Things now seem to be taking shape at West Ham ahead of the new season in a fortnight’s time. We have a host of new arrivals, all vying for a place in the first team and our pre-season fixtures are almost complete. A win, two draws and a loss in Germany and Austria have given Bilic a lot to think about ahead of the new season. I am still not convinced that i would be placing my money on West Ham to finish top, however, for a top four finish there are some great betting offers available right now with some bookies offering 35/1. Taking the positives from the pre-season this does give a good return.

Chairman David Gold’s ridiculous comments in regards to our youth academies first team aspirations seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Martinez and Rice have made strong steps towards first team inclusion during this pre-season. Martinez has now scored in his last two appearances and Rice is receiving praise across the board for his performances on both the pitch and in training. Despite both Cullen and Burke being loaned out again this week, this is positive news for our youth academy. Bilic being reluctant to let them go out on loan suggests that he sees a role for the young lads in the upcoming season. Even if this is just for early cup fixtures or as a back up in case of injury, it would be great experience all the same. I’m particularly excited to see Martinez doing well, he’s been highly praised and has a fantastic goal scoring record. Proving he can do it with the first team is a great step in proving Gold wrong and earning more first team appearances.

Adrian and Ayew or Hart or Hernandez? If Bilic is set to stick with last seasons formation, he will have some tough decisions to make following the new arrivals. Whilst Hart for me is now the first choice, Adrian has been our most recent number one and seems intent on retaining his position between the sticks. Much has been made on social media about the two goalkeepers pro’s and cons but for me, Hart must start ahead of our cult hero Adrian. Our record signing Ayew has also had something to say about the striker role, scoring a wonderful goal in Tuesday’s friendly. Meanwhile, Hernandez has admitted that he is not yet fully match fit. This could suggest that, we may not see Hernandez in a starting role in our opening fixtures. Ayew finished strongly at the end of last season and will feel determined to hold down that striker role if possible.

Although we have our first fixture approaching, we still have plenty of time left in the transfer window to make further additions. Bilic, for now, must be thinking ahead to our opening fixture at Manchester United, especially now that the Reds have added our nemesis Lukaku to their ranks. I am hoping that we’ll have a fully fit squad to choose from, a headache Bilic will more than welcome. It will be interesting to see whether he chooses to stick with a back five, revert to a four or include the likes of Rice or Martinez. The friendly against Manchester City will be a great opportunity to test our resilience against a much stronger side than in our previous pre-season fixtures.

We are all eagerly anticipating the return of the Premier League and the start of our 2017/18 campaign but the signings made are only the beginning in some tough preparations. Despite the lack of wins, pre-season friendlies are often a poor indicator of how a team’s season will pan out and I am still confident we will make a strong push for a top half finish at least.