The HamburgHammer Column
Having two weekends in a row with no West Ham game sucks, but that’s what happens when one is a weekend reserved for FA Cup games (and you’re already out because you decided to prioritise the league fixtures) followed by another international weekend (once again with limited activity for West Ham players these days – does anyone actually LIKE international weekends ?).
Of course the world of West Ham never really stops turning and there are loads of things still happening, mainly off the pitch, for our glorious club at the moment.
I won’t be talking about the board too much (again) at this point as most of the national British media have now kindly taken over having a butchers at why exactly our club may be in its current predicament, on the pitch and off it.
I understand representatives of WHUISA (which I have been a member of ever since it was founded) have been invited to a meeting with David Sullivan tomorrow to ask some questions.
Whether this will ultimately take the predictable route which previous meetings with other fan groups have travelled on or if it will indeed lead to the board sitting up and take notice for a change remains to be seen. I won’t be holding my breath, but it’d be plain rude of WHUISA not to sit down with the main shareholder and give it a right good go. What’ll happen with our club further down the road, in the summer, should be a different matter – right now the game against Southampton takes the utmost importance.
The media sometimes tends to label too many games as relegation six-pointers in order to drum up interest, sell papers or get viewing figures.
The Southampton game though promises to be nailbiting stuff, squeaky bum style, with both teams needing the three points desperately.
With West Brom and Stoke losing we can put some daylight between us and another relegation rival if we beat Southampton, how we get that win is secondary, but beat them we must.
I reckon the vast majority of our fans are very much aware what’s at stake here and I would think the atmosphere, while being tense, could also be fantastic, bordering cauldron level, if only our team put the effort in and give the fans something worth cheering for early on.
Not even a goal necessarily, although that’d obviously help a lot, but a tenacious tackle, a fine passing combination, a cracking shot on goal, you get the picture.
A sign from the players that they want the win as much as the fans. Relegation would do neither the club nor the players any favours and whatever our club may have to go through in the next few months and years, it’ll be easier ftom the position of playing in the Premier League rather than the Championship.
Now, I’m well aware of the new manager initial boost theory and while Southampton have some decent players and while Mark Hughes may have certain qualities as a manager, Southampton are where they are in the table for a reason. I know we lost 3:0 against Burnley, but I see them as a much better drilled and organised side than Southampton are this season. With the right application, a positive mindset and the encouragement from the home crowd hopefully we will ask Southampton a few questions on the pitch.
It’s not like Southampton have momentum on their side right now and surely David Moyes and his coaching staff have enough time now to put our team in the best shape and frame of mind for the Southampton game. Phase 1 was the warm weather break in Miami. Actually I don’t mind that move. You could argue whether a trip to Tenerife or Malta might have done the same, but the general idea of having a bit of a reboot, a change of scenery, a change of routine might do the lads the world of good.
The players will know themselves they have vastly underperformed this season, they don’t need to read a blog or online fanzine to know that. But now Phase 2 has to kick in, you’ve had your week in the sun, now go out on the cold and wet training pitch in Blighty and work on the basics needed to beat Southampton.
Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing Arnautovic and Hernandez back together from the first whistle. Also it will definitely help to finally have Masuaku back in the fold.
Somehow we have looked a much better team all around whenever he’s been on the pitch for us.
I also would like to see an attacking lineup, even though this may leave us a bit more open at the back. But I wouldn’t expect us to keep a clean sheet these days anyway and would rather see us counter that with a lot of pace, physical presence and plenty of positivity further up the field. I’d also like to think the home crowd would respond to attacking football a lot more and surely we need the crowd on or team’s side rather than their backs.
I still have no doubt we can escape relegation through a combination of honest graft, effort and a healthy dose of good luck. Don’t forget, new manager or not, Southampton won’t arrive in London brimming with confidence. It’s our job to make sure they won’t be gaining any confidence from playing us.
That’s my West Ham thoughts for the Southampton game which still seems lightyears away. On a personal level, the weekend was mostly successful. I visited my brother at his rehab clinic again (where he will get a week’s extension to fatten him up a bit more in preparation for his final cycle of chemo).
I was trying to help with the fattening up bit by bringing some cake and we then settled down in his room with the radio on, listening to the Bundesliga Soccer Saturday programme, being elated with Hamburg SV taking a 1:0 lead at halftime only to lose 1:2 against Hertha Berlin eventually, relegation beckoning ever more fiercely now!
The new Hamburg manager (Hamburg have now gone through 18 managers in 11 years) tried something new, a VERY young team with an average age of 23.98 years, the youngest Hamburg team fielded in 44 years, but it just wasn’t enough. The team frankly isn’t Bundesliga standard and the only positive I can take from the situation is that there is going to be another Hamburg derby next season, albeit in Bundesliga 2, between Hamburg SV and FC St.Pauli.
My Sunday was spent by watching a Concordia doubleheader with both teams winning in the freezing cold East Hamburg sunshine, but arctic winds coming in from God knows where made me question my sanity more than once while spending almost four hours alongside two God forsaken artificial pitches, watching lower league football.
But nothing warms you up better than seeing you team win (apart from some chips, hot coffee and some mulled wine!) and Cordi 2 won their away game 3:1 while Cordi’s first team beat FC Suederelbe (the Millwall equivalent of the Oberliga Hamburg) by a 2:0 scoreline.
Cordi 2 is now almost guaranteed promotion to the next level while Cordi 1 are bound to save some face late on in the season by stringing some wins together which will probably lead to a 4th or 5th place finish at the end of the season, representing failed ambition (as they were hoping to get promoted this season), but that’s football.
And frankly, with an average attendance of 150 people at home games it’s hardly comparable to West Ham’s woes in the Premier League.
Who knows what this week will bring to our much beloved West Ham United ? Good news on a postcard please! COYI!!!