Byram: We’ll definitely be looking to finish in the top half
Sam Byram has set a top-ten target for West Ham United.
The right-back arrived in east London in January 2016 helped the Hammers to seventh in the Premier League just a few months later. Byram’s first full season in Claret and Blue was less successful position-wise, as Slaven Bilic’s side ended the 2016/17 campaign in eleventh – albeit 17 points worse off than they had been a year previously.
As he prepares to begin his third season as a West Ham player, the No22 pointed to the summer signings of Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart, Marko Arnautovic and Chicharito as four real reasons for optimism.
“I think the signings we’ve made show the ambition of the Club,” said Byram. “We’ve got a great squad and we’ll definitely be looking to finish in the top half of the table and see how well we can do.”
One of those four transfer window captures, Zabaleta, will battle Byram for the starting position on the right side of Slaven Bilic’s defence.
However, with different qualities – Zabaleta has vast experience and tactical nous, while Byram has pace and a relentless willingness to get forward – the 23-year-old knows both will likely be called on by the Croatian during the upcoming campaign.
“Every player is going to have competition in a top team and West ham are a top club, so we’ve got competition all over the pitch,” he observed. “For me, I’ve just got to keep working hard and try to impress the manager and get in the team.”
Byram featured in all six of West Ham’s pre-season matches, having returned to Rush Green early following his summer holiday, and he is hoping that hard work pays off in the shape of game-time in the opening Premier League fixture of 2017/18 at Manchester United.
The Hammers head to Old Trafford on Sunday on the back of a 3-0 pre-season defeat by Manchester City in Iceland, taking the number of goals conceded in those six matches to ten, and Byram has joined the chorus of voices calling for a defensive improvement.
“We were obviously disappointed with the result and we knew we were in for a tough test against a top team, but it’s the sort of challenge we needed before the Premier League starts next weekend,” he confirmed.
“We’ve let in a few goals that we are not too pleased about. Manchester United have similar quality and are up there and will be challenging this year, but we’ve also made some good signings so we want to group together and put in a good performance.”
West Ham's opening Premier League fixture at Manchester will be screened live by Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League from 3.30pm on Sunday 13 August.