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How Far Can West Ham Go Next Season with New Stadium and New Signings?

Sam Pilger@sampilgerContributing Football WriterMay 9, 2016

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Mark Noble of West Ham United celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United at The Hawthorns on April 30, 2016 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

While Leicester City have spent the last week celebrating their historic Premier League title win, it would be natural for West Ham United to look upon their story with a healthy dose of jealousy.

The Premier League establishment have all patted Leicester on the head and spoken about their win being good for the game, but the Hammers will know deep down that maybe, just maybe, it could have been them lifting the trophy.

There are distinct similarities between the two clubs this season; an inspirational new foreign manager arrives in the summer, an unheralded purchase from France emerges as one of the players of the season, and together they deliver unexpected success to haul them up from the depths of the table.

Of course, the major difference is Leicester are now the champions and have collected 21 points more than West Ham, who currently sit seventh in the table.

But the east London club should be proud of what has been their most successful season in the Premier League; they already have their highest points total since the league was rebranded in 1992, and with two games still remaining.

Their 4-1 defeat to Swansea City on Saturday should not tarnish this achievement, as but for Leicester and Tottenham Hotspur’s own unlikely transformations, West Ham would have been the story of the season.

Rather than dwell on what might have been, Slaven Bilic's side should begin to look forward to what they can now achieve in this fast-changing football landscape.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24:  West Ham United players  Diafra Sakho, Winston Reid and Mark Noble poses for photographers outside the olympic stadium during a Lycamobile & West Ham United Partnership Announcement on March 24, 2015 in London, England.  (Phot
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The timing could not be better, too, as they prepare to leave Upton Park and move in to their new home at the converted Olympic Stadium.

West Ham know their timely surge in form and imminent move across east London have presented them with a rare opportunity to quickly evolve from a constantly underachieving clubtoo easily engulfed by nostalgiainto a bolder outfit capable of taking up residence in both the top six of the Premier League, and European football.

West Ham manager Bilic told the Evening Standard:

When momentum comes in football, you have to grab it. You can’t go crazy but you have to take that opportunity. 

To match that momentum, though, perhaps you have to go outside your budget because maybe some players are ready now to come to West Ham that were not a year ago, or perhaps won’t be ready again in two years’ time. Now is the time. This club are moving ahead, you can feel that, you know that.

“Now is the time” is an apt rallying cry for West Ham next season when they look to improve their squad and consolidate the success of this season.

The Premier League is awash with money and clubs eager to climb the table and displace West Ham, so they need to spend wisely and quickly.

Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho have both played their role in this season’s success, but between them they have only managed 13 goals in the league.

A significant investment needs to be made in a new striker, a player who can be relied upon to provide a regular supply of goals, and turn West Ham's surprisingly large amount of draws into wins. 

Marseille's Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi celebrates after scoring during the French L1 football match between Angers and Marseille on May 1, 2016 at the Jean Bouin stadium in Angers, western France.  AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD / AFP / JEAN-SEBAS
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/Getty Images

According to the Guardian, West Ham are already on the case and have bid a club record £31.5 million for Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi.

Still only 22, he would need time to adjust to the Premier League, but buoyed by the success of signing his former team-mate Dimitri Payet last summer, West Ham believe he has the potential to score goals and develop with them.

Reinforcements are also required at the back where West Ham have flourished in spite, rather than because of their current back four.

So far this season West Ham have conceded 47 goals, five more than Watford in 13th position, and as many as Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion in the lower reaches of the table. 

Compare this with the teams they have been competing with to finish in the top four, Manchester City and Manchester United, who have leaked significantly fewer, with 40 and 31 respectively.

The simple truth is West Ham have conceded too many goals for a club with ambitions of forcing their way into the top four. 

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 17:  Dimitri Payet of West Ham United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Gett
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Bilic needs to upgrade his defence for next season, with the most likely casualty being Winston Reid. 

The club’s current understudies in this position, James Collins and James Tomkins, are good, but not quite good enough, and this highlights a wider problem of not having the strength in depth to climb the table.

West Ham need better cover in several positions, because as Bilic told reporters after their unexpected defeat to Swansea at the weekend, “We had too many passengers relying on other players to do the dirty jobs.”

West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan has been keen to point out that West Ham are the “champions of London” after recording the best record against fellow London teams this season, winning 15 points from a possible 24.

With some wise investment during the summer, could West Ham finish their first season at the Olympic Stadium as the champions of the entire Premier League?

It remains unlikely, but then the same was said about Leicester City less than 12 months ago.