Nigel Kahn’s Column
Another week passes in West Ham world and another week of bitterness triumph and turmoil. Where do we start?
SATURDAY V ARSENAL
If you didn’t see the game and you believe most of the fanbase, you would be of the mind that we started with 3 centre backs, 2 wing backs, 5 midfielders of which one was playing as a centre forward. With Noble injured, the inclusion of Masuaku on the left it seems to have confused lots of fans. Many thought Moyes had changed his system and was playing 3 centre-halves with Mas left and Fredericks right side. If that was the case, where was Bowen playing, and if so that meant Moyes played 6 in midfield as we only had 1 playing upfront in Antonio.
Looking at it properly, Mas was playing left wing, Cresswell behind him left-back, typical Moyes formation recently, 451.
For me it worked. Masuaku I thought worked well as we all know he’s better when going forward then he ever is when tasked with defending. He gave Cresswell better cover than Fornal’s offers. Fornals looked better in the middle three, relieved of the defensive duties that he is tasked with when out wide.
The performance was almost like a carbon copy of the game we played in March against Arsenal where we had plenty of the play, did not look embarrassed as many an Arsenal team has done to us in the past at The Emirates stadium.
Specifically, in the second half instead of defending the point we had worked hard to get, we were the team it seems more likely to go on to win the game, and yet that it seems is West Ham’s Achilles heel. Overconfidence will always bite us, as shown by Arsenals late winning goal.
Moyes received flak for his use of substitutions, but for me, the team was playing so well, sometimes changes can harm the team once it is in the ascendency in the game.
Can you ever be pleased with a defeat? No, but you can be pleased to see that after the Newcastle performance there is a team that can play well and restore some pride to themselves that enables the fans to believe they can turn it around.
TUESDAY V HULL
It possibly sums up the topsy turvy world that West Ham inhabits when the reserve team cost more money to assemble than the first team, but that is currently what it looks like.
It almost feels like when the British Lions rugby team are on tour and they have a team for test matches and a midweek team for friendlies. We have our first team for the weekend’s Premier League and with the way the League cup is being organised this season, we now have a midweek cup team or the reserves as I call them.
Funnily though, it does look like a strong reserve team when you look at it. Randolph is an international keeper, Balbuena is an international as well. We have a former English midfield star in Wilshere, then throw in Lanzini and Yarmolenko – both represented their countries often. In fact, Yarmo is no 2 in goalscoring for his country Ukraine behind Shevchenko, so that shows his pedigree. Not forgetting the two most expensive players the club have purchased in Haller and Anderson.
Chuck in a smattering of Academy players and it is like how we all believe West Ham should line up back in the old days.
Standing back and looking at it, it seems squad wise we are well covered going forward, it’s just the defence that needs to be sorted.
In the recent as well as distant past, playing against a League 1 team in the cup would have been possibly an upset with us exiting the tournament. We have now very easily dispensed with 2 league 1 teams in the space of 8 days. I hope though that Everton are the team we face next round because as much as I will love to play the easier game I think we need to rest our reserve team against better quality to see if they are worth replacing some of the current 1st team as many fans after the Hull game seemed to be crying out for.
Haller scored another two, but the fact is, Antonio has 10 in 13 Premier League games so has earned the right to be kept as Moyes focal point in attack, and not pushed wide just to accommodate Haller.
It’s obvious Moyes prefers the 1 up top with five behind based on 2 wide players cutting in on their stronger foot, putting Haller in the middle pushing Antonio on the left upsets the balance for me, I would prefer to keep this 1st team together for another few games to see if they will get better the more they play together.
Of-course in typical West Ham style we have the positive COVID reports coming in just an hour before KO forcing out Cullen, Diop and sending Moyes home. Many thought the game should not have been played, claiming that as the affected players had come into contact with others then they should be in isolation as well. What they miss, is the same tests had been done on all players and everyone else came back negative, so I doubt calling the game off crossed any ones mind.
WEDNESDAY V TALKSPORT
I was asked last week if I knew what Sullivan wanted from the fan base, my reply was instant. To be liked. That is all he’s ever wanted from the day he walked into the club with his claims of saving it to then leading it into a new golden era in a home fit for world-class stars. He is feeling the pressure now that’s for sure and that is evident in his decision to go on Talksport to give his side of why West Ham is in the mess its in.
I listened to the interview and much of what he says is true.
The club has no money at the moment to waste on big signings. We need to strengthen the defence and to do that the club needed funds. The only player that could be sold was the only player anyone wanted to buy.
He went on, blaming Pellegrini, Hussilos and he gave the fans what they wanted by appointing those two.
I agree with all that but what DS does not say, ever, is the fact we have got to those positions because nearly every major decision he has made at the club has brought us to this position. The fault lies with him, and him alone for the mess the playing side is in.
We all are waiting to see what becomes of the so-called American bidders waiting to pounce but I doubt they are waiting if they were real at all they have decided to wait. The car crash is still in progress, the value of the club is still possible on a downward slide so its possible they may just sit back and wait for the final crash.
What DS ever thought it would achieve I’m not sure but there is no way back for him and a majority of the fanbase, Unlike DG who it seems, is playing the Its not me Guv game by the looks of the defence of him on Claret & Hugh.
Lastly, a couple of things
I’d likes to wish Nicky Hawkins of West Ham fan tv all the best as he has/is in hospital. At times we as West Ham fans disagree and fall out, but the love of West Ham binds us together in the end, and I have the utmost respect for what the WHFTV boys have achieved and having got to know Nicky better this year he is a proper decent person to boot.
Tonight is the last gameshow in this series on Russ Buddens YouTube channel My hammers XI, they have been fun recently to watch and have raised a good fair packet for the Newham food bank in conjunction with the Irons fans foodbank run by John Ratomski. With us not being at games donations from the irons fans were in danger of drying up so this was a great initiative to have fun and raise money. So if you can tonight at 9 pm have a look on Youtube My Hammers XI channel and you may even recognise 1 or 2 of those taking part tonight.