Pub Talk: What will be a successful season for West Ham? What are your hopes for our Europa League campaign? 

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

The teams line-up at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

What would you consider a successful season for West Ham this campaign? 

Meirion Williams: As usual, first and foremost is to avoid relegation but mainly, for me, it has to be that elusive cup run to a final; League cup, FA Cup, Europa – any one will do. With the small squad we have and with our rivals no doubt spending big, I cannot see us progressing any further in the league so I would settle for top 10 but with aspirations of being in those Europa League places again come May. 

Lucy Woolford: I’d normally say the aim of the season is an improved league position, but I’d actually be happy with the same. I agree with Meirion, a final would be great, I’d love an FA cup final and that would surely be considered a success. 

Emily Pulham: Match or better last season’s league position and enjoy watching the football in the same way we did last season. Some of that was so much fun.

What are your hopes and fears about our Europa League campaign? 

MW: I have to be honest, part of me didn’t want Europe this season. Travel restrictions will no doubt still be in place and we all could miss out on a European tour. It will also stretch our already wafer thin squad to the extreme and could then affect our domestic form. As for hopes, it’s pretty simple. The first one is that no-one gets injured and the second is that we go further than our recent forays into Europe which I guess shouldn’t be difficult unless we draw a team from Romania.

LW: Squad depth is an obvious fear and that leads on to the fear that our Premier League season will be hampered. I really hope we make a good account of ourselves and use it as a stepping stone to becoming a regular in the competition in seasons to come. 

EP: I’m with Lucy and Meirion here; We don’t have the depth in the squad to compete in the Premier League right now, much less the Europa League – but then again I thought we’d get relegated last year and it turns out we were rather good. Hope is a hard thing to kill so I’ll definitely try to get tickets for the Europa games. Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised.

Are you surprised by our lack of spending so far in this transfer window?

MW: No, not really we all know the drill. First we are linked with every player under the sun, they will all be out of our price range and on transfer deadline day, David Sullivan will be quoted a few minutes after midnight stating that we tried to get the deal done but we simply ran out of time. The fact does remain that we do not have any money and we seem to have bought expensive players and then sold for near nothing. I fear we will not strengthen and will end up getting a few loan players in.

LW: Surprised? No. Concerned? A little. But then, the window is still open until the end of August, which might give us an opportunity to see what we need and if any early injuries occur. We do need some signings, but sometimes keeping key players can be as positive as a new signing. 

EP: Not even a little surprised here though, and a whole lot worried! We’re a thin squad and all of our direct competitors are strengthening (except Spurs). This is part of the mind games though, isn’t it? I was over the moon heading into a season with a signing like Anderson or Haller when actually it was the signings like Coufal who’ve made for an exciting season. Let’s see if we can keep Rice in Claret and Blue as a starting point. 

Which months are you afraid of judging by our fixtures, and which are you looking forward to?

MW: I fear them all as it’s a bit of unknown territory this year. We have two difficult fixtures to start with. Our games against Newcastle cost us dearly last year and I can’t see a repeat of our victories against Leicester. It will be interesting to see how our home league form will be affected by a full London Stadium and the pressure it brings. 

LW: September will be tough with the split focus between the Premier League and Europa League. Then we face Liverpool and Man City in November, which are always challenging fixtures. And December, as always, is fixture heavy, which could be a worry if we don’t build up a squad. 

EP: I think I’m looking forward to and dreading each month as injuries don’t tend to respect the fixture list – and quite frankly, neither do Sky and BT. December is normally such a tough one with fixture pile up and this year seems to be no exception, with both Chelsea and Arsenal crammed in there for good effect.

Who will win the title and who are your three to go down?

MW: I think it could get interesting this year and it’s a toss up for me between Manchester City and Chelsea. I almost believe it’s too close to call. As for which three will go down, we’ll it’s almost a given that Norwich will be one of them as that’s simply what they do. The other two positions could be interesting and it’s quite tight to call. No doubt Brentford will have a great first season but will still be there or thereabouts. So I think it’s a straight fight between the Bees, Palace and Watford for those other two positions.

LW: I actually don’t think it’s impossible for Man United to challenge for a title again this season, especially if they make a couple of signings. But surely Man City will be close contenders again. For me, Norwich and Watford go back down. I’m going to go all out and say Palace will join them. 

EP: Chelsea to win it because what they achieved in just a few months with Tuchel has been extraordinary – they are going to be lethal this year. To go down, I think it won’t be teams coming straight up who will be buzzing with excitement and playing fearlessly (ie Watford and Norwich) and more likely teams who have been scraping by for a few years now and not invested enough thus far in the squad to keep scraping by (ie Palace and Burnley).

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