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Leicester City 11/12 Opponents Preview – West Ham United

I have now completed my 2011/2012 Npower Championship previews, and what better way to finish than previewing one of the most well known clubs in England, West Ham United. Troubled times have been brewing around Upton Park recently, as unrest in the back room, unfortunate results and worst of all the raft of relegation all spewed out of control in one season. Sam Allardyce though has been appointed Hammers boss for the 2011/2012 campaign, can he salvage West Ham’s fortunes and secure promotion at the first attempt…

West Ham Preview
After a troublesome season in the Premier League West Ham found themselves relegated at the end of the 2010/2011 campaign, due to the dreadful performances the Hammers decided to take drastic action as they sacked Avram Grant on the day of their confirmed relegation. Now facing a testing task in the second tier of English football, co owners of David Gold and David Sullivan identified Sam Allardyce as the correct replacement for Grant. West Ham United’s main objective this season will be automatic promotion, the London side along with Leicester City are the early front runners for the Npower Championship title, and with Allardyce stating his intentions of promotion nothing more than a top two finish would be seen as a failure. On paper the Hammers do have the strongest side in the division, and with new signings in Kevin Nolan and Matt Taylor now joining Allardyce’s revolution adding players of their calibre will only make the squad better, despite some unfortunate losses. With the early favourites for promotion tag looming over their heads, will West Ham United succeed in 2011/2012 or will the London club crack under pressure and fall short of promotion?

Mark Noble Mark Noble of West Ham United celebrates scoring his penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground on April 2, 2011 in London, England.

Key Players
After plummeting into the second tier of English football, it was always suspected that West Ham United would lose many talented players in the summer transfer window. Most notable absentees from this year’s squad include of Matt Upson, Demba Ba and Thomas Hitzlsperger all of which have or are on the verge of signing for new clubs. West Ham will take a fair few positives into the forthcoming season, as influential players in Scott Parker and Carlton Cole are yet to head to pastures new. Two England internationals starting the new campaign at Upton Park, is definitely an added bonus for the West Ham fans. Meanwhile the Hammers have invested in some quality signings; both Kevin Nolan and Matt Taylor have joined the club from Newcastle and Bolton respectively. Nolan who is a box to box midfielder, proved to be an essential part of Newcastle United’s squad last season as he starred in a comfortable campaign at St James’s Park. Matt Taylor found himself ousted out of the Bolton Wanderers set up, despite playing huge roles at both Portsmouth and Bolton, Taylor has now switched down a division. With an immaculate left foot, Matt Taylor will prove to be a key player for the Hammers this season. Finally another key source to West Ham United’s season will be central midfielder Mark Noble; highly likely that he will stay at Upton Park in 2011/2012, Noble has amazing stamina levels and wonderful passing ability, a fair few will say that a player of Mark Noble’s calibre is Premier League quality. West Ham United have experience and youth throughout the team, they are the current favourites for promotion and I wouldn’t bet against them securing an automatic promotion spot by May 2012.

Manager – Sam Allardyce
After David Gold and David Sullivan relieved Avram Grant of his duties due to relegation, they quickly made a swift appointment and identified none other than Big Sam Allardyce, one of the most respected and high profile English managers. The 56 year old comes into this job after a break away from the game, after being sacked by Blackburn early last season, a consistent manager and one who has produced plenty of success at different clubs, Hammers fans should be delighted with this appointment. Allardyce has already snapped up Kevin Nolan from Newcastle, in what could be the signing of the Npower Championship, West Ham want promotion this season and due to Allardyce being in charge it’s highly possible.

Ins and Outs
Ins – Abdoulaye Faye(Stoke), Kevin Nolan(Newcastle), Matt Taylor(Bolton), Joey O’Brien(Bolton)

Outs – Anthony Edgar(Yeovil), Demba Ba(Newcastle), Manuel Da Costa(Lokomotiv Moscow), Radoslav Kovac(Basel), Kieron Dyer(Queens Park Rangers), Jonathan Spector(Birmingham), Danny Gabbidon(Released), Lars Jacobsen(Released), Matt Upson(Released), Thomas Hitzlsperger(Released)

Overall Thoughts
West Ham are the strongest side in this division, one of the most well known clubs in England the demise of West Ham United could well affect them this season. Allardyce though is an experienced manager who has done pleasingly well at a number of clubs, including Bolton and Blackburn Rovers, even though the Hammers will lose many key players as the summer transfer window progresses, Kevin Nolan is a fantastic buy and with some of the younger breed peaking through, they will also help West Ham to a possible promotion push. Some people won’t agree on my prediction, but I can honestly see the Hammers claiming Npower Championship silverware this season. Prediction – 1st

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