Four matches are left on the fixture list for Tottenham Hotspur in the 2016-17 campaign, and just one of those matches will be at White Hart Lane. If Spurs are going to keep the pressure on Chelsea in the title race, it means winning on the road against teams that would love nothing more than to spoil the run that Tottenham are currently on. Standing in the way on Friday are London rivals West Ham United, who are mired in the middle of one of their worst seasons in recent memory. Ahead of the match, I sat down with Charlie over at Brace the Hammer to talk about the problems surrounding West Ham, what the future holds, and the expectation for Friday.
CFC: West Ham haven't had a great first season in London Stadium, currently sitting in 15th place on 39 points. While the Hammers aren't going to be relegated, just how disappointing has this season been and what went wrong?
BTH: Everything's gone wrong man. We sold our home to rent a warehouse, sure it's bigger but it ain't a home. Our best player left because he just didn't want to be here anymore. We've gone from narrowly missing out on a Champions League spot to narrowly avoiding the Championship. Even the most consistent of performers like Cresswell have turned to rubbish over the summer. The worst thing is I don't even know why. Something is seriously wrong at West Ham and I have no clue how to fix it. Hopefully this summer will have the reverse effect.
I don't think I've ever been so disappointed as a West Ham fan and that's seriously saying something.
Speaking of the London Stadium, if I gave you the option to switch with literally any park in London, would you take it right now?
The London Stadium really only has one problem: It just isn't a football stadium. It's not designed for football and, unless West Ham were to buy the Stadium outright, it'll never be significantly altered to best suit football. We needed to leave Upton Park if we wanted to expand and grow but I always wanted us to build our own stadium and not rent something that just isn't right. I would only move again now if it were to a stadium we owned that was built for football.
As much as it pains me to say this, Tottenham have nailed it and will benefit massively from it.
I'm genuinely jealous. And annoyed. So very very annoyed...
How badly does this team miss Dimitri Payet and have anyone pegged to replace him done well?
The fact he's statistically still one of the top creators in the Premier League, despite not being here for months, shows just how good a player we had. Keeping him in the summer was such a monumental achievement but unfortunately the entire club decided being pretty good for once wasn't for them and we collapsed like a house of cards. We miss him a lot but not just for his talent.
A player as publicly outstanding as Payet draws all the attention. As depressing as it is for people to label your club a "one man team", the upside is that opponents tend to concentrate on him. It reduces their ability to influence the game but it leaves massive space for the likes of Lanzini to move into. We arguably miss that distraction just as much as Payet's individual brilliance.
Our direct replacement for Payet was buying Robert Snodgrass so yeah, no is the answer. Thankfully Lanzini has continued to be fantastic, it's just a shame that he isn't a secret weapon anymore.
Choose one: Karren Brady or Piers Morgan. No, you do not get the option of death by a cyanide capsule.
Blimey. Are there no windows to jump out of? Any other escape routes? Please? Fine...
I'll go with Brady because, for a few precious moments at least, while we're trapped in a room together she won't be running West Ham into the ground.
West Ham is a big club with lots of support. What’s holding the club back from making a push for top six? Is it ownership? Money? Management?
Last summer was our chance to step up and join Everton in the bracket just under the traditional Top 6. A potentially amazing new stadium on the horizon, one of the league's best players in Payet, European Football (albeit the Europa League) and big money from the TV deals. That was the time to bring in high calibre players to take us to the next level. Our owners spoke a HUGE game. Lacazette, Batshuayi, Bacca and even Zlatan were mentioned as potential signings.
However instead of bringing in a few players of the highest quality possible to really take huge strides forward, they decided to bulk out the team with decent-middling signings. The result is a squad that's much deeper but a starting XI that isn't much better. We needed depth for Europe but that isn't why Sullivan & co made that decision. The reality is they're too risk adverse. They would much rather spend small change on an unproven player in the hopes that they come good then spend big on a known success.
Until our owners learn that sometimes they need to open their wallets, we're forever destined to be a mid table side. That is unless we somehow find 11 Lanzinis.
Is it time for West Ham to part ways with Bilic? If the club does, who do you want to replace him?
It's certainly something that divides the fanbase but I would argue parting ways would be a mistake. He's had one 'fantastic' season and one 'terrible', that still averages out to 'alright'. With one year left on his contract, he at least deserves next season to show that his first wasn't a fluke.
I would also argue that there aren't really any better managers out there to replace him. Mancini is being tossed around but is he really any better? He's definitely won more trophies than Bilic but since he won the league with a City team that SHOULD'VE, has he done anything? Could he improve us with a considerably smaller budget than he's used to?
There will need to be rebuilding next season for the Hammers. Antonio is probably leaving for another club at the end of the season, Kouyate isn't getting any younger, Andy Carroll is still....Andy Carroll. What's at the top of your wishlist?
We NEED a ST. Our choices are currently Carroll, Sakho and Calleri. Two of those are incredibly injury prone and the other is only on loan and also unable to actually put the ball in the net. Players like Ayew and Antonio are capable of filling in if needed and we have Ashley Fletcher waiting to step up to the senior side but we NEED someone to lead the line, score goals and not get injured.
One can only dream.
8) How does West Ham line up on Friday?
We've been playing a 3-4-3 recently and it's been alright. It restricts our attacking play slightly but a couple of solid clean sheets, including stopping the then in form Lukaku and Everton, is amazing considering our season so I expect Slav to stick with it.
Fonte Collins Reid
Fernandes Nordveit Kouyate Masuaku
Ayew Calleri Lanzini
A cheeky 2-1 West Ham win.
What is logic even?
We want to thank Charlie for answering our questions this week. I did the same for him over at Brace the Hammer, so give it a click and check out what I had to say!