This summer’s transfer window has, in the Premier League at least, spiralled completely out of control, with clubs demanding ridiculously inflated fees for players worth less than half their asking price (see Manchester City’s deal for Kyle Walker).
It’s not only the top clubs either, it seems the swell is effecting those at every level, for example, Bournemouth have broken their club record fee and spent £20m on Nathan Ake from Chelsea, undoubtedly a capable player but who had just a handful of first team appearances for his parent club.
West Ham, however, seemed to have got by rather well so far this summer. While £23m for Marko Arnautovic is slightly higher than many fans would have hoped for, should he deliver over the coming seasons then it will prove money well spent.
It is the Hammers three other summer signings which present a fantastic investment. The board have admitted that signings are needed for now and not tomorrow after a poor first season and in bringing in two Premier League veterans in Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta without a fee for each is fantastic business, whilst landing proven goalscorer Javier Hernandez for just £16m this summer is remarkable.
In their summer signings, the powers that be at London Stadium have looked at the issues on the pitch last season and provided a top solution to seemingly all of them. However, there appears to be one glaring problem that no one is talking about, their confidence and form at home.
Putting everything in place in the summer market without addressing this basic flaw would see Bilic’s side go through their home games this season like a Blackjack player surrendering every hand he is dealt, foolish. Having the opportunity to be dealt a better hand, yet he had not taken this risk.
Their form in Stratford last term was nothing short of embarrassing. Wins over Chelsea in the EFL Cup and Tottenham late on in the season gave slight solace from a depressing maiden season in their new home, which saw them pick up just 25 points from 19 games, nine less than their last term at Upton Park.
If they are to reach their aim of qualifying for Europe off the back of an impressive summer of business then their jitters in front of a demanding crowd need to be addressed early on, especially giving the comparative form of their biggest rivals for a Europa League spot, Everton.
The Toffees were formidable at Goodison Park last term, picking up almost double the points of the east Londoners in their own back yard and scoring 23 more goals.
Thanks to some awkward scheduling at the ground, Bilic’s side aren’t actually playing a home game until a month of the new season has passed, when they host newly promoted Huddersfield Town, before Tottenham are the visitors.
If they can take advantage of a favourable first home game against David Wagner’s men, and follow that up with another win over Spurs on home turf, then things will be looking a lot brighter. However, run of the mill wins against the likes of Huddersfield won’t do. Last term four of the Hammers’ seven wins on their own patch were against Sunderland, Burnley, Hull and Swansea – all of which were nervy 1-0 wins and did nothing for the confidence coming from the stands, in fact the post was even named man of the match against the Tigers.
If they are to make London Stadium a fortress for the years to come and realise their ambitions of consistent European football and regular challenges for silverware in the near future then Bilic and his players need to shake off any concerns they have and effectively shut out the thoughts of last season.
A strong start to the new campaign could rid the side of such worries, however, get knocked down early on and there will be little the new signings will be able to do to turn things around.