Written by @WestHamAmerican
An emotional week has concluded. The fine gentlemen of the West Ham United football club find themselves in the middle of January 2017 sitting at twelve in the Premier League table. Now that all the recriminations against Dimitri Payet have been discussed, and Slaven Bilic has learned that “four in the back” trumps a wingback system, I think it is time to look into the future and see what West Ham supporters can hope for this year.
The first priority is safety from relegation. In this day, with the disparity in revenue between the top flight of football and the Championship League, falling down is financial death. Added the shame of playing Blackburn and Barnsley in the London Stadium, and it’s a horrible fate. We are over midway through the season, and the Hammers have collected 25 Premier League points. Year in and year out, 40 points is generally perceived to be the safety mark. Eight of West Ham’s final 17 matches feature an opponent at the bottom half of the table, so collecting 15 more points shouldn’t be a stretch; aided by the fact there is no Cup or Europa league ties to wear down our players.
So with relegation no longer a great threat what can West Ham supporters look to? My crystal ball predicts out of the final 17 matches the Hammers collect wins against Boro, WBA, Watford, Bournemouth, Hull, Swans, Sunderland, and Burnley. I predict a draw against Southampton, Stoke, and Liverpool (Bilic does well against Liverpool). I also predict losses against Man City, Leicester (Slav never can beat them), Arsenal, Everton, and Spurs. Therefore, I predict 52 total points for the season for West Ham. That total has shown an average finish of 8th-10th in this league over the past six years. Certainly, coming into the season, no one saw us crashing out of all Cups, Europa, and a 9th place finish. (And losing Payet to a transfer)
What if the club wanted to sneak into the Europa League for a third consecutive year? (I say the 2015 Fair Play qualification counts, don’t you?)
Only the top five in the league are assured European Football. But realistically the sixth place finisher SHOULD qualify for the Europa league and usually does. The past five years the sixth place finisher had between 62 and 69 points with a 64 point average. For this club to go from the predicted 52 points to 64 points would mean we would have to turn our three predicted draws into wins and flip two of our five predicted loses to victories. Basically West Ham would have to win all but three of our final 17 matches to sneak into the Europa League. Without the distraction of Payet, the cup matches, and a possible addition of some January talent it’s possible, but I’m not sure I’d wager my life’s savings on that happening.
Based on the numbers, my crystal ball shows a 9th place finish and a year to regroup for a stronger 2017-18 season. Certainly a winless September didn’t help things. It is definately not what anyone wanted or expected this past summer, but 9th or 10th is where we seem to be heading. Go to the forum in TheWestHamWay and tell us what your predictions are for this season.