From Ayew to Zaza, another crazy season remembered

The Hammers endured a difficult campaign but it was never dull

A is for Andre Ayew Our record signing hasn’t quite lived up to his £20million promise yet. He’s done better since coming back from international duty, but his miss from less than a yard out against Liverpool haunts me in my sleep. Did we sign the wrong Ayew brother? Discuss.

B is for Bilic He took a team chock-full of injuries and got them to 7th and 11th in the league. It’s not Champions League football and my goodness were they awful to watch for most of this year, but I’m backing him to build on this.

C is for Crowd It took a while for us to get it together this season as we settled in, but over 50,000 people singing bubbles together is incredible and never fails to deliver goosebumps. Here’s to hopefully hearing 60,000 in the near future.

D is for Defending We didn’t do enough of this. Th is season saw far too many landslides against Liverpool, both Manchester clubs and Arsenal. We have good defenders in our team, but something was drastically lacking in cohesion and organisation for the majority of the season. Hopefully the addition of Manchester City legend Pablo Zabaleta is a strong indication that we won’t be repeating the same mistake again.

E is for Everton at home For once not the worst game of the season and a game that I was quite proud of the Hammers. They played well together, defended incredibly well and managed to keep a lethal Lukaku quiet – earning a crucial point in the process (even if they did ruin my fantasy team that week).

F is for Fletcher and Fernandes Both Ashley and Edimilson brought a youthful pace and creative energy to the team, and I felt hopeful when they came on. Neither had enough game time this year to really became a main stay, but I’d like to see more of both players next year.

G is for Goal of the Season Somehow, in this lacklustre season we had not one but two contenders for Goal of the Season on Match of the Day; Andy Carroll’s stunning overhead kick against Palace and some tubby Frenchman’s really rather gorgeous solo effort against Middlesborough. It was a shame that the second one wasn’t even voted for by West Ham fans due to the slithery snake that scored it (more on that when we get to ‘S’). Still, we’ll always have Middlesborough.

H is for House-Warming Party It took a while to settle into the Olympic Stadium, but we threw one heck of a house-warming in May when we beat Spurs on a Friday night under the lights to cement our Premier League status and stop them from winning the league. Does it get better than this? Probably, but for one night we were invincible.

I is for Injured Strikers Andy Carroll is a brilliant striker. Diafra Sakho is also a very good striker, particularly in the month of September. But between the two of them, they can’t even club together enough appearances to fill half a season, and their absences really hurt us this year.

J is for Jewel Manuel Lanzini was lovely this season, and dare I say he really came into his own after Payet’s departure. He’s quick, lively, his passing is a dream, and he really delivers in London derbies, scoring nine goals in his last 14 games against other London teams. A valuable gem indeed.

K is for Kamikaze James Collins may not be quick, but he’s a valuable kamikaze footballer. He always gives 110% and constantly throws himself in front of dangerous balls without hesitation. Saved us so many times this season.

L is for Loyalty Mark Noble had a tough season, but he never gave up, including playing through a hernia until we were safe. Michail Antonio suffered through playing out of place in nearly every position on the pitch but still he persevered and signed a new contract. This is what loyalty looks like, and we’re lucky to be a club that sees it in this modern era.

M is for Mike Dean And thus we mark one of the most inane and absurd red cards of the season. Manchester United’s Phil Jones worried about Feghouli’s contribution on the pitch (LOL) and delivered a horror tackle that should have sent Jones to the showers – but instead Feghouli was shown a straight red by Mike Dean which befuddled pundits and players alike.

N is for Never gonna be the Boleyn As much as we’d like to go back in time to the bricks and mortar where we grew up and saw our legends, it’s different now and it’s time to respectfully remember the past and work towards building our future. The OS will never be the Boleyn; but it will become hallowed turf in its own right over the years.

O is for Olympic Stadium It’s growing on me. At the start everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Fans were fighting, seats weren’t as sold, and people got very angry at popcorn machines. But the club has worked hard to put people in the right places and fix the issues, and it’s all starting to feel a bit better – never so much as when you’re drinking a pint in the sun on the canal before watching a win (rare, but possible).

P is for Police Raid You knew, as soon as you saw that unnamed football clubs were being raided for tax evasion, that it was going to be West Ham, didn’t you? Fortunately we have a history of playing by the rules when it comes to player paperwork (here’s looking at you Sheffield United), so it wasn’t too worrying, right guys? Guys?

Q is for Queuing Look I know we’re British and all, but no one, and I mean no one, is enjoying the amount of time we spend queuing to get into the ground (particularly at gate F). It’s worse for women, as there’s only one turnstile you can go in and it’s never apparent which turnstile that is when you’re 200 people deep in the queue.

R is for Relegation Zone To be fair to the club, with three weeks to go the relegation candidates included every team up to 9th, so I’m not going to harp on about this, but we were too close for comfort this year.

S is for Snake Slithery, scaly, slimy Dimitri Payet. Blessed with talent, but also cursed with a poor attitude. His refusal to play and subsequent departure to Olympic Marseille infuriated fans. But it also united us for the first time this season to come together and back the team. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Dimitri.

T is for Throwing it away In a completely unsurprising fact, West Ham threw away an incredible 22 points from winning positions this season. Imagine what we’d be like if we could defend a lead. Admittedly, we’d be only one place higher than if we’d have gotten one more point this season – but it would have felt nicer.

U is for UEFA Europa League We didn’t qualify this year. Somewhere in Romania, Astra Giurgiu are absolutely devastated.

V is for Versatile. Mr Versatile The nickname given to the hard-working Cheikhou Kouyate. The loveable midfielder earned it by being adaptable to play in any position Bilic needed him in; admittedly to mixed results at times (including that Watford penalty), but his commitment was never questioned. We’re lucky to have him.

W is for Why are they here We had such poor transfer activity this year. Gokhan Tore, Alvaro Arbeloa and Jonathan Calleri all reportedly came to East London, but failed to show up in many ways, leaving the fans to have an existential crisis about why they were even there in the first place.

X is for X-ray How many did our players have this season? With all that radiation it is a wonder they don’t glow in the dark as and when they ever set foot on the pitch. This seems to be the most important thing to change next season; what does it matter who we sign if they are just going to get injured anyway?

Y is for Y did we not sign a right back. Y tho?

Z is for Zaza One of the Blowing Bubbles writers triple-captained him in his fantasy team. Absolutely incredible player outside of West Ham. Absolutely awful at West Ham.

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