The S J Chandos Column

Should Toni Martinez be promoted to the substitutes bench on Friday?

The youth set up at West Ham is looking remarkably healthy with the merging talent in the pipeline. Not only has Declan Rice made the break through this season, but youngsters such as Holland, Quina and Martinez are also pushing hard for inclusion at first team level. Indeed, of these latter youngsters, perhaps Spanish youngster Martintez is making the strongest case for inclusion in the match day squad. Those claims must surely be upgraded with his brilliant hat trick for the U-23s against the Manchester United U-23s and the impending non-availability of Carroll due to suspension.

No one can accuse Martinez of not ‘doing the business’ at U-23 level. He has the outstanding record of scoring 23 goals in 26 appearances since he joined the club. Yes, it could be legitimately argued that there is a clear difference between ‘hitting the back of the net’ at U-23 level and in the PL, but surely his goal scoring record positively merits a break through to the first team. Especially as Carroll’s absence means that there could very well be a vacancy for a striker on the bench against Brighton. I would argue that in these circumstances it is only right that Martinez is included on the bench, with Sakho and Hernandez starting on Friday evening. After all, if Bilic is being genuinely meritocratic in his selection policy then there is little to deter such a move. What is the alternative, to rely on Ayew as an auxiliary striker?

The opportunity is there to elevate Martinez to the bench and Bilic should not only take it, but be seen to take it. He should do so because Martinez strongly merits it and he must be seen to reward outstanding performance. If you perform like Martinez and make no impact at first team level what does that say about the longer-term prospects of West Ham’s Academy products? The failure to progress when excelling means that youngsters will get discouraged and look to move on and new prospects will be reluctant to join a club where their chances are perceived as limited. That is a situation to be avoided at all costs for the future of the club.

So, the question is: is Bilic brave enough to take this decision or will he back slide on it? We need to re-establish the club’s reputation for not only producing its own talent but also successfully managing the transition to the first team. We have the talent and it needs improved access to first team opportunities at the club, as well as appropriate, and developmental, loan deals. At this juncture in the season it is probably Martinez who is pushing hardest for an opportunity.

The opportunity is there on Friday evening, so lets see it happen!

SJ. Chandos.


Tony Hanna's Musings

Ten Men, Noble, My Tin Hat and a Knees Up!

So far this season we have huffed and we have puffed in our two wins against Swansea and Huddersfield, although the latter was a pleasingly more dominant display. Arguably though, the best football we have played this season has been when we are down to ten men? Away to Southampton and again against Burnley on the weekend, elbows have reduced us to ten men for two thirds of both games. Yet, on each occasion not only did we show resilience and fight, we also knocked the ball about like a proper football team. All indications show that the players are right behind the manager but why it takes a reduction in playing personnel to bring the best out in us beats me!

Back on the 15th August I wrote in my Tuesday column that there was no need to panic after our poor start to the season. For many years it has been my view that the eight game mark is the earliest time where a real and proper assessment can be made. In my opinion anything earlier can be simply driven by panic or often misguided on the back of emotions – good or bad. So, here we are then, the eight game mark. This season has thrown up more variables than usual though – we have only played three games at home instead of the usual four and in a quarter of our games we have played with ten men for over an hour. Personal judgements on whether we have been lucky or unlucky will differ but for me we have dropped three points due to our sending offs and gained two points with a fortunate win against Swansea. I could argue that we should have got two more points at West Brom but I will let that one slide through to the keeper. So in essence I agree with David Gold’s comments the other day that a fairer assessment of “where we are” should be considered after the Brighton game? Eight points from eight games is where we are now though and taking into account the five away fixtures it looks like we are in for a season sliding up and down between a very congested 10th and 15th?

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Two things that Slav has done recently have impressed me. I think his preseason plan was to play a back four and for some matches that is the right thing to do. However, there are also matches that demand a back three with wing backs and he is now showing that adaptability in his team selections. Slav is showing some versatility at last and we do have the players to play both systems. The other thing which has happened, and whilst we have all been aware of it, it has had little air time probably due to Andy grabbing most of the spotlight. He has been prepared to drop his captain Mark Noble. I am sure Mark will be back for the Spurs Cup game but it took courage to make this decision. In no way am I writing Mark off, but if the likes of Lanzini, Obiang and Kouyate remain fit and healthy then Noble will have a job getting back into the side. Personally, I think he will be up for the challenge and it may bring the best out of him? Whilst Kouyate has been slow to gain anywhere near his best form this season his work rate to cover against Burnley was excellent. Obiang’s second half performance gave all the indicators that he may be in for another fine season and Lanzini just brings the X factor that the team needs to play at a higher level.

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With Noble being dropped back to the bench Winston Reid has taken over as skipper. My perception by reading this blog over the years has been that most think Reid is too quiet for the job. Perhaps Zabaleta should be the man? However, quite a few on here are getting fed up with the over reactions displayed by Reid towards the referee’s on any big calls made against us? It is interesting to compare the make ups of several of our players because they are quite a mixed bunch. If Andy Carroll gets the free kick for the elbow into his face a minute before his first booking would things have turned out differently? Andy rarely goes down easily and for this he does cop a fair amount of “ extra treatment” from opposition defenders. The same thing happened with Arnautovic’s dismissal at Southampton? At the other end of the scale though Arnie will go down as though shot by a sniper and will get the sulks or seek retribution as a response. In both instances the players showed frustration and ill-discipline and the team paid the price. At the other end of the spectrum we have Chico who can make the most out of any situation with floor exercises that any Olympic gymnast would be proud of. I know he is a fan favourite and he is our top scorer so I will just grab my tin hat, but I just can’t warm to some of his antics. I will take all the goals he will score for us and accept he is a terrific player but his theatrics just frustrate me. The constant arm waving and gesturing together with the poor body language when being subbed does not warm my cockles. I get the “it’s good – he just wants to play” argument, but it is also a team sport. In contrast we have Michael Antonio. Wholehearted and almost innocent, a product of non-league football he plays with a smile on his face. Despite the difference in physique he does remind me of Alan Devonshire. Perhaps because both of them can be attributed to living the dream of all non-league footballers and playing without the shackles that often come with an over coached academy footballer.

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Finally, another player who joins the mixed bunch of emotions group at West Ham is Diafra Sakho. He scores when he wants but he also gets booked every time he takes his shirt off when doing so. Two points to be made here. Why is it a bookable offence when so many other goal celebration rituals aren’t? Why can you roll around the ground after performing a conga dance and a baby rocking routine and not get booked but you will if you remove your shirt? Inciting the crowd? The change to Law 12 quoted “A player who removes his jersey after scoring a goal will be cautioned for unsporting behaviour”. The reasons quoted for the change also said “Removing one’s shirt after scoring is unnecessary and players should avoid such excessive displays of joy.” You would think that the sanitisation of our game has already gone far enough but it makes no sense when a player can run to a corner flag and punch it several times, followed by 38 cart wheels and that not be deemed an excessive display of joy? Jumping into the crowd after scoring is arguably correctly seen as excessive and we saw Frederic Piquionne get sent off at Everton back in 2011 after racking up a second yellow for that celebration. The second point is if the rule is in place why do players still do it? Running up extra cards is detrimental to the team and the player himself. Surely our players can choreograph a proper goal celebration with an Irons salute followed by a Knees Up Mother Brown and reduce the card tally this season at the same time?

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The HamburgHammer Column

Geordie Sore - when a battering ram transforms into a mad bull

Allow me to begin my column in somewhat chronological order for a change, even if it means mentioning Concordia again right away, but the game I watched on Friday evening strangely enough set the tone for the West Ham game one day later. A malicious tone darkened by flaring tempers and hot heads. If you bear with me you will see what I mean.

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So, let me take you to the home “ground” of Bergedorf West, opponent of the Concordia 2 boys for their most recent league encounter. Imagine a worn out old cinder pitch under some dodgy orangey floodlights, surrounded by high-rise flats on three sides, similar to the ones around Priory Road/Upton Park. On the way from my parking spot to the ground, walking along a narrow pathway close to a local schoolyard I was greeted by a local rat having dinner under the cover of descending darkness. That didn’t exactly fill me with pre-match joy – Bergedorf isn’t the nicest borough of Hamburg to begin with, and Bergedorf-West is probably the worst area within the borough borders, so you get the picture.

There were probably 30 spectators in all, including kids and dogs (and the occasional passer-by returning home from the weekend grocery shopping).

The game was won 4:1 by the Cordi boys, with a lovely piledriver into the top corner from 30 yards out and another one coming from a well worked counter passing move. But the real story of this game was the tense atmosphere between the players from the first whistle (and the referee’s inability to deal with it in a consistent manner), Cordi had two players sent off for verbal misconduct, a third player who had been sent off shortly before the final whistle was allowed to come back on after some unexpected intervention from the opposition players who probably felt utterly embarrassed at this point – with the game already lost on the pitch and the ref all over the place. Oh yes, Cordi’s assistant manager was sent to the “stands” too in the process.

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As this is a blog that doesn’t encourage swearing and cursing I cannot tell you the exact words the players used to rile each other up. Some of it was in German, some in other languages (Russian, Turkish), but translated to me afterwards by some of the players. It was basically about being of a certain nationality (with some nasty adjectives added for dramatic effect) and also boasting about having had sexual encounters with the other player’s mother, sister or girlfriend.

Strangely enough the referee was deaf towards any abuse dished out by the home team, focusing on the wrongdoings of Cordi only. I have rarely witnessed such a biased refereeing performance – if I didn’t know for sure that Bergedorf West are skint as a club I would have been convinced that the ref had been bribed for this one. But even with two men down Cordi won comfortably because Bergedorf West simply didn’t play anything resembling football, it was a throwback to the bad old days of kick and rush and half their team looked like they should probably consider playing Rugby Union rather than the beautiful game.

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Which brings me to the West Ham game against Burnley. A contest that was heavily influenced by the referee but also by the inability of our Geordie leaping salmon to switch on his footballing brain just for a few minutes. The only mitigating circumstance I can conjure up for AC is that the way he goes into challenges is just the way he plays and probably also his biggest strength and unique selling point as a footballer. Take those challenges away from the man’s portfolio and you might just as well not bother playing him at all.

The problem with that is that referees no longer allow the kind of physical challenges that were deemed as acceptable or even welcome in football years ago. With his size Carroll will always find himself airborne in a position where his elbows are likely to hit the opposing player in the face, neck, back, whatever – and more often than not it will result in a foul being given against Carroll, with a booking or straight red into the bargain as well. Admittedly his first yellow was both harsh and unfortunate as Carroll had his eyes firmly on the ball and surely didn’t mean to hit or hurt his oppponent.

The second one though, just 90 seconds later, was sheer madness and I haven’t got an inkling what the hell Carroll was thinking at that point. It was the kind of challenge which would have left the average Castleford prop bursting with pride, tackling an opponent like that – but this ain’t rugby after all, so as a football player you simply cannot throw away the game in such fashion this early in the contest.

Players need to think more about what their actions on the pitch mean and represent for their teammates. I have no doubt that we would have beaten Burnley with eleven men. Looks like the Tower of Terror in Disneyland Paris got to Carroll’s head when he went there earlier with his family during the international break.

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It’d be harsh to insinuate that AC did spoil things for his teammates deliberately, but you cannot ignore the disservice he has done to our cause there. A win would have put us in a nice league position for the time being and also boosted our confidence no end. We could really have done with two wins in a row.

And with AC of course there is all that baggage going with him which has been discussed on here at length: Numerous long-term injuries, high wages to go with it, a limited gameplan whenever he is on the pitch, opposing teams wising up in terms of how to deal with AC and minimising (or even nullifying) his threat. And now this stupid and totally unnecessary sending off on top of all the rest.

Similar to Arnautovic after his sending off against Southampton, AC needs to be fined for this. He also needs to be told by Bilic in no uncertain terms that this kind of conduct will not be accepted in future. As for the referee in the Burnley game he surely put his mark onto the contest, being very lenient at the start, but in my view letting some Burnley players off the hook over the 90 minutes as well. In my book he didn’t quite get the balance right with his dishing out of cards, but at the end of the day we have only ourselves to blame for not winning this.

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It’s a shame that the main talk after the Burnley game has been about the sending off and the referee as we should really be taking a lot of positives from the defeat, sorry, draw at Turf Moor.

Burnley are no mugs these days and even with ten men we gave them one hell of a game. We played some beautiful passing football, even while playing with one man down, our defenders (apart from the goal obviously) stood firm and our team looked well up for it. We surely have the players to give us more goals in the upcoming games, more points and better performances.

If you shoot yourself in the foot though with a loaded gun full of stupidity and hot headedness (not for the first time this season either) you shouldn’t complain too much about losing points in the process. Discipline is the key here and if it’s not deeply engrained into the DNA of your team you are going to suffer from it time and time again.

The good thing is that there is no break in league football for quite a while now.
In fact our next fixture is looming large already as we will get the opportunity to put things right later this week on Friday evening against the Seagulls, flying into London Stadium from Brighton.

A highly winnable game. One where Carroll definitely will NOT start. A game where we may and should keep the ball on the floor and move it with pace and some panache. A game I am looking forward to a lot. Let’s have a thoroughly professional performance for once and give the players and the fans a game that’ll really boost our collective confidence.

PS: The less said about yesterday’s league game of my Concordia lads (first team) the better. They lost at the last placed team in the league 3:4. A team that had scored just nine times in the previous 11 games. All four goals Cordi conceded were basically presented to the opposition on a plate or were caused by individual mistakes of the most embarrassing kind.

Cordi are no longer chasing for promotion at this point.
It’s midtable mediocrity instead – not good enough for the ambitions harboured by my local club…

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The Sean Whetstone Column

West Ham United Supporters' Club - 70 years of history - Refusing to fade and die

West Ham United Supporters’ Club also known as the Hammers Social Club was formed 70 years ago in 1947.

It was founded by six members with their headquarters in a front room in Wigston road which was the home of the then Club Secretary Mr Syd Russell. Their existence came into being after a public appeal from the then West Ham board of directors who invited suggestions on how to repair the Boleyn Ground which was badly bomb damaged by a German flying bomb in 1944.

A few years earlier during the 1939/40 Football League season only three matches old when World War Two broke out. The League programme was immediately abandoned as the Government introduced measures to restrict large gatherings at cinemas, race-tracks and, inevitably, football grounds. Regional competitions were set up in place of the Football League, with West Ham United taking on local rivals from across London and the Home Counties between October 1939 and May 1946. Football League competition only resumed for West Ham after the Second World War with a trip to Plymouth to face Argyle on 31 August 1946 in the Second Division.

Relations between West Ham board and the Supporters’ club didn’t start off well with the directors writing to the newly formed Supporters’ club on 17th December 1947 suggesting the newly formed social club had no special status and deserved no special treatment so a relationship with the board was neither required or wanted. Six months later the social club requested a face to face meeting with the board but again the directors rejected the requested the request referring the club to the letter they wrote last December. The relationship at the time was described as distant at best or hostile at worst.

The social club wrote again and asked the West Ham directors to agree to a name West Ham United Supporters’ Club or West Ham United Football Supporters’ Club. In the board minutes of the time they recorded "We, West Ham United FC were not interested in what tile they gave themselves’

Despite various knockbacks, the social club grew and they moved to Hartley Ave School around 1948 and opened up membership to everyone. They stayed at the school until the 1964 FA Cup final after which they bought three caravans which they used around the Boleyn Ground.

The second annual dinner of the Supporters’ Club was held at Robin Hood Hotel with 120 paying members for the gala event. Membership at that time stood at 400 and a local newspaper article talked about increasing membership to 1,000.

Probably the most influential figure in the history of the West Ham Supporters’ Club was local politician Councillor Tom Jenkinson who became chair of the Supporters club in 1951

Thomas Alfred Jenkinson (28 November 1911 – November 1994) was a Labour Party politician who was active in the East Ham area. His working-class roots came from the Popular workhouse where he lived with his mother and father in 1923. He broke free of the workhouse in 1926 when he found work as a delivery boy.

He was a member of East Ham Coropration, he was the last mayor of East Ham in 1964-65 and was elected unopposed to the successor Newham London Borough Council to represent the South Ward in 1964, he was re-elected in 1968, 1971 and 1974. Following boundary changes in 1978 he was elected as a councillor representing Custom House and Silvertown Ward. He also sat as a member of the Greater London Council representing Newham North East from 1973–1977 and Newham South from 1977–1981.

In 1990 he returned to Newham Council as a councillor for South Ward. He held the seat at the 1994 borough council election, dying in office later that year.

It was Jenkinson who finally forged a close relationship between the social club and the directors through then West Ham chairman Reg Pratt. They were to set up a joint fundraising campaign with the Supporters club running jackpot, lottery and pools competitions. The supporters club purchased a caravan for £250 to make sales from.

It was the supporters club which founded the Hammer of the year award at the beginning of the 1957/58 season when members wanted to recognise the outstanding player with an official award. The first recipient was defender Andy Malcolm, whose form helped Ted Fenton’s side to win the Division Two title on the final day of a memorable campaign.

The first cheque to the West Ham United Football Club Ltd Building Fund was paid over in 1961.

In 1962 the Supporters Club gave the club over £4,000. In the following 18 months, £23,000 was given to the board at West Ham which they spent on
improvements to the East Stand, to the training ground at Chadwell Heath and the building of the new ‘A’ block in the West Stand which opened 1965.

By 1964 the Supporters’ Club Annual Dinner invited West Ham Chairman Reg Pratt as their main speaker with the FA Cup on show on the main table.

When a piece of land next to became vacant they purchased a mobile dining room from Wimpy which they used as a makeshift clubhouse.

In 1972 a piece of land was leased by the then chairman Mr Tom Jenkinson with a mortgage from West Ham to build the existing clubhouse in Castle-street.

On 25th March 1993, the clubhouse was refurbished and the social club entered a new lease with Newham council for 99 years with £30,000 up front and a peppercorn rent of five pence per year.

In 1980, when West Ham won the Cup, Tom Jenkinson borrowed the FA Cup and a lot of the Club members had their photos taken with it.

By May 2016 the Supporters’ club had a thriving membership and on the last game at the Boleyn Ground against Manchester United, they took £15,000 in takings at the club.

In contrast, when West Ham moved to Stratford in August 2016 they took just £21 in takings when West Ham took on Bournemouth for the first game at the London Stadium.

The club continued to lose £7,000 per month last season until the bank reserves dwindled to nothing and a member stepped in to personally bankroll them.

Last month the club sadly closed their Castle Street premises doors after a health and safety audit.

Membership secretary Paul Walker recently told the Newham Recorder

“We came in here and we thought that some of the stuff didn’t look very safe, so we agreed to have a health and safety expert come in,” he said.

“I think we underestimated the problems. The maintenance was not up to date, so the insurance certificate was totally invalid.

“We opened the boiler cupboard and there were a load of fag butts in there. Then we found out that the flue was not connected to the boiler so it is seeping carbon monoxide and there are asbestos panels in there and someone has been smoking.

“The boiler is condemned, the fire doors are not compliant. I remember Grenfell and we didn’t want it to happen here, so as a committee we unanimously decided to close,” said Walker. We had 500 or 600 people here on match days, but the fire precautions were not connected, so what might have happened doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“We reckon we need a couple of hundred thousand to get things right,” said Paul Christmas. “You have to think about bringing things up to date. We are not in it for the glory or for personal gain, we just want to save this club"

“The question most people have asked us when we were looking for a venue close to the new stadium, was ‘Aren’t West Ham helping you?’ said Christmas.

The Supporters’ Club have set up a Crowdfunding Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/whufcsc

2017 Membership is still open for Supporters’ club and new members can sign up at https://www.whufcsc.com/membership-1

With the closure of the Castle Street premises, the new committee has set up a pop-up bar close to the London Stadium for members on match days.

The new venue at Stour Space is open from 10am until 10:30 pm for weekend matches and 4pm until 8pm for weekday matches. Breakfast will be served from 10am weekends with food available throughout the day to members. Matchday four pints jugs will be available as well as a bottle bar.

Funds raised from the new matchday bar will be used to help maintain and keep the Castle Street premises and also to help fund a possible permanent venue closer to the London Stadium. More details at https://www.whufcsc.com/stour-space

Supporters’ club committee member Paul Christmas thinks the Castle Street premises is worth saving telling the Newham Recorder:

“Remember there are 850 flats going up just outside and we want to be an asset for the local community as well as West Ham United supporters,” he said.

“We are refusing to fade and die and we have to give it our best shot. I think there are West Ham fans out there who want to help save us.”

My thanks to Nigel Kahn and Paul Christmas for much of the background in writing this article.

Come on you Irons!

Sean


David Hautzig's Match Report

Burnley 1, West Ham 1. Pleased And Disappointed.

When your teenage daughter is able to cut through the truly neurotic thinking that is part and parcel with being a football supporter, you’re probably in a pretty weak position debate-wise.

“Dad. There were no games last weekend. You were pretty calm, didn’t go through any f-ed up mood swings. Things were good. But this morning you’re a wreck again and yet you say you’re happy it’s back. How on earth is that healthy”?

Pause.

“Did you do your Spanish homework”?

It’s become virtually cliche to call a game like this crucial. Mathematically it wasn’t. Psychologically it was pretty damned important. The stats showed that starting Carroll would be a good move, with Burnley giving up more corners than any team in the EPL thus far. They also have given up more total shots than any other side, but a large percentage of them have come from outside the eighteen yard box. So a poacher like Hernandez would be sensible at the very least. But we’ve seen how Bilic handles having those two on the pitch together, and needless to say the reviews have been Luke warm. But with Lanzini in the starting eleven along with Arnautovic and Antonio, it had to be called a positive lineup from our manager.

The first five minutes were a punchfest. Too bad I don’t write about ice hockey because that wording could have been fun. West Ham won a corner thanks to Lowton’s face, but after taking it short the ensuing delivery into the box was punched away by Pope. A moment later Hart showed his version of Football Fisticuffs when he punched away a cross from Defour. I had a feeling we would see a lot of this today.

In the thirteenth minute, Burnley likely should have opened the scoring when Wood lost Zabaleta on a run into the West Ham penalty area. Lowton sent a deep cross that found Wood all alone in front of Hart. Left would have scored. Right would have scored. But straight ahead was an easy save for Hart.

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You cannot teach pace. I don’t know who said that, but I know it’s a sports cliche. In the 19th minute, Hart intercepted a long cross. He took one look and saw Antonio off to the races. The ball landed at the right foot of Mee, but he couldn’t control it. Yes, that will go down as a mistake by the Burnley defender. But Antonio stayed with it, touched it around Pope, and slotted it home.

Burnley 0
West Ham 1

In the span of seconds, West Ham’s day went from promising to dumb. Andy Carroll went up for a header against Tarkowski, and caught him with an unintentional elbow. Atwell showed him yellow. It could be argued that Carroll did catch him in the face, so intention isn’t as relevant. But the second one was pure knuckleheadedness. Carroll flew into Mee, chasing a long ball, and flattened him. NFL scouts would have been impressed. You didn’t need to wait for Atwell to reach into his pocket to know what was coming. The lack of discipline from Carroll, knowing he was on a yellow, was as infuriating as the idiocy shown by Arnautovic at Southampton.

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I guess we will see Sakho and Hernandez against Brighton on Friday.

The day should have gone from very bad to incredibly awful in the 32nd minute when Brady threaded a ball to Wood, who had split open the West Ham defense. Hart dove out to meet the ball, met Wood’s feet, and a penalty would have been no surprise. But Atwell pointed to the corner instead, and West Ham could be thankful for the charity.

The first half carried on as one would expect, with Burnley using the extra space on the pitch to dominate possession. The moved the ball side to side, but The Hammers back line did their job well. Burnley couldn’t manage anything other than a few long range shots that didn’t find a target. In fact, West Ham had what could be considered the best chance of the half post Carroll lunacy when Arnautovic and Lanzini combined at the top of the Burnley area but The Jewel’s shot was deflected harmlessly into the waiting arms of Pope.

Halftime
Burnley 0
West Ham 1

The second half started with a sensible substitution. Arnautovic and his 25 million pound price tag gave way for Obiang and his, what was it, four million pound receipt? Even though that was a defensive move, West Ham started the second half on the attack and came inches from scoring a second. Hernandez rolled a perfectly weighted pass for Lanzini in the box, who then whipped the ball across the face of goal where Antonio just missed it at the far post.

A few moments later West Ham again showed more endeavor with ten men when Zabaleta, Lanzini, and Obiang worked the ball well at the top of the Burnley eighteen yard box but Obiang couldn’t get much power into his shot and it floated softly into Pope’s arms.

Burnley had a chance to level the game in the 55th minute when Fonte gave up a silly foul twenty five yards from goal, giving Brady a chance to show what he can do from a set piece. But the West Ham wall showed what they can do and West Ham averted danger.

The 57th minute brought us the best bit of football West Ham have shown all season. A back heel pass from Obiang set off a series of quick passes that culminated with Pope making a diving save on Antonio. Moments later a long cross from Defour somehow eluded everyone in the West Ham penalty area, including a diving Lowton and went out for a goal kick. Minutes later Brady sent a beautiful ball in between Reid and Fonte that Vokes chased down, but there was nobody there to poke it in. Minutes later Gudmundsson fired a long range curler that beat Hart, bounced off the post, and landed right in front of a grinning Hart. Two minutes later Defour tested Hart with a long range shot, and the England number one handled it easily.

Burnley had another chance handed to them by Atwell in the 71st minute when they were awarded a free kick from thirty yards out. The ball bounced off the wall, and the rebound shot went off Lanzini and out for a corner. West Ham handled it well, but all they could do was hoof it down the pitch and wait for the next Burnley onslaught.

Bilic removed Hernandez in the 74th minute and inserted Sakho. Hernandez was clearly angry at the move. Ian Dowie on television thought it was the correct move. I would have taken Antonio off, both because he looked spent and because Hernandez had shown what he can do in a ten man setup at Southampton. That’s not a criticism of Bilic. Just an opinion.

My goodness, Obiang has a longer name than I was aware. Pedro Mba Obiang Avomo. That’s what the FotMob app calls him. Very formal app I must say.

Burnley continued to search for a late equalizer, and they finally got it in the 85th minute when Gudmundsson beat Cresswell down the right and sent a terrific cross into the box that Wood headed past a helpless Hart.

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Burnley 1
West Ham 1

The announcement of four extra minutes could not have been met with joy by the visitors. It was likely very easy for West Ham supporters to visualize a late Burnley winner. But despite the disappointment of Wood’s late goal, our version of Claret & Blue held on for the point.

Final Score
Burnley 1
West Ham 1

Mitigating circumstances. Other than stupidity, that’s the term that will dominate West Ham’s thinking. It’s hard to judge how much we have improved since Newcastle. The results absolutely indicate an upward trajectory. But the performances have been mixed. But had Carroll not….OK, no more pejorative adjectives about him, I think we would have won. But you never know.

At the end of the day, with the still fragile state we are in as a club, I’ll stay satisfied with the point.

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