The HamburgHammer Column
Weekends without a West Ham game are always different, especially at the current time for me personally. I’ve been mentioning my brother’s fight in hospital after his life-saving surgery. It’s been a rollercoaster the last few days where I’ve seen my bro having to return to the Intensive Care Unit yet again after struggling to breathe without technical support, so it was back onto various tubes and drugs again for a number of days, but he’s now back on the regular ward and looks a lot more lively already, albeit very weak and tired still – and the weekend’s football results haven’t exactly helped his recuperation.
Starting on Friday, Concordia lost 1:2 to Victoria Hamburg, away. In one of football’s most popular storylines the winning goal was scored by Victoria in the final minute of the 90 by a fullback who had played his final game for Concordia just two months earlier before making the switch across town. Yes BSB, it was your favourite lad, Yannick Siemsen, the bloody traitor! ;-)
The game was remarkable for another reason off the pitch as I suddenly spotted among the 287 crowd a big guy with a claret and blue scarf and beanie.
Of course he could have been Villa, Scunthorpe, Burnley or Trabzonspor, but no, he was indeed a fellow Hammer!
Turned out he was a local groundhopper, watching the game with a groundhopper mate from Cologne – both having adopted West Ham as their English team.
Needless to say we exchanged numerous stories about watching the Hammers and football in England and we even briefly discussed the current plight of Millwall.
Then on Saturday followed yet another nail in the coffin for Hamburg SV, as of yet the only German club that has played top flight football in every single season that the Bundesliga has been in existence. Losing 1:2 against Lverkusen was no surprise as such since Leverkusen have better quality in the squad in every respect and department. But HSV are running out of games to put things right fast and it seems that this time luck has finally deserted them.
The loyal fans are painfully aware of this and were keen to vent their growing anger by trying to invade the pitch during and after the game, but the authorities with the help of some well trained German Shepherd dogs made sure it remained an attempt only. We all know what happened to the likes of Leeds, Nottingham Forest or Coventry once they went down through the trapdoor.
There are no guarantees and the way back up is a massive challenge. Finances at Hamburg SV are shockingly bad, so there is even talk that the club may not even be allowed to play in Bundesliga 2 should they get relegated. For the City of Hamburg it’d be an unmitigated disaster to no longer have a team in Bundesliga 1.
But the club has been run like a circus without acrobats and tigers for years now – still the fans have flocked to home games like lambs to their slaughter.
Which brings me to our upcoming Liverpool game. We all know the stats. Anfield over the years has been an unhappy hunting ground for us, until recent times of course.
If you’re looking for a good omen, look no further than the 1:0 win our U23s nicked from Merseyside on Saturday. I’m sure we’d all be overchuffed with a similar scoreline come next Saturday! Liverpool can field some of the top players in the league and when they get going they score for fun and might give you a drubbing.
If we can frustrate them though, destroy their build up play time and time again, stand firm in the tackle and keep the home crowd quiet we are in with a chance.
With players returning from injury we are likely to field a strong starting XI and even a halfway decent bench of substitutes.
Manuel Lanzini seems to be a quick healer as he is rumoured to join his teammates for first team training sessions again today. Even if he may only get half an hour at Liverpool it’ll be good to have him back in the side fullstop.
Another player returning from injury is Nathan Holland. Before he suffered said injury he was on the fringes of the first team squad, so surely it’s good for Moyes to have options now. Holland by all accounts is highly touted, with a deft touch, good dribbling skills and an eye for goal too. Good to have him back!
Another thing happening today is a meeting between some members of the Real West Ham Fans Group, the lads behind organising the march in March.
By all accounts the board’s aim will be to talk them out of going through with the march. As far as I understand it though the march is done and dusted and will go ahead as planned regardless. If anything they will let the board (or their representatives rather as I doubt if either of Gold, Sullivan or Brady will be present) know the reasons behind the march and why the fans actually see the need to take their criticism and anger out onto the streets.
Which brings me to my final train of thought here. In a recent video message Sullivan said there would be changes to the way West Ham scout and sign new players.
There has been talk about Sullivan “trying to move away a bit” from getting personally involved in the process of signing players, the way it should be really.
But “trying” to “move away a bit” will not be enough – you need to trust the manager on this completely and if you don’t, then hire a professional Head Scout or Chief Negotiator to help Moyes with bringing in the players the manager wants and needs.
Saying that neither the club nor Moyes can really afford themselves the luxury to wait until the summer to make a decision about the manager’s future at West Ham.
Neither is it wise to implement a new transfer procedure at the club later this summer instead of here and now.
I am certain other clubs are already busy preparing themselves for the shortened summer transfer window. Once that one is open you want your targets lined up so you can try to get deals over the line sharpish.
You cannot give other clubs a headstart by waiting to pick and choose your manager for next season (and also shake up the internal set up in terms of transfer business).
I’d be well happy to see Moyes stay, if only because I yearn for longevity and a long-term approach at West Ham. Short fixes and a new manager every 18 months is not conducive to progressing the club in the league.
I reckon Moyes has the support of the clear majority of our fanbase and the board should follow suit and truly support the manager to the best of their abilities (and I don’t mean this in a sarcastic way!). COYI!!!