Saturday, July 29, 2006
With the season just a few weeks away I thought is was time for a season preview and predictions for the year ahead for our beloved Hammers.
Last season I predicted a comfortable season for our boys in their first season back in the top flight. And how right was I? Well I said we’d finish the season on 55 points and we finished on exactly that. I also said we’d start with a 3-1 win vs Blackburn and finish with a 2-1 win over the scum – freaky! Ok so I got a few mid season results wrong but overall we were right where I expected us to be in terms of league football. What I was nicely surprised about though was our glorious cup run which took us right to the final minutes of the final itself and a heart stopping penalty shootout. The team captured our hearts and imaginations as they continued to eliminate Premier League opponent after Premier League opponent only to fall so bravely right at the death.
So onto this season.
Transfers so far:
In: Lee Bowyer, Jonathan Spector, Tyrone Mears, Carlton Cole
Out: Shaka Hislop, Chris Cohen, Elliot Ward, Yaniv Katan
I’m still hoping we can add more to the additions list before Aug 19th but although the current list doesn’t show real clout in the transfer market, the important thing is we’ve managed to hold on to some real prospects and now star names. In truth the current team does not need a major overhaul and we have strengthened some much needed areas.
6th – 63 points
Although I think this is a bold prediction, I feel the chemistry is right at the club right now and we can improve on last season’s league performance. The mouth watering prospect of an entire season of Marlon Harewood and Dean Ashton forming a deadly partnership fills me with hope of a lean mean goal scoring machine. With the quality of Carlton Cole and Bobby Zamora waiting in the wings, these two will be under constant pressure to set the premier league alight this season.
In midfield we have the work rate of Nigel Reo Coker, the speed and trickery of Matty Etherington down the left, and the guile of Yossi Benayoun on the right. Add to this the protection of the back four offered by Haden Mullins and I think we have midfield ready to take on anybody this year. With Lee Bowyer waiting in the wings we have cover for every area of midfield.
Last summer Danny Gabbidon joined the club with fellow Welsh centre half James Collins. Danny has formed a partnership of distinction with Anton Ferdinand at the heart of defence and impressed so much that he picked up the fans’ Hammer of the Year award. Ferdinand spent some of the tail end of last season injured and Collins showed is worth as deputy with some inspiring performances alongside his former Cardiff team mate. At Left back we have Paul Konchesky who also won over the hearts of Hammers fans with his first season at Upton Park. Pardew has taken measures this season to fill the void at right back left by the departure of Tomas Repka in January. Tyrone Mears comes from Preston with similar credentials as Danny Gabbidon’s move from Cardiff and if the move pays off we could have a defence to be proud of for the upcoming season.
After the performance of Shaka Hislop at this summer’s world cup I felt sure that he would be number one at West Ham this year. With his departure I believe it leaves us a little short in this position. Roy Carroll started the season well, but having made a few less appealing appearances followed by a long term injury it remains to be seen if he is up to the role of first choice keeper. As backup Jimmy Walker is much untested at this level as is Stephen Bywater.
Expected Starting Lineup:
Well if Middlesborough can get to the Uefa Cup final then I don’t see why this team can’t. It remains to be seen how we can cope with fixture congestion, but with the extra strength in depth the new signings will offer we should be able to cope with a little squad rotation this year.
Domestic Cup Competitions:
I think Pardew will be taking the cups very seriously this year. He will know how painfully close we came last season to winning our first major trophy in 26 years and will want another bite at that cherry. If we are safe towards the later part of next season I would expect be seeing a different cup side to the league side in the tail end of the season. However with the previously mentioned strength in depth we should be able cope with this a lot better than last season.