The HamburgHammer Column

Please don't send us to Coventry - I'd rather dance with wolves

That game was a shocker. And it was, on paper, a very winnable one again. But as usual we defeat the stats. Brighton couldn’t score goals for toffee before we arrived at the Amex. Once we were in, Brighton looked like Barcelona at times. We do that to teams this season, we end barren runs, we give misfiring strikers confidence, shaky back fours peace of mind.

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Make no mistake, we may be in midtable, position wise, but we are only three points from a relegation place. The league table is so tight down there that it makes for a thrilling relegation scrap. It’s a bit less entertaining if your team is right in it though. We’ve been there before of course, numerous times in our history. For crying out loud, when I made the aquaintance of West Ham in 1996 we had just escaped a relegation battle, about to start another season with high hopes that ended in yet another relegation scrap.
I’m used to it and in general even relegation doesn’t scare me as such.

But right now relegation scares the living daylights out of me. Because I have a feeling that this time there’d be no way back for a long time. Just look at the long list of clubs that used to be mainstays of the Premier League (or First Division as the top league used to be called in the old days), clubs that have a certain ring to their name, even to football fans abroad, clubs that used to be important and now have to survive in the doldrums: Nottingham Forest, Norwich, Coventry, Blackburn, Bradford, Charlton, Portsmouth, Wimbledon, Fulham, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, Reading, Bolton.

Another one, Wolves, is almost guaranteed to get promoted at the end of the season – and I hope we will get to play two league games against them next season.
But now I am not so sure.

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How often do you hear the phrase “too good to go down” ? Yet we’ve done exactly that in the past with a team of good quality players.
If we stay up this year it’ll give the squad of “The Great Escape” season with a certain Carlos Tevez in it a run for its money.
Especially off the pitch our club is in bad shape, you all know who I blame for that and by now loads of others seem to agree.

Look at social media, look at articles in mainstream media and people have caught onto what the board are doing to this club – and what they are not doing.
A march has been organised and it is bound to get massive media coverage. Failing to win yet another winnable game (like Brighton away) doesn’t help to lift the collective mood. Weakening the squad further in the transfer window while making a net profit with half the team out injured doesn’t help.
Losing your head scout in the wake of a racism row doesn’t help.

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Events off the pitch mirror those on the pitch: We are reactive, not proactive. We never control or dominate a team. We struggle to keep possession. Players seem to carry massive weights on their shoulders whenever they step on their pitch. Football should be fun. Are they having fun out there ? It doesn’t look like it.
Same ff the pitch. NO long term strategy, NO long term team/squad building. It’s unbalanced and continually unbalanced further through the perennial injury issues.
We always need to play players out of position (Zabaleta as DM, come on!) and try to patch up holes during transfer window and more often than not we fail to do that because we waste other clubs’ time with our way of haggling over upfront fees and payment structures.

two managers in a row now have been desperate to bring in a new DM. Did we get either Carvalho or Dendoncker ? Of course not. But we got an attacking midfielder for 4 months and a striker from Championship side Preston with a 1 in 4 scoring ratio.

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That is no dig at Jordan Hugill. Like all new players I welcome him to the club and hope he can become a legend here. Maybe he can be for us what Freddie Sears failed to become. Hugill seems to be a decent lad, with a lot of motivation and the ability to hold the ball up well. Apparently he is also a nuisance to the defenders who have to keep him in check. We’ll see.

My point is: He was a panic buy and not exactly the like for like replacement you would have expected to come in for Sakho and Ayew. If our board are merely protecting their investment here they have a weird way of showing it. If we go down their investment will take a massive tumble in terms of overall value.
Are they playing the long game in the hope of somehow buying the OS outright ? Who knows ? All I know is that the atmosphere has become very toxic again, just like during the last six months of Allardyce’s reign. Only this time the anger is not focussed at the manager but the top of the hierarchy.

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Will they care ? Will they flinch over people marching, waving banners and black balloons ? Will they buckle under the assault from taunting chants ?
Probably not. But it will affect them, I am sure of that. They may be cold hearted businesspeople, but they are human beings with feelings and old men as well.
It will get uncomfortable for them and I’m sure as much as they have a plan in terms of selling on their own terms the anger and vitriol from fans may speed up their thought process here.

Is all that grief worth it just to get a few more millions of profit ? There’s only so many oil paintings and crystal panthers you can arrange in your mansions. Even their kids will get a healthy inheritance no matter what, allowing them two warm meals every day for the rest of their lives.

I feel the Rubicon has been crossed. We are past the point of negotiating with the board now. Loads of fans have given them the benefit of the doubt, waiting patiently for them to deliver on their promises and the ten point pledge. Surely they would come good for us in the next transfer window. Not this one ? Okay, bad luck, but surely, surely the next one. Does anyone expect a glorious transfer window for us this summer ? I don’t.

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In any case, we need to stay up. Hopefully, with some players returning from injury we will just about make it over the 40 point line, staying up by the skin of our teeth.
Watford at home. On paper another winnable game. At home. Against a side that is sinking like a piece of rock nicked from Stonehenge. Certainly a game we can’t afford to lose. But we didn’t plan on losing at Brighton, did we ?

There is a glimmer of hope. Mario seems to be enjoying his spell at West Ham so far and there is a bit of chemistry developing between him and Hernandez.
Fonte and Reid could be back to give our defence a bit more stability. Hugill may get some more gametime and may actually enjoy himself against a wobbly Watford back line.
Maybe Arnautovic could be ready to take his place on the substitutes bench, who knows ?

It surely will be intense at West Ham and continue to be so till the end of the season. Thankfully local football here in Hamburg is resuming next weekend too, offering a bit of distraction from some of the doom and gloom from East London. I’m looking forward to our next win, whenever it may happen! COYI!

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The HamburgHammer Column

Riding the nemesis - with a broken safety bar

Out of the Cup against lower league opposition. Half the team crocked. A player facing a long time ban for spitting at an opponent. One loan signing so far in January.
And only three days left of the transfer window, apparently the most difficult yet, ever since the introduction of transfer windows.
Welcome to the wonderful world of West Ham United London!

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You know what ? We’ll be doing something different here today. More likely than not I would sooner or later get back to discussing about the actions (or rather failure to act) on part of our board anyway, going into yet another rant, and as people on here keep telling me with some justification, I do go on about our esteemed owners a lot, I’m going round in circles and, frankly, it drives me up the wall.

I am sick and tired of sounding like a broken record. Don’t think for a second I enjoy going on about it. I don’t.

I love West Ham a lot and I’m sure I have that in common with the vast majority on here. I care for our club and the future ahead. Both in the short term and ten, twenty years from now.

I won’t have to repeat to you again all the names of our players currently out through injury, plus the fact that Masuaku is now facing a lengthy ban. I don’t condone spitting, it’s disgusting behaviour, a bad example for the kids playing football who will always try to emulate the role models they watch on the telly or smartphone and I agree that a lengthy ban is very much in order here. In my book though this should also apply to other forms of despicable unsportsmanlike conduct, including diving, playacting or potentially ending an opposition player’s career by going into a challenge from behind studs up or by way of a scissor tackle.

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Obiang too now looks destined for a long timeout on the sidelines with a serious knee injury, likely to keep him out for months, if not the rest of the season. We have a vital game coming up against relegation rivals Crystal Palace tomorrow. We are nearing the close of the transfer window and are desperate for new recruits coming in, also considering the fact Sakho has finally left the club.

We are also hoping to get rid of another player or two who either don’t want to be here or don’t have much chance of playing regularly.

I would love nothing more than to exchange views about positive happenings at our club. Discuss breathtakingly fantastic performances. Elaborate on strengths and weaknesses of new signings.
Alas, at the moment I simply can’t.

You all know who I am holding responsible here, but I simply won’t start again.
I have said my bit about the man wearing a Russian hat, calling the shots at West Ham.

Staying up surely looks like a big ask now, considering our squad depth, injury situation and apparent inactivity (so far) in the transfer window.
It really feels like riding the Nemesis rollercoaster and suddenly realising that you are not properly secured by the safety bar. Or that there actually is no safety bar to begin with. But you’re already on the move with another three loopings and five sharp bends coming up.

Can we somehow hold on for dear life regardless and live to tell the tale ?

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So, I will just open this forum now for you to discuss:

1) What lineup do you expect against Palace and do you fancy us to get anything from that game ?
2) Do you think we will make even one more signing before the transfer window slams shut ?
3) How hopeful are you that we can stay up ?
4) Do you think we have seen the worst in terms of injuries this season and it will get better from now on ?

COYI!!!

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The HamburgHammer Column

It's a question of trust - and a bare necessity

Mustn’t grumble. That’s one of those staple phrases I encountered when coming to live in Britain in 1996. And it has served me well ever since. Although supporting West Ham also sometimes shows that the phrase doesn’t fit every situation imaginable. On paper we should have beaten Bournemouth. Even on the pitch, for the first 20 minutes or so we had them under the kosh, so much so that I was expecting a comfortable win for the mighty Hammers. But we lacked the final pass, the ultimate idea in front of their goal, the clinical precision to make our superiority count.

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Unfortunately Bournemouth are too organised a team to allow you getting away with wasting opportunities. They didn’t have many chances, but when they finally had one, boy, did they make it count! At that point I was fearing the worst. But I didn’t quite expect us to do another Huddersfield, that is a goal scored within ten seconds or so from kickoff.

We could all see exactly what kind of goals Hernandez can produce if only we were able to cause more havoc in opposition teams’ boxes on a regular basis.

I also found another little thing I liked about Arnautovic, doing one of his amazing runs at the opposition, early in the first half. He ain’t afraid to take one three or four players at the same time, and you can see them being scared stiff, not knowing what he’ll do next while being strong as an ox and hard to bring down by legal means.

But sometimes even Arnautovic can’t find a teammate to play a nice 1-2 with.
So, what does he do, he simply uses an opposition player to do just that.
It looked to me as if he deliberately shot the ball at the opposition player’s foot or leg to then recollect the ball and go past him. It nearly came off too…:-))

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A point under the circumstances was a fair result. We keep up our recent run of solid form and are incredibly hard to beat now, unlike several other teams below and around us in the league table. The momentum is with us for sure, but undeniably also the bad old West Ham injury curse has returned with a vengeance, aka “The Bane of the Badger“.

Looking at the players that are currently out due to an injury or a knock or those rumoured to be headed out by way of impending transfer you could field a very decent team with that lot.

That we are at or near the top of the PL’s injury table more often than not clearly is one thing that’s holding us back. It needs to be addressed and maybe, just maybe it’d be worth it to look at our training facilitates yet again, maybe even ask neutral experts in the field, highly professional physios and those knowing about training on different playing surfaces and it’s long-term effects on muscles (we seem to be getting a significant number of muscle related injuries at West Ham).

And the injury crisis brings me to the main point of the column. What is going on in the transfer window.? I know not a whole lot has happened at other clubs, but I ain’t interested in other clubs. Surely our paperthin squad, weakened even further by constant injury struggles, needs some fresh impetus. For obvious reasons.
But also because you have to allow your gaffer, your man in charge of team affairs to build a team according to his vision.

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I have warmed to Moyes actually. I am still sorry about Bilic leaving, from a personal standpoint and because I respected that man so much due to his personality and conduct.
But Moyes seems to be a decent fit too and he seems to be willing to build something here. Most of all he needs to secure Premier League status for next season in order to even keep his job. But this is where his current contract could become an issue.

We know that both parties can terminate the deal in the summer at will. Maybe the board still have a certain other manager in mind who they want to bring in (and of course they have previous with Rafael Benitez). That would explain why they may want to keep their powder dry and not spend any money in January (which might add another 10-20 million to our transfer kitty in the summer. I refuse to call it warchest as it’d be a pretty tame war you could fight with the kind of money our board are providing on a regular basis, at least in terms of PL net spend).

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It is a dangerous game to play. Now, I don’t believe for one minute we are still in realistic danger of relegation. But we are surely suffering from a bare bones squad and as a manager, any manager, you don’t just want to escape relegation by the skin of your teeth. You want to play football in a certain way, you want competition for places in a balanced squad and you want to finish as high in the table as possible. And for that you need to be able to sign a few players. Players identified and wanted by the manager, not the club owner or his offspring.

What if we don’t sign anyone in January, but Moyes manages to lead us to a decent midtable finish regardless, but decides to walk in the summer nonetheless because he wasn’t supported by the board in January ? It’s not just Moyes that needs to convince the board he is the right man for the club, the board also need to convince Moyes that West Ham is the right club for him. You need to show some trust and I don’t mean some tweets by the Sullivan clan, praising the manager.

No, you show your trust and support by signing at least some of the players the manager wants. You certainly don’t get rid of players without consulting the manager.
And you also don’t sign South American wonderkids that may score high on FIFA18, but are not really wanted by the manager.

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We are rumoured to be interested in Samir Nasri. Well, we certainly need midfielders. He’s also a bit of a character and not a spring chicken anymore. As long as the manager is happy with adding him to our squad, why not ? I would still like us to go for Dendoncker who at around 15 million quid would constitute a shrewd signing, same as bringing in Fyodor Smolov, the Russian striker, for a similar kind of fee. But in real life, I wouldn’t expect either to end up at West Ham.

In all likelihood it’s going to be one or two loan signings on deadline day plus maybe a cheap, average, older player from God knows where. I just really hope Moyes does get to see some support from the board in the remaining few days of the transfer window. Otherwise I see a scenario where Moyes moves on in the summer, getting snapped up by another PL club with open arms and also an open chequebook.

What’s been happening over here in Hamburg ? Not that much. Well, storm Friederike struck huge parts of Europe with galeforce winds, bringing rain, snow and destruction to various parts of the continent, including the Fatherland, but luckily the north of Germany, including my hometown, wasn’t hit with the full force of the elements. We had a bit of snow and ice though, and some unpleasant weather which also caused another midseason friendly to get cancelled for Concordia who would have travelled further oop north to Eutin, alas, it wasn’t to be.

So, instead of watching some nice outdoor football I will have to focus on watching us beating Wigan in the Cup on Saturday, if I can find a stream on the internet.
Wigan promises to be another hard nut to crack, especially considering our injury woes. I’d be quite happy to fight out a credible draw and force a replay.
At least it’ll give our youngsters another shot at showing their mettle and playing themselves into the manager’s mind and plans. COYI!!!

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The HamburgHammer Column

The magic of Arnautini - or should that be Lanzinovic ?

After last week’s column my loyalty towards the claret and blue cause has been put into question by some on here, as I chose to attend a Concordia indoor football tournament, a glorified friendly at that, prior to watching a recording of our cup game against Shrewsbury (instead of watching it live). So this time I made amends and gave Concordia a wide berth the last couple of days (it was only another two indoor tournaments anyway and as I mentioned before, indoor football for me is a lousy surrogate, like nonfat plain yogurt. Or tofu replacing meat).

In addition Concordia had lost another preseason (outdoor) friendly earlier in the week in shockingly lackluster fashion, so I felt that this time it was only right and proper to lend my undivided attention and support to our game at Huddersfield.

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Huddersfield of course is a very German affair these days, what with the manager and several players hailing from the country of sausages and sauerkraut. Huddersfield are a club I have a lot of time for, they have a stadium that looks quite distinctive and is immediately recognisable, their fans seem genuine and down to earth and I also haven’t seen their players acting out of order yet, so they are a proper football club in my book, not an easy feat altogether in a rugby first town like Huddersfield.

They are no mugs at home either and when I saw our starting lineup I thought: Well, that’s a bit negative/defensive, innit ? But then again Huddersfield at home are not to be trifled with and I would have regarded a draw a credible result for us. But what do I know!

The way we attacked Huddersfield’s weaknesses was clinical. Wave upon wave of quick passing counter attacking football washed upon them and they just couldn’t handle our concoction of physical strength, pace and flair.

Arnautovic and Lanzini tore them to shreds almost single-handedly, but let’s not forget the vital first goal where we gave Lolley (great name) a moment to forget, trying to control a pass from his goalkeeper, when Arnautovic rushed in and bullied him with not much more than his physical presence and Mr.West Ham nipping in and tucking the ball away as if he was on the Rush Green training pitch and not in the penalty box of the John Smith’s Stadium.

It was like a pride of lions hunting down an impala in a coordinated attack.
Or a group of velociraptors chasing some Hollywood actors.
In any case it was bloody exciting to watch!

In my book we should do this sort of pressing a lot more often. Other teams do it to us and it’s a great way to unsettle the opposition. Granted, it takes a lot of fitness and effort, but it really helps if you don’t give your opponent all the time in the world to calmly control the ball and then ponder what to do with it next.

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On that afternoon oop North a lot of things clicked and fell into place for us. Our defense looked mostly solid while playing refreshingly unspectacular. It was good to see Collins back again and he was his usual reliable self. In midfield Kouyate seemed to thrive on having a bit of a free role, with Noble and Obiang cleaning up behind him and Lanzini too looked happy with his role further upfield. It’s vital that these guys feel comfortable in the manager’s system and also develop a bit of chemistry with their teammates.

Long may it continue! That win will not only have boosted our confidence and brought us three valuable points.

It now also means that 15 points out of the remaining 15 games should be enough to cement PL status for next season. As a West Ham fan I am usually taking the pessimistic approach, expecting the worst while hoping for something slightly better, but in this instance even I can’t see a scenario where we don’t get another 15 points this season.

No doubt we will win a few games, we’ll draw some and unfortunately there will be a few more defeats, but we now have several teams behind us that are being sucked into the relegation battle and this can only be good for us. Some of those teams will get nervy, some will crumble under the pressure, some will bounce back.

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We may not be out of the woods yet, but from where we are we can already see the road and a bit of horizon beyond the last line of trees so to speak. It was only one win of course, but it got me thinking about what I would really wish to happen and what hasn’t really happened at West Ham throughout our history.
Once things begin to improve for us, with better performances and results on the pitch on a consistent basis, I would really love to see us build on that.

Meaning to pick three or four players we consider to be the backbone of our squad (say Arnautovic, Lanzini, Rice and Ogbonna, to pick some names for the purpose of argument). Then put ridiculous release clauses in their contracts that ensure that only ridiculous offers can prise them away. Then, and this is the important bit, show your backbone star players it’s actually worth it to stay on at project West Ham by adding quality players, gradually, one (or two) every summer (or January, if a decent opportunity should present itself). That’s how you build a team, that’s how you establish the club as a force to be reckoned with and that’s how you climb the table and get your fanbase onside at the same time.
It costs money of course, but if you do it properly eventually those transfers will pay for themselves and then some.

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William Carvalho would be such a quality addition. Or Leander Dendoncker, a young defensive midfielder from the Anderlecht production line of footballing prospects.
22 years old, 1.88m tall and strong as an ox, he covers a position that has been a weak spot for us for several seasons now. Apparently he is available for a reasonable fee of 25 million quid, reasonable in today’s crazy market that is.

Scouts are fairly certain that Dendoncker will become a very strong player, a standout midfielder in fact, capable to play in any league which would result in his market value and potential transfer fee rising. So it might be a shrewd move to step in now and sign him up, if there is a chance. Scouts have been praising his strength in the tackle, his willingness to go into challenges with the right degree of aggressiveness to be a nuisance to the opposition. He reads the game well, has a good right foot and is also a fairly decent option at CB, if need be. His physical attributes make him a perfect fit for the Premier League and I would expect him to rock up on English shores sooner rather than later.

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As for rumours for other incoming players in January we might be seeing Russian striker Fyodor Smolov replace Diafra Sakho. Smolov is rumoured to be available for 15 million and his agent is also on good terms with West Ham apparently, so this might be a goer. For me it’s a no brainer. If Sakho wants away we need to cash in and replace him. Smolov has been Krasnodar’s most important and consistent player and reading up on him a lot of scouts consider him to be the best striker in Russia.
He’s tall (1.87m) and strong and at 27 years of age his best years should still be ahead of him.

He can play upfront, but is also an option on either wing. His main assets are keeping hold of the ball, dribbling, long shots and freekicks. But most importantly he is a clinical finisher. With that in mind he sounds like a more than capable replacement for Sakho.

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As we can now breathe a bit more easily in the league we should give the FA Cup the proper respect it deserves. By all means, reward some youngsters with some well deserved gametime. I would expect guys like Rice, Burke, Cullen and Byram to start (with Shrewsbury boy Hart between the sticks of course), but make no mistake: We need some experienced heads out there too and we can not afford to take Shrewsbury lightly. It’s another potential banana skin for us, but on paper we have more than enough to beat them of course.

As their confidence must be skyhigh I would even contemplate giving Arnautini a runout for 60 minutes or so. What I don’t want is players on the pitch who are not up for it.

The FA Cup and the opposition deserve respect and every single player who gets the chance to play should bust a gut.
As the game will probably not be on telly anywhere I might have to rely on text updates. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing our team continue to grow together.
And then to be improved even further by adding a quality signing or two…COYI!!!

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The HamburgHammer Column

The young Hammers - fighting tooth and nail for their first team opportunity

Hooray, football is finally back in Hamburg! Alright, not the proper league stuff yet, but even at the lower league level of my second club Concordia the winter break is short and needs must. First training session of 2018 took place on Friday and yesterday there was a midseason friendly indoor tournament to help the lads burn away any excess calories of their Christmas and New Year dinners. This tournament is a quite traditional event by now, Cordi organise the whole lot and invite nine other teams from East Hamburg to compete for very little money but a lot of pride at stake. The nice thing is that it’s only local derbies, in fact you can’t get much more local than this, the longest trip any team had to make for this one was an 8 mile journey.

I have to admit that indoors football is not really my cup of tea, you tend to see a lot of goals, granted, but playing indoors also involves the risk of injuries waiting to happen and all those shots bouncing off the boards in a confined space make it a very acquired taste. I prefer the outdoor version.

But it was a welcome opportunity to watch some live footie again, plenty of games in quick succession, each lasting a mere ten minutes, I could also wish the other known faces from the local fan scene a Happy New Year, have some banter and also not worry too much about the results on the pitch, sorry, the basketball court.

To cut a long story short, Cordi were playing some awful football (still a bit rusty I reckon) but like an experienced horse at the end of the day they only jumped as high as they needed to, made it to the final regardless and won the trophy after a thrilling penalty shootout (What did you expect ? This is Germany!).

I made it back home, just as our Cup tie at Shrewsbury had finished which was convenient as I could put on a Hammers shirt and start watching the recording immediately…

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Well, to be fair it wasn’t exactly a Cup Classic, was it ? Once again we failed to put our stamp on the game, create a number of goalscoring opportunities or even pass the ball to a teammate with any conviction. And while Shrewsbury are a very talented and organised outfit they are still a League One club. So seeing us stumble and stutter our way to a replay wasn’t beautiful. It would have been even more dreadful if it hadn’t been for the efforts of our East London kindergarten out there, with some very decent shifts put in by Declan Rice, Reece Burke, Toni Martinez and last but not least, Mr.Josh Cullen.

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Not only did he make some very tidy interceptions, playing some nice passes into the bargain, he also literally put his body on the line by way of taking a kick in the North and South. I could sympathise a lot with Cullen in that fateful moment as I lost some teeth in similar fashion when I was around the same age. To then finish the game and still throw yourself into blocks and challenges takes a lot of guts and I can only applaud young Cullen for his bravery and exemplary display of willingness to take one for the team and go right through the pain barrier.

I won’t blame our youngsters for failing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it, for that to happen our more experienced players would have been required to play a bit more like the footballers of Premier League standard they presumably are. In fact, I’d say our youngsters were by far the best players on the pitch wearing claret and blue, grazing The New Meadow.

It’s too small a sample size yet to decide if Cullen and Burke should remain on the fringes of our first team now or if we should send them back to Bolton on loan for the rest of the season (their only options now after playing in the Cup game against Shrewsbury).

I will always advocate the idea of giving our youngsters a shot at first team football. I think guys like Rice, Oxford, Burke, Cullen, Quina and Martinez all have a decent chance to make the step up, some sooner (like Rice and Oxford), others maybe later (the rest).

In any case I think it’s well worth it to keep some patience with them as they are unlikely to command high transfer fees anyway should we decide to sell them.
And knowing our rather thrifty approach in the transfer market I’d rather see us showing some trust in our prospects instead of getting out the scattergun, signing some South American punts who might be able to adjust to Premier League football given some time or crash and burn quickly.

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Our business in the transfer window will be highly interesting because it might give us some answers (again) in terms of the actual level of our board’s ambition.
Will we be happy enough to simply replace the players we ship out ?
Or will we push the boat out just a little bit further and try to nail down a quality signing or two if possible ?

Will the owners really be happy to just stay up ? Or will we give it a genuine shot to finish at least in a more respectable midtable position ? I reckon we should go for the latter as it can only help our transfer business in the summer if we finish as high as possible.

Players surely prefer to join a club that finished 10th instead of one that only just escaped relegation on the last day of the season. I’d love to see one or two quality signings arriving in the next few weeks, but I won’t be holding my breath and I will definitely continue going to bed during the transfer window!

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Another quick final word on Concordia: The transfer window is open for the lower leagues in Germany as well and it’s mindblowing with how much of a turnover my local side will have to cope, full on revolving door style. Six players have already left during the break, with three new faces coming in and more ins and outs to follow. Cordi have also just now filled an urgent vacancy by finally hiring a new vice president/director of football. And after playing a hugely underwhelming first half of the season they have also had to quickly adjust their short term goals and ambitions. Promotion to the next level is already out of the question for this season at least, so it looks like it’ll have to be baby steps for the time being, slow and steady progress from now on. So unfortunately it’s not all roses, wine and sunshine at Concordia either my dear fellow Hammers…

One thing’s for sure. January won’t be boring for West Ham either, with plenty of twists and turns lurking with intent, on and off the pitch. Let’s hope the rollercoaster will be kind and we don’t get stuck, hanging upside down in a looping…COYI!!!

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