The HamburgHammer Column

Sick, tired and confused - Hammeritis is incurable

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Being ill sucks. Being ill when you’re single is even worse. You have to make your own tea, if you want a bowl of chicken broth you have to prepare it yourself and of course there is also no one to shower you with an avalanche of sympathy…or even simple things like taking your temperature. Not long after I had returned from my recent England trip I was struck down by God knows what kind of virus. I didn’t leave the house again until it was over, so I don’t know what exactly I had caught – and if that bug was a souvenir from London or a local villain from Hamburg.

Result was, I got fever, shivers, body ache, making me sleep for long hours, but not very well, I didn’t eat for two days solid (always a sign that I’m unwell), drank copious amounts of peppermint tea and wasn’t capable of much else than finding a position to lay myself down in a way that made my headache halfway tolerable. In short: I was miserable.

Then West Ham lost to Cardiff and Cordi lost to Altona, not exactly a great remedy in my state of being. Luckily, shortly before the Huddersfield fixture I felt better again, indicated by my desire to cook and devour a meal again.

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After the shamble of a performance at Cardiff I was reasonably sure that even at West Ham lightning wouldn’t strike twice against another club from the bottom end of the table. And in fact it didn’t, lightning did actually strike thrice, as Huddersfield played themselves into a much deserved 3:1 lead.

What the heck was going on there ? Will we ever learn to approach every single PL game with respect for the opposition and the right attitude to boot ?

To be fair though, I was disappointed of course when we went 3:1 down, but I had seen enough of Huddersfield that season to be confident we would score more goals against them. And so we did. When Ogbonna’s header went in I was certain we would get a draw at least. When Hernandez equalised with a nicely converted header I knew we could push for the win. Three points is three points of course, but conceding three against Huddersfield at home, a side who had scored just 15 times in ALL previous league games this season, well, that’s even harder to swallow than your averagely bitter cough syrup.

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However, coming back from any 1:3 deficit within 15 minutes to win a game of football by a 4:3 scoreline, that takes cojones, guts, desire and spirit. We at least showed that after not really showing a lot for 75 minutes. Which is disappointing. But it all comes down to the fact that this is still very much the beginning of the road for Pellegrini, very much a season of transition with a lot of squad makeover work ahead in the summer.

We clearly have a few players in that squad who are no longer in the plans of Pellegrini long-term. There will need to be a complete clear-out in the striking department.
Of the current crop I would only want to keep Hernandez – and not just because he scored two goals against Huddersfield. He is the most natural finisher we have.
Pellegrini’s style of football should make our team create far more opportunities in and around the box next season – and that’s where Hernandez will give you 15-20 goals a season, not as a lone striker, but supported by another striker or at least a few creative and pacy attacking midfielders.

I was happy that our special guests on Saturday, Toddyhammer and Copenhagen Hammer, got to see one hell of a contest, highly entertaining and three points in the bag.
And of course we are still in the race for 7th place, although realistically we will probably finish somewhere between 8th and 10th. Not bad at all for the first season of any new manager at West Ham.

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I am still in the process of making up my mind about renewing my season ticket which would set me back £555 this time. It could be argued that for the clubs ticketing income is just a small bonus anyway these days, dwarfed by TV and sponsorship income. Then again, the board will be happy to test out a new pricing threshold. They will be counting on a few thousand not renewing their season tickets, but if everyone else does, the club would still be quids in.
Of course they will try to increase prices and I’d expect them to get away with it too.

Only if 15K season ticket holders were to pack it in and the club would struggle to sell those tickets elsewhere, they might have a bit of a rethink.
But most fans tend to renew at the end of the day and I can see myself ending up that way too.

Although as of yet I haven’t got a Scooby if and how my travel routine is going to change if and when Brexit finally happens, chances are I will still travel to London 2-3 times a year. I also want to take my brother and nephew to a game, hopefully next season. So in that respect it helps if I have at least one ticket sorted out already.

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Of course I still have a few weeks to ponder that decision. But West Ham is actually the only really bad habit, if you will, in my life as I don’t smoke, I rarely drink and I don’t do drugs. So these little London trips are something I would really hate to give up on. So, we shall see. Bit of a break coming up for West Ham now which gives me a chance to focus a bit on local football again. Which these days ain’t no picnic!

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Both big Hamburg sides lost their respective games, Hamburg SV after being 2:0 up already, so both have lost precious ground in the promotion race in Bundesliga 2.

Concordia failed to win their home game yesterday, after playing more than 45 minutes against ten men – a 1:1 scoreline was not enough really to make significant strides away from the relegation zone. There is still a seven point cushion for the time being which sounds comfortable enough on paper, but the local league is utterly bonkers and highly unpredictable, so I wouldn’t consider Concordia to be safe just yet…COYI!!!

Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Hernandez Brace Seals Dramatic Hammers Comeback Victory

Match Report

Alice in Westhamland

Alice: ‘I have never been to a football game. Can you explain what happens?’

The Mad Hatter: ‘Well, you see all our players. Some of them cost us as much as £35 million pounds.’

Alice: ‘Is it that one who can’t pass the ball to save his life?’

Mad Hatter: ‘Yes, that’s the one. And you see that one. He’s been chosen to play for England, so now he’s playing like he’s playing for England and can’t pass the ball. A few games ago he was brilliant. Also, he had difficulty making up his mind whether he is Irish or English’

Alice:’ And what about that player up front?’

Mad Hatter: ‘Well, that player wants to go to China to win some trophies and earn more money, because he only earns £100,000 a week and he can’t manage on that.’

Alice:’What about that man who is standing on the sidelines?’

Mad Hatter: ’He’s the sort of general. But, he’s getting a bit old, so they only pay him £6 million a year. And he earns his money by shouting ‘Charge! Charge!’ all the time. Nobody has yet realised, he doesn’t really know that there are a number of ways to play football. And he is Chilean, so the only word he knows in English is ‘Charge!’

Alice:’ What about that bald player?’

Mad Hatter: ‘ He’s getting very old as well. In fact, he can’t remember where he should be playing. He’s actually should be a defender, but he keeps getting lost up the other side of the pitch.’

Alice:’ What about that strong looking man?’

Mad Hatter: ‘I heard he learnt his game from a bull in a china shop. They say he should go to Specsavers when he shoots at goal.’

Alice: ‘ This is all a bit like your riddle. Why is a raven like a writing desk?’

Mad Hatter: ‘ No, my riddle today is ‘How can you play like a bottom club against a bottom club and still win.’

Alice: ‘And who is that man up there watching the game through glass?’

Mad Hatter: ‘ He’s the owner. He’s afraid when the fans get excited, they might start to throw coins at him.’

Alice: ‘Doesn’t he want to catch the coins , so he can be a little richer? All this seems a little madder than your tea party.’

Mad Hatter: ‘Look here comes the rabbit. West Ham pulled him out of the hat in extra time.’

Alice: ‘Oh, there’s the Queen of Hearts over there. She keeps shouting ‘Off with his head’.

Mad Hatter : ‘That’s the most sensible thing I have heard someone say today.’

David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 4, Huddersfield 3. When Three Points Isn't Necessarily A Win.

He’s baaaaaaaaack.

Not that anyone was, or should have been, surprised to see Arnautovic back in the starting eleven. Hernandez was given a chance to cement his place and leave Mr. Petulance on the bench. But in last weeks woeful performance in Wales the attack looked incrementally better when Arnautovic and Antonio were on the pitch. With a Huddersfield side that has lost 22 times this season, three points was expected. But the Hammers had yet to win three in a row at The London Stadium, and with our DNA and inconsistency it would have been folly to expect those points. In the end, we got the three points in the most bizarre circumstances, and the win did nothing to alter any concerns over our up and down nature.

The first “opportunity” of the day came in minute three, when Huddersfield won a corner after a good spell of possession in midfield. The ball was delivered into a dangerous area in the box, but nobody in blue stripes was there to get to it. Four minutes later, Rice got forward and looped a cross into the box. It took a deflection before it reached Antonio, and without that he may have scored. Instead it went off the bar.

West Ham remained on the front foot, and in the 13th minute Lanzini was brought down inside the box by youngster Aaron Rowe for a stonewall penalty. Noble took care of the rest.

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West Ham 1
Huddersfield 0

The lead was stunningly short lived, however. Huddersfield won a corner minutes later, and Mooy whipped it into the box. Nobody, and I mean nobody, marked Bacuna. It was shambolic defending on a set piece. Again.

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West Ham 1
Huddersfield 1

The home side tried to shift into a higher gear after the embarrassing equalizer. There was lots of movement in and around the Terriers eighteen yard box, but it took until the 23rd minute for Antonio to turn those efforts into an actual question when he tried a curling effort from 20 yards out that went about a foot over the bar. For Antonio, only a foot over the bar on a long range shot is noteworthy.

Midway through the opening half, the word that came to my mind was “stale”. West Ham looked stale. There was no energy, and virtually nobody looked even remotely disappointed when a pass went wrong or a run was stopped. A little arm waving, and that was that.

It came to a head in the 30th minute. In a season where Huddersfield could barely score a goal at all, they scored a second in the first half. After a foul on Mooy, the set piece was rolled down the left to Lowe. He rolled a low ball into the box, and with the help of a little luck it made its way through to Grant who slotted it home.

West Ham 1
Huddersfield 2

It very easily could have been three moments later when a high ball into the West Ham area completely fooled Fabianski, which hasn’t happened all year. It bounced over his head and towards goal, but thankfully it was Ogbonna and not a Huddersfield player who was there to meet it. Later in the first half, they had a two on one with Pritchard and Mooy, but Zabaleta was able to break up the play. The natives were getting restless, and it was hard to blame them.

West Ham 1
Huddersfield 2

The second half started with one change. Antonio was shown a seat, and Chicharito was asked to kick it up a notch.

In the 48th minute Arnautovic and Hernandez tried to combine in the Huddersfield area. Lossl came out to meet the ball, albeit not too powerfully. On another day the ball might have bounced free for Lil Pea.

In the 54th minute, West Ham were yet again caught napping and Huddersfield broke on the counter. Bacuna got the ball 30 yards out, and with nobody in the box he let it fly. It probably would have gone wide, but Fabianski took no chances and pushed it out for a corner. The marking on the set piece was utterly awful again, and a better ball in would have probably made it three for the visitors.

As the game hit the hour mark, the idea of a draw being the best we could hope for was firmly in my mind. Which was both depressing and infuriating in equal measure. Ridiculous chips into the arms of the goalkeeper, a soft shot inside the box, balls being sprayed around midfield, and disarray at the back. The talent on West Ham is beyond dispute. The attitude is sometimes beyond belief.

The shock of the day went from bad to truly surreal when Grant broke in on goal after a sloppy slide tackle by Ogbonna at midfield, ran at goal, moved a bit to his right, and fired a rifle past Fabianski. It was the first time all season Huddersfield had scored three goals in a match.

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West Ham 1
Huddersfield 3

Off went Arnautovic. He went right down the tunnel, with barely a look at a teammate or his manager. I said it in January. If there was an offer from China, we should have taken it. Because now we may be stuck with the Dr. Hyde aspect of Arnie, and nobody will pay anything for a guy like that who no longer scores goals.

On came Perez. Yeah. That guy. He’s still on West Ham. There were boos all around. Tony Gale called the West Ham performance appalling. Not that I would argue with Tony Gale. On a set piece in the 70th minute Mooy put a ball into the box and Stankovic didn’t have to do a lot to beat both Diop and Ogbonna, but his header went wide. It was the kind of moment that I would have liked to turn the match off and probably ignore the whole sport for about a month.

West Ham won a corner in the 75th minute. The ball into the box went in between the two Huddersfield defenders and Ogbonna was there to partially atone for his pathetic day with a header that just went over the line.

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West Ham 2
Huddersfield 3

I wanted to feel excited about a possible comeback, and even when Hernandez snuck behind the Huddersfield defense and got on the end of a long cross from Nasri to draw us level, I was still annoyed we had to deal with a comeback at all. Pretty immature of me, I know.

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West Ham 3
Huddersfield 3

The visitors won a corner in the 89th minute, and based on West Ham’s dismal play on set pieces there was reason for anxiety. The Hammers cleared the set piece, but what happened next was remarkable. Kongolo had a shot right in front of Fabianski, and somehow Fabianski stopped it. The ball came back out to Puncheon, but his effort went over the bar.

West Ham came back down and won a corner. Cresswell took it short to Anderson. The enigmatic midfielder moved to his right and looped the ball over the defense, and there was Hernandez to guide a header behind Lossl.

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Final Score
West Ham 4
Huddersfield 3

The season had a lot of promise after the win over Arsenal. But then came the loss to Wimbledon in the Cup, and it all came unstuck. Pellegrini promised that we would still push on, fight for seventh and a place in Europe, and not fall asleep until May. Well, Manuel. It doesn’t look that way from where I, and many others, sit. To spend the kind of money we have spent, then lose to Cardiff and need three goals in the final fifteen minutes to beat Huddersfield is a clear sign that we have barely inched forward, let alone pushed on.

Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Huddersfield Town

West Ham v Huddersfield Town
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None

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

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