Premier League 2020/21 Team-By-Team: West Ham look set for relegation

West Ham manager David Moyes
Moyes is likely to struggle this season.

In his latest Premier League team guide Alex Keble predicts that West Ham are already nearing mutiny, and with no new signings on the horizon could be relegated this season...

"2020/21 could be the season in which the owners’ mismanagement finally leads to relegation."

The worst run club in the Premier League has suffered its first mini-implosion of the season before a ball has even been kicked. David Gold, David Sullivan, and Karren Brady run West Ham United with an astonishing misunderstanding of what supporters want and with seemingly no long-term vision whatsoever.

Grady Diangana was one of the brightest players in the Championship last season and yet he has been allowed to join West Brom on a permanent basis, stripping West Ham of one of their most valuable assets and strengthening a direct rival. Club captain Mark Noble, the model of professionalism, took to social media to publically declare he is 'gutted, angry, and sad'.

And that pretty much sums up the mood inside West Ham for the last four years. 2020/21 could be the season in which the owners' mismanagement finally leads to relegation.

State of play

For mid-table clubs of West Ham's size, trapped for the time being in limbo, the most valuable commodity for supporters is hope: the hope that comes from playing progressive football and from feeling the club is building towards something.

Under these owners, and under David Moyes, that is not the case. For that reason alone, it is hard to predict anything other than a relegation battle; it seems the inevitable fate for any club that backs a defensive head coach who only real deals in scraping together 40 points.

West Ham finished last season five points clear of 18th thanks to a run of just one defeat in their final seven games, with a 3-1 victory over Watford ending the anxiety on match day 35. Given the lack of new signings, the already sour atmosphere, and higher level of competition this year, a repeat of that nervy end of season is the best Hammers fans can hope for.

Strengths & Weaknesses

In theory at least, Moyes's tendency to sit back with conservative off-the-ball tactics before breaking down the wings with long balls forward suits the players at his disposal, even if it drastically fails to adhere to the 'West Ham way' of attacking football. Michail Antonio has found some form under Moyes as a direct consequence of enjoying running the channels in a counter-attacking team, while the likes of Declan Rice and Issa Diop have the stature to perform well.

But aside from those final few games, in which a 3-2 victory over Chelsea was the only notably impressive results, West Ham are incredibly porous for a Moyes team. Among clubs who survived the drop, only Aston Villa conceded more goals than their 62, the consequence of defensive howlers and shocking organisation from set-pieces.

Moyes 1280 Bubbles.JPG

There is some hope in Jarred Bowen, who looks like an excellent forward with the energy and intelligence to lift those around him, and Andriy Yarmolenko played a key role after recovering from injury. However, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, and Pablo Fornals have all regressed significantly, plus West Ham's central midfield isn't good enough.

Transfer business

So far, West Ham have failed to sign a single player, and it doesn't look like anything significant is on the horizon. They appear to be hit by the financial implications of Covid-19 more than most, given they were willing to sell Diangana on the cheap. Fortunately, he is probably the only major player leaving the London Stadium this summer, as Chelsea cannot afford to spend £60 million on Rice.

In a preview last week we predicted Newcastle United would get relegated this season, but after their triple swoop for Jamal Lewis, Callum Wilson, and Ryan Fraser, the situation has changed. West Ham are only being linked with James Tarkowski, and yet their opening bid of £27 million reportedly needs to be doubled. Their transfer window is looking disastrous. Back West Ham to go down at 7/2.

What supporters expect

The West Ham fans deserve to see some sense of progress. Clearly their minimum expectation is to avoid the embarrassment of another fight for survival, and many won't be happy unless the Hammers are pushing towards the top ten. Sadly, it's hard to imagine that happening under the current owners or with the current manager.

A good cup run could certainly heal some of the wounds. Mutiny never feels too far away these days, so a Carabao Cup or FA Cup semi-final might be the tonic to lighten the mood at the London Stadium.

Look out for...

Crucial opening day: West Ham ease into the new season with a home game against Newcastle - and they had better win. After that, Moyes's side face Arsenal (a), Wolves (h), Leicester (a), Tottenham (h), Man City (h), and Liverpool (a) as their next six. Even with a win on the opening day, the manager's job will be under threat by the end of October. Moyes to be the first manager to leave his post, at 7/2, looks a good bet.

FA Cup performance: The three-time winners of the FA Cup have only got through the fourth round of the competition twice in the last decade, doing very little of note since cruelly losing the 2006 final on penalties to Liverpool. Last year, they were knocked out by Championship West Brom on home turf. Fans demand a better showing.

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