The HamburgHammer Column
I hate moaning about referees. I really do. Yet this season for one reason or another I cannot seem to stop. As of now we cannot be sure how long Dmitri Payet, the heart, soul, brain and face of our team, may be out for courtesy of Messrs. Scissor Tacklers of Everton. Rarely have I seen a team kicking their opponents this consistently and deliberately from behind without getting booked left, right and center for it. How that tackle against Payet was not punished with a straight red and a lengthy ban to boot will be a question I may have to take with me to my grave eventually. I never minded Everton as a club, one of my former colleagues at Hapag was an Everton fan.
I liked their nickname The Toffees because, well, I like toffees and I liked the story of them being named so because they used to play or were founded near a toffee factory or shop. (Lucky for them then that this shop didn’t sell screwdrivers, they could easily have been known as The Tools).
I don’t even blame them for resorting to fouling if that was the only way for them to even snatch a point from us on Saturday. But you can still foul players without taking a huge risk of injuring them badly like with that scissor tackle against Payet.
In my view Everton have enough players in their team who actually can play a bit, so I wouldn’t have considered them as much of a team of bullies. But that was before Saturday, now I hope that Everton will soon join Chelsea in the nether regions of the league table and I’d also be happy if that referee would hopefully soon be plying his trade at Conference level, thank you very much!
Trying to ignore the nasty side of that game for a minute I thoroughly enjoyed watching that game, our energy, our passing, our desire to win. And that goal from Lanzini (yet another one, he’s piling them up, not bad for a loanee) was one of those you never tire to watch and admire, even if you have seen it a hundred times and more.
I also love the new atmosphere between players and manager that seems to be permeating throughout our club, there was a nice little moment between Zarate and Bilic just before the substitution: Both were talking, then smiling and even laughing (as if Bilic had just cracked a joke) and then they did this kind of prison handshake you tend to see in American TV crime series, both making a fist, then touching. I couldn’t help but smile at this.
Another thing I took from this game is that Carroll’s days at our club may unfortunately be numbered (sorry RoHammer, I know you just bought his shirt).
At least if we continue to try and play him as isolated upfront as we did (again) against Everton. He doesn’t have the energy or pace to chase defenders around and win the ball near the opposition box, both Sakho and Valencia are much better at doing that.
He’s also not the kind of trickster to win a header, knock the ball down for himself, dribble around four or five opponents and finish off the move by nutmegging the goalie.
He is an incredible header of the ball though, scoring from crosses, freekicks and cornerkicks.
Then again: In Valencia, Sakho, Kouyate, Reid, Tomkins, Collins we have other guys who can do that too.
In short: In my view Carroll is far too expensive wages wise compared to what he can (and does) bring to the table. His best role would be as super sub, but he is also far too expensive for that in reality.
I’m not sure if we can find another club taking a massive gamble and taking Carroll and his massive wages on. Carroll has this massive potential, but so far no club has managed to bring that potential out, for one reason or another. Newcastle did the right thing selling him for the kind of money they got from Liverpool.
Liverpool then did the right thing selling Carroll to us for the kind of money West Ham were offering while making a loss considering how much they had paid to sign carroll in the first place. We will be lucky if we now find ANY club willing to pay a 5 million fee for him AND cover the remaining wages of the long term contract he signed at West Ham.
But this is a question that will not be resolved until January, maybe even not before next summer.
So, now for another International break. This time I am extremly grateful for it, it may help us to mend some twisted ankles, torn ligaments, cuts and bruises.
At this stage I’m still confident the injuries to Payet and Valencia will turn out to be nowhere near as bad as initially feared. Song should finally be ready to at least take his place on the bench. Obiang should be available too and what a welcome addition to our options he could be.
Once Bilic has a full squad to choose from (minus the still suspended Collins) things will get very interesting indeed.
Maybe the answer will be two strikers upfront, at least in home games. Maybe Carroll will be one of them. Maybe we will get our first glimpse of young Michail Antonio before Christmas. Maybe we will see a bit of proper squad rotation.
Should Payet and Valencia be out for a while, I think we can cope. We may drop some points, but we will be fine. With not even a third of the season gone we already have 21 points and are still in touching distance near the top of the league with just five points behind Man City and Arsenal. I reckon a certain Mr.Mourinho would love to swap league position with West Ham as of now (and the entire team too probably). I, however, wouldn’t want to swap this for the world, I love watching West Ham again, I love the dynamics between our board, manager, squad and fans.
One group of bullies kicking up a fuss in our backyard on Saturday won’t change that.