Opposition Q & A

This weekend we have a traditional Saturday afternoon game away against Huddersfield. Let’s hope West Ham can shake off the lethargy shown against Shrewsbury _, and show some of the spirit we showed against West Brom. Ahead of the game I spoke to John McNamara from Huddersfield Town fan site *Terrierblog _* to revisit our earlier chat, and to consider the game ahead.

John, the last time we played was early on in the season, when you had yet to concede a goal, whereas we were still pointless – I thought you were a bit unlucky in that game which we ended up winning 2-0. What have been your high and low points of the season so far?
Unfortunately I think we failed to deal with Andy Carroll on that occasion. The obvious high has been beating Man United 2-1. The first game I went to was a 3-2 victory over Scunthorpe in League 2. So to beat Manchester United was wonderful. It felt like everything had come full circle.
The lows have been away games in particular. We went a few months without scoring a goal on the road, a run that started at the Olympic Stadium in September and finished at Vicarage Road in late December.

Which teams/players have caught your eye so far this season?
Burnley have caught my eye. Not because they’re an exciting team to watch – they’re incredibly boring to watch. But because of how much they’ve achieved.
I predicted them to finish very low down the table in August. Something which Clarets fans have been keen to remind me of on Twitter, incessantly.
Player wise, it has to be Harry Kane. I’ve never seen a better player in the flesh, and I’ve seen Henry before. Kane battered us at our place, and 0-4 ended up being kind.

At the moment you sit 11th in the table – you must be quite satisfied with that? Where do you think you will finish at the end of the season?
I’m delighted with our position, but I’m still weary. The Premier League constantly amazes me. Every year a team sitting pretty in mid-table gets drawn into the relegation battle.
I think victory against you is imperative. If we win I’ll be confident we can stay up. If we lose, I’ll be anxiously looking at our upcoming fixture list pondering where the next point might come from.

You intimated before that you thought Slaven Bilic might be given the push, what do you think of our appointment of David Moyes as manager?
My feelings on his appointment are double edged. On the one hand I think it speaks of an unimaginative breed of football owners who reward unsuccessful managers with high profile jobs time and time again. Think Pardew… However, on the other hand I feel a great deal of sympathy for him after the Old Trafford affair. So I’d like to see him regain some of the reputation that he rightly earned at Everton.

What position do you think that West Ham will end the season in?
I think you’ll be clear of the drop. A particular position is hard to say, as things seem to be very fluid down our end of the table. I reckon anywhere between 15th-11th.

Any changes to your early predictions for relegation, which were Brighton, Palace and Swansea?
Well Roy Hodgson has thrown a spanner in the works, and Brighton look like they might stay up. Unfortunately. I’m certain that West Brom will go down. The sale of Evans will surely hasten their decline. Then the final position is up for grabs and could be largely dependent on the transfer window. Southampton are falling like a stone, but they do have a war chest after their annual solidarity payment from Liverpool. So I expect the last relegation spot to be taken by one of ourselves, Southampton or Stoke.

How about the title, presumably you have changed your prediction from Man United to Man City?
100%. I feel stupid now for even thinking that City wouldn’t walk away with it!

We are all aware that the ‘transfer window’ is open; are there any areas of your team that you think need strengthening?
Number 10 is the key area for improvement. At time of writing it looks very likely that Alex Pritchard will be announced as a signing from Norwich. That should help to increase our creativity. Something we have sadly being lacking in.

Which Huddersfield player(s) have surpassed expectation this season, and who has disappointed?
Collin Quaner has surprised everyone. Watch him at the weekend, watch him closely. He doesn’t look like an athlete, he looks like the hunchback of notre dame. Yet somehow, he’s chipped in with some great assists and performed admirably. The Man is a feat of human achievement. Tom Ince has disappointed me greatly. He’s obviously a terrific player, but he has some form of mental block about performing in the Premier League. He tries too hard and at the moment I’m struggling to see what he brings to the table.

Which (if any) West Ham player has caught the eye?
Arnautovic. Firstly in a footballing sense the man is clearly talented and always seems to be at the heart of the action for you. Secondly, he’s a brilliant character. His antics at Stoke we’re superb, and he riled Mark Hughes which is always great to see. I cannot abide the man.

Any tips for West Ham fans travelling to Huddersfield?
Don’t go to the Gas Works or The Vulcan. Town fans and away guides will tell you to check them out, but they’re just glorified working men’s clubs. Instead drink at the head of steam. The pub built into the train station. It’s a terrific bar with a great selection of ales and continental lagers. Then make your way to the ground 45 minutes before kick-off. Avoid any of the bars on the walk down to the ground, because, as mentioned, they’re a bit crap!

How do you expect Huddersfield to setup against West Ham on Saturday/ Team/formation prediction?
It will be a 4-2-3-1 for sure. We’ll press you in your final third and hold a high line. I expect the team to line up like this:
Jonas Lössl (gk)
Florent Hadergonaj, Zanka, Christopher Schindler, Scott Malone
Aaron Mooy, Jonny Hogg
Rajiv Van La Parra, Tom Ince, Quasimodo Collin Quaner
Steve Mounié

Prediction for score?
I can see a classic ‘Moyes’ performance. A frustrating defensive display finishing 1-0 to the visitors.

Many thanks to John, who took time out from his holiday in Colombia to talk to me. He is definitely not a Mark Hughes fan! Let’s hope his prediction for the result is accurate,
The last time we played them Pedro Obiang scored, let’s hope he can hit another spanker like the one against Spurs. I think I’ll go with John 0 – 1 to the Cockney Boys COYI

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