A fair few weeks ago now, Slaven Bilic opted to field a considerably weaker side as West Ham went crashing out of the Europa League. The then-recently-appointed boss made this decision in order to get the best result against Arsenal on the opening day of the season, but most fans were furious that the tournament wasn’t taken seriously.
Just over one month later however, and it is easy to forget that West Ham were even in the Europa League this year, and having picked up nine points from a possible nine away from home, it appears Bilic made the right call.
The best possible end to this season for the Hammers would be to finish in the top six, qualifying for the Europa League; it quite clearly isn’t going to happen through the Fair Play league again.
Because of this, you would have been forgiven for wanting the East London side to aim big in Europe’s secondary tournament, bidding farewell to the Boleyn Ground by playing against top European sides (almost) on it’s hallowed turf.
If your heart said go for gold, your head almost certainly knew it would be a tough task, especially with the lack of depth in the Hammers’ squad.
West Ham have now strengthened their side significantly, and having crashed out of the Capital One Cup in their first round, league expectations are now even higher.
If it were Sam Allardyce at the helm, fans would be outraged that their side had been knocked out of two out of three cups for the year, but strangely, most are optimistic with Bilic in control.
Victories at the Emirates, Anfield and the Ethiad in the same season has only ever been achieved by three other teams in the history of English football, so despite a shaky home form, fans are feeling good.
The Capital One Cup is over for West Ham, and even more significantly, so is the cup they are trying to qualify for this season. Weird, I know. But it is almost a certainty that you will have forgotten about the Europa League right up until reading this.
Slaven Bilic may be inexperienced in the Premier League, but his tactics, transfer dealings and most importantly this, show that he knows exactly what he is doing at West Ham United.