LONDON: West Ham are newly ambitious. The club which gave Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters to England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team have reinvented themselves.
Hammers have erupted out of suburban east London into the bright new world of the 2012 Olympic Stadium, gained an associated vast new earning potential, found a charismatic manager they trust in Slaven Bilic and now they are starting to put together a team to compete for trophies.
West Ham’s joint owners, publishers David Sullivan and David Gold, have dared to say out loud that they want to win the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup. They see Hammers as a new power in London football to rival Chelsea on the opposite side of the capital as well as fading Arsenal and resurgent Tottenham to the north.
Hence the summer splash on ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic plus the loan acquisition of England goalkeper Joe Hart from Manchester City and free transfer arrval of Pablo Zabaleta.
Hernandez is returning to England two years after joining Bayer Leverkusen from Manchester United where he scored 59 goals in 156 appearances on all competitions but was never a regular first-team starter.
Indeed, United boss Jose Mourinho has said that if he had been in charge in 2015 instead of Louis van Gaal, Hernandez would have not have been sold. Mourinho said: “With Hart, Chicharito and Arnautovic it really looks like West Ham are also playing to win the Premier League as well as we are.”
The threat of relegation surrounded the Hammers at the start of April but crucial home wins over Swansea and Tottenham ensured the east London club would be playing top flight football once again at their new home. That confirmed both Bilic’s credibility and his right to spend money on short-term signings.
Manchester City may have spent more than £200m but the east London club may have pulled off the most pragmatic and financially sound transfer business of the summer with their big-name additions.
Bilic said: “I said I wanted quality players who will make a difference if everyone is fit. It’s a massive achievement – it’s not easy, but we have done it. You never know how it is going to click, but we have done well. It is important that we have done it early enough in the transfer window.
“The majority of that is done, so congratulations to the board. They have done brilliantly and people from other clubs have recognised it.”
Actions speak louder than words. West Ham’s transfer actions will face an immediate test since they visit Manchester United in their opening Premier game at Old Trafford. P
erfect for Chicharito to prove Mourinho right in his assessment.