Whatever can be said about West Ham at the moment, it’s difficult to claim it’s a happy club.
The season has been marked out by periods of sheer gloom. From the adverse reaction to the (now) Stadium of the Year, to the brief flirtation with relegation, to the utterly debilitating Dimitri Payet saga to this …
This being the grey skies of mid-table irrelevance. Not that such a position is a disaster. Most fans of the clubs near the bottom would bite your hand off for a drama-free few weeks before summer.
But after the razzmatazz and promise of the ebullient 2015/16 season with Slaven Bilic’s fireworks and the Upton Park hoopla, this season appears drab by comparison.
There’s not even a grandstanding top-level signing to excite the fans who are left to turn the famine of Andy Carroll’s intermittent contributions into a feast.
No cups. No quest. No glory. The gloom is getting to some people. Not least the co-chairmen who travelled back from Bournemouth after seeing a point snatched away in the final minute, 3-2 the final score. Manager Slaven Bilic will know this – because he’s been told very publicly.
The problem is not necessarily the results but the frustrating lack of oomph.
Co-chairman David Sullivan was unequivocal in his criticism of the team. He told the club’s website: “I was very disappointed and frustrated with the manner of our defeat.
“We went down there determined to bounce back from the Chelsea game, but we didn’t play as well as we know we can.
“Slaven, the players and the staff all know we have to do better. We have conceded too many goals early in halves in recent games and, while we’ve managed to get ourselves back into games like the ones at Southampton and Watford and at home to West Brom, there will be matches where we cannot equalise. That situation cannot go on.
“I am sure that Slaven, his backroom staff and the team were not happy with what happened and they will think about it a lot over the next few days.”
His co-chairman David Gold tweeted the team were “well below par” while the players waded in as well. Andy Carroll admitted it was a “terrible performance” despite a goal each for Michail Antonio and the improving Andre Ayew.
Carroll told the club’s website : “We were just all over the place. We spoke in the dressing room after the game and every player agreed they just weren’t at it. I think it was just a shocking game for everyone.
“We got the two goals, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Manager Slaven Bilic is inevitably looking to fast forward to the summer.
He told the club’s website : “We have to improve, especially against the teams who are putting us under pressure – pressing and all that, because on the ball we look really good.”
Reports are emerging of a possible switch-around with Andy Carroll off to the Chinese Super League for £32million which will be invested in a new striker – possibly Daniel Sturridge, although supporters will question the wisdom of swapping one injury-prone frontman for another.
Also on the radar again is Chelsea’s out-of-favour Michy Batshuayi, a target for West Ham during their ultimately low-key summer.
• The fans have been thrown a crumb of cheer with the club announcing a price freeze on season ticket renewals.
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