I have to say it has been a bloody good week all round for West Ham. I went to university in Liverpool so have a real soft spot for both the town and the reds – but beating them 3-0 at Anfield as just wonderful. As other have already said, it wasn’t only winning 3-0 that caused so much joy, but the manner of it. The last time we won there – the goalscorers were Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters!
There was a fantastic start from Manuel Lanzini, a great take by Mark Noble and then it was really good to see Diafra Sakho score as he does so well for us. It was a very solid performance at the back and this allowed the rest of the team to play flowing attacking football. Liverpool didn’t have a chance. All the new signings played well – as did older hands especially Mark Noble and Diafra Sakho.
The historic victory – our first at Anfield since 1963 – was marred temporarily by the absurd red card that Mark Noble got – but this has since been rescinded by the F.A. Quite right too. They should also have a look at the two yellow cards that Coutinho got, especially the second one. It was a lovely pirouette from Payet, but it wasn’t a yellow card.
It is very strange to look at the early league table after four games. On home form, we are rock bottom with only WBA below us, yet on away form we are top – with Manchester City. It would be entirely normal to have looked at the first four games of the season and say that hopefully we would emerge with at least six points from the two home games and – with a little luck – we might get something at either the Emirates or Anfield! No-one would have foreseen that we would emerge with six points – but from two away games, with nothing to show for two very poor performances at home. So far, then, these are very strange times indeed. But should we worry?
I said in an earlier post that I remain really optimistic about this season and think that we will have a good overall performance and one that will do the club proud in our last season at the Boleyn ground. I am ow more convinced than ever that this will be the case. As I said, all our new signings played well at Liverpool – Randolph, Ogbanna, Obiang, Lanzini and Payet – as did our existing players. This was part of the reason for my optimism.
But then, by the time the window was firmly closed shut yesterday – but optimism doubled or trebled – we have never had such a successful in the transfer market. Adding Victor Moses to a now confirmed loan quartet of him, Jenkinson, Lanzini and Alex Song is a masterstroke. Each of this quartet not only knows how to play football, they know how to play in a team. Jenkinson had a bad game against Bournemouth– but he wasn’t alone and will be a key player this year. The solidity of the defence against Liverpool was without him, remember, and he will only add to this strength.
When you look at the depth of skills that these loan players bring and add them to the existing squad – then any true fan will be encouraged. When you add to this MIchail Antonio, Stephen Hendrie, Nikica Jalevic then you have a really balanced squad with the depth to survive the rigours of the season. Indeed, not only to survive but to flourish. There are good grounds for my optimism and good grounds for giving the manager and his staff a bit of leeway to produce the football we all want to see.
Tuesday was the culmination of a very productive summer in the markets and the addition of seven players bought outright and four on loan is a sign of a team that has the ambition to do well this season. It is a squad that should mean our overall form resembles our away form up to now, not our form at home. However much the management and whole staff feel like patting themselves on the back because of such a successful summer in the markets, they should be a little cautious.
We need to start delivering the goods at home. I can think of nothing better than knocking hell out of Newcastle on Monday 14th’s night game to show the way forward. To show that the success in the markets was for a reason – that it had some purpose – and that was to make sure that the fans would get the send-off that we deserve in our last season at Upton Park. I think we are in for exciting times. I think Bilic will deliver. I think Newcastle should be concerned – our home form it just about to become as good as our opening away form.
One other small point – the millions and millions swirling around the premiership, especially the TV money, has made this a record year again in the transfer market. Maybe we should celebrate this success, but the championship seems further and further away from the premiership – and the drop now seems increasingly to be a drop into oblivion. That is something we should be really worried about.
I know it was different times completely, but I was flicking through a newspaper album on West Ham and noted that on May 15th 1967 West Ham paid £50,000 for Billy Bonds and three years later – March 17th 1970 – West Ham paid £100,000 plus Martin Peters for the great Jimmy Greaves. Dim and distant history I know – but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it.
Bring on Newcastle – our first three points at Upton Park – and that will be another bloody good week for West Ham.