Five talking points - US Tour

We look at five talking points as the Hammers head Stateside

1. The Hammers are back!

Just 52 days after ending the 2016/17 Premier League season at the Britannia Stadium, West Ham United will return to action 4,655 miles away in the American city of Seattle.

Slaven Bilic’s Hammers kick-off with a visit to the spectacular CenturyLink Field for a clash with the MLS’s biggest franchise Seattle Sounders.

That fixture, which is set to be played in front of more than 50,000 fans in the US’s soccer capital, will be followed by a cross-country flight to North Carolina, where West Ham will tackle NASL table-toppers Carolina RailHawks.

Slaven Bilic returns from his eye-catching stint as a television pundit to take a squad that combines first-team experience and youthful enthusiasm across the Atlantic.

A number of regulars will be absent at Euro 2016 or recovering from international exploits, but the Hammers will still take plenty of big names Stateside.

The likes of Noble, Carroll, Adrian, Reid and Cresswell will be joined on the plane by promising youngsters Burke, Samuelsen and Browne.

North American fans – and those making the pilgrimage across the pond – will also be the first to see new signings Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit in action in Claret and Blue.

2. From studio to dugout

Since returning to West Ham United a year ago, everything Slaven Bilic has touched has seemingly turned to gold.

From signing Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Angelo Ogbonna, to masterminding a series of sensational away wins, to his enigmatic performance as an ITV pundit at Euro 2016, Bilic has impressed almost everyone with his personality and passion.

Now, the challenge for the Hammers manager is to pick up where he left off.

West Ham lost just two of their final 13 Premier League matches, and just eight all season, to seal European qualification – albeit with a little assistance from FA Cup winners Manchester United – and Bilic will want to maintain his reputation by leading the Club through another stellar, consistent campaign.

3. Two new boys

As is always the case at the start of pre-season, talk will turn to the potential of West Ham United’s new signings.

So far, despite the dozens of rumours that have filled newspapers, websites and social media in recent weeks and months, the Hammers have completed just two senior signings – Norway midfielder Havard Nordtveit and Algeria winger Sofiane Feghouli.

The vast majority of West Ham fans will have seen precious little of both, but the initial reaction from those ‘in the know’ suggests the two free transfer signings will add much to the squad.

Before kicking a ball, every player is a potential star, but only time will tell if the two new boys are suited to English football and suited to West Ham United.

4. Over land and sea

West Ham’s US Tour will undoubtedly prove yet again that the Hammers have fans in every corner, nook and cranny of the globe.

One look at the Supporters’ Clubs page on the Hammers’ website shows the rising level of interest on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – 24 clubs based all over the country.

Thousands of fans have already begun travelling thousands of miles across land and sea to watch West Ham in action in America.

Social events are planned for both Seattle and North Carolina, where the Claret and Blue Army will undoubtedly show their vociferous support for their heroes.

As a growing Club on football’s international stage, the US Tour will again showcase the increasing popularity of all things West Ham United.

5. A reason to be cheerful

Yes, Dimi’s France, Ginge’s Wales and Angelo’s Italy are still going strong at Euro 2016, but let’s face it – West Ham and England fans need something to take our minds off that defeat by Iceland!

The Three Lions, without a single Hammer present to inspire them, have again come up woefully short at a major tournament.

So, if for no other reason that it will take our minds off our failure in France, the Hammers’ return to action is a welcome one.