After such an impressive debut season in charge of West Ham, naturally expectations of Slaven Bilic were going to be raised by pundits and fans of the club as they entered this campaign.
Add the fact they were collecting the keys to what was previously known as The Olympic Stadium, the outlook looked rosy for the Hammers; only their bubble was well and truly burst after a start that saw them nestled in the bottom three of the Premier League table.
It was even a run of form that had some quarters calling for Bilic’s head. A move which would have been incredibly harsh on the former Croatia boss. Thankfully for Bilic, his head didn’t get close to the chopping block and he’s still in charge today.
It’s that patience from co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan that is now being rewarded as the club seem to have got out of their early season fur by recording three wins in a row across all competitions.
In the early weeks of the season, after heavy defeats to Watford, West Brom and Southampton, a lot was made about their move from Upton Park.
But let’s not forget their form on the road was not much better as they were soundly beaten by West Brom at The Hawthorns. That win also resulted in the first time that The Baggies had ever scored four under Pulis’ stewardship.
As the bulk of West Ham’s squad departed for the international break, it gave Bilic the chance to try and identify where the team went wrong in their opening seven league matches.
They certainly haven’t had luck when it comes to injuries, with the treatment room at full capacity in the opening months of the campaign. Aaron Cresswell’s absence was arguably the most telling as the Hammers’ defending has been nothing short of shambolic at times.
That, added to a team low in confidence playing in new surroundings, and it’s quite apparent that this was a a side struggling for results; this was a team that needed to roll up it’s sleeves if it was going to get anywhere near the heights of last season.
With the international break behind them, a short trip to Crystal Palace loomed and although the game’s only goal from Manuel Lanzini was well executed, it was grit and a slice of luck which saw them pick up their first away league win of the season.
It may not have been the prettiest win but it was exactly the result they needed. It’s amazing what a win can do to lift the mood around the football club and with Sunderland up next, there was a perfect opportunity to build some momentum.
They may have left it late, very late to be precise, but they consigned David Moyes’ side to a heartbreak defeat thanks to Winston Reid’s 94th minute winner. Harsh on Sunderland, but that win now takes the Hammers tho the heady heights of 15th in the table.
More importantly, it was a win in their London Stadium, a result that begins to get that monkey off their back. Fast forward another three days and a win over Chelsea in the EFL Cup in front of their own fans means we now must stop referencing the stadium as a factor in West Ham’s performances.
The shackles are now off in terms of playing in their new home and with this new found confidence, they should be able to flourish, it may have taken longer than expected but this club are finally starting to find their stride.
It’s a shame that matters off the pitch overshadowed their win over Chelsea on Wednesday but that shouldn’t take anything anyway from their performance as The Blues were brought back down to Earth after beating Manchester United 4-0 last Sunday.
There is still a lot of work to do for West Ham, especially if they are to get anywhere close to last season’s successes, but these last few weeks have been a massive step in the right direction.
No more talk about the stadium, let’s just talk about the football.