David Gold, since becoming the joint owner of West Ham United, has really been through the ups and downs of English football. Within two years of coming to the club, Mr.Gold and West Ham had powered through a relegation into the Championship, followed by a promotion back into England’s top division in 2012. The East London club saw many faces appear and disappear from the managerial dugout, including Gianfranco Zola, Avram Grant and Sam Allardyce.
It was only in the summer of 2015, where Sam Allardyce announced his departure shortly after a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United. After much speculation of the new manager, former player Slaven Bilic became the East London club’s newest manager. It did not take him long to settle into his role as he announced, shortly after his arrival, his first signing at the club, Sampdoria’s Pedro Obiang. With a move to the Olympic Stadium on the horizon, as well as a Europa League appearance, West Ham looked to make some serious moves to show they mean business this season. However before the Premier League season had even started, West Ham faltered to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu, and were knocked out in only the third round of the competition. But the future seemed bright for the Hammers, as Bilic had strengthened the squad with stars such as Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Angelo Ogbonna from Marseille, Juventus and Al Jazira respectively. As an admirer of the French Ligue 1, the signing of Payet was frustrating for myself, as I knew the talent West Ham had snapped up.
It is fair to say that this frustration carried on into the first game of the season for myself, being an Arsenal fan and all. West Ham dominated a strong Arsenal side away from home, with the Frenchman Payet and 16 year old Reece Oxford dominating the midfield. This result came as a shock to everyone, as West Ham had failed to beat Arsenal in their previous 15 attempts. Although this was followed by back to back defeats, West Ham went on to once again dominate as they recorded a 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. It was fair to say that heads were starting to turn as West Ham beat Manchester City, Champions Chelsea and Southampton comfortably leading up to Christmas. Unfortunately, dropping points here against the soon-to-be relegated teams was the downfall of the season as a whole, but really showed that the club were moving in the right direction.
For much of the season, West Ham United were in the top 4. Now that is a statement I thought I’d never hear in my footballing life. If someone had said that West Ham and Leicester City would spend the majority of the season in the top 4, I would have told them to turn off their Playstation and go and watch a game. But to their credit, West Ham really should be proud of their 7th place finish, considering this was the first season with Slaven Bilic. They made a real statement of belief to all the other teams in the league, and this really was with a somewhat limited budget and busy summer fixture list such as the Europa League qualification matches starting in July.
For next season, West Ham will have Europa League football, a new found belief and a brand new 60,000 seated stadium to move into prior to the season starting. The Stadium will give West Ham an enormous matchday revenue and will surely expand their transfer budget to all new heights. Although the lack of Champions League football may restrict the top stars from move to East London, the ability to pay a much higher wage will definitely entice stars across the World to travel to the club. The Club as a whole has transformed in mentality, as they’ve gone from signing players such as Matt Jarvis for £11million to beginning to bring stars such as Dimitri Payet for the same price. And with rumours of Alexandre Lacazette and Michy Batshuayi across different media outlets, the future looks bright for the boys in claret and blue.