West Ham: Irons aiming to avoid relegation battle this season –– WSL Preview

West Ham Women

The new season of the Women’s Super League is just a day away as Man United host Reading tomorrow night, live on Sky Sports.

Every other team is in action across the weekend, including West Ham, who face Birmingham at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

GiveMeSport Women runs through everything you need to know about the Hammers, including the club background, star players, new signings, fan opinion and our predicted final position come May.

West Ham’s background:

While there was a short period in the 1970s where the Hammers had a women’s team, it wasn’t until 1991 that the West Ham United Women’s Football Club was officially formed and fully affiliated with West Ham itself.

In 2018, the team gained entry to the Women’s Super League and changed their name to the West Ham United Women’s team in July of that year.

The Irons have had three seasons in the WSL now, finishing seventh in 2018/19, eighth in 2019/20 and then ninth in 2019/20.

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Former WSL winning coach Matt Beard managed the team from 2018-2020 and helped the team reach the FA Women’s Cup Final in 2019. Olli Harder is the current head coach.

The side currently play their home games at the Chigwell Construction Stadium along with men’s side Dagenham & Redbridge.


How did last season go?

It was a disappointing season for West Ham, who failed to build on their eighth-place finish the year before.

Coach Matt Beard parted ways with the club by mutual consent in November 2020, with goalkeeping coach Billy Stewart and first-team coach Paul McHugh appointed interim managers at the time.

New Zealander Olli Harder arrived in East London soon after and successfully kept the Hammers in the top flight.

The side won just three games all season, but this included an emphatic 5-0 away victory against Reading in April –– highlighting that this team does indeed have potential.

West Ham Women vs Man City Women

Who are West Ham’s standout players?

Captain Gilly Flaherty will no doubt prove decisive for West Ham again this season at the heart of the defence.

The English centre-back has bags of WSL experience and enjoyed successful spells at Arsenal and Chelsea prior to joining the Irons.

Flaherty’s defensive partner Grace Fisk is another name to watch. The 23-year-old impressed for Penn State at college level in America and was called up for England in 2020.

The defender is still waiting for her first international cap, but that could well come this season.

Grace Fisk

Who have West Ham signed this summer?

The Hammers lost the likes of Kenza Dali and Martha Thomas, who moved to Everton and Man United respectively.

Harder has brought in several new faces though, including:
Tameka Yallop (MF) – Brisbane Roar
Zaneta Wyne (MF) – Glasgow City
Claudia Walker (FW) – Birmingham
Melissa Filis (MF) – London Bees
Abbey-Leigh Stringer (MF) – Everton
Lucy Parker (DF) – Kansas City
Anna Leat (GK) – Georgetown University
Lisa Evans (MF) – Arsenal – loan
Yui Hasegawa (MF) – AC Milan

Lisa Evans

What do West Ham fans think?

West Ham super fan Allie Coker is optimistic about the Hammers’ chances this year, though she admits they may be a striker light at the moment.

“We set out our intentions early with the signing of Tameka Yallop straight after the season ended. Strengthening our midfield knowing certain players may go was definitely something we needed to do. This proved fortunate as we lost Dali this transfer window.

“Since then we have been really shrewd with our signings –– getting a proven WSL striker with Claudia Walker as well as other youngsters. The Lisa Evans loan was unexpected but will give us firepower on the wing. So we have definitely strengthened.

“West Ham players need to play for the badge so we just want people who leave their blood and guts on the floor.

West Ham Women

“I would have liked another out and out striker. Despite last season’s finish, our defence was pretty solid and we didn’t leak as many goals. But we weren’t scoring them either. There didn’t seem to be just one dedicated goal scorer so having two up front this year would have been better.

“Most of all, West Ham need the fans back. I think what we missed last season was the rush the fans will give players when the chips are down. So now we are back I can see the fans making the difference

“For a West Ham fan in general I am strangely optimistic about our chances. I think we have a good lot of grafters and I think that will bode well for us. We need a great run at the start of the season because our end five games are the stuff of nightmares. I am quietly confident of cracking the top five but ask me again in December.”


GMSW Prediction:

Final position in the table – 10th

While the fans seem optimistic, West Ham managed only three wins in their previous campaign and despite a number of new signings, the team cannot expect instant results.

Compared to the teams around them, the Hammers appear to have a stronger squad than the likes of Aston Villa and Birmingham and they should successfully avoid relegation again –– perhaps more comfortably than last year.

GMSW Predictions

Top scorer –– Claudia Walker

Though there is an argument to suggest West Ham need more options up front, Walker looks to be an exceptional signing.

The English star finished as Birmingham’s top scorer last year and was prolific at Everton before that.

At the age of 25, Walker has plenty of years yet and may not have hit her prime just yet.

Player of the season –– Lisa Evans

The signing of Evans on loan took many people by surprise, but it looks to be a great bit of business by the Irons.

The Scot started just four games for Arsenal last season, but oozes quality still and has the ability to play on the wing and at full-back if needed.

With 83 caps for Scotland, the 29-year-old is more than experienced on the international stage as well and may prove to be one of the signings of the summer.

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