Persistent rumblings of discontent over Slaven Bilic's future combined with the move to London Stadium ensured things were fairly bleak for West Ham United last term.
A campaign also marred by the acrimonious departure of Dimitri Payet saw them earn just 25 points on their own turf, with their form away from east London coming to their rescue to eventually earn an 11<sup>th place finish. But on the eve of the new Premier League campaign, things are looking far rosier following some stellar transfer business that could go a long way in improving the hopelessly flat side that Bilic failed to invigorate last season.
Javier Hernandez returns to these shores to spearhead an attack that will also feature the mercurial Marko Arnautovic, who the Hammers eventually prised away from Stoke City. He and the former Manchester United striker arrive for a fairly modest £36m ($46.8m), good business given The Transfer Window Has Gone Mad™. A meagre tally of 47 goals scored last season will now surely improve.
Joe Hart is also back on the scene following a season at Torino, with Pablo Zabaleta an early recruit. 18-year-old Montenegro international Sead Hakšabanović and 16-year-old Dutch starlet Anouar El Mhassani have also arrived from Halmstads and Ajax respectively.
Premier League: 11<sup>th
FA Cup: Third round
EFL Cup: Fifth round
Top scorer: Michail Antonio (9)
Manager – Slaven Bilic
While no manager gets a free ride, few are under as much pressure as Bilic heading into the new season. The Croatian is fighting for his job with the club deciding against offering him a new contract this summer, with just 12 months remaining on his current deal. His tactical decisions – most notably the one to inexplicably try and turn Antonio into a right-back - and an inability to manage a bloated squad were perhaps the two biggest criticisms.
Bilic remains a relatively popular figure at the club, however, and what he lacks in other areas he makes up for in defiance which will bode well for his prospects.
Key player - Javier Hernandez
Antonio finished last season as West Ham's top scorer with a grand total of nine goals to his name. The perennially injury-stricken Andy Carroll offers a threat when fit but it has long been established that he cannot be trusted to do that.
Hernandez offers hope of ending those problems. His striking prowess in the Premier League still has some United fans ruing his departure and with a first-team role beckoning, he can become the potent goalscorer the Hammers have been craving for almost a decade.
Bilic has a lot on the line but a clear change in tact during the summer transfer window means improvement is surely inevitable. Instead of filling out their squad with misfits, they have made clear upgrades to their first team with more to come, according to the manager. A top-10 finish is well within their grasp.
IBT prediction: 8<sup>th
Bilic will be under immense pressure to deliver this term but the club have made the right steps in ensuring he at least gets a decent whack at doing that.