Expectation vs Reality for the West Ham center-backs this season

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Fabian Balbuena of West Ham United wins a header during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on November 24, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Fabian Balbuena of West Ham United wins a header during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on November 24, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) /
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West Ham United have in recent history been a side that struggles to maintain consistently good defense. The reality of preseason matches is that it’s tough to dissect their play but we know what we want to expect out of them this season.

So far this offseason, West Ham haven’t brought in any new talent to the defensive side, however, getting Winston Reid back from injury and the emergence of Ben Johnson has been somewhat of new arrivals for Pellegrini as the preseason moves on through the growing pains.

If there is any place in the defense that should be locked up for years to come, it’s the center backs. Without a doubt, the starters week in and out should and be Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena. Both of these men were brought into West Ham just last season and made huge impacts.

Because there is in no way competition for who should be starting for West Ham on Matchday 1, I figure that it is only fair if we break down the expectation and reality for the starters compared to the subs for the central defenders.

Starters (Diop and Balbuena)

The expectations for these two are limitless. At the start of last season, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone that knew of Fabian Balbuena. By the end of the season, every West Ham related new article and fan loved him. The same goes for Diop but he was much more known.

You have to expect that they will continue to grow together and form a wall in front of Fabianski this season and not let very many mistakes at all in. But we know as West Ham fan’s reality likes to bite up where the sun doesn’t shine from time to time.

Diop got overworked last season and it really showed at the end of the campaign. Balbuena, on the other hand, got a knock to his knee where he sat out over 10 matches leaving Diop and others to try to stop the bleeding of goals through the backline.

I can only hope that both with stay healthy and fit for the duration of the season as it will now be year number 2 in the EPL and hopefully they have gotten used to the physicality of it.

Backups (Ogbonna, Reid, and Oxford?)

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If you are questioning why the question mark is there, you must be living under the ground. Out of the three potential subs for the Hammers, only Ogbonna played any type of minutes in the EPL last season. Reid was out healing and Oxford was out on loan again.

My hope and expectation are that Oggy will stay in the solid form that he had when teamed up with Diop in the middle of the season. We should want and expect Reid to come back ready to show that he still is a top CB and fight for that backup role and even see some solid cups matches.

For Oxford, we can only expect that he will finally wake up and hope that Pellegrini can turn the tide for this young English talent. If there is a section where the expectation and reality are furthest away, it is here.

We can expect all of these things for all three of these guys but the reality is something much different. The reality is that Oggy took weeks to find form and cost West Ham quite a few points in the process. Winston Reid isn’t the same man who scored the final goal at Upton Park and Reece Oxford, will he actually don the claret and blue for the senior squad again?

Next. New Hammers make training debuts. dark

The idea here is simple, we must as fans keep our expectations high yet reasonable. All the while looking at the reality of the situation at hand and being there no matter what. Take hope lads and ladies but stay reasonable and love this squad that loves its fans back.