When we were discussing the upcoming Liverpool game and West Ham’s chances to get a result I maintained throughout that anything could happen, especially on Opening Day. Well, what happened was the drubbing that most pundits (and probably most of our own fans) had anticipated all along.
You hope against hope that you may catch the Scousers on a bad day at the office for them, you think maybe our new West Ham team will click instantly and nick another rare win at Anfield for us.
The cold hard truth is that Liverpool on normal form are a terrifyingly good side, skilled, ruthless, focussed and also, as much as it pains me to say it, a wonderful side to watch for any fan who loves the game of football and doesn’t hold a hatred (irrational or not) against Liverpool FC. I will say one thing about Liverpool though – and it’s really getting to me – and that is the love-in that Sky and the media are celebrating when it comes to covering Liverpool.
Yes, they are a great footballing team (again, it took them a while to become one under Klopp), they are one of the best supported sides on the planet and it’s good they exist.
However, is it really necessary to overload the TV crews with (biased) former Liverpool players or self-proclaimed Liverpool fans ?
Is it necessary to completely ignore whichever team has the (mis)fortune of playing the Scousers on any given weekend and blabber away about Liverpool this and Liverpool that ?
One of Liverpool’s goals was CLEARLY scored from an offside position, yet that wrong refereeing call was laughed off by the commentators as Mane’s finishing was so brilliant. WTF ??? The goal didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but that ain’t the point. I may be forced to find myself an internet stream with Chinese or Swedish commentary in future in order to avoid busting a blood vessel from getting riled up over punditry that is overly biased towards West Ham’s opponents.
I won’t dwell too much on the game as most things have been properly discussed on the match thread and on David Hautzig’s article. Liverpool didn’t have a bad day at the office, they played like a well-drilled and oiled machine (or a solid old Volkswagen, as Klopp is managing them…LOL) and frankly we just didn’t get a sniff.
I believe Liverpool will give Man City a run for their money, one of these two teams will win the PL title at a canter and I would expect them to dish out plenty of drubbings along the way.
I still saw some positives in the game from our perspective which may sound odd after losing a game by a 0:4 scoreline. But I think there were, under the circumstances, some very decent performances and first glimpses at our new players. In my book Fredericks and Balbuena looked promising, same goes for Wilshere and Anderson.
And we didn’t even see Diop, Lucas Perez or Carlos Sanchez in action yet, not in a competitive game anyway.
We will not play Liverpool every weekend and indeed I would expect our team to play some great football this season against most other clubs in the league.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was Liverpool under Klopp and I would just hope that West Ham fans don’t overreact after this game.
We need to be patient and if we are I am absolutely certain that Pellegrini will deliver over the course of the season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly enjoying watching us lose 0:4 to anybody, but putting it in perspective I know we will see us play a lot better in far more games this season as compared to the previous one. Even in this drubbing I saw us passing the ball well at times, but it’s difficult against Liverpool as they keep the ball so well and don’t make a lot of mistakes you could pounce on.
We will all be a bit wiser after the upcoming home opener against Bournemouth. I’m sure Pellegrini will be busy this week in training, devising a gameplan and working the players so we will all hopefully be in for a treat next weekend. COYI!!!
Hamburg football update, starting with Concordia whose first team got spanked 0:3 away at Teutonia 05 in Ottensen in Hamburg’s west, with me being one of several Cordi supporters who attended that game. Teutonia are widely tipped to finish the season as champions (they are loaded as they are getting sponsored by a Russian oil company), so it’s no shame to lose at their place. Unfortunately the Cordi boys were lacking in many departments yesterday, body language, running, general willingness to go into tackles and win balls. The Cordi U23s on the other hand won their home fixture by a ridiculous scoreline of 10:0. The young Cordi lads already look like they may be headed for a third successive promotion season.
As for the Hamburg heavyweights St.Pauli got the perfect start, winning their second game of the season as well, this time at home against Darmstadt.
And Hamburg SV managed to win back some pride and goodwill by winning their away game at Sandhausen 3:0, after suffering a defeat by the same scoreline the previous week against Kiel.
Finally the “Keep off the grass!” signs will be coming off PL pitches up and down the country, next weekend the latest edition of the most watched league in the world will kick into gear again and as usual it will be touted as the biggest, the best, the most skilled, most exciting, most breathtaking ever. We’ll see about that!
For West Ham though it really does feel different compared to previous (underwhelming) summers.
There is a new manager at the helm, supported by a DoF – and of course a number of highly promising new arrivals have already found their way to East London, with more reinforcements rumoured to be on the way in the coming days. For whatever reason the PL clubs have decided it’d be a great idea this year to shut the transfer window in England way before their European counterparts do, but it is what it is and I’m sure Pellegrini and Husillos are well prepared either way – with prefered players and alternative options lined up aplenty, so we can go into the upcoming season with a squad that’ll be significantly better and deeper than previous versions.
Manuel Pellegrini is the most successful and high-profile manager this club has ever employed. Pellegrini has won the PL title before. He has been successful at big clubs with money to burn and smaller clubs with far more ambition and hope than disposable cash. He plays football the right way, attack-minded, passing football with a focus on keeping possession of the ball and taking the game to the opposition rather than just reacting.
In Bilic we had a relatively young (and naive) manager who probably was too nice to the players which some of them shamelessly exploited.
Allardyce did a job of course, but not much more, his brand of football was very predictable and rarely pleasing on the eye. Similar to Moyes.
Pellegrini seems to know what he wants, from his players on the pitch and also from the board behind the scenes.
I have no doubt that lines were drawn in the sand before MP signed on the dotted line. I am still convinced something must be afoot. What we are experiencing this summer at West Ham is so diametrically opposed to everything that Gold, Sullivan and Brady have done in their odd 25 years of running football clubs that I refuse to believe they have been patiently waiting in the wings, twiddling their thumbs for all those years until Pellegrini came riding along in his shining armour.
I am also impressed with the realism MP has brought to the club as he is planning without Reid and Andy Carroll at this point and rightly so!
Too often we are hearing the old chestnut of players being like new signings when coming back from injury. Well, maybe they are – until they break down again soon after which seems to be the more likely scenario for both Reid and Carroll at this stage of their career.
You cannot and you should not build your teams around those players and you also shouldn’t plan your transfer window in the hope that them players will be able to contribute a lot next season. Whatever they contribute will be a bonus, but it’s not something you should count on.
Thankfully MP and Husillos are still busy trying to get deals over the line, names we keep hearing are Bernard, the free agent attacking midfielder from Brazil who may arrive in East London this week unless of course he picks the greener grass and bigger pot of cash which apparently is being offered to him in China, we shall see.
We may also witness the much awaited arrival of a proper defensive midfielder and ball winner in Thiago Maia, another Brazilian who would be arriving from Lille.
Also highly touted and rumoured to be West Ham bound is central defender Harold Moukoudi, a strong young prospect from the famed Le Havre Academy.
And there is a good chance we may also boost our attacking options with the arrival of Lucas Perez who has fallen further down the pecking order at Arsenal.
He is rumoured to be available at a reasonable price and if that is the case it surely wouldn’t hurt to bring in a significant upgrade on Jordan Hugill who is almost guaranteed to leave us either on a loan or on a permanent deal.
In my opinion we cannot continue to hope for the injury troubles to just miraculously go away and leave us alone – we will ALWAYS have injured players at West Ham and if we want to improve as a club we need to be prepared for that with a deep squad, with the ability to rotate players and with competition for places all over the pitch.
I cannot wait for the season to begin now and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt as confident about our club as I do now. I’m not going over the top though, trying to keep things both in perspective and check.
If our football improves, if we ship less goals than last season, if we stay away from the relegation places at all times and if we finish anywhere between 12th and 8th in the table I will regard it as progress and a good foundation to build on.
In any case one good transfer window alone won’t do for us – hopefully we will see a proper Pellegrini era at West Ham now, with MP building and improving our squad from one transfer window to another – with the same kind of support from the club hierarchy as we are seeing now. COYI!!!
Quick Hamburg football update for those who are interested. Both Concordia teams have won their respective league games, the first team won 2:0 against Condor last Friday while the U23s won their home opener on Sunday by an impressive 9:2 scoreline.
Tuesday will see Cordi’s first team “travel” the couple of miles down the road to face my neighbourhood side TSV Wandsetal in the local cup competition – in the football ground that of all grounds in town is located the closest to my flat and is actually in walking distance (probably ten minutes) and it looks like my brother and my nephew (who celebrated his 11th birthday on Sunday by the way) are going to join me for that game – should be a great occasion on a glorious summer evening!
Hamburg SV carried on where they left off last season and lost their first ever Bundesliga 2 fixture, at home against local rivals Holstein Kiel 0:3. Embarrassing!
While St.Pauli started much better, winning their season opener away at Magdeburg in Eastern Germany by a 2:1 scoreline.
These days I have Bananarama on my mind a lot – it’s not because I’ve met Venus, or I’m standing accused of love in the third degree or because Robert De Niro’s waiting around a street corner near my flat but indeed due to a very Cruel Summer wreaking havoc here in Hamburg, one of the hottest and most exhausting ones I can remember in the 46 and a bit years of walking this planet.
The heat just drains you out and so I just try to drink a lot of water throughout the day, try to find a reasonably cool place and spend as little time as possible outside in full exposure to the burning sun.
Watching West Ham play Ipswich in preseason on an internet stream is acceptable under the circumstances as well, so that’s just what I did, sandwiched between watching Cordi’s U23s draw their season opener on Friday and Concordia’s first team losing theirs 1:3 on Sunday afternoon – another game that felt as if being played in the middle of a hot stone pizza oven.
Make no mistake, the performance against Ipswich was nowhere near as mesmerising as the earlier game against Villa, but there was still a lot to like. Players got another decent run-out, match fitness got improved upon, we saw some fine passing moves, but also some shocking defending.
But let’s not be too harsh on players who got only properly introduced to each other a fortnight or so ago – natural understanding between teammates will develop over time and things should get better with every training session and every game.
Besides, most other teams will have exactly the same issues as us, so I wouldn’t worry too much on that front. At this point I breathe a sigh of relief whenever a preseason game ends with all our lads coming out of the trenches unscathed. If the players don’t get injured and MP has learned a bit more about our players and our tactics I would consider it a successful preseason encounter all around.
I also love seeing mistakes in preseason games because it means the issue can be addressed in training and those mistakes will hopefully not happen again in the games that matter.
We are now approaching the decisive period of the transfer window, the final ten minutes of the game so to speak, and that is when deals will begin to happen thick and fast, left, right and center.
It’s the time when the staff of the Transfermarkt website face their customary vacation lock implemented by their CEO (who also happens to be the Concordia chairman) – it’ll get very busy and I reckon West Ham aren’t done yet, both in terms of departures and new arrivals.
The one most likely to leave at this point seems to be Cheikhou Kouyate. Apparently we are looking to sell for around the £15 million mark, either to Crystal Palace (which appears to be Kouyate’s prefered option) or using him in part-exchange for a Porto player, more of that further down.
Sam Byram (I still love his poems by the way) seems destined for Nottingham Forest, Reece Oxford may return to that team from Germany again (Moenchengladbach), if The Foals’ Eleven (as they are traditionally known) can cough up between £10-15 million for the young defender/holding midfielder who has failed to make an impact at West Ham.
Meanwhile Pedro Obiang’s future still appears to be hanging somewhat in the balance. If a deal happens it may be a loan deal with an obligation to buy and the most likely destination will be his former club Sampdoria Genoa.
However, Obiang will not be forced out against his wishes and it looks like Obiang may well prefer to hang around a bit longer with MP running the show at West Ham now.
I wouldn’t mind keeping Obiang as a squad player and to give us more depth, but maybe a transfer to Genoa where he can start the majority of games may be the best option all around here.
Kouyate in contrast could be used as a makeweight in a potential deal for Porto’s Moussa Marega, a 27 year old striker/attacking midfielder with Malian roots. If you’re watching video highlights of him or browse pictures of the guy he looks like a strong lad.
He really must have eaten his broccoli as a kid, I suppose you don’t get called The Malian Beast for nothing…:-))
The guy has been an absolute revelation last season, helping Porto to win yet another title in the process:
22 goals scored in the league, 5 assists, just one yellow card. I can see why MP might be interested to add him to our squad before the transfer window is shut.
Versatility is Marega’s key attribute, he can play all across the frontline or even as a right winger although his most lethal position appears to be right in the center of attack.
Finishing is his main strength, but he is also good in the air, can strike ’em from outside the box or dribble his way through defenders.
Bad points are offside awareness (which can be taught in training I reckon), defensive contribution and holding on to the ball at times.
However, with a scoring ratio like his, you gladly take the bad with the good I reckon. I hope we can make this deal happen. Husillos is apparently heading to Porto for talks this week.
Let me tell you right now that I love the way how very few rumours, in contrast to previous summers, actually seem to be finding their way from the club into social media and the public domain.
I reckon it shows a new direction and more professional approach installed by Pellegrini already and I for one appreciate that a lot. Hopefully this will help us to actually bring some crucial deals over the line that otherwise may have faltered for one reason or another.
Andre Gomes has been on our radar for a while now, we were interested as early as last summer apparently, but with MP in charge now our chances of getting the player signed up may have improved significantly, although he will not come cheap.
Gomes of course is the young midfielder from Barcelona (and Portugal) boasting bucketloads of skills and an eye for the killer pass. Gomes, having just celebrated his 25th birthday, can unlock opposing teams with a quick through ball, a sudden burst of pace, with his creativity and smart reading of the game.
Gomes has an interesting background to say the least, involving dodgy third party ownership (ahem, Carlos, can you hear me ?), loan-to-buy deals (yes Mr.Zaza, I’m not a fan either) and agents pulling the strings away from the limelight, not always in the best interest of their client it appears.
Hailing from the renowned Benfica youth system originally, he looks like the perfect Lanzini replacement.
We all know that Barcelona have an abundance of good or even great midfielders at their disposal to pick and choose from – and not every talented player can make it there.
So we shouldn’t turn up our collective noses at a player who may have struggled to quite make the grade at Barcelona, he may still have plenty to offer to a club like ours.
We can certainly do with (another) decent passer of the ball in midfield and Gomes can definitely do that although you won’t see him tackle opposition players much, but then again there are other players in our squad who can put in a tackle if need be much better than Gomez ever could.
Whatever happens from now till the end of the transfer window – I am convinced that MP has a very clear idea already in terms of how he wants us to play and which players are required to follow that blueprint.
Whatever outgoings, whatever new arrivals still to come, I am absolutely positive now that our squad will be significantly better compared to last season. Our players will run more (and faster), pass the ball better and as a result our football should be a lot more pleasing on the eye.
It will still take some time for players to gel and transfering MP’s ideas from his brain to our football on the pitch. But I am confident. I am even looking forward to watching our games again. I’m excited again, rather than bored or nervous.
I may even be tempted to break my vow and purchase a new club shirt or jacket next time I’m over. The summer may be cruel and relentless, but it feels good to be a Hopeful Hammer again…COYI!!!
This will be a slightly shorter column as usual, I don’t know what the summer is like in London, but here in Hamburg it’s been relentless, as I am writing this I have just returned from watching two Cup games, involving Concordia, in sweltering heat, with the sun burning the attending public, not to mention the players, into an exhausted state of numbness.
Five hours in the Sunday sunshine sounds like a lorra lorra laughs, let me tell you, at some point it stops being fun.
There ain’t been too much happening in the world of West Ham, other than a 2:2 draw at Preston in yet another preseason game more geared towards gaining match fitness and trying out some players rather than going for the win desperately.
As there was no properly working stream available I could only watch the goals and they indeed showed what we already knew anyway: That Marko Arnautovic is such a cool and composed customer in the opposition box, calmly putting away his opportunities. In other news water is wet and HamburgHammer likes to eat Pie&Mash.
I would be very reluctant to sell him, unless the price is outrageously high and Arnautovic is desperate to leave.
If that ain’t the case I hope he will remain our first striker on the team sheet next season, or rather this season. Talking of which, Arnautovic is very much a West Ham ambassador these days. I was on the way back to my car after having watched the Concordia U23s win their cup game away to Bergedorf 1:0. Three young guys in their mid-twenties recognised my vintage West Ham #6 Bobby Moore shirt and immediately started talking about West Ham – and the first player they mentioned was Arnautovic.
Those guys didn’t look as if they were watching a lot of Premier League football or West Ham, but they knew Arnautovic and I suppose Marko has put our club on the map for a lot of people outside West Ham.
I saw another rumour that said how Pedro Obiang was very keen to return to Italy, Sampdoria Genoa to be precise. Like all rumours I will take this one with a pinch of salt (and a hint of garlic), however, I wouldn’t dismiss it outright. There have always been players who only felt comfortable playing in one country or even for one club in particular in order to play their best football. In some cases it’s also the family that is driving those decisions.
I’d hate to see Obiang leave, especially after just coming back from his lengthy spell on the sideline. I suppose none of us can ever forget THAT magnificent belter against Tottenham, but I would also see him as a very useful piece of the jigsaw in our midfield, especially now as there should be plenty of outlets available to pass the ball to.
I hope Pedro stays, but if he doesn’t we need to replace him. In my book we need to sign a DM anyway, plus another striker and maybe even another defender.
One guy West Ham apparently are interested in is Torino defender Nicolas N’Koulou, 28 years old, a very reliable, ball playing centre-back from Cameroon.
Just 1,80 meters tall and not strongly built, a powerhouse he is not. But he has featured in virtually every game for Torino last season and doesn’t seem to have any significant weaknesses.
Fairly quick for a defender, N’Koulou’s main strength appears to be his concentration which means he rarely gets caught out on the pitch, resulting in him getting booked only four times last season. Another strong point is his ability to play in the role of a defensive midfielder which might come in handy.
Oh, and we may also still be interested in that Croatian defender, Domagoj Vida, the guy who shares the same hairdresser with Legolas, the handsome and fast-running Elf from Lord of the Rings. How interested ? We shall see, but there is no doubt in my mind there will be more signings in the coming days and weeks.
In case you were wondering, yes Concordia’s first team also won their Cup game, 3:1 at home against some minnows from a club originally founded by railway workers.
Cordi derailed their hopes of making it into the next round, but it wasn’t a good game to watch as the temperatures made it very hard for the players to shine, it really was gruesome out there – and all I had to do was find a bit of shade to stand in and cheer the lads on.
That’s all for now folks, let’s hope we will get some more positive updates soon in terms of new players coming in, but also of players not getting sold we’d prefer to keep.
Is this really West Ham ? Have aliens taken our board members, flying them twice around Saturn in their claret and blue saucer, before returning them in a brainwashed state of mind, driven to spend cash left, right and center as if the sun was about to hit Planet Earth in the next fortnight and it’s all gonna end soon for the human race anyway ?
THAT was one protracted transfer saga, wasn’t it ? But finally we all saw those long awaited pictures (the ones with the player, having a West Ham shirt on, doing the thumbs up gesture and the crossed arms) which confirmed that indeed Felipe Anderson had just signed for West Ham.
Of course we’ve had similar stories or rather sagas about marquee signings before in previous seasons, with the difference being that those rarely came to fruition in the past for one of a variety of reasons:
Selling clubs too notoriously difficult to deal with, time running out on Deadline Day to get a thorough medical done, not being able to agree on suitable payment terms, the trainee forgetting to put a newer toner cartridge into the fax machine – okay, I made that last one up, but you get the picture.
Lacazette didn’t come, Bacca didn’t come, Iheanacho didn’t come, Carvalho didn’t quite make it over the line and even when penning my column last weekend I figured that Anderson was slowly slipping away and wasn’t gonna happen either.
But we got him eventually. And I for one am very chuffed with that.
Main reason being that both Pellegrini and Husillos were very keen to get him in. MP stood firm and made Sullivan sign the cheque, God knows how, but sign the cheque Sullivan apparently did.
If MP and Husillos still wanted Anderson so desperately after weeks of hard-nosed negotiations they surely must have done their homework on the guy, meaning more than just watching highlight reels on Youtube like this one:
Further than watching the videos I have also been checking out some scouting reports on Lazio blogs from the days when he was still plying his trade in Rome.
One thing that stands out is his versatility: He can play as a Trequartista (that’s fancy Italian football lingo for a playmaker who plays in a central attacking midfielder position), on either wing (as he is two-footed), as your classical Number 10 or even as an inside striker.
Let’s start off with his weaknesses as those can be dealt with fairly quickly: He is not the greatest finisher (no goal machine), his aerial game has room for improvement and occasionally he makes the wrong on-field decision when trying to go past one opponent too many rather than picking a pass to a better positioned teammate.
That’s all more than counterbalanced though by incredible pace, technical skills, flair, tricks, flicks, crossing, dribbling, shots from outside the box, vision and the willingness to also get stuck in defensively.
I reckon we got ourselves a diamond in the rough here, a potential world-class player and other than welcoming Felipe with wide open arms at West Ham I only have one main wish as far as our fanbase is concerned:
Give the man time to settle in his new environment, don’t expect the world of him straight away, let him work with the manager and his teammates and then hopefully he will provide us with plenty of thrills and getting-out-of-your-seat moments at West Ham for years to come!
We have also signed Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko of course, but my money for the potentially best player brought in for £ invested so far has to be on Fabian Balbuena, former skipper of Brazilian club Corinthians.
Kudos first to Mr.Husillos for signing up the guy in what seemed like double-quick time, sailing through any work permit issues and getting the lad into a West Ham shirt for very much a pittance in terms of average 2018 market prices.
You know I’ve always had a bit of an irrational admiration for defenders, the guys who rarely get headlines or column inches devoted to them, simply because their job in the main is not to create or score goals, but to ensure our guys don’t concede any to begin with.
I often enjoy defensive masterclasses just as much, if not more than a well-crafted attacking move or goal of the month contender.
Ask yourself why guys like Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds are still being held in such high regard among our fanbase. I ain’t saying Balbuena will necessarily slip right into that illustrious list of great West Ham defenders. I just hope he helps to shore up our leaky defensive set-up a bit.
It looks like Pellegrini will try to rebuild West Ham from the back and rightly so. Too many times last season our defenders were all over the place, left stranded to fight for themselves by some shocking (lack of) support from our midfield.
Hopefully Pellegrini will begin to have an impact in that respect fairly sharpish. Onwards and upwards!
Right now one cannot help as a West Ham fan to be very happy if not absolutely thrilled with our signings so far, there will no doubt be players leaving though in the coming days and weeks and I shall withhold my undivided praise until the transfer window has slammed shut.
My joy cannot be unfettered anyway, sorry for doing an Eeyore here – this is West Ham after all, the club who has set the benchmark, blueprint and copyright for the most elaborate and deceptive false dawns in the history of the modern game.
Remember the Icelandics ? Or Tevez and Mascherano arriving in a shock Post-World Cup double deal ?
When things seem too good to be true…and all that…
When it comes to several good things or signings happening to and at my club in a very short period of time, I usually feel as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, occupied by pubescent kids who have just consumed five cups of espresso each.
We are simply not used to seeing our board spend serious amounts of money on quality players like this.
A triumvirate of Yarmolenko, Balbuena and Anderson arriving within a matter of days ? I’m 46 years old! Let me get to grips with this new concept first. Allow me a bit of a lie-down, some oxygen and a cup of tea to get myself acclimatised before continuing the dizzying climb towards the next level!
Of course we may eventually get the picture, a reasonable explanation where the money for this spending spree might have sprung from all of a sudden:
Saved up money from previous windows ?
New shareholder loans from Gold and Sullivan ?
Board member Albert “Tripp” Smith chipping in to increase our overdraft spending facilities or bringing in some fresh dosh from some business partners of his ? Who knows ?
Right now as fans we should be cautiously happy but also remain acutely aware to the fact that things rarely go smoothly at our beloved little club.
There’s always a caveat or two to navigate and I won’t be counting our chickens just yet…
From a footballing point of view though I cannot wait to see what Pellegrini can do with what already looks like a significantly stronger squad compared to last season. Apparently our transfer business ain’t done yet either and we still have a loan deal or two to conclude and we all know how Sullivan loves those…:-))
And what’s been happening in Hamburg (I hear some of you ask) ?
Well, Saturday was one of those very busy eventful days that simply happen in my town from time to time.
First it was the Schlager Move, a celebration of sentimental, silly, overly kitsch easy listening German songs from the Seventies and Eighties where young people and hipsters dress up in ridiculously multi-coloured suits and wigs while pretending to enjoy this kind of music they used to hate back when their parents listened to it…
Not for everyone, but a big event nonetheless, resulting in thousands of drunk people dancing around various party floats rolling through Hamburg’s red light district.
Only a couple of miles down the road it was the ITU World Triathlon, a pretty exciting sporting event, taking place over the course of two days, featuring both professional athletes and amateurs alike competing for money, glory and pride in the water, on the bicycle and with running boots on, right in the middle of Hamburg’s beautiful city centre.
And if that wasn’t enough Helene Fischer was in town yet again for another one of her usual sell-out shows. I decided to watch the triathlon on the telly from the comfort of my armchair and went to watch the final two Concordia preseason games on Sunday.
It’s one of the joys of lower league football in Hamburg that you get to know the new players at your club really quickly. It’s obviously much easier to chat to amateur players during a matchday than PL stars for instance.
I was surprised to find that some of the new Cordi boys were quite clued up about West Ham. One knew about our hooligan rep (must have watched Green Street Hooligans during one of its dozen reruns on German telly in the past twelve months) and he asked what made me become a West Ham supporter in the first place while another remembered that Hitzlsperger used to be called The Hammer and also had a spell playing for The Hammers on top of that.
While a third player (a backup goalie who supports Werder Bremen) told me a few stories from Arnautovic’s time at Werder, don’t be under any illusions, not all Bremen fans were sad to see him leave eventually.
He was younger and less mature in Bremen of course, so he got into a few interesting scraps there to say the least. Water under the bridge, he’s still a West Ham player as we speak and as long as this is the case I shall be rooting for him regardless.
My weekend concluded with watching the WC final with a few mates in a sportsbar on the outskirts of town. As a lot of my neighbours in East Hamburg are of Croatian heritage (and because they were the underdogs too) I was rooting for the Croatians.
Whenever the waiter was bringing us another plate of chicken wings (it was all-you-can-eat and yes, they did have enough supplies to satisfy my demand on the day) he was making mocking comments about the Croatia players and their performance which got us irritated as well as a bit annoyed towards the end. Turned out he was Serbian, so no surprise he was cheering for the Frogs! Still no love lost between Serbs and Croats in 2018 it seems…
Well my friends, this is all from me this week. Let’s hope we get even more encouraging news on our transfer dealings in the coming days.
Concordia’s season proper by the way starts next weekend already with the traditional first round of the local cup competition. If you have some fingers to spare, keep them crossed for the boys, my dearest fellow WHTIDers!