Nineteen games down, and just nineteen remain in our historic last season at the Boleyn. It has been so far so good for Slaven Bilic and his men as the Hammers are sitting pretty in seventh place at the halfway mark of the season.
As we enter arguably the biggest year in the Irons’ history, with the move to the Queen Elizabeth Park next summer, Bilic and his merry men will look to leave the Boleyn in style.
The Croat enjoyed a dream start to his life in the Premier League as he saw his side travel to the Emirates and cruise to a 2-0 victory over the now title challengers, Arsenal. True to form though the Hammers soon crashed back down to earth with two disappointing home defeats against Leicester and Bournemouth respectively.
One thing that will trouble Slaven and his coaching staff, and what the former Besiktas boss will want to put right in 2016, is the Hammers’ inconsistent home form. The Irons have won just three home games all season and have dropped points against sides around them at Upton Park, a statistic which will frustrate Bilic immensely.
The reason behind these disappointing results is the fact that home fixtures force the Irons to play a different style, which doesn’t suit the Croatian’s way of thinking. At every club he has been in charge of he has set his sides up to play on the counter and play free-flowing attacking football. When a side sets up a similar way, it leaves West Ham somewhat stumped and lacking ideas.
I cannot praise highly enough the way Slaven has set us up away from the East End however. The Croat has ensured the Irons are tough to beat away from home – you only have to ask Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool just how hard the Hammers are to play on their travels. Those three wins at the Etihad, Anfield and the Emirates will go down in history and as a start to his Premier League career I’d imagine Slaven is still pinching himself.
It has been a terrific start for the Croatian in English football and as we embark on an exciting new year, I am sure it will be an emotional one. We’ll no doubt share tears, laughter and memories at our home of 112 years for the final few times. Bilic will want to send us home after our final steps out of the Boleyn in May with something to celebrate. And whilst it will be an emotional day, we must remember what an exciting and important move it will prove to be. It will boost revenue, bring in big-name players and hopefully make us regular top-six contenders.
For now though, the club must just enjoy its final farewell to the Boleyn by making some more precious memories, starting with a historic league double over Liverpool on Saturday. That would certainly start the year off with a bang, as the Hammers look to start 2016 in style.
The aim for the East End club has to be to finish in or around the top six this season and with players coming back it is an achievable dream. Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini of course hold the key to our success and keeping the duo fit is of paramount importance for the West Ham coaching team. If we can there is no limit to how far the Hammers can go this year, we could even see a trip to Wembley to end the season on the highest of highs.
In Slaven we trust, it’s going to be a good year. Come on you Irons!