West Ham United are not a serious contender for the top four despite their showings in the last few seasons and will continue to hover around the top six spots.
West Ham have given neutrals hope of an underdog success story for the past two seasons. They also took Europe by storm last season, making it all the way to the UEFA Europa League semi final.
On the back of these strong performances, they are expected to hit highs which they have not in their history next season. However, the way they are currently set up, from the top to the bottom, is going to see them remain as ‘challengers’ of the top six, just like Leicester City.
Here is why the Hammers will not live up to the standards set for them by neutrals next season either.
The Hammers have fallen victim to second-season syndrome, just like Leicester City did.
The Foxes won the 2015/16 Premier League title, shocking the world and alerting the fans of the league to the possibility of teams outside the top six becoming Champions. The next season saw them drastically fail to defend the title and finish in 12th place, after several relegation scares.
They recovered but have still been unable to finish in the top four, with their highest finish being fifth place in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
West Ham powered through to a sixth place finish behind Leicester in the 2020/21 season and after good reviews and praise from pundits and neutrals, they tried to do things differently and ended up in seventh place in the 2021/22 season.
Doing things differently is good but in the Hammers case, they tried to fix what was not broken. The attempt to get Declan Rice more involved in attack caused problems in the middle third for them. A focus on wing play facilitated by the wing backs also saw them struggle as they did not have enough quality to cover for the marauding fullbacks during their runs forward.
They have officially been caught in a trap and could return to being a mid table team, or at best, remain in the fight for top six.
A major characteristic separating the top half and bottom half teams is consistency. The top six have it more than others and that is why they hardly relinquish those positions to other teams.
West Ham started making waves after staging strong performances against the troublesome mid table teams who are known for putting up the strongest fight against the big six. However, they were unable to put up that fight against the big six but were rewarded due to inconsistency from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, two of the big six teams.
In the just concluded season, they fought to some famous wins against the big six, making the media believe they were ready for the top four and for UEFA Champions League football. But then, they failed to scale past the stubborn mid table teams who they comfortably beat the season before.
Injuries and fatigue from playing in Europe played a key role but in the end, they were unable to muster enough to consistently perform at the expected level. They have the opportunity of playing in Europe again if they qualify for the UEFA European Conference League and it could help build experience but it will be a long way to break into that circle.
They will also have to depend on the inconsistency of the big sides which is less likely to happen than they are to win the Conference League should they qualify for that tournament.