“We’re all going on a European Tour” is currently the chant flowing through the West Ham family.
The Hammers will participate in next season Europa League after finishing top of the Fair Play League. This is the first time since 2006 that the East Londoners will play European football, however, and many will be hoping it’s a more successful campaign after failing to reach the group stages with a 4-0 aggregate defeat at the hands of Italian outfit Palermo nine years ago.
With the owners David Gold and David Sullivan obviously pleased that their club is in the Europa League, several consequences could potentially hinder domestic commitments in what is West Ham’s most important season in there illustrious history.
Once more, the fact that the Upton Park outfit’s season starts in just four weeks’ time without a manager after the expected departure of Sam Allardyce, is also quite a worrying sign.
Academy coach Terry Westley is currently in temporary charge of first team proceedings and has ordered the players back for pre-season training on the 22nd June with the first qualifying round on the 2nd July. With potentially three more qualifying rounds to go through (six games), as well as the Capital One Cup second round to contend with before the 2015/2016 campaign, a slow start to the season is expected.
Furthermore, the West Ham should look at the current state one team that did something similar to them last season – Hull City. The Tigers managed to qualify for the early stages of the Europa League after finishing as runners-up in last season’s FA Cup, losing 3-2 at the hands of this year’s FA Cup finalists Arsenal.
Eventually the early return and the plethora of matches that came towards Steve Bruce was too much, resulting in relegation to the Championship. Even in the 2006 where the Hammers lost out to Palermo, where a season of struggle produced the ‘great escape’, nearly cost them their Premier League status. West Ham cannot afford to do that next season.
Relegation in West Ham’s final season at Upton Park is not an option and with Allardyce notable for keeping teams in the Premier League, maybe Gold and Sullivan were too trigger happy in letting Big Sam go.
Despite last summer being one of the best summer recruitment sessions for the Hammers in a very long time, this year’s signings have to be even better than the likes of Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafra Sakho.
One thing’s for sure, West Ham have taken a massive risk. But the attraction of guaranteed European football and the Olympic Stadium will attract a high calibre of manager’s wanting the job, resulting in more attractive football and, hopefully, a better finishing position than the disappointing 12th place finish Allardyce managed.
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