West Ham United 2016 review: Record season for the Hammers overshadowed by new season slump

West Ham United 2016 review: Record season for the Hammers overshadowed by new season slump

The year of 2016 proved to be a rollercoaster ride for West Ham United.

Danial Kennedy

The year of 2016 has been a year of two halves for West Ham United, which started ever so brightly and continued to rise throughout the months. Ahead of what was expected to be one of the biggest seasons in the club’s history.

However, the end of the year saw the club take a massive nosedive both on and off the pitch, but the ship seems to be balancing as we come to the end of the year. Here is a look back at what has been a roller coaster year for West Ham United.

Start as you mean to go on

The end of 2015 had been very kind to the Hammers in the first few months of new manager Slaven Bilic’s reign and it didn’t stop there as the year turned anew.

The year was only two days old when they claimed another historic scalp, with a comfortable 2-0 win over Liverpool seeing them complete their first double over the Merseyside club in 52 years.

Their form continued at a reasonable pace throughout January, but with the window well and truly open the Hammers got themselves in on the action. It was one in and one out for the Hammers, with full-back Sam Byram coming in from Leeds while then popular striker Mauro Zarate went the opposite way to Fiorentina.

February also started with another victory over Liverpool, with Angelo Ogbonna’s first goal for the London club sending them into the fifth round of the FA Cup. Their form once again yo-yoed throughout the month, however ended the month on a high with passage into the FA Cup sixth round and a win over former manager Sam Allardyce.

The month of March was another solid performance from Bilic’s side with two wins and two draws in all competitions, with the highlight been the 1-0 win over bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the final London derby at Upton Park.

Ending it on a high

Easter started slow for Bilic’s side, with three draws and a FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United which looked to topple their attempts for European football. However, they ended the month strongly with consecutive 3-1 and 3-0 victories over Watford and West Brom respectively.

The final month of the season was once again a mixed bag, with a historic 3-2 victory over Manchester United in the final league game at the Boleyn Ground been the obvious highlight. However, that was sandwiched between defeats to Swansea City and a final day loss to Stoke City.

The defeat to Mark Hughes’ side left their European ambitions hanging in the balance, however Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace ensured their passage into the Europa League the following season.

That rounded off what was an excellent campaign for the Hammers, recording one of their best finishes in their Premier League history with their seventh placed finish. Talisman Dimitri Payet proved to be the star man, with his first season in Claret and Blue gaining him almost instantaneous cult status.

The Frenchman managed 15 goals in all competitions along with 16 assists, was awarded a place in the PFA Team of the Year and swept the club’s end of season awards with five trophies.

Summer of transition

As soon as the previous season had ended, preparations for the next season were well underway for what was expected to be one of the biggest season’s in the club history with the move to the London Stadium.

Bilic stated his intention with his early transfer business at the beginning of July, with the signings of Sofiane Feghouli, Manuel Lanzini, Toni Martinez, Havard Nordtveit and Domingos Quina all coming in. However, there was one big departure with academy graduate and loyal club servant James Tomkins, moving across London to Crystal Palace.

More signings in Ashley Fletcher and Gokhan Tore arrived in the side before the Hammers embarked on their pre-season tour of America and Europe, but judging by results it didn’t go according to plan.

The only win of their two tours came in the final warm-up game ahead of their crucial Europa League play-off with NK Domžale, with a comfortable 3-0 victory over German side Karlsruher SC. Along came their first competitive game of the season, and the Hammers look unprepared with a 2-1 defeat in Serbia. That was quickly rectified with a comfortable 3-0 win in the opening game at the London Stadium.

Their new arena was officially opened on August 7 with a 3-2 defeat to Juventus, and their transfer activity went one step further as they broke their club record with the £20.5million acquisition of Swansea City’s Andre Ayew.

Mid-August saw the return of the Premier League, but it couldn’t have got off to a worse start for the Hammers, with record signing Ayew picking up a serious injury and been defeated late on by Chelsea.

The month August only brought one highlight with an opening home victory over Bournemouth, which was only an anomaly it what was a miserable month with a league defeat to Manchester City and crashing out of the Europa League with defeat to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.

Their transfer business was far from over after the signing of Ayew with; Arthur Masuaku, Edmilison Fernandes, Jonathan Calleri, Simone Zaza and deadline day signing Alvaro Arbeloa all signing on the dotted line.

September proved to be their biggest disappointment of the year, with heavy defeats at the hands of Watford, West Brom and Southampton conceding 11 goals in those three clashes. It was almost looked to be a whitewash when they looked to be pushed the distance by Accrington Stanley in the EFL Cup, but star man Payet managed to secure their passage.

Winter of discontent

They looked to be on the rise again as the month of October began going four matches unbeaten, which included crucial league victories over Crystal Palace and Sunderland and a famous 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the EFL Cup.

However, as October entered November, their form slumped once again throughout the month and going into the festive period.

Bilic’s side had a tough run-in and it showed as they went seven matches without a win, with the lowest point been the 5-1 defeat to Arsenal and the 4-1 exit from the EFL Cup to Manchester United. There were positives to take with draws at Old Trafford and Anfield, and the 2-2 draw with Jurgen Klopp’s side proved to catalyst as they looked to reignite their campaign.

The Hammers started their busy festive period well with 1-0 victories over Burnley and Hull City, which was topped off with their best performance of the campaign with their 4-1 victory over Swansea City on Boxing Day.

It was a good start to the year for West Ham United with one of their best seasons in recent memory, which was followed by a swift slump of form but it does seem that the Hammers are back on the right track going into the New Year.