The English Premier League season has proven difficult for West Ham United and their under-fire manager Avram Grant. Trapped in the relegation zone for the majority of the season, speculation has been rife over the future of the Israeli manager for months.
The recent signs, however, suggest West Ham are looking upwards—and not just because of the weekend win over Liverpool.
West Ham's winter transfers—and the return of Thomas Hitzlsperger—are going to prove vital.
The acquisitions of Robbie Keane, Demba Ba, Wayne Bridge and Gary O'Neil have shown that West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan are still very much focused on Premier League survival.
While the positive results have been difficult to come by for the Hammers as of late, these signings say more about the club's direction than the first half of the season.
The addition of Keane and Ba to a strikeforce that already includes highly-rated Carlton Cole, strong-man Freddie Piquionne and cup-hero Victor Obinna does more than simply add competition for places.
Ba has already demonstrated his goal scoring ability, and few would be bold enough to doubt the impact Keane's leadership and intelligence can bring to a side fighting for survival.
The success the club had in ensuring Carlton Cole was not snapped-up by Newcastle on transfer deadline day, only further demonstrates West Ham expects to survive.
Bridge is a proven and consistent defender who has been extremely unfortunate in his spells with Chelsea and Manchester City. At the former, unlucky to play second-fiddle to Ashley Cole, and the latter, a stop-gap measure to quickly improve the team before more money could be splashed on glitzier options.
Bridge is rock solid and will do much for improving a back four that already includes the excellent Matthew Upson.
Finally, the signing of midfielder Gary O'Neil from Championship side Middlesbrough was a masterstroke by West Ham that will prove crucial before the end of the season. Easily overlooked by many as the least impressive of the January signings, O'Neil is a no nonsense midfielder with proven experience in the Premier League's battle for survival.
Having successfully battled relegation with Portsmouth several seasons before eventually going down with Middlesbrough, he's just the type of battler with strong crossing ability that West Ham needs as the end-of-season pressure builds.
Lastly, the long awaited return from injury of Hitzlsperger has already shown it's impact.
Anyone who has been watching the EPL during the past decade will have seen the quality Hitzlsperger brought to a consistently underperforming Aston Villa side before returning to Germany.
If he and midfield partner Scott Parker can stay fit for the Hammers, West Ham will have the players that can begin to put distance between them and their relegation rivals.
Those Premier League sides in the lower reaches of the league table should be cautiously looking over their shoulders. West Ham's decision to stick with Grant and bring in these quality players will prove decisive.
The Irons may have taken time to get the fire going, but they will pull away from trouble.