Reasons to be cheerful


Blind Hammer looking at the reasons to be cheerful for next season.

Looking ahead to next season – whilst a lot depends on Rice replacement, there are reasons to be cheerful that this season’s travails may not be repeated.

Firstly, at least in the middle and bottom half of the table, last season’s Premiership was, in my view, the most competitive ever.

The first fly in the ointment was that Brentford and Brighton confounded expectations and managed to achieve the best footballing performance in their  respective histories. Neither had pressures from European competition.

This  placed enormous pressure  on the upper middle competition of the league, with not just one but two teams punching far, far,  above their normal weight. However Brighton at least will next season have to fight on the European front as well.

Whether Brentford have the resources to sustain such levels season after season will be interesting to see.

Arguably even more significant in the lower part of the league was  the over performance of all the promoted clubs. I cannot remember a season before last when none of the relegated clubs had not included a team promoted the previous season. At the beginning  of last season you would have had long odds on all of Leicester Leeds and even Southampton  being below Bournemouth in the table.

Not just Bournemouth but  Fulham performed well above expectations and the enormous investment at Forest  achieved safety. Forest in the end did not even need the inflated wages paid to Lingard.  Additionally like West Ham they benefitted by not panicking in sacking their manager, as all the relegated teams did.

Arguably one of the key reasons for West Ham’s survival was the panicked  managerial threshings at Leeds and Leicester. The goings on at Elland Road in particular was bizarre to behold. Leeds retaining Marsh, and especially Leicester retaining Rodgers would have provided far greater threat to West Ham’s eventual survival.   

Reasons to be cheerful

We benefited from their Board’s short sightedness  and panic, Sullivan deserves huge credit from a judgement born out of years of experience of times, good and bad.

Next season, however,  I think it will be harder for Gary O’Neil to achieve a similar miracle with a Bournemouth team attracting only  an 11,000 ground capacity with resources to match. Similarly Luton have already made it clear that they will rightly use Premiership money to invest in their stadium infrastructure to provide a longer term benefit for their club.  

Luton also have currently  a ground capacity of 10,000 approx. with equivalent resources to match. I suspect that both Luton and Bournemouth will struggle to attract the players they need to challenge properly next season. Sheffield United and Burnley will provide stiffer tests with Sheffield, in particular, likely to receive significant Summer player investment.

Still there should be significantly reduce pressures on the lower part of the Premiership compared to last season.

Most importantly though is that the “catch up” pressures of playing Thursday /Sunday will be reduced. The unprecedented competitive  tightness at the bottom half of the table last season, with up to 8 teams facing relegation pressures meant that any team playing  on a Sunday or Monday will be under pressure to match results  from competitors playing earlier on Friday or Saturday.

Moyes admitted this placed psychological pressure on West Ham, especially when they dipped briefly into the relegation places because of this catch up.

Next season however, until Christmas at least, there will be a far more level playing field with, on at least some weekends, the majority of fixtures occurring on Sundays rather than Saturday. There will be more clubs having to follow the Thursday/Sunday model than ever before. Not just West Ham , but Liverpool, Brighton and Aston Villa  will all be having their fixtures on Sundays or Monday.   

Sky and BT Sport will continue their love affair with Man United, Man City Chelsea Spurs and Arsenal so it is likely that these teams as well will have fixtures broadcast on Sundays and Mondays to boot.

I think next season there may be some weekends when only 1 or 2 fixtures will be set to the traditional Saturday 3pm time.

Whether this all enables West Ham to compete for another league or Cup based European Challenge  is not clear yet, it depends on recruitment, injuries and whether there are really gems to emerge from the Academy, but I do think relegation pressures should be easier to resist.

This should enable them to play with more freedom and less tension. Playing free from tension normally provides confidence, and competitive  advantage.
Certainly West Ham will now have far more experience of juggling with European football pressures than either Villa or Brighton.

David Griffith
I am cautiously optimistic.

Share this article

My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph.

My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season.

I became a season ticket holder in 1970.

I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle.

I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer


  • Clive says:

    One of the most positive and intelligent articles I’ve read on claret and Hugh for a long long time.

  • The Cat says:

    Phew, very well written David, my understanding is along similar lines, did you have your tin hat on whilst writing this? lol

    • You obviously misunderstand this site totally. We write whatever people wanna write including yours on SEVERAL occasions

      • The Cat says:

        Hugh if you stepped back a little, you wouldn’t paint yourself into a corner. I’m sorry that you seem to take an opposing view so personally.
        The shouty caps lock brigade seems to have disappeared, and I also happen to agree with Clive and a few others who no longer post but I don’t come on here and attack people with opposing views.
        I can still remember when fan sites used to be fun, maybe getting to the next level brings its own pressures of expectation.

        • I don’t understand why people follow a site, of which they disapprove, for so long and do little but complain about it is all I am saying although I do understand that can be fun for some. Not so much a personal response but an appeal to logic to those with one subject on their minds in this scenario – the manager. Those who have disappeared, as you put it, make more sense. They disapprove and leave which is fair enough. I look at figures of 250k C and H followers and have no reason to be overly concerned about those leaving when they are outnumbered by those arriving. You also seem to have missed my point about those who disagree about being invited, like yourself, to write opposing views if they wish, and have missed the irony of my comment about us writing crap! Nothing personal as the saying goes, just business. As for painting oneself into a corner I recall two pieces from you, initially one opposing Moyes before changing your mind with the next.

          • The Cat says:

            Nothing personal from me either Hugh, I’m here because I enjoy your site and am also grateful for the opportunity that you have given me to get my views out there also.
            Yes I did get sucked into the Moyes out nonsense, midway through the season, but I then listened to and read many comments from the manager and players including ex-professionals within the game and I believe that my understanding fell on the right side of common sense in the end. I also found the persecution of David Moyes as pointless as the gsbout campaign, when I felt that as a supporter I am meant to support my club. But those are my reasons and I do believe in owning up when I am wrong because comments and posts, never die.

            • Likewise and I have done so Cat. You won’t have found much on here from me in opposition to him recently – quite the opposite. However – and I have avoided saying this until now – I don’t believe the Conference was a strong competition and have continued reservations about the PL under him but prepared to say I am wrong again if necessary. I can’t believe the supercilious ” I was right stuff” from elsewhere and continued knocks against those who may or may not be wrong, Who cares except them

  • Clive says:

    Still following in the hope of reading excellent well thought out balanced articles Hugh like this one by blind hammer lol.

    • I think in which case you may as well leave – there’s a thought – because you have been following long enough to know we write crap! It is why we invirw great writers onto the site and just as I respect your opinion as a Moyes man maybe you should bear that in mind.

  • Clive says:

    As the cat said above maybe you need to step back a little instead of jumping on anyone who has a different opinion to you. There is no need for you to take everything personally, because nothing personal was intended but you seem to take it that way. Nowhere at all did I say you write crap but you decided to perceive it that way. I merely read an excellent article and said it was the best thing I’d read for a long time and it is. not just on claret and Hugh but on any West Ham fan site and I read several. You don’t write crap you write opinionated pieces and you’re entitled to. I don’t have to agree with them.

    • To say you have been waiting ages to read a decent article is rude and personal and directed towards a site where people work 12 hours a day to keep fans informed. I won’t take anymore after this Clive. So please shut up. Enough is enough! I’ll be carefully vetting all comments. The Cat is a different proposition and prepared to admit faults as I am and have done so over Moyes which I assume you have not read or prefer to forget The crap comment was pure irony which you clearly don’t get

Comments are closed.