Photograph: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock
Another season, another head coach through the door in east London as managerial turnover strikes once again at West Ham. It is the second successive season that the Hammers have been left looking for a manager and the hope will be that this time they’ve got it right.
In hindsight, Paul Konchesky’s appointment was perhaps a rushed decision. As a former West Ham player, he garnered support among fans and initially got off to a strong start. The wheels soon fell off the proverbial cart, however, with the team struggling tactically and lacking in confidence.
It was a campaign that forced several of their key players to move on, another blow. Lucy Parker and Grace Fisk both decided to leave for pastures new while Kate Longhurst, an experienced leader and diehard Hammers fan, also departed.
The board clearly learned their lesson from the Konchesky appointment but taking their time meant that Rehanne Skinner arrived late in the summer. Questions remain over how much impact on signings she could really have had.
The Hammers have turned to youth in the transfer market. Riko Ueki stands out among the new arrivals, while Emma Harries is an exciting prospect at just 21. The England forward is a product of the Reading academy and caught the eye with her performances before an ACL injury in April 2022. Meanwhile, Jessie Stapleton is a source of excitement in the Republic of Ireland with many predicting a bright future for the 18-year-old.
Pre-season ended with a confidence-building 3-0 victory over a fellow WSL side in Bristol City, with Viviane Asseyi netting a hat-trick. Other tests have come from Championship teams while Skinner and her international players only returned from the World Cup in mid-August. Will their shortened preparations hamper them early on in the campaign?
Rehanne Skinner has a point to prove in the WSL. Her reign at Tottenham ended in disappointing fashion in March, despite all the positive signs from the season before. A clean slate now presents itself in east London at a club in desperate need of stability. Skinner is an experienced coach adept at bringing through young talent. West Ham’s squad this season contains an array of youngsters seeking to take the next step.
Viviane Asseyi is the focal point of West Ham’s attack. The France international’s speed, particularly in transition, and one-on-one ability against defenders caused problems for many a back line in the early part of last season. Her six-goal haul may have been a disappointment, but she lacked service as the Hammers’ WSL campaign stagnated. This time out, Skinner will be looking to the 29-year-old’s experience and leadership to help a young squad settle.
High-profile summer signing
Riko Ueki is the standout signing of a relatively low-key transfer window. The 24-year-old Japan forward arrives after a successful summer with her country at the World Cup. She featured in all five games and her goal against Spain was a personal highlight as Nadeshiko reached the quarter-finals. She has spent her entire youth and senior domestic career at Tokyo Verdy Beleza, making over 130 appearances for the side. She will link up with her compatriots Risa Shimizu and Honoka Hayashi in east London.
Riko Ueki impressed at the World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals with Japan. Photograph: Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images
World Cup 2023 delight/heartache
Australia’s No 1, Mackenzie Arnold, was undoubtedly one of the stars of the World Cup this summer. Her shootout heroics against France in the quarter-finals will live long in the memory of the Matildas and their fans. Meanwhile, the Hammers’ Japanese trio – Shimizu, Ueki and Hayashi – played their part in an impressive run that saw Futoshi Ikeda’s side catch the headlines. Asseyi made two appearances off the bench for France while West Ham’s new goalkeeper, Megan Walsh, was an unused substitute in the Republic of Ireland’s historic campaign.
Social media status
West Ham have an established presence on X and Instagram, with the latter proving particularly successful. A range of photography, behind-the-scenes insights and challenges makes up their content. During the season, their highlights will feature regularly on the club’s YouTube, giving them more space than most. TikTok, however, is shared with the men and their appearances on the platform are scarce.