The GoatyGav Column
I find myself, sometimes, thinking out loud. I often think that my articles take the same tone as when I’m having these audible internal conversations. My wife thinks I’m talking to her and, upon occasion, I have to explain that I’m having a discussion with myself again. Not sure what that says about the state of my mental health but, there you have it, it might go a little way to explaining my processes when writing on here.
One such subject I often find myself mulling over is Felipe Anderson’s natural tendency towards passing the ball and then standing still. It completely goes against all that I was ever told to do when playing football and all I teach when coaching the, now U15, kids I have the privilege of working with. At first I became quite animated while voicing my displeasure at, what I perceived to be, this laziness and unwillingness to create opportunities through, off the ball, movement. Now, however, I’m starting to gain a greater appreciation of South American, and more specifically Brazilian, footballing characteristics. I’m trying to remember when West Ham have ever had a Brazilian ‘Fantasista’ so I guess it’s something relatively new.
To incorporate the ‘fantasista’ player there must be at least one Meia-Armardor, or ‘holding-playmakers’ if you prefer. With that in mind is it any surprise that Anderson has tended to influence games at the same time as the rise of Declan Rice. I’m certainly warming to Felipe Anderson, not just because of his ‘ghosting’ runs but, because he is starting to make his presence felt by tracking back and helping the team to regain possession. When he first joined the club he used to get back to help defend with all the enthusiasm of a teenager asked to tidy their bedroom. He could still do with strengthening his upper body as he’s a little lightweight and, occasionally, muscled off the ball but his technique is second to none. The mazy run from one flank to t’other, before releasing Fredericks in a threatening position, on Saturday was amazing. Weirdly footage of the run was not shared by either Match Of The Day or the club’s website’s own ‘highlights’. The site has, however, released an ‘Anderson’s Man Of The Match Performance’ video which you can view below (the, width of the pitch, run can be seen from 0.59 mins to 1.11 mins) : -
Whet’s the appetite doesn’t it? I really can’t wait for the Manyoo game now. The only thing that I’d really like to see develop is the understanding between Lanzini, Anderson and Haller. Although not just exclusively those three I feel that the trio will become a force in the Premiership if they truly ‘click’. There have been little morsels to tease us with but when they really get to know each other’s game, their runs and movement then it’s going to be extremely exciting. Already that buzz of anticipation when Anderson or Lanzini get on the ball is starting to get up to the same levels as when Brooking, Devonshire or, more lately, Payet were menacing opposition defenders.
So should Felipe stick and not run after passing the ball in the future I won’t be on his case. I’m not convinced that we’ll ever see a complete transition to ‘Samba’ football at West Ham. If anything it wouldn’t work in the hussle and bustle of English football but you can’t deny the South American influence that’s on view in the bowl nowadays. Manuel Pellegrini’s ‘project’ is still in it’s development phase – a work in progress. The team are still not dominating possession the way that he’d clearly like us to. In fact the stats from Saturday surprised me when I saw that Norwich edged it at 51% but things are definitely going in the right direction and are more in line with ‘The West Ham Way’.
Other players apart I’m definitely starting to dig Anderson’s Samba groove. May it continue to rock the bowl for several years to come.
Today, as I write, saw the departure of Javier Hernandez. He’s a player I like who always acted professionally, respectfully and with dignity and, from what I could gather, was a positive influence while at our club. I wish him all the best in Seville and would like to go on record to thank him for his efforts for West Ham. I will certainly welcome Chicha back should he ever return to play at the bowl again.
Lastly I’d like to wish Aji Alese all the best for his loan to Accrington Stanley. I think he’s a real prospect and would love for him to come back to the club in January having had a successful experience at the League 1 club. He won’t, however, be joining up with the club until after his excursion with the England U19 squad over the next couple of weeks – for which I’d also like to wish him luck.
Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!