It’s going to be a year of change for West Ham and it’s fair to say the biggest transformation for the Hammers will be coming away from the football pitch itself.
Slaven Bilic will lead his side into the Olympic Stadium for the first time next season with the club looking to expand and firmly cement itself as one of the Premier League’s ‘big boys’ for the first time.
Ahead of the move, it’s been a widely successful season for Dimitri Payet and co, who have been flirting with European qualification. Ask most Hammers fans what they would have taken at the start of the campaign and many would have said to stay in the league – after all, you can’t move into a 60,000 seater stadium and be in the second division.
But ahead of the move, it’s been questioned just how far West Ham can go. Are they big enough yet to compete with the Premier League elite? Or could this move be the trigger for a new wave of successful triumphs for the Irons?
As for this season, it’s been pretty good. Obviously the performances of Payet have been a real standout and the Hammers have only lost seven times in the league all season. To put that in context, only Tottenham and Leicester have lost fewer games, but when you consider who these defeats were against, it could have been a whole lot better for Bilic’s side. A 4-1 hammering at home to Swansea might be the highlight of disappointment, but when you add in losses to Newcastle, Watford and Bournemouth you can see that it could have been a lot better for soon-to-move side.
Whilst it’s easy to look at the defeats and criticise, the Hammers have been pretty consistent, and certain players have shone, none more so than Payet. The French attacker has been in inspired form and has been behind a lot of the good work on the pitch for the majority of the campaign. Such good form has seen him linked with potential moves to true elite clubs, but with West Ham’s big move just on the horizon, Payet would probably be better to stay for at least another year, even though he is 29.
So on the pitch things are looking pretty rosy, but what about other factors? West Ham’s owners David Gold and David Sullivan have invested pretty heavily the last couple of years, but more needs to be done financially if they want to join the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea at the top of the league. Willingness to spend is massive for a team of West Ham’s size – after all, they will have some of the best facilities in the league now and that is a big coup for them when it comes to attracting new players.
It’s going to be an exciting new chapter for the Hammers, but there are a few things that need to be worked on before they become one of England’s best.