The bookies have Alan Curbishley down as the first manager to be sacked this season. Which presumably means they think we will struggle.
Mark Lawrenson says that the 'great problem' for West Ham is 'the wage bill' and consequently West Ham will finish in the bottom third. Presumably the players will be weighed down by their bulging wallets and be unable to perform. What a ... (fill in the blank).The Times
say West Ham should have a top half finish this season and Joe Lovejoy's prediction is 8th.
Sky Sports think West Ham will have a similar season this year to last. Strangely they say that the majority of West Ham's rivals have been busy in the transfer market. I thought that most sides had been fairly quiet in the transfer market this year. Anyway Sky predict West Ham will finish 11th this year.
Listening to what the West Ham management and players have been saying over the summer I think the club have earmarked 7th position as the target for this year and this looks achievable.
West Ham have not been that active in the transfer market over the summer. Despite what the club says about players returning from injury being like new signings I'm afraid it is unlikely to be true. Bellamy, Dyer and Parker aren't likely to suddenly become less injury prone and will probably all miss large chunks of the season through injury. However Etherington and Behrami and Faubert I think will give us more pace and width this season and if Ashton remains fit then we certainly shouldn't struggle.
I think that our main rivals this season are the teams that finished fifth to twelfth last year. Of those sides Newcastle and Sp#rs will probably have better seasons than last year and City and Blackburn could struggle to match last year's performance.
Villa have been active in the transfer market and look to have improved their squad.
Everton have sold Johnson but haven't brought anyone in. However Everton are solid and should be around 5th and 6th spot again this year.
Man City have got rid of a lot of squad players and bought in three new signings. The team looks to have slightly improved but off the field problems are likely to affect their season. I can see City slipping back this year.
I keep reading predictions of Sp#rs doing well this season. However they look like they will have sold their best two players in Keene and Berbatov and whilst they have bought well on paper their new players outside of Bentley are unproven in the Premier League. Much may rest on Darren Bent being able to step up this season and he has been looking good in pre-season.
Newcastle look to have brought in Coloccini which means their defence should be a lot better this season. Up front Owen still seems plagued with injuries. It looks like Newcastle will have their normal roller coaster ride with Keegan in charge.
Blackburn have lost Bentley and not really brought in any quality. More importantly they have lost Hughes and replaced him with Ince. I suspect Blackburn will move backwards this season.
Portsmouth have bought Crouch and will probably be challenging for fifth, sixth or seventh this season.
West Ham should be in this group. I think sixth position is possible this season but so is 12th, however eighth or ninth is most likely.