Star man: The Hammers have a rich heritage when it comes to discovering Argentinian talent, from Carlos Tevez to Jonathan Calleri, and Manuel Lanzini’s joyful performances after Dimitri Payet buggered off to Marseille in January cemented him as a firm crowd favourite.
The cherubic 24-year-old finished last season with eight goals, including the schadenfreude-scented one that ended Tottenham’s title challenge, and even Lionel Messi is a fan judging by the Lanzini shirt hanging on a wall in his house.
Biggest summer buy: Marko Arnautovic arrived at Stoke City with a reputation as a troublemaker, accused by José Mourinho of all people of having the “attitude of a child”, but the gifted Austrian forward has put those days behind him and, while a club record £20m might seem a bit steep for a 28-year-old who blows hot and cold, he is significantly better than last summer’s comedy punts.
Breakthrough season: West Ham are a family club who love promoting homegrown talent, so it’s a surprise that supporters haven’t taken to the owner’s schoolboy son tweeting transfer news. It’s going to be a big year for Jack Sullivan, though, after the youngster came through a stringent hiring process to be named managing director of West Ham Ladies.
Bad boy: Sam Byram wouldn’t hurt a fly. Not intentionally anyway. He might accidentally clatter into one, though. The rash right-back picked up seven yellows and one red last season.
Boo boy: André Ayew managed to hit the post from 0.0000001 inches out against Liverpool. More of that will have people squinting even harder at his £20m fee.
Destination Russia: Angelo Ogbonna is back from knee surgery and determined to prove that he merits a place in Italy’s squad.
Glass half-full: Joe Hart will show why he’s England’s No1. Javier Hernández will show Simone Zaza how it’s done. Champions League football is just a matter of time.
Glass half-empty: Hart was more Taibi than Buffon at Torino last year. Hernández will pull a hamstring on his debut and never be seen again. Still, at least the running track means you can’t see the pitch at the London Stadium.
Off the pitch
The manager: Slaven Bilic’s determination to turn Michail Antonio from a decent winger into the worst right-back of all time raised concerns about his judgment. The sense persists that he is making it up as he goes along and he has to sort out his leaky defence, but the arrivals of Arnautovic and Hernández could make for an exciting ride.
The owners: Though fans respect David Sullivan and David Gold for saving the club from financial ruin, there is discontent with the move to Stratford. Sullivan sees himself as director of football but the jury’s out on signings such as the 32-year-old Pablo Zabaleta.
Pete May’s fan’s view: A much better transfer window this time, with four proven performers in Hernández, Arnautovic, Zabaleta and Hart. All the new players are a little on the old side but short term they should ensure a decent season. Prediction: 8th. Follow Pete at hammersintheheart.blogspot.co.uk
Title odds 350-1
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