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Not as bad as first feared for West Ham?

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StadiumNightJan726All the dust has settled on a challenging season for the Hammers and the final Premiership table does not actually look that bad.

Granted, finishing 11th isn’t great after last year’s seventh and European qualification. But given how keenly we have flirted with relegation all season, it could have been a lot worse. A final day win away at Burnley left us just a point behind eighth-placed Southampton, and there is cause for optimism ahead of next season.

Many will be eager to forget this season. We can write it off as a transitional campaign, because few teams adjust to playing in a new stadium and thrive from the off. There is typically a period of adjustment and it seems we are now over that. We lost just once in our last seven games and secured extremely impressive victories, beating second-placed Tottenham and taking all three points from Turf Moor, which has been a fortress this season.

There has also been the distraction of the Dimitri Payet saga, and that unpleasant incident threatened to derail our entire season. In the thick of it we were in the relegation zone and tipped to go down, while Slaven Bilic was among the favourites to be the next manager to lose his job.

Fast forward a few months, with Payet a distant memory and Manuel Lanzini proving a more than capable replacement, and Bilic is way down the list of managers fearing the axe. The Croatian has the backing of the board and he is targeting a top six finish next season. The transitional phase is over, we have a shiny new stadium, a loyal and fantastic fan base and a great deal more money coming in, so now is the time to really kick on. We can show some real ambition in the transfer market this summer, and a top six finish is not beyond the realms of possibility, even if the current big six are streets ahead of the rest of the league right now.

Before you bet review the best online betting sites out there and you will see that West Ham are between 150/1 and 750/1 to win the Premier League next season, and all the way out at 40/1 to finish in the top four. It does look a tough ask to break into the top six, given the level of investment at Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal, but there is no reason to think West Ham cannot challenge Leicester, Everton and Southampton for that seventh spot and then crack the top six in the near future. The Hammers are 13/8 to finish in the top half of the table next season, and that looks a fantastic bet right about now.

Bilic says the minimum requirement is to finish in the top 10 next season, and you would expect the club to back him in the transfer market. We need another creative force in the wake of Payet’s departure, a goal scorer who will play week-in, week-out, and more strength in the spine of the team. The likes of Nathan Ake and Michy Batshuayi are being touted, and those sort of players would really improve the side. Fans can now put this season behind them and look forward with excitement to the summer transfer window.

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • Doughball says:

    In order to ‘kick on’ we clearly need to buy several really good players. Proof of this is the fact that 33 of our 45 points were gained against the teams below us in the table. Add to this the one victory we had against a top seven side was the Spurs game and you get a flavour of the gulf in talent between the two leagues within the Premier League.

  • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

    Agree with Doughball, I never look at the table we finished 11th with a very poor points total 25% worse than last season and we were lucky to get that, next season is a clean slate, a lot of our investments last season have gradually bedded in over this season so we should be in a really good place if we sign the 2 or 3 players of high quality to supplement the already good squad we have, I am disappointed that the biggest issue which is fitness isn’t being addressed by replacing or adding to the backroom staff, it rewards failure in my opinion but I live in hope, preseason should be interesting as Slav said we were not fit enough the preseason just passed so we can judge for our selves on whether he has taken on board the lessons of this challenging season onwards and upwards COYI !!!

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