The problems which led to West Ham’s relegation last season may not have been fully addressed, but the London club are still joint-favourites in the Championship title market.
With football betting odds of 7/1, backing the Iron to win the league with a successful free £25 bet, which new customers can claim by signing up to bwin, would earn punters £200.
Unfortunately for the Hammers, their on-field ineptitude was only part of the story at the Boleyn Ground last season, with the campaign also characterised by blunders at boardroom level and financial strife.
The biggest bungle made by owners David Gold and David Sullivan was the botched sacking of the hapless Avram Grant.
A decent man, Grant nevertheless proved incapable of preserving West Ham’s top-flight status, despite having the likes of Scott Parker, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Carlton Cole to call on.
Gold and Sullivan appeared to realise this around Christmas and lined up Martin O’Neill as Grant’s replacement.
However, the Northern Irishman got cold feet due to the way in which Grant’s sacking was handled by the club, and Grant was afforded a stay of execution.
With the club relegated and Sam Allardyce – who was also linked with the job in January – in place, West Ham face an uphill battle to reclaim their Premier League status, not least because several of their star players look set to leave Upton Park.
Parker is coveted by a host of Premier League teams, while the likes of Demba Ba, Hitzlsperger, Green and Cole are also tipped to move on.
Meanwhile, Kieron Dyer and Upson have left on free transfers.
All this leaves Allardyce with a great deal of rebuilding to do, although, mystifyingly given the club’s level of indebtedness, the board appears willing to back him with a sizeable transfer kitty.
West Ham also seem ready to continue their policy of offering players higher-than-average wages, with a £3 million bid lodged for Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan this week despite the midfielder being on a sizeable contract.
Other targets include Alan Smith, Joe Cole, El-Hadji Diouf and DJ Campbell – hardly the wish-list of a club looking to save money.
However, while this policy might come at a high financial cost, it will also give West Ham an extremely good chance of bouncing back at the first time of asking and clinching the Championship title in the process.
Their joint-favourite tag in the Championship title betting market therefore appears justified.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet.