It’s easy to forget about the good start to the season West Ham have had.
Losing at home to Crystal Palace, despite leading with 25 minutes to go, would make most fans wonder whether we’re actually making any progress at all. But we are; one loss doesn’t change the fact we’ve been a far better outfit this season compared to the previous three campaigns.
Manuel Pellegrini has constantly spoken about his players trying to adopt a ‘big team mentality’ and we’ve seen that coming through in stages. Occasional wins or draws against top-six opposition have given us reason to be optimistic about the future under Pellegrini, but consistency had always put paid to any hopes of mounting a serious assault on the top six.
This season, though, we’ve only lost two of our opening eight Premier League fixtures and they’ve come against a rampant Manchester City side and via a very late VAR-influenced goal at home to Palace. Had VAR not overturned Jordan Ayew’s winner on Saturday, West Ham would be sitting pretty in fourth instead of now occupying 8th and wondering what couldn’ve been. That’s how tight the Premier League table is at this stage of the season.
There’s still so much football to be played and if the first eight games are anything to go by, West Ham are going to enjoy more positive results than we are negative. Going six games unbeaten in the league isn’t something we’ve managed to do very often in recent years and we have enough about us to go on a very similar run of results more than once before May.
As things stand, the odds on West Ham finishing in the top four are around 20/1 and both us and Leicester City should be considered real contenders to complete a rare breach of the Champions League spots given the form of Man United and Tottenham in 2019/20.
A top-six finish is far more likely, of course, and the bookies reflect that fairly by offering a price of around the 6/1 mark for us to secure Europa League football via our finishing league position – that’s the bet I’d be putting on if I had a bet365 UK new account offer. A top-four finish is not completely out of the question but we’ve got to be realistic.
With Sebastien Haller settling in well since his club-record move from Frankfurt in the summer and Felipe Anderson showing glimpses of what we saw of him last term, we certainly have enough going forward to ensure we win more than we lose this term. If we can keep them fit, as well as our other attacking players, then we have a huge chance of achieving what we were all promised by the owners when we moved to London Stadium.
It’s not going to be straight forward, it never is with West Ham, but Pellegrini has already laid down the solid foundations needed to start moving forward and away from settling for mid-table mediocrity. This should be the season we finally see us start to make progress.
We just need to keep the faith and trust the process.