Saturday, September 23, 2017

West Ham endure nightmare start to their campaign

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 27 Aug 2017

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I have to say West Ham impressed me with their summer transfer dealings. They improved their squad with players of decent Premier League standard. However, the Hammers currently sit bottom of the Premier League table after a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday afternoon.

The team’s poor start to their Premier League campaign has even led to speculation over the future of boss Slaven Bilic, as the former Besiktas boss is now the favourite to be the next Premier League boss to leave his post at 10/11.

Sky Sports are even reporting that the clubs owners are lining up Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez as the Croatian’s replacement.

Bilic made a rod for his own back

When Slaven Bilic arrived at West Ham, the Croat had a mixed managerial record in both club and international football. The affable Croat may have been a great leader on the pitch, but his managerial record suggested he could be hit or miss.

In his debut campaign with the Hammers, they finished seventh in the Premier League. They also played a brand of football alien to them under previous boss Sam Allardyce. It was actually nice to watch.

In a strange way, that seventh place finish was the worst thing that could have happened to Bilic. The Hammers were never realistically going to be able to better that in the subsequent seasons. The top-six or seven is now pretty well set.

That is not saying that West Ham should just give up trying to better themselves. However, such a high finish in his debut campaign raised expectations to a higher level in the East End.

The West Ham fans seem like a realistic bunch of supporters when it comes to their team. The clubs owners, on the other hand, seem to believe that West Ham should be challenging for the Premier League title.

Looked to have made wise moves in the transfer market

West Ham look to have made some ambitious moves in the transfer market this summer. The signings of Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez have improved their attacking options immensely.

Unfortunately, Arnautovic saw red in only his second appearance for the club. In the end, though, the Austrian should prove a very good signing. His creativity and ability to produce the unexpected will no doubt earn the Hammers lots of points this season.

Hernandez is a goal poacher and has already netted twice in his three league appearances for Bilic’s team. When given the right ammunition the Mexican international will score goals. The West Ham striker has a number of players capable of creating chances for him, including the aforementioned Arnautovic.

The jury is still very much out on both goalkeeper Joe Hart and full-back Pablo Zabaleta. The pair are experienced Premier League campaigners and should add knowledge to the West Ham backline.

However, since their arrival, West Ham have conceded at least three goals in all three of their Premier League games. It would be harsh to blame the poor defensive record solely on the pair, but their performances need to improve if they are to help the Hammers have a good season.

Should finish in midtable

The fixture list was tough on the Hammers, handing Bilic’s side three consecutive away games at the start of the campaign. Trips to Old Trafford, St Marys and St James Park were not exactly easy, although the Hammers will have been disappointed not to pick up anything from their three games on their travels.

One major factor that has affected the Hammers start to the campaign is the absence at times of attacking midfield duo Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini. Both now look fit again and the pair will make a massive difference to the Hammers attacking options.

When everybody is fit, West Ham have enough quality to easily finish in the top-ten of the Premier League this season. I really do not believe that they will be at the wrong end of the table for very long.

Whether Slaven Bilic will be their boss for much longer, though, is up for debate. The West Ham owners are highly ambitious and who knows what will happen in the international break.

Will Slaven Bilic still be the West Ham boss after the international break?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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