With a third astonishing win away from home in four games, West Ham, albeit under new management, are on the march again at the start of the season.
Slaven Bilic continued to banish the memory of Sam Allardyce in engineering victory over Manchester City at the Etihad, to go along with triumphs previously collected at the Emirates and Anfield.
That trio of shocks, each one sweeter than the last like a Michelin-star desert, has propelled the Hammers to second in the league after six games and the fans into uncharted delirium.
It is, however, not all that long ago that the east London club’s faithful were chanting of Champions League ambitions under their maligned former boss.
Allardyce kept West Ham in fourth place for the best part of two months in his final season in charge, before a startling slide saw the Englishman sign off his Upton Park career in mid-table anonymity. Already, Bilic’s efforts look more likely to hold greater longevity.
Despite inflicting a pair of Premier League firsts on the Citizens in both scoring and beating them, Bilic is not getting carried away.
“Only the big clubs have targets,” Bilic said after the win. “We are just going to try to play good football and win all our games. Where it will take us I don’t know, but it should be a good journey.”
There is a sense that Bilic’s bullish predecessor wouldn’t have been so level-headed after collecting the same recent results. The Croatian’s caution could just stand the Hammers in better stead.
Of course, six games do not make a season, especially when home defeats to Leicester and Bournemouth offer sharp reminders of how things may slip away, but after a dismal Europa League effort, Bilic could not have wished for a better start.
Ladbrokes’ 50/1 about the Hammers qualifying for the Champions League isn’t likely to get much shorter any time soon, but with each passing game the claret and blue club look like a side capable of threatening the top-flight’s long-standing world order.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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