From Areola’s missus to Zouma, it’s been another interesting season to be a West Ham fan!

Our A-Z of the season looks back at the good, the bad and the ugly of our last campaign...

Angelo Ogbonna (WHU) celebrates after Michail Antonio (WHU) scored the second West Ham (2-2) at the West Ham United v Liverpool EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 27th April, 2024.

A is for Angry Areolas. It sounds like a bad porno, but stay with me. Areola’s wife stirred the pot of drama and sprinkled some salt in after West Ham’s final home game of the season on her Instagram account, posting a message saying ‘save of the season OK, but it should have been player of the year… it won’t be the case and we all know why.’ Listen, Areola was vital this season – he made incredible saves all season long – but it’s a bold statement about a player who also let in 53 goals and kept only four clean sheets in the Premier League this season. Areola added it to his story – adding to the curiosity of what it is that we all know about an award the fans voted for…

B is for Bicycle Kick. We suspected nothing good would happen playing Man City on the last day of the season, with the title still to play for – but Kudus yet again flipped the script, scoring an unstoppable bicycle kick and reminding us what an exceptional player he really is. We must keep Kudus at all costs.

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C is for ‘Careful What You Wish For’. A collective movement of critique from pundits who felt West Ham fans should be grateful for our five wins in all competitions in 2024. It was most notably used by Alan Shearer on BBC’s Match of the Day, after West Ham lost 2-0 to Fulham. If you’re outside the ‘big six,’ fans aren’t allowed to want the best for their club, they are meant to just be grateful for what they’ve got. That’s how the whole league works, right? No one wants to win?

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D is for Don’t Back Pass, Dinos! Our giant Greek defender has had both moments of brilliance and flashes of horror in east London, but one thing he has been consistent in is playing terrible back passes. Against Crystal Palace, he attempted a no-look back pass which was scooped up by Palace who got their equaliser and ended up costing us two points. He did some damage in the FA Cup also, playing a terrible back pass which completely caught Lukas Fabianski off guard as Bristol scored and knocked us out of the FA Cup.

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E is for European Record Holders for an English team. When West Ham beat FC Frieburg 2-1 in the early stages of our European run, we set a new record for ‘consecutive unbeaten European matches for an English team.’ It’s a mouthful, but it’s still meaningful.

F is for Five or More, which seemed to be the scoring record of teams against us this season. Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Fulham all easily put five (or more, in the case of Arsenal) past us. That’s 25% of Premier League teams. If we opened this up to teams who put four past us, we’d use up our entire word count listing them.

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G is for George Earthy. Fans have been begging for more youth involvement this year, and our wishes seemed to be granted when this academy prospect took to the pitch against Fulham. His first touch was a perfect pass; his second saw him knocked unconscious and taken to hospital. It wasn’t the best omen – but he wasn’t phased, and had a far more fortuitous re-debut against Luton Town, where he scored his first senior goal just a minute after coming on. Expect big things from him, especially immediately after he makes an appearance.

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H is for Hammer of the Year, and you won’t believe it – it’s Jarrod Bowen! You’d imagine his shoulders are pretty tired from carrying his teammates all season but he’s still managed to become the first player since Marlon Harewood to smash through the 20 goal barrier (a surprising record to have lasted for 19 years, admittedly) and to match Paolo Di Canio’s 16 goals for West Ham in a single Premier League season. Not bad for a year’s work, and a very deserved accolade – unless you’re Mrs Areola.

I is for Ice Cold, aka Kudus’ ice cold goal celebration of taking a seat after a goal – whether that’s by borrowing a stool from a steward or by hopping up on the advertising hoardings. The trouble with greatness is it’s always imitated, and of course everyone got an opportunity to do the Kudus in front of him, as we conceded so many damn goals – but it was incredibly sweet to see him ‘saving a seat’ for young goal scorer George Earthy at the tail end of the season.

J is for January Transfer Window, which was the catalyst for our terrible 2024. We shipped out extremely useful squad players, and goal-scorers, in Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals, and replaced them with Kalvin Phillips, who gave away goals, got sent off, got injured and never played again. Years from now, this transfer activity will be scrutinised in criminal trials, so it’s nice to know we’re living through history.

K is for Kickabout, which is what the March second leg against SC Freiburg turned into. For once, West Ham were on the right end of a 5-0 thrashing, and they made beating the Germans look like a walk in the park. West Ham went into the game having lost the first leg 1-0, but goals from Paqueta, Bowen, Aaron Cresswell, and a brace from Kudus sent West Ham flying into the quarter-finals.

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L is for Leaving it Late. This season, Tomas Soucek developed a taste for a late winner, scoring a number of goals in the dying minutes of the game to secure a last-grasp win for the Hammers. Against Forest, he scored in the last two minutes, he grabbed a stoppage time goal against Burnley, and in the 89th minute he scored against FK TSC Bačka Topola – all to win the games.

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M is for Moyes. Love him or hate him, you absolutely have to respect him as one of the greatest managers in West Ham history. He earned us our first major trophy in 43 years, and kept us in Europe for three seasons. The time is right for a change – and maybe a manager who has more than a passing interest in keeping goals out – but he’s given us amazing memories and a sturdy platform to build on.

N is for Nolan. I can’t believe how sad I am at the announcement that Kevin Nolan is finally leaving West Ham United in the year 2024. Nolan helped us to two trophies at West Ham, the play-off final as captain in 2012 and the European Conference league as first-team coach in 2023. No one anticipated his longevity at West Ham United, but he’s become a valuable and integral part of the club’s history. We will miss seeing him get booked both on and off the pitch.

O is for On The Road. On fire goalscorer Jarrod Bowen failed to score in away games in the top flight in the 2022-23 season, but he set the world alight at the start of this one as he scored in his first three away games, matching a record previously held by Hammer Vic Watson. If the name is unfamiliar, that’s because he’s held this record since the 1930-31 season. Bowen went on to become the first ever West Ham player ever to net in the first four – and then five, and then six – away games in the season, the latter accolade being a first for the entire Premier League.

P is for P-P-Pick up a Paqueta? Having a Brazilian international playing for little old West Ham is not on anyone’s bingo card, and so it’s always been a question of how long we can keep him. Rumour has it that he’s prepped and ready to sign for City and, since the rumour, his effort on the pitch…well you wouldn’t bet your life on him turning up for a game. The odds aren’t great as City are reportedly still concerned about the inquiry into suspicious betting activities; ironic really, as they love a rule-breaker, City. If we want to keep him, a few trips to Paqueta Island to put some money on him staying might just tip the odds in our favour.

Q is for Quarter Final, as we played in our third consecutive European quarter final this year! This is a huge measure of progress for little old West Ham, and what an absolute tragedy it was for us to get drawn against the most unbeatable team in the world. We gave them a game to remember and almost beat them. It was a game – and a run – to be incredibly proud of.

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R is for Record Breaking, as we set a new Premier League record for West Ham. Congratulations to everyone involved for conceding the most West Ham goals in Premier League history, even beating Avram Grant’s previous record which he held for 13 years.

S is for Should have Signed for a Big Club! It didn’t take long for this to ring out across the London Stadium during Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat and Carabao cup exit at the hands of West Ham. Declan Rice looked dejected, and ‘you have to wonder how long Arsenal can keep Rice if they aren’t winning trophies’ did the rounds online. We went on to easily beat Arsenal again, this time 0-2 in the league in December, but by February it wasn’t so funny anymore, when Arsenal went 7-5 up on aggregate as we sat by in stunned silence. Still didn’t win any trophies though.

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T is for Top Ten as we just – and only just – managed to sneak a finish in the top ten, a huge result for a team that spent most of the season in sixth.

U is for Undisciplined, which is a quicker way of writing out Edson Omar Álvarez Velázquez. He’s an incredibly valuable player and is missed when he isn’t on the pitch, which is unfortunate as he does miss games, mostly through behaviour issues. He racked up an intimidating 11 yellow cards in the Premier League, a further four in the Europa League, and one apiece in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup – a real head scratcher when you consider he describes himself as ‘disciplined.’ He saw himself benched at the end of the season for reportedly daring to argue back against Moyes’ tactics against Chelsea. Tactics that saw us lose 5-0, of course, so perhaps ‘tactics’ is too strong a word.

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V is for Vital, Valuable, Victorious…no just kidding, it’s for VAR. West Ham had an incredible three goals ruled out in their March draw with Aston Villa, including one that became the Premier League’s longest ever VAR check, topping out at 5 minutes and 37 seconds. If you’re taking over five minutes to review footage, there is nothing clear nor obvious about it. We’ve had clear cut penalty appeals turned down against Burnley, Freiburg and Sheffield United. The latter side hauled Bowen to the ground in what Rio Ferdinand later described as a ‘stonewall penalty,’ and the player in question said the footage, that was broadcast live on TNT, had been edited to favour West Ham. He then posted an image of him fouling Bowen set to wrestling music on his social media. A penalty was given to Newcastle when their player stood in front of Phillips while he was clearing the ball. They all know what they are doing, and they are getting away with it.

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W is for Whining Wolves. It’s remarkable that in a season full of horrific VAR decisions, it’ll be a correct call that has galvanised Wolves to lead the charge to rid the league of this troublesome pest. Late in stoppage time, Wolves thought they had an equaliser to West Ham’s 2-1 lead – but a lengthy VAR review showed a Wolves player in an offside position blocking Lukaz Fabianski’s view of play and the ball. Former West Ham player and Wolves manager Gary O’Neill lost his damn mind about it, saying it was ‘possibly the worst decision I have ever seen’, while West Ham fans celebrated the first known correct use of VAR for the east London club. Out of this, the clubs vote this summer on whether or not to keep the controversial season.

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X is for X-Rated Gesture, which in this case is courtesy of one Kalvin Phillips. He was captured on film giving the middle finger to West Ham fans after the defeat to Newcastle – when we had been winning until he joined the game, gave away a penalty, and we went on to concede two more goals and lose the match. All in 15 minutes. After being yelled at by fans outside the ground, he flipped the bird at them. Listen, staying around for hours post-match just to tell Phillips he sucks is weirdo behaviour – but everyone knows, when you’re at work you’ve got to keep it professional, and flipping off fans when you’ve been struggling on the pitch helps no one.

Y is for Year of Achievement. 2023 wasn’t just the year we beat Spurs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal (twice), it was also the year we finally beat Brighton. That’s right, it took until the year 2023 for West Ham to beat Brighton in the Premier League. The Hammers finally coasted to an away win over the seagulls in August, with James Ward-Prowse, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio all grabbing goals as West Ham soared to the top of the table after this historic win.

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Z is for Zouuuu, but it could equally be ZZZs as our defence looked asleep for half the season. Jury’s out on how many more Zs we get out of him as it wasn’t his best year. He missed a lot of games through injury and couldn’t grab consistency on the pitch as West Ham conceded their record number of Premier League goals.

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