David Hautzig's Match Report
Did you know I also have a column here on West Ham Til I Die? When I write a Match Report and go to the administrative part of the site, I choose David Hautzig Match Report as the category under which I post. There is also a heading called David Hautzig Column. I have posted a grand total of one in my four years doing this.
Relieved, aren’t ya?
The single solitary contribution to that faux journalistic endeavor was written days after the club decided not to offer Sam Allardyce a new deal. Names like Bielsa, Rafa, Emery, Bilic, even Klopp were thrown about. Here’s how I finished that piece;
“Which leads me to the final name that has made the rounds, David Moyes. To my somewhat risk averse way of thinking, he provides what we need. A fresh look at things all the while being as safe a pair of hands as Allardyce. I’ve read many a tweet and comment that oppose the idea almost as fervently as they oppose Sam, saying it’s no more than a sideways move. Yet for all we know his edict while at Everton was to play a style that made the Toffees hard to beat, and that if asked he could switch things up. And it’s not like Van Gaal has had an easy time at Man U, leading me to believe Moyes was given a raw deal at Old Trafford. Until recently I thought him joining us was pretty close to a dead cert. Tony Henry is on board, he has a release clause to join an EPL team if asked, Etc. But after his interview with Sid Lowe in The Guardian it’s more dead in the water than nailed on. Which I’m very disappointed about. I think David Moyes has a lot to say about what kind of manager he is.
I hope he changes his mind and let’s West Ham United hand him the microphone."
Supporter anguish over the appointment of Moyes has centered around his last two jobs, and how they were “failures”. Failing at Sunderland was as likely as sinking with The Titanic. As for Real Sociedad, I think the judgement is a bit unfair. He arrived there in 2014 after eleven games, of which the club had only won two. Familiar ring, huh? Anyway, they were just above the drop zone. He finished the season in 12th, eleven points clear. Over the summer, Moyes warned supporters not to get carried away. They began his second season poorly, and he was sacked after eleven games and Sociedad in the drop zone. His point total over the 38 games he was in charge was 46. A number I would kill for now.
My point is this. David Moyes is about right for us. Any notion that a “top manager”, or “next level manager” would be willing to join us and work under our board is, in my opinion, folly. I was one of those supporters who bought into the stadium move and what it would bring us. But now I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz when the curtain gets pulled back and we see a silly old man. One can always dream, but we know where those dreams end up.
I was not anticipating abject fear seven seconds into Moyes time in charge, but when Carroll swung his arm out and clocked Zeegalaar in his English debut, I saw red. Thankfully only in my anger at AC’s potential recklessness and not from the referee. Seconds later Carroll sent an infuriatingly dangerous back pass to Hart from near the halfway line. Hart had to leave his area just to punt the ball away.
For all of West Hams early aggression and pressing, Watford had the little bit of luck we needed in the 11th minute. After running down a long pass to the touchline, Zeegalaar sent a cross into the box that Gray scuffed. But the ball dribbled towards Hughes in front of Hart, and he calmly put it into the back of the net.
West Ham 0
For the next ten minutes after the goal, Watford gave a clinic on good shape and organized defending. The Hammers moved the ball around. Side to side. Short passes, followed by a long pass cross field. Then a pass back to Hart. But not one ball into the box or anywhere near Gomes. In the 22nd minute Watford may have a had a shout for a penalty when Zabaleta tangled with Richarlison at the top of the West Ham penalty area, but Mariner continued on his merry little way.
In the 28th minute, Carroll continued his role as villain in the eyes of Watford supporters when he leaned into Richarlison after trying to pretend he was Iniesta or something. That time Mariner decided to show Wolf’s dad yellow, and we all knew we would spend the rest of the game cowering every time the big man went in the air, arms flailing.
Watford came close to doubling their advantage in the 32nd minute when Richarlison and Doucoure worked a give and go at the top of the West Ham penalty area. Hart was able to push Richarlison’s low shot away, but right to Kiko who tried his own low effort that went wide for a goal kick.
West Ham should have leveled in the 43rd minute when some fabulous one touch football at the top of the Watford box by Carroll, Obiang, Lanzini and Kouyate sent the Senegalese midfielder in on Gomes alone. But the Watford keeper made an excellent save to keep the home side on top. Watford were able to launch a counter on the ensuing West Ham corner, but Hughes attempted bicycle kick in the box sailed high over the bar.
In the 48th minute, Gomes made what I can only describe as a superhuman save off of Arnautovic. Carroll fed Zabaleta down the right. The Argentine right back sent a cross to Arnautovic that Gomez somehow stopped. To make it even more frustrating, Arnautovic got his own rebound alone in front of goal but Gomes somehow made another save. As the announcers said, Gomes was more responsible for Watford being ahead than Hughes.
West Ham 0
Watford asked the first question of the second half in the 50th minute when Kiko made a run down the right and crossed to Gray in the box. The Watford striker who in the summer was rumored to be coming to East London was able get to the ball but his shot went over the bar.
West Ham saw yet another chance go begging moments later when Arnautovic beat Britos on the right and rolled a pass to Kouyate in the box but he couldn’t keep his shot down and it flew high over the bar. A few minutes later Hughes and Kiko worked the ball down the right before getting the ball to Doucoure, who tried a curling right footer that left Hart standing still but the ball went wide.
Watford won a corner in the 59th minute when a Gray effort went out off of Reid’s leg. The initial delivery into the box was cleared, but not far enough to avoid another Watford wave. The ball was sent back into the box by Cleverly for Mariappa, and his header gave Hart a chance to be brilliant.
Watford’s attacking efforts in the second half finally reaped a reward in the 64th minute when Hughes, after what was adjudged to be a ball to hand as opposed to a hand ball, fed Richarlison streaking down the left. Reid forced the Brazilian to shoot with his left, his second favorite foot. He accepted the challenge and beat Hart with a low shot to the far corner.
West Ham 0
If West Ham didn’t have bad luck today, etc etc. In the 73rd minute, after Sakho and Masuaku replaced Carroll and Arnautovic, the two Hammers substitutes combined in the box to set up Lanzini from 15 yards out. His low shot beat Gomes, but wouldn’t you know it Kabasele was there to clear the ball off the line.
West Ham 0
I feel the need to look for positives here. Maybe to confirm what I believe, that the decision to replace Bilic with Moyes was correct? That wouldn’t be beyond me. But while Watford looked more creative and decisive on the ball, West Ham had two chances from Kouyate, two from Arnautovic, and a Lanzini shot cleared off the line. So we had opportunities to score. I also think we looked better pressing, and more solid at the back despite conceding two. Yet the facts are clear. This is our second worst start ever to an EPL campaign, and we all know what happened the year that was worse.
I want to be hopeful. I have to be fearful.