The HamburgHammer Column
When Javier Hernandez aka Chicharito (Little Pea) runs towards the camera, arms stretched out wide and grinning like a cat that’s found a free bag of treats unexpectedly it is good news for any West Ham fan. You see, my internet stream was a bit stop/start and I actually missed our first goal, but the goal celebration was there for all to see and, boy, was it nice to watch that (plus the replay of the goal later on)!
At the risk of repeating what’s been said on here in previous threads, discussing the game, that was a thoroughly enjoyable performance. There was nothing random or lucky about that away win. Newcastle is not exactly an easy place to come to, especially not for West Ham. St.James’ Park has rarely been a happy hunting ground for us in the past, but this time around the Magpies didn’t exactly spread their wings, reason being we didn’t really allow them to.
Balbuena and Diop had another masterclass at the back, with Fabianski mopping up with some well timed interceptions.. Rice was again playing with a maturity and swagger beyond his years, just as reliable as Dan Coker’s match previews are enjoyable and superbly researched.
Special praise has to go to Noble, he kept our intensity up which was no mean feat after seeing one of the more ridiculous bookings you could ever hope to witness. Time wasting when taking a set piece, really ? Nothing to do maybe with the Newcastle player standing right in front of the ball to begin with ? Whatever. I was concerned that Nobes might well lose his composure, go into a rash challenge, slide into his opponent with a passionately high boot, but no – he played 85 minutes and in my book his performance was crucial for our overall success.
Arnautovic was enthusiastic, but luck wasn’t really on his side this time.
My three players who had the biggest surprise/wow factor ratio against Newcastle were Cresswell at left back with undoubtedly his most assured performance in a very long time (until coming off through injury, hopefully it’s a minor knock rather than a major injury).
Secondly Robert Snodgrass who has really grabbed his second chance with all hands and feet – I love to see players do that after having a tough initial spell at a club.
The cross for the first goal was pinpoint accurate and it was very much acknowledged as such by Chicharito’s goal celebration. The way he was gesturing to Snodgrass first and hugging him next did say to Snodders and the entire team “Put balls like that on a plate and into the box for me and I will score those for you nine times out of ten!”
Hernandez was clinical again for the second goal and Felipe Anderson’s third also was a very composed finish.
Wait, it looks like it’s actually between four players competing for my MotM honours: Cresswell, Snodgrass, Anderson and Hernandez. On balance though and for sheer impact it has to go to the Mexican with the lethal touch. It’s amazing he has scored every single one of his many PL goals from inside the box. Natural finisher, poacher, goal hanger, call it what you will, Hernandez is just that and more – and if he’s given the service he will make the net bulge time and time again.
It’s all too easy to forget that Newcastle did win three games in a row before playing us. So to get the win there is one thing. To win by a three goal margin takes it to another level.
Add a clean sheet and it was basically your proverbial textbook away performance. Looking at the upcoming fixtures (and with a few more healthy squad options available for Pellegrini to pick from) we have a massive opportunity now to climb the table over the course of this month.
Our players look as if they are finally beginning to gel, you can see the way that Pellegrini wants them to play and with our players finally getting some wins and a dose of renewed confidence it could indeed turn out to be a highly enjoyable end to an eventful 2018 for the Hammers.
As you all know by now, my next visit to Blighty is just around the corner now and as with previous visits the meet-ups with the WHTID family are almost more important than the actual match. Then again, a feisty local derby is always worth coming to London for and after having met some groundhopping Palace fans in Hamburg during a Concordia game a while ago, my desire to see us beat the Eagles has gone up another notch.
I am very excited to get back to London and what with Concordia struggling heavily this season I now hope West Ham can pick up the pieces and cheer me up a bit (I know it’s very brave to actually turn to West Ham of all clubs with the purpose of finding reason to cheer).
I am confident that seeing some of you guys and gals again will also lighten up my mood, not to mention the odd pie&mash, full English and a pint or two to toast the mighty Hammers and the loyal WHTID faithful.
I can’t wait. COYI!!!
Hamburg football update: Hamburg SV won their game to maintain top spot in Bundesliga 2 for the time being. St.Pauli lost a bit of ground in the promotion race after conceding a late equaliser against Dresden (and having the stadium toilets smashed on top of that by rampaging away fans). As for Concordia, I will really need A LOT of cheering up after this weekend. First I saw the first team lose in a very local derby at relegation rivals Condor by a humiliating scoreline of 1:6. I am at a loss to comprehend this defeat and I am at a loss to understand WHY Concordia are fighting relegation this season rather than playing in the upper reaches of midtable as expected.
The women’s team also lost their away fixture against their fiercest rival (this time for promotion), 2:4 in a pretty nasty contest with players suffering plenty of knocks and bruises which is quite rare for the women’s game. That promotion battle will be exciting to watch in 2019 – with both teams level on points now, with the Cordi girls being in second place due to a slightly worse goal difference.