West Ham United supporters must feel like the Olympic Stadium is in a foreign country rather than their home ground. The Hammers have managed only four points of their opening five league matches. They even fell out of the Europa League in the qualification stage, losing to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu. European football was supposed to be a highlight of the West Ham season in their new home. Instead, they’re down in a relegation spot. It’s hardly been a happy housewarming.
Issues with fans unhappy with seating and the stadiums new choice of management, a private company named LS185, have left a bad taste in many mouths. Putting in quality performances, like the ones that almost got them into the Champions League last year, would alleviate some of these problems. But one bad result after another has supporters asking just as many questions about the product on the pitch.
West Ham’s main issue so far as been defense. They’ve conceded eight goals in the past two league matches. Last season the London side average 1.3 goals against per game. It’s not been quite the same this season. That’s a little strange, because, in terms of first team starters, West Ham hasn’t had much turnover at the back.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) September 17, 2016
Alan Shearer commented that West Ham’s defense was more akin to a U-10 side, than a premier league team. Manager Slaven Bilic has said his team is weak, and that he’s responsible for trying to fix the issue.
[link_box id=”23195″ site_id=”158″ layout=”link-box-third” alignment=”alignright”]Up front, West Ham do have a few new faces including André Ayew and funny penalty-taker Simone Zaza, so some issues up front might be expected. The Hammers still have Dimitri Payet, of course, and therefore one of the games best players. His fitness has been a bit of a question mark for many, however. If he’s not been 100% that could explain their drop in form.
Striker Andy Carroll has also been dealing with an injury to starting the season. It seems strange to blame a team’s poor form on the absence of Carroll, but West Ham has limited options up front. Michail Antonio has been filling in quite nicely, however. The Englishman has scored five goals from headers this season, more than anyone else in the league. Antonio might not be the ideal, long-term solution, but if he’s scoring goals he’ll do just fine up front.
Bilic is going to have to find a solution to the mess he finds him in or he’s going to find the bench getting hotter with each defeat. He has a good squad to work with, but it’s about finding the form that got them so far last year. If Bilic can get a healthy Payet and Carroll back to top form it will be a better team. But the defense is still a question mark. Buying reinforcements in January would help, but if Bilic can’t improve the system from within, then January will be too late.
Moving to a new, modern stadium in London was supposed to be West Ham’s big break. Higher revenues and European nights were supposed to be on the menu. Instead, it’s been terrible defense and disgruntled fans. The season is still young, and West Ham can recover, but it’s likely going to require a lot of work.