A Little Bit of History…
For many English fans, West Ham United are intrinsically linked to the greatest success of our men’s national football team. In the 1966 World Cup Final, England beat West Germany 4-2 to lift the trophy. The two goal scorers for England played for West Ham at the time (Geoff Hurst scored a hattrick and Martin Peters got one) and the captain of the team was the legendary Bobby Moore, also a Hammer. West Ham are steeped in the culture and mystique of East London, and they call themselves The Academy of Football, an idea forged on the sheer amount of young talent the club has nurtured and developed over the last 70 years.
Interestingly, for such a famous old club, West Ham haven’t been that successful. They’ve never been English champions (the highest they’ve ever finished in the top tier is third) and have just a few domestic trophies and a European Cup Winners Cup. Not a huge haul for one of the great football institutions.
Their 2016 move from the iconic Boleyn Ground to the contemporary London Stadium was a culture shock. Perhaps no other club has been more affected by a stadium move. A huge majority of West Ham fans were deeply unhappy about relocating from their treasured home in Upton Park to the former Olympic stadium in Stratford. Many thought their new home was too cavernous and lacking atmosphere, that there was too much of a gap between the pitch and the seats. The London Stadium is, after all, a converted athletics venue and not designed for football matches.
At the Boleyn Ground, the fans were right up against the touchline, very close to the action, which created a boisterous, electric atmosphere. The owners believed that that swapping a 35,000-seat capacity venue for one that held 60,000 would hugely improve West Ham’s status, making them one of the country’s top teams.
There was deep discontent from the very start and reports of crowd trouble at the London Stadium started to emerge. The depressing images soon followed. Angry at the perceived broken promises and a lack communication with fans, trouble erupted at several games between 2016 and 2018. It was an inexcusable and unforgivable way to make your point. To many, the stadium move was simply an excuse to cause trouble. When the team were playing poorly, fighting broke out. I’d imagine the majority of the hooligans would’ve loved the new stadium if West Ham were winning every week.
The Season Ahead...
After all of the turmoil surrounding the club, West Ham went and had an exceptional 2020/21 Premier League season. Proving the many doubters wrong, the finished a hugely impressive 6th, after many people had tipped them for mid-table mediocrity. David Moyes (below) seems the perfect managerial fit for West Ham United.
The former Everton boss was heralded as the next big thing during his time at Goodison Park, as was finally handed the keys to the kingdom when he was appointed new Manchester United manager in July 2013, personally picked by the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson. Moyes was soon dubbed The Chosen One, and the six year contract he was handed showed the true faith that the Manchester United board had in him. But it wasn’t to be. He was sacked in April 2014, after just 10 months in job. Unremarkable tenures at Real Sociedad and Sunderland followed, before arriving at West Ham in 2017 on a six-month contract to replace the ousted Slaven Bilić. He left when this short term deal expired, but was brought back again to replace Manuel Pellegrini in December 2019.
Moyes seems highly content at West Ham, possibly because it’s a similar culture to Everton; a passionate club at the heart of the community, with dedicated supporters who totally identify with the culture of the club.
The squad at West Ham is impressive; Łukasz Fabiański is one of the most underrated goalkeepers in Europe and midfielder Tomáš Souček has been nothing short of a revelation since his arrival from SK Slavia Prague. Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio add creativity and flair in attack, and Declan Rice is fast become a hugely sort after talent. West Ham fans will be hoping he stays a Hammer for a long tim, despite the interest from Chelsea.
Club captain Mark Noble (below) is the heart and soul of West Ham; perhaps no player at any other club in the Premier League embodies their team more than him. The fans adore him – a local lad who grew up in the area, supported the team as a boy and now captains the side. He’s played over 460 games for West Ham but, at 34-years-old, his career will start to wind down. The fans will truly miss him when he’s gone.
There hasn’t been too many transfers that catch the eye this summer at West Ham United, and the most high profile so far has been a player leaving. Brazilian midfielder Felipe Anderson has joined Lazio on a permanent deal after a highly disappointing time at West Ham. Despite occasional flashes of brilliance, he came no way near to repaying the $48 million that the club spent on him in 2018.
Location Stratford, East London
Stadium London Stadium (60,000 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 6th
Opening Game of 21/22 Season away at Newcastle United
21/22 Predicted Final League Position 8th
Moyes is certainly the right man for West Ham, and the hope is that the club let him continue his good work and don’t become tempted to replace him with a shiny, big-name manager again. They might find it hard to emulate the same finish as last season, but a comfortable place in the top ten should be assured.