As the final whistle blew at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, West Ham players and supporters alike were looking a little glum. All of the opening day cheer of beating Aston Villa had gone and it was back to reality for the Hammers.
The result really does bring West Ham back down to earth after the success they have enjoyed in recent times, although it is far too early to panic. Swansea are a strong side at home and not many teams will go there this season and leave with points. More importantly is that after only two games, it would be foolish to make any assumptions as to what is going to happen over the course of the season.
After the Villa game last weekend – a team that already look to be struggling – West Ham would have been buoyed by not only the performance but by taking all three points against a team that is likely to be around them come May. Swansea, on the other hand, are not going to be involved in that scrap, mainly thanks to their imperious home form. West Ham will however need to focus on being harder to break down on the road as each and every point gained is invaluable, especially working to cut out silly mistakes that cost goals and ultimately matches.
Allardyce will have his work cut out this year to keep his players mentally strong. A large portion of his side has felt the pain of relegation before and will not want to experience those feelings again anytime soon. The manager’s main objective will surely be to get his men channelling their emotions on the pitch in positive ways and not to let the pressure of the fans’ expectations loom over the players should performances start to dip. The current squad are more than capable of success and the acquisition of Matt Jarvis from Wolves shows the ambition of the club.
Not only does the signing of Jarvis indicate the direction that the club wants to move in – breaking their transfer record in the process – but it also shows that Allardyce wants to bring a little more craft into West Ham’s style of play. Last season there were times where the fans were not fully behind the manager’s philosophy. The fans, however, will be happy with the intent shown in the club’s business during the transfer window.
In the opening two games, then, we have seen what to expect from the Hammers this season – very good one week and poor the next. As long as the home form holds strong and points are gained in front of the dedicated support, there should be enough come the end of the season to stay in the top flight.
But there will be tough moments for all involved at West Ham this season. Eyes will be covered and fingernails will be bitten, but panic cannot be allowed to consume players or supporters.
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