The move to the Olympic Stadium has hardly gone to plan for West Ham United. Slavan Bilic slumped to an underwhelming 11th place finish last season, despite finishing just four points outside the top four in their final campaign at Upton Park.
West Ham had prosperous ambitions, following their 2015/16 season, which they mainly spent competing for a place amongst the top four in the Premier League. However, their move to the London Stadium coincided with only two wins from their opening seven home fixtures.
This set the tone for the rest of the season until they sieged the momentum in the latter stages of the season to make a last-ditch climb up the Premier League table. The hammers record last season was in complete contrast to the season before, with 16 wins (2015/16) compared to 12 wins (2016/17) and 8 defeats (2015/16) compared to 17 defeats (2016/17).
It’s clear they significantly regressed during Bilic’s second season at the club but his third campaign led to his inevitable departure. The West Ham faithful were already doubtful of the Croat’s ability to lead the team into the new season and their preconception was correct.
They accumulated just two wins from their opening eleven Premier League fixtures and conceded more goals than any other team (23). Their demoralizing 4-1 defeat against Liverpool at the London Stadium, shortly before the November International break signalled the end of Bilic’s reign in East London.
The search for a new manager was wrapped up fairly quickly, considering the time taken for Everton to appoint Sam Allardyce, with David Moyes controversially arriving on 7 November. Moyes previously suffered relegation with Sunderland last season and also faltered at both Real Sociedad and Manchester United.
It seems as if a ‘broken man’ has taken over a ‘broken team’. Many managers have struggled to transform West Ham into consistent top half finishers, which is the perceived aim from supporters. Are they aiming too high? Or are the board’s poor management of the club plummeting the club back towards the Championship?
Moyes has regressed since leaving Everton for Manchester United in June 2013, just as West Ham have done likewise since arriving at the London Stadium. More concerning for the hammers is the lack of improvement since Moyes’ arrival.
Whereas West Brom have reacted to the sacking of Tony Pulis and Everton showed team spirit in their 4-0 win against West Ham on Wednesday. West Ham have failed to win any of their previous three matches under Moyes and have conceded seven goals in the process.
Can Moyes rejuvenate a depleted West Ham or will he replicate his spell at Sunderland and suffer his second relegation from the Premier League in succession? He has a mountain to climb with Premier League leaders Manchester City, defending champions Chelsea and FA Cup champions Arsenal all up next in the Premier League.
How did West Ham decline so rapidly?
In May 2015, West Ham secured a seventh place finish in the Premier League and narrowly missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification. The future looked bright and their hopes of competing for Europe once again were boosted by Bilic successfully persuading Dimitri Payet to remain in England.
West Ham were heading into a new chapter – following their switch to the London Stadium. The majority of supporters envisaged playing in the UEFA Champions League in their new home but instead are fighting for their lives at the foot of the Premier League. They relied heavily on their home form with only Premier League champions Leicester City and Manchester United losing less games than them on home turf by the end of the 2015/16 campaign. This statistic emphasises their rapid decline, as they slumped to a 16th place finish in the home form table last season.
Slavan Bilic’s questionable signings hardly benefited West Ham and arguably contributed to their downfall. A total of 13 players arrived during both transfer windows in the 2016/17 campaign, with only Manuel Lanzini making a positive impact.
The squad was clustered with underperforming names and the loan signings were evermore disastrous. In fact, Simone Zaza was so poor that the club decided to terminate his season-long loan in January. Goals from their out-and-out strikers were also limited last year. Only 31% of their 47 Premier League goals were scored by strikers and their two top goal scorers (Lanzini – 8 and Antonio – 9) largely played in midfield.
Their playmaker Dimitri Payet inevitably left West Ham in January 2017 but their failure to find an adequate replacement further emphasises their poor transfer dealings. Overall, the owners lack of faith in managers, poor transfers and a leaky defence has contributed to their decline.
Can David Moyes save West Ham?
David Moyes has the toughest job in the Premier League this season. Roy Hodgson took over bottom place Crystal Palace in September but is in the latter stages of his managerial career and Paul Clement is currently under scrutiny at Swansea City, but Moyes is fighting for his future.
His move to Manchester United was seemingly a step in the direction but his ambitious new chapter has had the adverse effect. He attempted to revive his managerial career in Spain at Real Sociedad but failed and his return to England was welcomed by relegation to the Championship with Sunderland.
The owners clearly have very little faith in the Scotsman due to the fact that they’ve only handed him a six-month contract. Moyes’ target is clear; secure relegation or face the axe! He’s currently failed to improve West Ham’s performance with two defeats in his first three matches.
West Ham face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next three games, which is unlikely to enhance their chances of fighting relegation, nor will it breed much confidence throughout the squad. The hammers only face Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool out of the so-called ‘top six’ in their next 13 Premier League fixtures after the three games above, which suggests this is likely to be a pivotal key to surviving relegation.
If they can accumulate points from their fixtures during the festive period and January, there is potential that they could preserve their top flight status. It’s ‘do or die’ for Moyes and West Ham. If David Moyes fails to keep them up, his Premier League career will be in tatters.