After reaching the dizzy heights of 10th last season in the Premier League, under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini, it’s fair to say that this is a campaign to forget for Hammers fans. The Chilean manager departed in late December after securing just seven points from 12 games and David Moyes – previously deemed ‘not good enough’ – returned to East London. But so far, he’s not fared much better, picking up one win in seven league games. Occupying the final relegation place at current, one point behind Aston Villa, fans will be hoping the turnaround happens fast – or else they’ll feature in next season’s English Championship betting odds.
The current market suggests that West Ham are among the favourites for relegation, but that is the least of their worries. The relationship between the board and the fans is at an all-time low, with supporters organising a protest of epic proportions later this month. Rumour has it, the Hammers United group are planning on displaying banners and releasing black balloons during their televised match against league leaders Liverpool at Anfield to bring attention to the problems at their club. Banners have already surfaced in previous games, emblazoned with messages such as “$old a Dream. Given a Nightmare” and “Lies, lies, lies. You promised us false dreams. You have killed us”.
With tensions off-the-pitch fractious, and performances on it, well below par, it’s hard to see when things will get better under the current regime.
There was some good news earlier this month, as the club appointed cult-hero Kevin Nolan as first team coach, alongside Paul Nevin. A fan favourite, Nolan was instrumental in guiding the club back to the top flight in 2012 – however, he returns to the club in a period of complete disarray.
In terms of current form, it doesn’t get much worse for Moyes’ men, who have drawn two and lost three of their last five games. Watford (19th, also on 24 points) and Brighton & Hove Albion (15th, on 28 points) are the only other clubs to fail to win any of their last five matches and the Seagulls could well find themselves getting sucked into the relegation battle.
Fans will be hoping it doesn’t go down to the wire, but it looks likely, with some tough upcoming fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers. One saving grace to consider is their run-in. Three of West Ham’s last four matches are against teams in and around the drop zone. The Hammers finish at home to Aston Villa, while they also host Watford and travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City. They can take heart in their previous wins against the Canaries and Watford, albeit at the start of the season in August. There was even a 2-0 win at home to an out-of-form Manchester United side at the end of September, to provide them with a third win of the campaign. With just three wins since then, and six draws, the results table doesn’t look good.
When teams are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, there’s often a surge in form, but in the recent game against fellow strugglers Brighton, the Hammers let a two-goal lead slip. At this stage of the season, they can’t afford to be complacent. Come April, will they have the resilience and mentality to mastermind a great escape?