New manager, massive stadium and new signings, this season was meant to be the start of a new era for the Hammers. Instead, it’s been much more of the same and worse. After 13 Premier League games, West Ham currently sit 14th in the league, with only three wins to their name and a staggering seven defeats to accompany. Manuel Pellegrini’s men only sit four points above the relegation zone, an area of the table they never thought they’d have to worry about this season.
Here’s why West Ham is not fulfilling their potential.
In the summer, the Hammers spent close to £100million on seven new signings. The priciest of that spend was the £34.2million splashed out on Felipe Anderson. This season the West Ham faithful cannot complain of their board not putting their money where their mouth is, because the higher-ups have heavily invested in the squad. Now it’s time for the manager and players to take a good look at their selves.
Manuel Pellegrini is a two-time Premier League winner; the man has been successful everywhere he’s been (except China). His presence alone commands respect and the announcement of his arrival was a huge boost to the club’s overall morale. However, it’s clear this may be the toughest challenge of his career thus far.
Despite spending so much in the summer, the Hammers have had their squad’s progress disrupted by injuries to key players. Although he came on a free transfer, West Ham’s rebrand was built around the arrival of Jack Wilshere. The former England international arrived from Arsenal, looking to reinvigorate his dwindling career. Instead, the 26-year-old has spent 68 days on the sideline, missing 10 games with an ankle injury thus far.
The fact he’s now missed the majority of the Hammers’ season means Pellegrini’s plans have been spoilt beyond repair. Then there’s the case of Andriy Yarmalenko; the Ukrainian was in scintillating form before a cruel Achilles tendon rupture put him on the shelf. Reports suggest the 29-year-old is set to be out injured until April, basically rendering the remainder of this season void.
These two major injuries happened after the stunning revelation that Manuel Lanzini wouldn’t be kicking a ball for the whole season. We can point out how much the Hammers spent in the summer, but injuries have the power to disrupt all spending plans.
Injuries are disruptive, but having a leaky defence is catastrophic. Pellegrini’s men have already conceded 22 goals this season, meaning they own the joint fifth-worst defence in the league. This record has bestowed upon them a goal difference of -8. Goals win games, but defence wins titles. Granted, West Ham isn’t going for the title, but the point remains, West Ham’s season is dependent on their ability to keep clean sheets.
January is coming up, and the Chilean manager must now make his most important acquisition of the season. Put quite frankly, Pellegrini needs a centre-back to replace Fabián Balbuena in the starting XI as the Paraguayan has struggled to assimilate to life in the Premier League.