdoulaye Faye go and this saw James Collins return to the club from Aston Villa. In midfield Diop was released and replaced by Mohammed Diame from Wigan and Henri Lansbury returned to his parent club Arsenal and we have brought in the experienced French international Alou Diarra.
The striking positions cause much debate amongst the supporters which the never-ending criticism towards Carlton Cole catalyst for this disgruntlement. With John Carew having left the club another striker in the form of Maiga has been brought in. This leaves us with six strikers but Frederique Piquionne has been left to rot with the reserves and the popular Sam Baldock is poised to leave.
Baldock has caused much knicker-wetting in the online world with an over romantic opinion of his abilities being branded about constantly. When you get the claim that Sam Baldock is actually better than Carlton Cole you know there must be an agenda somewhere or of course people could just be idiots which I am beginning to believe.
I’d be inclined to believe that the ‘great’ Sam Baldock will spend the majority of his career in the lower divisions. But if I am led to believe the comments made by many I suspect Barcelona awaits. So at the back end of last season I decided to join the Twitter crazy and since joining I have found myself being quite aggressive and argumentative towards West Ham supporters.
The off- the-cuff comments which Twitter encourages enrages me. ‘We don’t want sign him, he’s rubbish, sort it out David Gold’ is the general mantra and this is usually in reference to some newspaper report linking us to a player. Yes, people actually criticise one of the owners publicly due to a rumour.
Long gone are the days of having to call up Clubcall and listen for any drop of mundane information it could provide to you about the club. I have no particular hopes for the season and whilst our squad can always be stronger I look at the Premiership and I do not fear it.
There are so many average sides I believe we will have no issue competing even if we didn’t sign another player for the rest of the season. The Premiership is a wonderful hype machine with Sky Sports talking about the most trivial points possible and proceeding it with the words ‘breaking news’ or ‘sky sports understands’.
When you actually look at the league you can argue that at least 14 teams have the main goal of just staying up. I include Newcastle in that bracket as this would have been the aim last season.
Are West Ham currently that much worse than say West Brom or Wigan? I think there isn’t much in it and if you can get a run of results, a bit of confidence and the crowd on your side then things can go in your favour very quickly. With the opening set of fixtures we obviously have a chance to get points on the board although this will be no easy task.
The home form needs to be better this season and we need to start making Upton Park a place that teams do not like coming to. It used to be this way but not since the days of Harry Redknapp can we really say that we were dominant at home.
A positive result against Aston Villa will hopefully calm supporters down and make them forget about pre-season and weaknesses within the squad. I believe we need a couple more players to really strengthen the side although I’m not sure I feel we need to bring in another striker. My reason for this is that I don’t see who we could bring in that would be any better than what we already have. If this player is available then yes of course but I keep hearing people bleat on about a 20 goal a season striker.
I hate to be the one to break this to them but if you’re not in the top four then these strikers do not exist. We will give it go this season and under Sam Allardyce I expect us to be disciplined away from home again. I am not expecting free flowing football as this is not the way he likes the team to play but there were glimpses that we can play some stuff.
Aston Villa are first up and despite a change in manager they haven’t exactly been proactive in the transfer market. Whilst they will see this as a game they can win, I see no reason why we cannot get all three points and give ourselves a good start to the season. Whatever happens against Villa you can be sure we are in for an eventful season. It wouldn’t be West Ham if it wasn’t.