From the Newsroom - Jon West

Football writer Jon West gives us his assessment of the Hammers this season.
Football writer for the national newspapers Jon West gives us his assessment of the Hammers this season…

Given it is his first season in English football, I think Slaven Bilic has done a very, very good job. His first task was to ensure a smooth transition from Sam Allardyce’s West Ham and he did that straight away.

Media wise, Slaven is very, very good. Despite his pitchside manner, he’s quietly spoken and it is sometimes hard to hear him at the back of the press room!

The image he portrays is one of calm, if things go wrong, he won’t panic. It’s hard to see him get overly upset about anything. 

With 14 league games to go, Europa League qualification is definitely a realistic target, hopefully they’ll treat it more seriously this time. The season started too early really, the squad weren’t really ready, if they can get there on their own merit, I think they’ll give it a good go, that’s the level they’re on at the moment.

The highlight of the Hammers’ season, of course, has been the exploits of Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman has really given them that added dimension and I think the fans have been longing for a player like him for years.

He’s a France international, so perhaps people shouldn’t be too surprised about his quality but saying that I think, relatively, he came in under the radar. He’s certainly hit the ground running in the Premier League and has proved to be an absolute bargain.

Another player who has really stood out for me is James Collins, he has really impressed me. He’s come back into the side with a bit of a point to prove but he’s been excellent, he’s come back and absolutely nailed that centre-back spot.

Michail Antonio has also caught my eye. He’s had to wait his time but he’s come in and done very well, he’s clearly a very hungry player and he’s made a similar journey that Jamie Vardy has made.

The Hammers travel to the south coast to face Southampton which should be a very intriguing game. A point is a good result away from home, against a team that is on a very similar level to them. They’re capable of winning it but a point would be very good.

I actually think the performance in the second half in the reverse fixture earlier this season was the best I’ve seen West Ham this season. Considering they started off slowly in the first half, with Southampton cruising, they turned a 2/10 performance into an  8/10. That performance sticks out the most.

Afterward, I remember Bilic saying “We can talk about what I said at half-time; but we should focus on why I didn’t say that before the game!”

As for the Boleyn Ground, it is strange to think that there is only seven league games left before the move. It’s one of those great iconic English grounds and it’ll be sad to see it drop off the footballing map, but that’s progress and the new stadium is such a great opportunity for West Ham.

*The views in this article don't necessarily reflect that of West Ham United