The Blind Hammer Column
Blind Hammer defends Squad’s character
After the disappointment of the Cardiff result West Ham’s character, commitment and attitude was questioned.
Whilst West Ham’s inconsistency is undeniable, attributing this to lack of character is unfair.
This is a resilient West Ham .
This has gone strangely under the Radar.
In previous seasons, under other regimes, I feared going behind. Then a squad, bereft of confidence, rarely recovered. This is not the current West Ham.
This failure to acknowledge our new battling qualities probably contributed to the early departure of thousands when we conceded a 1-3 lead to Huddersfield. There was little faith. There was an unwarranted pessimism that we could not recover.
In contrast to this strange pessimism , this team has repeatedly shown all season that they can bounce back from adversity, they regularly rescue points, and even win from losing positions.
For example, in the reverse fixture at Huddersfield Pritchard scored after only 6 minutes but we still scramble a point when Anderson equalised.
At home against Burnley we were twice pegged back, but despite Wood’s late equaliser, West Ham had enough commitment to power on to score 2 even later goals to win.
In our home game against Crystal Palace we again reached the break 0-1 down. Yet we overcame this with a powerful second half performance.
In our away game against Southampton we again fell behind, facing embarrassing defeat. This was averted by Anderson’s brilliant second half double.
At home against Brighton we seemed to faced certain defeat when first Dale Stephens, and then Shane Duffy scored from set pieces. Despite this the Hammers could not be written off and after astute substitutions by Pellegrini, an Arnautovic brace rescued a point.
At home against Liverpool we conceded a blatantly off side goal. In previous season this would have presaged a collapse in confidence and probable heavy defeat. Not this season, Antonio’s strike recovered yet another point.
We faced an unexpected challenge at home against Fulham. Here, Ryan Babel produced a shock early lead, but surely, by now, West Ham ability to not only equalise, but win all 3 points should not have surprised.
I cannot remember a season in when West Ham have recovered so many points from losing positions. Even in the League Cup we progress after surrendering an early goal against Wimbledon, a feat we were sadly unable to replicate in the FA Cup rematch.
The team has also shown Fabianski inspired tenacity in defending leads. Early in Pellegrini’s tenure we surrendered leads both to Arsenal and Bournemouth. Yet after these early August reverses we have never lost from a winning position. For example the team defended a lead for 53 minutes against Leicester with 10 men, succumbing to a equaliser only in injury time. WE were also under the cosh at Palace, but dug deep in the second half to protect a point.
There is a separate question as to why we concede early, but that is entirely different from questions of the team’s character. Character is surely best measured by the squad’s ability to recover from the more pressured, tougher challenge of adversity.
There may be issues with concentration. Player tiredness may be an issue. Personally I believe that our inconsistency simply reflects inadequacies in our current squad. We face different ttypes of challenges from each of our 19 Premier League competitors. This season has proved that we are better at meeting some challenges more than others.
Players such as Rice, Diop, Diangana, and Fredericks are still on a learning curve. In addition we have again suffered injuries. The squad needs strengthening.
We cannot regularly dominate patterns of play across the league. We instead have to, on occasion, scrap and battle. Teams have learnt to their cost that they cannot relax against this West Ham. Repeatedly this team has delivered late goals to cement or recover points.
In that context the recovery against Huddersfield was entirely expected and predictable. We should celebrate our fighting qualities.