Champions League Football for Dimitri Payet?

Champions League Football for Dimitri Payet?
Mar 4, 2016

Featured News West Ham

Going from winning just twice in Sam Allardyce’s last 17 games in charge, who would have thought this time last year, West Ham would be sitting just one point away from a place in the Champions League.

Allardyce was replaced following the 2-0 defeat to Newcastle on the final day of last season, when the club announced in a statement just three minutes after the whistle had gone, that the search for a new manager had begun, wishing Sam well and thanking him for the four seasons, in which he guided us to the play-off final at the first attempt.

Allardyce was replaced following the 2-0 defeat to Newcastle on the final day of last season, when the club announced in a statement just three minutes after the whistle had gone, that the search for a new manager had begun, wishing Sam well and thanking him for the four seasons, in which he guided us to the play-off final at the first attempt.

In what seemed to be the longest wait ever, just under 3 weeks later, the club announced that fan favourite Slaven Bilic will take charge of West Ham on a three-year deal. After an eventful 9 months, Slaven Bilic has been impressive from the get-go, starting with the 2-0 away win at The Emirates, on the opening day of the 2015/16 Premier League season. Bringing in a number of signings upon arrival in the summer transfer window, Bilic also added a few more in the more recent January window, to ensure we had enough squad depth, that also had some quality to deal with dreaded injuries.

Bilic changed the style of play that the West Ham faithful were getting more and more tired of under our former boss and turned Upton Park into a fortress, approaching the final season to be played at this famous ground, before our 2016 summer move into the 60,000 capacity Olympic Stadium. Bringing in arguably the ‘signing of the season’ Dimitri Payet, along with other creative players Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, Bilic clearly had a vision on how to attack the Premier League head on.

Like most new managers, Bilic had a few slip-ups early on, when defeats to then relegation favourite Leicester City, and newly promoted Bournemouth put a dampener on the triumphant win previously at Arsenal. Bouncing back from those defeats, Bilic’s side have remained unbeaten at home since losing to Bournemouth back in August! Slaven also lead us to a 3-0 win in our first win at Anfield since 1963 the following week, closely followed by another impressive away victory, this time at The Etihad, where we came away with a 2-1 victory against an unbeaten Manchester City side at the time. Along with wins against Chelsea, and a scoreless draw against Manchester United, Slaven has proved he can match the big boys on their own soil.

Fast forwarding to present day, following a narrow 1-0 but a very well deserved victory over second placed Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham currently sit proudly in 6th position, with 46 points, just one point behind Manchester City and Manchester United who are level peggings, occupying 4th and 5th place respectively.

Following the Captial One Cup final, an extra Premier League team can gain European football should they finish in 7th place. As it currently stands West Ham are well on their way to hosting European football of some kind in the new stadium, sitting comfortably in the top 8, still with Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester United still to play, meaning West Ham have a major dealing in this season’s top 4, with themselves sitting just one point away from it too.

At the start of this season, it is fair to say Slaven’s main aim this season was to ensure West Ham would be playing in the Premier League come next season. With that well and truly on the cards months ago, with no real preasure for much more, West Ham have grinded out some very impressive displays, and have been in the top half of the table virtually all season long, and don’t look like falling down much anytime soon. Back in early January, before the F.A Cup meeting against Hull, Slaven mentioned in a press conference that he would rather win the F.A Cup than qualify for the Champions League.

“Win the Cup and I can hold it up, Get in the Champions League and I have to buy a magazine to show them the League table and shout, Look where we are!”

“There is proof if you have silverware. So I’d prefer to win the FA Cup… and finish fifth or sixth” he said smiling and laughing.

“It would be perfect, Do we have a good team? Yes. Will we approach it properly? Of course. Do we have a chance? Yes, we can win against any team.”

With the cup run still going strong, facing Manchester United in the next tie, and still hovering around the top 4, it seems that more is yet to come for West Ham this term. Of course playing in the Europa League next season is much more realistic for West Ham, but Champions League football is not off the cards just yet. 10 Premier League games remaining, 30 points to fight for, anything can happen! If Leicester City can go from just about surviving relegation to a stones throw away from winning the league, then it’s not too far-fetched to say the likes Barcelona or Bayern Munich could be playing in East London sooner than we all think.

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