If we believe the statistics, West Ham have never won more points in a single month of a season in Premier League history than this December. And that said, there is still one game to play, quite a winnable one against Burnley today! I saw the home game against the Clarets back in November (a 4-2 win), and that team can be beaten away too, and West Ham can add an other three points to their tally. Or will this match end in defeat because bottom teams often start winning again with West Ham being the opponent?
I don’t think so. West Ham have now developed a winning mentality under Manuel Pellegrini and aren’t easy to beat anymore. Though the recent run of four wins was halted by a 0-2 defeat to the hands of Watford before Christmas, West Ham did exactly what the manager had asked them to do: to make up for the three points lost against the Hornets in their next game, and the squad responded perfectly with the 2-1 win away over Southampton! West Ham‘s attitude was perfect in that match, they played an attacking game as if they were at home for most of the time, and that is just what the gaffer wants: to play the same way at home and away. That‘s the “Pellegrini Revolution”, a transformation of our club whose bubbles have burst much too often in Hammers history.
Back in 2007 when I started to blog about West Ham, I described them as “one of the big clubs in England” in my first post, and rightly so, but it’s a matter of fact that within the last decades West Ham hardly was a force to reckon with in the Premier League or the cup competitions (apart from reaching the FA Cup final in 2006 and the last season at the Boleyn when West Ham qualified for the Europa League in 2016). West Ham fans often see themselves as “long-suffering“, e.g. Robert Banks’s new book (“An Irrational Hatred of Everything: My Continuing Odyssey as a West Ham Fan”), which spans almost the same time as my blogging history, is described as “recounting the life of a a long-suffering Hammers fan”. But I have a strong feeling that the suffering could be over this season and the move to the London Stadium might have paid off at last.
I was able to watch three games this season in the London Stadium so far, the first one the dire 0-1 against Wolves at the beginning of the season, when West Ham lost their first four games in a row. But Pellegrini remained calm then, knowing what he and his team were going to show as soon as the new players would gel and the squad had fully understood the new kind of tactics they were asked to play.
My next match was the home game against the Clarets back in November, a thrilling win with Burnley equalising twice, and Felipe Anderson scoring a brace in this 4-2! Actually it was this game in which Anderson started his fine run of scoring, now having netted almost in every game since.
Then I returned for the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace. Having been on my own in the London Stadium this time I had a WhatsApp conversation during the game with my old friend Alfred back home in Austria, who had not been able to make the trip. He was surprised by my optimism when the Hammers still had to trail 0-1 at half time, and when the Hammers had won he texted me how important it was that the Hammers were separated by 11 points from the relegation zone now. “Bescheidenheit ist eine Zier, aber jetzt wollen wir vier”, I texted back (“modesty is a virtue quite respectable / but now of four wins West Ham are capable“).
And now the old year is going to end on a high note for West Ham and its supporters, as the 0-2 loss to Watford before Christmas has turned out to have been just a minor setback for a team which now has found a real winning mentality. In the difficult match against Southampton, a team on the up with two wins from their last two games under a successful new manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl from Austria, West Ham’s squad responded perfectly to Pellegrini’s demand to make up for the points lost against Watford and win this one. They had a game plan which Hasenhuttl’s Saints could not cope with, making the “Klopp from the Alps“ a more and more unhappy looking figure with a facial expression reminding me of an angry rabbit in his hutch (which ist the meaning of his name “Hasenhuttl”), the longer the game lasted!
West Ham‘s attitude with which the Irons addressed the difficult task of playing the highly motivated Saints at their ground was perfect, the Irons played an offensive tactic for large parts of the game as if it was a home game, and they could already have scored in the first half. Then they responded very well when Southampton took the lead with an odd goal and were in front within 9 minutes after the 0-1. Felipe Anderson could not only have scored two, but a least three goals. Declan Rice was superb, a real midfield general, Michail Antonio’s powerful runs were great, and with Lukas Fabianski in goal we have a keeper that in my opinion will be named in line with the greatest West Ham shoot stoppers in history like e.g. a certain Phil Parkes, one of my all time favourite players. And, most important of all, the whole squad, though deploited by a lot of injuries and long-time absentees, remained strong in the final stages and never let the game slip out of their hands.
A day after this game we learned that Declan Rice has signed a new contract committing himself to West Ham until 2024 – this is vey good news again! So the year really ends on a high note for us Hammers, almost regardless of a win in the last game.
15 or 18 points won in a single month? We will know on Sunday. But we already can be sure that the “Pellegrini Revolution“ will stay on track anyway! Well, I hope I haven’t got carried away by an overdose of optimism by writing this post, but I’m already looking very much forward to my next visit to the London Stadium in January when West Ham is going to take on Arsenal.
Hopefully Marko Arnautovic will have come back from his injury by then, I can’t wait to see him and Felipe Anderson play together again! That game will be a real test for the new winning mentality of our beloved Hammers.
Come on you Irons!!! And a happy new year everybody!