This is the first of a multiple part-series asking the key questions that will define West Ham United’s upcoming 2018-19 season, ahead of their season opener on Sunday, August 12 against Liverpool
It has truly been an incredible summer of change at West Ham United, where no other non-elite European club across the continent has been more ambitious than the Hammers.
In a transfer window where owners David Gold and David Sullivan obtained one of the sport’s most accomplished and respected managers in the last twenty years, added a director of football position that the club really needed to have and followed those two moves with an unprecedented spending period making fans think, “Are they John Henry?”, West Ham approach this upcoming 2018-19 season with massive optimism the club hasn’t seen maybe ever in its Premier League history.
This tremendous swell of positivity leads to the obvious first question of a truly massive campaign: What will the Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos era bring to this passionate football community?
The owning DaviDs have done their part brilliantly, giving the fans what they have long requested of them, and they have arguably done that in the player transfer market for two straight summers. This summer’s incredible spending shouldn’t obscure the previous one’s record shopping spree, with the big money or big name arrivals of Marko Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez, Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart. But both Sullivan and Gold have consolidated that with even larger player spending, a star winning coach with the style of play the club is about, and a football director the club required to move into the modern club football times.
Now it is all on Pellegrini, Husillos and these new dynamic talents to bring West Ham back to the elite of English football and vanquish all the pessimistic sentiments that no matter what good the club does, terrible moments will still befall them.
The Pellegrini and Husillos era has the potential to match West Ham’s current status to the reputation of its storied history on a consistent basis, something that seemed could have happened with Slaven Bilic’s first season being so tremendous. As we all saw, that unfortunately turned out not to be the case. But Bilic didn’t have multiple league titles, a Premier League title, and Champions League success on his resume like Pellegrini has. Bilic also never had the pressure of managing at a superclub like Pellegrini did with Manchester City, having the expectations of winning the title and being a Champions League contender be a constant at Sheik Mansour’s outlet.
Still, Pellegrini’s past excellence, not only with City, but also at Villarreal, Malaga, River Plate, San Lozerno and LDU Quito, make the pressure on him to get West Ham back to the Top 6 in the Premier League be a reasonable goal. The extraordinary spending in the summer, and getting all the players he wanted, makes any defender of the Chilean devoid of excuses for him if it’s not a successful season. Of course it would be ridiculous to make an opening match worth the entire beginning of the 2018-19 schedule. But even facing the other big spenders in the summer in Liverpool, who can certainly contend for all four tournaments they are in, doesn’t make a bad performance acceptable or understandable for Pellegrini.
With his smart offensive style mixed with just enough pragmatism, Pellegrini will have West Ham tactically prepared for every match this season. It is up to him, however, for the team to produce those results for the amount of talent that is in this club currently.
Only time will tell if this amazing revamping in philosophy, ambition and approach for West Ham will result in massive success. But what it has already garnered is a level of excitement surpassing even the massive fervor headed into Old Trafford 12 months ago. May this season’s journey be different on opening day away, and afterwards, compared to what took place last August to this past May.