Pub Talk: Our team put our 2018/19 season under the microscope

The Blowing Bubbles team sit down to look back at the highs and lows of the last campaign

What’s our team’s view on West Ham’s season overall?

Geoff Hillyer: I think we’ve done OK. Some fans seem quite disappointed but really, what did people expect? It’s been a season of transition. We finished 10 points higher than last season, only bettered by Liverpool on that count. The football has been more enjoyable to watch and there have been some great wins – wasn’t that what people wanted?

Meirion Williams: I think it was a season of what could have been. We could have reached seventh place but every time it was in our grasp, we messed up. It will go down as a season of rebuilding. Great against the big teams, mediocre against the teams we should have beaten and with the usual early cup exit. More to do and a solid B- for me.

William Pugh: I think I’m in the middle of Geoff and Meirion. It was a little underwhelming but it was clear the club moved in the right direction. When remembering the ugly scenes at the Burnley game last season, I think we are in a much better position, which is good progress in a short space of time. It’s vital to have a big refresh in the summer and push on again next season as another year like this won’t wash for too long.

Brian Penn: I think it was a reasonably good season. After such a poor start we recovered well and never had any serious worries about relegation. However, our cup performances were disappointing and we should have pressed our claim for that Europa League spot.

David Meagher: It was a season of definite progress. Pellegrini demonstrated that he is an astute and classy manager. Fabianski deserved his player of the season award but in Rice, Diop, Balbuena and Anderson we have some cracking players.

Did 10th place flatter West Ham?

Geoff Hillyer: No. It is exactly where we should be. We are a mid-table team, maddeningly inconsistent but, on average, somewhere in the middle of the pack. We are not better than any of the top six, and we are somewhere within the group of Everton, Leicester, Wolves. Next season will reveal a lot.

Meirion Williams: I agree with Geoff. I don’t think it did and I believe it’s a fair reflection of our season. Looking at the teams below us and the players in those teams, I cannot see one group who had a better squad and as for those above us, probably we are better than Leicester. So, in my opinion, ninth should have been our final placing with an extra £1.2 million for that extra league place.

William Pugh: I think we got out about what we put in. A few decisions – Man U away and Liverpool at home – could have gone our way but we also rode our luck a few times – Huddersfield at home – and our defensive record was definitely not deserving of much more than 10th. We are around the same level as Watford and Leicester and just hope we are in that Wolves and Everton bracket next year.

David Meagher: Despite a disastrous start to the season and some very dodgy refereeing decisions, we managed top half. With an even average first five games and more competent refereeing against Manchester United and Leicester we would have managed seventh. With some clever business over the summer next season we can have a serious tilt at Europe.

What would you give Manuel Pellegrini out of 10 for his first season in charge of West Ham?

Meirion Williams: I’d give him a solid but somewhat disappointing seven. He got the best out of certain players but seemed unable to motivate the same players against lesser opposition. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh with that grade as we also saw a significant improvement in overall performances than in previous years but there was just too much inconsistencies for me.

William Pugh: I’d give him one more. An eight. I think he is the best thing about the club right now. Although we haven’t seen the results right away, I like the big team mentality philosophy he is trying to instil and people can only have respect for him. Would rather have Pellegrini’s little toe than have to consider a Moyes/ Allardyce type again and I am looking forward to next season when I think we’ll see even more of his stamp on the team.

Brian Penn: I’d give Pellegrini seven out of 10, he is tactically sound but not the most demonstrative of characters. I do wonder whether he can motivate the players and tease the right performances out when they’re really needed?

David Meagher: I’m sorry everyone but it’s got to be close to a 10! A host of astute signings, decent attacking football, the courage to go toe-to-toe with the top clubs, excellent player management and a willingness to take a chance with youth – Mr Pellegrini is the real deal.

What’s your biggest disappointment of West Ham’s season?

Geoff Hillyer: I’m tempted to say the FA Cup but to be honest, I’m more drawn to wins against Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, drawing to Liverpool in a game we should have won, and losing to Cardiff, Watford, Bournemouth, Burnley – you get the picture.

William Pugh: I’m sorry Geoff – it’s the FA cup exit for me. 100 per cent. I would swap with Watford any day and take 11th and a cup final which was easily achievable. About time the club realised that the fans want something a bit different each year because a battle for a mid-table position doesn’t excite people.

Brian Penn: I agree Will – losing to the Dons in the FA Cup. It was a woeful performance and shocking result. We were clear of the relegation zone and well placed to go on a cup run. But that meant playing our strongest team from the start which we failed to do. We just bottled it.

David Meagher: I’d like to throw the whole Arnautovic affair into the mix. That was a disaster. It could be used as a training exercise for agents as to how not to manage your next transfer move. It looks like Arnie may well be stranded at West Ham but like most West Ham fans, it’s hard to ever feel the same about him again.

What are your expectations for West Ham next season?

Geoff Hillyer: It would take a very good season to finish seventh so that is a good target. But more points and a positive goal difference would be nice. I don’t personally think seventh should be the height of our ambition, but I’d be surprised if we finished higher.

Meirion Williams: Every year I expect a good cup run and next season is no exception. As for league placing, realistically and sadly seventh should be the aim. With the rumoured lack of investment, I simply cannot see us challenging the big six but I feel we could just over haul big-spending Wolves and Everton.

Brian Penn: I expect us to improve on 10th place and hopefully win one of the cups. By the end of next season, it will be 40 years since we last won a major trophy — the Intertoto cup doesn’t count! It would ber great if we could reward the fans with a cup win.

David Meagher: We are now an established and stable Premier League club with a robust financial structure, a massive stadium and a decent squad. Of all the wannabes outside the top six we’ve got to be the most likely club to break into that group.

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