Fluke or the future: can West Ham build on last season’s success

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West Ham United surprised everyone last season when blazing a trail of glory to a top-six finish in the English Premier League and place in European competition this term. Despite being written off by traders at all major online bookmakers as well as respected pundits and even former players, the Hammers proved to be the competition dark horse.

They were seen challenging the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool for a place in the top four and qualification to the UEFA Champions League, but, in the end, West Ham lost their form at a crucial stage. Fans were forced to accept the consolation of sixth place in the EPL, but even that was a reason to cheer. The same supporters can now look to the future with confidence.

Can West Ham build on that vast effort and find the consistency needed to challenge for the prizes, or will their success prove little more than a fluke? Freak luck. Everyone connected with the team playing out of Stratford hopes this is the start of something special.

What must the West Ham board and manager David Moyes do to keep the good times rolling in East London? They must hit the ground running, but the published fixture list for the 2021/22 season means there’s not an easy start ahead. Let’s take a closer look.

Moyes must keep his best players

Experienced Scottish gaffer Moyes understands the need to spend in the summer transfer market to improve his squad. The former Everton manager knows the club can’t stand still, looking back on last season’s heroics. His backroom staff would have assisted David in creating a summer wish list that will already be in the hands of the board, where a budget will be drawn up and agreed upon.

As well as targeting new recruits, it’s also important for West Ham to keep hold of the best players from last season already in the squad. One of the standout performers during the 2020/21 campaign was Jesse Lingard. He is currently on loan from parent club Manchester United, and the Londoners will want to tie him down on a permanent deal. But keeping Lingard won’t be easy, not with the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal said to be showing an interest. That’s a deal Moyes must get done quickly.

There’s a feeling amongst fans that this could be the start of something special for the club, and Mark Noble has dedicated himself to the cause, agreeing to play one final season before hanging up his boots. Vets like Noble may not feature in West Ham’s long-term plans, but they have an essential job to do in the here and now. Experience is every bit as crucial as youth and ambition in the Premier League. Noble doesn’t hide the passion he has for his employers, and he’ll want to have an impact.

It’s a rare occurrence for the club, but West Ham will have to juggle their league games with European commitments this season, often playing twice a week. That’s something some teams have struggled with in recent seasons, including Leicester City, who took a while to find their feet in the Europa League. A squad bigger than the one West Ham had last season is required.

Make your predictions

What are your predictions for the Premier League 2021/22 season? Do you fancy West Ham to pick up where they left off and challenge for the prominent places, or will they crumble under the expectations of returning fans to the former Olympic Stadium? Only time will tell.

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