New Zealand captain Winston Reid is being tipped to have a huge role to play for Premier League side West Ham this season, with the English club competing for honours on four different fronts. Having started the new season before many of their rivals due to their presence in the qualifying stages of the Europa League, the Hammers were forced to cut short their summer in order to get their European campaign underway, starting the year with a 1-0 win over Maltese sde Birkirkara in the first leg of their second round qualification tie.
While the players will have been disappointed to have brought a premature end to their summer holidays, the Londoners have been able to start work with new manager Slaven Bilic, who replaced Sam Allardyce as manager at the end of last season. The Croatian has been a fan favourite with the West Ham faithful ever since his time at the club as a player in the late 1990’s, and his arrival as manager has been met with huge excitement among supporters who never really took to Allardyce. With the new manager expected to be busy in the transfer market between now and the new season, this could be a very big year for the Hammers.
As ever, West Ham are one of those clubs the bookmakers feel could be relegated, priced at around 7/1 with 32Red and UNIBET to go down, but don’t go counting out this Hammers side just yet, as Reid is merely one of a whole host of players who could establish themselves as an important part of Bilic’s first term at the helm. The centre back has been a virtual ever-present in this West Ham side over the past four years, establishing himself as a firm fan favourite ever since his arrival in England from Danish Superliga side FC Midtjylland.
Having played a key role in West Ham securing an instant return into the top flight from the Championship, Reid has proven beyond doubt that he has what it takes to succeed in the Premier League, catching the eye of a number of the English football’s big boys. Following rumours that both Tottenham and Arsenal were looking into the possibilty in signing the versatile defender, West Ham were quick to offer Reid a new six-and-a-half-year contract in March which the All Whites skipper signed.
With European football now coming to Upton Park this season, the Kiwi is only going to improve from testing himself against some of the best in the business. Reid tasted European competitions during his time in Denmark with FC Midtjylland in 2007 and 2008, and the 27-year old will now be able to see if he can get his hands on a second piece of silverware in a West Ham kit, after lifting the Championship play-off trophy in 2012. The worry for Hammers fans will be that interest in Reid will only increase with the defender’s performances set to be seen by a bigger audience, but Reid has never made any noises regarding a move.
As is the case in modern football, though, a long-term contract is often more of a guarantee of securing money for a player rather than an indication that said player intends on remaining at the club for the length of the deal. With Reid, though, playing for a top-half Premier League team who more often than not secure European football could be enough to keep him happy – the question is now whether Bilic can turn West Ham into that sort of side. The Croatian has already been busy in the transfer window, moving players in and out of the club and stamping his own mark on this Hammers squad.
The likes of Dimitri Payet, Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang and Darren Randolph have all been signed on ahead of the new season, and it’s clear that the West Ham board have given their new manager some serious backing. Having got rid of a number of those veterans that had become such a common sight under Sam Allardyce’s management – Carlton Cole being one example – there is a young, fresh look about this West Ham squad and the Boleyn faithful could be set for an exciting season under their returning hero.