My West Ham Story

The Partly Unknown Impact of the Austrians

I started to write this on the plane back to my home town Vienna, just having spent an extended weekend in London and watching West Ham for the second time this season. The first game had been the defeat against Wolves at the end of August, and now I have been able to watch West Ham’s convincing 4-2 win over Burnley last Saturday. One bad game, one good game, and the revelation of what a so far underperforming player can do in the respective second match – that seems to be the pattern of my West Ham Story last season as well as this year.

WHU v Wolves

Last season I also had been able to attend two live games in autumn, and interestingly, this year is following the same pattern as the last one: my first game was dreadful (last term losing to Liverpool 1-4) and this year’s first game was nothing better: it was the fourth league game of the season and turned out to be West Ham’s fourth consecutive defeat with the Hammers conceding in the dying minutes, losing out 0-1 to Wolves in the London Stadium.

But like last year, this game turned out to be the last one in a series of disappointments, and things started to get better afterwards. Last year I had witnessed Slaven Bilic’s last game in charge, and soon afterwards his successor David Moyes engineered Marko Arnautovic’s metamorphosis into West Ham’s most prolific striker for years and eventually secured West Ham’s Premier League survival.

WHU v Burnley

Marko Arnautovic evolving into “Arnie”,, Hammer of the Year

After the disappointment in the first game, the following journey to the British capital last year gave me the opportunity to come back to London Stadium for a second game of last season, against Chelsea. And much to my delight, the presence of his fellow Austrians in the West Stand must have inspired Marko Arnautovic who had had a disappointing start into his spell with the club. The Austrian not only scored his first goal for West Ham against Chelsea and jumped into the crowd like Carlos Tevez had done a decade earlier at Upton Park, but he went on to deliver, starting from that game, what West Ham had expected of him when he was signed for a record fee in the summer. And finally “Arnie” deservedly won the “Hammer of the Year” award.

Well, and this year? When date proposals were made for a law symposium in London that I was going to participate in, the 2nd of November turned out to be the day of the event – a date which luckily coincided with a West Ham home game on the Saturday afterwards. That made it possible to come over again to spur on an other “record signing” this year who had come under some criticism for failing to play up to his potential so far.

Playing like strangers

Back in August in the Wolves game, the West Ham players, and especially Felipe Anderson, had played as if they were strangers not understanding one another. They were somehow strolling around the pitch on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon, lacking any urgency which would have been necessary to beat a newly promoted team in one of the first games of the season. Our new Brazilian marquee player from Lazio Rome showed only rare glimpses of what he might be able to do, and almost all his passes and runs led to Nothing. In my opinion he played much too deep and was too slow in going forward wide left, with the other players not able to anticipate where he would pass the ball or want to get it from his teammates.

But also this year after a very disappointing start (which we had not expected after the appointment of a high profile manager and massive funds invested in the squad), something better was just around the corner: like last year, the deplorable outcome of my first visit to the London Stadium wasn’t followed by other poor performances and results, but instead the “Pellegrini revolution” finally broke clear at last, West Ham turned the corner and went on a run of three wins and a draw – before undeservedly losing away to Brighton, and (more deservedly) losing twice to London rivals Spurs in the Premier League and the League Cup.

Because of this setback the Burnley match had become another “must win game” and I was only cautiously optimistic that the Hammers would get back to winning ways.

Especially I did not expect that another part of my narrative of the last season was going to be repeated in 2018. As I said before, last year our record signing Marko Arnautovic had not performed well until my second visit to London, and also this year, though a first goal had been scored by Felipe Anderson in September against Manchester Utd, our current “record signing” still had failed to deliver, much like Arnie had done in his first games last year.

Felipe Anderson

Felipe on the up at last

But as we had been able to watch Arnautovic’s first goal and the start of a very successful season for the Austrian last year, we now were very lucky to be able to witness Felipe Anderson’s best game by far since his arrival! So West Ham really was lucky – or must I say: I had been lucky – that I was able to come to London for a second time earlier than last year! Hence we did not have to wait until December until West Ham’s £36 million signing started to justify the amount West Ham has paid for him to Lazio in the summer. Anderson scored twice and played a large part in the Irons’ so far best game of the season, an important and much deserved 4-2 win. He linked up very well in the process with promising youngster Grady Diangana (who still has to make a choice, if he would want to play for England or the Democratic Republic of Congo) and with “Arnie from Austria” (who is already irreplaceable in Austria’s national team, and of course at West Ham).

Anderson Arnie

Well, that said – with tongue-in-cheek of course – I think West Ham should not underestimate the impact which two Austrians have on the run of the season: one of them on the pitch, Marko Arnautovic, and an other one in the West Stand whose mere presence in the crowd each year on his second visit to the London Stadium seems to inspire, unconsciously of course, a particular kind of player: the one that has been earmarked as West Ham’s new star player in the respective season, but has not been able to find his feet in the London Stadium so far. This year: Senhor Felipe Anderson.

Therefore never underestimate the (partly unknown) contribution of the Austrians!
Come on you Irons!


Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Huddersfield

This weekend West Ham travel to Huddersfield where we hope to follow last week’s victory with another. However they broke their season’s duck with a win against Fulham last Monday, so will be equally hoping to capitalise on their most recent performance. Ahead of the game I spoke to John McNamarra of Huddersfield fanzine Terrierblog to discuss how he views their season has gone so far, and the game.

Hi John, you must be delighted to have finally got your first win of the season against Fulham on Monday night? You’ll be expecting that every game now.
Haha I doubt that! It was nice to get the first win of the season, our performances so far this term have definitely deserved a couple more wins. Our next run of games looks a lot kinder than our start to the season though, so I will be expecting a couple more wins before Christmas.

Regardless of all that, I expect you are pleased to be in the Premier League still, as well as ‘top dogs’ in Yorkshire.
I wouldn’t particularly say so, from a personal perspective I don’t really like the Premier League. It’s a boring league full of haves and have nots. When you see a corrupt regime backing an average sized club like Manchester City to European domination, what’s left for the rest of us?

Yes it can be a bit annoying but Leicester’s improbable win of two seasons ago surely allows us to dream a little bit more. What were the highlights of last season?

My favourite moment from last season was Tom Ince’s last minute winner against Watford that all but secured our survival. The Manchester United win was good and made our promotion to the Premier League worth it. Other than that, not a great lot!

What now are your priorities for the current season?
As a club the priority is to capitalise on the win over Fulham and ensure that we aren’t one of the three worst teams in the league come May. For me the priority is to see some exciting football from my team.

You spent quite a bit of money on a few players during the close season, have any of those yet cemented themselves into your lineup?
In short, absolutely not. David Wagner seems to have lost a bit of faith in the new signings and they rarely seem to play. From the brief glimpses we’ve had of them so far it’s easy to see why, Mbenza and Diakhaby look like competition winners.

Which other players will be crucial to your efforts to pull yourselves up the table?
It’s all about Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre. As a side we create a decent amount of chances but thus far, those two have proved utterly incapable of converting any of them. If they up their game then we should be fine.

Which West Ham player(s) if any would you like to see wearing a Huddersfield shirt?
It has to be Arnautovic. Not only is he a terrific player but he’s a complete shithouse too and I love that! His antics against Mark Hughes when West Ham returned to Stoke were hilarious and I loved how he mugged off James Tarkowski last weekend too.

I presume most of the fans will be behind Dave Wagner whatever happens this season?
The majority of what I call the ‘proper fans’ are fully behind Wagner, and by that I mean the fans that have been to Sincil Bank, Saltergate and The Bescot supporting Town. Not the new breed who have popped their Liverpool shirts back into the wardrobe in the last 18 months.

What did you think about West Ham appointing Manuel Pelligrini as our manager? I remember you were an early advocate of the sacking of Slaven Bilic.
I felt like it was a brave move on Pellegrini’s part, from the outside his reputation and history as a manager probably demanded not a better club, but a more stable club.
He seems to have got the fans on board which has been vital and it appears that you’re playing much better football as well. Exciting times for Hammers fans I think.

Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
The United Arab Emirates of Manchester will win the title this season without doubt, how can’t they? Then it will be Cardiff, Fulham and ourselves that exit the division.

How do you expect Huddersfield to setup against West Ham on Saturday: Team/formation prediction?
We’ll go with three at the back with Hadergjonaj and Lowe as wing-backs, Mooy, Hogg and Williams will play in the centre with Depoitre up top on his own.
Expect a carbon copy of the tactics employed against Fulham earlier in the week.

Are you confident you can win this game? Prediction for score?
No I’m not at all confident, I think that you have players in almost every attacking position capable of punishing us. Felipe Anderson will most probably get the better of Hadergjonaj and I expect Arnautovic to have a field day. I’m going 3-0 West Ham.

Many thanks to a not very happy sounding John for his time. He’s more confident of our victory than I am. I quite hope Huddersfield stay up as l like to see the smaller clubs prosper, but of course not tomorrow. I am going for a 3 – 1 away win, which will mean two wins on the bounce for the first time since Kingdom come! COYI

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Huddersfield v West Ham

Blast from the past

13th January 2018 – West Ham United recorded a 4-1 win at Huddersfield, Ed Sheeran was number one with ‘Perfect’, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle topped the UK box office and, the following day, former West Brom, Coventry and England striker Cyrille Regis died after suffering a heart attack.

West Ham captain Mark Noble gave the Hammers the lead after 25 minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium in front of 24,105, setting the side on their way to only our third league win away to the Terriers by pouncing on a poor pass by Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, advancing into the penalty area and finishing with aplomb beyond the Danish international. The Terriers levelled with five minutes remaining of the first half when Joe Lolley cut inside from the left to curl a superb shot past Adrian.

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The Hammers regained the lead within seconds of the restart when Cheikhou Kouyate nodded on a long ball and Marko Arnautovic turned to fire a sizzling strike low into the net. The Irons ran away with the game and the points in the following 15 minutes, with Manuel Lanzini (pictured above) scoring twice. First, Arnautovic sent the Argentine clean through on goal to put the visitors 3-1 up on 56 minutes. Five minutes later, it was four, Lanzini finishing unerringly after Arnautovic’s strength had taken him into the penalty area. The victory ensured Hammers boss David Moyes became the fourth manager to win 200 Premier League matches.

The Hammers went on to finish the 2017/18 Premier League season in 13th place, while David Wagner’s Huddersfield ended up 16th. Arnautovic was the Irons’ top goalscorer with 11 goals from 35 appearances. Manchester City won the league and Chelsea won the FA Cup.

Huddersfield Town: Jonas Lossl, Tommy Smith (Terence Kongolo), Christopher Schindler, Zanka, Scott Malone, Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Mooy, Tom Ince, Joe Lolley (Alex Pritchard), Rajiv van La Parra, Laurent Depoitre.

West Ham United: Adrian, Pablo Zabaleta, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Manuel Lanzini (Declan Rice), Marko Arnautovic (Andre Ayew).

Club Connections

A small number of players have worn the shirts of both West Ham United and Huddersfield Town. These include:

Defenders: Kenny Brown, Dickie Pudan, Archie Taylor, Simon Webster, Elliott Ward, David Unsworth, Steve Walford.

Midfielders: Peter Butler, Diego Poyet, Mark Ward.

Strikers: Dave Mangnall, Jack Foster.

Lou Macari managed both clubs, while Chris Powell played for West Ham and managed Huddersfield. Sam Allardyce played for the Terriers and managed the Hammers.

Today’s focus though falls on a former Hammers forward who had a brief spell at Huddersfield. George Crowther was born in 1892 in Bishop Middleham, County Durham and began his career with local club Shildon before joining Manchester United in 1911. After failing to make an official appearance for the Red Devils, Crowther signed for Huddersfield in 1912 and made two appearances in the Second Division. He left the club in 1913 and briefly turned out for Rotherham Town, Halifax and Hurst (now known as Ashton United).

World War One was to interrupt Crowther’s footballing career though – he had three years active service, serving as a Private in the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment). This infantry battalion was a ‘Pals battalion’ – a specially constituted battalion of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues (‘pals’), rather than being arbitrarily allocated to battalions. Crowther’s particular battalion was known as the ‘Football Battalion’.

During the First World War there had been an initial push by clubs for professional football to continue, in order to keep the public’s spirits up. This stance was not widely agreed with and public opinion turned against professional footballers. One soldier, serving in France, wrote to a British newspaper to complain that “hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young roughs were watching hirelings playing football” while others were serving their country. The suggestion was even made that King George V should cease being a patron of The Football Association. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes, publicly objected and appealed for footballers to volunteer for service, saying “If a footballer has strength of limb, let them serve and march in the field of battle”.

Conservative MP for Brentford and future Home Secretary William Joynson-Hicks formed the battalion on 12th December 1914 at Fulham Town Hall after a suggestion by Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener. England international Frank Buckley became the first player to join with a further 30 players who signed up at its formation. The formation was announced to the general public on 1st January 1915 and approximately 150 more enlisted over the next few months, the battalion’s ranks further swelled by numerous amateur players, officials and fans. Former West Ham goalkeepers Joe Webster and Tommy Lonsdale also signed up. Press complaints continued though, as there were some 1,800 eligible footballers – I have previously told the story of how George Hilsdon, formerly of West Ham and Chelsea, hid in a chicken run to avoid active service. Many footballers deliberately chose to avoid the battalion by joining other regiments, causing the War Office to initially have difficulties filling the ‘Football Battalion’.

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Crowther (pictured) survived the Great War and returned to football in 1919, playing for Bradford Park Avenue. He signed for West Ham United in 1920, making his debut at inside-left in a 1-0 home win over Wolves on 6th September 1920. He made two more appearances for the Second Division Hammers, both also in September 1920, in a 0-0 draw at Fulham and a 2-0 win over the same opposition in the reverse fixture at Upton Park.

Crowther left West Ham after these three appearances, moving to Hartlepools United in 1921. He found his goalscoring boots in the Third Division North, scoring ten goals in 25 games, before ending his career with Tranmere in 1922. George Crowther died in 1957 at the age of 64 or 65.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Christopher Kavanagh. The Manchester-born official has refereed the Hammers on three previous occasions, most recently for our 1-0 home defeat to Wolves in September. He was the man in the middle for our 2-0 win at Leicester in May and also issued Arthur Masuaku with a red card for spitting in January’s FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wigan.

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Kavanagh has been the man in the middle for seven Premier League matches so far in 2018/19, issuing 20 yellow cards in those games and awarding two penalties.

Possible line-ups

David Wagner is likely to be missing right-back Erik Durm and defensive midfielder Danny Williams through injury. Midfielder Philip Billing looked set to miss the match through suspension after seemingly picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Fulham on Monday – it has since been confirmed that referee Anthony Taylor actually issued the booking to Isaac Mbenza for kicking the ball away, meaning Billing will be available for the match this weekend.

Manuel Pellegrini is without the injured Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andy Carroll, while Mark Noble completes his three-match ban. Robert Snodgrass remains one booking away from a one-match suspension.

Possible Huddersfield Town XI: Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Kongolo, Zanka, Schindler, Lowe; Billing, Mooy, Hogg; Pritchard; Mounie.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Obiang, Snodgrass; Diangana, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


The Blind Hammer Column

Good riddance

Blind Hammer considers proposals for a European Super League

The perennial “spectra” of a European Super League has raised it noisome head again. This story is trotted out from time to time as the European Super Rich clubs attempt to exhort even more money from TV Companies at the expense of smaller clubs.

This story is based on an arrogance self-justification that only these tiny elite have teams that people want to watch. The often quoted slight is that “nobody wants to watch Stoke”. Despite the fact that Stoke have slipped into the Championship the idea that nobody wants to watch them is news to the many thousands of loyal season ticket holders at the bet365 Stadium. Certainly the atmosphere generated by passionate supporters at Stoke far exceeds that routinely produced at the so called glamour clubs.

Arsenal’s emirates Stadium is famously nicknamed the “Library”. Manchester City players have expressed concern about the lack of atmosphere at the Etihad whilst the BBC reported that Manchester United planned to distribute song sheets" to try and wake up their somnolent crowd. The idea that the super-rich clubs routinely produce exciting football clashes is a complete fallacy. The endemic lack of atmosphere and excitement is precisely fueled by inequality and predictable match outcomes for many games.

There is a section of our support which whine relentlessly about our so called “Soulless Athletics Bowl”. Despite this, some of the “neutral” sighted guides who take me to the London Stadium cannot understand this negativity. They report that the London Stadium has far better atmosphere than they experience on their visits to the emirates and Stamford Bridge. When we play well, the Stadium rocks.

Not just the rest of the Premiership, but in fact the Championship also has crowds and atmosphere exceeding some of the so called “Elite” European teams.

The tragic Helicopter crash at the king power stadium returned Leicester’s dramatic title winning season to the limelight. Their success was described as a once in a life time defiance of 5000 to 1 odds.

Yet before the distortion provided by unequal foreign investment and the ossification of the “top 4” by Champions League riches, Leicester’s success would never have attracted such astronomical odds. Derby won the First Division after a similar triumph in Division 2. Teams like Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest were not only able to win the Title but go on to conquer Europe. Few supporters of those clubs, after their European triumphs, could have imagined that we could have created a league structure where only a tiny minority could ever realistically win.

This frozen dominance of the “Gang of Five” is achieved by the tremendous disparity in revenues they have managed to perpetuate. If we read their intentions now they want to force an even greater disparity in resources, allowing them to hoover up even more of the cream of the world’s football and managerial talent. All the rest will be structually forced to act as “also rans”. . Turnover figures do not lie, in general over time, those clubs with most revenues will win most. This pattern persists across all of Europe.

This creates a weary predictability for the outcomes of most matches involving these elite clubs. Manchester City, with the resources of not just a billionaire, but an entire oil rich country should, theoretically, hardly ever lose. They has assumed an almost ridiculous superiority. Manchester United looks on enviously, whilst Liverpool Arsenal and Chelsea circle around for the trophy scraps left by any failure by City.

Some competitive interest is provided by Tottenham, whose recent attempts to break into this elite has created terror amongst Manchester United supporters that they may fall from this elite.

Curiously Tottenham are not invited to the top table. Money talks and their turnover does not currently approach even that of teams like Liverpool, let alone Chelsea United and City.

The depressing result is that fans of these so called “elite” clubs turn up to largely silent stadiums for most matches outside of the “top of the table” clashes". This silence is fueled by a quiet expectation of success and lack of competitiveness. One of my guides described his visit to Arsenal’s 5-1 victory over Everton as one of the quietest games he had ever attended. Nobody is surprised when City put 6 goals past Southampton. This inequality led predictability reduces drama, decreases the chance of shock results and generally stifles tension and excitement.

Despite my pleasure in attending West Ham’s demolition of Manchester United I refuse to be intimidated by any threats to leave by these arrogant “Super Rich” clubs. Last weekend’s success against lowly Burnley gave the lie to the claim that "nobody wants to watch these games.

If the Super Rich want to saunter off into a privileged "Super League”, with no threat of relegation then just let us wave them goodbye.

In reality a “Mega Elite” almost certainly led by Manchester city and PSG will emerge even in this elite tier. Both city and PSG have benefited from massive resources artificially injected by their Billionaire owners. UEFA FFP rules are demonstrably ineffectual and fail to prevent owners proceeding with relative impunity. Even former giants of Global Football , Real Madrid and Barcelona, are reportedly struggling to compete financially against these new European Goliaths .

Most of the rest will again become also runs. Without the threat of relegation such a league would quickly lose it critical tension and competitiveness. Only a few top games would really count. It would eventually become exhibition fare , a footballing equivalent of the \Harlem Globetrotters.

England is not Scotland where only Rangers and Celtic attract mass audiences. There are plenty of clubs remaining with massive support to engender competitive interest beyond the narrow geographical confines of North West england and London. . A PL denuded of the so called top five might just be more interesting with clubs like Leeds united, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Norwhich and Aston Villa joining the fray.

The result might just be that clubs like West Ham will again have a realistic chance of Title success. The available resources, whilst reduced will almost certainly be shared more equally without the distortion of foreign investment and ridiculous wages.

COYI
David Griffith


Talking Point

Has Pellegrini Been Skilful or Just Plain Lucky?

Guest Post by Rugby Irons

I have made a number of comments on the Managers style of late and also the player’s performances. I feel after the revelation of the weekend’s showing I should clarify my views.

Mr Pelligrini ( MP) had a sharp wakeup call after the first four matches and this led me to question whether the players were fit enough, especially mentally, after the losses to Bournemouth and Wolves . We let in two ridiculous goals and it cost us at least two points and any momentum. You can never rely on players to perform but you can at least prepare them to be able to last 90 minutes.

The Everton game changed everything. MP has to take some credit for this, but frankly the players seemed to step up a gear. They were fitter and were showing a greater resilience. This carried on into the Chelsea and Utd matches where the change of attitude and increased fitness were paying dividends. But then Brighton changed it back again where we lost that extra buzz.

As the injuries grew and the squad became disjointed we went backwards. We were losing games and conceding again. This is where I wanted MP to step up. For the first time watching the Spurs Cup match it looked clear to me that in wanting to defend we lost our confidence in attack. Spurs went forward at almost every opportunity whereas we went backwards and sideways. I always thought this was just Noble being Noble but he wasn’t playing and we still did it. Antonio, when 35 yards out from goal back passed to Fab some 60 yards backwards. This is ridiculous. But watching the rest of the game no one gambled. That was until Arnie came on and all of a sudden it changed again!

This brings us to Saturday. Would there be a change of mentality as we were at home or would it be another poor display? It has to be said whether intentionally or by default MP picked a team that had a different dynamic. With Arnie, Diangana and Snodgrass starting, he had skills going forward but the attitude of letting Diangana have a free run made all the difference. Yes the usual suspect was at fault for their two goals, but the energy from the whole team didn’t wane and the positivity at the end was clearly spreading. You can always learn a lot from the reaction of the players when a goal is scored and there is clearly a much greater bond between them that you might expect from a team in its position. Arnie is clearly the leader of the pack and for a beast he shows great compassion for his teammates. MP looks to have steadied his ship and I believe the players are now taking over on the field and being stronger mentally and physically. Let me ask, when was the last time there were genuinely five or six players who could have been man of the match?

This isn’t to say it’s all roses.There are still clearly problems with some of the players. My view is Adrian is a better all round keeper (hence being captain in the Cup) but there is no doubt that Fab is making some very good saves. Cresswell was at fault for goals on Saturday, shutting off twice for their first and not being on his post for the second. Lazy defending, no more than that. Up to that point he was doing ok too.

The central pair have frankly been a revelation and the underestimated player of the season, Zabaleta, has been a warrior. The current midfield three has real guile about it. Snodgrass is a much cleverer player than given credit for and Obiang is just doing his job to a higher standard now. Rice has been getting the plaudits but frankly on Saturday he was simply imperious. He just ran the show.

Diangana has been MP’s lucky break, getting a player that has given us an option just as we lost a big player coming into form. Arnie, well he’s just Arnie isn’t he? We’re frankly lost without him but as our leader he is the jewel in the crown.

Which brings us to Felipe Anderson. He is the epitome of what’s been wrong. Lazy, not fit, poor decision making, limited influence, lack of assists or enough goals. He deserved all the criticism he got. The very least we deserved for his price tag is 90 minutes of effort. And then MP in his quiet stance made it clear he was here to stay in the team. He looked to have him not so wide on Saturday and his work rate and influence was so much better. Although he had a great game, will he be a DiCanio and go missing up north on a cold Saturday afternoon. This Saturday for him is more pivotal than for any of the others, what will we get?

As for the others, Arthur needs to sort himself out as he needs to the left back but he’s currently no better than what we have. I genuinely think that Noble has put himself in a position where he may struggle to get back in the side and not change the momentum if he does. That just depends on Snodgrass’s next yellow! Fredericks looks good to me but Zab behind Diangana is more secure. Chico is a lazy so and so and he is making it so much easier for Carroll to come into the team for his four or five games a season which must be close. Chico is a great finisher but he makes nothing happen he only scores when it’s on a plate and the team just isn’t set up for him. MP gambled on bringing him on, on Saturday and if we have lost from only having two midfield players, he would have got panned. But we didn’t and I want to say that although Ant is having a tough time, I don’t see him giving up. He’s trying his best, but ultimately as Snodgrass has proved if you stick at it, something will change. He just needs a goal and then he’ll improve.

Which brings us to where we are now. Well, as kings of the inconsistent, who knows? The Terriers are in trouble and on a cold wet Saturday afternoon we will see if we are still southern softies or whether the new found fitness and resilience will take us to the next stage of going up the table. Most importantly is how will Mr Pelligrini will set us up. Will he pick the right players, will they be up for it, and can he repeat the last game?

This Saturday is perhaps the real barometer of where our season will go. This is where he will really earn his corn. Onwards and upwards hopefully.


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