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Football News: West Ham United Season Review

West Ham United Season Review
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West Ham United Season Review

Like Leicester City fans and Stoke City supporters, a couple of years ago the Hammers would have been delighted to finish 11th in the Premier League. Are the West Ham fans guilty of getting carried away with the euphoria of the previous season's results and the move to the big new stadium and losing sight of reality? Were the Hammers just victims of the move to a new stadium and having to play home games somewhere that had yet to feel like home? Or was it a lack of investment in playing staff? Or was it simply down to poor choices in recruitment from an ownership playing Football Manager with a real life club?

It feels like it was a degree of each that saw last season's finishing position as a disappointment. Yes the fans did get a little carried away with what could be considered overachievement last season. However they were told that the move to the new stadium would allow the club to compete financially, which clearly never happened. Certainly on the pitch, in the early part of the season, the club failed to compete too, failing to even make the Europa League proper. The new stadium certainly did not help early on, though it began to feel more like their home towards the end of the season.

The lack of investment in the playing staff was definitely an issue. The ownership though, that feels like the big problem, as we are seeing again this summer. They have been at loggerheads with every manager they worked with, as history dating back to their time at Birmingham City tells us, with the owners overriding manager after manager when it comes to transfer business. With them constantly meddling in team affairs, there is never going to be stability and harmony within the club. Without that, the long term will always be turbulent and it is more difficult to achieve consistent results.

Last season we saw that, with big ups and downs, with performances so inconsistent you could never be sure which Hammers side would turn up for each game. While Slaven Bilic has to carry the can to a fair degree, as it is clear he is failing to shield the playing staff the way he should, the problem stems from up above him.


Slaven Bilic

A tough season for the Croatian. Luckily for him, he had a cult following within the fanbase from his short time playing for the club. That kept the majority of fans onside, even when the results were poor. Instead they found other scapegoats for their ire, which allowed Bilic the breathing room needed to rejuvenate the side. There are clearly issues there, which he will need to find fixes for going into the new season.

One that stands out is the lack of goals at home, with just 19 Premier League goals scored in 19 home matches. Creativity was a major problem. Payet had born the weight of creating chances and scoring goals in the previous season, but Bilic was unable to lift him out of a sulk this time around, prior to his return to France. There are also genuine concerns over his team selections and refusal to play a right back in the right back position, instead choosing to play just about anyone else there rather than a right back.

This led to the odd sight of top scoring flying winger Michail Antonio suddenly being converted to a right back. Then he tried a bevy of midfielders in the role. In fact anyone but a genuine right back. That cost his team goals time and time again, as well as reducing the effectiveness of the side going forward, leaving it unbalanced. Was that just based on an aversion to the right backs he had available or is this something more? Is he one of those managers that sees things that are not there and so constantly tries to put square pegs in round holes?

Marks out of 10: -2



Last season saw Adrian spend a large portion of the season sat on the bench watching the matches, rather than keeping goal. There were clear signs of him being on the dodgy side, as Premier League keepers go, with 19 appearances seeing him concede 36 goals, despite there being 6 clean sheets there. That has to be a worry that he tends to concede a lot of goals, when he does concede. Whether that is a sign of him lacking confidence, and so going to pieces once one goes in, or the team in front of him doing so is difficult to ascertain. Though it is probably a bit of both.

However, at the start of the season he did look like a poor keeper, struggling with concentration and focus, as well as some terrible positional decisions. It was no surprise that he was dropped for the middle part of the season.

Marks out of 10: -2


Darren Randolph

Randolph has struggled to establish himself as a top class goalie and last season showed why. Given a long run of games midseason, Randolph showed a tendency towards making unforced errors that cost his team badly. It always seemed like he was about to make a mistake that would cost the Hammers a goal.

Marks out of 10: -2


Winston Reid

The Kiwi centre back is one half of Bilic's favoured centre back pairing, a big part of a defence that shipped lots of goals. It was not the best season of his career, as he spent the early part of the season looking like he was too busy listening to the speculation linking him with moves to other teams to concentrate on his game.

Marks out of 10: 3


Angelo Ogbonna

Physically imposing, but lacks composure, both on the ball and in thought when defending. Last season, with the team playing well and his partnership blossoming, that lack of composure was not exploited. This season there were times when other teams took advantage of it, which meant it was a difficult learning season for him.

Marks out of 10: 2.5


Jose Fonte

Fonte had a poor season, no two ways about it, the season was a disaster for him. Lifting the European Nations Championship with Portugal in the summer led to a contract dispute with Southampton, who wanted to hold onto him at all costs, despite the interest in signing him, mainly originating from Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. In January the dispute was still unsettled, which saw West Ham swoop in to sign the veteran centre back to shore up their leaky defence.

Unfortunately for the Hammers, Fonte still looked lost, his head clearly not right and he never showed anything like the form he had previously shown in the colours of Soton.

Marks out of 10: 2


James Collins

Collins has been relegated to the role of back up for a few years now, but he never fails to give his all each and every time he plays. Big, strong but lacking in pace and technical ability, Collins main strength is in the air. At times he can be clumsy and ineffective, other times his power and strength work for him and he can be like a brick wall to get through. Last season he still showed that inconsistency, as his slowing legs sometimes countered his experience.

Marks out of 10: 3.5


Reece Burke

Made just two appearances, in the second set of Europa League qualifying games, before being sent to Wigan Athletic on loan for the rest of the season.

Marks out of 10: 1


Declan Rice

A young defender who got a run out in the final minute of the final league game of the season.

Marks out of 10: 2


Aaron Cresswell

A knee injury kept him out of the early part of the season, his return in mid-October was much needed but he did look, for much of the season, like he was struggling to return to his best.

Marks out of 10: 4


Arthur Masuaku

Masuaku was brought in from Olympiacos to fill the left back slot with Cresswell suffering a knee injury. Unfortunately the Congolese full back barely lasted a month before a knee injury also struck him down and he missed the middle part of the season. While he did look promising, he never got enough games to really show what he can do.

Marks out of 10: 3


Sam Byram

You have to wonder what Byram has done so wrong that Bilic prefers to play just about anyone at right back, rather than use him. It seems like he is only given a game when injuries leave the manager with no other choice! Added to a hamstring injury that ruled him out for a couple of months midseason, the former Leeds United fullback has not had the happiest of times since leaving the Championship side to join the Hammers.

Marks out of 10: 1


Alvaro Arbeloa

When you sign a player from Real Madrid, you tend to expect them to perform a certain level. Unfortunately, Arbeloa was clearly well over the hill when they picked him up in the summer, age and injuries curtailing his career and it was no surprise when he retired after the season ended.

Marks out of 10: -4


Cheikhou Kouyate

The big midfielder has become somewhat of a utility player for Bilic, providing cover for central defence and right back, as well as playing in the centre of midfield. Being moved around does mean his talents are stifled at times, certainly at right back he struggled with the positional side of the game and timing of forward runs. However, he never lets the manager down, Kouyate very rarely excels but, by the same token, he very rarely costs the team badly.

Marks out of 10: 5.5


Harvard Nordtveit

Arriving from Borussia Moenchengladbach in the summer as a player who could play centre back, defensive midfield and right back and provide the cover that was badly missing in the squad, the season was a bit of a disaster for the Norwegian. Unable to adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League, Nordtveit was conspiciously poor in the early stages of the season. Towards the end of the season, he did produce some better performances, but it was really too late for him and he has already got a move back to the Bundesliga and Hoffenheim.

Marks out of 10: 1


Pedro Obiang

This season was almost, almost, the breakthrough season for Obiang, as he grew into his role as the driving force in midfield for the Hammers. Champions League clubs around Europe were tracking him with a view to signing him in the summer when an ankle injury ended his season early. Obiang is one of those midfielders that has real drive and willingness, getting involved at both ends of the pitch, very rarely letting his head drop when things go wrong.

Marks out of 10: 7


Mark Noble

Noble gives his all for the Hammers, week in, week out, he leaves it all out there on the pitch. That is something to treasure and a good reason to give him the captaincy, as he clearly cares about West Ham United and the result affects him. However there have been signs in recent years that his lack of pace is beginning to take its toll on his legs and that he has not adjusted his game to take that into account. Noble still charges around the pitch, throwing himself into the game but with little thought about where he could have the most effect on the game.

It is reminiscent of watching a young child playing football, their sole focus is on the football and they lack awareness of the game as a whole. Noble, despite having plentiful experience now, is still solely focused on the ball, wanting to chase round and win it back quickly. With his legs beginning to go, he needs to become more aware of the game as a whole and work on positioning himself to affect the game, rather than just the ball.

Marks out of 10: 5


Edimilson Fernandes

A summer signing from Sion, the young Swiss midfielder was mainly used as an impact sub. There were flashes of ability from him, which he needs to learn to produce more of when he does start games. However it was a fairly promising start to his Hammers career.

Marks out of 10: 4.5


Domingos Quina

Just 17 years old, Quina was only seen in the Europa League qualifiers, where he made a couple of late sub appearances.

Marks out of 10: 2


Manuel Lanzini

Lanzini has had a strange route to the Premier League, coming via the UAE. Initially the Argentine midfielder signed for West Ham on loan from Al-Jazira, a successful first season saw the deal turned into a permanent one. He has become the creative hub of the side, especially since the sale of Payet. Lanzini's skill on the ball and ability to create space by running with the ball is essential to the London's sides attacks. He still has a lot to learn but his game is growing and he is becoming more and more vital to West Ham.

Marks out of 10: 7.5


Marcus Browne

A couple of substitute appearances, one in the FA Cup and one in the Europa League qualifiers, were the sum total of his input into the team this season.

Marks out of 10: 2.5


Dimitri Payet

Payet started the season in a sulk and played like it until he got a move back to Olympique de Marseille in the January transfer window. After such a stunning season in 2015/6, the difference was shocking, embarrassing even.

Marks out of 10: -5


Andre Ayew

After joining from Swansea City in the summer transfer window he was hindered by an early hamstring injury. Once fully fit, he struggled to establish himself as a first choice attacking option early on, as the season went on he started to become a more essential part of the team, despite missing a month for the AFCON.

Marks out of 10: 5


Gokhan Tore

Bilic finally ended his long pursuit of Turkish winger Tore when he signed him on loan from Besiktas in the summer. Unfortunately, Tore's performances were poor and then a knee injury ended his season in October.

Marks out of 10: -7


Sofiane Feghouli

Another big summer signing for the wing, this time from Valencia, Feghouli was another who disappointed as the season went on. He was unable to hold down a place in the side, spending more time on the bench than on the pitch.

Marks out of 10: 1


Michail Antonio

It is amazing he finished the season as top scorer, considering how often he played at right back or right wing back during the season. Though it is as much a symptom of the lack of goals throughout the team. Pace, power and aerial prowess have gone a long way to allow Antonio to perform well in whichever position he is placed in. West Ham's best player over the course of the season.

Marks out of 10: 7.5


Robert Snodgrass

Yet another right winger added to the West Ham squad, this time a January transfer from Hull City, Snodgrass failed to impress at the end of the season. It is difficult to understand what the thinking is in signing him, when there were already so many average right wingers to back up Antonio at the club before this signing.

Marks out of 10: 1.5


Simone Zaza

The Italian forward arrived on loan from Juventus in the summer, with the hope that he would score the goals to improve on last season's 6th place finish. However, his short spell was a disaster, even putting aside his knee injury that saw him miss a month. No goals and no decent performances saw him return to Juve in the January window.

Marks out of 10: -8


Enner Valencia

Played in the Europa League qualifiers and the first 3 Premier League games before moving to Everton on loan for the rest of the season. Unhappy at the Hammers and it showed in his performances prior to his loan spell.

Marks out of 10: 2


Jonathan Calleri

Another unsuccessful summer signing, this time on loan from Maldonado, the Argentinian forward showed nothing to suggest he could make it as a Premier League player.

Marks out of 10: -3


Andy Carroll

This season just gone was the same as every other season for Carroll, a few good performances mixed in with lengthy injury spells. It does make you wonder why he does not change his lifestyle and try to be more professional away from the pitch, though it might be too late for him to resurrect his fading career now.

Marks out of 10: 1.5


Diafra Sakho

The Senegalese striker struggled badly with back problems during the season and only made 4 appearances throughout.

Marks out of 10: 0


Ashley Fletcher

The young forward arrived from Manchester United with a big reputation, having been ahead of Marcus Rashford in the youth pecking order, prior to his breakthrough into the first team. Fletcher is now on the fringes of the West Ham first team, looking for his own breakthrough moment.

Marks out of 10: 3

Written by Tris Burke July 11 2017 08:15:14