Final Table Position: 12th
It feels like the West Ham season review has been same year after year. They’ve once again had a very impressive stretch but at the end, they finish in the bottom half of the table and the fans remain disappointed. The Hammers started the year in extremely impressive fashion this season and were in contention for a Champions League spot for a number of weeks but things turned south quickly. They suffered an incredible amount of injuries once again – Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, and Carl Jenkinson were the biggest names amongst those who missed time. They also had some tough stretches where they just couldn’t create offense and once Stewart Downing slowed down, the results stopped.
Sam Allardyce had a deal with management before the season started that he’d only keep his job if he finished in the top ten and despite all the injuries, he wasn’t given a break and was sacked soon after the last match of the season. The search for a new boss started right away and West Ham were very diligent in looking for proven managers. Rumors had Frank de Boer, Unai Emery, Slaven Bilic and Marcelo Bielsa all in the running for the job but at the end it was Slaven Bilic who won it. Bilic’s resume includes coaching the Croatian national team and then more recently Besiktas but overall he has underperformed as a manager and many fans are really questioning the hire. He’s arguable the least impressive name from the four that were rumored to be in the hunt and it’s fair to ask whether the other three did not want to coach the Hammers. It’s fairly safe to say he was last on the fans’ wish list and it’s a bit interesting to see him at West Ham again. He “betrayed” the club last time when he used it as a stepping stone to further his playing career and that’s left a sour taste for the Hammers fans but what the fans are not considering is that West Ham is in the business of being used as a stepping stone by players. Bilic could try to do the same this time, but he’ll have to achieve good results first. He’s promised a top 10 finish next season, and fans will be calling for his job quickly if the Hammers finish in the bottom half again.
There was definitely value here with all the injuries as they presented a number of cheap players a chance to play but there was also some season long value.
Aaron Cresswell – Cresswell was famously priced at the minimum in the Yahoo! game and he was owned by a number of managers at a discount for the entire season. He was likely the best value in Yahoo! game all year long and will certainly not be that cheap again next season, but he’s good enough to provide value in good matchups even at his current price in most formats.
Adrian – The West Ham goalkeeper was great this year and saved West Ham on a number of occasions. The Hammers have a good balance of clean sheets and save opportunities that present their goalkeeper with a chance to be of good fantasy value, so Adrian should be expected to continue performing well going forward.
Stewart Downing – Downing was absolutely phenomenal at the beginning of the season and was the only source of creativity for West Ham. He ended up slowing down, partially due to injuries that hurt his supporting cast, but still ended the season on six goals and eight assists in 37 matches. His inconsistency makes him a bit frustrating to own in season-long fantasy leagues but when he’s in form, feel free to use him in daily leagues.
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This one is tough for West Ham as they have a very interesting squad to analyze. They’re set at goalkeeper with Adrian and have some solid defenders amongst Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Carl Jenkinson, and Aaron Cresswell but injuries have prevented their squad of achieving continuity. Midfield and striker are a similar story. Help is certainly needed for a squad that finished 12th, but the question is where.
Central defender – There are teams interested in Winston Reid and the next player up is James Collins, who isn’t really good enough to be a starter for a club of West Ham’s stature. Collins was forced to play 27 matches last season and anything more than ten or fifteen should be considered too many for him in a season. A reinforcement here could really help.
Playmaker – The Hammers have a solid central midfielder in Cheikhou Kouyate and an above average winger in Stewart Downing but really could use a creative, central attacking midfielder. They’ve lacked goals year after year and although some could question Sam Allardyce’s direct style, the main criticism should be for a lack of creative offensive talent.
Striker – Rumor has it that West Ham are interested in Loic Remy, who would be a good fit for them. Andy Carroll cannot be relied upon at any time, Enner Valencia could play on the win, and Diafra Sakho has had his share of injuries as well. Another striker would both provide depth and virtually guarantee the team with a competent striker to lead the line, something they haven’t had with all the injuries this season.
Things to Look for Next Season
West Ham are the ninth youngest team in the Premier League by Minute Adjusted Age and have a solid core of experienced and younger players. They have some important pieces that are bound to be around for more than year such as Adrian and Enner Valencia that they can build around, and that’s a very solid start. Something to keep an eye on is whether or not they decide to make a profit on the players they’ve developed. To make the leap and be competitive with teams like Tottenham and Southampton, West Ham must keep some of their younger talent such as Aaron Cresswell and Winston Reid. If they decide to sell them off and make a profit, it’ll be hard to bring in enough new poayers to challenge for a top ten spot.
The next big topic of conversation will be whether or not Slaven Bilic will be up to the task to manage a Premier League club. Coming in with zero previous Premier League coaching experience, Bilic will be under fire from fans from the very beginning due to his past with the club as a player. West Ham have shown to be a patient with managers but they gave Sam Allardyce a “top ten” ultimatum this season and are showing signs of being increasingly impatient. Bilic must perform or fear losing his job.