Pub Talk: What was your highlight of the season? How will this season go down in West Ham history?

The Blowing Bubbles team settle down to put the world to rights...

What was your highlight / highlights of the season?

Meirion Williams: The highlight of the season has to be the comeback against Spurs. At 3-0 down, a normal West Ham team would have capitulated but the fight back to draw that game showed we had spirit and a determination not seen for many a year. I also love the development of the Czech mates, and Declan becoming what we all felt would happen; A great captain for the club. Let’s hope we can keep them all. 

Geoff Hillyer: There are a lot to choose from. I agree with Meirion, Spurs away is right up there, but I have to say, looking at the table and seeing we were still in with a shout of European football right to the end was really quite something, given the disappointments of previous seasons.

David Meagher: It’s gotta be Lanzini’s last gasp equaliser at Spurs. A once in a lifetime moment of total unadulterated joy. It’s been a brilliant season in so many ways but after all the fan discontent of previous seasons, it has been really joyous to support a club that is clearly a very happy place with a squad that pulls together. 

What was your biggest disappointment?

MW: I think the biggest disappointment was we sometimes lacked belief against some of the so-called bigger teams. I really think we gave Liverpool and Manchester United, in particular, too much respect. The other disappointment has to be the home and away defeats to lowly Newcastle, which ultimately look like having a big impact on our eventual league placing.

GH: The loss against Everton at home hurt given what was riding on it. I also think – like Meirion – we showed some of the ‘bigger’ teams too much respect in some of those matches, but I do think we should remember that we have over-performed for the vast majority of this season and hopefully, we will look back with fond memories.

DM: I think that we may struggle to keep this group of players together which is a sad reflection on how football has gone. I think the lack of progress of some of our younger players has been disappointing too as the likes of Conor Coventry would likely be useful additions to a thin midfield. That said, there’s been so much to savour.

How will this season go down in West Ham history?

MW: I’m not sure because we have finished the top five before and I challenge anyone to recite all the names from that squad. If we make Europe then that’s something different as it will open the doors to future success. It could then be seen as a platform that was established for the future success of the club.

GH: Disagree. It’s been a great season. The transformation in the side has been immense. Be honest, who would have thought we would have been challenging towards the top of the table for so long? I appreciate that we have been top five before, but I do think this team has more of a sense of quality and steel about it.

DM: I hope it isn’t the ‘nearly made it’ moment as I think Europa League commitments would push us hard next year and we may slip back. Weirdly, despite not being at the stadium maybe this is the moment that we finally feel comfortable with our new identity and home. 

Are you looking forward to returning to London Stadium when we are allowed to?

MW: I’m unsure. Yes, it would be great to get to a live game but the pandemic is far from over. Also I have to be honest, I haven’t missed the 340 mile round trip and nearly eight hours in the car travelling to home games several times a month.

GH: If and when it is safe, of course. Football needs fans in the stadia. But it must be safe and if that means it takes longer for us to go back, so be it. I’ve become used to the way football has been for most of the season and I could live with it for a while longer.

DM: Oh yes – my two sons and I travel from Shannon in the West of Ireland and it’s a cracking day out where we have a shared quest to have fun and it’s a rare period of perfect teamwork between alpha males! However, I do think the COVIDarama will continue to be a problem as new variants may prolong the pain.

What are your hopes for next season – and also longer term for West Ham?

MW: I hope this isn’t a flash in the pan, a one-season wonder. We do need some serious investment in the squad and I worry that it will not happen. I hope though that we give Mark Noble a season to remember and a great send off to a loyal club servant.

GH: Next season is the acid test. My hunch is, we will find next season more challenging, although I do not think we will be relegation contenders. We will need to improve the squad, as you say Meirion, but will the investment be forthcoming? This summer will be critical for the club. I hope the board put their hands in their pockets.

DM: If we can hold on to Rice, Soucek, Coufal and Lingard then it could be a really brilliant season where we push forwards but I suspect all of the above will be seriously targeted by other clubs during the summer. In all honesty, we are West Ham so inevitably we will revert to circus antics at some point but that’s always been a big part of the package and we’ll happily take whatever comes. The bottom line is that we are never boring.

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