David Hautzig's Match Report

Norwich 0, West Ham 4. Can We See The Light?

I did not set an alarm for this morning, and I was kind of hoping the exhaustion of current life would catch up with me today and just let me sleep through what I was concerned would be a disastrous day for us. Now that both kids are sleeping like true to form teenagers, there was a shot. But the furry feline child is always the wild card, and she was having none of it. “Get up, dad! You have a game to watch! And while you’re at it, feed me”. So up and at em I guess.

Noble stepped back in to the starting eleven, and in a way I can see the logic. The problem was that logic seemed to indicate Moyes thought that we needed some stability to help avoid a bad result against the worst team in the league, at a stadium we have not won in since the year before Richard Nixon resigned. With Villa playing Palace tomorrow and Bournemouth, perhaps buoyed by their point against Spuds, playing Leicester we could have been looking at a truly awful weekend. Thanks to Antonio, that won’t happen.

West Ham had the first opportunity on the day when Antonio split the defense coming in from the left. He tried to find Soucek in front of goal, but the Czech midfielder’s first touch was a little heavy and his shot hit the side netting. A few minutes later the same pair hooked up again, with Antonio tee-ing up Soucek near the top of the Norwich eighteen yard box but his low shot went wide. In the 11th minute Cresswell was sent on a run down the left. His cross connected with Antonio in front of goal but Krul got a hand on it and sent it out for a corner. The initial delivery was cleared for a second corner, and the this time West Ham took care of business. Diop got a touch on the set piece, sending it to the far corner where Antonio was unmarked and found the back of the net.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 1

Norwich put a little fear back into the West Ham faithful in the 17th minute when Hernandez sent a through ball into the West Ham box that Buendia chased, but Fabianski just beat him to the ball. Moments later Cresswell put a cross into the Norwich penalty area that was a hair behind Antonio, and his attempted volley went high and over the bar. A few minutes later Norwich were on the attack with Lewis finding Pukki in the box with a cross, but Finnish striker’s header had no pace and floated over the bar.

Norwich had a golden chance to equalize in the 30th minute when Lewis again got on the ball on the left, a spot they seemed to want to test, and his cross went to Hernandez in front of Fabianski. But his side footed effort went wide when almost anything on target would have done the job. MInutes later Fornals was called for a foul, and Norwich had a free kick from 25 yards out. Vrancic stepped up, but his shot went over the bar. West Ham came back down with Antonio and Bowen combining near the top of the box, but the January signing’s low shot went wide.

In the 37th minute Fornals won a free kick on the left side of the Norwich penalty area, and with The Canaries troubles on set pieces it was a real opportunity. But Noble’s free kick to the far post was too high for Soucek to handle and it went out harmlessly for a Norwich goal kick. Five minutes later Krul made a very good save on a Soucek volley, putting it out for the first of two West Ham corners. But the visitors couldn’t capitalize on either.

Just before halftime, West Ham got a vital second goal after a foul by Buendia gave The Hammers a free kick. Noble’s set piece from just outside the penalty area hit Antonio in the box, and the seven million pound bargain from Nottingham headed it home.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 2

The Hammers could have made it 0-3 when Noble sent a pass to Fredericks streaking down the right, but his shot went over the bar. Then Fabianski was forced to make his first difficult save of the day just before halftime when a Buendia shot forced the Hammer’s keeper to punch the ball away.

Halftime
Norwich 0
West Ham 2

West Ham started the second half brightly, winning a corner in the opening minute. But the set piece amounted to nothing, and when Bowen had the ball with a bit of time and a bit of space near the top of the Norwich eighteen yard box he skied his shot into the empty stands. Moments later West Ham won a free kick just outside the Norwich box. They tried something off the training ground, with Noble looking for Rice inside the box. But the shot was blocked, so more work on the training ground might be in order for that little move.

The match, and perhaps West Ham’s Premier League survival, were possibly wrapped up in the 55th minute when Noble sent a through ball in between Godfrey and Klose that Antonio ran onto. Bearing down on Krul, Antonio tried to side foot it past the Norwich keeper who made the initial save. But the ball bounced high and behind him, Antonio never stopped running, and a header into the open net finished the job. Hat Trick Time.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 3

Reading the play. I wonder how long it will be until Fornals starts to anticipate the movements of his teammates. In the 64th minute he and Antonio were together in the Norwich box, and the man on the hat trick expected Fornals to cut into the area right in front of Krul. He didn’t. Earlier in the match Soucek rolled a pass on the right fully expecting Fornals to move into that space. He didn’t. Both times, Fornal’s teammates looked shocked that the young Spaniard was not where they expected him to be. And there have been more than a few moments like that this season. I still feel Fornals will come good, because the ingredients are all there.

The 74th minute delivered something I don’t think I have ever seen from a West Ham player. To be honest, I don’t even recall the last Hat Trick, although my mate Alex reminded me that it was Andy “Man Bun” Carroll. But when Bowen kept the bull alive near the top of the Norwich penalty area with a looping pass to Fredericks on the right, a possibly historic play was set in motion. Fredericks overpowered Lewis and then rolled a ball to Antonio in front of Krul. Surrounded by three Norwich defenders, Antonio showed a bit of craftiness by nudging the ball with his heel into the near corner. Thanks to my best mate Jon and likely Google, I can now confirm that David Cross against Spuds was the last time a Hammer bagged four on the day.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 4

The most noteworthy moment after Antonio’s fourth was when Troy Deeney scored his second penalty of the day at Watford, giving the Hornets a late winner and pouring the bad news thick and heavy on Villa and Bournemouth. Me being me, I of course took the news badly for us. It’s just how I’m wired. Sue me.

Full Time
Norwich 0
West Ham 4

I won’t say survival is now assured, because results tomorrow could re-ignite my anxiety. Not that it takes much to do that. And rest assured, I will be given a lot of stick by Jon, Nigel, Sean and the gang for my negativity going into today. But without a win there in close to 40 years, coupled with our innate ability to turn an opportunity into a problem, I think trepidation was appropriate. But thankfully we did the business, and our overall play looked like a side deserving of another year in the top flight. Our play the last four matches has been far better than in the first two of Project Restart, Burnley included, and there is reason to hope for a few more points in our last three games. In fact, a draw against Watford helps both sides, so is it hard to see a Moyes-Pearson snoozefest on Friday?

I’d take it.


Match Thread

Match Thread: Norwich City v West Ham

Norwich City v West Ham
FA Premier League
Carrow Road
KO 12:30pm
TV: BT Sport
Radio: 5 Live

Please use this thread to comment on the game as it progresses.


Talking Point

Would Sean Dyche be an upgrade on David Moyes?

One of Green Street’s great qualities (the place before anybody thinks I am about to endorse one of the worst Cockney accents in the history of film) is its timelessness. Upon leaving the station, a short walk past the various takeaway shops, open-air market and the remaining eclectic establishments makes you feel this could be any year since 1970.

With the world slowly disintegrating into squabbling factions, each convinced of their own righteousness and despising the other, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Nostalgia can be an effective method of coping with the present.

Of course, this timelessness can extend to the performances of the team once found on Green Street. Wednesday’s defeat to Burnley was as frustrating as it was predictable. Comfortable in their own skin, organised and competent, Burnley are exactly the kind of team West Ham have traditionally hated to play against. For Burnley, read Big Sam’s Bolton or Wimbledon in years gone by.

A chance to put clear day light between the Hammers and the relegation zone was missed, evidence of the club’s commitment to taking one step forward and two steps back.

For many supporters, this confirmed everything they believed about David Moyes. While his team created numerous chances in the first-half, the longer the game went on the more likely defeat appeared.

No change in tactics to stem the inevitable tide, substitutions ineffective and pointless – the Scot could be seen standing on the touchline looking unerringly like Moe Syzslak. Creative players such as Lanzini and Wilshere left on the bench in the manner of an Action Man figurine that the owner refuses to take out of the box for fear of damage (justified in the case of Wilshere). His game management can best be described as timid and reactive.

While Moyes may well ensure survival this season, largely down to the awfulness of the other bottom dwellers, the conventional wisdom is that he and West Ham will be fighting relegation again next year, the proverbial turd circling the toilet bowl before eventually being flushed away. Any sense of optimism surrounding the club has long since been punctured, hope and ambition lying dormant beneath the crushing sense of reality and weariness.

However, just as cod-liver oil medicine is unpleasant but ultimately beneficial, it can be argued that Moyes could be the man to lay some solid foundations for the future.

The signings of Soucek and Bowen, that have injected some desperately needed dynamism into a previously moribund midfield, demonstrate that he can spot a player. While results have not dramatically improved, the team are more organised and determined than the final months under Pellegrini. Underneath the desolate wasteland of misplaced expectation it is possible to see some green shots of recovery.

Indeed, there are intriguing reports that Moyes wishes to construct a recruitment model based upon RB Leipzig, which would target young and talented players with significant re-sale value. Music to the ears of those who witnessed the trundling performances of Patrice Evra in claret-and-blue, but it should be noted that the source of this information is Joe Cole. While it is endearing that former Chelsea employee Cole still refers to our club as ‘we’, it must also be remembered that he previously endorsed Glen Roeder’s management skills.

Despite this, it is admirable that Moyes has such vision for the long-term future of the club. Personally, if I had been through his experiences with Manchester United and Sunderland, I would have given up football management and made a career out of placating Roy Keane on Sky Sports.

While some wags on social media label Moyes as the ‘dementor of football’, sucking all the joy out of his surroundings, I believe he is notably more optimistic at West Ham than he has been for years. Speaking as somebody whose personality does not scream ‘sunshine’, this trait should be admired, especially after so many setbacks.

It interested me recently to see that Sean Dyche has been linked with the West Ham job. There are murmurs of discontent coming out of Burnley that suggest Dyche is unhappy with the size of his squad as stalwart players are released and belts tightened. He has undeniably worked miracles in Lancashire, establishing the small-town club in the Premier League in the age of huge budgets and even bigger hubris is no small achievement. No team in the division relishes a trip to Turf Moor.

For his own part, Dyche has appeared extremely interested in working at West Ham. Rumours linking him to the job first appeared when Slaven Bilic was sacked in 2017. Two years later, Dyche was reported to be eager to speak with the club when Pellegrini was ousted. Certainly, one recent interview in which he failed to rule out leaving Burnley spoke volumes, offering all the reassurance of a dissatisfied wife who believes she has outgrown her current relationship and has decided to offer veiled threats to her partner.

Another factor is Dyche’s friendship with Karren Brady, which does not reflect upon his managerial skills but does demonstrate questionable taste. Using her reprehensible column in The Sun, Brady has frequently praised the Burnley man, often in strange ways.

In 2017 she wrote that ‘with a trim goatee, together with his well-razored hairline, Dyche has the air of a man in complete control’, ignoring the fact that the incompetent contestants on The Apprentice are often manicured to within an inch of their lives. Later, Brady wrote that Dyche ‘looks even more of a Spanish grandee than Rafa Benitez’, obviously recalling how the carrot-topped midfield of Xavi and Iniesta dominated world football ten years ago.

More seriously, it can be argued that Dyche would simply not be a good fit for West Ham. His tactics, while more refined than Tony Pulis, can be most kindly described as direct. Dyche preaches simplicity, which sounds like bad news for Felipe Anderson. Casting my mind back to the reign of Sam Allardyce, where the travelling fans serenaded the team with ‘we’re West Ham, we play on the floor’ during one match at Peterborough, it is hard to believe the fanbase would tolerate Dyche’s brand of football for long if results were not forthcoming. Rightly or wrongly, belief in the ‘West Ham way’ still underpins this club.

While undeniably effective, Burnley are usually one the league’s lowest scorers. West Ham are addicted to flair players. Most of Dyche’s marquee signings have failed to pay off, from Joe Hart to Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra, although this trait suggests he would fit right in with us. Call me cynical, but this does not sound a substantial upgrade on what Moyes offers.

It goes without saying that there are a myriad of issues at West Ham. For all the owners point to the amount of money invested, this becomes irrelevant when glancing through our lopsided squad that contains so many holes you would believe it was constructed by Dominic Cummings. This is without even bringing up our spectacularly ill-conceived stadium.

Our club will never progress while we possess the worst pair of full-backs in the league. Too many players have been bought on reputation rather than suitability. It is damning that Mark Noble, thirty-three going on fifty, still commands a regular spot in midfield despite having the mobility of custard. Clubs of similar stature such as Wolves or Leicester have much more effective recruitment policies and a clear ethos that underpins every decision made. The comparison with West Ham is night and day.

Moyes is making the right noises about tackling these problems and has taken baby steps towards solving them. While offering support for him on some social media platforms is met incredulously, it is hardly as if the alternative is Pochettino. West Ham are simply not an attractive club to manage in its present state. After keeping us up once and being two results away from doing so again, it would hardly be fair upon Moyes to sack him for achieving what he was asked to do.

Of course, this would become a footnote if the current season ended in relegation. However, if the worst-case scenario were to be avoided, there are worse choices than David Moyes to stabilise the club. Until the ownership of the club changes, there is simply not much more to aspire to.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Norwich v West Ham

Blast from the past

“You’d better beware, you’d better take care, you’d better watch out, he ain’t got much hair!” – fans of early ‘70s glam rock will recognise (some of) those lyrics from The Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’, which was number one on the 10th February 1973 when Norwich failed to heed the warning and the follicly-challenged Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson sealed maximum points for the visiting Hammers. Elsewhere, Last Tango In Paris was in UK cinemas and The Wombles had just made their television debut.

This 1-0 victory at Carrow Road in front of 32,597 was the last time West Ham United won in the league at the home of this weekend’s opponents, Norwich City. The game also saw a debut for midfielder Bertie Lutton who had arrived from Brighton a month earlier. Goalscorer Robson would go on to win the Hammer of the Year award at the end of the season and finish as the club’s (and the Football League’s) top goalscorer with 28 goals from 46 games.

Robson’s strike saw Ron Greenwood’s Hammers continue a march which saw them end up sixth in the First Division. Ron Saunders’ Canaries were to finish in 20th place in 1972/73, two points clear of relegation. Liverpool won the First Division title and Sunderland won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Moore, Frank Lampard, Bertie Lutton, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, John Ayris, ‘Pop’ Robson, Clyde Best.

Club Connections

A long list of players have turned out for both West Ham United and Norwich City over the years. Robert Snodgrass used to ply his trade at Carrow Road, while Sam Byram welcomes the club he left last summer. Other players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeeper: Robert Green.

Defenders: Edward Wagstaff, Malky Mackay, John Gurkin, Elliott Ward, John McDowell, Kenny Brown, Calum Davenport, Fred Milnes, Charlie Craig, Mark Bowen, Steve Walford.

Midfielders: Bill Silor, Luke Chadwick, Matt Jarvis, Martin Peters, Gary O’Neil, Henri Lansbury, Scott Parker, David Bentley, Dale Gordon, Johnny Sissons, Jimmy Neighbour, Graham Paddon, Matthew Rush.

Strikers: Billy Ingham, Justin Fashanu, Albert Foan, David Cross, Keith Robson, Alex Birnie, Craig Bellamy, Freddie Kearns, John Hartson, Les Robinson, Tony Cottee, Ron Williams, Ted MacDougall, Alan Taylor, Dean Ashton.

In addition, Glenn Roeder has managed both clubs while ex-Hammers Ken Brown, Archie Macauley, John Bond and Chris Hughton have managed Norwich.

Today’s focus though is on a player who represented both clubs in the very early years of the 20th century. Billy Linward was born in Hull on 8th February 1877 and first played for Grimsby All Saints, from where he moved to Doncaster in the Midland League for the start of the 1895/96 season. Just as Doncaster were elected into the Football League for the 1901/02 season, Linward moved to Southern League West Ham United, receiving a wage of £2.10s a week.

Linward, an outside-left who was no slouch on the field, made his debut for the Hammers on 7th September 1901 in a 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers. He is pictured here, looking the epitome of Edwardian elegance in his photograph for the 1902 club handbook. The 24-year-old Linward scored his first goal for West Ham in a 4-1 win over Luton at the Memorial Grounds on 12th October 1901. He scored twice in successive games the following month, in a 2-1 defeat at QPR on 9th November 1901 and in a 2-1 loss to Grays United in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup a week later. His last goal for the Irons came in a 2-1 home win over Swindon on 14th December 1901. No player appeared in more matches for the Hammers in 1901/02 than Linward. He played in all 30 Southern League First Division matches in 1901/02 as the Hammers finished fourth; the only game he missed in league or cup that season was an FA Cup third qualifying round win at Leyton.

Linward also played in all of the Hammers’ first eleven matches of the 1902/03 season, ten of them in the league. His final appearance for West Ham came on 13th December 1902 in a 2-0 defeat at Lincoln in the Intermediate Round of the FA Cup – later that month he was on the move to the Football League, joining Woolwich Arsenal of the Second Division. Linward had scored four goals in 42 matches for West Ham United.

Having won promotion to the top flight in 1903/04, Linward joined Norwich in the summer of 1905; the Citizens (as Norwich were then nicknamed) had just become a Southern League club. He made his debut on 2nd September 1905 in a 2-0 defeat at Plymouth, thus having the honour of appearing in Norwich’s first ever match as a professional side. He played again against Watford and Brighton before the month was out but these three appearances would be the sum of his Norwich contribution and, after failing to secure a first-team place, he left at the end of the season.

Linward later played for Scottish side Kilmarnock before returning to England to play for Maidstone. He ended his footballing career at Dartford. Billy Linward died in West Ham aged 62, on the 8th January 1940.

Referee

Saturday’s referee is Kevin Friend. The Leicester-based official has been involved in top-flight matches since 2009 and took charge of the Hammers in our historic 3-0 victory at Liverpool in August 2015. He sent off Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and West Ham’s Mark Noble in that match at Anfield, with the latter’s dismissal rescinded on appeal. This season, Friend has refereed the Hammers in our 3-0 defeat at Burnley in November and, most recently, for our 2-0 loss at Manchester City in February.

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Friend is also remembered for the soft penalty he gifted Hull in our 1-0 defeat at the KC Stadium in September 2013 when Joey O’Brien was adjudged to have shoved Robbie Brady. He compounded the error by later denying the Irons a clear penalty when Jake Livermore handled in the area. Don’t expect much from Friend in the way of handball decisions – he also denied the Hammers a penalty in a match at Everton when Aaron Cresswell’s cross was handled by Seamus Coleman.

Possible line-ups

Norwich City will have to do without Sam Byram, Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley and Moritz Leitner, while Todd Cantwell is a doubt. Norwich have won just one of their past 11 league matches, drawing one and losing nine, and are currently on a six-game losing streak – one defeat short of their longest such sequence in the Premier League. The Canaries, however, are unbeaten in their previous 17 home league games against the Hammers, winning nine and drawing eight, with their last defeat being in this preview’s featured match, a 1-0 loss in February 1973.

West Ham United are again without Robert Snodgrass and Felipe Anderson. The Irons are without an away clean sheet in the league since December’s 1-0 win at Southampton.

Possible Norwich City XI: Krul; Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis; Buendia, Trybull, McLean, Hernandez; Pukki, Drmic.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek, Fornals; Bowen, Haller, Antonio.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 0, Burnley 1. Back Towards The Abyss

I normally cannot do reports for midweek matches because I would be hopping from one customer to another selling lovely fermented grapes. But today, I guess luckily for me, there were no customers available. With my country pretty much on fire, I wasn’t that surprised that a traveling salesman could be skipped for a day. In retrospect, I would have welcomed the time away from the TV.

The starting eleven had one change with Yarmolenko in for Lanzini. While I understood the argument, I was worried that the Ukrainian would be exhausted by the hour mark and that his role as a “super sub” had worked so why change? Perhaps linking up with the engine that is Antonio was what Moyes had in mind.

Burnley should have taken an early lead when Vydra held up the ball nicely inside the West Ham eighteen yard box and laid off a pass for Pieters ten yards out. But with time and space at his grasp, he skied his shot over the bar. Moments later West Ham won a free kick that Pope couldn’t keep hold of, but West Ham couldn’t take advantage and the threat ended with an ambitious but fruitless attempt by Ogbonna. Down the other end it was Burnley with a chance from a set piece, but despite a good delivery Vydra didn’t produce much power and Fabianski made the easy save.

West Ham had a good spell on the ball midway through the half, with Soucek particularly impressive. He moved the ball side to side, and when he lost possession he fought to get it back. He cam very close to giving The Hammers the lead when Fredericks put a cross into the box that Soucek got to, but his point blank volley was right at Pope. Seconds later it was Antonio who tested the Burnley keeper, who put the temporary striker’s attempt out for a corner. The home side was huffing and puffing, but the Burnley house was holding firm.

The Hammers had another opportunity in the 35th minute when Antonio went on a good run down the left, cut inside and tried to find Yarmolenko in the box. He did, but the pass had a bit too much on it and Yarmolenko couldn’t one time it. And when a Burnley defender is given a millisecond to regroup he will often get the job done. Long did that job.

The breakthrough came for the visitors in the 38th when Taylor put in a fine cross for Rodriguez, who headed it past Fabianski against the run of play.

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West Ham 0
Burnley 1

West Ham should have equalized seconds later when Antonio beat the Burnley defenders and was in on goal alone. But he put somehow put the ball wide when virtually anywhere else would have done.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Burnley 1

Burnley started the second half on the front foot, winning an early corner after a good buildup down the left. A floated ball into the box was put out for a corner by Soucek but West Ham got through it unscathed. But instead of growing into the second half the way they did in the opening forty-five minutes, West Ham looked uncomfortable. Balls went astray, players looked out of position. An opportunity to solidify survival was turning into a drop back down into a possible abyss. And to make matters worse, Chris Wood came in for Vydra with plenty of time left for him to stick yet another dagger through our collective hearts.

Burnley were very lucky not to be down to ten men when Tarkowski literally put the bottom of his boot into the left knee of Bowen. At first glance I was very, very concerned about a serious injury to our latest signing but thankfully he was OK. He even took a corner a few minutes later.

With the rain pouring down, Moyes made his first substitution in the 62nd minute when Yarmolenko gave way for Haller. And seconds later the Frenchman should have scored when the ball fell to him right in front of goal. His point blank shot went off Pope’s foot and out for a corner. But it should have been a goal.

A few minutes later Taylor put a low cross into the box that found Wood. But for the grace of some kind of higher power he didn’t score, putting a light effort into the arms of Fabianski.

West Ham probed and pondered, winning a corner that they took short and eventually won a less useful throw in. Antonio tried to turn a Long and make a run along the end line. But his touch betrayed him, and Burnley had a goal kick. Tick tick tick went the clock.

While I often cannot stomach the last minutes of a match like this, today I had a legitimate reason. In the 81st minute UPS arrived at my house with an important package that needed a signature, and since it was refrigerated needed to be unpacked immediately. My wife was on a call, so leaving it in the garage was not an option. I was back inside to see Haller on the ground, lambasted by Efan Ekoku for staying down and not being injured.

Final Score
West Ham 0
Burnley 1

I think we can officially call Burnley a Bogey team now. It doesn’t seem to matter if we play better than them. They find a way to get it done. And what felt like it may be a day to put serious daylight between us and the drop zone turned out to be a day that could see us back up into the Abyss.

The West Ham Way is getting very, very old.

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