Hopes are high for all as a new Premier League season gets under way; but where are those hopes most likely to be fulfilled and where will they turn to despair?
There is no shame in fourth place but Arsenal fans must be hoping things will finally be different this year. Have the FA Cup and Community Shield finally taught this team how to win? Will Alexis Sanchez make more of a sustained impact than Mesut Özil, and will they bring the best out of each other? Or will the deep problems of last season – predictable football, fragility against the best – continue, with the extension of Arsène Wenger’s tenure?
Manager Arsène Wenger (Oct 1996).
Transfers in A Sanchez (Barcelona, £30m), C Chambers (Southampton, £16m), M Debuchy (Newcastle, £12m), D Ospina (Nice, £3m), D Welbeck (Manchester United, £17m).
Transfers out T Vermaelen (Barcelona, £15m), B Sagna (Man City, free), L Fabianski (Swansea, free), N Bendtner (Wolfsburg, free), Park C-y(released), C Jenkinson (West Ham, loan), B Afobi (MK Dons, loan).
The best deals of the summer...
The best deals of the summer...
1/15 Bojan Krkic (Stoke City, forward, £4.4m)
The most unlikely move of the summer looks like it could be one of the cutest. More interesting than all of the inevitable talk about “How will a former Barcelona starlet handle himself on a wet Saturday afternoon at the Britannia?” is how Mark Hughes convinced a former Barcelona starlet to leave Rome for a series of wet Saturdays in Stoke. Bojan has cut an increasingly disappointing figure in the three years since he left Catalonia – but Hughes revitalised Oussama Assaidi last season and could do the same for the nimble-footed Spanish forward.
2/15 Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea City, striker, free)
Swansea City have reacted shrewdly to the uncertainty surrounding the future of Wilfried Bony with the signing of the equally powerful Gomis. The Frenchman was hardly prolific during his five years at Lyon, netting at the rate of just over a goal every three games – but he offers an all-round threat not present in Bony’s game. Gomis is adept at holding the ball up and will allow Swansea the option of going long more often to complement their sometimes predictable passing game – he is a pragmatic buy with the potential to transcend lowly initial expectations.
3/15 Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle, right-back, £5m)
The quiet revolution on Tyneside continues at right-back, where Daryl Janmaat is a more than adequate replacement for Mathieu Debuchy, who was lured by Arsenal. Janmaat impressed for the Netherlands under Louis van Gaal at the recent World Cup with several displays of defensive solidity coupled with attacking prowess – indeed, he looks more secure at the back than the man he is replacing. The same caveat applied to Filipe Luis is relevant to Janmaat: the effectiveness of his displays will be measured by their lack of prominence. The early signs are promising.
4/15 Filipe Luis (Chelsea, left-back, £16m)
To suggest that Luis is an Ashley Cole clone is to damn him with faint praise and speak a measure of truth at the same time – Schrödinger’s Cat updated to fit Chelsea’s left-back problem. The Brazilian is as safe in defence as a Victorian semi-detached town house, but is ever-eager to press forward on the overlap. Great full-backs follow the maxim applied to referees: you only really notice them when they are performing badly or missing in action. Luis’s value will be revealed if Atletico Madrid struggle in his absence – and if no one mentions the name A Cole.
5/15 Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal, forward, £32m)
Sanchez is perhaps the standout signing in a summer of big-money moves at the sharp end of the Premier League. The Chile international has the pace, skill and finishing ability to play anywhere across the front line – he started on the wing in Arsenal’s Community Shield defeat of Manchester City but is expected to move to a more central role before too long, possibly replacing Olivier Giroud. Sanchez should bring the type of dynamism that Arsenal’s pretty, patterned play has often lacked over the past few seasons. Given the size of his fee, he will be expected to perform.
6/15 Diego Costa (Chelsea, striker, £33.44m)
The man viewed as Chelsea’s long-term striking solution could well turn out to be not just one of the best Premier League transfers of this summer but one of the best in the league’s history. Equally, the Brazilian has the potential to make his £33m-plus transfer fee look like the biggest debacle this side of Fernando Torres. The naturalised Spaniard flourished at Atletico Madrid in Diego Simeone’s high-energy, high-pressing system – but on occasion he can appear leaden-footed and has a fiery temperament that must be curbed. A two-goal salvo against Real Sociedad on Tuesday night hinted at the good side of the man – and his reaction to a Bruno Alves horror tackle against Fenerbahce the bad.
7/15 Romelu Lukaku (Everton, striker, £28m)
Having been on loan last season, Everton’s key signing of this transfer window already feels well at home among Goodison Park’s club-embossed armchairs. Lukaku hit 15 league goals for Roberto Martinez’s side last season as they challenged for the Champions League, only to falter at the last. More will be demanded of the Belgian now the Merseysiders have almost doubled their transfer record to make his move permanent – but Lukaku has the ability to fulfil those lofty expectations. Bullishly strong and with an unerring left boot, he can flourish now he is not tagged as the next Didier Drogba.
8/15 Lazar Markovic (Liverpool, winger, £20m)
How do you go about replacing the irreplaceable? Brendan Rodgers’ seemingly impossible task of filling the void left by Luis Suarez got off to a promising start with the signing of jet-heeled Serbian winger Markovic, who starred during Benfica’s run to last season’s Europa League final. The 20-year-old will be allowed time to settle into Premier League life, with Rodgers expected to use him from the bench in the season’s early weeks. Once he is unleashed, however, Markovic could be the season’s great surprise – he has trickery enough to delight even the most Suarez-obsessed members of the Kop.
9/15 Ander Herrera (Man United, midfield, £32m)
Leaving aside the lingering memories of the farce that was United’s pursuit of Herrera last summer, the fact that Louis van Gaal finally has the man David Moyes wanted can only be a good thing for a midfield in need of both an internal and external makeover. Despite being only 24, the playmaker is a classy and experienced operator – a veteran of European football with Athletic Bilbao, for whom he impressed against United in the Europa League in March 2012. Herrera is a significant upgrade on Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick – a player of finely spun steel for a deoxygenated midfield.
10/15 Rémy Cabella (Newcastle, midfield, £12m)
The Montpellier chairman, Louis Nicollin, mocked Cabella for his decision to move to Tyneside, telling the midfielder that he would be “bored” at his new club. It will be Alan Pardew seeing the funny side of the deal if Cabella proves a hit at Newcastle, however – and the France international has the ability to be just that. Creative and versatile, he possesses the type of Gallic skill that Newcastle fans have seen twice before with Laurent Robert and the incomparable David Ginola.
11/15 Daley Blind (Manchester United, midfield, £14m)
While United stole the headlines with their dramatic swoop to bring in Radamel Falcao in what looks a drastically expensive loan move, it was the signing of Daley Blind which could help the most given United's obvious deficiencies in midfield and defence. Blind, 24, knows Louis van Gaal and his methods well, which should prove very useful given how slowly it seems the rest of United's rearguard are getting their heads around them. And at £14million, he is the cheapest of United's senior signings.
12/15 Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea, midfield, £30m)
Another expensive acquisition, the fee this time believed to be in the region of £30million - but again, it is easy to see why the cash has been splashed. The early signs are that the Spain midfielder may be an even better player than the one who left Arsenal as a true Premier League star in 2011.
13/15 Calum Chambers (Arsenal, defence, £16m)
Not the most high-profile departure among the exodus from St Mary's over the summer, but Chambers was known to be a player of great promise and has certainly made a big impression in Arsenal's defence so far following his switch for a reported £16million, earning a first call-up to the full England squad.
14/15 Hatem ben Arfa (Hull, midfield, loan)
Steve Bruce arguably had the best deadline day of any Premier League manager as he completed something of a summer overhaul with the arrivals of Abel Hernandez, Mohamed Diame and Gaston Ramirez. But it was the late, late arrival of Newcastle outcast Hatem Ben Arfa which had the fans most excited. When his mind is right, the Frenchman is one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in the league and if Bruce can get him back on track after a frustrating year in the north east, he will give Hull a new dimension.
15/15 Mario Balotelli (Liverpool, striker, £16m)
The former Manchester City star is back in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers went ahead with a £16m move for the Italian, securing his services from AC Milan. If Liverpool can contain his livewire personality and on-field temper, it could work out to be one of the best deals in the club's history.
Villa have been moving in the wrong direction for years and Randy Lerner’s attempts to sell the club show he knows it. They nearly went down in both of Paul Lambert’s seasons so far, and their signings do nothing to suggest this season will be different. Lambert’s attempts to manage by ethos alone have gone full circle, with Alan Hutton and Darren Bent back in the squad. Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann might save them, but not for long.
Manager Paul Lambert (June 2012).
Transfers in A Cissokho (Valencia, £2m), K Richardson (Fulham, undisclosed), P Senderos (Fulham, free), J Cole (W Ham, free).
Transfers out M Albrighton (Leicester, free), N Delfouneso (Blackpool, free), Y Sylla (Kayseri, loan), A Luna (Verona, loan), A Tonev (Celtic, loan).
If Burnley were to exceed their achievement of 2009-10, and stay in the Premier League, it would be a feat even more remarkable than Sean Dyche getting them there in the first place. They had the perfect chemistry for the Championship but bad early defeats to Chelsea or Manchester United could shatter their balance for Premier League life. They have good strikers in Sam Vokes and Danny Ings but the early focus must be on organisation and resistance.
Manager Sean Dyche (Oct 2012).
Transfers in : M Kightly (Stoke, undisclosed), S Reid (West Brom, free), M Sordell (Bolton, undisclosed), M Gilks (Blackpool, free), M Taylor (West Ham, free), L Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough, £1.5m), S Ward (Wolves, undisclosed), G Boyd (Hull, undisclosed)
Transfers out J Stanislas (Bournemouth, free), D Edgar (Birmingham, free), C Baird (West Brom, free).
Prediction 20th (relegated).
Before Liverpool’s dramatic collapse last spring there was Chelsea’s own surrender of the title. Jose Mourinho should have won the league, and would have were it not for his team’s inability to unpick parked-bus opponents in March and April. Rather than waiting and hoping, Chelsea have tackled the problem by buying two established stars, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. If they perform as well as they can, it is hard to see Chelsea failing to win the title.
Manager Jose Mourinho (June 2013).
Transfers in D Costa (Atletico, £32m), C Fabregas (Barcelona, £30m), F Luis (Atletico, £15.8 m), D Drogba (Galatasaray, free) L Remy (QPR, £10.5m).
Transfers out D Luiz (PSG, £50m), R Lukaku (Everton, £28m), D Ba (Besiktas, £8m), A Cole (Roma, £1.5m), F Lampard (New York City, free), R Bertrand (Southampton, loan), C Atsu (Everton, loan), S Eto’o, Hilario, M Schwarzer (all released), M V Ginkel (AC Milan, loan), F Torres (AC Milan, loan).
The glow from last year’s great escape has long gone, as Steve Parish and Tony Pulis’s disagreements over summer spending have poisoned the off-season. Palace now find themselves without a manager, without much reinforcement and desperately trying to prepare a team that was, before Pulis arrived last season, simply not ready for the Premier League. Parish and Iain Moody have two weeks to move fast or they may not be here for much longer.
Manager Keith Millen (caretaker, August 2014).
Transfers in C Kettings (Blackpool, free), F Campbell (Cardiff, £900,000), B Hangeland (Fulham, free), W Zaha (Manchester United, loan), M Kelly (Liverpool, undisclosed), , J McArthur (Wigan, £7m).
Transfers out J Campana (Sampdoria, undisclosed), D Moxey (Bolton, free) A Wilbraham (Bristol City, free), K Dikgacoi, D Gabbidon (both released), S Dobbie (Fleetwood, loan), J Parr (Ipswich, free), J Hunt (Nottingham Forest, loan).
Roberto Martinez’s optimism is one of the most powerful forces in English football but even that is likely to run into the simple reality of short resources this year. Everton were enjoyable and exciting last year, finishing fifth, but all of their spending this summer – beyond the signing of Muhamed Besic – has been to retain players they already had. The Europa League will be a challenge, although Everton could win it; keeping pace with Arsenal, Liverpool and the rest will be even harder.
Manager Roberto Martinez (July 2013).
Transfers in R Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m), M Besic (Ferencvaros, £4m), G Barry (Man City, free), C Atsu (Chelsea, loan), S Eto'o (Chelsea, free)
Transfers out M Gueye (Millwall, free), A Vellios (Lierse, free), S Duffy (Blackburn, undisclosed).
Steve Bruce deserves to be the next England manager on the back of his work with Hull, and this year he has a Europa League campaign as a reward for last season’s achievements. That campaign, unfortunately, will make Hull unlikely to qualify again but they have added well to the squad, with real quality in Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass. If they replace Shane Long – for whom they got an excellent price – they can still aim for the top half.
Manager Steve Bruce (June 2012).
Transfers in R Snodgrass (Norwich City, £8m), J Livermore (Tottenham, £6m), A Robertson (Dundee United, £2.9m), H Maguire (Sheffield United, £2.5m), T Ince (Blackpool, free), H B Arfa (Newcastle, loan).
Transfers out S Long (Southampton, £12m), M Fryatt (Nottingham Forest, free), A Faye, R Koren (both released), M Oxley (Hibernian, loan), G Boyd (Burnley, undisclosed).
They won the Championship last year, showing impressive strength, resilience and athleticism, but it is not clear they have the quality to stay in the top flight. The £8m gamble on Leonardo Ulloa is surprising, and it is not difficult to see him and David Nugent struggling to make the required impact this season. Only through stacks of clean sheets will they be able to stay up. Much is therefore demanded of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Manager Nigel Pearson (Nov 2011).
Transfers in L Ulloa (Brighton, £7m), M Upson (Brighton, free), M Albrighton (Aston Villa, free), E Cambiasso (Inter Milan, free).
Transfers out L Dyer (Watford, free), N Danns (Bolton, free), Z Whitbread (Derby, free), S St Ledger (released), P Gallagher (Preston, loan).
Prediction 19th (relegated).
They were the story of last season, even with nothing to show for it, but it is hard to see Liverpool doing nearly as well this time. The psychological impact of their May collapse will trouble them, as will the departure of Luis Suarez. Add the challenge of European football every week, after their 43-game season last time, and Brendan Rodgers will have a weighty task to keep his team competitive.
Manager Brendan Rodgers (June 2012).
Transfers in A Lallana (Southampton, £25m), D Lovren (Southampton, £20m), L Markovic (Benfica, £20m), A Moreno (Seville, £12m), D Origi (Lille, £10m), E Can (Bayer Leverkusen, £8m), R Lambert (Southampton, £4m), J Manquillo (Atletico, loan) A Moreno (Seville, £16m), M Balotelli (AC Milan, £16m).
Transfers out L Suarez (Barcelona, £75m), P Reina (Bayern Munich, £2m), M Kelly (Crystal Palace, £1.5m), I Aspas (Seville, loan), A Wisdom (West Bromwich, loan), D Origi (Lille, loan).
City are the best team in the country and yet their two titles in the last three years have relied on a dramatic late slip by an opponent. When their spine of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Touré, David Silva and Sergio Aguero are all fit, City are untouchable. But extended absences from any of those – especially Kompany, given the lack of alternatives – undermine the whole team and reveal fragility. Good luck with injuries is required to stay on top.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini (June 2013).
Transfers in E Mangala (Porto, £32m), Fernando (Porto, £12m), W Caballero (Malaga, £6m), B Zuculini (Racing Club, £3m), B Sagna (Arsenal, free), F Lampard (New York City, loan).
Transfers out J Rodwell (Sunderland, £10m), J Lescott (West Bromwich, free), C Pantilimon (Sunderland, free), G Barry (Everton, free).
After the historical anomaly of last season, Manchester United again have a manager of suitable personality, talent and achievement. Louis van Gaal is certainly good enough to win the Premier League but it remains to be seen whether this squad – still short of experience in defence and pace in midfield – is. They will benefit, as Liverpool did last year, from not playing any European football, but even that may not be quite enough to restore them to previous heights.
Manager Louis van Gaal (July 2014).
Transfers in L Shaw (Southampton, £31m), A Herrera (Athletic Bilbao, £29m) M Rojo (Sporting Lisbon, £16m) A Di Maria (Real Madrid, £59.7m) R Falcao (Monaco, £9 loan).
Transfers out A Buttner (Dynamo Moscow, £5.6m), P Evra (Juventus, £2.5m), Bebe (Benfica, £2.4m), R Ferdinand (QPR, free), N Vidic (Internazionale, free), F Macheda (Cardiff, free), R Giggs (retired), A Henriquez (Dynamo Zagreb, loan), J Hernandez (Real Madrid, loan), S Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund, undisclosed).
On the surface, no one is better equipped than Newcastle to pierce the top seven. After their 10th place finish last year they have improved with the summer additions of Rémy Cabella and Siem de Jong. But last year was also a season of drift and discord, all ambition ending with the departure of Yohan Cabaye in January, and calls for Alan Pardew’s dismissal by the end. Will that atmosphere have healed over the summer?
Manager Alan Pardew (Dec 2010).
Transfers in R Cabella (Montpellier, £12m), J Lascelles, K Darlow (both Nottm F, £7m), S de Jong (Ajax, £6m), E Rivière (Monaco, £6m), D Janmaat (Feyenoord, £5m), A Perez (Tenerife, £1.5m), J Colback (Sunderland, free), F Ferreyra (Shakhtar Donetsk, free).
Transfers out M Debuchy (Arsenal, £12m), Shola Ameobi (Gaziantep, free), D Gosling (Bournemouth, free), S Marveaux (Guingamp, loan), J Lascelles, K Darlow (both Nottm Forest, loan), H B Arfa (Hull, loan).
Queens Park Rangers
Rangers’ last spell in the Premier League was a two-year lesson in how not to do it, but there is more nous and stability at Loftus Road now, even after missing most expectations last season. They should be far more solid this year, and well balanced in a 3-5-2 system. The only problem is goals: they did not score enough last year and if Loïc Rémy leaves there will be even more pressure on Charlie Austin to come up with the goods. They may well need another signing to share the burden up front.
Manager Harry Redknapp (Nov 2012).
Transfers in S Caulker (Cardiff, £8m), J Mutch (Cardiff, £6m), R Ferdinand (Man Ute, free), M Isla (Juventus, loan), J Robinson (Liverpool, undisclosed), A McCarthy (Reading, undisclosed), J Mutch (Cardiff, undisclosed), L Fer (Norwich, undisclosed), E Vargas (Napoli, loan), Sandro (Tottenham, loan), N Kranjcar (Dynamo Kiev, loan).
Transfers out E Granero (Real Sociedad, £4.5m), Y Benayoun (Maccabi Haifa, undisclosed), A Hughes (Brighton, free), A Johnson, S Mbia, L Young (all released), D Simpson (Leicester, undisclosed), J Cesar (Benfica, free), L Remy (Chelsea, undisclosed)
The turnover of staff at St Mary’s was one of the stories of the summer, as Mauricio Pochettino left for Tottenham and was swiftly followed by five first-team players. Ronald Koeman has taken over and been trying to build a competitive team from not much of a base. It will be one of the harder managerial jobs of the season, and his career has been mixed so far. He will need two or three of his buys to impress quickly, which is far from guaranteed.
Manager Ronald Koeman (June 2014).
Transfers in S Long (Hull, £12m), D Tadic (Twente, £10.9m), F Forster (Celtic, £10m), G Pelle (Feyenoord, £8m), F Gardos (Steaua Bucharest. £6m), R Bertrand (Chelsea, loan), S Taïder (Inter, loan), T Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid, loan).
Transfers out L Shaw (Man Utd, £31m), A Lallana (Liverpool, £25m), D Lovren (Liverpool, £20m), C Chambers (Arsenal, £16m), R Lambert (Liverpool, £4m), B Sharp (Leeds, undisclosed), D Osvaldo (Inter, loan).
An interesting project in changing a deeply rooted football culture could bear more fruit this year. Mark Hughes spent last year coaxing Stoke into playing attacking football, with some success, and they should continue their transformation. With Peter Odemwingie, Marko Arnautovic and one-time Barcelona golden boy Bojan Krkic, they have more pace and skill in the side than any Stoke team in years. They will score goals and win games, which is precisely what Hughes is hoping for.
Manager Mark Hughes (May 2013).
Transfers in Bojan (Barcelona, £3m), S Sidwell (Fulham, free), M B Diouf (Hannover, free), P Bardsley (Sunderland, free), D Teixeira (Dukla Bystrica, free).
Transfers out M Kightly (Burnley, undisclosed), M Etherington (released), J Ness (Crewe, loan).
After the great escape of last season – four wins in the last five, including Chelsea and Manchester United – Gus Poyet has momentum on his side as he hopes to lift Sunderland into mid-table. He might not have the quality, though, having failed to tie up a permanent deal for Fabio Borini. The signings have been promising – Jack Rodwell, Will Buckley and Patrick van Aanholt – but they may spend as much time looking down as up.
Manager Gus Poyet (Oct 2013).
Transfers in J Rodwell (Man City, £10m), W Buckley (Brighton, £2.5m), P van Aanholt (Chelsea, undisclosed), C Pantilimon (Man City, free), B Jones (W Brom, free), J Gomez (Wigan, free), S Vergini (Estudiantes, loan)
Transfers out I Scocco (Newell’s, £800,000), J Colback (Newcastle, free), P Bardsley (Stoke, free), C Gardner (W Brom, free), K Westwood (Sheff Wed, free), C Cuellar, A Dossena (both released), D Vaughan (Nottm Forest, loan), E-H Ba (Bastia, loan).
Garry Monk stabilised the club well enough to earn the permanent job at the Liberty Stadium and is better equipped than anyone to produce the ambitious, successful football Swansea have shown in the top flight. Michu, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm have left this summer but Lukasz Fabianski and Bafetimbi Gomis have arrived and if they can keep Wilfried Bony they should have the goals to go with their passing football to stay at the respectable end of the division.
Manager Garry Monk (Feb 2014).
Transfers in G Sigurdsson (Tottenham, £10m), M Emnes (Swansea, £1.5m), J Montero (Morelia, £4m), B Gomis (Lyon, free), L Fabianski (Arsenal, free), G Gallifuoco (unattached), F Fernandez (Napoli, undisclosed).
Transfers out B Davies (Tottenham, £10m), M Vorm (Tottenham, £5m), A Pozuelo (Rayo Vallecano, undisclosed), Michu (Napoli, loan), L Lita (Barnsley, free), C Flores (Lekhwiya, free), D Ngog (released)
Spurs fans have been here before. Two summers ago they dispensed with a straight-talking English coach to hire a new foreign alternative with a clear “philosophy”. Mauricio Pochettino is a better fit than Andre Villas-Boas was, with a better track record in the Premier League. Fourth might still be beyond him, though, with this post-Modric, post-Bale side. Spurs need inspiration and Pochettino will have to get the most out of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela to achieve his aim.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino (May 2014).
Transfers in B Davies (Swansea, £10m), M Vorm (Swansea, £5m), E Dier (Sporting Lisbon, £4m), D Yedlin (Seattle, £2.4m), F Fazio (Sevilla, undisclosed), B Stambouli (Montpellier, £5m).
Transfers out G Sigurdsson (Swansea, £10m), J Livermore (Hull, £6m), I Falque (Genoa, £4m), H Gomes (Watford, free), D Yedlin (Seattle, loan), Michael Dawson (Hull, undisclosed), Sandro (QPR, £10m).
West Bromwich Albion
West Bromwich came dangerously close to relegation last year and while they have improved their squad they have replaced Pepe Mel with the underwhelming appointment of Alan Irvine. In Joleon Lescott, Chris Baird and Craig Gardner there could just be enough experience to drag them through, but there is very little else to cling on to here, and the chances of anything approaching the top-half finishes of 2012 and 2013 are certainly slim.
Manager Alan Irvine (June 2014).
Transfers in B Ideye (D Moscow, £10m), S Pocognoli (Hannover, undisclosed), C Gamboa (Rosenborg, loan), J Lescott (Man City, free), C Gardner (Sunderland, free), C Baird (Burnley, free), A Wisdom (Liverpool, loan)
Transfers out G Throne (Derby, undisclosed), L Ridgewell (Portland, free), B Jones (Sunderland, free), S Reid (Burnley, free), N Anelka, Z Gera, D Lugano (all released).
Prediction 18th (relegated).
West Ham United
It is hard to see how this summer could have gone much worse at Upton Park. West Ham could have backed Sam Allardyce, or made a clean break with him in May, but in fact have done neither. Allardyce limps on in charge, undermined by David Sullivan’s comments about style of play, Ravel Morrison and Andy Carroll. With Carroll out until November, West Ham will be struggling to create or score goals, unless Mauro Zarate beds in quickly.
Manager Sam Allardyce (June 2011).
Transfers in: E Valencia (Pachuca, £12m), C Kouyate (Anderlecht, undisclosed), M Zarate (Velez Sarsfield, undisclosed), A Cresswell (Ipswich, £3.75m), D Poyet (Charlton, compensation fee), A Song (Barcelona, loan), C Jenkinson (Arsenal, loan), D Sakho (Metz, undisclosed), M Amalfitano (Montpellier, loan).
Transfers out: J Cole (Aston Villa, free), J Collison, A Diarra, G McCartney (all released), J Spence (MK Dons, free), M Taylor (Burnley, free)