The HamburgHammer Column
Alright, I’ll admit it, I drifted off during the West Brom game, the telly was on but after half an hour our so the football on display had bored me senseless and I didn’t watch the game as intently as I usually do. I found myself browsing the Saturday newspaper casually (with the German election coming up next weekend it’s important to know about the various promises and projections made by the various politicians and parties on offer, you know), looking up at the screen whenever the commentators indicated with their tone or volume of voice that something interesting might be in the offing.
At the end of the day it was a goalless draw of the boring variety, but considering our abysmal start to the season you won’t hear me moaning too much about a clean sheet away from home and another point in the bank. One point I would like to make though is that I feel sorry for Chicharito, trying to do his best out there on the wing, drifting inside whenever he can. That is not his natural game and I wouldn’t want to try turning him into a player at his age he simply is not and will never be in his career.
If you want to get the best out of Little Pea, put the pea in a round hole where he fits. He is a poacher, a fox in the box, a guy with the instinct to get to rebounds and put the ball over the line before anyone else can react. The more you put the ball in and around the box for him the more goals he will score. That’s why we brought him in, not to be a makeshift wingman (literally) for Andy Carroll.
Don’t get me wrong, I know what AC can do when he is healthy, his ability to score with thunderous headers is second to none and he can also kick a ball too as proven in masterly fashion with his bicycle kick wonder goal against Palace. I would love it if AC could make it through the season now for once without suffering another major injury.
But I do absolutely not agree with Carroll (once again) being counted on as a focal point in our attack, it does severely limit our gameplan and is far too predictable to be successful on a long term basis in my view.
Some teams may have no defensive means to deal with AC and hence will lose games against us, even when they know in advance exactly what’s gonna hit ’em.
Yet there will also be teams, like West Brom, that will be happy enough to sit deep, keep AC in check and leave the pitch after 90 minutes being over the moon with a 0:0 draw.
I have been an advocate of the “Carroll as a super sub” approach for a long time now, unless of course you are brave enough to play both AC and Hernandez upfront together in a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2. I wouldn’t want to mess with our defensive setup at this point though because it begins to look like the perfect set up for our defenders and things will get even more interesting with Lanzini, Noble and Fernandes coming back into the equation.
Overall I like the look of our squad, provided we can keep injuries to a minimum as it’s very threadbare and while I’m always happy to see youth players get their chance I’d rather see them getting their gametime in a controlled and planned environment so to speak, not watching them thrown to the wolves out of necessity expecting them to perform like experienced pros week in week out. Although I’d expect someone like Rice to adjust quickly and find his mojo without too much hassle.
Of course I don’t know all the ins and outs of what happens at training, but I find it peculiar how Bilic really seems to expect AC not only to stay fit but also to carry the team almost on his own. I am not convinced AC can do that, so I would rather hope we will eventually see a set up, a formation which plays to the strengths of our entire team, not just one player. With Lanzini, Antonio and Arnautovic in the side we have pace, tricks and physical presence in abundance and I am sure Chicharito would love to lurk around the box to feed off their passes.
We shall see what the future brings…starting with the small matter of the cup game against Bolton tomorrow (no stream likely for this one which means I will follow the game via the live ticker widget of my betting account) and the derby game against Spurs on Saturday which is going to be my first game of the season.
Yes, the claret and blue German is flying into Blighty again.
Lock away your daughters and sisters (whichever applies) and also your pantry, and if I were you I would also count your pies, burgers and sandwiches!
Yes, I will also bring some clean socks as I will be staying for a long weekend, hopefully allowing for plenty of time to meet some of you guys and gals (again) in the process. Since my usual result when coming to the London Stadium is a 1:0 home win (on all four previous occasions) I wonder if the upcoming Spurs game will be the same, I certainly wouldn’t complain if that were to happen – my actual calendar is still pretty empty which is unusual. But no other games in or near London are scheduled for my visit (involving our development squad, the U18s or Dagenham&Redbridge, not even Leyton Orient), but I am sure my WHTID family won’t let me down when it comes to meeting up, sharing some food, drinks, banter and laughter in the process.
One thing on my bucket list is to finally meet The Ribman down at his stall and try one of his famous pork rolls with hot sauce. That guy by all accounts is somewhat of a West Ham legend in his own right and I can’t wait to say Hello and try his nosh.
It’s been a while now since I’ve been over and I am looking forward to hearing that much beloved Cockney or Essex accent in my ears again, I do really miss that and watching Eastenders every once in a while is no proper substitute as they rarely discuss West Ham.
As for the quick Concordia updates, it was a highly successful weekend for the lads (and me), starting on Friday with the first team winning their game away to Suederelbe (wrong side of the river, but nice little ground) with a 4:0 scoreline under the lights which always creates an extra bit of atmosphere. Mind you, there was one moment I didn’t like and that was our third goal. Our winger Kevin Zschimmer (the Infirm City Firm have seen him play before) knocked down a quick pass to initiate a counter attack on the halfway line, quite obviously using his arm to control the ball before sprinting away for a one on one with their goalie to score easily.
The referee had allowed play to continue, but the protests from the opposition players (and fans) was so intense that the ref asked his assistant first (who had not spotted the handball either) and then directly approached the goalscorer, enquiring if, hand on heart, he had handled the ball. Kevin though told the ref it was his thigh, not his arm, he controlled the ball with and so the goal was given.
I found that not exactly fitting the spirit of the game and at 2:0 up with 15 minutes to go I felt it would have been the right thing to do to simply admit that his arm was involved which would have won him massive plaudits from the ref and the supporters too.
At the end of the day it was a third win on the spin and Cordi are now back on track in the promotion race, although there is still some catching up to do.
Yesterday then saw my brother join me for the Cordi 2 game, playing away in Bergedorf, close to where my brother lives. The Cordi second stringers won the contest 14:1, yes, that’s correct, FOURTEEN goals! Which is not that surprising at all when you consider that Cordi 2 are a very decent and freescoring team anyway and that the opposition on the day only had 11 players available at the start of the game and no substitutes, so once they were down to ten men after an injury and once their ten guys got tired after the hour mark it was unrelenting one way football with another goal every two minutes. No more than a practise game really.
Cordi 2 could even afford to miss a penalty and several other sitters. And the opposition goalkeeper was heavier and shorter than me, so the final scoreline was actually quite flattering and didn’t tell the whole story. So, my local football after a spluttering start to the season is finally fun to watch again.
I hope the same will soon apply for West Ham games as well again. I cannot quite put my finger on a reason why, but I have a positive gut feeling for the Spurs game. The London Stadium will be rocking yet again as if it’s Cup Final Day and you can expect this Kraut Hammer to be loud and proud on the day. COYI!!!