It may be slightly presumptuous of me to predict the outcome of an extremely competitive and exciting division such as the Championship, but I am going to do it anyway. West Ham will be promoted.
The Hammers have been underwhelming this season and have a horrific injury/suspension list that can rival even Manchester United this season, but still sit second and one point off of the lead. The redevelopment of the club over the summer was steady and new manager Sam Allardyce has installed the ability to win even when they are not playing well.
The minimum expectations from both the Irons board and supporters alike are that the club return to the top flight at the first time of asking this season. Nearing the half-way mark of the campaign and it is looking good for the prospect of Premier League football returning to Upton Park in August and so it could be time to look to the future this January.
The return of players such as Sam Baldock, Henri Lansbury, Jack Collison and Abdoulaye Faye will hopefully have the effect of new signings in the New Year and so the need to buy ‘Championship’ players should be restricted. Co-owner David Gold has confirmed that ‘Big Sam’ has funds to spend in the New Year and so it is chance to begin to think about what can happen if/when promotion is achieved.
It is; of course; not guaranteed that Allardyce will get his side promoted but the need to add quality to the team may take more than one transfer window if they are going to be competitive in the Premier League. The likes of Scott Parker and Demba Ba left Upton Park in the summer and have not really been properly replaced, leaving a decent side but a very thin squad.
The return of injured and suspended players will fill gaps but the long term future sees the need for fresh blood. After a failed bid for Nicolas Anelka last week, it is good to see the optimism from the club, and more bids of a similar scale are required. Fair enough if Allardyce wants to bring in a loan signing or two to bolster his squad before the end of the season, but fixed fee signing should be of Premier League quality from now on.
Bringing in a decent Championship player is no longer required in this squad and so out-of-contract Prem players in the summer could be target next month and shown that club knows where it is heading. The Hammers have already been linked with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Nicky Maynard and Liam Ridgewell ahead of next month and it is time for West Ham to be more forceful in bringing in the right players. No doubt that there will be plenty of speculation in the next six weeks and it will interesting to see just how brave the Upton Park back room want to be.
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