I really, really hoped to be settling down to write this piece in a positive frame of mind.
But alas, West Ham’s season continues to go from bad to worse under Manuel Pellegrini, so that idea has been carted on the living room fire to burn in the depths of hell.
The Hammers’ latest defeat – wrestled from the jaws of victory against Crystal Palace – was just another notch on the ‘exceptional disappointments’ belt this season, and leaves the Irons just a point above the relegation zone.
So with positivity oozing out of my paws, let’s dissect how things have gone so far this season – with a mid-season review to (not) savour…
After day one of the Premier League season, West Ham were rock bottom after being massacred 5-0 by Manchester City at the London Stadium (which may as well be City’s second home, I might add).
After seven games of the season, it was all change – West Ham were fifth, unbeaten in six games and things were going swimmingly, albeit with a splash of fortune thrown in for good measure.
Now, surprise away wins over Chelsea and Southampton aside, those promising early season moments are just a distant memory. West Ham are sliding down the table at an alarming rate of knots, don’t know what consistency is and don’t have a plan B – but let’s not worry about that shall we?
After all, it’s hard to win when you go a goal down – or so we keep hearing.
We won’t spend too long discussing this point, because frankly it makes horrifying reading, again, for us Hammers folk.
Yes, we played League One minnows Oxford in the Carabao Cup and yes, we got stuffed 4-0 while fielding a number of our first-team regulars. And it was also the first time we got to see the brilliance of Roberto in goal….
More on that later I suspect. FA Cup is fun is yet to come, fortunately.
I’ve actually sat here for a good five minutes trying to think of what West Ham’s biggest strength might be, and I’m seriously struggling to come up with a cohesive argument for anything good.
So in the absence of that, I’m going to discuss the positive showings of Aaron Cresswell – because admittedly, I thought he’d seen his best days and Arthur Masuaku was probably a more reliable all-round option.
But I was wrong, as Cresswell has proven that he’s good going backwards and forwards, while Masuaku has no idea how to perform the former of those tasks adequately.
Would be more effective as a wing-back, mind you.
Cor, blimey – have we really got to narrow it down to one?
The obvious route to go down here would be slating the goalkeeping options at the club, because outside of the wonderful Lukasz Fabianski, it’s slim pickings to say the least.
But the standout trait of doom continues to be West Ham’s fragile mental state. Why, oh why, can the Irons not learn how to defend a lead? Why is it so impossible to tighten up, play the situation and just be a bit smarter about things? Time after time, late goals and lapses in concentration cost points…and it’s getting a bit draining.
Oh, and not being able to score at home until it’s too late – that’s also a thing.
Areas to Address
The first area that requires addressing involves a rather comfy, racing-style seat plonked in the West Ham dugout. In fact, there’s probably a few seats in that front row that need looking at, given the gravity of the situation.
So yes, Pellegrini’s job is the number one consideration here – followed quickly by the desperate need for central midfield reinforcements, a striker to help Sebastien Haller out and 25 new brains that remain calm and composed when under the pump.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get – and I’m asking for all of the above, Davids Sullivan and Gold.
Is it possible to be your club’s best player when you’ve played 515 of Premier League football?
Is it also possible to be your club’s best player when you’ve crashed your Lamborghini into someone’s front garden on Christmas Day, dressed as a snowman?
Because Michail Antonio has only played 515 minutes of Premier League football, has crashed his Lamborghini into someone’s front garden while dressed as a snowman and has also been West Ham’s ray of sunshine since returning from injury.
Quick, direct, powerful, enthusiastic and willing to work – don’t ever change, Michail.
I admit this hasn’t been the most positive piece of writing you’re ever likely to see.
But it has at least summed up the discontent among many, many West Ham fans. Things simply must change, for better or worse, because if they don’t, you can only see the season drifting in the painful direction of Championship football.
As a result, things can only be deemed a catastrophe at this point. And the Hammers’ grading is a sad reflection of where they are right now.
Overall Grade: E