The HamburgHammer Column
In an ever changing world like ours it is reassuring to see that at least some things are unlikely to change anytime soon:
* Manchester United can still buy their way out of trouble by picking up the Premier League’s top striker.
* Said top striker loves playing against us as he scores more goals against West Ham than any other team, this game was no exception to that rule.
* Our starting XI is still cheaper overall than Man United’s most expensive signing Pogba.
* Old Trafford is a ground where we rarely perform well, nevermind bring home any points.
* They really do like their half and half scarves in the home end at Man United, don’t they ?
It was a very bad weekend football wise for me and if it hadn’t been for Concordia’s development squad I wouldn’t have seen a single decent performance from one of my teams yesterday, Cordi’s U23 team won 7:3 at home and that freak result alone illustrates perfectly what kind of league that is, with goalkeepers that have the physique of hookers in rugby and some shambolic defending on show in general (however, we’ve seen some pretty abysmal defensive skills even at Premier League level in the past few days, haven’t we ?).
That game was followed by a truly shocking home performance by the Concordia first team in their league game. A lackluster, inept first half with mindblowing errors galore which allowed the guests from Osdorf to race into a comfortable 3:0 halftime lead. Cordi had probably 75% possession, but that’s no good if you mainly pass the ball around neatly sideways and backwards. Attitude, effort and body language eventually improved in the second half, but one consolation goal was all the Cordi lads had to show for it – at this rate it’s going to be a long and hard season for the boys this time around. Potential midtable mediocrity instead of another promotion push I reckon.
I only missed the first five minutes of the West Ham game actually and was relieved we weren’t already a goal down when I switched on the telly. It was obvious we’d be under the kosh all game and bearing that in mind I was reasonably pleased with the first half performance, apart from their goal of course, but when you play against top class players the like of which Man United have the luxury of fielding alll over the pitch, then every single error you make tends to get mercilessly punished by ball into your net more often than not.
The clinical way in which Man United put away their opportunities in the second half was brutal to watch, but it also illustrated that there is a shedload of work ahead for Bilic and his staff to sort out our defending in training. We seem to be slow in reading opposition plays, slow in reacting and therefore easy to tear apart at the back. If you defend like this not even the best goalkeeper in the world will be able to keep the scoreline respectable for you.
I really hope we manage to sort our defense out, hopefully new signing Carvalho will take some pressure away from our defenders to begin with and it’s comforting to know we won’t have to play Manchester United every week of course. It was the first game of the season, a pretty dire performance, maybe even a crap one, but I won’t bother getting riled up too much, reading comments at this point from Hammers fans frantically pushing the panic button already. Let’s look at some of the positives instead.
It was a massive relief to finally see Diafra Sakho back on the pitch again, even showing something resembling a smile when coming on and he looked pretty sharp and up for it, at least until we fell apart later on.
More gametime in the coming weeks should hopefully give him some confidence and some goals should then increase said confidence even further, if he can stay fit of course. We all know Sakho can be a very decent striker for us if his body and mind are in good health and spirits.
Second positive for me was the short glimpse we got of Declan Rice in a competitive (yeah, right!) game. He didn’t look out of place at all when he came on.
He didn’t put much of a foot (or pass) wrong yesterday and even if he has to shoulder some of the blame for one of those late goals, I won’t allow this to cloud my overall positive impression of Declan’s performance.
He obviously couldn’t turn around a game like this on his own, but to me he looks absolutely ready to be in our first team matchday squads now on a regular basis.
It was also pleasant to hear that both Burke and Cullen (The Pooltable Boys from Rotenburg) apparently gave a good account of themselves for Bolton in their game at Millwall. Playing for them regularly should do them the world of good, potentially setting them up for a swift return to West Ham in January. Apparently both are very much in Slaven’s first team plans so hopefully once our guys have settled down in the league somewhat we can start seeing more of the youngsters.
And then there is the new guy from Montenegrian descent (born and bred in Sweden though) we signed last week, Sead Haksabanovic (great name that!) who seems to be yet another jamboree bag full of tricks, flicks and surprises. I am quite aware of course that not every wonderkid who joins our club today will turn out to be the real deal tomorrow or even the day after. But at the very least he arrives at our club bringing with him a good measure of praise and promise, he also is a versatile chap, being able to play in midfield, either in a central attacking position, on the left wing or even further upfront.
He looks to me like a Swedish version of Tony Cottee, nippy, small, light on his feet, can turn his opponent on an area the size of a beer mat, you get the picture.
They don’t mention any weaknesses on whoscored.com, but emphasise his ability to shoot from distance and the fact he gets fouled a lot.
Looks like he could even be another decent (and regular) bench option this season for the first team rather than the development squad.
I am now hoping for and expecting a much better performance in our next game against Southampton, with better effort and some more guts. However, with the signings we have made already in this window I am cautiously optimistic there are better times ahead for our club on the pitch.
From what I’ve read there could still be a few new faces coming in, with one or two leaving (hopefully the right ones!).
I have booked flights last week for my first live game this season, our local derby against Spurs in anticipation of another feisty affair. And hopefully another 1:0 home win which has been the customary result during my first season of visits to the London Stadium. That’s a tradition by the way that doesn’t need to change anytime soon as far as I am concerned! Unlike certain other traditions connected to our away games at Old Trafford.
Let’s hope I can be a good luck charm for the lads two seasons running! COYI!!!