It’s not been a season to remember for West Ham supporters. The club find themselves in 11th place with 10 games remaining, with the potential to slip down to 12th if Watford win their game in hand.
The Hammers have failed to win any of their last 4 Premier League games. The most recent failure came last Saturday; where an excellent hat trick from Joshua King ensured Bournemouth took all 3 points in a 3-2 home win.
West Ham fans had hoped this season would bring about the beginning of a new era at the club; however, it’s one that has been filled with many setbacks for the East-Londoners.
The season started poorly for the Hammers both on and off the pitch. Poor results and stewarding led to even poorer behavior from some fans, with multiple fights breaking out across a large number of home games at the new stadium. Furthermore, failing to qualify for the Europa League was a real kick in the teeth for a club that wanted to make an impact on European competition for the first time in many years.
Then came Dimitri Payet’s transfer request and subsequent move back to Marseille. One of West Ham’s most talented players of the 21st century left in a flash, as soon as the going got tough. Again, a real kick in the teeth for West Ham fans.
However, the fact remains that West Ham do have one of the biggest stadiums in the Premier League, so the infrastructure is there for the club to bounce back. What they need to start doing is getting back to playing the football that helped them to 7th place last year, then start to build slowly from there to bridge the gap to the top teams.
For now, West Ham find themselves at a crossroads, most fans just aren’t happy with how far away they are from the pitch at the new stadium, as well as the walk to it which is brutally exposed to the elements, not what you want on a cold, wet, winters nights.
They need to step up to the plate next season. If they don’t then you fear West Ham fans will start to vote with their feet, attendances will drop (no matter how cheap the tickets), and that shiny new stadium will start looking like a soulless, empty, bowl.
If this happens then it could take some time for the feel-good factor to return to the club. It won’t be easy for the players to play in a half-empty stadium. Nor will it be easy for the club to attract top talent.
The winter transfer window was much more successful for West Ham even though they lost Dimitri Payet they still managed to add Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte and they will need more of the same in the summer..
So the money-men at West Ham need to be clever this summer, the right players have to be brought in, and Bilic must be backed handsomely. The importance of next season should not be underestimated, as it could define West Ham’s path for the next 5 or so years. Will they be a club that is always challenging for European places? Or will they slip back into mid-table mediocrity?