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Coffee 5:53 Fri Dec 28
West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
It’s twelve months ago and January at last restored steel to a disturbingly corroded Irons’ defence. Not that this steel was stainless, not by any means, but David Moyes had instilled enough discipline to bring us through the month undefeated.

Victory over West Brom and a heart-warming 4-1 demolition of Huddersfield sandwiched draws at Spurs, who needed a late equaliser to snatch a point, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Going into February, we sat in 11th spot, the season-high. Feelings of doom and desperation, both well-known to this forum, lifted as the days lengthened.

The January transfer window saw a relieved Diafro Sakho finally leave the club. Despite a promising start to life in claret and blue, he had long been unhappy at West Ham, the more so when he found his ire reciprocated. He tried various ingenious ways to hasten his departure. These included multiple transfer requests, early morning insertion of his Lamborghini into the wall of a property in Hornchuch, allegations of racism against the club, allegedly refusing to play, and being arrested on suspicion of behaving badly towards his girlfriend – for which, it must be noted, he was never charged. One WHO whit suggested that when asked where he preferred to play, Sakho said ‘In France’. He scored 24 goals for us in 71 appearances, departed for Rennes and now plays on loan in Turkey. Career progression.

We also bade farewell to Jose Fonte, who had been unable to reproduce his Southampton form in the claret and blue. He left for China, where he lasted five months, and now plays in France. And to our then record signing, Andre Ayew, who returned to Swansea, who returned to the Championship.

With speculative optimism, we signed Jordan Hugill from Preston on deadline day for a reported £9 million. He went on to play 22 minutes of league football, but remains a West Ham player and is currently on loan at Middlesboro. We also welcomed – begrudgingly in some quarters – the experience of 36 year-old Patrice Evra, who played five times for the club, while Portuguese international Joao Mario arrived on loan until the end of the season.

February brought another downturn in fortunes, starting with a 1-3 defeat at Brighton. A 2-0 home win over Watford offered a brief, if deceptive, respite before we launched into arguably the most defining part of the season – three miserable defeats on the trot – successive 1-4s at Liverpool and Swansea, then 0-3 at home to Burnley. Not to mention plans for demonstrations that called for commitments to ambition to be honoured. For was that not the very reason the ancestral manor had been sold? All this amid the bitingly cold beast from the east that could, with ease, have frozen the balls off the hardiest ornamental primate. Things were grim.

The Burnley game was marked by what some in the media called a pitch invasion, although few offensive forces anywhere on Earth would describe a handful of podgy blokes jogging onto the field as an invasion. An incursion is probably more accurate – but what an effective incursion it was. Led by a gentleman who dramatically transplanted a corner flag to the centre spot, then faced the directors’ box with revolutionary defiance, hundreds (perhaps thousands) more congregated in the stand before Messrs Sullivan and Gold in a great wave of J’accuse! J’accuse! Vous etes deux stupide vieux cunts! Alarmed by an apparent return of the French Revolution, Mr Sullivan moved to the back row, reportedly on the advice of security. Sir Trevor remained in his seat in the front row.

The message was clear, its impact stunning. As Hermit Road put it after Manuel Pellegrini was unveiled as manager in May: “Definitely made a difference. Fair play to those that took direct action. The board and media had to take notice and from there the narrative changed.”

Robson, meanwhile, suggested that “we may well look back on the Burnley game as a pivotal moment in our history.”

Pivotal indeed, but we are ahead of ourselves.

The Burnley debacle saw us drop to sixteenth in the table and return to dance the season out in the inviting arms of our old partner, the Ghost of Relegations Past. A three-week break gave an opportunity for introspection before we hosted Southampton and sent them scuttling back to the south coast on the back of a 3-0 annihilation. Two draws followed – notably at Chelsea, but also at home to Stoke – coming from a goal down in both. Another brace of 1-4 defeats, Arsenal and Man City this time, then kept us bobbling nervously just above the drop zone. But a final flourish, with wins against Leicester and Everton plus a creditable goalless draw against Man Utd, saw us finish the season safely – and flatteringly – in 13th.

We made hard work of the FA Cup, drawing at Shrewsbury in the third round and scraping through by the only goal after extra time in the replay. Wigan, our next and final opponents for the campaign, were less forgiving in a game that saw Arthur dismissed for spitting.

Three days after beating Everton, the club announced the departure of David Moyes. Some had hoped he would become our Alex Ferguson, while others considered him a “dour fucker” (simon.s) – unlike Sir Alex, of course – which disqualified him for the West Ham manager’s job. The bottom line is that we were in the relegation zone when he arrived with a brief to secure survival. He did that with a couple of games to spare. He was certainly no worse a choice in the context of predecessors that include Sam Allardyce, Avram Grant, Gianfranco Zola and Alan Curbishley – a list containing at least one genuinely dour fucker.

Speculation about the identity of the new gaffer moved quickly into frenzied overdrive, which commands attention and is always fun. An early frontrunner was Paolo Fonseca, who was photographed leaving the Sullivan residence late one evening. But The Sun, which had printed an article back in March – two weeks after Burnley – predicting Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment, was proved right.

West Ham United made the most ambitious managerial appointment in its history.

In Pellegrini they secured the services of a Premier League winner and one of the most highly regarded coaches in the business. Was this a direct response to Burnley, or had it been on the cards before then? Either way, the owners deserve recognition for taking the first step, in personnel terms, to the much mentioned next level.

Pellegrini brought a gaggle of trusted comrades from the Spanish world – two assistant coaches, the goalkeeping coach and two fitness coaches – to complement an already significant contingent of Español-speaking playing staff. Even the official site acquired a Spanish version, complete with inverted exclamation marks.

The club then embarked on an unprecedented, star-studded transfer spree that twice smashed its own transfer record. Notable arrivals were Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop, Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko, Fabian Balbuena, Lucas Perez and Carlos Sanchez. Robert Snodgrass returned from his loan at Aston Villa, to a collective groan. Notable departures included James Collins, Reece Burke, Cheikhou Kouyate and Domingos Quina. Net spending about £90 million.

On the down side, we would be without influential playmaker Manuel Lanzini for the whole season. He had been injured while preparing for the World Cup with Argentina.

Expectations soared as the new season approached. But for the second consecutive season, we were pointless after three games – this time, we managed to lose the first four games. Away defeats at Liverpool and Arsenal may have been expected, but home capitulations to Bournemouth and Wolves were not. We were firmly rooted to the foot of the table. A(nother) false dawn? £90 million down the drain? ¡Pellegrini out! “I can't see Pelligrini staying here too long,” predicted dicksie3 after the Wolves defeat. “The Chilean is hopelessly out of his depth – dead man walking,” said camel-with-3-humps as he reached for the Prozac.

Happily, we were about to turn a corner at the unlikeliest of places. On a sunny afternoon at Goodison Park, so often a knacker’s yard for West Ham teams, we thoroughly outplayed Everton. Andriy Yarmolenko’s first two goals for the club gave us a 2-0 lead, dampened only by an Everton strike just before the half-time whistle. In years past, chances are we’d have surrendered advantage. But not today. Today we were treated to a first taste of what our new management team and costly players were capable of producing: intrepid defending, skilful passing and the creation and execution of opportunities. A 61st minute strike from Marko Arnautovic sealed the points and in one fell swoop we rocketed out of the bottom three.

Until then, Felipe Anderson had given WHOers some cause for concern, exemplified by 1964’s view that he was: “worse than average and certainly not worth the record fee.” But a man-of-the-match performance led camel-with-3-humps to opine that he was “a cross between Trevor Brooking and Alan Devonshire.” Thus also demonstrating Prozac’s efficacy.

Three home games followed – in the league, a goalless draw against Chelsea and a 3-1 demolition of Man Utd – lifting us to 13th while many had expected us to remain rooted to the foot of the table with null points. In a midweek EFL Cup game, we recorded our biggest win for decades. Macclesfield Town were the unfortunate victims, leaving London having been thrashed by EIGHT goals to nil. That game marked the introduction of promising Academy graduate, Grady Diangana, who scored twice. He played again, briefly, against Man Utd, coming on as a late substitute for Felipe Anderson. Our EFL Cup run ended at home to Spurs.

Another Academy graduate, Declan Rice, continued last season’s form and showed that he was fast becoming a genuinely top class footballer. Reliable, intelligent, skilful and with an instinctive reading of the game, he soon became an automatic pick on the team sheet. And a model for Grady Diangana and others.

Also showing his class was Robert Snodgrass. He confounded his erstwhile critics with displays of passion, commitment and genuine contribution. By the end of the year, groans had turned into unmitigated praise. “He’s becoming a mini cult hero,” said either Rio or Anton or Les. “My current player of the year,” added Far Cough, allowing plenty of time for a change of mind. And a high-profile big-mouth perhaps ate his words in well-advised silence; there are times when WontTell is an infinitely preferable option.

A draw at Leicester halted a dip of defeats to Brighton and, yet again, Spurs. A thumping 4-2 victory over Burnley put the shadow of seven months to rest, but could not prevent the customary donation of four goals and three points to Man City. That was to be the only defeat for more than two months during which we scored 17 goals and took 17 points from a possible 24. It propelled us rapidly into the top 10. Our target was the top six, said Manuel Pellegrini.

Four consecutive wins in December ended with misplaced seasonal generosity to visiting Watford. It was a game that on another day could easily have gone our way, but Northern Sold spoke for many when he said: “give me games like this than the majority of shit under BFS.” Chip Shop Charlie echoed the sentiment: “If I had to choose between watching this game today or a bore draw under the Walrus I'd choose today every time... commitment, work rate and desire to win. I hate to see us lose but love watching us play the West Ham way.”

In the final action of 2018, we visited a Southampton side resurgent under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. With enough injured players to make a decent mid-table-plus side, Pellegrini was still able to field a team that confidently outplayed the Saints and returned to London with another three away points.

We ended the year in ninth position, just five points behind Man Utd in sixth. And – because we’re accustomed to looking in this direction – 15 points above the relegation zone.

Roll back twelve months. If you’d been offered the kind of year we’ve had, would you have taken it? Damned right you would! Record transfer spending, the best squad we’ve had in living memory, some fantastic football, a manager from the global elite, and cautious optimism ready to explode into unbridled expectation of overdue, sustained success.

What will 2019 bring? ‘I’m dreaming dreams, I’m scheming schemes, I’m building castles high,’ croons a little-known verse of Bubbles. Here’s to more such crooning in the months ahead. Much more. Happy new year.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

icwhs 3:24 Tue Jan 1
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Nice piece coffee, well written.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading that..drinking my coffee.

Mex Martillo 2:39 Tue Jan 1
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Let’s hope we can as effortlessly slip back to winning ways...

Coffee 7:42 Mon Dec 31
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Occam's razor, right?

Ronald_antly 7:38 Mon Dec 31
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
It came straight out of the finest traditions of West Ham United.

In fact, it was so obvious that would be the outcome, that even Lawro predicted it.

Coffee 6:53 Mon Dec 31
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Thanks, Mex. You're right, yesterday was an utter shower. Where did it come from?

Mex Martillo 5:56 Sun Dec 30
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Sorry Coffee, I take it back you did very well to forget the Burnley game. Top review

Mex Martillo 9:05 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Great read Coffee, really enjoyable on a slow Saturday
We do have another game this year, Burnley tomorrow and I predict a splendid win taking us to 30 points and up to 7th in the table to finish the year very smartly.

I will stupidly also offer a few lines you missed.

Pellegrini overhalled the defense bringing in Diop and Balbuena and after a very shaky start with an apparently impossble high defensive line that drew much criticism. LAF backed up by Sir Alf and quotes from match of the day said “Such a naive tactic to play a high line with an untried, untested defence and a newbie”. However, Pellegrini persisted and pulled it of splendidly to show he did know what he was doing as some had pointed out. chelmsfordhammer wrote “I am concerned and I'm not impressed with what I've seen so far but the bloke at least needs a chance to see if he can turn this shower of shit into something resembling a football team.“

Hermit Road 6:49 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Willtell 11:46 Sat Dec 29

Ha. That went over my head. I thought he’d given us all a pass.

Coffee 6:29 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
BillyJ, I forgot about that and had hoped nobody would notice! Apologies.

BillyJenningsBoots 6:01 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Superb summary... However Southampton not quite the final action of 2018... Are we not playing Burnley tomorrow?

Lily Hammer 2:49 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Sterling work, Coffee; gourmet quality.

4ever-blowin-bubbles 2:31 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
cheers coffee thanks for that it was a great read

Pub Bigot 12:44 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Great read that, Coffee.

Now, let's get some more of that from you please and the powers at WHO should front-page your articles.

the exile 12:31 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Good work Coffee. You should do these end of year reviews more often...

Iron2010 12:25 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Very well written

Willtell 11:46 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Well written Coffee. I'm surprised you could write more than a line or two. Not surprised about you digging me out for not commenting on Snodgrass! What's that about you mealy-mouthed fanny!

Coffee 8:16 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
What do you think was a better squad?

Look at the injury list. There's a highly competent first team right there, one that we'd have been very happy with not so long ago. We have both quality and strength in depth. When was the last time you could say that?

Chigwell 7:14 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
I just tried walking through a wall to make sure I am still alive. This is not the best squad we have had "in living memory".

epsom 6:39 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
Thanks Coffee, really good read.

Looking forward already to the end of season review.

jakehammer 3:16 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
thanks coffers old son. a cracking read which you must have put in a ton of work to produce.
along with alan our superb resident who news supplier, you are our co presenter of worthwhile penmanship.
well done chap.

"applause for coffers"

Pee Wee 2:30 Sat Dec 29
Re: West Ham Utd Review of 2018 (warning - long read)
A sad indictment on this site and society in general that you have to warn it's a long read.

For the record, I agreed with parts and disagreed with parts.

Also, I didn't read it. It looked far too long

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