Was West Ham’s season a success or a failure? its a question I’m seeing a lot online especially on the twitter scene. I think people’s overall decision on whether it was or wasn’t rode on the last game of the season, with a win taking us into the top 10, possibly ninth if Chelsea were to beat Leicester. If we would have lost, I think the majority would have tipped towards the season being a failure, which ever way it ended there has most definitely been positives and negatives to this season. By the end of this I hope to cover most talking points and come to an overall conclusion.
First of all lets look at this seasons negatives. The elephant in the room is most definitely injuries, and if you follow West Ham. As a club, we are cursed with them. I believe this is a massive contributor to the turbulent season we just had, Pellegrini was unable to field a consistent team week in week out, which made his job extremely difficult to cement his playing style. We had long injuries to key players such as Lanzini, Reid, Yarmolenko, Sanchez and Jack Wilshere. All players who would start or be seriously pushing to start.
A second negative which I believe has been a huge contributor to the season not going as well is the inconsistency of our Full-backs on the right and left side. We had the ageing Zabaleta at right-back most of the season due to Fredericks being out with injury for numerous months and when he got back he was inconsistent and has only really just found his feet towards the end of the season. But the main problem with our Full-backs came from the left hand side with both Cresswell and Masuaku playing hot potato with the starting spot. Both were inconsistent and leaked goals costing points, it could be argued that the winger should be helping them more, but Anderson shouldn’t be having to do their job for them. It is most definitely a spot we need to fill this summer, and with someone who will be a guaranteed starter, SPEND BIG.
Marko Arnautovic is the next topic of conversation. Our star man in my eyes slightly derailed our season by throwing his toys out the pram trying to force a move to China, waving goodbye to the fans after the 1-0 win against Arsenal will be the reason I will not fully forgive him even if he stays after this summer window. He didn’t play, caused an absolute outrage within supporter groups and the club, and somehow got a new deal with more money AND, a £40M release clause. The Austrian hasn’t been the same since, putting in dire performances. It clearly unsettled the whole team. He was doing well before the hole transfer saga happened, which is why I don’t understand why he went about it the way he did. He did pick it up in the last 3-4 games but for me its not good enough, he’s put in months of rubbish sub par performances before he realized he can’t be acting the way he is. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was to put himself in the shop window. I’ve seen fans say they wouldn’t mind him staying, but I hugely disagree. If the right offer comes in for him, sell him. He is the type of character who would do a repeat of last January if the right move came about. I think we need to get rid if we can, and its a real shame.
Now moving onto the positives, if there’s any negatives that I’ve missed out feel free to Tweet me as I’d love to hear. The main positive to this season was most definitely Declan Rice, the young Englishmen had a standout season for us whilst also being capped for the national team. He has been the consistent rock for the team, catching praise alongside Diop, Balbuena and Fabianski for their defensive displays and consistency. He is the future of the team and I hope we can keep hold of him and progress with him in the team onto bigger and better things but the challenge will be fighting off the bigger clubs who’ll no doubt be trying to tempt him away from the London stadium.
Secondly, another positive from this season is the defensive triangle of Fabianski, Diop and Balbuena. We got Fabianski for £7M from relegated Swansea City. Diop for £22M from French side Toulouse and Balbuena for £4M from Corinthians in Brazil. All three have been outstanding, Fabianski boasts the most saves in the whole league and has done for many years, Diop catches the main praise for his size, pace and age but Balbuena is the real hero. The Paraguayan Captain was a real bargain and has been a real leader at the back. With both of our centre backs being relatively young, the future of the defence is looking bright.
Another massive positive of this season has been the attractive style of play which Pellegrini has bought to the club, and he’s brought some players to the club who bring the added excitement such as Anderson. And he has also used the youth and tried to implement what West Ham is about by including youngsters in the first team. Diangana got his chance and took it, Xande Silva looked good when he played, and Ben Johnson had an outstanding performance up against retaining champions Manchester City on his debut and long may it continue.
Also I’d like to give a special mention to Robert Snodgrass who completely re transformed himself this season and has played a major major role at the club. He hasn’t been the best at times, but when we’ve needed a runner, Snoddy has been that man. When we needed results around Christmas he was a massive contributor to those results.
A positive every West Ham fan should take away from this season is how close we finished to seventh, ‘the best of the rest’ as its called. With all the speed bumps we went over, all the injuries. To finish just 5 points off of Wolves who had a fantastic season is an achievement. And we can only hope for better luck next season.
In conclusion, I don’t think this season has been a success, nor a failure. I’ve seen it as a teething season, Pellegrini will use this season as an indicator of what needs to be done, who’s good enough and who isn’t. We still managed to finish in the top half of the table too which is a real bonus, the club earned just over £126M for the season which hopefully will be well reinvested.