The David Hautzig Column

Maybe There Is A Plan Now?

Robbie Earle, one of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang members, said something here as a studio analyst for NBC’s coverage of the Premier League that some might find crazy. He said, more than once, that this West Ham side should have been mid-table and challenging for Europe as opposed to surviving by the skin of our teeth. But is that crazy? While saying anything that could be construed as Pro GSB hurts me like one of those leg cramps you got growing up…growing pains my mom called them…I think I agree with him. And if that’s the case, what do I expect and want from this window?

Not a lot.

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In fact, if we did absolutely nothing I’d be less afraid of relegation than I was a few weeks ago. If Moyes has shown us anything in his two spells it’s that he is a good coach. Probably a far better coach than Bilic or Pellegrini in that he can take existing players and make them better when needed. Arnautovic as a striker? Why was Moyes the only one to think of this at any time through Arnie’s career? Other managers used Antonio up top in emergency situations, which at West Ham seem to occur every other Tuesday, but with no success. One thought right back was a stroke of genius. Bless him. Yet Moyes not only put him in the strikers seat, he also gave him specific instructions as to how he wanted him to play in that role. Antonio said as much after his goal explosion at Norwich.

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There are some other examples, notably Ogbonna and Rice, both of whom seemed to improve under Moyes tutelage. Yes, the additions of Soucek and Bowen were instrumental and helped support both Oggy and Dec, thus allowing them to work with far less angst. But if we are to blame managers when things go south, Moyes has to be given credit for Soucek and Bowen because he was at the helm when they joined.

I’m even cautiously optimistic Moyes could help Fredericks become a better defender if he stays, which I believe he will. Impossible, you say? Well, if you remember what a train wreck Winston Reid was under Moron Grant you know that such reclamation projects aren’t impossible. Regardless of what you think of his four years at the club, Sam taught Reid how to defend. Moyes might be able to do the same with Fredericks. If he can, that would truly be like a new signing, one that could help end the rot of losing more points than any other team from winning positions.

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Up front we have the curious case of Haller. Some have decided he is useless. A flop. A snowflake unable to handle the rigors of the EPL. Let me ask you something. If you owned a restaurant, would you hire a chef from a competing establishment that specializes is fine seafood and expect him/her to crank out Hawksmoor worthy steaks, cooked on a stove you bought at The Home Depot? Haller was fantastic, top drawer, when teamed with Jovic. Yet we wanted him to be Drogba 2.0, then quickly judged him as Zaza 2.0. If Moyes doesn’t think he’s up for it, fine. But I would much rather keep him and play him correctly, with Antonio lurking around the box as instructed by Moyes.

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Covid has turned our normal internal calendar into total mush, and mine has reset to something like this;

With only a few weeks to go until 2020/2021 kicks off, I think we have a chance to keep the form we showed for the final six matches. That form ended up being our lifeboat, because we very well might have gone down without that points haul. And under that lens, Soucek and Bowen are kind of like summer signings, and we are just taking an unusually long international break. Hate ‘em or just dislike ‘em (notice liking them isn’t an option), GSB did spend a ton of money on their Pellegrini Project and it did not go that well. So I understand the need for a little fiscal responsibility, even if that’s not palatable on Twitter.

My friend and West Ham Yoda, Nigel Kahn, has often said the focus each window should be on bringing in one or two better players, and then integrate them into a squad that is being improved by the manager and his staff. I think if we do that this summer, we could go to the next level. And before any of you lose your cookies over that, the word “next” is of the utmost importance. For us, that means somewhere above the bottom five. Then, it will mean mid-table. Then, if we are lucky, it will mean consistent top half with the occasional flirtation with Europe. Any ideas that we can do better than that anytime soon are likely pipe dreams.

That’s called a “plan” in case you’re reading this, Mr & Mrs Board.

Maybe it’s time we tried that.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Aston Villa 1. And That's That.

It’s a funny thing, perspective. When the season was put on pause in March and the scale of the pandemic began to come into focus, I wholeheartedly supported calling it quits on the season as so many other leagues did. No, it would not have been fair to Leeds, Slaven, and whoever wins the playoffs. And with our precarious position at the time, or pretty much any time, it would have allowed us to push the re-set button on a truly crappy year on every level imaginable. Life isn’t always fair was my reply to all of that. But now with the benefit of good old 20-20 hindsight, I can see why this was a good idea. No, not from the perspective of “integrity of the competition” or what have you. Personally I didn’t and still don’t give a toss about that. Not when the world is metaphorically on fire. What I mean is, sport is so often described as an escape from the rigors of daily life. And for our kids generation, and even for many of us older folk, this is the most difficult period the world has ever seen. Watching football has been like a portal back into the life I knew, miss terribly, and look forward to experiencing again. And if cricket, or baseball, or auto racing is your thing I suspect it has been equally helpful. In the end, despite all of the controversy surrounding it, it was the right thing to do.

And yeah. We stayed up.

A little social statement to start. I have yet to not be moved by the site of the players, officials, and coaches taking a knee at the start of the match. Particularly because the murder that ignited it happened so far away, yet the consistent solidarity shown by a league across the ocean, playing a sport that is still foreign to many Americans, is remarkable. It’s so common to forget important messages once the next news cycle begins. I hope the message continues next season.

If you want to let a player know he is no longer wanted at a club, David Moyes gave a lesson on the topic today when he put his starting right back the last two games on the left to cover for the injured Cresswell instead of playing his backup left back, Masuaku. If Arthur were a piece of clothing, Moyes would be dropping him off at the thrift shop after the match. On the end of the pitch, if you wanted to see how Antonio and Haller could work together up top wouldn’t today have been the perfect time to take a look? I think Haller will be here in September, so the decision to not give him a proper run out with Antonio today was a head scratcher.

West Ham should have opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Antonio was sent in all alone with a Allardyce special long ball over the top from Diop. In the form he has been in, the ball going well wide was actually a shock. Moments later Guilbert floated in a cross from the right to an unmarked Samatta, but his header had very little pace and was gathered up by Fabianski.

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By the time I gave it any more thought, the match was past the half hour mark and Fornals won a free kick 30 yards out after a foul by Guilbert. Noble rolled the ball to his right for Rice to do his best imitation of the wonder strike against Watford. Lightning rarely strikes the exact same spot twice, and maybe Rice will give those long range shots a rest when we return in September. Or maybe he won’t.

Noble won a free kick in the 41st minute near the top of the Villa eighteen yard box, but the captain couldn’t beat the first man so the most notable part of that moment came at Goodison when Everton drew level with Bournemouth. A few minutes later Grealish had a chance to ease the pressure even more when McGinn set him up on the left but his curling effort neither curled nor was much of an effort and Fabianski made the easy save. The missed opportunity became even more problematic when Bournemouth regained the lead just before halftime.

Thank God we aren’t part of this.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Aston Villa 0

Haller came on to start the second half! But Antonio came off. I guess we will have to imagine what they would look like together for at least seven weeks.

Villa started the second half brightly, with McGinn catching Johnson out of position to find Trezeguet on the edge of the area but he couldn’t find Grealish or Samatta with the cross. Seconds later Villa tried on the left, this time with Grealish looking for McGinn in the box but Diop was there to block the shot. Moments later Villa won a free kick on the right side, but Diop put the delivery out for a corner. Fabianski grabbed the set piece before anyone else could, but Villa asked another question in the 50th minute when Fredericks took down Grealish at the edge of the area. Villa couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, and Bournemouth stayed in the bottom three.

The Hammers won a free kick in the 60th minute when Targett missed his target (had to, sorry) when he tried to tackle Noble near the edge of the Villa eighteen yard box. Yarmolenko stepped up to take it and curled the delivery over the wall, but could only find the side netting. Moments later Rice fouled Luiz 30 yards from goal, and Grealish won a corner when his delivery hit the wall and went out.

Can anyone tell me how and why those sports bra looking things became part of every kit? Not judging. Just don’t understand.

Haller had a sniff at goal in the 73rd minute when Noble one timed a pass from Fredericks to the Frenchman with the 45 million pound price tag in the box. But Haller’s header had no pace and Reina had no trouble. A few minutes later Diop was called for a foul against Grealish, though to be fair Grealish ran into Diop and drew the foul. The delivery of the set piece was sent out by Diop for a corner. Villa went short, and Grealish danced into the box and got off a shot that was deflected out for another corner. Villa couldn’t capitalize, which took on a very nerve wracking tone for Villa because Stanislas put Bournemouth up by two goals at Everton.

And then Lanzini did nothing with a free kick twenty five yards out.

Villa came inches away from securing their top flight status in the 82nd minute when Davis made a good run off the ball, and Grealish found him on the left side of the West Ham box. Davis made a little cut to his right and fired a low shot that just went wide.

Over the past few weeks, I have been called Nervous Nellie by many people. Sean, Nigel, to name a few. The main culprit to this bout of anxiety was Jack Grealish. I said many times, maybe even here, that if we needed the result today it would be Grealish that would put the sword to us. Thank heavens we didn’t need anything today, because when Grealish fired his shot past Fabianski it felt like his destiny.

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West Ham 0
Aston Villa 1

The part of the story nobody saw was the looping, deflected effort by Yarmolenko seconds later that somehow found the space between the goal and Reina’s outstretched hand.

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West Ham 1
Aston Villa 1

Villa won a corner in the first of the four minutes of added time, and they did what they needed to do. Play keep away, which they did for roughly a minute. Even then they kept the ball in the West Ham half, and the clock kept ticking. West Ham looked utterly disinterested in trying to score a winner. Although a winner would have put us ahead of Brighton and given 2 million pounds to our esteemed board!

Final Score
West Ham 1
Aston Villa 1

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It has to be said that Bournemouth have every right to feel hard done by. I say that because of the goal scored by Sheffield United on the first day of Project Restart that VAR didn’t catch. Obviously we don’t know if the game would have ended 1-0 had VAR not bottled it so badly. Sport doesn’t work like that. But the fact that the video system that was created LITERALLY to make sure that such potentially catastrophic things don’t happen failed. It simply failed. And Bournemouth may never recover.

But to kind of paraphrase my friend Sean Whetstone on Moore Than Just A Podcast, this isn’t a Bournemouth match report. It’s a West Ham match report.

The losses to Wolves and Spurs sounded many alarms in Claret & Blue. Mine included. But the past six games have been good, and as it turned out we bloody well needed it. 39 points is nothing to feel chuffed about. But the performances over the last six matches gives us reason to think we may achieve something we never had under the absurd leadership of GSB.

Stability.

Moyes has talked about the Red Bull model of buying younger players from lower divisions and developing them into top flight talents. But Red Bull have a plan behind it. They buy specific players with specific traits to suit specific needs. That’s why it works for them. Will our plan be similar? Or will specific players be defined by who is represented by Will Salthouse or some other favored agent? Considering how Sullivan in particular laments the power of agents he depends on them almost entirely. And if the latter is the case, will Moyes be able to shut that nonsense down? Time will tell. Thankfully the new season is only 7 weeks away, so I’d like to believe the good form we ended this season with has a better chance of carrying over to September 12th.

While I sarcastically said that if we go down I at least would get my weekends back since only limited matches are shown here for The Championship. But I would have missed this. The interaction with my friends in the UK has been very valuable to me during this awful time. I’ve been lucky to be able to stay home, and that my wife and children are OK. But chatting with Nigel and others about football was as normal as normal could get for me. Yes, we would have still done that had we gone down. But I wouldn’t have seen that much, so my participation would have been limited. I’m glad I get to keep that.

Take care everyone. Stay safe. Hug your family a couple of extra times, kids especially if you have any. Pets can fill in nicely if you don’t. I’ll be back in September, maybe earlier if I have something useful to say.

COYI


David Hautzig's Match Report

Manchester United 1, West Ham United 1. Done And Mathematically Dusted.

It’s a rhetorical question, and more than a little absurd during the biggest crisis the world has seen in many yers, but have you ever had one of those days? Today was one of them for me. Which stunk. I was really looking forward to watching the game in peace today, followed by the final day in The Championship. Both West Bromwich Albion and Brentford were streaming here on ESPN. Then life and work interfered on multiple levels, and from multiple directions. So the match was on in my kitchen while I inhaled lunch and tried to put out multiple fires. I texted Iain to tell him to expect nothing from me, and if I could deliver a little prose I would.

The embers are still burning by the way.

If I were writing this like a thesis paper, the point I would want to prove was that we were in this match on equal footing to the home side. Yes, Manchester United had a huge possession advantage in the opening minutes. But it didn’t seem to bother us that much. And as the first half moved through time, we grew into the game. As the opening 45 minutes were about to end, Pogba looked to have taken one for the team right in the kisser. However, the much maligned VAR took a look and the French star allowed his survival instincts to take over. Hands or nose, you ask? The brain doesn’t care much about football at that point and votes hands all day long.

When Antonio stepped up to take the penalty, don’t tell me you weren’t shocked. I sure was. I wonder if there is a bonus for Antonio if he scores ten goals? Maybe Noble just wanted to let his teammate keep up his scoring run. Whatever the reason, it worked as Antonio put it in the back of the net with ease.

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Manchester United 0
West Ham 1

Greenwood leveled in the 51st minute for the home side, but to be fair I was selling some Billecart Brut Rose to a customer and was staring at my IPad when the goal was scored. It could have been a stormer but I wouldn’t know. Still haven’t seen it, actually.

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The final 40 plus minutes of the match were noteworthy to me because, well, we were probably the better side. Bowen came close, and Rice almost scored a duplicate of his world beater against Watford. All the while we looked solid and comfortable at the back. Even Masuaku, who I almost forgot existed, came on and looked perfectly decent.

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Which got me thinking.

Antonio said after Norwich that it was Moyes coaching him, telling him to be in the eighteen yard box more, that has led to this goal scoring bonanza. After Rice scored against Watford, he ran right over to his gaffer. Moyes downplayed it, and it could have been nothing more than exuberance. Ogbonna looks steadier than he has in ages. Is it possible that Moyes is the best coach, the best teacher, these guys have had in years? And if that’s the case, will we see marked improvement in players like Fredericks and even Cresswell? I remember thinking Winston Reid was so out of his depth he might as well sell wine with me when Grant bought him. As it turned out, Sam taught the New Zealand international how to defend and in a short time under his tutelage we were scared out of our wits that he would leave for Arsenal. Moyes has earned the chance to show us what he can, and cannot, do for an entire season.

I’d like to think that now, after all this time, I have finally learned my lesson. Don’t get too excited when things are going well, and don’t despair like I’m Dan Silver’s twin when things are rotten. Oh, we had reasons to be afraid. The run Villa is on right now could have spelled trouble. I expected it from them. Thankfully Sunday will mean little to us.

I know I will not change.

I cannot.

I don’t know how.

COYI.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 3, Watford 1. As Good As Safe.

As much as I wished I could look at this current relegation battle as something we can control, I could not. I watched or followed the other matches with even more fervor because I still have serious doubts about how that last day against Aston Villa would go if we were desperate. I could barely compose myself in the parking lot of my daughter’s dentist yesterday when Everton equalized. But that joy dissipated as the march towards kickoff today ensued. My standard angst took over. By the final whistle, the relief I so often beg for was handed to me.

I’m so used to West Ham being the victim of defensive errors, when Masina failed to clear the ball from the Watford area in the 6th minute after a deflection by Bowen, I barely took note. But the ball found it’s way to Fornals at the top of the Watford eighteen yard box. The Spaniard caught the run of Antonio…of course it was Antonio…and for the 7th time this month Speedy Santa found the back of the net.

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West Ham 1
Watford 0

I hadn’t even finished the paragraph above when young Ben Johnson got the ball on the right and rolled a simple pass to Bowen. The thing about crosses are that when they are near perfect, they are a nightmare to defend. Bowen sent the kind of ball into the box that we all assumed Matt Jarvis would deliver to Carroll for years. Far enough from the keeper that he cannot reach it, and pacey enough to not allow defenders to wait on it. Bowen crossed the ball just that way, and Soucek headed it past Foster.

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West Ham 2
Watford 0

Watford did try to answer The Hammer’s dream start a few minutes later when Sarr, the player my daughters friend and Manchester United supporter Eli said could be a problem, got on the end of a long ball. His low shot was blocked by Fabianski, and then the rebound by Cleverly was taken care of by Ogbonna. But the Hornets enjoyed a good spell on the ball, had some room to maneuver in, and on another day could have changed the complexion of the match.

West Ham won a corner in the 30th minute, which was a useful way to buy some extra time for Cresswell to recover from a forearm to the face by Sarr. Unfortunately the set piece was not the same standard as his earlier cross and Masina cleared. A minute later Cleverly sent a ball over the top that Sarr chased down. Had it not been for a terrific tackle by Ogbonna in the box I would have liked Sarr’s chances.

100 Million Pounds. That has been the number thrown about when the valuation of Declan Rice is the topic of conversation. Would we take 75? Hmmmmm, that’s a tough one . Or is it? When Noble simply laid the ball off for his likely successor as captain, I assumed he would try to pick out another pass out wide. Shooting was never the expectation. Heck, even when he teed it up I figured it would be a wasted effort that did nothing more than give the ball back to Ben Foster. The photographers didn’t even take a snappy of the shot. Young Declan does do that from time to time, you know. The closeup of Foster afterwards said it all, as you could clearly see him say “wow”.

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West Ham 3
Watford 0

The visitors kept the ball in the West Ham half as the opening forty-five minutes wound down. Part of that was due to West Ham being sloppy, particularly young Johnson. He’s a kid. He can learn.

Halftime
West Ham 3
Watford 0

As the second half began, I wondered how Watford would come out. On one hand, they could throw everything at West Ham and try to claw their way back into the game. But the goal difference was starting to look problematic. Do they risk conceding another goal or two? They went for the former, and it paid off early. Doucoure went on a run down the left and put a low shot off the post. But the rebound went straight to a known West Ham killer in Deeney who slotted it home.

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West Ham 3
Watford 1

Watford kept the pressure up, and West Ham started to look very anxious. Putting balls out, long balls over the top, the kind of things that invite a team that has come back from losing positions twice since re-start to believe they can do it again. Add that West Ham lead the league in dropped points from winning positions and I make no apologies for feeling sick as the second half continued.

West Ham won a corner in the 70th minute after another Rice effort was deflected out. It was a respite from the Watford assault more than an actual chance created. The Hammers even saw a second corner after Dawson played it safe and put the ball out. But no shots on target were created, and bums were still well and truly squeaky.

Moments later, West Ham came oh so close to a fourth goal when Haller caught Foster off his line and tried to lob it over him. But the Watford keeper just a fingertip or two on the ball to direct it wide. On TV it looked in, which made the reality all the more difficult to accept. Despite what some say, I still like Haller and I think he will come good.

Watford kept probing, and I kept wringing my hands. In the 80th minute Gray and Sarr played a give and go on the right side but when Gray tried to find someone in the box he found Ogbonna, who promptly cleared. Moments later Watford would have scored had Welbeck seen the cross headed his way from Sarr. But his fellow man in the box, Gray, actually blocked his view and when the ball landed at his feet it bounced off them and over the bar.

Watford had a very good chance in the 87th minute when Sarr streaked down the right, getting on an overhead ball from Cleverly. Gray streaked into the box, begging for a ball at his feet. But Sarr’s delivery looked as tired as him and it found nobody.

Final Score
West Ham 3
Watford 1

I’d like to say that I have finally learned my lesson. That I will no longer rush to judgment on West Ham players or managers, predict gloom and doom, and see the trap door awaiting at every turn. But we all know that isn’t going to happen. If I haven’t changed after almost 30 years supporting West Ham, no one should hold their breath. But West Ham took care of business early, then did very well to hold off the second half surge by Watford. All that should allow us to relax for the final two matches and watch the teams below us squirm and fret.

Fine by me.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Norwich 0, West Ham 4. Can We See The Light?

I did not set an alarm for this morning, and I was kind of hoping the exhaustion of current life would catch up with me today and just let me sleep through what I was concerned would be a disastrous day for us. Now that both kids are sleeping like true to form teenagers, there was a shot. But the furry feline child is always the wild card, and she was having none of it. “Get up, dad! You have a game to watch! And while you’re at it, feed me”. So up and at em I guess.

Noble stepped back in to the starting eleven, and in a way I can see the logic. The problem was that logic seemed to indicate Moyes thought that we needed some stability to help avoid a bad result against the worst team in the league, at a stadium we have not won in since the year before Richard Nixon resigned. With Villa playing Palace tomorrow and Bournemouth, perhaps buoyed by their point against Spuds, playing Leicester we could have been looking at a truly awful weekend. Thanks to Antonio, that won’t happen.

West Ham had the first opportunity on the day when Antonio split the defense coming in from the left. He tried to find Soucek in front of goal, but the Czech midfielder’s first touch was a little heavy and his shot hit the side netting. A few minutes later the same pair hooked up again, with Antonio tee-ing up Soucek near the top of the Norwich eighteen yard box but his low shot went wide. In the 11th minute Cresswell was sent on a run down the left. His cross connected with Antonio in front of goal but Krul got a hand on it and sent it out for a corner. The initial delivery was cleared for a second corner, and the this time West Ham took care of business. Diop got a touch on the set piece, sending it to the far corner where Antonio was unmarked and found the back of the net.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 1

Norwich put a little fear back into the West Ham faithful in the 17th minute when Hernandez sent a through ball into the West Ham box that Buendia chased, but Fabianski just beat him to the ball. Moments later Cresswell put a cross into the Norwich penalty area that was a hair behind Antonio, and his attempted volley went high and over the bar. A few minutes later Norwich were on the attack with Lewis finding Pukki in the box with a cross, but Finnish striker’s header had no pace and floated over the bar.

Norwich had a golden chance to equalize in the 30th minute when Lewis again got on the ball on the left, a spot they seemed to want to test, and his cross went to Hernandez in front of Fabianski. But his side footed effort went wide when almost anything on target would have done the job. MInutes later Fornals was called for a foul, and Norwich had a free kick from 25 yards out. Vrancic stepped up, but his shot went over the bar. West Ham came back down with Antonio and Bowen combining near the top of the box, but the January signing’s low shot went wide.

In the 37th minute Fornals won a free kick on the left side of the Norwich penalty area, and with The Canaries troubles on set pieces it was a real opportunity. But Noble’s free kick to the far post was too high for Soucek to handle and it went out harmlessly for a Norwich goal kick. Five minutes later Krul made a very good save on a Soucek volley, putting it out for the first of two West Ham corners. But the visitors couldn’t capitalize on either.

Just before halftime, West Ham got a vital second goal after a foul by Buendia gave The Hammers a free kick. Noble’s set piece from just outside the penalty area hit Antonio in the box, and the seven million pound bargain from Nottingham headed it home.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 2

The Hammers could have made it 0-3 when Noble sent a pass to Fredericks streaking down the right, but his shot went over the bar. Then Fabianski was forced to make his first difficult save of the day just before halftime when a Buendia shot forced the Hammer’s keeper to punch the ball away.

Halftime
Norwich 0
West Ham 2

West Ham started the second half brightly, winning a corner in the opening minute. But the set piece amounted to nothing, and when Bowen had the ball with a bit of time and a bit of space near the top of the Norwich eighteen yard box he skied his shot into the empty stands. Moments later West Ham won a free kick just outside the Norwich box. They tried something off the training ground, with Noble looking for Rice inside the box. But the shot was blocked, so more work on the training ground might be in order for that little move.

The match, and perhaps West Ham’s Premier League survival, were possibly wrapped up in the 55th minute when Noble sent a through ball in between Godfrey and Klose that Antonio ran onto. Bearing down on Krul, Antonio tried to side foot it past the Norwich keeper who made the initial save. But the ball bounced high and behind him, Antonio never stopped running, and a header into the open net finished the job. Hat Trick Time.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 3

Reading the play. I wonder how long it will be until Fornals starts to anticipate the movements of his teammates. In the 64th minute he and Antonio were together in the Norwich box, and the man on the hat trick expected Fornals to cut into the area right in front of Krul. He didn’t. Earlier in the match Soucek rolled a pass on the right fully expecting Fornals to move into that space. He didn’t. Both times, Fornal’s teammates looked shocked that the young Spaniard was not where they expected him to be. And there have been more than a few moments like that this season. I still feel Fornals will come good, because the ingredients are all there.

The 74th minute delivered something I don’t think I have ever seen from a West Ham player. To be honest, I don’t even recall the last Hat Trick, although my mate Alex reminded me that it was Andy “Man Bun” Carroll. But when Bowen kept the bull alive near the top of the Norwich penalty area with a looping pass to Fredericks on the right, a possibly historic play was set in motion. Fredericks overpowered Lewis and then rolled a ball to Antonio in front of Krul. Surrounded by three Norwich defenders, Antonio showed a bit of craftiness by nudging the ball with his heel into the near corner. Thanks to my best mate Jon and likely Google, I can now confirm that David Cross against Spuds was the last time a Hammer bagged four on the day.

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Norwich 0
West Ham 4

The most noteworthy moment after Antonio’s fourth was when Troy Deeney scored his second penalty of the day at Watford, giving the Hornets a late winner and pouring the bad news thick and heavy on Villa and Bournemouth. Me being me, I of course took the news badly for us. It’s just how I’m wired. Sue me.

Full Time
Norwich 0
West Ham 4

I won’t say survival is now assured, because results tomorrow could re-ignite my anxiety. Not that it takes much to do that. And rest assured, I will be given a lot of stick by Jon, Nigel, Sean and the gang for my negativity going into today. But without a win there in close to 40 years, coupled with our innate ability to turn an opportunity into a problem, I think trepidation was appropriate. But thankfully we did the business, and our overall play looked like a side deserving of another year in the top flight. Our play the last four matches has been far better than in the first two of Project Restart, Burnley included, and there is reason to hope for a few more points in our last three games. In fact, a draw against Watford helps both sides, so is it hard to see a Moyes-Pearson snoozefest on Friday?

I’d take it.


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