The Man U game last season was my West Ham nadir!

Author: . Published: at 3:32pm

Written by Apu Vyas @apuvyas

I was completely disillusioned.  I’ve supported West Ham since the 70s and have mentioned how as a little brown kid in a prejudiced East London, West Ham accepted me and gave me a spiritual home.  Regardless of relegation or last minute losses or heartbreaking cup run endings, we always had The Boleyn, we always had Bubbles and regardless of how terrible a season we were having, as fans, we always had each other.

But last season was rock bottom.   Fans fell out with the board, with players and even with themselves.  I even realised that singing Bubbles was a habit, a chore and the hairs on the back of my neck no longer stood up.

At the Man U game I had already renewed my ticket (out of habit and duty) and I remember wishing that I hadn’t.  I swore then that I wouldn’t think about football all summer until Saturday August 11th.

And then the summer happened.  England got me interested for the first time since ’98, we signed Pellegrini as a manager and then quality signings trickled in and then, with a crescendo, we had signed Felipe Anderson for over £40m!

I was hooked, riding the wave of optimism along with my fellow fans, keeping an eye on pre-season even though we all know it doesn’t mean anything, devouring the words coming from the signings, Pellegrini and our new hero, Mario Hussilos!

I’m going to be honest, I’ve even splashed out a whole £7 on us to win the league!

But, I think it’s important we take stock and try and keep our expectations in check.  I know that people will say they only want a top ten finish and to be entertained, but just look at the reaction to the last couple of signings, Sanchez and Perez.  I think this highlights the unrealistic expectations that we have created in our own heads!

This summer hasn’t been evolution, it’s been revolution.  Ten new players in and arguably nine of those will challenge for a first team place.  Some things will work,training ground manoeuvres will be crucial, but in the heat of battle, when thinking time is stripped and players act on instinct, will they be able to find each other?  This is my first concern.  We have a disparate group of talented individuals, but I’m not convinced that Pellegrini (or any manager) is enough of a wizard to make the new signings gel immediately.

We want success.  Now for every fan the definition will be different.  However, every ‘successful’ team needs a solid spine.  In Fabianski/Adrian, we have a solid (but not spectacular) Premier League keeper.

In midfield, the two central positions will be taken by either Messrs Noble, Wilshere, Obiang or Rice.  Rice seems wise and able beyond his years, Obiang if he can reclaim his best form was a Liverpool target not so long ago, we all know how good Wilshere is when fit and I rate Noble very highly and think he is massively underrated.

Up front, Arnautovic and Chicarito would be essential members of most Champions League squads and our record signing Anderson can play there and we still have no-player-like-him-Carroll (I know, I know) to come back.

Which leaves Centre back to complete our spine and I have concerns.  Oggy is brilliant and was my choice for player of the season because of his consistency throughout.  But who partners him?  From the little I have seen of Balbuena and Diop, they’ve looked OK, but I haven’t watched them thinking they would make Prem strikers tremble.   Both are making massive steps up from their respective leagues.  Both have come to a completely different culture and country to what they are used to.  Do they have the quality?  This is going to be such a steep learning curve for them.

If you also factor in Pellegrini’s attacking philosophy and the fact that none of our wide players are expected to put a defensive shift in, there will be a lot of pressure on the defence.

One of the things that fans of all clubs do, is to live in a bubble and generally only see what goes on in our own club.  Yes we have spent a lot of money and bought a lot players.  So have some of the teams around us.  Leicester and Everton’s spending is £80m+.   Some of the other teams around us from last season have also spent around the £50m mark or more, Bournemouth, Southampton, even Brighton have spent £67m!!

So, as much as I’d like my £7 bet on us to win the league, or the cheeky tenner that I have on Arnautovic to be top scorer to come off, what I will settle for is attacking football, a united fanbase which will only happen if the bigger picture is maintained, a season without relegation worries and for Man U to be relegated.

I don’t think that is too much to ask for…

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