West Ham United's Promotion Checklist for 2012-13
Well, it took us a year, but now I can finally stop writing about UFC and WWE and get back to the juicier, closer-to-home stuff.
Ladies and gentlemen, West Ham United are back in the big league!
Unfortunately, life in the EPL will be different from the Championship; that much is certain. A lot needs to be done before we can even think about maintaining our newly regained Premier League status.
Now, I'm not going to make any "bold predictions" about the upcoming season, as they mean nothing to an honest fan. What we want to discuss—and what we want to know—is how and where West Ham are going to improve.
So without further ado, I finally get to write about West Ham again!
A New (Proven) Striker
Firstly, let's get this big, white elephant in the room out into the open.
Our strike force just isn't good enough.
Ricardo Vaz Te may have been one of the top scorers in the Championship. Carlton Cole may have put in a good although spaced-out return. Baldock and Maynard even chipped in. Yet, too many of our goals had to come from midfield.
A decent team, even in the mid-table region, should not have to rely on their midfield to score the vital goals. We need a 15-to-20-goal striker who will be supplemented by the midfield and the other strikers, not a 10-goal midfielder propping up an underperforming strike force.
But who do we go for? Berbatov will be available, though he will be looking for a better team. Owen is also available for free, though he gets injured more often that we can afford, even for a free price tag. Adebayor...no, I'll stop there with him.
Our best bet would be to convince the Davids to dig deep into their pockets and spend £15 million on a striker who can provide a healthy return. I would be cheeky and offer compensation to Chelsea in return for Drogba, or I would offer sensible money for Defoe, two reasonable options who can grab the needed goals.
Cover for the Defence
James Tomkins has grown into the player we knew he could be.
His form this season has been consistent, reliable and quality. He is irreplaceable to our back line. But the majority of the rest are not.
Winston Reid is growing, but he is too inconsistent still. Joey O'Brien is good but is still on the recovery path and was pushed out of the team by the slower Guy Demel. George McCartney is on loan and may have proven himself worthy of a place in Sunderland's team. Matt Taylor is too valuable in the attack to have him play full-back. And Abdoulaye Faye is in his twilight and was out of favour when Reid was on form.
Jordan Spence should be returning, though I was not able to see much of him this season past, nor was I terribly impressed with what I did hear, and Dan Potts is still a year or two away from being able to compete physically, despite his obvious talent.
What we need is cover, not replacements, though they would also be welcome. I would look to a big team who have a defender, preferably a full-back who is between 25 and 30 years old and on the fringes of the first team, and then put in a loan-to-buy offer.
Keep Robert Green
For the love of all that is holy, fictional or worth blaspheming over, give this man whatever he wants! He has been a solid rock for us ever since he joined from Norwich.
Stephen Henderson is good cover, and Marek Stech is still time away from being ready, so give this man the wages that he deserves—or give Paul Robinson the world. We won't stay up without them.
Spend Big, Spend Wisely.
Quite a simple concept, really.
Yes, the Davids have deep pockets but be smart in how you spend that money. We have one season to establish our presence, and we can't do this by wasting money on unproven or declining talent.
For the first season, buy those who are proven to work well in the Premier League.
Ignore the Allardyce Haters
Right, he got us promoted, he brought EPL-quality players to a Championship club, and he did it in one season.
Sam Allardyce is a proven manager, no matter what his style of play. He is tactically astute and a great draw when it comes to attracting talent.
We will only suffer should he leave.
Keep Calm, Don't Panic
Ah, just look at that picture. Isn't it funny to watch that jockey go flying off of his horse? Get the metaphor yet?
There are going to be some shocking results this season. That isn't a bold prediction, that's a fact. We will only suffer if we panic-react to a heavy loss.
In Allardyce, we must trust.
Some Parting Words...
And, so, I shall leave you with these hopefully, inspiring last words from a glorious poem that seems to inspire even the greatest of fightbacks—and would sum up this coming season for us in two very apt lines:
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
— Dylan Thomas