Eye on the Opposition - West Ham (15.10.2016)

Written by Jack Pierce

Jack Pierce takes a look at West Ham, whose fans are having their own transition season following their move from Upton Park.


You’ve been a season ticket holder in The Holmesdale for 15+ years and stood next to people who have become firm friends during the good and bad times. It’s part of who you are.

The club decides to up sticks and move to a site next to a Crawley retail park and instead of the trusty pub you’ve used for many a pre and post-match session, you’re now drinking in a Slug & Lettuce or Frankie and Benny’s because they’re your only options.

You get to your new seat, which the club assured would be next to your friends, but instead you’re now stood next to a bloke more interested in his selfie stick than what’s going on in front of him, while your mates are dotted around different blocks.

Palace fans supporting the same eleven blokes in the same shirt are having a dust up in front of you and the stewards, a number of whom have been employed without the adequate training, look on without a clue of what to do.

Even worse is that the team seem almost as against the move as the fans given the dreadful performances they’ve turned out since the change in habitat.

All in all, it’s crap. The much hyped move from the home of almost a century is proving a disaster and you’re yearning for a return to Selhurst Park.

Well, that’s a potential nightmare of the future for us to face, although hopefully the rumoured redevelopment of Selhurst will mean we’ll be staying put, but it’s the nightmare many a West Ham fan is facing now. Right now, the move from Upton Park to The Olympic (or ‘London’) Stadium isn’t the dream relocation that the pair of perverts and Lord Sugar’s mate told them it would be.

As stated before, it’s not as if the on-pitch performances are spreading any joy on the seemingly desperate atmosphere around the club. High hopes were had for this season after last season’s impressive campaign, in what was Slaven Bilic’s first in the Premier League, but current form would suggest that this campaign won’t be anywhere near as enjoyable as last time around. One win up to now isn’t great and in terms of endearing the club’s fans to their new surroundings, I’m sure that the powers that be at the club would have hoped for a slightly more positive start to the season.

Summer arrivals weren’t of the highest quality and highlights included the enigmatic Simone Zaza, fresh from his embarrassing, stuttering cameo at The Euros and Andre Ayew, who picked up a significant injury before kicking a ball in anger for the club. It’s not been ideal for Bilic who had hoped the fresh blood would invigorate a squad he got a lot out of last season.

Star man, Dimitri Payet stayed at West Ham despite apparent interest from clubs around Europe and if West Ham are to turn a corner and start an ascent to higher parts of the league table, the Frenchman will be vital. His goal against Middlesbrough last time outlined the quality he has and if the current malaise in and around the place hangs about, it will be moments of individual brilliance of Payet that Bilic’s side might have to rely on. It’s taken time for him to get back to full fitness after playing an important role for his country at The Euros but two months into the season, The Hammers’ faithful will be expecting their no. 27 be back to full speed by now in order to influence games like he was last season on a weekly basis.

This Saturday last season saw West Ham visit Selhurst too and walk off with three points having played the second half against ten men following Dwight Gayle’s red card just before the break (The ref that day? Mark Cl*******rg). At the time, both sides were doing well and losing to them didn’t come as much as a surprise. Fast forward a year and with us on a five match unbeaten run in the league while Saturday’s opposition are looking rather ragged, anything other than a Palace win could be seen as a disappointment.

Hopefully we’re more Palace vs Stoke than Palace vs WBA come 5.30pm on Saturday for our second televised game in a row.

Jack is our regular Eye on the Opposition contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.