There is a bit of deja-vu about the fantastic start to the season the Hammers are having, along with the feeling it might go belly up at some point and fade away like it did in January this year.
Having said that, there are some very big differences this time, and it is these differences that will cement the Irons’ hopes of not falling apart after Christmas and tumbling down the table in the same shocking fashion as last time of asking.
Like last year, journalists and pundits alike are discussing West Ham’s dizzy heights in the Premier League table, you can’t open twitter or listen to the radio without some sort of a mention as to how well we have started and whether or not we will be “there” come April/May.
If I were a betting man, I would be more confident of it happening this season than I was last. The results are more impressive, the style of football is a lot more positive (never mind attractive), and the wins we are picking up seem a lot less of a fluke this time around.
For starters, the squad is a lot stronger, the depth and quality throughout is the best I have seen for as long as I can remember. Last week’s bench alone was impressive. Who would have thought Valencia, Carroll and Ogbonna would not have featured in the first XI?
The knowledge that no player’s place is safe in the starting line-up is keeping everyone on their toes and putting in 100%. If you looked at the bench last term, you’d have to forgive the first team for becoming complacent.
Then you have the manager and his attitude towards the winning mentality as well. Away to Manchester City, 2-1 up, Bilic added a second striker to the mix to try and push for a third goal. That’s crazy talk! At home to Chelsea, they equalised and Bilic was having none of it. He told the lads to press higher up the pitch and put them on the back foot again, whilst deciding yet again to add an extra striker in the shape of Andy Carroll to get the three points.
Against Palace away he had about seven attacking players on the pitch, all looking for the win with five minutes to go rather than respecting a well earned away point.
Not that Sam Allardyce deserves stick, I stand by the fact he did a great job at West Ham. But Bilic has the bare faced confidence to approach each game as one he can win, no fear, no “respect the point” negativity against the big guns. Just pure, raw ambition.
Sure, this winning streak will be hard to maintain throughout the rest of the season and we will undoubtidly see the team lose and suffer a really poor run of form at some point. However, to think that they will nose-dive in the same manner as last season is out of the question.
The depth of the squad will provide a good and solid foundation should rotation be needed to account for injuries or fatigue.
Bilic and his players will only get better as the season unfolds. More confidence, more feel good factor and a better attitude from everyone all round will ensure the Hammers have a much better chance to stay in the top four.
No, we are not all deluded enough to think it is in the bag, a top 10 finish is still a success. However, if anyone can do it, Slaven can.