Sam Allardyce
Officials beware, Allardyce is back in the big time with West Ham [Reuters]

Signing Evaluation

It has been a busy summer for Big Sam with eight players leaving the club and eight new arrivals making their way to Upton Park. Significantly the Hammers found three new keepers to replace the departed Rob Green in Stephen Henderson, Raphael Spiegel and veteran stopper Jussi Jasskelainin.

James Collins and George McCartney are back permanently at the club so expect them to feature in the back four, while two new defensive midfielders have arrived in Mohamed Diame and Alou Diarra - the latter a member of the France side at Euro 2012. The most exciting addition is that of Modibo Maiga, a tall and powerful forward who was close to joining Newcastle last year having been spotted by chief scout Graham Carr.


Defeats to Oxford United, FK Austria Wien, Dyname Drresden and Ipswich Town would have had Hammers fans worrying, Thankfully Allardyce put out a stronger side last week in a 1-1 draw with Braga - a side that finished third in the Portuguese league last season.

Reasons Why They'll be Successful

A midfield comprising Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Jack Collison and Diame or Diarra is an exciting prospect for the upcoming season. It provides cover for the young centre-back combination of Winston Reid and James Tomkins, while there is a significant attacking threat from midfield. If Maiga replicates the form he showed in Ligue 1 then they may have a striker capable of reaching double figures. Plus, in Allardyce they have a manager who has never suffered relegation in 20 years of management.

Reasons Why Not

When you assess the strikers at the club, you wonder whether they will struggle to find the back of the net. Nicky Maynard and Sam Baldock are untested at the highest level, Carlton Cole can blow hot and cold, Maiga is yet to play in England and Ricardo Vaz Te struggled when at Bolton. The defence also looks prone to mistakes with Reid still learning his trade and Tomkins having struggled two seasons ago in the top flight.


Everyone involved with the club will feel that West Ham should be good enough to avoid relegation. The Hammers have plenty of experience of life in the Premier League and Allardyce will feel his side can emulate the likes of Norwich and Swansea who both excelled last season.


13<sup>th - Having suitably strengthened over the summer, and with an experienced top flight manager, West Ham should be able to amass enough points to see them well clear of the relegation zone and sitting comfortably in mid table.