Season Preview: West Ham hoping to reverse goal drought
The much anticipated Premier League season is edging ever closer, as the Hammers faithful await a mouth-watering opening day fixture against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur on August 16, writes Jack Pinnock.
However, before the big derby, Sam Allardyce's men have had pre-season to contend with, and like every year, West Ham's summer has been very eventful.
On the back of last season 13th place finish, West Ham only managed to notch 40 Premier League goals, the joint sixth lowest.
After a season of struggle and a relegation battle throughout last year, the board have ordered a massive improvement from Big Sam. Owners David Gold and David Sullivan have told the boss to play a more 'attacking brand of football'.
Former Hammers favourite, Teddy Sheringham, has been added to the back room staff as an attacking coach in order to help West Ham's frontline become more potent.
Sullivan has spoken publicly about the upcoming campaign, insisting that he will not tolerate another relegation scrap. "We've raised the bar a little bit, he said. "Sam was never told that survival was his target, that's a complete myth.
"We may have said that's a minimum acceptable achievement but that's not what we're aiming for, we're aiming to be up there competing with the good teams. It isn't easy but we would love a cup final, we would love to get into the top six, top half would be quite good."
The board have also given the manager significant funds in order to improve the squad, and Allardyce has utilised this to the best of his ability with six new players moving to east London so far.
Approximately £30m has been spent with young Arsenal and England full back Carl Jenkinson (above) being the latest player to join the Hammers. As well as on-loan Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mauro Zarate (below), Diego Poyet and Enner Valencia have also made the move to the capital.
Despite the massive player expenditure, Allardyce is taking a massive gamble, as - apart from Jenkinson - they lack Premier League experience. Norwich City did something similar, bringing in the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Leroy Fer and Gary Hooper for large fees, which resulted in the Canaries becoming the lowest scorers in the league and relegated.
However, while the new arrivals are exciting those at West Ham, the Hammers have got problems to contend with.
Keeping Winston Reid is integral to the Hammers plans, but with the New Zealand captain rejecting a new five year deal worth £60,000 per week, big clubs will be eyeing the situation for a player West Ham cannot afford to lose.
Ravel Morrison, one of the most promising English players in the country but in the press again last week for all the wrong reasons, has caused a rift between the board and the manager on whether to keep him or let him go.
Pre-season results have also taken a turn for the worst.
They failed to beat Ipswich Town and League Two outfit Stevenage. Recently on tour in the southern-hemisphere, the Hammers lost both of their games against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.
Most recently, Sam Allardyce's men were comfortably beaten by Malaga, but did beat German giants FC Schalke via a penalty shoot-out.
This new attacking style of play has failed to come to fruition, having accumulated just eight shots in the whole of pre-season so far.
With a curtain raiser friendly against Sampdoria approaching on Saturday, West Ham should show there attacking nouse they are capable of against the Italians.
In their penultimate season at Upton Park, it is plainly obvious that the Hammers have already started preparations ahead of their move into the Olympic Stadium in two years' time.
However, competing in the right half of the Premier League is essential this season, and the odds of Big Sam remaining as manager are becoming slimmer every day.