The HamburgHammer Column
Is this really West Ham ? Have aliens taken our board members, flying them twice around Saturn in their claret and blue saucer, before returning them in a brainwashed state of mind, driven to spend cash left, right and center as if the sun was about to hit Planet Earth in the next fortnight and it’s all gonna end soon for the human race anyway ?
THAT was one protracted transfer saga, wasn’t it ? But finally we all saw those long awaited pictures (the ones with the player, having a West Ham shirt on, doing the thumbs up gesture and the crossed arms) which confirmed that indeed Felipe Anderson had just signed for West Ham.
Of course we’ve had similar stories or rather sagas about marquee signings before in previous seasons, with the difference being that those rarely came to fruition in the past for one of a variety of reasons:
Selling clubs too notoriously difficult to deal with, time running out on Deadline Day to get a thorough medical done, not being able to agree on suitable payment terms, the trainee forgetting to put a newer toner cartridge into the fax machine – okay, I made that last one up, but you get the picture.
Lacazette didn’t come, Bacca didn’t come, Iheanacho didn’t come, Carvalho didn’t quite make it over the line and even when penning my column last weekend I figured that Anderson was slowly slipping away and wasn’t gonna happen either.
But we got him eventually. And I for one am very chuffed with that.
Main reason being that both Pellegrini and Husillos were very keen to get him in. MP stood firm and made Sullivan sign the cheque, God knows how, but sign the cheque Sullivan apparently did.
If MP and Husillos still wanted Anderson so desperately after weeks of hard-nosed negotiations they surely must have done their homework on the guy, meaning more than just watching highlight reels on Youtube like this one:
Further than watching the videos I have also been checking out some scouting reports on Lazio blogs from the days when he was still plying his trade in Rome.
One thing that stands out is his versatility: He can play as a Trequartista (that’s fancy Italian football lingo for a playmaker who plays in a central attacking midfielder position), on either wing (as he is two-footed), as your classical Number 10 or even as an inside striker.
Let’s start off with his weaknesses as those can be dealt with fairly quickly: He is not the greatest finisher (no goal machine), his aerial game has room for improvement and occasionally he makes the wrong on-field decision when trying to go past one opponent too many rather than picking a pass to a better positioned teammate.
That’s all more than counterbalanced though by incredible pace, technical skills, flair, tricks, flicks, crossing, dribbling, shots from outside the box, vision and the willingness to also get stuck in defensively.
I reckon we got ourselves a diamond in the rough here, a potential world-class player and other than welcoming Felipe with wide open arms at West Ham I only have one main wish as far as our fanbase is concerned:
Give the man time to settle in his new environment, don’t expect the world of him straight away, let him work with the manager and his teammates and then hopefully he will provide us with plenty of thrills and getting-out-of-your-seat moments at West Ham for years to come!
We have also signed Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko of course, but my money for the potentially best player brought in for £ invested so far has to be on Fabian Balbuena, former skipper of Brazilian club Corinthians.
Kudos first to Mr.Husillos for signing up the guy in what seemed like double-quick time, sailing through any work permit issues and getting the lad into a West Ham shirt for very much a pittance in terms of average 2018 market prices.
You know I’ve always had a bit of an irrational admiration for defenders, the guys who rarely get headlines or column inches devoted to them, simply because their job in the main is not to create or score goals, but to ensure our guys don’t concede any to begin with.
I often enjoy defensive masterclasses just as much, if not more than a well-crafted attacking move or goal of the month contender.
Ask yourself why guys like Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds are still being held in such high regard among our fanbase. I ain’t saying Balbuena will necessarily slip right into that illustrious list of great West Ham defenders. I just hope he helps to shore up our leaky defensive set-up a bit.
It looks like Pellegrini will try to rebuild West Ham from the back and rightly so. Too many times last season our defenders were all over the place, left stranded to fight for themselves by some shocking (lack of) support from our midfield.
Hopefully Pellegrini will begin to have an impact in that respect fairly sharpish. Onwards and upwards!
Right now one cannot help as a West Ham fan to be very happy if not absolutely thrilled with our signings so far, there will no doubt be players leaving though in the coming days and weeks and I shall withhold my undivided praise until the transfer window has slammed shut.
My joy cannot be unfettered anyway, sorry for doing an Eeyore here – this is West Ham after all, the club who has set the benchmark, blueprint and copyright for the most elaborate and deceptive false dawns in the history of the modern game.
Remember the Icelandics ? Or Tevez and Mascherano arriving in a shock Post-World Cup double deal ?
When things seem too good to be true…and all that…
When it comes to several good things or signings happening to and at my club in a very short period of time, I usually feel as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, occupied by pubescent kids who have just consumed five cups of espresso each.
We are simply not used to seeing our board spend serious amounts of money on quality players like this.
A triumvirate of Yarmolenko, Balbuena and Anderson arriving within a matter of days ? I’m 46 years old! Let me get to grips with this new concept first. Allow me a bit of a lie-down, some oxygen and a cup of tea to get myself acclimatised before continuing the dizzying climb towards the next level!
Of course we may eventually get the picture, a reasonable explanation where the money for this spending spree might have sprung from all of a sudden:
Saved up money from previous windows ?
New shareholder loans from Gold and Sullivan ?
Board member Albert “Tripp” Smith chipping in to increase our overdraft spending facilities or bringing in some fresh dosh from some business partners of his ? Who knows ?
Right now as fans we should be cautiously happy but also remain acutely aware to the fact that things rarely go smoothly at our beloved little club.
There’s always a caveat or two to navigate and I won’t be counting our chickens just yet…
From a footballing point of view though I cannot wait to see what Pellegrini can do with what already looks like a significantly stronger squad compared to last season. Apparently our transfer business ain’t done yet either and we still have a loan deal or two to conclude and we all know how Sullivan loves those…:-))
And what’s been happening in Hamburg (I hear some of you ask) ?
Well, Saturday was one of those very busy eventful days that simply happen in my town from time to time.
First it was the Schlager Move, a celebration of sentimental, silly, overly kitsch easy listening German songs from the Seventies and Eighties where young people and hipsters dress up in ridiculously multi-coloured suits and wigs while pretending to enjoy this kind of music they used to hate back when their parents listened to it…
Not for everyone, but a big event nonetheless, resulting in thousands of drunk people dancing around various party floats rolling through Hamburg’s red light district.
Only a couple of miles down the road it was the ITU World Triathlon, a pretty exciting sporting event, taking place over the course of two days, featuring both professional athletes and amateurs alike competing for money, glory and pride in the water, on the bicycle and with running boots on, right in the middle of Hamburg’s beautiful city centre.
And if that wasn’t enough Helene Fischer was in town yet again for another one of her usual sell-out shows. I decided to watch the triathlon on the telly from the comfort of my armchair and went to watch the final two Concordia preseason games on Sunday.
It’s one of the joys of lower league football in Hamburg that you get to know the new players at your club really quickly. It’s obviously much easier to chat to amateur players during a matchday than PL stars for instance.
I was surprised to find that some of the new Cordi boys were quite clued up about West Ham. One knew about our hooligan rep (must have watched Green Street Hooligans during one of its dozen reruns on German telly in the past twelve months) and he asked what made me become a West Ham supporter in the first place while another remembered that Hitzlsperger used to be called The Hammer and also had a spell playing for The Hammers on top of that.
While a third player (a backup goalie who supports Werder Bremen) told me a few stories from Arnautovic’s time at Werder, don’t be under any illusions, not all Bremen fans were sad to see him leave eventually.
He was younger and less mature in Bremen of course, so he got into a few interesting scraps there to say the least. Water under the bridge, he’s still a West Ham player as we speak and as long as this is the case I shall be rooting for him regardless.
My weekend concluded with watching the WC final with a few mates in a sportsbar on the outskirts of town. As a lot of my neighbours in East Hamburg are of Croatian heritage (and because they were the underdogs too) I was rooting for the Croatians.
Whenever the waiter was bringing us another plate of chicken wings (it was all-you-can-eat and yes, they did have enough supplies to satisfy my demand on the day) he was making mocking comments about the Croatia players and their performance which got us irritated as well as a bit annoyed towards the end. Turned out he was Serbian, so no surprise he was cheering for the Frogs! Still no love lost between Serbs and Croats in 2018 it seems…
Well my friends, this is all from me this week. Let’s hope we get even more encouraging news on our transfer dealings in the coming days.
Concordia’s season proper by the way starts next weekend already with the traditional first round of the local cup competition. If you have some fingers to spare, keep them crossed for the boys, my dearest fellow WHTIDers!