Pub talk: Our team look ahead to the new season

The Blowing Bubbles team consider everything West Ham ahead of the 2019/20 campaign

West Ham have splashed the cash once again this summer. Which of West Ham’s summer signings excites you most?

Marcus Johns: It’s a tough one, as both are exciting. Haller could well be the striker we’ve been craving for years – the physicality of Arnautovic, but the natural intelligence of an out-and-out striker. However, a striker is only as good as his service, and in Fornals we appear to have someone who can unlock the defence and create something out of nothing. It would seem we may have signed ourselves a David Silva.

Jack Kavanagh: The restrained approach to our summer signings is refreshing. Hopefully, it’ll build squad harmony to avoid 2016-17’s horror start. While Sébastien Haller’s goals tally in last season’s Bundesliga was impressive; I’m most excited for Pablo Fornals after his key role in Spain’s European Under-21 Championship title. At 23, he feels like one of our most exciting signings in years.

Holly Worthington: I’m very excited to see what Haller can do on the pitch. He’s a bit of a unit who looks like he has a great touch, can finish and set up goals – everything we need in that position. At 25, I also hope he’ll be at the club for a while.

Greg Richardson: Like everyone else, I think both are exciting additions. I think if Haller can break the Sully striker curse then he will end up being the best signing we’ve made since Payet, but I’m erring on the side of caution on that one. Fornals seems to have all the attributes we need to add to the midfield – he can carry the ball, has good vision and seems more willing to get stuck in than I initially thought, so is potentially a big piece of the jigsaw to help us push on.

Which of our summer departures were you sad to see leave – and what did you make of our other exits?

MJ: I think Adrian had a great rapport with the fans, so it’s always a shame to see someone depart who gets our club – but you can’t blame him for wanting to be a number one elsewhere. A fully fit Carroll would be a loss, but we didn’t see that version on enough occasions.

JK: Clearing deadwood was important; while it was sad to lose Andy Carroll, we’d emotionally moved on years ago. It was disappointing to see Obiang leave, as it felt like he had more to give. The rationale makes sense though, due to his injury record and not figuring into Pellegrini’s strategy. Might as well cash in while people still want him, unlike Carroll.

HW: I agree with Jack, it feels like a relief to get a fresh start for the season and clear out players no longer beneficial to the club. I’m most sad to see Obiang go. I think he’d been great for us and I have so many memories of his performances. He’s always conducted himself well, so I wish him all the best.

GR: I agree with Holly, I like that we have been a bit ruthless and got rid of players who don’t suit the direction we want to go and I think we have got the departures right in the main. I’d probably have shifted Sanchez and tried to retain Obiang but I can understand that in terms of actually making money, Pedro was the right choice – we’d probably have had to pay someone to take Sanchez! I was sad to see Adrian go – his penalty goal and his goal in Noble’s testimony will live long in the memory.

What would be considered a successful season for West Ham? Where do you think will we finish this season?

MJ: Overall, I think if we can further show that Pellegrini has turned us increasingly into a team with attacking intent, then that will be a success. If we’re judging purely on league position, than the obvious next level for us is seventh. But like most fans, I’d take a few places lower down if it meant winning a cup. Please, one day let me see us win a cup! So, I’ll say eighth.

JK: I applaud Pellegrini’s vision so far; last season might have been different if we didn’t lose our first four games. I want to see the squad pushing towards Europe like we threatened to do several times last year. My minimum expectation would be to improve and make a genuine attempt to break into the top seven.

HW: Realistically, I think a successful season will be finishing in the top 10. Conceding less goals and sharpening up our defence will also be vital. I genuinely believe we can push this season and if we can stop dropping points in must-win games. I see no reason we shouldn’t finish eighth or above this season.

GR: Again, I agree with Holly, another top 10 finish, with improvements to how we play and defend, will be a successful season. The teams around us, such as Wolves, Leicester, Everton, have all added to their squads so I see them as our main competition for that seventh place spot. That said, with uncertainty over how Chelsea and United will do, it’s not unthinkable to break into the top six this season. Like Marcus though, I’d take finishing lower and winning a Cup!

Who will win the title and who are your three to go down?

MJ: I don’t think you can look beyond City again. Liverpool had the season of their lives, and didn’t quite match the standard that City set. Plus last year was largely without De Bruyne! Relegation, it’s difficult to look beyond Norwich and Sheffield United to go straight back down. Villa I think will have enough, so I’d say probably Brighton.

JK: I disagree Marcus, I’m backing Liverpool to win the title because I think European success will increase the hunger of a team that has mostly remained intact. Newcastle’s thin squad will take them down, same with Brighton, as I think the force of personality of their respective managers kept them afloat. From the promoted teams, Sheffield United’s squad is furthest from Premier League quality.

HW: I reckon Man City will win this season. I hope there will be another battle for the title but they’re just too consistent. I reckon Newcastle will go down having lost Benitez – he worked absolute magic with so little. Them, Norwich and Sheffield United.

GR: I can’t see beyond City either. Liverpool haven’t added to their squad and were very lucky on the injuries front last year. I can’t see them getting anything more out of what they’ve got than they did last season, when they still fell short. On the relegation front, I think Newcastle will struggle without Rafa, Palace might also be in for a difficult year and then it’ll be one of the promoted sides – I think possibly Sheffield United if they start the season relying on Billy Sharp’s goals.

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