West Ham United 21/22 Season Review: A Fast Start Loses Pace

Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /
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In many ways, West Ham’s final game of 2021/22 was a representative of their season as a whole; a great first half, followed by a subdued finish.

Against Brighton away from home, David Moyes’ men were a mere 45 minutes away from securing a second straight season of guaranteed Europa League football, only for fatigue and inconsistency to ensure they didn’t.

As with the rest of the campaign, it was a case of so near, yet so far; a season which (but for a few key moments going differently) might have yielded more, but one certainly to be proud of nevertheless.

West Ham enjoyed a blistering start to the season, led by the outrageous form of Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen, and Saïd Benrahma, but in particular, sole striker Michail Antonio. Such was the consistency of form the Hammers carried over from their previous campaign, they found themselves in the Champions League places as recently as mid-February.

A desperately thin playing squad, however, bolstered only by Kurt Zouma, Nikola Vlasic, Alphonse Areola and Alex Kral, were stretched further by injuries and European commitments – and eventually, it showed. The last 11 league matches saw the club collect only 11 points, ultimately culminating in that sorry defeat on the south coast to deny a repeat in the Europa League in the cruellest fashion.

In the cup competitions, the East Londoners played out some of the most memorable ties in recent times. The EFL Cup saw West Ham paint Manchester claret, defeating both United and 4-time-holders City in thrillingly close ties – the latter thanks to penalties. Moyes’ men were disappointingly knocked out by Southampton in the Fifth Round but avoided one of the great cup upsets away to Kidderminster Harriers to reach that point.

But it was the Europa League for which they reserved their best. Having dominated the group stages, West Ham produced some of the greatest moments in their recent history in defeating such hallowed continental names as Sevilla and Lyon to reach the semi-finals. While they let slip a golden opportunity to win it all against eventual champions Frankfurt, the glories of those European nights will not easily be forgotten by a grateful fanbase.

Also unlikely to ever be forgotten will be the career of long-serving captain Mark Noble, the Canning Town boy-made-good who retired following 550 appearances in claret and blue. His departure will be keenly felt, made all the more bittersweet in being unable to send him off with a well-deserved trophy.