The GoatyGav Column

A Much Needed Bit Of Escapism – Ex Academy Hammers Excel At Hatters

You could say it’s been an eventful few days with the traffic of comments at a very high level on WHTID. There are, as always, some differences of opinion and interesting conversation threads but one common theme dominates. Things are looking extremely grim indeed. So bad, in fact, that I’m going to discuss a completely different club where things are looking far healthier – just to escape our woes for a short time.

In the four football leagues there is currently only one team that have scored more goals than Manchester City. Luton Town are absolutely flying. So when I heard that the Lee brothers had hit three of Luton’s seven goals this weekend, with Dan Potts hitting another, I had a little look at their squad.

Outside of our club there was much talk of a pretty special goal this weekend. Oliver Lee did the, almost, unthinkable. With Cambridge on the attack, in Luton’s final third, and their keeper, David Forde, off his line Olly nicked the ball following a poor Cambridge pass under pressure, took a touch to the right and hit a 65 yard shot which looped over Forde and in to the Cambridge net. You can see it on the following video. Enjoy .

Dan Potts was a player who I genuinely hoped would make the grade when he was coming through the academy. Admittedly it was a lot to do with his father, in my opinion, being a West Ham legend. To many an unsung one at that. Dan seems to be enjoying his time at Kenilworth Road. In fact, since I started writing this, on Tuesday night, Dan chipped in with yet another goal to help his team hit top spot. His goalscoring record, for a defender, is quite something this season. Like busses they all seem to be arriving at once with five this term – his first five for the club.

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Admittedly it was a lot to do with his father, in my opinion, being a West Ham legend.

Another player that some wanted to see come through at West Ham was Olly’s brother Elliot Lee. Elliot showed a good deal of promise but, unfortunately, was unable to take his chances when he had the odd sniff at the higher level. He’s just starting to really find his feet, however, this season with Luton at the League 2 level. With 5 goals and 2 assists so far his contribution is significant.

Marek Stetch is now Luton’s no1 keeper – having gone to the club from Sparta Prague at the start of the season. Marek never really had a chance at West Ham despite doing well at youth and reserve levels. Great to see him establish himself as a no1. back in the English Leagues. More about his season, and specifically his debut, below.

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Pelly Ruddock (Mpanzu) is another. Substitute on Saturday, but with 15 appearances this season, he is an Energetic box to box midfielder in his 5th season for Luton having notched up 137 games with the club. He’s popular with the Luton faithful for his ability to turn defence in to attack.

They’ve even got a James Collins too – although not a West Ham academy product so, perhaps, more of a tenuous link this one.

With an amazing 46 goals scored Luton have hit eight on opening day of season vs Yeovil, where Stech made a Penalty save on his debut, seven vs Stevenage and seven, without reply, on Saturday vs Cambridge. Seeing so many Ex Academy Hammers doing so well in one team has brought me a little cheer and has been a welcome distraction from affairs away from the London Stadium and I’ll be looking out for their results until May. If the Academy old boys can continue to play a major part in Luton’s promotion campaign I’d be delighted for them all.

Not much consolation, I know, but it’s always good to see our ‘lads’ doing well.

Elsewhere another of our ‘lads’, who is still a West Ham player, on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach is keeping first teamers on their toes at the club who are in fourth place in the Bundesliga. A tough fixture at home to Champions and League Leaders Bayern awaits them on Saturday. Reece is likely to start on the bench but, you never know, may see some action. Let’s hope so. Let’s also hope we can get a result, and some kind of performance, against Leicester City on Friday night.

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Turning Tide For Youth Development?

It often seems that times are grim. Technically superior sides playing us off the park. Unimaginably highly paid players strolling around and putting little effort in. Little pride taken in club or country’s good names by their respective boards/authority members. Power struggles and corruption at the top of the sport. Agents taking huge wedges of cash from, ultimately, the fans on the ground. Grass roots football hugely underinvested in compared to the affluence at the top of the game. It’s tough being a football supporter nowadays. Always was but, in my opinion, there’s even more to contend with when following the modern game. So when something positive happens it’s worthy of focus and attention.

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The last two England Internationals has seen the introduction of a number of players from the, highly successful, younger age groups. In a year that’s seen England win the World Cups at U20 and U17 level more players are being introduced, by way, or not, of absence of players who might be considered first choice, and are gaining valuable experience.
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You could argue that Germany are the most successful international side of all. Yes – Brazil have won 5 World Cups but Germany have more appearances in finals and haven’t failed to be involved in, at least, a semi-final since ’98 when they were knocked out in the quarters. Since that QF ‘failure’, which England would currently consider progress, in France they have introduced a system of production of top level youth athletes who also have the technical ability to compete with the best in the world. They have then brought these gifted players through to the full international squad together – creating a great understanding within their squad.

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Back here in old Blighty youth development, at the very elite level, has seen some serious investment. The players who won those World Cups this year have all benefitted from St George’s Park and Sir Trev deserves much acclaim for his work on the plan to get our elite youth competing with the best in the World both technically and athletically. I might be very critical of what little investment that there is below elite level but I can’t argue with the results we’re starting to see at the top of the game. Over the last two ‘Friendlies’, Gareth Southgate has begun to call in the likes of Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook, Tammy Abraham and Angus Gunn, the excellent Jordan Pickford, who was outstanding against Germany, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was England’s MOTM against Germany and Joe Gomez who, in my opinion, had the best performance of all, over both games but, especially against Neymar and Brazil.

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Ahh – but these are not top Premier League players I hear many say. How can they go on to compete with the world’s best when they don’t ply their trade in the top leagues? Well – if Gareth Southgate is going to be brave enough to put two or three youngsters in to the World Cup squad then two or three more in the Euro Qualifiers thereafter I believe it won’t be long before those players are sought after by clubs in top European leagues, even if the likes of Chelski, Arsenal and Man City won’t play them, and we’re in the same situation that Germany have been for the last three World Cups – where they’ve made every single final.

I’d love to see Tony Martinez get a crack at the whip and Nathan Holland, who Moyes will have no doubt seen in his time at Everton, hopefully unleashed in one of the cups
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I think it’s likely that Declan Rice will feature a few more times this season but I’d love to see Tony Martinez get a crack at the whip

I was as annoyed and disheartened as the next Hammer when Tony Carr was released, then subsequently stripped of his ‘Club Ambassador’ role, by the board. Terry Westley was not a West Ham man before he joined the club and, understandably therefore, many fans didn’t take to him immediately. Looking at the U23s (PL2) squad there are many players who are making strides in a competition which gives academy players much needed experience against men who have been full professionals for a number of years, in the Checkatrade Trophy, as well as the country’s other elite academy teams. A glance at the results, and further viewing of some of the matches played in the accompanying videos, on the club site which you can find when you click here . shows some very encouraging signs. Considering the range of types of goals that Martinez scores, many on view at the development squad page, I believe he has all the attributes to make it as a top level striker. The image below is of a goal against Bristol Rovers that, when viewed on the video footage, shows TM’s hunger and bravery after he was second favourite in a one on one with their keeper. West Ham’s PL2 squad, unlike many in the league who field a number of first team players, is almost totally made up of academy products still to make their first team bow. David Moyes hinted, in his first press conference, that he is open to giving the kids a chance. I think it’s likely that Declan Rice will feature a few more times this season but I’d love to see Tony Martinez get a crack at the whip and Nathan Holland, who Moyes will have no doubt seen in his time at Everton, hopefully unleashed in one of the cups when he returns from his hamstring injury (we would need to be the later rounds as he’s reportedly out for 3 months). In time it would also be good to see Samuelson realise his undoubted potential. For me there are too many critics of how kids are not given experience against fully developed men. With the Checkatrade and PL2, along with U23 & U21’s, I feel that things are heading in the right direction.

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Considering the range and types of goals that Martinez scores, many on view at the development squad page, I believe he has all the attributes to make it as a top level striker.

At a time when many fans are asking if we’ll ever see our youth players come through in numbers there would seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s hope so – both for England and for West Ham.

Lastly apologies for the similarities within this piece to SJ’s yesterday (although it does come at the subject from some different angles). I started writing the article a few days ago and so the crossover wasn’t intentional.

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The Scottish Connection – Let’s Hope David Moyes Is More Lyall Than Lou

When I first started writing this piece it was before the managerial change. I’ll be including some of what I began to pen as it’s very relevant in terms of, what I perceive to be, David Moyes’ intended MO. So I was considering the question ‘whose responsibility is a player’s fitness?’ The problem with my question was that it, in essence, was looking to apportion blame. Listening to DM’s first press conference he’s quite clear in his approach. He may well put the players through their paces but woe betide them if they don’t ‘run’.
The international break is a blessing and a curse for our new gaffer. It’s great that he has time to settle and put preparations in place for the Watford match but unfortunate that many players are away on international duty. From what I could gather he’s not deterred by the negative aspect of the timing of his appointment and has got stuck straight in to training sessions and player engagement.

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They need a bit of confidence, a bit of self belief – one or two tweaks in organisation and hopefully I can get a positive looking team

Although John Angus Lyall wasn’t born in Scotland both of his parents were and moved to Ilford not long before he was born. With the notable exception of Lou Macari Scottish links with West Ham have been mostly successful down the years. Let’s hope that, Macari apart, David Moyes is another successful Scot.

From his first press conference I was particularly encouraged to hear, what I consider, to be the meat on the bone of his view of the current situation with the first team. DM commented “I think I’ve got good players,” adding “They just need a bit of confidence, a bit of self-belief.” He continued with an encouraging degree of certainty “One or two tweaks in organisation and, hopefully, I can get a positive looking team.” Telling and heartening stuff IMO. We’ve all had our differences about how Slaven has organised his team but we’ve also been virtually unanimous in our recognition that he’s made tactical errors. It’s quite clear that David Moyes is well aware of those errors and, from what he’s already had to say, whilst paying due respect to Slaven, he fully intends not to make the same mistakes.

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I think I’ve got good players

Stuart Pearce has stated that he’s keen to speak with David about a role in his coaching team. As far as a work ethic is concerned Moyes has been clear that he won’t put up with any, as he phrased it, “you know what.” With Stuart Pearce alongside him in training I rather suspect the mission of introducing that work ethic and discipline will be more successful. I would love to see ‘Psycho’ on the coaching team. I also think he’d work extremely well with Moyes.

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My most recent article discussed the position that Slaven found himself in when he joined the club making it less of a priority to ‘Build from the back’ (in terms of building the team and not in terms of building moves during a game). During the press conference the new manager has made it quite clear that being more organised in defence is a key requirement and one that he will give a good deal of focus to. He, quite cleverly, answered a question about Mr Allardyce’s inability to recognise a ‘West Ham Way’ by stating that the first order of business is to win but that if this can be done by playing ‘attacking’ and ‘entertaining’ football then all well and good – whether that’s immediately or further down the line. Frankly this is how Mr Allardyce should have answered the, similar, question when he first took over but his obsession with ‘Rhino Skin’, at the time, seemed to get in the way of paying any respect to the traditions of our club. Bravo David Moyes! You’re winning us over already.

The only area that I thought he could have approached better was his ‘year to year contract’ comment. You can’t build for what you want, and how you want to play, when you don’t know if you’re going to be around this time next year. David’s ten years at Everton proved that. David is a football manager. David is good planning long term. David doesn’t do speedboat turns because he’s more of an ocean liner. Be more like David. I also thought the comment was made with just a smidgeon of sycophancy towards the owners and I want to see him stand up and be strong whilst not being pushed around by the board. That said David Moyes needs to gain a strong foothold by securing West Ham’s Premier League status this season so, I guess, he’s new and doesn’t want to start by rocking the boat but I’d have expected him to state his intention to make the job his own for years to come.

So our new first team boss thinks that the squad is good enough. To be good enough they need to be fit enough. Well, frankly, get them fit enough and they’ll be good enough. Good to hear that this is another priority. Also good to hear DM say “Need to find ways and room to get young players in” when discussing academy prospects.

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Need to find ways and room to get young players in.

For me, being on record on this blog for stating ‘Moyes will take us down,’ I’m beginning to lean in to a little bit of a speedboat turn myself. A Stuart Pearce appointment would certainly give me more confidence – especially where getting, and maintaining, squad fitness is concerned and I’d be rotating the metaphorical steering wheel of my opinion boat with more assurance if he does join. I sincerely hope that I am proved wrong about my prediction and I genuinely wish David Moyes all the best in his time as manager of our great club. Another one who I like as a person. He wears his heart on his sleeve and speaks his mind and I find that far easier to trust than the more corporate type who generally say the opposite of what they think.

I couldn’t write this without saying a huge thank you to Slaven Bilic. I liked him a lot and really, really wanted him to do well. In my mind I saw him winning a cup, this season, for the first time in 38 years. He had a good go at that with three, consecutive, quarter finals and for those cup runs I thank him. It’s been a huge roller-coaster and, perhaps, I’ve had a tinge of rose tint in my glasses when viewing this season. I genuinely believed that he would learn, grow, improve to take West Ham in to the top eight and win a cup and held on to that belief until the bitter end. Some truly brilliant memories in there and, because of that, I’m going to finish by posting a few of images that I’ll remember of his time managing the club. I hope he continues to enjoy the journey and becomes a top manager to disprove those that believe he’s not got it in him.

All the best Slav – may the road rise up to meet you fella.

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Building from the back – Is there any other way to find a solid defence?

When a new manager arrives at a club they bring with them a certain way of doing things. Their ‘Modus Operandi, or ‘MO’ if you prefer, is driven by their own beliefs about how the game should be played. Very occasionally a manager is lucky enough to inherit players who either suit the system they would like to introduce or, if even more fortunate, add strength in areas where the said manager is lacking. When Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal he was taking on a team that had the best organised defence in the country. Bruce Rioch had already begun the work that Arsene continued but both men were the benefactors of Geroge Graham’s defensively constructed squad. Many have observed that Arsene Wenger was at his most successful during his early years managing the Gunners. A large percentage of the observations have put those cups and championships down to the strength that already existed at the back with the famous Arsenal ‘Back Four’ of Lee, Dixon, Adams and Keown. With David Seaman behind them it was a formidable back line. Without them you could speculate that Manchester United would have completely dominated the nineties and early noughties. Whether this defensively proficient team was added to by either Rioch or Wenger is still being debated but bringing in Patrick Viera added further steel to match that of Roy Keane’s addition to Alex Ferguson’s squad at Manchester United.

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Observations have put those cups and championships down to the strength that already existed at the back

Love him or loathe him Mr Allardcye made West Ham hard to beat. He organised the team in such a way that opposing sides found very hard to break down. Probably more effective than, even, Mr Allardyce is Tony Pulis in this respect. Within a very short space of time Pulis managed to turn things around for Crystal Palace and save them from, almost, certain relegation. Not just at Palace either – West Brom was another challenge. In fact the two are very similar with the Welshman, in my estimation, edging it due to slightly greater tactical knowledge. Be that as it may you have to admit, however, that our last team manager brought much needed organisation and discipline to the squad. One thing that both managers share is that they played as defenders during their career. When they arrive at new clubs they busily set about getting their respective defences organised and solid. Every player knows his job exactly. A no-nonsense, or safety first, approach is generally introduced as well as strong players in advanced positions who can ‘hold’ the ball until they’re able to bring in team mates. Wide players, and play, are preferred with lots of crosses coming in from the flanks for those strong forwards to get on the end of. A very simplistic view which, as we know, in reality is far more scientific but it’s a system that has worked very effectively. Both managers have never been relegated despite, on many occasions, being appointed by clubs in poor league positions in need of a manager to ‘make them safe’.

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Within a very short space of time Pulis managed to turn things around

Moving on to Slaven you would expect, being an ex-defender himself, that he would have come in and done something similar . Perhaps he would have been better off if he hadn’t inherited a solid back line and could have built his own. When Slaven arrived, however, the defence was not the no.1 priority. A more exciting, entertaining, brand of football was demanded by the club’s owners and many fans. That meant the signing of several players with good technical ability, who suited a system of play that involved passing through midfield, was undertaken. Lanzini and Payet as well as Angelo Ogbonna, who was used to the more technical form of defending whilst playing in Italy, joined Pedro Obiang and Michael Antonio, with Victor Moses on loan, as new signings. My personal feeling about that transfer window was that it was our best ever. Best I can remember anyway. Following that Super Slav went about getting the team playing less percentage balls and more short passes out of defence and through midfield. Personally I felt like we’d got ‘our West Ham’ back. All was rosy in the garden in our last ever season at the Boleyn Ground. Then the move and Monsieur Payet’s sulk. One of the best transfer windows in 2015 was followed by one of the worst in the Summer of ’16. Who’s fault that was is subject to debate but, all boiled down, many players flattered to deceive and we came crashing back down to earth. The rest is history which I don’t have time to cover off right now – suffice to say the honeymoon period of Slav’s first season is a distant memory.

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By comparison West Ham’s development has been a succession of speedboat turn after speedboat turn.

Overall I get the feeling that, rather than building from the back, there’s an element of sticking plaster upon sticking plaster. If the team are going to be successful in the future there needs to be a longer term plan. With manager changes every three years this becomes very difficult but not impossible. Some clubs do manage it. Southampton’s ‘Black Box’ model, like one of the steady ocean liners leaving the city’s port, contributes to a longer term overall plan. By comparison West Ham’s development has been a succession of speedboat turn after speedboat turn.

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James Collins put in more than one ‘Man of the Match’ performance during last season’s run in.

So what now? We’ve had a quarter of a season played and we linger in the bottom quarter of the table. I’m not sure it’s all doom and gloom however. Personally I feel that most of the work to do is at the back. When a defence is looking strong it’s far easier to play with more confidence and that’s Slaven’s main challenge. Going back to the ‘no nonsense’ approach I want to highlight one player who I feel made a massive contribution to our late, good, form last season. James Collins put in more than one ‘Man of the Match’ performance during 2017’s run in. He was an absolute rock. Played some of the best football of his career. Occasionally it was ‘Row Z’ clearances but his presence seemed to garner confidence at the back which permeated forwards up the pitch. Looking at Physio Room Ginge is going to be out until mid-late November. Reid and Fonte make up our other two on the injured roster. Not a great position to be in having three Centre Backs out at the same time eh? The sooner JC can get back the better so far as I’m concerned.

Overall, for me, it’s currently about regaining confidence which will only come if things are shored up at the back. Whether Declan Rice, Angelo Ogbonna and Kouyate can step up in the next couple of games, or if it’s we’re going to have to wait for the return of Ginge and Reidy, remains to be seen however I do wonder if Slav will have that much time. Sincerely hope so.

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A lesson learned but a costly one.

Looking back to last Saturday I can’t quite get over how naive the team were in the final minute of the game. I’m not a fan of watching the clock out in the corner. It’s not what you pay your money for but, frankly, crossing a ‘low percentage’ ball whilst under little pressure was a poor decision. One of a few options that he shouldn’t have had. By that I mean it really didn’t need three other players charging forward at that stage – leaving the midfield completely exposed in front of defence. A lesson learned but a costly one. We all make mistakes, and I’m certainly not going to stop being a fan of Michail Antonio, but that was a hard one to forgive at the time and I won’t repeat what I yelled when Zaha, subsequently, found the back of the net. I’m sure, however, that it will be a hard lesson for Michail as the dressing room will not have been an easy place for him to be afterwards. One that will probably stick in the memory. Apart from Antonio’s error the entire team were nervous and negative, in the second half, whilst inviting pressure and opportunities for Palace to create goal scoring chances. Work to do there.

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I like to end on a positive note and this news did give me some cheer when I read it. After he has patiently stuck to the task I’m very pleased for Reece Oxfrod who took his Bundeslige bow as a sub last weekend in a 3-1 win over Hoffenheim. Let’s hope the door of opportunity stays open for Reece in the coming weeks and he capitalises in confident fashion. Mönchengladbach’s next game is against FC Mainz on Saturday , who sit in 13th, so if Reece gets the nod it will, hopefully, be a winning home debut. Other encouraging stuff comes from the U21’s game against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night. Another great win, this time 3-1, for the lads with a great return from Samuelson and more goals from Martinez. Very much liking what Nathan Holland is doing this season too Great stuff!

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When Managers Expect From Their Players What They Put In Themselves

In any walk of life there are managers. They come in all varieties with various styles and methodologies. Some have the benefit of experiencing the position of those that they manage, much like an ex-player who becomes a manager in football, while others have little or no experience ‘walking the walk’. In a very long career in sales, which began in the school yard buying and selling little electronic games with LCD screens, I’ve worked under managers who have been in sales themselves and managers who haven’t. I’ve also managed a couple of sales teams back in the days when I worked in retail. Looking back I can remember how it felt when a member of the team was not ‘putting it in’. I expected the same level of effort and dedication that I gave when I was in sales. I would supply the right level of motivation and encouragement but found it extremely difficult when a member of ‘my’ team dragged their feet.

So take a player like Zabba. What a dream he must be to manage.
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So take a player like Zabba. What a dream he must be to manage. It’s players like that who you choose as your right hand – your leaders on the pitch. Mark Noble can never be criticised for lack of effort. A true 100%er who leads by example.

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Then take the superstars who you bring in. The ‘Di Canios’ and ‘Cantonas’ of this world. You’ll accept them not tracking back (although I would suggest that Paulo’s work rate was better than Eric’s) because they contribute so much with their skill, vision and flair.

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Supposedly we signed a superstar this summer. A record club signing with talent to burn. Ok – we knew Marko Arnautovic tended not to work to help the team out when we hadn’t got the ball but we’ll put up with that because he creates so much – right? He’s certainly as moody and unpredictable in character as PDC or ‘King Eric’, I’ll grant him that, but we knew that before he signed.

Cheikhou Kouyate, by contrast in styles, has been one of my favourite players since he arrived at West Ham in 2014. Rarely had I ever seen a player go shoulder to shoulder with Yaya Toure and come away with the ball. Box to box he would rapidly turn defence in to attack. Useful at set pieces too – you could see he enjoyed Payet’s free kicks when they weren’t going straight in the back of the net. Since the summer he’s barely recognisable to the player of former seasons. There have been flashes of his combative play but not consistently. So I’m asking myself why this should be. As far as I know he’s not struggling with injury. Could it be the current atmosphere in the dressing room?

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Another reason could be illustrated by history.

There is definitely something going wrong with the team’s motivation at present? What else could be happening other than a talented but work-shy player who isn’t contributing affecting the team’s motivation? Well another reason could be illustrated by history. When Mr Allardyce came in to the final season of his three year contract a very similar situation arose IMO. Contract talks were on hold and Mr Allardyce’s future at the club was in serious doubt. Result – a complete collapse in form after Christmas that saw us narrowly avoid relegation. I know it’s not 2018 yet but is the same effect of the 3 year deal policy, that the club’s board seem to prefer, kicking in earlier this time around? The same change in demeanor of the manager is happening to Slaven that happened to Mr Allardyce in his final season. When this happens to a manager the inevitable will ensue and players will be affected.

As for player led meetings I pay that little credence. Overly inflated media talk IMHO.

So putting myself in Slaven’s shoes how must it be, at present, managing a situation where you have a player who is creating very little whilst offering nothing to win the ball back from the opposition (apart from the odd, badly timed, ridiculous lunge that gets you sent off)? Slaven is a manager that is out there kicking every ball. You can visibly see his frustration when things break down on the pitch. It’s one of the things that endeared so many fans to him when he first arrived. The passion and frustration he showed was so similar to our own. He has a huge amount to contend with which is being added to by the fans beginning to turn as well. He needs to find the motivation to turn things around like, I suspect, he must have done at half time last night.

So I’m going to finish on a far more positive note. I can’t write without mentioning last night’s game. It was ‘real’ cup football for me. Took me back. Unlike some I don’t think we played that badly in the first half and were unlucky to go in 2-0 down. I think that the lads worked quite hard and, as a result, one or two niggling errors started to creep in to Spurs’ play in the latter part of the half. A miss-control here and a misplaced pass there seemed to sneak under the radar of many but I felt the signs were starting to show that our boys were getting to them. There were some good signs on view. Players were passing and moving and we had a few spells where we held the ball against one of the best, if not THE best, pressing team in the Premier League. It just seemed to completely break down when it got up to Carroll and Ayew. The big difference in the second half was that Carroll and Ayew were transformed. Andrew Ayew especially. The midfield seemed to gain belief and supported the strikers better, as they were sitting a little too deep in the first half, but Ayew was the catalyst. Man of the match performance in my book. Carroll was also effective. Lanzini grew in to it and created chances. Declan Rice showed great character after his, very unlucky, deflection for their second goal. Sam Byram did a great job. Cressers had a good game. Adrian had a blinder. Good performances all but I feel that an unsung hero of the evening was Edmilson Fernandes. Positive and intelligent he seemed to be the one putting us on the front foot when it came through him.

Positive and intelligent he seemed to be the one putting us on the front foot when it came through him.

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What a joy to watch – brilliant stuff.

Adrian had a blinder

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I love cup football. Nail biting, edge of your seat, 100mph, hanging on to your potatoes, do or die stuff. The league is the bread and butter but the cup is, so often, where it’s at for excitement. Absolutely love it.

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