According to West Ham’s new signing Enner Valencia the Irons are targeting qualification for Europe in the near future and even looking to get into the Champions League.
I have to say that is a rather ambitious target for the side from east London.
Valencia told Sky Sports: “Before signing we spoke a lot about that, the ambitions of the club to try to play European football,”
“I’m going to work very hard for it and they’re going to try to make top four.
“After the World Cup several offers came around but when I found out that West Ham were interested I said definitely yes because it is one of my dreams to play in the Premier League.
“I spoke to Antonio Valencia and he gave me some good advice to take this opportunity.”
The Hammers do appear ambitious under owners David Sullivan and David Gold, but a challenge for a European place in the coming season seems slightly far-fetched.
The Hammers were involved in the relegation battle for much of last season, but at the end of the campaign finished seven points clear of the relegation zone. It is not the sort of season that prepares a team to challenge for the top five or six in the Premier League.
The race for the top four will likely be contested by the same seven teams that finished in those positions last season. The likes of Chelsea and Manchester City are favourites to win the title, while Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are considered outsiders.
Then there is Everton and Tottenham who both expect to challenge for the top four next season. There seems very little room for any other team to occupy the top seven, never mind the European places next season.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has been busy strengthening his squad this summer. The need for new forwards was his priority, with his job on the line if he does not deliver a better brand of football next season.
Allardyce has remedied his lacking of striking options by bringing in Valencia and talented, if mercurial Argentinian forward Mauro Zarate. Both players are highly-rated.
Valencia scored three goals at the World Cup for Ecuador, after also scoring three in the friendly’s leading up to the competition. Last season he netted 18 times in 24 appearances for Mexican side Pachuca, despite not playing as a striker in all of his appearances.
Valencia has scored seven goals in 13 appearances for his country, since making his debut in 2012. His recent strike-rate is pretty good for a play that has been used in a number of different positions.
Zarate is no stranger to English football. The Argentine had a loan spell at Birmingham in 2008, scoring four goals in 14 appearances for the Blues. Since then he has played for Lazio and Inter in Serie A, where his form was erratic to say the least.
However, his form last season back in his homeland with Velez Sarsfield was far more consistent, as he netted 19 goals in 29 league appearances for his boyhood club.
Zarate is considered to be a very skilful, but inconsistent player. Whether he can repeat the goal scoring exploits of his spell back in his home country remains to be seen. However, he is a flair player and hopefully he will give the Hammers fans something to get excited about next season.
Strong central midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate has also been drafted in to addsome bite in the West Ham midfield, while highly-rated young midfielder Diego Poyet has joined from Championship side Charlton. The youngster is the son of Sunderland boss Gus Poyet.
Full-back Aaron Cresswell has also joined from Ipswich. The 24-year-old is considered to be an attack minded full-back and got 12 assists last season in the Championship with the Tractor Boys. He could prove to be a very shrewd signing.
Hammers boss Allardyce is under no illusions about what needs to happen this season. The direct style of play has to be phased out and a more adventurous style of play needs to be implemented at the Boleyn Ground.
Whether big Sam can change his team’s style of team seems doubtful. His teams have always played a direct style of play and he will find it difficult to adjust his mind-set.
Last season’s goal tally of just 40 goals in 38 Premier League games was awful. The Hammers were lucky they had a relatively solid defence otherwise they could have found themselves in real trouble.
The aim next season for Allardyce and his side has to be a secure midtable finish in the Premier League and to change their style of play to score more goals.
I think dreams of Europe may need to be put on the back burner for now, as the Irons need to make sure they stay clear of the dreaded relegation dogfight in the coming season, with the Irons currently odds of 5/1 to be relegated from the top-flight.
That looks unlikely, but I fear that is more likely than the Hammers making it into a European place next season.
What are West Ham’s aims for next season?
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