The Hammers recorded a 10th place finish last time out under Manuel Pellegrini, but in year two with the Chilean and after a positive transfer window, Keown believes improvement is needed.
“Manuel Pellegrini is a good manager,” he wrote in his ‘Tackle Keown’ column for The Daily Mail. “He comes across as calm and intelligent. West Ham finished 10th in the Premier League under him last season but they should be pushing towards the top seven now.
“A good start would be ideal but they face Manchester City first, and Pep Guardiola’s side love playing at the London Stadium. In four visits there, City have scored 17 goals and conceded once. West Ham have to try to make that pitch feel as small as possible if they are to stop Guardiola’s players having it all their own way.”
Keown is absolutely right, a push for the top seven is very much needed for the Hammers this season. They were there or thereabouts for much of the last campaign before falling away somewhat at the end, and this is a better squad at the London Stadium now. With that said, they need to be challenging for European football. Plenty of West Ham players have come out this summer and said that that is the aim, and so it should be. Keown clearly agrees with that assessment. Progress is needed, especially after spending big on the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller this summer. But, as Keown says, it’s going to be extremely difficult for Pellegrini’s team to get off to a good start against City on Saturday. That’s the toughest possible start they could have got, and their opponents enjoy playing in east London. Still, opening weekend aside, seventh should be the aim for the Irons this season.