Some opinions are justified, some are questionable, and some are just darn-right deluded.
Most West Ham fans would probably fairly judge the team in terms of its standing in the game.
However, comparisons with Bolton Wanderers would probably be met with scorn as we would think of the Hammers higher up in the football hierarchy.
The parallels between the two teams in recent years though mean it is a legitimate gauge of our success. It goes beyond simply having the same boss in Sam Allardyce, there is a striking similarity between squad members.
It was highlighted this week that five current West Ham players were with Bolton back in 2008 (Matt Taylor, Kevin Nolan, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Joey O’Brien, and Ricardo Vaz Te). And we’ve also had Abdoulaye Faye on our books in the past two seasons.
But more than just looking at the personnel, a review of Bolton’s record through the almost ten years Big Sam was involved with the Trotters makes for enviable reading.
They made it to the semi-final of the League and FA Cups in his first season. His side made the final of the League Cup in 2003-04 season, as well finishing eighth.
Bolton finished sixth in 2004-5 qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history and in 2005–06, Allardyce once again took the team into the top half of the Premiership as well as guiding them into the knockout rounds in Europe.
Between 2003–04 and 2006–07, Bolton recorded consecutive top-eight finishes, a record of consistency over the same period bettered only by Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
He left the club in April 2007, with the club having secured a place in the following season’s UEFA Cup. Although not under Big Sam, that Bolton team made it to the last 16 of the competition.
Europe has to be our aim, and a couple of cup runs on the back of solid league performances would be welcome. Therefore, a record to match Bolton’s doesn’t now seem so underwhelming.
I don’t in any way think those stats are something to be sniffed at, given our inconsistent performances in recent years.
In truth, we could even hope for more. We have had a better start to life back in the Premiership than when Allardyce brought Bolton up. And looking at the evidence, the manager improves given time and stability. We can be quietly confident of emulating, or even eclipsing, the achievements of his Bolton team.
Allardyce also already has a better winning record at West Ham than he had at Bolton.
So ranking West Ham alongside Bolton may not be glamorous, but in a time when a status alongside teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City is unattainable, it should be encouraging to set ourseleves something realistic.
And anyone dismissing Bolton as a club with no culture or heritage should be reminded of who memorably (if not unduly) turned West Ham over in the 1923 FA Cup Final.