The arrival of Manuel Pellegrini was heralded as the dawn of a new era at West Ham. Expectations were high that after enduring dour football under Allardyce and Moyes, Hammers fans might see a bit of flair and even a return to the much fabled 'West Ham Way'.
But in reality nobody really expected West Ham to break into the top six in one season. More astute observers noted that (Leicester apart) there are virtually no examples of teams managing that feat in the past decade. Realistically, transitioning from the chasing pack to top six is a 2-3 year process that requires patience and commitment - something few managers can achieve in the modern game.
However, at West Ham we have a board that do a lot of talking but are actually conservative at heart and who are astute business people. No doubt they will be delighted at a table that has been released showing the percentage change in performance for each club since last year - West Ham are the most improved side in the Premiership with 30% more points than this time last year!
The tame defeat to Cardiff last weekend may have left many fans feeling that little has changed, but in reality the club is possibly the fastest growing in the World right now with a huge new stadium, top class manager and a rapidly improving squad who (some of the time!) play attractive attack-minded football. Add in the healthy stream of youngsters that are getting valuable playing time and you have a very happy house indeed!
If West Ham are to become a top six club, this is the only realistic journey that can deliver sustainable change. With a few more astute signings to join the definite top six quality of Rice, Diop, Anderson, Lanzini and Fabianski, West Ham can really make a charge next season!