The HamburgHammer Column

When I went out for that birthday buffet dinner at that Chinese place with my brother’s family on Friday evening, I thought trying what grilled zebra tasted like would be far more exciting as watching us get butchered against Liverpool on Monday Night Football 72 hours later.

Wrong on both counts!

First of all, zebra is not all it’s cracked to be, it tastes a bit like horse with a hint of peperoni sausage. I don’t know why it’s such a big hit with lions – I certainly wouldn’t order it again.

And as for that Liverpool game ? Well, how many among our fanbase would have predicted a lucky draw for the Scousers ? Me neither. Realistically, especially after our previous three games, I reckon less than 10% believed we would get even a point from this.

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To think that Liverpool only got the point by way of a CLEAR offside situation leading to their only goal, West Ham fans might even bemoan their luck. But let’s take nothing away from the performance of our lads. There was 100% effort right from the first whistle.

West Ham fans are in general a very modest bunch. We don’t build castles in the clouds and rarely have pies in the skies. Our trophy cabinet has plenty of spare room to fill.

All we ask is to see our players breaking sweat out there on the pitch, putting some good effort and honest graft into it during a game, running, fighting, trying to play some neat football too if possible and generally giving it bifters. Which apparently is a Liverpudlian phrase meaning “giving it your best shot”.
Which is exactly what we did last night!

We made it really hard for the league leaders. I reckon that several times during the game they couldn’t quite believe what hit them. Our set pieces were lighting a fuse in the Liverpool penalty box time and time again.
Antonio scored our equaliser after one of those clever training ground moves.

Earlier we almost saw Hernandez score his first ever PL goal from OUTSIDE the box. Cresswell had a decent effort on goal and overall had another great game at LB. While Rice could have easily got his second PL goal heading over a wide open net. Noble too had a great game.

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I have a confession to make: Before our game kicked off the St.Pauli game was on, one of those feisty Hamburg-Berlin affairs, this time in the shape of the St.Pauli-Union Berlin variety. St.Pauli were in the lead at the time when West Ham were kicking off, the Pauli game was exciting and briefly I was toying with the idea of playing away for once and checking on the many goals Liverpool were bound to score via online score alerts.

As I was planning on writing my column though I DID watch our game of course, all of it – St.Pauli still won a wild one, 3:2, with the winning goal coming from a penalty in injury time. When our game started I was watching it in bite-sized one minute segments, moving that screwdriver in my hands, saying out loudly with every passing minute “Still goalless, we’re doing alright, still goalless”.

When they did score their offside goal and it was still given, I will admit, I expected the floodgates to open. But one of those smartly executed set pieces was enough to get the score level again.

And after that of course we had a few more opportunities to maybe even nick a cheeky win. But I don’t want to get too greedy here. Nicking is not our expertise, is it ? It’s an artform oop north though. Not yesterday it wasn’t.
Not enough for three points anyway.

Our team on the other hand won back a lot of goodwill with that performance after the previous feeble surrenders.

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This was proof they can compete against ANY team in this league, provided they bring the will, desire and application shown against Liverpool. Thing is, it needs to be the same level of effort against the Newcastles and Palaces of this world, not just when playing Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool. Maybe we shouldn’t tell the players in advance who the opposition is, but they all have smartphones, so I suppose they’d still find out somehow…LOL

My man of the match, my pick from a vast choice of great performances, was Felipe Anderson. He is like Payet, but with the willingness to track back, win balls and put a foot in if necessary. Shame some of his passes had a bit too much mustard on them to reach their target. But he was pivotal in winning that point for us. Much more important than the point though is the feelgood factor and confidence that performance will give our club as a whole.

Did you miss Arnautovic out there ? I honestly didn’t. I was happy to see Fredericks play – and a very solid job he did for us out there. I cannot name a single bad performance really. Special mention has to go yet again to Fabianski. He has managed to allow me to remain seated calmly in my armchair whenever a ball sails into our box. The way our favourite Pole is commanding his territory is both amazing and great to see.

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As it’s getting late here, I won’t be saying too much on the Arnautovic issue again or our very quiet deadline day business in terms of transfers.
It is what it is.

In Pellegrini I trust, he has to cope with between 8-10 injured players at all times and still 7th place is well in grasp, despite the injuries, despite Arnautovic kitting out his prams with an arsenal of toys, already having thrown some in the process.

Again, we cannot undo the Wimbledon or Wolves performance. But as a team our players can roll their collective sleeves up and play every remaining game this season as if we were facing Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool. That’s the least we should expect. From my armchair the atmosphere at the London Stadium sounded magnificent, it was loud, it was proud, it had a ring of the Boleyn to it during famous wins witnessed there.

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The season also starts again for my Concordia lads next Saturday. For the time being they will be fighting relegation unfortunately. As for West Ham though, I would expect Pellegrini to give that fight for 7th place a proper go, with whoever among our squad is still standing and available to play. I applaud him for setting up our team for a glorious draw against the league leaders that felt like a win actually. It’s nice to see that at least our manager isn’t planning on seeing our season petering out anytime soon.


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