Women’s Super League 2022-23 previews No 12: West Ham | West Ham United Women
Exactly what West Ham will look like under their new manager, Paul Konchesky, and with wholesale changes to the squad is difficult to say. That Konchesky was assistant to Olli Harder last term means there will be some level of consistency. Two of their recruits, the Scotland international Lisa Evans and her former Arsenal teammate Halle Houssein, were both on loan with the Hammers last year and so are also familiar with the set up. However, there have been 10 more signings and 10 departures as Konchesky has looked to make his mark and shape the side.
West Ham climbed from ninth, with 15 points, in the 2020-21 season to sixth, with 27 points, last term but they are a long way off challenging the top pack of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal and a way off teams such as Tottenham and Manchester United whose are chasing those three.
The departure of the captain Gilly Flaherty, who joined from Chelsea when West Ham were taken under the wing of the club and launched into the WSL, is symbolic of the new lifecycle of the team.
Viviane Asseyi’s recruitment from Bayern Munich is hugely exciting, as is the arrival of the Japan full-back Risa Shimizu, but the loss of the midfielder Yui Hasegawa to Manchester City is a big blow.
The Hammers have played twice in pre-season, beating Championship side Charlton 2-1 before hosting promoted Liverpool, losing 5-0. It is hard to draw many conclusions from friendlies and it will take time for the new players to bed in, but in the 12-team WSL there is little room for error.
Konchesky may seem an unusual choice but the former Liverpool, West Ham and Leicester player stepped up after Harder departed and has embarked on a heavy summer of recruitment. The straight-to-the-point manager, asked whether he had taken advice from coaches he played under, spoke of chatting to Roy Hodgson and Nigel Pearson.
Jaws dropped when West Ham signed Asseyi. The 28-year-old France forward gets goals. She scored 13 times in 36 games for Bayern and got 103 goals in 229 games for four Ligue 1 sides (Rouen, Montpellier, Marseille and Bordeaux). Asseyi missed out on the Euros, not making Corinne Diacre’s squad, with her last game for the national team a World Cup qualifier against Slovenia in April.
Big summer signing
If not Asseyi then Shimizu. Recruited from Tokyo Verdy Beleza, she was Konchesky’s 11th signing. She describes herself as “very athletic – I like to make plenty of overlapping runs from defence and I want to provide some extra flair to the team”.
Euro 2022 delight/heartache
With three draws from three Group D games Iceland only narrowly missed out on progressing to the knockout stages. Competing in midfield for them was West Ham’s new captain, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, who has scored 34 goals in 102 games for the national team. Brynjarsdottir was one of five mothers in the Iceland squad, having given birth to her son in 2018.
Bring on the crowds
Within two days of England’s triumph over Germany in the final of the Euros, West Ham’s season-ticket sales were up 20%. Capitalising on the summer success will be key and West Ham had already laid the foundation among their fanbase with lots of community work. The Hammers player and fan Kate Longhurst was interviewed on the pitch before West Ham men’s Europa Conference League game against FCSB to drum up support for the side, who open against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.