After a summer full of exciting transfer dealings, there was a wave of optimism surrounding West Ham. It is difficult to criticise any of the Hammer’s summer business as they have added highly-rated personnel who should add the quality for West Ham to compete in the top half of the league. The turbulence of last season seemed to have subsided, with an experienced manager at the helm and a bolstered squad, but it has only taken just four point-less league games for some of the negativity and discontent to creep back in.
1. Home dis-comforts
Much of the displeasure among supporters is often focused towards the owners, but any received this season would be unfair. They invested heavily in both the squad and management, spending almost £100m in the transfer market and hiring a high-profile coach with a proven track record.
However, the fan’s attitude towards the London Stadium continues to be a big problem. Many supporters hate their new home, which fails to deliver the atmosphere that made Upton Park such an intimidating arena and for this, the owners do have to take the blame. Home supporters have very little patience for mistakes, and it can create a hostile and uneasy environment for the home players, which opposing sides are happy to prey upon.
Consistent performances on the pitch and points on the board hold the key to repairing West Ham’s home advantage, and now that Pellegrini has been given the resources to progress the team forward, it’s up to him and his squad to deliver.
2. Defensive problems continue
Overhauling the playing staff comes with an inevitable need to allow the new faces to gel with their new team-mates particularly when coupled with adopting the new system that manager Pellegrini is trying to implement. But a remedy must be found quickly for West Ham’s knack for conceding goals which has now spanned across the tenures of three different managers. Their defensive fragility was epitomised in their first home game of the season. No other team in the Premier League would have allowed Callum Wilson to pick up the ball near half-way with no support, evade multiple challenges before slotting home the Bournemouth equaliser.
West Ham aren’t resolute enough; they leak goals, often caused by a lack of intelligence to sense danger. Adama Traore’s ninetieth-minute winner was preventable even after Carlos Sanchez had been caught in possession. Cresswell was naïve to allow Traore the opportunity to sprint beyond him and should have been positioned deeper. Wolves were the better side last weekend, but despite having not been at their best, West Ham should have had the composure to secure their first point of the season.
Other than goalkeeper Fabianski, it is still unclear who belongs in Pellegrini’s first choice back-line. A settled defence would allow partnerships to form which should iron out some of the fundamental defensive lapses in the long run.
3. Fixture difficulty
West Ham were handed one of the toughest starts to the season of any side in the Premier League. Having faced two of the top-six in the first month of the season, they would meet another two in September, as well as a testing trip to Goodison Park. Psychologically it doesn’t help to remain stranded on zero points for a length of time and playing some of the best sides in the league early in the season adds pressure to the “winnable” fixtures.
For West Ham, picking up points against any of the top-six should be considered a bonus, but home games against Bournemouth and Wolves were their best chance to get points on the board inside the first two months, which they failed to take.
Given the quality in the team and the relatively consistent flow of goals that Marko Arnautovic can provide, it is difficult to see West Ham being relegated. But if they don’t find a way to grind out results quickly, they may find themselves cut adrift at the foot of the table.