By 90Min
September 05, 2018

The seasonal cycle of West Ham United has reached a Groundhog Day-esque level of repetitiveness in recent times.

First the club signs some players - typically players whose names carry more weight than their actual footballing ability and whose wages are akin to the GDP of a small country. They tell the fans that these players will help the club reach the next level, that the club's days of languishing near the relegation trapdoor are over and a land of opportunity awaits.

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The fans, of course, fall for this ploy hook, line and sinker every time. Can you blame them? As much as everybody knows that spending money does not guarantee success in football, it is difficult not to be excited when your club spends millions on new players with the intention of taking the team forward.

However, in the case of West Ham, it only takes a couple of months before the veneer of positivity is shattered, making way once again for a long and lonely season of staving off relegation. This season, however, the dream has died after only four matches.

As we enter the September international break, Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini has flown home to his native Chile for some R&R instead of staying in London to help his ailing squad turn their season around. How can he feel so confident in knowing he will still have a job when he gets back, you ask? Because the club offered such an exorbitant deal to the former Manchester City boss that to sack him this early would cost £15m.

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This approach to spending has created a foul culture at West Ham - a culture of defeatism and apathy where the majority of the playing staff are not good enough to perform and too highly paid to care. The club are widely believed to have no real scouting system in place, meaning they are strong-armed into paying exorbitant fees for players being flogged across Europe by agents with dollar signs for eyes.

It is easy to laugh at West Ham as they masquerade as a big club like three kids in a trenchcoat trying to sneak into an 18 film at the cinema. But this is one of England's traditional sides, with an ardent group of supporters who have followed the team through thick and thin. They deserve better than this.

As we enter the second month of the 2018/19 season, the wave of optimism following the club's seventh place finish in 2016 feels like a distant memory. Since then, West Ham supporters have seen their club's home taken away and destroyed, the team forced to play their home matches in an athletics stadium in the middle of an industrial wasteland. They have seen scores of overpaid players come to the club for an easy payday and not put in a shift on the pitch. They have seen David Moyes come to the club and, well, be David Moyes.

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This article might read as an overly negative assessment of the current state of West Ham United, but it is hard to find the positives in such a poorly run club with such a disaffected group of players.

Not for the first time, the Hammers must view relegation this season as a genuine possibility - and if the worst does happen, which players will stand tall and help take the club back to the top flight? Looking at the current squad, it is difficult to pinpoint the players who will stay for the long term if the club's troubles continue.

However, this is not to say that West Ham are doomed for the drop. The next stage in the club's seasonal cycle comes in around November/December, when the manager is replaced with a seasoned survival expert who narrowly avoids the drop by parking the bus all season.

Having overachieved with a league finish of 15th, the club will prepare for the new season with more flashy yet unsubstantial signings and the cycle will begin once more. While this tactic has worked in the past, West Ham chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan might want to consider the possibility that fans have had enough. It takes a lot to make supporters turn their back on a club - and it seems West Ham's hierarchy are determined to figure out exactly how much.

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