Sam Allardyce
Can Allardyce lead West Ham to another comfortable mid table finish? (Reuters)

Last season

Premier League: 10<sup>th

FA Cup: Third Round

League Cup: Third Round

Top Scorer: Kevin Nolan (10)

Summer work

Sparing us all at least one drawn out transfer saga this summer, West Ham confirmed their permanent move for Andy Carroll fairly early, paying a record £15m for the man who struck seven goals for them last season. With Champions League experience and the captain's armband for his native Romania in tow, Razvan Rat is a solid addition to Sam Allardyce's defence, while backup goalkeeper Adrian arrives after a stellar maiden season for Real Betis in Spain.

If Carroll's progress at Upton Park is anything to go by, new surroundings and renewed belief could see the purchase of Stewart Downing prove to be a shrewd piece of business should the two former Liverpool men develop a swift understanding.

Manager - Sam Allardyce

Perhaps not the most popular choice upon his appointment two years ago, Allardyce steered West Ham from the Championship to become a stable Premier League force again in just one season where they were never troubled by the threat of relegation and only look to be on the rise. The pragmatic Allardyce will seldom opt for the free flowing attacking football some Hammers fans yearn for, but should he continue to lift the club up the Premier League table those at the Boleyn Ground should be kept happy.

Key Player - Andy Carroll

Given that Allardyce's game plan revolves around the Gateshead-born striker and the dearth of cover for him in the Hammers ranks, keeping Carroll fit will be essential to West Ham's hopes of securing another comfortable mid-table finish. Another stellar season from the increasingly impressive Winston Reid would not go amiss either.


The club's acquisition of the Olympic Stadium suggests Gold, Sullivan and Brady have grand plans for the Hammers, but in the immediate future the club looked primed for another stellar, if unspectacular season. Allardyce has bought players capable of swiftly adapting to his particular tactics and direction and has assembled a hard working group who will once again prove difficult to beat in the new season.


A stronger squad should ensure another comfortable mid-table finish, but much could depend on the fitness of Carroll. 11th<sup>th