West Ham United has been a team grossly disappointing this season. The Hammers seem to be unrecognisable from the team we saw last season when they were turning the heads with their performances looking like an outfit which is gearing up to slowly become a real force in the Premier League. After ending the last season in the 7th place with an all-time club record of 62 points, the Hammers currently sit in the 17th spot of the Premier League table of this season with just 11 points from their 12 matches.
Bilić’s side, who lost just 8 games in the whole of last season, have already lost 7 times in their 12 games, the last of which came against Tottenham, a game where the Hammers conceded two goals in the 89th and 91st minute to succumb to a defeat.
Last season, the London club brought in a host of players with the new coach building his own team. Players like Dimitri Payet, Angelo Ogbonna, Michail Antonio, Pedro Obiang, and Manuel Lanzini to name some were brought in and they had a massive impact. Their style of play got transformed with the presence of some world class quality and creativity in the forward areas whilst the pace on the flanks allowed them to hit the opposition on the counter. Teams playing West Ham were surprised with their ability to own things in an approach to which the club was rarely associated with their previous managers and as a result, they continued to get the positive results.
This summer, Bilić was busy in identifying his targets and getting his job done in the transfer market which resulted in the arrival of some prominent players. The club broke its transfer record to sign Andre Ayew while picking up experienced players like Alvaro Arbeloa, Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit on Bosman deals. The summer transfer window was a crucial phase as the team was set to play in front of more fans in a new stadium, so getting better players, whom the fans would pay to watch, was imperative.
The unfortunate injury to Ayew in the very first game of the season had a huge effect on the Hammers. Their injury list which included Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho for a long time had the team stretched with the options in the striker position. Simone Zaza has been abject to say the least, totally inadequate while Jonathan Calleri couldn’t fare any better.
The lack of options in terms of a reliable defensive midfielder and a centre-back has hurt the Hammers too. If Bilić is unable to bring in a defensive player in winter, the way West Ham are continuing to ship goals at the back, it would be very hard to end up in the top 10 let alone where they finished last season.
While injuries haven’t been kind to the players, the fact that the team had nothing to lose in the first few games of last season when they played better opposition might be a factor. The Hammers have struggled against lower quality opposition and contrary to last season, they had the chance to go easy this time which might be a contributing factor in the way results have turned out. The new atmosphere hasn’t worked either. The fans have felt disconnected from the players keeping in mind how the stadium is and the pitch is slightly bigger than Upton Park as well.
This past summer’s transfer window has had minimal results as compared to the summer of 2015 when arrivals like Payet, Antonio and Lanzini hit the ground running and were key in the club’s brilliant early run that saw the team occupy dizzy heights in the table. Unless the current season’s signings buckle up, they’ll have to deal with the unfortunate tag of being transfer flops.
Arka Tarun Mukherjee
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