David Hautzig's Match Report
I wish I could be more level headed about us. As Nigel has said to me more times than I can remember, it’s in our DNA. We have an uncanny ability to take better players and managers and instead of raising the whole club to their level, we somehow drag them down to ours. When a work issue came up for me yesterday, causing me to interrupt my Saturday with the family to become a wine delivery guy (at least it’s for my mate and fellow Hammer Alex, aka Poor Bastard), I secretly wished the warehouse people could only meet me in the morning. That would have given me a reason to just skip today altogether. Instead 1pm was offered, so that was that. Without a win in our last 6, another 90 minutes of angst was staring me in the face. And that angst did not even blink.
One of the many observations, or criticisms if you will, of our current system is the way Haller has been isolated up top. Long balls galore for him to win. But that isn’t his game. In the eighth minute Snodgrass did find the Frenchman with a decent pass but Haller couldn’t find his feet and the threat was over.
A minute later the long day I feared looked to have begun. Burnley won their second corner in quick succession when Roberto inexplicably decided to punch the ball away when he should have just caught it. Burnley won that corner, although replays show it should have been a goal kick. The set piece from McNeil flew over Rice, Tarkowski headed it to Barnes right in front of the goal, and that was that. With goalkeeping and defending like that, screaming about the corner that should not have been is slightly pointless.
West Ham 0
The bulk of the action remained in the West Ham half, and if Cresswell hadn’t gotten his head on another McNeill delivery Barnes might very well have made it 2-0. An injury to Noble meant Yarmolenko was inserted, but everyone started to look the same to me in those purple kits. Burnley moved the ball around, made crunching tackles, and we looked powerless to do anything about it.
There was a moment in the 27th minute that kind of summed us up. Anderson ran with the ball on the left. He had space. But he tried to roll a low pass to Haller in the box, and just like that any semblance of an attack just vanished. Minutes later a burst of speed from Fredericks on the right forced Mee to put the ball out for a West Ham corner. That in and of itself was the only thing worth mentioning because Burnley cleared the ball easily.
Yarmolenko won another corner in the 34th minute. OK. Let’s move on.
I admit I had no idea who Dwight McNeill was before today. Now I will see him in my many West Ham nightmares. His delivery into the box over a sea of West Ham defenders that Wood headed past Roberto should have made it 2-0. But VAR ruled an armpit was ahead of the pass and the goal was disallowed. Regardless, the cross was world class.
It didn’t matter in the end because Balbuena made a shocking error in the 44th minute when he completely misplayed a ball from Roberto and allowed McNeill to make a much easier pass to Wood in the box and it was officially a second goal.
West Ham 0
The second half started brighter for West Ham in relative terms. We didn’t concede a third goal from the opening kick, Yarmolenko and Haller took actual shots on goal, and we passed the ball from player to player without looking ridiculous. My stream did start to act wonky, coming in and out, and time would tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Turned out it was a good thing. My phone app told me that Burnley had scored again, and that Roberto was at fault. When the stream eventually caught up with reality, I saw a howler worthy of a million YouTube hits. So for the second time in two weeks, I quit before the final whistle.
No more details, although Nigel told me Roberto made some wonderfully ironic classy saves near the end.
West Ham 0
So. Here we are again. In full blown crisis mode, a relegation battle at our doorstep. With an international break next weekend, dollars to donuts I can guarantee that stories will emerge about any number of people. Pellegrini, Husillos, Sullivan, you name it. And if anyone acts surprised, I have a bridge to sell you. That’s how our club has behaved ever since the current regime took over. That does not mean I’m laying the current meltdown at their doorstep. I truly don’t know where the majority of the blame lies.
I just know the supporters bear the brunt of the pain.