The GoatyGav Column

One Of The Premier League’s Worst Or Just Unlucky?

Two points out of the last twelve available puts us below Watford in the last four games. There are only two teams with worse hauls and those are Norwich and Southampton. When you look at it that way it’s not much worse than the first four games of last season. Our predicament really got real on Saturday and there I’ve got some serious concerns about the coming games.

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Confidence is definitely on the wane at West Ham right now. Some players are suffering more than others. For my money there’s something wrong with Felipe Anderson. Something’s definitely going on with the bloke IMO. He’s been off the boil for a number of games now. Where he was putting in great shifts on match-days he’s now gone back to strolling around like he’s walking off a Sunday roast. I found myself screaming at him like a demented lunatic, to get up with play, on one occasion when we were attacking as he was ambling along around the half-way line. Annoyingly, though, by the time he got hooked he’d actually started getting in to the game.

I’m an optimistic bloke who will, generally, give the benefit of the doubt, where it exists, to people. I’m also a big advocate of Manuel Pellegrini, who I remain fully supportive of, during this difficult period. His substitutions on Saturday, however, baffled me. I ask you – Yarma or Snoddy to make way for Ajeti? And in the eighty-sixth minute? There’s a reason that Haller looked isolated – and it wasn’t just because Anderson was hanging around the half way line either.

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It’s not even that we have the excuse that our Physio room is particularly busy. We’ve usually got about nine players out by this stage of the season. At present there’s only two first teamers.

Don’t get me wrong as it’s not all bad. Declan seems to be getting back to his, old(?), consistent self. It now seems quite clear that he was suffering from a bug, of some description, which affected him detrimentally. Roberto is ably deputising for Fabianski. I don’t think any criticism which I’ve heard about him is warranted. As we left the ground on Saturday I heard one or two criticising him but I really don’t think he deserves it. You could argue that he should have saved Mousset’s goal but I thought it was an extremely smart finish. First time shots like that catch keepers while they’re re-setting and this was one of those. In fact it was such a decent, first time, strike that it brought several applause from West Ham fans in our section. But despite the positives I’m really of the opinion that, on current form, we’re in the bottom three and, from our performances, deserve to be. Without doubt it’s time for the team to get their stuff together.

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I really don’t want to be sat here typing even less positively after the Newcastle game. On that subject I wasn’t too upset to see that Sean Longstaff will miss the match next Saturday. He’s one of the few players that’s really making a positive impact at the Barcodes and they’re going to miss his services bigtime IMO. It’s really high time to get our season back on track, after several lacklustre games just before and following the last international break.

The West Ham Women’s team put up another great fight against Chelsea this weekend but, unfortunately, couldn’t retain the lead after going one up, through a ‘sniffer’s’ strike from Adriana Leon, with thirteen minutes of the second half on the clock. An impressive crowd of over two thousand witnessed three late strikes from Chelsea which sent the blues top of the league after Arsenal beat the impressive Man City ladies. With five played the ladies have recorded two wins and sit three points behind fourth placed newly promoted Manchester United Women. There’s no let up in this division. Next up it’s a visit to the powerful Manchester City side where Matt Beard will hope his team gives a good account of themselves. Best of luck to the Ironesses.

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The Under 23s continued their impressive Premier League 2, division 2, campaign with a creditable four-one win over Norwich City. Anthony Scully continued his amazing scoring run with the opening goal, followed by a brace from Dan Kemp and an excellent team goal from Amadou Diallo that sewed up the win for the Hammers and kept the boys three clear of Manchester United who kept up the pressure with a three-one victory against fellow title chasers Stoke City. Next up a visit to mid-table Swansea City on Sunday. Best of luck to the lads for that one.
Have a good week, all, and let’s hope the team can get out of the slump next Saturday.


The HamburgHammer Column

Hammers unable to blunt the Blades - we have lost our way

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Well, I tried. I ditched almost all my matchday rituals this time. Didn’t wear a West Ham shirt. Didn’t drink out of a West Ham mug. I even missed the first eight minutes of the game as I was engulfed in conversation with my brother on the dog and bone. I didn’t even post COYI!!! on the matchday thread before kickoff. Still we could only get a 1:1 draw against Sheffield United.

The Blades looked a fairly decent side actually – and I doubt they will be anywhere near the relegation zone this season. They are a well organised team, well managed, well supported – I know that as a West Ham fan I probably should muster a modicum of vitriol and contempt against them, but honestly, I don’t. Not anymore, that is.

Before the game I thought the whole Tevezgate thing would impact not only our fanbase or the atmosphere inside the stadium, but especially my own view on the game. I have to confess, it didn’t. I just wanted us to get the win, not because it was Sheffield United but because we desperately needed a good performance and three points from this. Not such luck, me old china!

This time at least the effort was there. We played some neat football, we created numerous goalscoring opportunities – and wasted most of them appallingly in the process.
When Snodgrass finished a quick counter attack with a clinical shot to put us in front I thought this would set us up for the win. Wrong again!

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When, during the game, I was contemplating on what the focus in my article might be I briefly veered towards praising Roberto who indeed pulled off some wonderful saves in this game – until he let in the equaliser. I thought initially that a goalkeeper of his calibre could and should have easily saved that rather tame effort. The shot wasn’t that fierce, Roberto got down reasonably well, but suddenly appeared to be much shorter when he was stretching for the ball than what he looks like standing up. This is a tall bloke, after all. If he had saved it he would have earned himself plenty of praise for contributing massively to our win.

As it is so often the case with goalkeepers people will now focus on him letting in the equaliser. Rotten luck! As mentioned above, chances were there galore for us to keep the three points in London, but our decision making in front of goal is unconvincing. The chemistry isn’t quite there (yet), when it really matters in the opposition’s box.
Of course you can try and replicate those situations in training in the hope our conversion rate goes up when the next league fixtures come around.

On paper, the quality is there and while we are currently not in a position to field our best side we still should have won. 5 points from a possible 15 in our last five league fixtures is a disappointing yield, no doubt about it. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that’s wrong with our team, but Pellegrini and his staff better hurry up and find the problem and fix it. We all know how quickly the mood of a a fanbase can turn. Let’s hope for our next win lurking just around the next corner somewhere. COYI!!!

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Whenever as fans we are unhappy with a performance or a draw that should have been a win, let’s pause for a moment and think of those fans who are having the misfortune of seeing their club go out of business and get crossed off the fixture calendar in the middle of a season. This just happened to Wattenscheid 09, one of Germany’s most traditional clubs from a working-class background.

Wattenscheid is a borough of industrial town Bochum, located in the Ruhr Valley. Wattenscheid never oozed glory and glamour, neither the place nor the football club.
But it was good and honest football fare served for the local grafters, the miners, the dockers, the steelworkers. In the Nineties Wattenscheid were even playing in the Bundesliga top flight for four seasons in a row, after that they were a regular Bundesliga 2 side for many seasons before going on a downward spiral which led them to the German equivalent of League Two.

Now the club has run out of money, out of sponsors and out of luck. With a rather modest sum of €400K the club could have at least continued to play out the remainder of the season. Instead the club has now gone into administration, with all previous results of the season being eliminated accordingly. The club still have their youth team which may be their only hope now for the future, but their first team is gone and vanished for the time being. Sad.

Can you imagine, as a fan who maybe supported that club, not necessarily out of choice, but because it was the family thing to do, because your uncle or granddad took you there for your first game, to see your club disappear at short notice ? Their games that used to be a fixture of your weekend activities for years and decades, rain or shine, hail or snow, the matches you took for granted like the sun coming up every morning. And suddenly…NOTHING!

I have a lot of time for people supporting their local, traditional club, especially if they are not overly successful on the pitch and have suffered several relegations already.
To see those clubs go under, hitting their community hard in the process, is a terrible thing to witness. You don’t wish that on any fan.

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So, whenever you’re in danger of frustration or anger getting the better of you after a poor West Ham performance, just spare a thought for those fans who literally no longer have a club. At all. There may be plenty of things at West Ham we are not happy about, the stadium, individual performances, the board, away ticket policy etc.
But we still have a club to watch, to support, to root for and cry over. I reckon the Wattenscheid fans would be quite happy now if they could still be disappointed about their team only drawing 1:1 at home actually. They can’t. Their club has been taken away…

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Hamburg football update: Starting with Hamburg SV who made quite a statement by beating promotion rivals Stuttgart by a 6:2 scoreline. Top of the table, solid points cushion already, things are looking good for them right now, with the mood among the fanbase being the best it’s been for quite a while.
St.Pauli lost 1:0 away to Heidenheim, losing momentum in the process.

Mixed results from my beloved Concordia. My brother and nephew joined me for the first team home game, it was a terrible performance and a 2:4 defeat. Earlier the U23s had won their away game 7:0 to maintain mathematical touching distance to the promotion places.

And the women’s team only scored once (which is unusual), but it was enough for a 1:0 home win in their cup fixture, so they go through to the next round.

Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Hammers Scrape Draw Against Blades At London Stadium

Hi all, I missed the start of the match this week as I was stuck in traffic coming back from a few days away with the family. So, my usual photos of the teams coming out onto the pitch and the crowd around the stadium before the match are missing. The first four shots I took on my phone as I was rushing into the ground. So please accept my apologies. Hope you all still enjoy this weeks photo diary even if the result was very disappointing given how many chances we had to bury the match.

David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Sheffield United 1. Worrying Point.

Let me get this out of the way. While I know West Ham told enough Porky’s during the Tevez saga to open a BBQ place, for the life of me I’ve NEVER understood why it mattered. Meaning, the issue of third party ownership. To my way of thinking, a league should have zero input on the contracts between a player and the club. I remember trying to explain it to my friends over here who only followed North American sports, and they looked utterly dumbfounded how this was a problem. So Saints fans, if for some reason you’re reading this, if you even dream of arguing this point with me I suggest you wake up.

A few weeks ago, after the Palace annoyance, I was chatting via text with my friend Rob. He is part of GraftWine, my customer in the UK. More importantly, he is a Sheffield United supporter. He said the stats at that time said we were not a top half club. In fact, certain numbers had us in the bottom half by some margin. I argued our merits, claiming the draw at Bournemouth for example would have been a loss other years.

“So I had sorted the table by xPTS. A measure of how many points you should expect to get in a game giving the xG. Your boys were 5th bottom, but that looks even worse now, following a poor performance today. It’s your expected goals against which is so poor. Only Norwich with a worse figure and that includes Watford’s 8-0 loss to Man City. I thought your boys were solid, but these stats say otherwise”

Based on today’s 90 minutes, I would tend to agree with Rob’s stats.

If Manuel Pellegrini wanted to tell his squad he was more than a little angry over recent performances, the starting eleven was a good start. No Lanzini, no Fredericks, no Ogbonna. And in the opening moments, Snodgrass looked a decent choice when he won a couple of corners and sent a decent ball in for Yarmolenko. But Noble gave the ball away, as did Anderson, so maybe three changes wasn’t enough.

West Ham looked decent in the opening ten minutes, but for all of their possession the home side created no chances. More worrying was the lack of space in the midfield and our inability to move the ball through it effectively. Both sides gave the impression they wanted a flowing game of football, but in the driving rain the game was yet to begin, so to speak.

West Ham won a fortuitous corner in the 21st minute after another Noble giveaway, but he won the ball back with a tough tackle. Anderson and Yarmolenko got in each other’s way, but somehow got the set piece. Sheffield United cleared, but The Hammers came back down and won another corner when Yarmolenko challenged the visitors back four. Moments later Anderson tried a strike from twenty yards out, and if it had gone in it would have been a wonder strike. Instead it sailed over the bar. A few minutes later Yarmolenko won yet another corner, but the 22 year old Henderson commanded his area well with a punch worthy of Ernie Shavers.

Sheffield won their first corner in the 28th minute after Noble was careless with the ball, and it required a very fine save from Roberto. The delivery went to Basham, who headed it to McGoldrick right in front of goal. He should have buried it, but Roberto got down with his right hand and made the save. Anderson eventually got the ball out of danger, but the visitors may look back at that chance with regret.

With ten minutes left in the half, the stats said we had 71% of the ball.

OK. If they said so.

In the 41st minute, Sheffield had another decent chance after Balbuena apparently thought Wilder had resigned his position as Blades manager and joined West Ham. After the resulting throw, the ball was rolled to Lundstram breaking in the box but his low shot went wide. Seconds later Lundstram swung a pass into the box towards Robinson. Roberto literally got the tip of one finger on the ball, which changed the trajectory just enough to send Robinson’s header wide.

Despite the possession advantage, one would have to say it was Sheffield United that deserved to go into the break with the lead. But when a long ball went off the head of Basham to Yarmolenko, the cagey Ukrainian (dangerous words over here at the moment I must add) one timed it to Snodgrass in the middle. The veteran Scot took full advantage of the opportunity and slid the shot past Henderson.

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West Ham 1
Sheffield United 0

In the opening minutes of the second half, Sheffield continued to get behind the West Ham fullbacks but good defending by Zabaleta came to the rescue. Then Roberto became the helper when he got hold of a cross from McGoldrick before it could reach its target. But it was the visitors that looked for the equalizer more than West Ham looked for a second.

West Ham broke well on the counter in the 52nd minute when Anderson got on the end of a long pass and broke in on the Sheffield United penalty area. But he waited a bit too long to pass to Haller, and by the time the ball found the West Ham striker the defense had re-organized. Haller passed to Yarmolenko in the box, but Egan put his body on the line and made the block. Down at the other end, Fleck had an open look at the West Ham goal but his shot was partially blocked by Roberto and Cresswell’s…..uhhhh…..yeah.

West Ham should have scored a second in the 57th minute when Anderson was sent in behind the Sheffield defense by Yarmolenko and had nobody to beat but Henderson. Yet Anderson could not break his goal drought and sent his shot right into the visiting keeper.

Sheffield United wasted another chance in the 62nd minute when McGoldrick slid a pass to Baldock on the right side of the West Ham eighteen yard box. He had space. He had time. But he hadn’t scored a goal in over a year, and he gave a hint as to why that might be when he sliced his shot wide.

The equalizer that Sheffield deserved finally came in the 69th minute. The play started on the right as it had all day, with a cross from Baldock. Stevens got on the end of it, and headed it to Mousset on the left. Roberto did not position himself well, was very slow to react, and he paid the price when the bouncing shot bounced by him and into the net.

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West Ham 1
Sheffield United 1

West Ham came back down and came close to regaining the lead in the 73rd when Yarmolenko sent a beautifully weighted cross to Cresswell in the box. But when a one timer would have been the correct decision, Cresswell took a second touch and Henderson had the time needed to get in front of the shot. In the 80th minute West Ham had another chance when Fornals sent a low cross from the right. Yarmolenko couldn’t quite reach it, but the ball rolled through the goalmouth where Snodgrass raced to meet it but couldn’t quite reach the finish line.

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Snodgrass made his final contribution to the match in the 86th minute when he won a corner, but was replaced by Ajeti before the set piece was taken. Sheffield took care of business, and the final minutes rolled on.

In the final minute of added time, the Blades won a couple of corners. On the second, they made a strange decision when they kept the ball and tried to run time off the clock. With their good attacking play on the day, one had to wonder why they didn’t go for goal.

In the final moments, Haller won a free kick from Steven 35 yards out. The delivery ended up with Fornals, who took a bit too much time and then looked for a handball gift that wasn’t to be.

Final Score
West Ham 1
Sheffield United 1

I don’t want to sound too many alarm bells….OK, maybe I do….but a point at home against a newly promoted team that had more significant chances than us is a problem. Our seemingly good start was clearly not that good. And to think there will be January help is pure folly. The truth is that despite the money spent, we are in all likelihood looking at a typical season with more disappointments than joy.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Sheffield United

West Ham v Sheffield United
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

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