Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Brighton v West Ham

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 1-0 victory at the Goldstone Ground, West Ham United’s first ever win away to tomorrow’s opponents, Brighton. It arrived nearly 106 years ago, on the 13th December 1913 in front of 6,000 spectators. H. H. Asquith was Prime Minister and, the day before, the stolen Mona Lisa was recovered in Florence after Vincenzo Perugia was arrested while trying to sell it. Music hall singer Alec Hurley had died the previous week – Hurley was the second husband of music hall singer and comedienne Marie Lloyd, who was best known for her performances of ‘My Old Man (Said Follow The Van)’.

22-year-old Lincolnshire-born forward Dick Leafe (pictured), formerly of Boston Town, Grimsby and Sheffield United, scored the only goal of the game as the Hammers ran out 1-0 winners – it was Leafe’s tenth goal in 15 games since making his debut three months earlier. When Leafe retired from playing in 1922, having scored 44 goals in 106 appearances for West Ham United, he took on the job of assistant secretary at the club until the management was forced to reduce the staff at the outbreak of World War Two.

Syd King’s Hammers ended the 1913/14 season sixth in the Southern League First Division; Leafe finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 21 goals in 37 matches. Brighton were to finish seventh. Swindon won the Southern League First Division, Blackburn won the league title and Burnley won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tommy Lonsdale, Tom Brandon, George Irvine, Tommy Randall, Bill Askew, Dan Woodards, Herbert Ashton, Syd Puddefoot, Bertie Denyer, Dick Leafe, George Hilsdon.

Club Connections

Players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Defenders: Len Young, Dennis Burnett, Mauricio Taricco, Tommy McAteer, Matthew Upson, Keith McPherson, William Kelly and Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders: Sebastien Carole, Bertie Lutton, John Payne, George Parris and Tony Stokes.

Strikers: Brian Dear, Sam Baldock, Tommy Dixon, Justin Fashanu, Greg Campbell, Paul Kitson, Sam Jennings, Sam Small, Herbert Lyon, Bobby Zamora, Dave Sexton and Mike Small.

In addition, Alan Curbishley played for both clubs and managed West Ham. Ex-Hammers Archie Macaulay, Chris Hughton and Liam Brady have managed Brighton.

This week’s focus though is on a goalkeeper who was with the Hammers either side of the Second World War before ending his playing career with the Seagulls. Harry Medhurst was born in Byfleet, Surrey on 5th February 1916 and started his career at Woking. At the age of 20, he agreed to turn professional by moving to Charlie Paynter’s Second Division West Ham United in 1936. Medhurst had to wait two years to make his Hammers debut, finally appearing between the posts in a 1-0 win over Fulham at Upton Park on Christmas Eve 1938. He took over from established custodian Herman Conway for all but one of the remaining 27 matches of the 1938/39 campaign, which saw the Irons finish 11th. Medhurst kept nine clean sheets in his 26 appearances during his first season of competitive football in east London – he is pictured below, claiming the ball in a 3-3 FA Cup fourth round draw with Tottenham at the Boleyn Ground on 21st January 1939, a match played in front of an official attendance of 42,716.

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Medhurst played in the first three games of the 1939/40 season before the Football League was suspended due to the outbreak of World War Two. Medhurst rose to the rank of Sergeant PTI (Physical Training Instructor) in the Army, having served with the Essex and Royal Artillery from 1939 to 1946. The regiment was a volunteer air defence unit of Britain’s Territorial Army – during the war, it defended the approaches to London in the Blitz and Operation Diver (the codename for countermeasures against the V-1 flying bomb campaign launched by the Luftwaffe in 1944, ‘Diver’ being the codename for the V-1 itself) before becoming a garrison unit in the liberation of Norway.

Medhurst played 134 matches for West Ham during hostilities, in the War League South, War League South Cup, London League, London War Cup and the Football League War Cup. The Hammers would indeed win the Football League War Cup in 1940, with Medhurst keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Chelsea in the second leg of the first round to see the side safely through to the next round against Leicester. Wartime service requirements restricted Medhurst to just this one outing in the competition, with Conway keeping goal as the Irons defeated the Foxes, Huddersfield, Birmingham and Fulham en route to a Wembley Final victory over Blackburn. Paynter successfully lobbied for Medhurst and Norman Corbett, who arrived at Wembley in his soldier’s uniform in time to take part in the post-match celebrations, to receive winners’ medals for their contributions to the cup run. Medhurst also guested for Sheffield Wednesday while based in Yorkshire during the conflict.

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Medhurst stayed with the Second Division Hammers when the Football League resumed in 1946/47, and played the first three games of that season, his final outing for West Ham coming in a 2-0 home defeat to Leicester on 7th September 1946. The presence of George Taylor and Ernie Gregory in the Hammers goalkeeping ranks led to the 30-year-old Medhurst being allowed to depart for First Division Chelsea in December 1946 in exchange for England international centre-forward Joe Payne (Payne still holds the Football League record for the most goals scored in one game, bagging ten in a 12-0 win for Luton over Bristol Rovers in a Third Division South match in April 1936). Medhurst had made 170 appearances for the Irons, although only 27 were in official Football League matches, with a further nine in the FA Cup.

Medhurst made 157 appearances for Chelsea during his six years in west London before joining Brighton in November 1952. He made 12 appearances for the Seagulls, helping them to a seventh-placed finish in the Third Division South in 1952/53 before retiring from playing at the end of that season, aged 37. Medhurst was also a keen cricketer, playing as a right-handed batsman for Cambridgeshire in the Minor Counties Championship from 1950 until 1953.

Medhurst returned to Stamford Bridge fulfilling various roles as a trainer, head first-team coach and physiotherapist until his retirement in 1975. Chelsea awarded him a Testimonial match against West Ham the following year. Harry’s assistant physio in the 1960s and ‘70s had been his son, Norman, who went on to work with England at European Championships and World Cups, including Italia ’90. Harry Medhurst died in Woking on 9th April 1984, at the age of 68. His son, Norman, passed away in June 2017.


The referee on Saturday will be 40-year-old Anthony Taylor – his most recent Irons appointment was for our 1-0 win at Tottenham in April. He also refereed our 4-2 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wimbledon in January last season, as well as our 3-2 home win over Crystal Palace in December and our 4-0 opening-day defeat at Liverpool last August.

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Controversy and incident are never far away when the Cheshire-based official is the referee for a West Ham United match. Taylor was in charge for our 2-1 opening-day defeat at Chelsea in August 2016, awarding the home side a penalty and later controversially failing to issue a second yellow card to Diego Costa for an awful lunge at Adrian – Costa remained on the pitch to score the 89th-minute winner. Taylor also awarded a controversial and ultimately match-winning penalty to Liverpool at Upton Park in April 2014, while there was also controversy surrounding Guy Demel’s equaliser for West Ham in that game. Taylor is also the referee who had not one, but two red cards rescinded from the same game after he had sent off Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in the Hammers’ 2-1 home defeat to Everton in December 2012. He sent off the home side’s Kevin Mirallas against the Hammers at Goodison Park in March 2016 and awarded the Toffees a penalty which Romelu Lukaku saw saved by Adrian.

Possible line-ups

Brighton are likely to be without right-back Ezequiel Schelotto, midfielder Yves Bissouma and winger Jose Izquierdo – alongside Glenn Murray, Izquierdo has often been the scourge of West Ham United in recent seasons. The Seagulls have won three and drawn one of the last four meetings between the two sides.

West Ham United are without the injured Mark Noble. Jack Wilshere should be available but Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller are doubts.

Possible Brighton XI: Ryan; Burn, Duffy, Dunk; Montoya, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross, Locadia; Maupay.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Antonio, Wilshere, Snodgrass, Lanzini; Haller.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

Follow @dan_coker on twitter.

Nigel Kahn’s Column

The Queen is Dead

Oh! Take me back to dear old Boleyn, 
Put me on the train for Upton Park, 
Take me anywhere, 
Drop me anywhere, 
Barking Road, The chicken run 
But I don’t care,
I should like to see my……..

Well, Saturday’s game was an eye-opener that was for sure, not just the way the team performed either. VARs full introduction to the Premier League for me highlighted the very reason I have opposed it. It could turn out to be actually detrimental and destructive to the fan experience inside the stadium. 

I’m sure it was a great theatre for those at home or in a pub/bar but for me, and quite a few others inside the stadium, it was detrimental to the beautiful game. How we got to this position is too long and varied for a mere peasant like me to dissect, but i’ll throw my two pennyworth in to try and get you all to understand why I feel this way.

Oh, and before the dinosaur tag is thrown at me, I’m not anti-technology per se. Goal-line technology should have been introduced years ago, across all organised pro or semi-pro leagues. The object of the game we all watch and spend more time tearing apart than we do watch, is to score a goal. The whole ball crossing the line is a definitive non-subjective fact. It either did or it didn’t. 
Farewell to Stratford’s cheerless marshes 
Hemmed in like a boar between arches 
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling 
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing 
I said Dave’s, don’t you ever crave 
To appear on the front of the Daily Sport 
Dressed in your Mother’s underwear? 
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts 
And I was shocked into shame to discover 
How I’m the eighteenth pale descendant 
Of some old cockney or other 

The FA a few years back tried and failed to bring respect to referees after years of them being used as scapegoats by players and managers for their own failings. Game after game, week after week, in front of the TV cameras managers would blame this defeat or that defeat on a referee’s decision that changed the game. At the same time, the manager of the winning team would generally point out how well his team had played and how his tactics paid off. He wouldn’t, though, thank the ref for his great performance.  The fans of the losing team would then latch on to their manager’s blame and lambast the refs on social media and so the circle was rounded. This continued on and on with the FA failing to really protect referees from the criticism levelled at them from losing managers.

With the wall to wall coverage of football now, that was possibly started when Sky Sports ews was launched, there is far more dissection of games and as such decisions made by refs. There are now far more TV cameras in the grounds than ever before. They can record contentious issues from multiple angles, playing them back time and time again. The referee missed so and so foul but look, if we look from another angle you can see there was contact, totally ignoring the fact that the referee sees it from one angle, and actually has a split decision of fewer than 2 seconds to make the decision on whether a foul was committed. 

All put together, then the bandwagon of technology “supposedly” to help referees was first mooted. First, we have goal-line technology, which as I said above I broadly support. But that’s not enough. The referees need extra help we were told. Fans drip-fed on the ‘fact’ that referee mistakes are to blame for their club losing fall into line and demand they want technology. 

According to many West Ham fans on social media, I include this site in that. West ham lost 8 points last season due to officials’ mistakes. They cried ‘we could have finished 7th with those and qualified for Europe. It is not fair. We Want VAR.’

Looking back you could see why many now would support its introduction, yet there was a recent study of every game last season and they used VAR in all those games to see if the results would have been the same. West Ham would have benefitted to the tune of……. 1 point. Not 8 points but 1, moving us into 9th, Instead of 10th. Why is that, I don’t hear you say. Well… because what a lot of fans forget is the old adage of swings and roundabouts. If we had just played on the swings we would have got 8 extra points, but we didn’t, we went on the roundabout, that meant VAR was used against us as well, evening out the playing field it seems.
Oh, has the game changed, or have I changed? 
Oh has the game changed, or have I changed? 
Some 90-year-old tough who peddles porn 
I swear to God 
I swear: I never even knew what porn were
So, I broke into the palace 
With a sponge and a rusty spanner 
Brady said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot write”
I said: “That’s nothing – you should hear me on a podcast”
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry 
And talk about football things 
But when you’re tied to Sullivan’s apron
No-one talks about castration

Now I get to a contentious bit for me and I make no apologies for this. I don’t think I’ve really pushed the fact I’m on Moore than Just a podcast on here. I prefer to keep those separate even though the lord of the manor is a welcome stand-in on the show when we are presenter lite. This week though I alluded on the podcast to an exchange of different views with a regular poster on here who hails from Romania. It seems some heard it and brought it into the discussion on here. As per usual, some chose to misconstrue what I said but nothing new there. But I stand by what I said and that is that during my anti-VAR rant I criticised him for the fact he claimed that VAR had not held up the game unduly.
Now the fact that I and those around me got frustrated with the delays says to me I knew there were delays and they were unduly lengthy. The internet is a great invention, and without it, you wouldn’t be reading this and 95% of those reading this that know me wouldn’t of, but, meanwhile, in TV land you are fed the constant replays, you get told what’s going on and that leads to some watching on TV thinking they can tell someone at the game, “I don’t know what your moaning about there wasn’t much of a holdup.”

As the (changed) song lyrics above say, has the game changed or have I changed? The answer to that is the game has changed and if VAR is kept it is not for the betterment of fans IN THE STADIUM
Past the pub who saps your body 
And the club who’ll snatch your money 
The Queen is dead, boys 
And it’s so lonely on a limb 
Past the pub that wrecks your body 
And the club – all they want is your money 
The Queen is dead, boys 
And it’s so lonely on a limb 

What is the point of professional football, for what reason is it played? Is it for entertainment to those in attendance or those at home on TV? Is it to fund players personal lifestyles or to create wealth for owners? Years ago, it seemed it was organised for the entertainment of the local population to cheer on the team that represented where they live. Now I’m stupid enough to think that is the case or should still be the case. But TV has gone in around 50 years from showing the highlights of one game to now controlling when and now how the game is played. The Queen that I knew is dead boys. 
Life is very long when you’re lonely (repeat 4 times)
(my thanks to Morrissey & Marr for the influence)


Talking Point

Left back in the changing room

The new football season brings along a fresh sense of optimism and I am often buoyant about West Ham’s chances. I watched the first 55 minutes on Saturday but elected to turn the television off when Gabriel Jesus scored City’s third which was eventually ruled out by VAR. I feared the worst after Sterling’s 51st minute goal, and you could tell the team were deflated by it.

I opted to go for a walk instead of watching the remainder of the second half, and I think I made a good decision. I could discuss the match but others have already written very good pieces on it. The immediate thoughts after receiving the full time result notification on my phone were definitely negative. However, the more I have read and thought about Saturday’s game, the more I think we must accept City’s brilliance as opposed to a totally abject performance from Pellegrini’s men. Guardiola’s team are outrageously clinical and you only needed to look at a bench that consisted of Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Cancelo etc. to know we were in for an extremely tough afternoon. City are a marvellous team but the game certainly highlighted areas we must improve on…

After the club announced Masuaku’s contract renewal, Pellegrini stated that he (Masuaku) ‘_is a player with excellent technical ability… we look forward to seeing him make a big contribution in the future._’ This quote goes a long way to explaining why the club did not invest in the left back position as seemingly the manager is happy moving forward with Masuaku and Cresswell. Cresswell had a poor game against the champions with four of the five goals coming from his left flank. It appears that the 2015 Hammer of the year has not been the same player following various niggling injuries. The explosive pace of Kyle Walker emphasised Cresswell’s inability to cope with opposing full backs and wingers with power and speed. Overall, neither Cresswell or Masuaku instil a great amount of confidence from a defensive point of view, therefore I would select Masuaku as he’s quicker and now offers more on the attacking end.

One of the positives from Saturday was the team’s new talisman, Sebastien Haller. The 25 year old won 2 aerial duels, had 90% pass accuracy and completed 4 tackles across the 90 minutes. The Frenchman will hope that against Brighton he receives better service as the team can carve out more opportunities than against the Cityzens. If the creative players as well as the full backs can provide good chances for Haller, I have every confidence he will score the goals.

I’m sure that upon reflection most fans will view Brighton away as the season properly starting! The result against Graham Potter’s men may well determine whether we are in for a distinctly average season wherein we lose to physical sides with less talent than us. Although, a good performance and a win against what appears to be a revitalised Brighton side would show character and provide optimism.

Under Chris Hughton’s stewardship, we had not beaten Brighton as he set the team up in a deep block looking for goals from set pieces. Glen Murray consistently scored against us and games against Brighton were becoming extremely frustrating. Speaking from limited experience and clearly at a much lower level of football, when you have to break down a team who are content to sit deep and counter, it can be very difficult. I have no doubt that Pellegrini told the team to continue dominating the ball and chances will come, and you definitely have to be patient. Under Graham Potter, Brighton look like a far more expansive side and they will try to keep the ball and attack us which may well favour us despite us struggling against them in the past. We could be in for an end to end game at the Amex stadium, and I’m quietly confident we might leave with 3 points.

Ultimately, while I think it could be easy to write the City defeat off entirely and just praise a magnificent team, I think and hope the manager knows we must work on the defence and staying concentrated for 90 minutes. However, City will beat numerous teams by 5 or 6 goals as in my opinion they comfortably finish ahead of Liverpool to win a third consecutive Premier League, so we should not lose too much sleep! I hope that Masuaku plays on Saturday, I hope that Anderson starts, I hope that Glen Murray gets sent off in the early exchanges so he cannot score against us! I also hope that Haller scores a hat-trick and we leave Brighton with an impressive 3 points and clean sheet, but as we all know it’s the hope that kills you…

My six a side team won 2-0 on Monday evening having lost last week in the first league game. Given that it’s holiday season, a few of my friends will not be available for the coming weeks, so numbers will be thin!

Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.

The GoatyGav Column

Drubbing Has Not Defeated The, Sebastien Inspired, Sanguine Spirit

That was tough viewing in the second half. My brother and I were very pleased with what we saw in the first forty-five minutes. Apart from the goal, once again conceded from the left side of the pitch which caught the defence flat footed, the signs were very encouraging. The half time beer, like the football that preceded it, was crisp and lively with only the fizzy quality of both the Amstel and Walker’s run and cross unpleasant on the palate.

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The key cause for my optimism for the forthcoming season, however, is the contribution of Haller’s debut. He barely put a foot wrong and was instrumental in virtually all of what was good about the first half. Despite not training with the team for very long and having had less of a pre-season to many other players he was my West Ham man of the match by some distance. I thought that Arnie could provide a positive impact on a match however Haller is going to leave the Austrian former West Ham player’s contributions in the shade.
I can understand fans jitters when it comes to early season form. Once bitten twice shy is an easily induced position to hold after four straight defeats at the start of last season but I really don’t think we should be concerned. The start of 2019-20 sees a completely different situation for the team. With a total of six incoming players, of which only four are outfield, there’s nowhere near as much new blood to our starting line-up and with a more established team we’ll be a far more cohesive unit coming out of the blocks this time around.
So why such a poor second half than first then? Well it was simply a question of Man City improving as the game went on. Frankly I’m pleased the game finished when it did as we could easily have conceded more. That said our final ball and finishing were both well below the standard of our opponents. For me that was the biggest difference on Saturday afternoon.

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All that said there is still the ‘one half’ syndrome that has plagued the team for years now. Seldom has the team played well in both halves of a match. This is something that really does need addressing. I’m not convinced it’s down to fitness. Maybe we have players who feel that they can take their foot off the gas for periods during the game? Perhaps it’s a confidence thing? There was definitely an element of the latter on Saturday as the City players seemed to anticipate practically everything we did when in possession – a fact backed up by the stated stat of their 13 interceptions. Tactical fouls by City or not there’s no getting away from the fact that we played poorly in the latter half of the game compared to the earlier one. The streetwise nature of Pep’s team, with their thirteen fouls to our five, was a factor in the win but not a major one.
The stats from the game opens one’s eyes. An improved 44/56 possession ratio is an improvement on previous encounters with the PL Champions. Territorially we weren’t so inferior either – with 23.4% of play in City’s final third and 49.6% in the middle. Overall passes of 403 vs 547 with accuracy of 80.6% vs 86.5% (Source: Skysports) looks better than previous games too. There is, however, only one stat that matters. The amount of goals conceded in the last five games against City, compared to those scored, doesn’t make great reading.

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The VAR thing’s been done to death. Personally I think it’s a good thing. If it means fairer outcomes and help for ref then it’s got my approval.

I expect us to look far better against a decent Brighton next week. If the team can just keep an intensity going for the 90 minutes I genuinely think we’ll come away with all three points and be far happier Hammers come five o’clock on Saturday. Frankly the sooner we can get result against the Citizens out of our system the better.
I’ll be writing next week’s piece from Barcelona. I feel a cheeky stadium tour coming on for my boys, my younger lad’s mate who is with us, and I despite it being a ‘family’ holiday. You never know – I might even treat M’Julie to a trip to the Camp Nou. She really doesn’t know how lucky she is having such a considerate husband as me.

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Elsewhere I binge watched the Jack Sullivan documentaries on the BBC this weekend. Was even featured in episode 9 for a split second, with phone to my ear, at the start when they were showing some of the Ladies semi-final at Adams Park. There’s definitely a more engaged West Ham Women fan in me this season than at the start of last. If I had time to use it I’d have got a ST for the WSL games at Rush Green as well as the men’s first team this term. I will, however, try and get to as many games as I can to shout the girls on. I know that a number of last season’s squad have moved on to make way for new players but I was pleased to see the familiar faces from 2018-19 that are still on the roster. I look forward to their first game on the first of September and wish them all the best for the forthcoming season.

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Lastly, but definitely not least, I’d like to go on record to wish Dan Coker and his family my heartiest congratulations on his new arrival. Such a special time – made up for you mate :D . All the best with it – hope the babe settles in to a decent sleeping pattern as soon as possible.


The HamburgHammer Column

City taking our pocket money again - but they're not on our route every week

The new season begins, every fan up and down the country is ready, excited, hopeful it’ll be maybe a better season than the one before.
Us West Ham nuts were especially eager to see the new signings in action and maybe giving the current league champions a run for their money.

And what do they do, on your own patch as well ?
They bully you, make you look stupid and exposed in the second half and stroll away at the end with your pocket money jingling mercilessly in their fingers. While you’re heading back home, empty handed, gaze fixed at your shoes, tail between your legs…

That first defeat of the season was hard to take, harder to watch and unfortunately it was the same old capitulation against Manchester City at the London Stadium we’ve seen before. In all the previous games between the sides in London so far, it’s never really been much of a contest.
We should be used to it by now, but as fans we simply don’t want to get used to it. The defeat didn’t come as a surprise.
The manner of it was a bitter pill to swallow, but we shall regroup and move on.

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This time, we at least played well first half. Really well, actually. We went at them, ran, chased and pressed, created chances too, put plenty of effort in, failed to score and then conceded a very unlucky first goal down the other end.

Then second half arrived and we were suddenly lacking the energy displayed in the first half. And so Man City started to do their thing, taking opposing teams apart at will, with two or three clinical passes, pouncing on any mistake or weakness, with the same kind of empathy that a pack of hounds might show when being in sight of the fox they’ve been hunting down for the best part of an hour.

First half was a football game, second half was a training exercise. I hope we learned our lesson.

Then again, we won’t be playing opposition like City every week, a thoroughly well-assembled team of superstar players, on the pitch and on the bench, million for million a world-class squad, managed by one of the best tacticians in world football. 0:5 defeats at home shouldn’t happen. But they do happen of course.

It’s down to the gulf in finances leading to a gulf in quality between teams playing in the PL. In truth, City are now playing pretty much in a league of their own, only briefly entered by teams like Liverpool. Or Manchester United or Chelsea whenever they have a good season.

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We shouldn’t read too much into that result or over-react. Second half wasn’t good enough, granted. But I still feel very confident about our squad this season, despite the Man City drubbing.

Haller already looks highly promising and given the right support upfront will be fantastic for us.
Fornals may need a bit longer to adjust to the pace of PL football, but he will be good for us too. The young Swiss striker Ajete will be another option for us I am extremely excited about, same as the kid we picked up from Portugal in defence.

Pellegrini’s plan clearly is to play positive and attack-minded football, sacrificing clean sheets at the back in the process. Going for a barnstorming 4:3 win rather than drawing 0:0.
I like this approach. I was unhappy during the Allardyce reign because of his ludicrous “Respect the point” philosophy. As a football fan, I don’t want to be bored senseless.
It’s called “The beautiful game” for a reason. I am not sure the football gods had Catenaccio in mind when inventing the game. Of course you lose some games this way, but I’d rather lose occasionally while trying to win every game, to be brutally honest.

West Ham fans have been crying out for our team to try and play the kind of football that’s pleasing on the eye, the West Ham way, trying to score goals at every opportunity. We are doing that now under Pellegrini. It’s not gonna work all the time and defending indeed is not our forte. Hopefully that can be improved on though in training.
However, I am grateful that Pellegrini is trying to inject a philosophy into our club of playing attractive football. Given some more time for the players to gel, the results will follow, that is my firm belief.

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A quick word on VAR. I said before I am a fan, I understand though that it will take some time to get everyone adjusted and tuned into how it works. I felt that the delays were tolerable, in most cases there wasn’t even much of a delay to begin with. There are still calls that are incredibly close, even after watching several replays some of those offside decisions looked 50/50 to me and it’s not much easier for the actual guy doing the VAR. But I am happy with VAR finally be up and running in the PL as well and I am certain people will come to appreciate its merits in the near future. You still win some and lose some, but overall it will, hopefully, make for a more level playing field in the league.

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Next game away to Brighton won’t be easy, no PL game is these days. And Brighton have started the season on fire, taking Watford to the cleaners. They will be tough opposition, playing their first home game this season against us, but I’m expecting a reaction from our lads on the pitch, I’m also expecting changes to our line-up, especially as Felipe Anderson was limping off which made it look as if he might be out for a week or two at least. Good opportunity for Yarmolenko or Fornals to step up to the plate.


Hamburg football update: I know that especially our own Nigel Kahn is waiting eagerly for this segment…;-))
Let me tell you, I am aware that most on here don’t give a hoot about any football results from Hamburg, be that the two big clubs or that little club of mine that’s kicking balls about pitches at the 5th level of the league pyramid in Germany: Concordia.

However, I am deliberately putting this bit at the end, so people can choose to ignore it or read on. And I know some of you have been to Hamburg before and have at least a fleeting interest in German football, we even have a Freiburg supporter on here.

So, here we go. For the big clubs it was cup weekend. St.Pauli were playing in a feisty North German derby away at Luebeck, a game craved by the fans and cursed by the local authorities and police forces who had to oversee that game. Fortunately, St.Pauli managed a narrow win after extra time and penalties against their bitter rivals from the fourth tier of German football (think of it like Millwall, we no longer play them regularly, but when we play them in the cup it’s potential carnage).

Hamburg SV were away too, against a club fighting for its very existence off the pitch at present for monetary reasons, Chemnitz from East Germany. Hamburg SV didn’t show much swagger on the pitch though and only just prevailed. A poor showing, but a win nonetheless. Just like St.Pauli they had to survive a penalty shootout.

It was a highly successful weekend for Concordia too, starting with the home game of the first team on Friday evening, in the pouring rain, beating one of the top sides in the division, Victoria, by a 2:1 scoreline. The game had everything, good passing, feisty challenges, a red card, a penalty and the right team winning of course.

If you fancy it, the highlights of that game can be watched in the clip below. Six points out of a possible nine represent a very decent start to the season for this new Cordi team. They look like a talented group of players, all showing the right attitude and application straight off the bat. You can clearly see a difference in terms of team spirit and effort already, compared to the previous nightmare of a season.

Then, yesterday, the Cordi U23s also won at home, 5:1, compensating for that horrible 1:7 away defeat in last weekend’s game. They are also on six points from three games now and ready to gun for promotion again.

The Cordi women’s team didn’t play, they are kicking off their league season with an away game next Sunday.

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