Season shape-up - West Ham

18 June 2009 01:05
West Ham fans will be looking forward to the summer sales with renewed optimism this year after the club announced they had been taken over. In the our Shaping up for the Season series, Tony Curtis looks at where manager Gianfranco Zola will need to splash the cash to build on his successful start at Upton Park. What's happened so farIn terms of transfers, very little - with the major developments coming through the change of ownership at the club. Asset management group CB Holding have takeover the running of the Hammers from previous owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson to end fears over the club's financial future. Gudmundsson was left with debts of around £300million through the impact of the global economic crisis and the collapse of the Icelandic bank he was the majority shareholder of. The knock-on effect meant that the future looked less than rosy for the Hammers, with little hope of them being able to seriously compete in the transfer market. However with the takeover of the club by CB Holding, which is owned by Straumur-Burdaras Investment Bank, now completed West Ham can look ahead with renewed optimism. New chairman Andrew Bernhardt has promised funds for manager Gianfranco Zola to strengthen the squad. However before West Ham fans start getting carried away and hoping that they could make a late bid for Ronaldo, it is worth noting that the pledge from Bernhardt has come with a fairly hefty caveat. "I can assure fans we will sanction investment in new players, but all within the parameters of sensible budgeting based on revenues generated by West Ham United," said Bernhardt. In other words, it will be up to Zola and Steve Clarke to spend 'sensibly' and find some rough diamonds to polish into Premier League quality. Zola has already dipped in the transfer market by signing Peter Kurucz on a four-year deal after the Hungarian Under-21 keeper impressed on loan. However the focus will now be on the other areas that Zola needs to strengthen. Ask any fan of any club what position they will need to strengthen and the inevitable answer will be 'a striker'. And in the case of West Ham, that answer could not be more apt. With Diego Tristan released, David Di Michele failing to secure a long-term deal after his season-long spell at the club and Freddie Sears set to be sent out on loan, the Hammers are left with just Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole as their front line strikers. Neither are strangers to the treatment room, so Zola certainly needs to bolster his forward options with a couple of fresh faces. The departure of Lucas Neill means that Zola also has a gap in his defence to fill, while a touch of creativity in the midfield would not go a miss. Inter Milan's Luis Jimenez has been tipped to be the answer to their problems in attack, while Rod Fanni and Matthew Bates could fill the boots of Neill. But despite being given the green light to spend, Zola will not be handed a small fortune so will have to spend wisely. The demise of Newcastle and Middlesbrough means there could be one or two bargains - with Bates, Michael Owen, Gary O'Neil and Obafemi Martins among those that could tempt Zola to get out the cheque book. Darren Bent could also be tempted away from Tottenham, although West Ham would face stiff competition for his signature - as they would for Eidur Gudjohnsen, who is currently linked to a move to the Hammers.

Source: SKY_Sports