With the break in competitive football for West Ham, a chance has been presented to take stock of what has, thus far, been a tumultuous season for the Hammers.
The campaign began with huge disappointment in being bundled out of Europe in the qualifiers to what some fans referred, rather disrespectfully, to as ‘Romania farmers’.
The loss to Astra Giurgiu in pre-season added to an already poor atmosphere around the move to the London Stadium, with many fans still pining for Upton Park. As the Premier League season got underway, the situation surrounding the move to Stratford only worsened, with trouble between home and away support the focus of each fixture.
While the media were distracted by what was occurring in the stands, the woeful events on the pitch were almost swept aside for a while, as Slaven Bilic’s side moved ever closer to being involved in a relegation scrap.
However, as the season has gone on, the claret and blue faithful have begun to feel at home in the London Stadium as have the players on the pitch. In recent weeks, barring the home defeat to a Manchester City side who could have given Pep’s Barcelona a real run for their money on that night, things have begun to look up again, with Bilic’s side back in the top half of the Premier League and only looking up.
With two weeks off and the first team in Dubai for a shake-up of their usual training schedule, co-chairman David Gold has seen this as the opportune moment to assess just how the move from Upton Park to the London Stadium is going, and he seems happy.
Gold has said that their new Stratford stadium is beginning to feel more and more like home, with the club having seemingly turned a corner since the early disappointments of the season.
He is right, but to a point. This have certainly settled since the start of the campaign. Teething problems which, if we’re being honest, should never have been an issue, such as the uproar surrounding the stewarding, on the face of things seem to have been ironed out, and fans appear a lot happier in their new home.
The atmosphere inside the London Stadium, which was praised by West Brom boss Tony Pulis last weekend, appears to be improving week on week.
However, whilst there have been some great moments – the win over Chelsea and Andy Carroll’s goal against Crystal Palace spring to mind, the fans need some real memories created at the new ground, something where they can look back and say “I was at the London Stadium when…”, these may not be things that are achievable this season, something along the lines of a run in a cup or another push for Europe would have great effect.
Should Bilic & Co. press on over the next year-or-so, the argument around the London Stadium feeling ‘more like home’ will be gone, a few big nights in Stratford and it will be home.