Are West Ham United in for another difficult season?

Fans of West Ham United had high expectations heading into last season. The Hammers had finished in the European qualification spots for the last two years in a row — coming a respectable sixth in 2020-21 and seventh in 2021-22 — and went on a fantastic run to the semi-finals of the Europa League, which ultimately ended in defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

More of the same was expected of David Moyes’ men, but they flattered to deceive for the best part of the 2022-23 season and found themselves amongst the favourites in the Premier League relegation betting market as they struggled to discover any kind of decent form against their opposition week in, week out.

Are West Ham United in for another difficult season?
Are West Ham United in for another difficult season?

Many were under the impression that Moyes’ time at the London Stadium had run its course when West Ham were beaten 2-0 by fellow strugglers Leicester City at home in the final game before the World Cup hiatus, as that loss left the Hammers in 16th and just one place above the dreaded relegation zone.

However, the board stuck by their manager, and the Scot repaid them by winning the Europa Conference League. That dramatic victory over Fiorentina, with Jarrod Bowen netting the winner in the 89th minute at the Fortuna Arena in Prague, was West Ham’s first major trophy in over 40 years and arguably the saving grace for Moyes’ job.

There’s a case to be had on whether that Conference League success merely papered over the cracks in East London. West Ham still finished just six points above 18th-placed Leicester in 14th and they have suffered a massive blow this summer as club captain Declan Rice has finally departed for pastures new at Arsenal after years of speculation linking with him a move away from the London Stadium.

Despite selling Rice in mid-July, leaving them with plenty of time to find suitable replacements before the start of the new season, West Ham only started putting the £105 million they received from the Gunners for the England international to good use days before the start of the 2023-24 campaign.

While Edson Alvarez and James Ward-Prowse look like solid signings for West Ham on paper, it is less than ideal that they were brought in so late and haven’t had something of a pre-season to bed into Moyes’ philosophy and build a rapport with their new teammates before the start of the new season.

One of the concerns of last season was that their lengthy run in the Europa League the year before and juggling the Conference League on top of a more hectic than usual schedule due to the unprecedented timing of the World Cup was too much for West Ham to deal with last season, so they need to manage that better now they are back in Europe’s second-tier cup competition.

The Hammers might get off to a slow start considering that their squad wasn’t complete for the start of the season, the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth was a sign of that. The fact they face Chelsea, Brighton, Man City and Liverpool in their first six games of the campaign won’t help. But in the long run, West Ham should be able to put a good distance between themselves and relegation. Somewhere around midtable is where we’d put them if we had to guess.