The HamburgHammer Column
I can’t say that the Newcastle game exactly kept my Minces glued to the screen for the duration of the game. It wasn’t nice to watch, our team looked flat, exhausted, tired, struggling with the heat and rarely likely to produce the kind of football Manuel Pellegrini has in mind for his West Ham side.
I am also aware that Newcastle were having to deal with the exact same conditions out there on the pitch, they handled it better, they scored, we didn’t , big deal!
I have come to learn over the years that preseason is not the be all and end all in football (it’s in the name really, PRE-season, it’s not the real thing, but merely the preparation stage). Managers expect preseason to do several things for them: Get the team together and start the bonding and acclimatisation process as some players will have left the club with new players arriving to replace them. They need to gel as people and footballers.
The coaches then start the training sessions and the manager may get an idea during that process of which players to pair, maybe tweaking the playing style. Or try out some new formations, mix and match line-ups, chop and change and see how things go.
That process will continue over the course of various preseason games against opposition from various countries and league levels.
Sometimes it can even include trips abroad which can be exhausting due to the travel involved, but the change of scenery may also help the team bonding, like a school trip to Paris…;-))
It doesn’t matter if it’s Manchester City, West Ham or Concordia Hamburg: Winning in pre-season games is always a bonus, a nice-to-have, but it’s not your main objective at the start of a new season. If you can avoid major injuries to your players, if their fitness levels are up to where they need to be right when the league fixtures kick off and if the manager has got his answers as to how he wants his first XI to play and who his best first XI should actually be, then it’s been a successful preseason.
It doesn’t really matter if you have lost any games in preseason. We have seen teams beat everyone in preseason only to have a disappointing season when the games really mattered.
Or teams with disappointing preseason results then starting to impress and surprise later once the real season had kicked off. Therefore I will not push the panic button after the Newcastle defeat, in fact I don’t even know yet where my panic button is for next season, I’ll tell you should I stumble upon it when cleaning up my flat next week….-))
I was happy to see the walking wounded of last season back: Wilshere, Yarmolenko, Reid, even Sanchez. Who knows, we might still need all of them next season, so no point really knocking any of those players just yet. I would say that Sanchez surely has been struggling to adapt so far, not helped by his lengthy injury absence, but I still haven’t given up hope in him – blimey, that tin hat still fits my Loaf, thank God for that!
After returning from China our squad will now begin to train with all of the new signings present and also those who were granted a few more days off after playing in games and tournaments for their respective countries. Balbuena, Fornals and Haller will all join their teammates to continue on the road to get West Ham ready for the new season.
I’m really happy we have signed Sebastien Haller eventually, despite my tempting fate with my column last Monday. I met the Frankfurt guy on Saturday while watching the Cordi U23s team beat a poor side in the first round of the local cup competition by a whopping 12:0 scoreline, and he told me a few more things about Haller that made me feel even more delighted about the signing.
He said we had got ourselves a fantastic team player there, a player with plenty of skill and endeavour, with no airs of a diva or primadonna. Rather than throwing toys out of his pram he would neatly arrange them according to size and colour. And share them with teammates who wanna have a go with those toys.
My mate told me Haller isn’t your typical out and out striker really, he can also perform in that role, but he needs to be surrounded by teammates really to bring out the best in him.
Haller, he said, would set up more goals at West Ham next season than he would score. He would be likely to score plenty of goals still, no doubt, but he will assist even more.
Simply because Haller isn’t selfish, he is constantly searching for his teammates and if any of them is in a better position to score he will give the ball over and let them rake in the glory of scoring. He wants the goal for the team and for the team to win. If that means that he ain’t scoring himself in a game, he won’t mind.
With Haller it’s all about the team and I think that’s something to really get excited about. Haller will find plenty of decent footballers around him at West Ham to create an environment where we can hopefully begin to score for fun. And that will not only make it easier for our still vulnerable defence but it will also help to build up confidence and team spirit.
There’s nothing better as a West Ham fan to see the entire team celebrating together after scoring a great goal after a glorious attacking move involving six or seven players.
As promised last week, here is a video I have found showcasing the skills of a slightly younger Laura Vetterlein, our new defensive signing for the West Ham Women’s team.
Please try and ignore the Manchester United beanie she’s wearing and the glum background setting with the suburban supermarket entrance, but her skills are something else and one wonders why she turned out a defender in the end…LOL
We have also signed a forward, an Aussie with the quintessential Australian name of Jacynta Galabadaarachchi (Put that on a shirt Mrs.West Ham United club shop employee!).
Her name is actually of Sri Lankan origin, but she was born in Australia and has played for Melbourne City and Perth Glory before joining West Ham.
She is only 18 years old and definitely one for the future. Jacynta knows what to do with a football too…
And another one. Which will also help you getting used to how to pronounce her name correctly – you know by now this is a slight pet topic of mine, bordering on obsession…LOL
Is our transfer business at West Ham done ? No, I don’t think so, not for the women’s team, and certainly not for the first team. We will definitely lose a few more players, Pedro Obiang by all accounts is already in Sassuolo, Italy to finalise his move to their local Serie A club as early as today.
And despite rumours coming out of West Ham that after Haller we could actually be done with new signings arriving in Stratford now, I ain’t buying that at all!
If there is a decent player available who will improve our team, if a deal, maybe a loan, can be agreed for that player, then of course we will do more business. We will also have to replace players that are sold in the coming days and weeks.
If we don’t have a (better) replacement lined up, we shouldn’t sell. Simples.
Our squad is still unbalanced and an injury or two to any of our key players could derail our season just like that. So I am expecting a few more transfers at our club, ins and outs…COYI!!!
Hamburg football update: Those of you who have been out and about in Germany will know that the picture just above is certainly NOT Hamburg, but it’s actually the famous Holstentor (Holsten Gate) in Luebeck. I ventured to that beautiful old Hanseatic city about 50 miles north of Hamburg to watch another preseason game of the Cordi women’s team. That’s dedication, innit ? ;-))
The game was actually not in the nice (old) part of town, same as London tourists would rarely find themselves doing selfies in South Bermondsey, but the game was scheduled to be played in the northeastern suburb of Siems which turned out to be the indiustrial/harbour part of town.
But it was alright as it was the same route our car used to take every weekend when our family went to our camping site on the Baltic Sea coast in my childhood.
I even passed the beautiful old water tower, the one I swore as a kid I would eventually live in one day.
But I also did pass a dead badger, prostrate on the side of the motorway (no joke) and maybe I should have taken that as a bad sign and turned the car around at once.
The girls lost 3:12, with the halftime score at 3:3. A total second half collapse made for a shocker of an afternoon. A combination of far superior (and ruthless) opposition, tough conditions (very hot), various individual lapses and mistakes on Cordi’s side and there you have it.
At one stage the manager and players were shouting at each other and I thought they might even walk off the pitch after 70 minutes or so.
It was bad vibes, at least for the ten minutes immediately following the final whistle. But as usual there was a team talk at the end and the manager also called the next training session off to allow the girls to clear their heads.
The idea to play only teams in preseason which play one or two levels above Cordi looks a risky approach at this stage.
I just explained how you should never read too much into preseason results.
But 3:12 defeats don’t exactly boost confidence in your team’s ability.
The girls and coaching staff now need to put this defeat behind them fast and focus on improving concentration levels and fitness. I’m sure they will have a good season regardless. They will face easier opposition actually once the season begins.
Earlier this weekend just gone, the Cordi first team won their first-round-of-the-local-cup encounter 3:0 on Friday evening, away at Glinde. Not exactly a feast of football, but mission accomplished regardless. And I already mentioned the U23s winning their cup game 12:0 the day after…So plenty of goals, but not all of them for the right team…