West Ham United Season Preview: Improvement from last season a priority
(Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

After Manuel Pellegrini's first, fairly successful campaign as a manager of West Ham, everyone will be certainly looking forward to seeing how well can the Chilean do in his second season at the London Stadium.

The Premier League winner arrived in East London after a short spell in China, but he certainly was a surprise and a much-needed change after David Moyes' and Slaven Bilic's awful 2017/18 season, which saw the Hammers sit deep in the relegation zone on numerous occasions.

But now Pellegrini has to fight the only problem that's stopping West Ham from achieving European places and breaking into the TOP 6 - inconsistency.

During last season the Hammers have comfortably beaten Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal to then lose to Cardiff City, Burnley and Brighton&Hove Albion, which cost them very much in the long run as they finished five points behind seventh-placed Wolves.

But now, with how much they strengthened, they have a very good chance of achieving their goal - European Football.

Transfer business

Although there are still about hours left until the transfer deadline, West Ham managed to get their business done very early.

After releasing Adrian, Andy Carroll and Samir Nasri they sold youngsters Marcus Browne, Sam Byram, Reece Oxford and Edimilson Fernandes.

But the Hammers have also managed to offload a few of the more experienced players, such as Lucas Perez, Pedro Obiang and Marko Arnautovic, who finally got his dream move to Shanghai SIPG.

Before Sebastien Haller joined West Ham in a £45m deal from Eintracht Frankfurt alongside Pablo Fornals, who joined from Villareal for a £24m fee, they signed two new keepers on free transfers - Roberto and David Martin.

The big money transfers were a very big statement from Pellegrini about his intent and future playstyle with West Ham being ready to play very attacking, possession style football.

Later followed a contract extension for Arthur Masuaku and a £2.7m transfer of Goncalo Cardoso from Boavista.

And that business showed that the club isn't about signing old journeymen on free transfers anymore but wanting to build a young and talented team instead.

Although it's been reported that there's no more money to spend, it's looking likely that the Hammers will make at least one more deadline day signing, with Albian Ajeti (FC Basel) and Santiago Ascacibar (VfB Stuttgart) being high on their target list.

Where the season can be won and lost

Looking at not only last season's result but also at ones from previous campaigns, the season can be won as well as lost in the same place - in games against bottom-half teams.

West Ham have a very good record of beating teams from the top of the table as well as ones that sit around them in the table, but they always crumble against teams that sit in or around the relegation zone for the whole 38 games.

If the Hammers manage to improve on that, they will be in contention not only for Europe but also to be the first side since 2015/16 to break the infamous "top six".

One To Watch: Goncalo Cardoso

The 18-year-old has signed a five-year deal with the official announcement being "imminent" at the moment of writing the article.

The centre-back has originally meant to be a one for the future, but after scouting him during the U19 EURO's in which Cardoso featured for Portugal, as they went all the way to the final, Pellegrini decided that he's good enough to claim the third spot above Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid.

West Ham are well known for giving their youth players a chance with Declan Rice, Grady Diangana and Ben Jonhson being the most recent players to break into the first team.

Despite the Issa Diop - Fabian Balbuena partnership looking indestructible at the moment, one ban run from the Paraguayan might be enough for Cardoso to be the next player to enjoy a breakthrough.

And hopefully, he will take his chance when it comes.

Potential wildcard - Arthur Masuaku

We've already profiled Masuaku here, as it looks like the wing-back is going to be a key to Pellegrini's plans.

The fast and technical player that can tackle and cross very well is the last puzzle to help transform West Ham from a mid-table club to one fighting for top seven.

What to expect from West Ham United

First of all, attacking play-style that won't allow the opposition to roam around their half for the whole 90 minutes, but force them to sit back instead.

Jack Wilshere, Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson, Sebastien Haller. West Ham's "Fabulous Five" will undoubtedly be a nightmare to several defenders next season, especially as they're going to be supported by Arthur Masuaku and Ryan Fredericks on the flanks, and Declan Rice down the middle.

Rice's role in the team looks to be set already to drop very deep and in line with the centre-halves to essentially form a 3-4-3 formation.

In terms of results, we should expect a good FA Cup run and a TOP 10 Premier League finish.

Although the silverware is certainly not guaranteed, they might shock a few people and at least give the Carabao Cup a fair shout, possibly reaching even the final stages.