I originally wanted to update you on a two-monthly basis, as I had done for the first half of the season, but the second half of the season ran away with me, and I’ve now finished my first season with West Ham.
How did we do? Well, as mentioned before, we got to the 1st Knockout Round of the Europa League, and it was here that we met Trabzonspor. An uncharacteristically calm 2-0 win in Turkey set us up quite nicely, and we finished the job back in London with a nervy 3-2 win. This round was the story of two inconsistent strikers finding some ability from somewhere. Andy Carroll scored twice in Turkey, while Diafra Sakho secured us progress with an impressive hat-trick.
The next round saw us face another Turkish side, Fenerbahce. Led by ex-Man U stars van Persie and Nani, they were way, way too good for us and pulled us apart in Turkey, winning 4-1. With a biting injury crisis and a lack of belief in overturning the deficit, I sent out a very young side in London, including members of my first youth intake. Impressively, we drew 1-1. The board’s expectations were not to get smashed around in the Europa League, so a 2nd knockout round was more than good enough.
As is so often the case, progress in Europe saw our league form take a huge hit. While we were never in danger of relegation, a run of six defeats and seven draws in fifteen games saw us drop into midtable obscurity. Again, that was all the board wanted, so I’m happy, if not delighted.
Players, Plans and Intakes
The two main stars of my side this season were undoubtedly Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini. I didn’t expect either player to be a first-teamer at the start, but with Payet shifting out to the left wing, and Enner Valencia struggling to impress, Michail Antonio took on the burden with fifteen goals and 12 assists in all competitions.
I struggled to find and stick with a main striker, with Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho scoring 10 goals each. Neither of them made me feel comfortable with them being the main man, so I’ll be looking to bring in a key striker to push us on.
At the back, our defenders played decently, if not amazingly. Each of their average ratings is above 7, while we conceded the fifth most goals in the league. Clearly, this is something we need to look at in the summer.
Youth intakes are not usually my favourite time of the year, and I rarely receive talented youth prospects that make me excited. This time, however, is different. Everyone, meet Scott Owen.
He’s rapid, great at crossing and dribbling, and is already showing significant improvement. He has been a member of the squad since coming in, and has even managed to grab an assist and a goal in the league. If he can push on and develop into a great star, he may give me reason to play this West Ham game for a long time to come.
Summer is likely to be a time of overhaul. Having reviewed the squad, I’m looking at bringing in a full-back, a centre-back, two midfielders and a striker. Hopefully I can get the job done quickly, so they can be settled in easily in pre-season.
NEXT TIME: Summer, Transfers in and out, and West Ham at the Olympic Stadium. Excited.