It may have looked bleak but things will get better for West Ham
As Pedro Obiang’s deflected effort rebounded off the post and went in, 60,000+ West Ham fans breathed a sigh of relief, as they finally got their breakthrough and their first win of their Premier League season.
They won 2-0 against Huddersfield yesterday night whilst keeping a clean sheet along the way. The clean sheet was certainly something which would have seemed unlikely before the game given their home form last season and the way this campaign has started. However, they were able to get it over the line, in what was a scrappy home win.
West Ham’s Premier League season had been a horror show until yesterday. A 4-0 loss to Manchester United was not the end of the world, conceding two of those goals with just three minutes to play. It was Charlie Austin’s stoppage time winner for Southampton and losing 3-0 to newly promoted Newcastle that suggested there are reasons to be concerned for West Ham’s survival this season.
The team looked lifeless for the most part of last season with very few good performances, and that trend had seemingly continued into this season. The performance against Manchester United lacked fight. Yes United are a much better side than West Ham, but they barely made it into the opposition’s half.
And it was a similar situation as the Hammers struggled to create any effective chances against Newcastle. The Magpies had lost their first three competitive games of the season before they faced West Ham, yet they still won by a comfortable three goals. The signs were far from convincing, and the pressure was resting firmly on manager Slaven Bilic’s shoulders.
Their main problems lie in central defence and midfield, where they have struggled so far this season. They need new life in both those positions, but the summer is now gone, so Bilic must do the best he can with what he has. He was obviously very disappointed they could not sign William Carvalho, or any midfielder he was interested in, but he cannot go back and change things.
West Ham will be more than okay though. They are a better side than they were last season, when they finished 11th. The arrivals of Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart, Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic have all improved the Hammers enormously. The effect they have will soon come to fruition, after they have slowly settled in to the way West Ham play and the club in general.
Furthermore, the fans, if they can reproduce the old Upton Park atmosphere, will have a big part to play in West Ham’s season. Against Huddersfield they were back to their best, singing and encouraging the side. The atmosphere in the London Stadium clearly transferred onto the pitch as they showed energy and piled on the pressure in Huddersfield’s half. This was so important to them gaining a victory last night. When the fans are on edge, it so clearly transmits to the players on the pitch.
Also, away games in the Premier League are tough. West Ham, due to allowing the World Athletics Championships to be held in their stadium, weren’t able to play their first home game until yesterday. This meant they played three consecutive away games, something that was always going to be difficult, no matter who they played.
And West Ham have notoriously loved playing at home, bouncing off the home crowd. This was significant in their final season at Upton Park where they lost just three home games all season. If they can finally re-build their Boleyn Ground atmosphere and results, they will be absolutely fine this season.
West Ham aren’t a team who will be getting anywhere near the top six. It is a hard fact that their fans may need to swallow, but it is reality. This is no disrespect to the Hammers, as they are still easily good enough to be a top 10 Premier League side, and they have the players to consolidate that once again this season. This must be their main focus, as well as putting in big performances in London derbies and against sides in the top six. They have shown they can before, with even weaker squads, so there is no reason why they can’t do it again this season.
Don’t worry West Ham fans, things will get better, you will be just fine.