The GoatyGav Column
Either looking up the table or down it is often dependent on recent results. In 2018 West Ham have played 7, won 3, drawn 3 and lost 1 in the Prem. Twelve points from a possible 21. When you factor in the injuries that the team have had during that period things start to look rosier. I’m just starting to turn the corner between counting the points, and places, between West Ham and 18th and the places above us.
With more players returning things are starting to look brighter. Saturday’s performance looked energised and, as the game progressed in the latter stages, despite a slow early part of the second half, more confident. West Ham, as a club, don’t get too much change out of the BBC but both Arnie and Zabba made team of the week following Obiang’s goal of the month. Without bias I genuinely believe Pedro’s strike was the pick of the bunch and may challenge for goal of the season. Then again maybe the strike seemed all the more sweet to us because of the opposition and I’m viewing it through claret and blue tinted specs. In the cold light of day, and as a footballing purist, Willian’s goal for Chelski was a thing of great beauty to me. That said I’d certainly take it if I was Pedro.
As we look at the table today we sit 6 points behind Burnley who are in 7th. They do also have a 7 goal advantage on us however they’ve hit a bit of a sticky patch and are on the slide. It seems that, when we have key players fit, and are not too short on first team regulars, we’re putting points on the board. David Moyes, and his management team, seem to have installed a work ethic and discipline that we’ve not really seen for some time. I loved Super Slav but I think that if he’s to take away a key lesson from his time in charge of West Ham it should be the ability to motivate through a straight-forward, strong and no-nonsense approach to managing individual players. David Moyes lets every player know exactly what he expects from them with no grey areas or overfamiliar, pally-pally, methods of communication. If it works with a character like Arnie then it’s certainly good enough for me.
I was also very encouraged when I posted my first 11 on Iain’s thread this week. When I looked at the potential match day squad, of 18 players with everyone fit, it was strong. Now I’m as fed up as the next supporter with the ‘bids’ that have gone in for Defensive Midfielders over the last few seasons but if you were to add a Carvalho or a Dendoncker we’d really have tremendous balance in the team. So I’m going to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. If Moyes and his team stay, we sign a top quality CDM and add another good striker or two, this Summer then we’ll know that Mr Sullivan’s video wasn’t lip service alone but had substance and intent.
Last time out, against Watford, I saw one of the most encouraging things I’ve witnessed this season. Antonio looked like he was getting back to his old, dynamic self. Apart from the great ball for the first he gave Janmaat a torrid time – numerously beating him for pace. With Arnie playing well, Antonio in the mood, Lanzini on his way back, Kouyate returning to form in central midfield, Nobes putting in the sifts he’s put in since he had a two game break at the end of 2017, Chicha chipping in with goals and creating space with his movement off the ball, Oggy & Collins looking solid at the back (Ginge is great when he has a pacey partner at CB) and Mario really starting to find his feet, as I think he seems to be settling well and looks like he’s enjoying himself, I’m hugely optimistic of a strong last quarter of the season.
Liverpool away will be tough but they shouldn’t underestimate us. We might get a tonking as they’re seriously potent when they’re on it but I might have a cheeky little punt on that one.
Don’t get me wrong, a 7th place finish this season would be a stretch, but if we can get more players back and suffer no further key injuries I think we’ve got an outside chance of it. Top half would be great.
Blue sky stuff, perhaps, but “I’m Dreaming Dreams, I’m Scheming Schemes.”
COYI! West Ham 4 The 2019 Cup!