West Ham United have finished a topsy-turvy season on a historic high as their dreadful domestic campaign was shrouded in the glory of ending a 58-year wait for European triumph.
David Moyes’ side showed enormous resilience to overcome Fiorentina and lift the Europa Conference League title in Prague, clouding a domestic campaign littered with more lows than highs.
The Scottish manager has gone from flirting with the sack for most of the season to etching his name in the Hammers folklore, and the club’s decision to stick with him through thick and thin has paid off.
Here’s West Ham United’s 2022/23 season review.
Player of the Year: Jarrod Bowen
Jarrod Bowen was one of the more consistent performers for West Ham and deserves the nod over his teammates, even if only for scoring the winning goal in the Conference League final.
Bowen’s late strike holds more significance in the grand scheme of things considering the Hammers finished the Premier League season light years away from where pre-season expectations placed them.
Racing clear to slot home in the final knockings of the game not only handed West Ham a famous continental triumph but also a place in next season’s Europa League.
There could be an argument in favour of captain Declan Rice who led the Hammers to glory in what could be his last season as West Ham skipper, but Bowen nicks it ahead of his countryman.
Performance of the season
The Hammers supporters did not have much to cheer about over the disappointing campaign, given that they finished on the winning side in just 11 of their 38 games.
But the 1-0 victory over Manchester United in their penultimate home league game of the season stands out as a massive result.
However, it pales in comparison to the overwhelming satisfaction of clinching their first European trophy since the 1965 Cup Winners’ Cup and their first major honour in any competition since winning the 1980 FA Cup.
Disappointment of the season
If we were to scroll through West Ham’s parade of below-par performances and disappointing results, it could take a while to single out which one wins it for their worst moment of the season.
So away from their on-field fiasco, scenes on their European travels where the West Ham supporters were repeatedly attacked and assaulted by opposition fans were downright disgraceful to watch.
Twice it occurred – first in the aftermath of the semi-final tie decider against AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, then again ahead of the final in Prague – the travelling Hammers supporters could not catch a break from hooligans seeking violence.
A section of the West Ham fans – perhaps seeking retribution for their inhospitable treatment – sparked an unsavoury incident when Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi was left bleeding from the back of his head after being hit with a plastic cup.
Such occurrences are utterly disgusting and have no place in the beautiful game.
What do the stats say?
West Ham’s disappointing campaign saw them finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table (14th) for the first time since 2019/20 (16th).
They just about hit the required 40-point mark that guarantees survival from relegation (W11, D7, L20), but it is their lowest tally since picking up a paltry 39 in 2020.
Having lacked a potent threat in the final third, the Hammers only managed 42 goals (1.1 per match) after creating 42 big chances (1.1 per game) – although they hit the woodwork an astonishing 16 times.
Their defensive record was not easy on the eye either. They shipped in 55 goals but managed to keep nine clean sheets.
They may have conceded 1.4 goals per match, but compared to their fellow bunkmates in the bottom half of the table, it was the third-lowest tally.
West Ham’s European glory has somewhat papered over the cracks of their tepid efforts in the Premier League, where they narrowly avoided relegation despite a significant summer spending spree.
Several recruits failed to make the desired impact in their debut campaign at the London Stadium, and for the first time in three and a half years, the Hammers faithful turned against Moyes after watching their domestic campaign go down the drain.
Whatever convinced West Ham chief David Sullivan to keep the Scotsman around has certainly paid off.
Finishing six points above the relegation zone is disappointing by their high standards, but the promise of European football offers a reason to be optimistic ahead of next season.
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