David Hautzig's Match Report
I wish I could get inside your head and see what on earth is going wrong. Maybe you thought your style and tactics were still applicable to the English game? Or perhaps you were given assurances that you would be allowed to furnish the whole house, but at the last moment a few rooms were locked up and your personal moral compass wouldn’t let you say anything? To be honest, if I had your bank account and decency I would walk away. Life is too short. Go back to Chile, open up a nice bottle of Vina Echeverria Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon (2014 if you can get it), and call it a day. When 17th place is the new goal, that seems like the right call.
Leicester City started today with nine changes from their Boxing Day lineup, so there were some West Ham supporters on social media who thought that might just open the door for us. Not me. Had Albrighton connected properly with his strike inside the box in minute four, the home side would have been down a goal. Moments later Justin attacked down he right and sent a cross into the box that was wrongly flagged for offside. Then Iheanacho blew what might have been a one to one battle with Fabianski with a heavy touch. Meanwhile, West Ham looked like they were playing against imaginary pylons.
The beginning of todays version of the end looked to come in the tenth minute when Justin sent a ball over the top to Iheanacho. Fabianski came out to meet the Leicester City striker who was once rejected by Slaven Bilic and clattered into him. David Coote pointed to the spot, which was no surprise. When he showed Fabianski a yellow instead of a red, small favors were thanked for around the London Stadium. Gray gave the home crowd another favor with a truly tepid penalty that didn’t look that hard for our returning hero to stop.
There have been many who have called for Masuaku to be recalled into the starting lineup. Heck, he wasn’t even on the bench for weeks. There have been an equal number wondering why on earth he was given an extension to his contract. In the 22nd minute, he let loose a shot that at least counted as an attempt on target. However, he also gave away the ball a number of times before and after that shot. So which side of the argument is correct? Yes.
Both sides played possession football without any real end product, but Leicester were a bit more effective. After winning a corner in the 32nd minute, they kept the ball in and around the West Ham eighteen yard box. The “what if” of that sequence was pretty clear. If Leicester City had their best on the pitch I doubt the match would have remained scoreless.
Albrighton made a mistake in the 35th minute when he lost the ball to Anderson, who then broke on the attack. The Brazilian showed good awareness by finding Rice slightly behind the play and lobbed a cross his way. Rice tried to catch the pass with a one time volley but his shot bounced into the grass and meekly towards Schmeichel.
The second version of the likely end came in the 40th minute when Masuaku made the awful decision of trying a weak header instead of letting the ball fly out for a goal kick. Justin retrieved it and sent a ball towards the West Ham goal. It looked to be heading out, but Perez didn’t give up on it and headed it back in front of goal where Iheanacho met it with his forehead and put it behind Fabianski.
West Ham 0
Leicester City 1
West Ham had a half chance…maybe just a quarter to be fair…when Rice sent a cross into the box for Haller. The Frenchman tried to redirect the ball with his head but it went wide. But seconds later, against the run of play for sure, Anderson went on a run down the right. He played a give and go with Fredericks and then rolled a pass to Fornals in the box. The young Spaniard continued his overall improvement of late with the best of all outcomes. His first goal in Claret & Blue.
West Ham 1
Leicester City 1
Masuaku is not a defender. We all know that. My guess is he knows that and wonders why on earth he is so often played at fullback. His rugby tackle on Perez in the 49th minute right outside the box gave Leicester City a free kick from a very dangerous area. Fuchs took the set piece and went low, under the wall. But Fabianski was there to gather it up.
The substitutions made by Pellegrini this season have often been met with raised eyebrows. Antonio coming on for Haller in the 55th minute had to be added to that list. Just as we were trying to figure that one out, Leicester City broke on a counter. Diop tried not once but twice to break up the attack with a foul instead of getting back into position, and was terribly ineffective both times. That allowed Perez to get on the ball and roll a pass to Gray on the left. The man who missed the early penalty redeemed himself with both a well timed run and a well placed shot.
West Ham 1
Leicester City 2
Leicester City had an excellent chance to put West Ham out of its misery in the 68th minute. After a corner from Maddison came right back at him due to a poor clearance attempt from Anderson, he tried another cross. This one spent more time in the box and eventually landed at the feet of Morgan. The giant centerback did well to bring a high ball down, turn, and fire a good shot that Fabianski went down to his right to save.
By the 80th minute, the crowd at the London Stadium was disturbingly silent. To hear the echos of a single whistle through a television was both damning and depressing. Yet with such poor play, terrible passes, and bad runs it was hard not to feel the same thing in my basement in New York. My mind was vacillating between that awful year under Zola when we barely escaped the drop and that truly pathetic year under Grant. Even the television commentators said they could not see what West Ham were trying to do. In all honesty, the much maligned Ajeti was our hardest worker in the final ten minutes.
West Ham 1
Leicester City 2
In 1964, The United States Supreme Court heard a case involving free speech and whether or not something was obscene. Justice Potter Stewart said the following;
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”
Once again, everything is falling apart at West Ham United. We are free-falling towards the Championship, our captain is fighting with our best central defender DURING A MATCH, the players look like they have surrendered to their fate, and yet another managerial change is imminent. Players change, managers and back room staff change, and in our case even our stadium changed. Only one thing has been a constant this past decade, and even though it’s not always easy to pinpoint the how, I am certain whose fault it is. This season has been particularly difficult on that end, because we bought some good players over the summer and have a manager with an impressive CV. Yet I know in the end it’s their fault.
I know it when I see it.