Tony Hanna's Musings
Normally a new football manager gets an immediate “bounce” but we don’t do normal and our one got three defeats and a draw to start his West Ham career. On his debut, Watford took the mickey in the final 30 minutes playing keep football to the opposition crowds ole’s as we wilted to a 2-0 defeat. There was a glimmer of hope in the second game at home to Leicester as for once we got to see some sort of organisation and effort but still only a point. In Moyes third game, against Everton, any sense of optimism gained from the Leicester match was crushed as we wilted to a 4-0 defeat against a side that was as devoid of confidence and self belief as we were. To rub salt in the wounds there was Big Sam looking down from the stands watching his new safety project – chewing gum, thumbs up with a wide grin on his face. If I can analogise it was like watching the bird that dumped you showing off her new boyfriend to all and sundry. Not that Sam dumped us but when Frank Lampard used to score against us and then kiss the Chelsea badge it gave me the same sort of feeling.
The prospect of the next set of fixtures got most of us older Hammers fans reaching for the abacus. City, Chelsea and Arsenal – oh the joy! I went for 6-0 in the predictor against City– how about you? The signs that things are changing at West Ham were there for all to see though as we led 1-0 at half time until the inevitable happened. Why can’t we play a Manchester City side without De Bruyne and David Silva? And so on to Chelsea. Why can’t we play a Chelsea side without Eden Hazard? But this time it didn’t matter and in fact beating a Chelsea side with Hazard and Kante in it makes it feel even better. It is often said that in the past we raise ourselves for the big games and we do the unexpected, but the last two performances have been light years ahead of much of what we have seen in recent months. So, are we turning the corner or are our we getting ahead of ourselves? That great barometer, you know the bookie guys with their professional, cold and unemotional outlook on the game of football seem to think the former. Before the City game we were even money to get relegated, that’s a 50% chance. Now we are 11/4 – just a 26% chance despite still being in the bottom three. You might say that they have also been duly impressed.
But before we get carried away we need to learn many more lessons. Sitting back in an organised way on the back of a 1-0 lead against quality opposition is a different proposition to the games we face more often over the course of a season. Those games where the class difference is much closer and where many of these teams will try to do the same to us as we did to Chelsea. Antonio and Arny’s pace and strength have looked good in tandem against City and Chelsea but how will they fare when we play the likes of West Brom and Stoke at the OS? After what has transpired over the past fortnight will Moyes revert back to his Duncan Ferguson style tactics now that Carroll has recovered from his knock? Where does Chico fit in – if at all? Moyes looks as though he has got us fit and organised enough to be hard to break down and beat but there will be different obstacles to overcome when we play teams where they are the ones sitting back looking to hit us on the break.
I have long been an admirer of Arthur Masuaku. Convinced he was a player of great talent it was always my belief he would improve defensively given time. Perhaps that will happen, perhaps it won’t, but I have no doubt he has cemented his place in the team for now. What an exciting player he could become for us? On the other side of the coin I have also been banging the drum that Cresswell’s form had dropped so much he shouldn’t be seen anywhere near a West Ham shirt. Well, judging from the last few games the “old” Cresswell is back and I am so happy for Dan Coker who never lost the faith in him! Whilst I never gave up hope that fan favourite Adrian would get back into the West Ham team, I doubt it would have happened under Slaven Bilic? I base this on his all too long reluctance to give the Spaniard a recall despite Randolph’s poor form last season. I have little doubt Adrian would have been angling for a January move but for Moyes giving him this new chance? I must say I have warmed to David Moyes. Whilst some say his pressers lack positivity I prefer the realism and honesty. The manager, the players and the supporters have been given a shot in the arm over the past week or so. Let’s hope we can kick on from here.