In the most unlikely of pairings, us Hammers fans find ourselves commiserating failed expectations alongside those supporting Chelsea and Liverpool, who find their teams outside the top six. On the back of two successive European campaigns, and an outlay of £146.85m spent in the summer transfer signings, we found our men locked in a relegation battle.
There have been many fans dumbstruck at the state of our club, dogfighting with the likes of Southampton, Leads and newly-promoted Bournemouth. Who would have thought that two years ago, we would go from commiserating the loss of a Champions’s League position to being shocked to be in a relegation battle?
Every fan can look at the team on paper and see the talent that exists, look at the achievements of the last two seasons and can’t help but have hope that we can be rescued from relegation. But Moyes — our once hailed relegation Moyesiah – has had no answers and every post-match interview grates on the ears of the supporters as his inability to fix the problems he once saved us from twice becomes glaringly apparent.
The relegation battle remains fierce as our recent points in February has prolonged our fight at the bottom and with just 20 points from 23 matches, there seems to be no easy escape route; (Pellegrini was sacked for less at 19 points from 19 games). The month of March sees West Ham play Brighton, Man City, and Aston Villa, as well as action in the Europa Conference League with a match against AEK Larnaca FC.
Favouring historical data and instinct, most fans only expect a win versus Villa with success in Europe, and then into the final quarter of our season with 10 matches for a possible 30 points. We would have to get as many wins and draws in equal time as it took them to get the first two-thirds of the season, but does our run of fixtures favour us?
In the final 10 matches of the season, we have a decent run of fixtures, with three six-pointers against Bournemouth, Leeds, and Southampton. Fulham, Crystal Palace, and Brentford are all winnable matches, affording us our usual expected defeats from Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man United. We play Leicester for the final match of the season, which could go either way.
SportingNews.com gave West Ham a Valentine’s Day present in February declaring them only 12% likely to get relegated with a finish in 14th place. We were the 7th most likely team to be relegated ahead of rivals: Southampton 77%, Bournemouth 71%, Everton 55%, Nottingham Forest 31%, Leeds 24% and Wolves at 15%.
The odds have remained relatively the same over the following weeks, with us still being seen as a survivor. Southampton, Bournemouth, and Leeds have to face six classic or current ‘Top six teams’ in addition to West ham, so our odds could exist solely on having an easier run.
The Athletic, using a model of Fivethirtyeight, have also confirmed outsider confidence in West Ham also giving it the 14th slot with the allocation of 40 total predicted points. They predict Everton, Bournemouth and Southampton will be relegated with Leeds scraping by.
The stats to back this are in goal differential as we starkly contrast our rivals, having the least goals conceded in the bottom half of the table and being in excess of 10 goals compared to Bournemouth and Southampton. This is one of David Moyes’ proudest of accomplishments as he brags that we aren’t getting smashed in excess of two goals each match.
It’s up to Moyes now to find some form, and breathe confidence into the players. Perhaps Rice will give us the gift of salvation from relegation in what is likely to be his last season as player and captain. Or maybe Sullivan might bring in Mark Noble on a free in a new role as Sporting Director/Player.
Either way it’s going to be another whirlwind of escalating and bursting bubbles of the West Ham way of life.