We speak to Sean Whetstone from Westhamtilidie.com ahead of the Hammers’ Boxing Day trip to the Liberty…
How’s your season been so far?
Most West Ham fans believed we were set for a top 10 finish this season pre-season. We now find ourselves a few positions clear above the relegation zone but still many fans are asking where did it all go wrong. There is no simple answer but a perfect storm of a number of factors which have culminated in a slum of form despite two lucky back to back wins in recent weeks. Moving stadium and training ground hasn’t helped but it would be wrong to blame it solely on that, it is Slaven Bilic’s tricky second season and questions have been asked about his insistence to play Michail Antonio at right back at the start of the season and some of his tactical substitutions.
The training regime has also come into question as has his background staff. Slav allows wives, girlfriends, children and pets to occasionally come to the training ground and that have lead to questions whether he is too soft. To say our summer signings have been disappointing in a under statement coupled with our star players just as Payet and Kouyate dropping in form. We have too much reliance on Payet and Bilic has built the team around him. We have our injury problems as have Liverpool as football is confidence game and confidence is currently low in the players, board and the fan base. Right now I would accept anyway above 17th place finish just as long as we stay up.
How are you finding the London Stadium so far?
Like a new house, it takes a lot of getting used to and it takes time to settle in before it feels like home to the fans. We have had lots of teething troubles many of which have been public and splashed over the back pages of the newspapers. Long term I believe it was the right thing to do and it will feel like home one day, the big question is how long that will take.
It can never replace the Boleyn ground/Upton Park and it won’t try to, it is different and we enter a new chapter of the club’s history. The new 60,000 stadium isn’t for everyone and not anyone is happy but that is modern football and if we want to be ambitious we need to complete with the big boys.
Who have been your star performers and who needs to up their game?
Antonio Michail has been our star performer this season so far without a doubt with a special mention for Darren Randolph who has come in strongly to replace Adrian in between the sticks. Many players need to up their game this season including Dimi Payet, Manu Lanzini, Mark Noble, Chek Kouyate.
Now Andy Carroll and Andrw Ayew are back from Injury they need to prove themselves and his huge wagebills. Same goes for Diafra Sakho when he returns.
The transfer window opens shortly, what do you need and is there money available?
We need a striker and the time of writing this we have been linked again with Carlos Bacca and a return for 34 year old Jermain Defoe. It is reported we wrote to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool to ask them who they are prepared to loan. We need a proven striker, a right back and a centre back.
The January transfer window is often inflated and players are over priced. With the exception of Demba Ba we have never been successful in the transfer window so i expect some loans and free transfers to patch up the squad until the summer to ensure Premier League status.
You signed Andre Ayew from us in the summer, how has he performed so far?
We haven’t seen much of our club record transfer signing and he is yet to score. He was injured on his debut against Chelsea but since his return from injury he is struggled to hold down a first team place and struggled for fitness too. The jury is still out on Ayew whether he will prove a failure or come good. He did so well for you so I am hoping he returns to that same form.
What do you make of Swansea and which players do you fear?
Swansea was always admired for being a financially well run club that could punch above it’s weight so it is shame you are struggling this season. I have nothing against Swansea or their fans and I hope you can avoid Relegation.
I am not sure we fear any Swansea players but we have been leaking goals so it your top goal scorers we should keep quiet on boxing day. Leroy Fer and Gylfi Sigurdsson are on six a piece while Fernando Llorente is not far behind on five. Hoping for a clean sheet on Monday and grab a goal on the break.