Talking Point

“The point of living, and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe that the best is yet to come.” As supporters of West Ham United, time and time again, we‘re “blowing bubbles”, and every year we’re foolish enough to believe that this season will be different from the preceding ones.

But after a bad start into the new season with two defeats in two games, and now a difficult away game against Arsenal imminent, it’s not easy to stay optimistic for another week or two, and live according to the above mentioned conception once enunciated by Sir Peter Ustinov. And furthermore, as West Ham fans, the exent of our optimism is limited anyway. We know that bubbles “fade and die”.

To raise the mood after the heavy defeat to Liverpool in the season opener, West Ham‘s club captain tried to give the preparation for last Saturday’s game against Bournemouth a spin in to an optimistic direction by stating that “our season starts now”. And of course we would have been all but happy to be made forget, through a convincing win at home, that there had been a minor unpleasant fact the weekend before, losing 0-4 on the road. Albeit, as we know, it wasn’t to be … and this season has already started with not only one, but two defeats, 6 goals conceded and not any goal scored from open play. And skipper Mark Noble is tipped to lose his place in the starting eleven for West Ham’s trip to the Emirates.

Well, so much optimism had been around the place during pre-season when West Ham’s board at last started to deliver on the promises they made when West Ham left Upton Park and moved to the Olympic Stadium: a high profile manager was installed in Manuel Pellegrini who has won the Premier League and two League Cups with Manchester City, and investment into the squad was made timely and to a significant amount. Only a few clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea, have invested more than West Ham’s almost £100m. And this ýear, transfer deadline day which unusually took place before the start of the season, was not awaited by the West Ham faithful with anguished expectation and grave concern about the board failing to make respectable signings. This summer the common feeling was that on deadline day we might just get some icing added to the cake – a cake that already seemed to be a very tasteful one. We couldn’t wait to get the season started!

But optimism has vanished quickly with just two games into the season. We self-ironically thanked Huddersfield on Sunday evening that we weren’t bottom of the table anymore, and in all the West Ham Forums we’re discussing the reasons for this failed start and still have not come to a conclusion. The level headed ones say the team takes time to gel, the angry ones say the players are lazy and didn’t care on Saturday, and the ones that have had a closer look might point to the fact that the new gaffer has changed the system of playing. Therefore it will not only take time until the new players have accomodated and developed a common understanding; also the ones who have already been here last season will need time to adapt to the ideas of the new manager who wants to defend higher and let his team play a “possession game”. Well, in my opinion Manuel Pellegrini (if he’s successful) could make West Ham play that cultivated attacking style again which once was part of the “West Ham way”, a long, long time ago. Though I’m yet a bit sceptical because Pelle had already been able to work with the majority of the squad including most of the new players all pre-season, yet the defence looked as if they hadn’t played together before.

Last season I was able to come over from Austria to London on three occasions to attend West Ham games. The first one was in November, Slaven Bilic‘s last match, the 1-4 defeat to Liverpool; the second one in December was the 1-0 victory over Chelsea with fellow-Austrian Marko Arnautovic‘s first goal for the Hammers – two turning points of the last campaign! And finally I was able to watch the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, after which we flew home feeling sure that West Ham would avoid the drop.

This season I‘ve already bought the tickets for our first game, the second home game against Wolves on September 1st, and I‘m optimistic West Ham will record the first home win in this match. Yes, I‘m “foolish enough to believe that the best is yet to come“ this season. I think we can be optimistic that Manuel Pellegrini and his team will work it out with this squad full of talented players.

The point of being a football fan is that not just a new season, but also every weekend offers a new start. And especially we, the West Ham supporters, are foolish enough to believe that the bubbles we’re blowing will reach the sky – or at least “nearly“ will do. Maybe they will fly high as early as next Saturday against an also still winless Arsenal. And in any case I’m sure my first visit of the season on the following Saturday will be a happy day! If the bubbles don’t fade and die…

Come on you Irons!

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