Zaman Siddiqui's Match Review
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) 26 May 2017
TRANSFER UPDATE: We’ve just signed Zabaleta! Statement of intent.
To start off, sorry that I haven’t been able to publish my reviews at the usual time but I’ve been doing my exams. Last season, I only had one fixture overlap with exams; this season, I’ve had two fixtures overlap. It is quite frustrating, as just the one overlap would’ve been the optimal result. So, going into our final fixture against Burnley, I really wanted the season to be over, not just for the sake of my exams, but because we’ve played so poorly. How we staggered across the finishing line in 11th is beyond me! Truth be told, I couldn’t bare to watch us play against Liverpool when we conceded for the umpteenth time this season. Speaking of exams, if there’s one thing I learned from my GCSE English Literature exams, it’s analogies. Specifically, our staggered performance against Liverpool served as an analogy of our season: lack of support from the fans at home and a team that has played so poorly it needs to beat Liverpool to barely break even.
Before we all start fist pumping with our finish in 11th, it is worth keeping in mind that only six points separate the teams finishing in 8th through to 17th. Had we lost to Burnley, we would have finished in 14th. That said, if our goal difference was better than that of West Brom’s, we would have ended our campaign in the top half. Lots and lots of ramifications could have meant a lot of different things to different people. Personally, I have to say our finish of 11th is good, but that the style in which it has came has been rather lacklustre.
Of course, it is worth keeping in mind that you can never predict the rapid change of events in football. Just to give a random example, Victor Moses didn’t play well for us last season, but has played phenomenally well for Chelsea this season winning the title. Likewise, it would be absurd to assign blame where none exists. For instance, the number of injuries that have beleaguered our team this season is simply ridiculous. We honestly never could have accounted for that (with the exceptions of Carroll and Sakho). Additionally, the Payet debacle was certainly rather unexpected. Taking all of these things into account, the management of all this has to be applauded.
It isn’t particularly difficult to connect the dots as to who successfully managed these events. Slaven Bilic has done a great job with the team, albeit his lack of tactical awareness during matches. That said, he has managed the Payet situation and the move to the London Stadium very well. In my honest opinion, I feel if there’s one thing we needed in a manager this season, it was certainly the administrative part. This season was unlikely to be based on results. With teething problems at the LS and effectively creating a new club vision, we needed a manager who understands what we are about and how to get the best out of the team. And we’ve got just that.
Slaven is a highly sought-after manager. In Paul Merson’s PL season review, the Sky Sports pundit hopes that Slaven stays and that if he doesn’t, then teams like “Crystal Palace would definitely take him”. But let’s not beat around the bush. We finished in 11th for a reason. As good as Bilic was in the backroom, he certainly has some way to go on the pitch. One of the main problems we have under Slav is consistency. We need to start winning games we are expected to win. This is something from the Allardyce era that we need to regain.
As I’ve stated countless times before, the majority of pundits (myself and Merse included) believe that the board simply have not bought in the right sort of players. Recruitment has been an absolute disaster. It is a real shame that it is this way given our reputation as The Academy of Football. I think that we have all learned that we cannot simply just splash the cash. Buying ageing players like Snodgrass and Fonte isn’t going to do it. We need to consider the sustainability of getting such players. There are numerous positions that need strengthening. If lucrative signings aren’t made in the summer, then the fans will likely turn on the board. This is why they need to be able to communicate effectively on such matters. And that certainly doesn’t include Jack Sullivan tweeting the names of our targets!