The HamburgHammer Column
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!!