Match Report

A new regime - mine

“O, woe is me T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” This no doubt is what Shakespeare would have said after watching the game against Newcastle. And David Sullivan was spotted in a pub on Sunday saying, ‘Who will rid me of this clueless manager’.

I will be seventy next week. Even though one can be in perfect health, I can tell you that a realisation dawns on you that you are not quite as motivated as you once were and that you realise your ideas are beginning to be out of date. Pellegrini persist with the same system he has used for years. There is very little variation. It’s as if he is unable to put his brain in gear. He’s an old banger coming to the end of his useful life as a manager.

Mark Noble says that Pellegrini exudes an air of calmness. No wonder. If I was on £10 million a year and knew it made no difference if I got sacked, because this was my last job, I would be calm. Calmness is not what is required in the current situation.

I suggest Pellegrini take a leaf out of the rugby coaches’ book. They watch the game from the stands so that can get an overall view of the game. I am sure that one’s view if distorted if one stands on the sidelines at the same level as the players.

Let’s start with our bad luck. It was unfortunate we lost Fabulanski. Roberto is what he is – a reserve goalkeeper, desperately short of game time. We can’t blame him for the loss, as Newcastle could have had five in the first half. But he was definitely at fault for two goals and we know that a safe pair of hands gives an air of confidence to the players in front of him.

Last night I dreamt that David Sullivan contacted me and asked me to take over. First of all, I would most definitely concentrate of defence and play Balbuena, Diop and Ogbonna as the back three. This would allow our full backs to becoming really attacking. I would put Zabaleta out to pasture( you could see on Saturday he completely ran out of ideas when going forward) and ask Fredericks to start using his speed to get to the byline and cross the ball to Haller, who is getting no service at all.

I would build a statue for Mark Noble and replace him by playing Lanzini in a deeper roll. With a back three, he would have the confidence to roam forwards.
I would let Snodgrass go and canvass for Scottish Independence. He’s made a good effort this season but is too slow for the Premier League. And I would bring back Grady Diangana from West Brom.

I have never understood why Masuaku is a full back. He is a wasted talent. I would move him to midfield and encourage him to using his skills on the ball to penetrate defences.
Then, I would call the players in one by one and tell them their performance is no effing good. I would want them to be first of the ball from the first whistle. I would end the regime of calmness and institute one of terror, like an effective king. Let’s face it, we sometimes forget footballers are young men and young men respect discipline. You can’t run an army by exuding an air of calmness. Was Napoleon ever calm?

Then, I would wake up and realise none of this is going to happen. I have just consulted my crystal ball. We’re going to drop like a stone and spend the rest of the season fighting to avoid relegation. OK, we’re not the only one in trouble – Everton, Norwich, Watford and Southampton also have problems to name a few, but I want to leave the London Stadium knowing our players tried, even though they lost.


The GoatyGav Column

A Keeper Of Confidence

Over the last three to four weeks I’ve posted several comments in support of Roberto. He’s come in and done ok for my money. I think that he’s shown what he’s about with some really decent shots stopped. He’s made very few errors and it’s debatable whether those have led to goals conceded. The second Newcastle goal, for which I left my seat to visit the little boys room (yes, I know, it was my fault), was, almost certainly, down to his indecision in coming for the ball and ending up stranded off his line without a chance of claiming the ball but who’s to say that wouldn’t have ended up in the back of the net. In any event that rush of blood to the head wouldn’t have led to his defence gaining confidence in him and it’s that point that forms the basis of this article.

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My brother and I, along with all those who stayed behind, applauded San Miguel Adrian on the season’s player parade lap last season. He got the loudest chant sung about him, in the lower tier section that we went down to, and deservedly so in my opinion. I wouldn’t say that Adrian was a club legend but he came pretty close. One of the club’s most memorable moments, of the last decade, was the penalty shootout victory against Everton in the 3rd round replay of the cup in 2015. After fellow Spaniard Joel Robles hit the crossbar with his spot kick the image of our charismatic keeper confidently throwing off his gloves and coolly burying his penner is emblazoned on our memories for all time. One of those moments I’ll remember exactly where I was, as I didn’t attend the match, as I jigged my way around the social club where I was playing a darts match.

San Miguel was not without his detractors at West Ham. Criticism of him re-surfaced from time to time after he had his occasional ‘moments’ that had us all wondering what was going through his mind. They were, however, exactly that – just moments. Ninety nine percent of the time Adrian was a superb keeper for us. As time rolled by he also improved his consistency and the mistakes were fewer and farther between.

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Nowadays Adrian plies his trade as the backup keeper for Liverpool. Shortly after joining the European Champions he found himself thrown in to the first team during, and following, the match of the injury to Alisson in the season opener against Norwich City on 9th August. With little time to adjust, after thirty nine minutes of the Premier League Season having passed, our ex-keeper helped Liverpool boss the league and go on an amazing winning run of eight games before handing the mantle back to Alisson. In fact the winning streak ended with Alisson’s return for the Merseysider’s visit to Old Trafford on the 20th October.

As well as directly effecting the outcome of games, through goals conceded, goalkeeper’s performances, and overall presence, have a direct effect on a team’s confidence. Since the injury to Fabianski West Ham’s first team confidence has gradually ebbed away. Apart from the team’s results, and league position, heading South there’s been a visible deterioration in the outfield tempo, fluency and cohesion. Fabianski’s injury came after thirty-four minutes of play at Bournemouth on 28th September. The team were goalless at the Vitality Stadium having just beaten Manchester United at home, drawn at Villa Park and beaten Norwich City – all without conceding a goal. Before that we’d won three–one at Watford and drawn one each with Brighton. The fact that Man City had put five past us in the previous match had little to do with Fabianski’s performance.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not placing the blame for all our woes at Roberto’s door. Going back to the first paragraph of this article I’m clear in my support of him as a deputy. I just wonder whether the club’s owners now rue the decision not to improve Adrian’s contract and if they now believe that the extra wages would have been worthwhile paying. Most of the squad knew San Miguel very well and, I’m sure, would have been playing with far more confidence with the Spaniard behind them because of the relationship developed over the six seasons. Added to that the fact he’s still only thirty-two years of age one can only believe that the board would have to admit to having made a mistake.

Elsewhere the West Ham Ladies edged out Reading in a cup competition for the second year running. This time it was the Continental League Cup, and not the F.A. Cup, but again away to the Berkshire side. Alisha Lehman scored the only goal of the match, so no extra-time or penalties on this occasion, and the highlights can be viewed on the official club site. From what I could make out the women really impressed and moved the ball well. Encouraging signs for the rest of the season to come. Next time out, on the 17th November, they’re away to the mighty Manchester City. Best of luck to the Ironesses for that match.

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The U23s suffered a loss, and gained a good win, against Wolfsburg in the Premier League International Cup and Swansea in PL2 respectively. Two stunning efforts from Wolfsburg saw the German team come out three-two victors however Anthony Scully kept up his incredible Scoring run which continued at Swansea where he grabbed another in the four-two win. Nathan Holland grabbed an impressive brace against the Swans with Dan Kemp also finishing beautifully for the fourth. Their next outing is a trip to high flying Exeter City in the Checkatrade Trophy on 13th. Once again the highlights can be viewed at www.whufc.com.

Have a good week all.

COME ON YOU RIP ROARIN’ IRONS!


The HamburgHammer Column

Magpies mash West Ham - liquor won't help after that sorry performance

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I am almost lost for words. Which is rare. This was like watching a massive pile-up-style car crash on the M4, only with fewer injured people and less actual car body damage at the end of it.

But as with a car crash, I couldn’t just go past the scene, averting my eyes and minding my own business.

I had to watch it all unfold until the bitter end when we briefly looked as if we might create the mother of all comebacks.

Our very own Toddyhammer had made the long way to the London Stadium from Prague, so even season-ticketless Iron Liddy set foot inside the bowl once more for this occasion, but I have an inkling that this performance will not have enhanced her desire to return anytime soon. I wouldn’t blame her.

I cannot give you any meticulous analysis here, nevermind conclusive answers in terms of what went wrong and what can be done to fix it.
Actually, I do have a tiny bit of analysis to deliver.

We shouldn’t have started Zabaleta against a very pacy Newcastle attacking front. Fredericks should have played from the start.
And I have to say that, despite making several good saves, our backup keeper Roberto doesn’t fill me with confidence after the way he was oozing uncertainty for long stretches of the game.
When you’re going to claim a ball as goalkeeper you need to come out all the way and try to get there first, you don’t stop halfway through your run like Roberto did just before conceding the second goal.

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There was only one player in our squad who could leave the pitch with his head held high and his conscience intact after 90 minutes:

Robert Snodgrass. Covering every blade of grass on the pitch, whipping in dangerous crosses and set pieces all game, unfortunately without his teammates making the most of those efforts. And his goal was a masterful strike, worthy of earning any team a point or three. But let’s be honest, we didn’t deserve to get ANYTHING from the game after a shambolic afternoon of lackluster and inept football.

Before this game, Newcastle had never scored more than one goal in any competitive game all season. In this one they could and maybe should have scored five or six. That’s how terrible we were. But it’s nothing new.

All too often we make teams going through a rough spell look like Barcelona as soon as they step out onto the same pitch as us. I have no idea why that is. We all know our players are better than this, most of them can actually pick a good pass, they can all run, tackle, find the top corner with a curler or belter from 25 yards out on any given day.

I know plenty of fans are beginning to feel sick and tired about Pellegrini’s role in all this. Somehow still, maybe foolishly, I am not prepared to blame him.

Yes, maybe he got the Zabaleta decision wrong. But the entire team were off the pace (again) and as a consequence all over the pitch. Conceding from two set pieces in quick succession ?

What the hell are these guys doing at Rush Green all week between Monday and Friday ? When you go into games with that low a level of application, desire and ability to carry out the footballing basics of defending, you won’t get many points in this league.

It’s a measly 2 points from a possible 15 we earned from our past five league fixtures. That’s relegation form and we can only praise the Lord that there are a number of other teams in the Premier League who have performed even worse than us. I know that ultimately the buck stops with the gaffer, however, I’m actually more angry with the players than the manager.

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Where do we go from here ? The games aren’t getting any easier, that’s for sure! I don’t know if maybe some sort of team bonding exercise is required: A visit to Alton Towers maybe. Or wild water rafting although I’d be too worried our players might lose the paddle and end up down a certain creek where the smell is apparently not very nice.

The thing is that we have pretty much everything in place to play good football. Pellegrini is a vastly experienced manager, we have a good mix of seasoned and young players, some with pace, others with tackling skills, tricks and flicks or even the ability to hold up the ball. But the chemistry just isn’t there, at all! Which is also true for confidence which is by now gone completely, maybe it is hiding in the same place where fortune is still lying in wait, in some dark and dodgy corner of Britain. Who knows ?

Or is there the need for a player or two in the dressing room getting really loud while delivering some uncomfortable home truths here ? Surely Mark Noble as the skipper would be the automatic choice for that particular task. But he had a stinker against Newcastle like the rest of the team. So any “must do better”-speech from him might sound a bit hollow and ironic at this point.

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As fans all we can do is take defeats like this on the chin and carry on supporting the team, watching the games, trying to stay positive – as irrational as that may sound after such a terrible performance.

But then again, we’ve been here before with this club. West Ham practically invented bad runs of form in football. We have also in the past gone down with a team full of quality players who were deemed, well, too good to go down.

This club can do weird and wonderful things, but also those of the weird and painful variety. Somehow we need to find the formula for a bit more wonderful again…and fast! COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Another shocking surrender from St.Pauli who only managed a 2:2 draw against Karlsruhe (Bilic’s former club), after conceding two goals in the last 15 minutes. They remain stuck in no-man’s land of the table. Hamburg SV were away at bottom club Wiesbaden, with a perfect chance to put some more daylight between themselves and the chasing pack at the top of the table. They only drew 1:1 and remain in first place for now, however, with both Stuttgart and Bielefeld in hot pursuit after winning their games respectively.
As for Concordia, the first team won a midweek encounter on Halloween/Reformation Day by a 1:0 scoreline at home against Osdorf, but the score doesn’t tell the whole story as the Cordi lads hit the woodwork SIX (!!!) times. Still, three points. Then on Sunday it was an away fixture at unbeatable table toppers Dassendorf. A 1:2 defeat didn’t come unexpected and was a decent enough result, all things considered (the Cordi keeper had to leave the pitch after fracturing his hand after colliding with an opponent).

The U23s won 6:1 at home, scoring all seven goals on the day. Promotion looks unlikely at this point, but not impossible.
The women’s team won their crucial home tie against Scala 7:3. The cushion above the non-promotion places is seven points now. Nice one!


Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Players Booed At Half Time As Hammers Poor Form Continues


Book Review

West Ham 2, Newcastle 3. Far Worse Than Score Suggests.

Against my better judgment, I have found something that David Gold and I agree on.

Daylight Savings Time.

Actually, I don’t have as strong an opinion on it as our…ahem…esteemed co-owner. I was just very annoyed this morning because I was not aware Boris and friends changed the clocks last week. Which meant kickoff here was 11am, not 10am. Which meant I didn’t have to rush to the garbage dump first thing to unload debris from the addition we are putting on the house. Which meant I didn’t have to kick my son out of the basement and off the phone with his mate while they battled on some video game. For all of Newcastle’s problems in recent times, including no matches so far this season with more than one goal, we have only managed to win one of our last 25 matches against them. Today was no better.

Much has been said, all negative, about West Ham’s lack of pace. That issue was evident in the opening minutes of the match. There wasn’t a particular moment that put a spotlight on that. But West Ham looked slow and measured, as if they were waiting for the opposition to allow them to do what they imagined they could do if given the time and space. Newcastle, on the other hand, looked adventurous and probing. Considering their attacking problems so far this season, it wasn’t a hopeful atmosphere.

West Ham picked up the pace a little and won a few corners for their efforts. Both of them were decent deliveries by Snodgrass, and both ended with fairly weak efforts from Balbuena. Minutes later, Almiron won a free kick after Diop breathed on him just outside the West Ham penalty area. Shelvey sent the free kick to the far post where Joelinton met it with his head. He sent it back across the box and Clark said thank you very much as he headed it past Roberto.

West Ham 0
Newcastle 1

The match turned shambolic in the 22nd minute, and all the fears when Fabianski went down came to fruition. Newcastle won another corner and took it short. The ball was lobbed into the area and Roberto came out to….actually I have no idea what he came out to do. He did nothing but leave the entire goal wide open for Fernandez, and for the first time this season Newcastle had a second goal in a game.

West Ham 0
Newcastle 2

It should have been 0-3 a minute later when Saint-Maximin was sent in alone on goal but he hit Roberto’s foot when the whole goal was beckoning. The game should have been effectively over. But based on the pathetic play from the home side it seemed to be anyway.

Newcastle had yet another must score opportunity when a ball played over the top created a foot race between Saint-Maximin and Zabaleta. Despite being yards behind, the Frenchman easily beat the Argentine to the ball but he couldn’t finish the job. The ball bounced to Almiron in the box, but Roberto ran out and blocked the ball with his chest. Seconds later Shelvey hit the bar with a long effort. Defensively it was among the worst performances I’d seen in ages. The booing could be heard from London to Houston. And everywhere in between.

West Ham had their first effort on goal in the 41st minute when Haller was able to put a scissor kick on goal after a cross from Anderson. I wondered what Haller might be thinking at that moment about his decision over the summer.

West Ham won a corner in the final moments of the opening half and came close to getting a goal back when the Snodgrass-Balbuena combination tried again, only this time Balbuena put his effort on target. Dubravka got his right hand on it and palmed it over the bar. Then it was Newcastle on the attack, and once again it was Saint-Maximin. His low shot was palmed around the post by Roberto.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Newcastle 2 (should have been 5)

As the second half began, I was on the phone with my best mate Jon. We talked a little bit about the disaster we had watched unfold. But mostly we talked kids, work, things like that. When Shelvey made it 0-3, I turned it off. The recent rain storms we have had knocked so many leaves down I saw no reason to wait another minute to grab the rake. Balbuena scored as I posted this, and then Snodgrass in added time. But so what? If a miracle happened, OK. I would have missed it. But I knew it wouldn’t. So for the first time in my seven years doing this, I wrote my report before the match was over.

No pictures, either. I couldn’t take it any more, and I certainly didn’t want to relive anything by finding images of the slaughter.

Final Score
West Ham 2
Newcastle 3

I don’t know where we go from here.


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