Written by: Graham Keeffe
On the 27th of August 2015, a video was published on multiple West Ham media platforms. In it, Vice-Chair Karen Brady took us on a tour of our new stadium where it was hoped history would be made. “It will start to feel like the home West Ham supporters deserve…our job is to exceed your expectations.” I think it’s fair to say that Baroness Brady and Co have certainly done just that. Just not in the way they intended.
Since moving to the London Stadium, West Ham have failed to establish any real form of consistency. The environment created by the West Ham board has failed to properly account for improving the actual standard of football being played. A club shop three times the size of the old one and a lovely claret carpet surrounding the pitch don’t exactly equate to a top-class training facility or intricate scouting network. Non-football orientated decisions such as these have led to the club severely struggling to keep up with teams who, theoretically, have lesser resources. It’s mismanagement on an unprecedented scale.
As a result, we find ourselves embroiled in a relegation battle with 13 games to go. The Hammers currently sit in 18th place on 24 points. One point ahead of Watford and one point behind Villa. Looking at the teams from 15th-19th, it’s hard to determine who’ll be in the bottom three come matchday 38. Brighton play well but often struggle to kill off the game, Bournemouth concede goals for fun and have a very tough run of fixtures, Villa rely massively on Grealish to produce something and Watford are only clawing their way back now after a horrendous start to the campaign.
As for West Ham, prominent issues for us this season have been pace and defensive awareness. More than a few fans have been suffering recurring nightmares of Brighton’s second at the weekend. Despite throwing away a two goal lead to our relegation rivals, there was a big positive to take away from the game in the form of Tomáš Souček. He refreshed the midfield with his energy and passing and managed to really put himself about to upset the opposition’s flow. If Souček can replicate the form he showed on Saturday until the end of the season, he’ll be an invaluable part of our play going forward.
Another man who may be key to survival efforts is ex-Hull winger Jarrod Bowen. A deadline day purchase who for a time appeared to get lost amidst the English rail system, Bowen brings an impressive goalscoring record with him to the London Stadium. Having been dubbed a “budget Arjen Robben”, it is hoped that Bowen can replicate the Dutchman’s feats and fire the Hammers out of the bottom three. With 16 goals in 29 appearances this season, the 23 year-old Englishman seems ready for the next level. We’ll wait in anticipation to see if the young man can deliver.
As we find ourselves floating amidst the debris that is currently West Ham football club, Bowen and Souček act as potential lifelines to rescue us from the perils of relegation. A team effort is what’s truly needed however and Moyes will need to rally his troops for the gargantuan task that lies ahead.