Ah football, it’s back! It’s been a long summer what with no World Cup, European Championships or Olympics to keep our bored minds occupied. But worry not, as the evenings begin to draw in, our beautiful game is back to see us through the winter.
It’s been an interesting summer as far as West Ham is concerned. There have been recent murmurs of discontent as a few fans are agitated at a lack of signings. Wasn’t Andy Carroll a big enough coup for us? I guess that’s the problem when the dotted line is signed in May, there’s a long wait to the start of the season, so we tend to feel like nothing’s going on. Well, that’s not true. The pre-season friendlies are a good way for the squad to bond in my opinion. It’s not all about winning, it’s about team building and eradicating any mistakes before the big Premier League kick off.
It’s nice to think that an unbeaten pre-season run will mean instant league success but we’ve proved that not to be the case in the past. I was at the friendly against Cork in June and got to see a few new first team faces in action and there were a lot of promising signs from most. It might not have been a very tough test, but it gave us a platform to show off what we can really do. There was some lovely passing, movement and skill, but there were a couple of standout players on the day. Alou Diarra was notably showing some effort and looked to be playing for a Premier League place. It remains to be seen whether his dream will come true and it probably depends on where Sam Allardyce chooses to play him.
We might yet see another strop from Diarra but the pre-season signals are all positive for now. That in itself could be like a new signing. Equally fresh and ready to go was Ravel Morrison. Another potential match winner next season, he looks hungry and eager to prove himself on the pitch.
I did meet him afterwards and he was just as I imagined him to be – not overwhelmed by the fans but had a little bit of “swagger” about him (yes, I hate that word too but it’s all I’ve got!).
Dan Potts was also impressive going forward. Maybe a bit less profound in his tracking back and physical defending but his spacial awareness on the wing was great. Do we need another winger? Probably not but it’s good to know he has that in his locker. Smiley Razvan Rat was also on display for the Hammers in Cork. Unfortunately, he didn’t light up the match in the way we might have hoped. He looked to be playing slightly out of position on the day, and was a little quiet and inaccurate.
Hopefully he will prove to be a positive signing throughout the season because his attitude seems just right. All in all, I was impressed with the effort from the team and convinced that Kevin Nolan is the man to continue to lead us in the Premier League. His communication to his teammates stood out for me, and after the match he couldn’t do enough for his fans afterwards. He’s top notch! Personally, I think this season will be brilliant, not just for West Ham but for the whole Premier League.
From our own perspective, we’ve secured Andy Carroll and it looks like we might have a couple of great lads to promote from the Development Squad. Elliot Lee, Dan Potts and Paul McCallum are probably ready for a couple of tests this year at senior level. I’d agree that one more signing in a forward position would benefit the squad but that is a really tricky position to get right for us so he has to be the perfect fit.
There are many interesting stories throughout the Premier League this season: a new manager at Old Trafford, Martinez in charge of a club that should be getting to the Europa League and an interesting choice for director of football at Newcastle. At the time of writing this, the Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale, Cesc Fabregas and Luis Suarez sagas are all ongoing with big money at stake. How can this not be a great season? It’s got all the ingredients. First up for us is Cardiff City today, so here’s to being top of the league this evening, if only for a few hours!