By Bulldog Drummond
In their final match before the lock down West Ham lost away to Arsenal – a result which meant they only won one of their last ten pre-lockdown.
Thereafter they won three, two of which were against fellow stragglers in the league, lost three and drew three.
|20 June 2020||West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers||L||0-2|
|23 June 2020||Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United||L||2-0|
|1 July 2020||West Ham United v Chelsea||W||3-2|
|5 July 2020||Newcastle United v West Ham United||D||2-2|
|8 July 2020||West Ham United v Burnley||L||0-1|
|11 July 2020||Norwich City v West Ham United||W||0-4|
|17 July 2020||West Ham United v Watford||W||3-1|
|22 July 2020||Manchester United v West Ham United||D||1-1|
|26 July 2020||West Ham United v Aston Villa||D||1-1|
I think it is fair to say that the natives of the east end with their stadium that the tax payers of the UK paid for, and which as far as the state is concerned, loses money every season, are probably quite satisfied with the deal. Meanwhile bids are being made for the club and rejected by the current lowly esteemed directors.
And I mean lowly esteemed. Lots of boards of directors are disliked, but my goodness, this bunch at WHAM appear to be loathed beyond loathing. And it is hard not to have sympathy with that.
It has been a rumbustious old lockdown as far as the east end is concerned. Among those saying perhaps not too fond a farewell, are
- Sead Haksabanovic: Midfielder — to Norrkoping: undisclosed fee
- Carlos Sánchez: Midfielder — Free agent: released
- Pablo Zabaleta: Defender — Free agent: released
- Jake Giddings: Midfielder — to Crystal Palace: undisclosed
- Stephen Hendrie: Defender — to Morecamb: free
- Albian Ajeti: Forward — to Celtic: £4.5m
- Jeremy Ngakia: Defender — to Watford: free
- Veron Parkes: Forward — to Fortuna Sittard: free
- Jordan Hugill: Forward — to Norwich: £5m
- Roberto: Goalkeeper — to Real Valladolid: free
- Daniel Kemp: Midfielder — to Blackpool: loan
- Grady Diangana: Midfielder — to West Bromwich Albion: £18m
The only fellow brave enough to travel the road in the opposite direction is Tomas Soucek. a midfielder from Slavia Prague for £19m.
Of course transfers are not everything, but they can sometimes help when the team has ended up towards the bottom of the league
|15||Brighton and Hove Albion||38||9||14||15||39||54||-15||41|
|16||West Ham United||38||10||9||19||49||62||-13||39|
At home they were not much better…
|16||West Ham United||19||6||4||9||30||33||-3||22|
|17||Brighton and Hove Albion||19||5||7||7||20||27||-7||22|
Arsenal away however had another shocking season
Four wins away from home was exactly as bad as the last season of Mr Wenger, and it was this failure that was apparently a significant factor in the pressure to get him out of the club, no matter what the cost. As recently as 2016 we won eight away, and only lost four. That is the standard we need to get back to.
So this match is the team that won six at home season against the team that won four away.
Throughout their recent run in the top division West Ham’s problems have also been with having a top goal scorer… From 2014 when it was Kevin Nolan as top scorer with seven to the high point in 2016 with Dimitri Payet with 12, they simply haven’t been knocking them in.
During the same era we have never had a top striker with less than 17, (Lacazette, 2018) but all the other seasons from 2014 the numbers have ranged from 22 to 31.
In their eight years since returning to the top league their top position has been 7th (2016) and the lowest 16th (last season). Over the years they got into the Europa twice (not quite sure how) and went out once in the third qualifying and once in the play offs. One can understand why native thinking is of the restless variety.
The problem is, at least as I perceive it, and as you will know, I am often mistaken, with a stadium gifted to them, and crowds of 59,925 on average the fans do have a right to expect better than this regular ending up in the lower section of the league. Only once in the last eight years have they finished above 10th.
Worse, in six of the last eight seasons they have scored under 50 goals. For Arsenal it is once in the last eight seasons has the team scored fewer than 65. In five of those seasons we have scored over 70.
Despite the windfall of the stadium (which is a windfall in terms of finances, even if not in terms of the running track and distance from the pitch) WHU have just not made the most of the change and have been jogging along at the old position. Of course I don’t know the intimate goings on of WHAM but I’d say the directors have a lot to answer for.
My guess is the only thing that will shift them would be a complete supporters’ strike, but I doubt that the fans are willing to contemplate that. But if they started this season with a campaign which said, “unless there is a significant improvement this season we’re not renewing tickets next year” that might have an impact.
But what am I saying? I don’t want WHAM to do better. Tony can you scrub that last paragraph?