The similarities between the England national team and West Ham are quite striking, the general sense of apathy surrounding both over the past few years has been clear, A feeling that the good times are behind them, a lack of clear identity no connection between the fans and the team, playing at a stadium with a distinct lack of atmosphere. However, England’s exploits this summer allowed the nation to fall back in love with its team again, here are a few things that West Ham need to do to help re-ignite the love between the team and the fans.
More than anything else, West Ham fans want hope at least a glimpse of something good in the offing. The board have offered hope by appointing Pellegrini and then backing him with some pretty exciting signings through the summer, like England, the hype should be tempered by realism, what would be considered a good season this year? European qualification and a Cup run is a realistic aim, a good start would engage the fans straight away.
West Ham have lacked connection between the fans and the club for some time now, the board have not managed situations well and as a result have often added fuel to the fire. I don’t think the dust will ever truly settle following the move from Upton Park, but the transition could have been managed far better. The club are trying to engage with certain fans groups and if the team start to perform well on the pitch then the gripes about the stadium will lose a little volume. Mark Noble plays a huge part in bridging the gap, he has lost James Collins but Jack Wilshere joins the club he supported as a boy and alongside Declan Rice there are still a few local players. The club need to maintain the connection to the past by paying homage to old players and teams. The London Stadium needs to feel more like a West Ham stadium rather than generic sports stadium.
A Plan A and Plan B
West Ham have lacked an identity on the pitch for some time and we need to establish what we want to be. Pellegrini has taken charge of some huge teams (Real Madrid and Manchester City in particular) but the experience of his managing Villareal and Malaga with great success will be a big plus for West Ham. In his time at both clubs, he proved himself to astute tactically and willing to be flexible. Last season, West Ham struggled to change approach, under Billic only trying to win and under Moyes trying not to lose, I think Pellegrini and his staff have both experience to merge approaches and make West Ham a great deal more streetwise.
Jump aboard the Love Train
For years I have watched West Ham take the worst corners in the League, time and again failing to beat the first man or gently dropping into a grateful goalkeeper’s hands. England showed that a little bit of creativity and imagination at set pieces can be a powerful tool. I think the fans would like to see some evidence that this part of the game has improved.
Be Brave Be United
The atmosphere at the London Stadium can be toxic, if things don’t go right immediately the fans can very quickly get on the players back and at times players started to hide. The players must be brave and continue to want the ball and try and positive when in possession, equally the fans need to stay the course, some positivity goes along way.
Believe in the Youth
West Ham fans love nothing more than a home-grown talent and West Ham have a few, Declan Rice being the standout, the younger player will invariably be more inconsistent but the experience they gain will stand to the player and West Ham in the long run. Pellegrini has already stated his approval of what Josh Cullen must offer and while the new signings are exciting it would be great to see the local lads establish themselves in the first team squad.
West Ham are a club with huge potential, a massive fan base and a proud history, the signings are encouraging and it’s nice to at least sense a small bit of optimism before the season starts roll on Liverpool what price a second win at Anfield in 54 years?