West Ham host Newcastle United on Saturday and the game is worryingly crucial for the visitors, for whom relegation is still a realistic prospect
After narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot last season, this campaign represents a dramatic fall from grace for Alan Pardew’s side. The Hammers would do well to take note of Newcastle’s plight and ensure they do not end up in a similar situation, or a worse one, next season.
The first year back in the Premier League has been a successful one for West Ham. Sam Allardyce has made his team difficult to overcome and steered them to the safety of tenth place. Now another season in the top flight has been secured, the Hammers can focus on consolidating their place in the Premier League and try to build upon their achievement. What they must avoid is following in Newcastle’s footsteps.
The Magpies were promoted back to the Premier League in 2010 after a season in the Championship. They were impressive in their first season back in the top flight, finishing 12th, and then stunned everyone with their inspiring performances last season when they finished fifth.
If we fast forward to the present day, Newcastle travel to east London coming off the back of a hugely embarrassing 6-0 defeat at home to Liverpool last weekend. That shameful display exposed their frailties for all to see and leaves them just five points clear of the relegation zone, with both Wigan and Aston Villa able to catch them and send the Geordies back down should their capitulation continue.
Newcastle’s promotion and how they secured their status is similar to the situation West Ham find themselves in. Although every Hammers fan would of course love it if West Ham could finish fifth and get into Europe next season, it is clear to see that Newcastle’s poor showing this year shows the Magpies are suffering from a delayed dose of ‘second season syndrome’.
This is usually where promoted clubs struggle to stay in the Premier League in their second season because they are having to play with the pressure they have imposed on themselves by doing so well in the previous campaign; something inexperienced players who are new to the top flight struggle to cope with. The Hammers must be mindful of this problem and ensure they are prepared for their next campaign among England’s elite.