Tony Hanna's Musings

After last weekend I feel it is a blessing that we have a three week break until our next game. Hopefully it will be a period of time where at least the worst of the dust will settle. Normally I hate these International breaks but for once it couldn’t have come at a better time. I first started attending matches at West Ham over 50 years ago but Saturday was the first time I felt ashamed of what our club has become as I watched the scenes unfold. As I wrote in my article last week “I must admit to feeling as low as I ever have about supporting West Ham” – the feeling has sunk to an even deeper level in just a few days. Whilst I will never stop supporting the Hammers, I am really questioning my personal investment of time and energy in all things West Ham.

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If Lanzini had slotted home his one on one with the keeper I doubt those nasty scenes would have even eventuated. For the first hour of the match there was only one team that was going to win, and it wasn’t Burnley, although the more the game went on it had a draw written all over it. Hypothetically, Ashley Barnes could hit his shot twenty times and nineteen would miss the target. Unfortunately for us he struck gold this time. It has been a similar story for a couple of seasons. After riding our luck in the Payet season where things just seemed to go our way so many times, the past two seasons we have rarely got the rub of the green. On the positive side West Brom just about ensured their relegation with a 4-1 home loss to Leicester leaving just two instead of three remaining trap door relegation places. Losses for Southampton, Stoke and Palace ensured there is still a three point buffer between us and eighteenth so things could have been worse. The matter of relegation is still in our hands but we need to find a win somehow or we will start to need to rely on other clubs results as well as our own. I dread to think what might happen if we go a goal down to Southampton in our next match!

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The manager must take a slice of the blame for our current form. We have players that are not up to standard and haven’t been for while, yet nothing was done in the January transfer window. It might be a difficult window to operate in but the Championship will be an even more difficult place to operate from. Letting Fonte and Ayew go were good deals financially but poor squad wise. Adequate replacements should have been at least a prerequisite. Hart made two awful mistakes again and one led to a goal. Cresswell is so timid he shouldn’t be anywhere near a Premier League club. Collins has been a great servant and still gives his all, but again he is not PL standard. Noble is a great trier but seriously lacks pace. All West Ham fans know that Antonio is no right wing back yet Moyes thinks he will be better at left wing back! In my opinion many of our players are either already getting their agents to find them new clubs for next season or, at the very least, have already given up on this season. Four of our last eight matches are against top six sides and whilst we only venture outside of London once for the rest of the season I will be very surprised if we stay up. I can only imagine that Jordan Hugill has been bought in case we go down and what was Moyes thinking when bringing in Evra, especially on higher wages than some of our established players. What message does that send? Whilst he is prone to the odd bad mistake I really think we have missed Masuaku’s drive forward on the left. He will be available for selection against Southampton and Moyes simply must select him.

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David Moyes is taking advantage of the three week break and is taking the team away for a short warm weather break in Miami. This is an opportunity to install a siege mentality within the playing group. If he can do this we still have hope. If the players don’t care where they are playing next season it will be a worthless exercise. Back in my playing days I remember the bonding effect that a team getaway could have and I am sure if done in the right spirit the benefits when it is done at a professional level could be significant. Three weeks without a game will hopefully bring a freshness to the squad and be a time for a refocus.

Five of our remaining eight games are at home and tensions I am sure will get high at times. If the support in the ground becomes toxic Moyes must have the players prepared with an “us and them” siege mentality. In some ways even raise their game further when times become more trying. As I alluded to earlier though, I don’t think too many of them have the stomach for it. I hope they prove me wrong. Often our home support has come to the rescue in the past and raised the roof in times of need, but at the moment Moyes and the team can’t rely on that. Trevor Brooking said after the game that unhappy fans should stay away from the last five home matches. Unfortunately, I think that is unlikely and the ones that will stay away are the ones that have just had enough of the shenanigans.