The S J Chandos Column
Will Everton (away) be the match where we finally 'click?'
We can only hope so! Few Hammers fans would have thought that they would be looking at four straight defeats at the beginning of the season, but that is the way that it has played out and we just need to get on and rectify it as soon as possible. If the losing run continues much longer then the pressure on Pellegrini, the players and the board will just continue to build up and no one wants that.
This could prove to be a good possible opportunity to start turning things around, with a number of Everton first teamers allegedly absent due to injury and suspension. We really do need the win to ‘take the wind out of the sails’ of media and social media feeding frenzy around our club. At the very least we need a draw to get a point on the board and stop the rot. However, three points would be preferable with the Chelsea and Man Utd matches following on from Sunday. Mind you, it would be just like the contrary nature of West Ham to rise to the occasion and win points from the latter two fixtures. It has happened in previous seasons, where we have looked at a run of very tough fixtures (with everyone predicting nil points) and they actually end up getting some good results. Lets hope that particular aspect of West Ham history is repeated in the coming weeks.
It is easy to become very gloomy and pessimistic when results have not gone your way. But not everything is negative. Fabianski has looked a bargain buy so far this season and I have lost count of the ‘almost cert’ goals he has saved in our first four PL games. Fredericks has taken time to settle in to the right-back role and is now starting to perform to expectations. Cresswell has returned from injury well and looks by far the most solid available option at left-back. Diop played extremely well against Wolves and demonstrated his potential with a commanding overall display. While Anderson played his most effective game at Arsenal (in the No.10 role), running at the opposition and creating chaos in the Gooners rearguard. I would argue that Anderson must be given greater freedom to replicate that type of performance. Finally, Silva is looking an absolute bargain and scoring regularly for the U-23s. It can only be a matter of time (if he continues to impress) before he is selected for the bench for a PL game. Might his time come earlier than expected against Everton?
In terms of other areas of play, we probably need the greater experience and mobility of Ogbonna, alongside Diop, in central defence. Obiang and Rice should arguably be selected to start on Sunday, in a dual defensive midfield role; allowing Wilshire to be pushed in to a more advanced midfield role. Up front, we need an attacking three of Arnautovic, Yarmolenko and Anderson. This trio looks a potentially devastating combination, with their collective skill, power and technique, but they need to start realising that rich potential soon. In particular, they must start converting the chances that fall their way. Against both Arsenal and Wolves we missed some very good chances and, but for that profligacy, both matches could have had very different results.
While we wait and hope that Pellegrini gets it right soon (on the pitch), the unfolding conflict between West Ham and their landlord (off of it) continues to rumbles on. With publicly released correspondence, statements/counter-statements and on-going legal processes, it is all getting very fractious and counter-productive. And so far, it has to be said that the landlords are coming over very clearly as the unreasonable party in this whole unfortunate saga. Yes, the landlord obviously resents the content of the deal signed with West Ham United, but the club have a legally water tight contract that still has 97 years to run. If huge future debts are to be avoided then a new line is necessary.
The landlords should respect the terms of that contract and opt to work productively with the club to make the stadium a commercial/financial success. They can do that by: fostering improved relations between Tenant and landlord; accepting the offer from the club to pay for the pitch surround (whether claret or a combination of Club and landlord branding); drawing on the club’s in-house commercial/sponsorship expertise to get a major naming rights sponsor and secure other necessary commercial opportunities; and hold meaningful discussion about the club purchasing additional rights at the Stadium. This also means the landlord dropping the illegal tactic of trying to load additional payments on to the club (outside of the terms of the existing contract); engaging in childish behaviour like confiscating the club’s honours board and refusing to reinstate it before they receive payment of non-existent debts; ceasing to irresponsibly waste public monies on futile legal cases where the club have a ‘water tight’ case; and convincing Mayor Khan of the need to be more conciliatory and take a co-operative and partnership line in order to solve the Stadium’s current financial issues.
If that cannot be done under the existing arrangements, then perhaps the landlord will eventually find themselves in a position where they will have to ‘cut their losses’ by negotiating an acceptable deal for West Ham to purchase the Stadium outright?