The HamburgHammer Column
I wasn’t sure if I should even post a column this Monday as I have a bit on my plate at the moment, what with my brother being in hospital again, the rising levels of negativity surrounding my club(s), both at West Ham and Concordia and yet another league game, this time against a club with, similar to us, a recently appointed manager at the helm which unfortunately didn’t result in three more points for us. Still, was it a point gained ? Or two points lost ?
But I will do try and write at least a bit, gather some of my thoughts and invite you all, as usual, to post comments below as news, transfer rumours and quotes from the manager, players or the board may roll in throughout the day.
I will also try to tone myself down a bit as, frankly, football is not worth getting into a frenzy, especially if one of your loved ones is battling for dear life.
Which means I will still post, but probably stay away from fighting the same old wars on here time and time again.
For that reason I am not going to speak about the fan protest which took place in Stratford on Saturday shortly before the game. This has been thoroughly discussed on here in the comments and previous articles and, like it or not, the topic at hand is likely to continue to instigate debate and argument in the coming weeks and months anyway, without me adding fuel to the fire.
You all know where I stand on this and some people have already been moaning about all the board bashing, the repetitive negativity on here and other blogs, so for the time being I don’t intend to add further to it, not in this article anyway. But I cannot guarantee I will never again refer to these issues in my comments. Simply because how this club is being run does affect what happens with the team on and off the pitch – and what a manager, any manager, is able to achieve at West Ham in 2020 and beyond. It’s all connected and at some point in future we may even have no team left to support at all, so when fans criticise and protest, more often than not it’ll be because they love the club and care a lot about it being well.
We are without a shadow of a doubt officially in a relegation dogfight now – and we are likely to remain in that dogfight for the rest of the season, hopefully with a positive outcome at the end, meaning Premier League safety and the soothing comfort of the television money it brings for another season.
David Moyes certainly has his work cut out for him, the current situation at our club being one hell of a challenge that would prove tricky for any manager really, the injuries to our better players ain’t helping either (Antonio always struggling with his hamstring, Fabianski still out, Anderson out for 2-3 weeks apparently with the back injury he suffered when he landed hard and awkwardly on the pitch late in the Sheffield United game, Wilshere never being available etc.).
At this stage you need players to stand up and be counted, guys with cojones and guts. Preferably with some skill at playing football as well.
I wouldn’t expect any of those to arrive in the transfer window, so they will have to come from within the squad we already have.
Moyes will have to work his magic with the current hand of cards at his disposal. Will that hand be good enough ? Or can he at least bluff our way out of trouble ?
Who then will be our committed and vocal leaders on the pitch for the rest of the season, galvanising their teammates to the level of effort and desire we desperately need to win games now ?
Do we actually have the quality to stay up ? On paper for sure, but we don’t play the beautiful game on paper, as we all know. We had a team back in the day that was deemed “too good to go down” and they did just that at the end of the season. That team contained players such as David James, Paolo DiCanio, Trevor Sinclair, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick.
Names alone don’t keep your team up, skill, effort, desire and good old-fashioned teamwork on the other hand do.
I have full confidence that under Moyes we will be more solid defensively. But will we also find a way to be more clinical in front of goal ? We were pretty wasteful against Everton in that regard, in a game we could and should have won as Everton weren’t playing well on the day.
It’s going to be a long, hard and bumpy road for the rest of the season, yet, as for now, I still have faith we can stay up.
Not necessarily because of our own sheer brilliance but due to three teams playing even worse, saving our neck at the end of the day.
There’s not much time to ponder and reflect as games are coming thick and fast these days. Beginning with a tough away trip to Leicester on Wednesday, followed by the arrival of an old friend in the shape of former West Ham player and manager Slaven Bilic who will bring his West Brom team to the London Stadium on Saturday for what promises to be a feisty FA Cup encounter.
Usually I would wish Slav and his team every success in football, but this Saturday I hope we do beat West Brom any which way we can, if only to raise our collective spirit and mood among a fanbase that surely could do with a lift. COYI!!!
As the game against the Toffees has shown though, football rarely is straightforward, nevermind a walk in the park or a piece of cake, be that a slice of Black Forest gateau or a nice chunk of chocolate roulade, if you prefer that. Sometimes football is a tough old hard biscuit. Or even an egg and cress sandwich gone bad.
I certainly don’t expect Leicester or West Brom to make it easy for us this week out of pity for the underdog or because their manager is still a much respected hero for many West Ham fans. It’s going to be a tense week, also for myself on a personal level – as you’re reading this I shall be on my way to seeing my brother at his local hospital after his most recent surgery last Thursday.
He is slowly recovering now from his operation, feeling bored senseless lying in bed all day, waiting for any news about his upcoming therapy which may include more chemo, maybe another surgery or probably some outside-of-the-box solution (some procedure aimed at deliberately causing the body to develop fever symptoms with unusually high temperatures in a controlled environment, if I understood it correctly), just in case the regular remedies aren’t working out. We shall see.
Let’s just say it gives me another thing to worry about other than just West Ham. Or Concordia who have also been struggling in their most recent winter break friendly yesterday afternoon against a very motivated young ETV Hamburg U21 side which beat the Cordi first team by an embarrassing 3:0 scoreline.
It says it all really if the grilled sausage at halftime represents the highlight of the entire matchday experience…;-))
Hamburg SV and St.Pauli, by the way, will resume their league fixtures midweek after the coming weekend.