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As I begin my latest work, I watch the replay of the latest match in front of my t.v., (which is about to take a dump most likely to overuse during a double dip pandemic which doesn’t seem to be subsiding…..) as a matter of fact, it seems to have a brain, and self defense mechanisms that cause it to mutate just as vaccines are out, and hopefully, slow the spread.
However, only thanks to an honest West Ham United victory over a Sheffield United, who, in spite of looking relatively aggressive last season, and, if not for Fabianski, would have scored at least one, look to be headed for relegation, we ended up grinding the win out with a little glitter on it, as I will try very hard not to remain in “Apocalypse Now” mode.
Oh, our beloved Hammers, who, for about a half an hour, were in 4th place……4th! Of course, two hours later, Chelsea had defeated Newcastle, and jumped us on goal differential, and for now, we have to settle for 5th……. O.K!!!! :-))
I must be honest, and those who care, know, part of my absence last week was due to everything that had went wrong in that week between Fulham and our “gallant” effort at Old Trafford, where nothing ever seems to go well for West Ham United, and as it’s no secret that I’m voting for Ogbonna for Hammer of the Year, I could almost feel a para-collective supports’ pain in my ankle, as I saw him go in, and when he didn’t get back up, I knew it was serious, and I just short circuited…..(like my T.V. is about to do) I literally sat there, starting at the screen, not really watching, and surely, sharing some company across the world. (Anyone remember the first time they were “dumped”? Over the phone…. [oh yeah, for those who struggle with my indeterminate “slang”……getting “dumped” means being broken up with, or, to have the bird or fella you fancy most, pull a runner on ya with some Millwall tart/mug from Berdmonsey, or Hersham ].) ;))
Of course, I won’t dwell on that for too long, thankfully because it is at Central Defense, that we are “Thick as a Brick” (Quote Courtesy of Jethro Tull) :) and where I was very upset with Oggy’s injury, I do believe in Diop, Balbuena, and Dawson, (Alves, we have yet to see) however, when cries went out to possibly sell Diop to try to fix our perennial issue with the “born to score goals out of nothing, can count on the match saving goalscorer at CF” problem, a loud protest did go up from this gaffed up corner of the world to keep him, for we will need him, and perhaps is our future starting LCD. (Again, for those whose struggle with my slang, and aren’t yet familiar with search engines [Even I know what one of those is!] “gaffed up” is mostly Boston area, and ironically, in the New England region of the U.S. in general, slang for “damaged very badly”). ;))
As a matter of fact, when I saw the team named for the match, I grew more confused than I normally am. “No Fornals? No Benrahma? Johnson AND Cresswell? Lanzini to start?” I know it’s Sheffield United, (and, turned out to be Lanzini’s 28th birthday) who, some pundits still wonder, as do I, to a degree, what their (Sheffield United’s) issue is, however, these are usually “banana peel” matches where we’d help a struggling club, but I don’t have time to worry or discuss their lack of finishing fangs, or defensively open center channels for, based on quality of play in the first half, of the first half, it really could have been 1-2 to the Blades going into halftime, however, we soaked up the pressure defensively, and once we found our counter attack, we finally got a penalty, which was goal bound, and I believe was Moyes’ strategy.
However this doesn’t stop the seemingly convenient argument for most anti West Ham advocates comes in, if we win, it’s either because we were “punching above our weight”, or the opposition was “off the boil”, which, is getting older than this pandemic, for it dawned upon me, every time Moyes has me scratching my head 5 minutes from Kick Off, about 2 hours later, he has me strutting around with my kit of the match (that’s a whole article, in and of itself, on how I pick my “match day kit”) smiling, not letting little things get to me, and generally feeling pretty good. Looking much like Mr Noble does in the picture below.
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However, as I’ve said before, and not heeded myself, we all should probably heed the words, “management of expectations”, simply because we are pretty thin overall. I also would like to ask a tough question (for me, and some others, I’d imagine) as a talking point, of which I will mention after I make a few more points.
I was very proud of young Ben Johnson, who, could be one hell of a WB that could work either flanking channel, however would most likely flourish on the right, at first, he did appear to be quite bossed by his opposite Stevens, and Osborn as well, as may be expected, however it turned around once he figured out his personal strategy, he grows into a match well, and as it turned out to be a perfect match to test/try him and whichever formation you think it was, (I think the only ones I’ve not seen mentioned across all media were 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1! I think the official site had it as a 3-2-4-1?? Whatever it was, ultimately, it was a success.
As I recall the “look who we beat” argument, and even though there were spells where a more seasoned club would have seized upon and exploited the mistakes made by West Ham United during the match, however, this balances the whole argument to me, again we “SHOULD” have beaten Sheffield United soundly, balances itself out, now that I think it’s clear that Moyes IS the manager we need for the foreseeable future, we SHOULD have won this match, for those very reasons.
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We exploited and made something out of their mistakes, very much like those above and next to us have done to us (save for the Manchester United home loss), I say that was headed for a point if not a win, because if we ever received an 1/8 of the respect we deserve, that match should be be sited as the turning point of their season, which turned on a goal that should not have stood, because VAR couldn’t find (very conveniently, I may add) an angle that showed the ball that Pogba scored off of, came from a ball that went fully over the touchline, apparently by a meter or two!
Unfortunately, a fact that remains for now, for the most part, we go into most Manchester United, or Liverpool away fixtures, and they are SUPPOSED to limit us to one point, at the most, if, they are feeling kind, or have the league or Cup tie on “lockdown” (general urban U.S. slang for having something under sufficient control…. I beg pardon… it’s the “wise ass” in me…..I’m really just having fun, joking around, “taking the piss” a little because, after all, I do at least care about each of you as fellow Hammers, and many as friends) ;)) Now with my fun time disclaimer that “I’m just having a laugh at myself as well,” to finish the point, the home side just seems to have advantage when we visit the cities of the Northwest.
Old Bogeys aside, basically, we are obviously on the right track, and 7pts out of our next 3 could put us in a top 5 conversation long term, however, there are some thicker clubs not far behind, and around. Chelsea has obviously been revitalized under Tomas Touchel’s tutelage, and, from what Danny Higginbotham says (who has turned out to be a pretty objective and solid pundit for NBC here in the States), has excellent “man management” skills. Then you have Everton, Spurs, Liverpool all as our competition at the moment, and with Arsenal seemingly growing a threat, and Southampton, they have been knocked down, but could come crawling back into the conversation, I personally just don’t want to let myself get too carried away again, although, 6th-8th I think would be a fair argument for the quality of character and skill of our current team.
Get Antonio back once the weather warms up just a few more degrees? Or, maybe Masuaku a month from now? I say Oggy is done for the season, very reluctantly, and, with a proverbial tear in my eye, however, many think he’ll be back in a month, (I hope I’m wrong, hope you are right, but fear we are both wrong and it’s gonna be a significantly longer time than a month), however, it looks like Johnson can do the business against the opposition who are struggling a bit more, and more performances like that from Diop, and Oggy will end up having to win his position back!
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O.k. the big talking point. Manuel Lanzini….. the difference in pace and footspeed was night and day when Benrahma came on, in spite of the fact that it was Noble who was subbed on for Lanzini and Benrahma relieved a knackered Lindgard, who, I really hope we can make permanent, his movement forward is creating something for all to take advantage of.
However, back to Manu, who I love, and have been hoping his pace would return, at this point I hate to say that due to a horrible knee injury, it will either take time that the English Top flight doesn’t have, or “The Little Magician” may have performed his last magic act for West Ham United by scoring the “at the death” equalizer at Spurs last October. He does seem to be o.k. when he comes off the bench, (that’s the stage on which his magic show was performed, and hopefully can in the next few to see our success continue), however, he’s 28, prime age, but the pace is not there, I hate to say, that in my opinion he’d struggle getting into the starting XI of any EPL side from the times I’ve seen him start. (Apart from the bottom 3 perhaps) I suppose I’m asking everyone who took the time to read this, which I appreciate very much, does Lanzini get an extension? Or, will he be transferred to make room for the reinforcement that is obviously needed in the front? I mean, he still has a creative mind on the ball, was a part of the charge that led to the penalty, he still can wiggle out of slower defenders clutches, however it seems that he gets overtaken more times than not.
Plus, with “Sir” Mark Noble’s (I think he has a shot…..) :) however whose playing days with WHUF.C. numbered as the starting Captain, (he’s still #1 Captain, of course) and I hope our current starting Captain in Rice decides to buck the trend, and see if he can help West Ham become yearly threats to the big clubs…. if not, we will need some more help in the holding middle, and you can never have enough good midfielders.
There is never an easy moment in football, however, all pondered, humored and considered above, we definitely deserve a day or two to enjoy just how well this squad and the coaching staff are playing, can focus on top ten success, and celebrate many more moments in such a fashion as depicted below.
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