In my humble opinion Manuel Pellegrini will have learnt more from this match than any other that we’ve played this season.
He will have learnt…
1. That he picked the wrong starting line-up.
2. That Obiang is not Noble, and that partnering him with Rice doesn’t work.
3. That Carroll and Arnautovic should never, ever, ever appear in the same starting line-up again. Ever.
4. That for this team to be successful it has to be built around Arnautovic and play to his strengths.
5. That Antonio’s best position is wide right, and that he has more pace than he first thought.
6. That Zabaleta is perhaps nearer the end of his career than he first thought.
7. That the female lineswoman clearly had a grudge against Snodgrass.
8. That Felipe Anderson gets better as a game goes on. And he can actually win the odd tackle too.
9. That if we play with pace rather than amble around it brings goals.
10. That the crowd really can be our twelfth man.
The main thing supporters learned from this game is that we have a manager who knows when to make a substution and who to bring on for whom. I think most of th crowd agreed that Carroll needed to come off at half time. I was also willing him to bring Antonio on, although perhaps I might have brought on Diangana rather than Noble, and switched Snodgrass more centrally.
It’s highly unusual to come back and get a point from two goals down. I’m sure we’ve done it before but I can’t think when. And the crowd needs to learn from this too. The gound was incredibly quiet in the first half and its nervousness transmitted itself to the team. It was only when Arnautovic scored his first goal that there was any noise at all, and it kept going for the rest of the second half. Guys, we’re going to have 60,000 people in the stadium for the big games. At least that’s the plan. We ought to have the place rocking, but it also needs to rock when we’re not playing well. Because when the crowd rocks, it’s like shooting an electric surge through the whole team. Today Brighton visibly wilted when we got going and it wasn’t just because of what was happening on the pitch itself.
Yes, we may all feel angry at the pathetically lethargic first half performance. But let’s respect the point. Previous West Ham teams would have folded after losing two goals, and probably let in more. This one didn’t.
We’re tenth and only three points of seventh. And seventh is basically the best any of the teams below Manchester United can aspire to this season. Let’s face it, after the first few games this season, we’d all have given our eye teeth to be where we are now.