Written By : Vinny Ryan (@vinnywhufc)
When any team loses two of their first three games of the season there will always be those quick to jump to the conclusion that the rest of the season will therefore be a disaster.
Football is not as black and white as such damning opinion as circumstances always dictate what has transpired and in the case of West Ham United losing away games at Chelsea and Manchester City are not conclusive evidence that they will therefore struggle throughout the rest of the campaign.
Every season clubs will bemoan their injury list but for a club the size of West Ham having Dmitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Andre Ayew, Aaron Cresswell, Sofiane Feghouli and Andy Carroll all out will have a heavy impact on the performances and results. All those players are first team starters and to have one or two out would be bad enough but with SIX of them unavailable I am not sure how it could be surprising that West Ham have failed to compete with the resurgent Chelsea and Manchester City.
The only game of the first three that West Ham would have been expected to win was the home match against Bournemouth and that victory was secured with a header from Michail Antonio.
The form for Michail Antonio during 2016 has been phenomenal and the only reason it could be a surprise that he received an England call up was due to him playing for West Ham as if you have actually seen him play this year you will realise that he full deserved that recognition.
West Ham will have been looking forward to getting to the international break as at least three of those injured players will have returned as well as new signing Simone Zaza being ready to face Watford on September 10th.
The Hammers have a run of fixtures during September that they will be looking to gain maximum points from.
The reason I haven’t had a meltdown about the start to this season (like many West Ham fans have) is that I am safe in the knowledge that this West Ham team finished with their record Premiership points tally last season and were just FOUR points off a Champions League place. I think I’ll wait a little longer till I have a break down about losing away at Chelsea and Manchester City.
Of course the Europa League exit was terribly frustrating given that with the league being tougher this season a place in Europe isn’t going to be easy to attain this season. The performance against Astra Girugu in both games wasn’t good enough and I was one of the West Ham fans who travelled out to Romania for the first leg to watch a pitiful display in a ground that was a world away from the 21st century stadia we have in England.
The first half performance away at Manchester City was equally as poor but at least it was against a very good Manchester City side. The second half was much better and the goal from Antonio saw West Ham make a game of it but ultimately the damage had already been done in the first half.
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero threw an elbow at Winston Reid which referee Andre Marriner somehow missed. Because he didn’t see the incident (which I reckon he did but didn’t think it was worthy of any action) Aguero has now been charged by the FA and retrospective action will be taken. Trouble is, this does nothing to help West Ham. Wouldn’t it be more helpful if he was suspended against West Ham in the reverse fixture later in the season?
I am not particularly thrilled that Manchester United now benefit from Aguero elbowing West Ham defender Winston Reid. It makes no sense to me.
West Ham will hope that refereeing decisions will not be a talking point again during this campaign but already in the opening fixture against Chelsea Diego Costa should have seen red for his tackle on Adrian. What I didn’t realise at the time at the game was that Costa had already been booked! The fact he didn’t even receive a second yellow card will baffle me until the end of time.
I remain hopeful that West Ham under a really good manager in Slaven Bilic will kick on this season and that the whole thing has been a false start.
On September 10th West Ham take on Watford and for me the season starts then.
Images : BBC Sport, West Ham United Official Website, The Telegraph, The Independent, 90min.com