With so much optimism around they club you would think we were about to go win the Champions League. While its been an exciting summer, starting with the new manager and then over ten signings, should we expect a massive year in which we challenge for Europe? Or should we, to take a phrase from American sports, Trust the Process?
Realistically I think success under the Pellegrini era is going to be less than what many people hope. I think his appointment is the foundation that we can build success on. We’ve revamped the squad with a lot of youth and talent which is refreshing. For me a realistic expectation of Pellegrini is to win a cup. I think he’s here for 3 years max before a bigger club snatches him away. This year will be promising but middle of the road, next year we can battle for a cup and maybe Europa League play, year three is when we win a cup and for sure make Europa League. Granted Pellegrini has already delivered the prestigious Betway Cup, but I want something bigger a League Cup or an FA Cup. Anything else is icing on the cake.
With the way this squad has been looking in preseason, I think a realistic expectation for the upcoming era is, at the very least, a more exciting play style from West Ham. At the most, this club could be in the running for a Top Four finish in the coming years. For the upcoming season in particular, anything below a seventh place finish is a wash. The whole point of Pellegrini as manager is to finally usher in the winning era that the board has been talking about since 2014/15. Big Manu has reinforced the defense, which was one of the worst in the PL last season, and he’s brought on a lot of incredibly solid (even incredibly good) attacking players as well. Now we’re just waiting to see how the squad fits together when the actual season comes, and my bold (but still realistic) expectation is that things are looking good for at least a seventh place finish.
I’m not saying that this team is automatically playing in the Champions League just because of one good offseason, but I _am_ saying that the potential is there. This season? Likely not. When Little Manu is back next season? Likely not then either. But who knows. It could happen. Realistically, I think West Ham will see some European football in the near future — hopefully next season — and I think we could see a pretty deep cup run this coming season too.
There is a lot of optimism surrounding the club, which is great given the mood over the last few seasons. However, with this optimism there also has to be a level of expectation as well. Pellegrini comes in on a massive contract and, having signed over ten players over the summer adding much-needed depth and talent to a side, it’s easy to get ahead of ourselves and think that a European adventure next season is all but guaranteed, but let’s check that a bit for now.
Yes, challenging for a Europa League spot should be an expectation as we move forward, but let’s take a deep breath and realize that (a) there are many new players in the side, (b) there is a new system and (c) we have a long way to go. I would not be surprised if we come stumbling out of the gate this year only to finish exceptionally strong to finish in the top 10, so there is my first realistic expectation: there will be growing pains.
The second expectation is to look at the money in England right now and understand that, even though we have spent massive amounts of cash this summer, we still cannot compete with the big boys. Pellegrini had a massive budget at Manchester City and was able to produce a League winner, but he won’t have the same luxury at West Ham; remember, we are still a mid-table side. With all that said, there is no reason we should not be pushing for a top six spot in the future, next season and from then on, which is a perfect transition into my last expectation.
My last reasonable expectation is that this is the start of something big in East London. Pellegrini and the transfer window is absolutely a statement of intent, but we need to remain balanced, developing talent and being shrewd in the transfer market. It all starts with Pellegrini, who will hopefully build the team into a self-sustaining squad who will push the top six for many, many years. I, for one, am sick of relegation battles and hope the new era in the London Stadium will bring competitive football that is always safe by Christmas (and, sometime soon, not even have to THINK about relegation).