David Hautzig's Match Report
Last day of the season. A season that most of us cannot wait to see in our rear view mirror. What could today have offered to at least give us something to pay attention to for 90 minutes? Youth. Almost all of my friends on Twitter and various podcasts have agreed that the additional three million pounds we could earn if we finish 11th, which realistically is the highest we could end up due to goal differential, would pale in comparison to the experience a couple of kids could get. I wanted to do a match report that acted as one of those cameras focused on a single player or two. I wanted to follow Rice or Quina. Calleri’s not even in the squad, so Fletcher should have started, right? Then yesterday David Gold put out that truly idiotic Tweet about not playing kids, which made the starting eleven no shock. Thus, since the result itself was of little consequence I saw no reason to focus on details. If something notable happened, I’ll mention it. To be honest, I’m actually looking forward to things like yard work and laundry on the weekends as opposed to what we have experienced.
In the 6th minute, Feghouli had a decent look at goal after a Lanzini cross and forced a save from Heaton. I’m undecided on Feghouli. Good article the other day on The West Ham Way about him. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it.
Cresswell has not had a memorable campaign. No news there. A lot has been down to poor decisions. Like in the 14th minute when he was sent in by Ogbonna down the left. But he tried a low cross that The Road Runner wouldn’t have reached let alone Ayew, while Snodgrass was unmarked ten yards out from goal. The former Hull man looked rightfully annoyed.
23rd minute. Poor touch from Lanzini led to Burnley counter. Burnley counter led to poor defending from West Ham. Poor defending from West Ham led to Vokes goal.
West Ham 0
Whoa. In the 24th minute West Ham looked very good in scoring an equalizer. Fernandes threaded a ball in between a bunch of Burnley defenders to find Ayew, who back heeled the ball to Feghouli running into the box, and the Algerian Freebie finished it. Take a bow guys.
West Ham 1
Bobby Madley stinks. He really stinks. Westwood should have been sent off in the 31st minute for a high boot into Ginge’s thigh. And that was just one of many reasons the man should consider a career change.
OK Sofiane. I want to like you. I even think there’s an argument that in a stronger side you could be valuable. But considering how good your finish was to score, your sky bound shot in the 33rd from the same area was terrible.
West Ham 1
For all the complaining we do about offside calls, I must say it’s a tough job for the linesman. Early in the second half Ayew was flagged offside and I had no idea how that could be. He was. Other than 100% video technology taking over that call I cannot see how it can improve.
Remember what I said about Feghouli before? How he might be with more quality around him? Ayew might be the same. Clever players need more clever players around them. Their minds work on different wavelengths than players who get “stuck in”. Both are needed. I’m just stream of consciousness writing now.
Something occurred to me around minute 65 when Byram made a nice sliding tackle to break up a Burnley counter and then headed the ball clear from inside our eighteen-yard box. He’s a good young player. I’d be more than happy with him as our second choice right back next season. Slaven was wrong, in my opinion, to screw with the kids confidence by playing everyone but Jack Sullivan at right back earlier in the year.
Back to Ayew. The man is lucky. Which is fine. Famous quote here from an old baseball manager, “I’d rather be lucky than good”. He likely is both. But when the ball bounced softly off the crossbar after a good effort from Fernandes, all Ayew had to do was stand there and put it in. He’s had similar good fortunes not hiding this season.
West Ham 2
You know what I felt when Lanzini stepped up to take a free kick from 25 yards out in the 82nd minute? The same kind of excited energy I felt when Darth Dimitri used to step up. That’s gotta be a good sign.
Four minutes of added time? From what? At least Rice will have made his senior debut for us in those mysterious minutes.
West Ham 2
We won on the last day of the season for the first time in years. We finished 11th on 45 points. We ended eleven points clear of the drop zone, in stark contrast to the fear I felt going into the Spurs match two weeks ago as Swansea was surging and we were dropping. In a vacuum, that’s not that bad for a season of utter turmoil and angst.
But we don’t live in a vacuum, do we?
There is no way any of you are more interested in what happened at Turf Moor today than what will happen behind the scenes in Stratford starting tomorrow. Bilic in or Bilic out? Batshuayi? Zabaleta? A new keeper? That guy from Belgium? All possible ingredients in what we hope will be a better meal next season. Or as some believe, more decoys while less expensive options are worked on behind the scenes to serve us dressed up fast food.
Here I go again with my damned metaphors. And to make it more annoying, I’m going to delve into my silly food comparisons again.
Our board say they will build a Michelin Starred operation. I believe they sincerely want that to happen. But when chefs set out to do that, they never compromise on the food they use. Every detail is meticulously thought out. Things we might consider mundane, like butter or onions, are sourced as if the success of the entire operation rests on that choice. If something costs more, they simply build that into their financial structure. Guests at such restaurants accept that as part of the deal and don’t blink when the bill comes.
This is not a judgment on my part. Our board do not have to do such things if they don’t want to, or have concluded they can’t based on their comfort level with the financial reality at the club. They are, by and large, good businessmen. Karen Brady could not have achieved what she has without being a very smart woman. If they do spend large sums of money on fees and wages to attract players we would be genuinely excited, and probably a little shocked to see join, then that would be a departure from their past. Can it happen? Yes. Should we expect it? Only if disappointment is an emotion you seek out.
I think Slaven will be back. I think the board will be more judicious in their dealings with the press and supporters regarding transfers this summer. But next season I will only expect a meal that I enjoy, served in a timely manner by pleasant and professional servers. Anything beyond that will be treated as a pleasant surprise.
Have a good summer.