The GoatyGav Column
After one weekend I’m writing to say I’m reminded of the ‘Boys of ‘86’ – the next I’m returning to the ‘Same Old West Ham’. In between we lose 4-0 to Oxford. Much the same as Hamburg Hammer my article this week is going to be relatively short due to it being the final week of ‘Exhibition Season’. Think I’ll book a well earned week off soon as it’s much needed.
Coming away from the Stadium on Saturday night there were several murmurs of ‘reality check time’ to be heard. That ‘Big Team’ mentality is still a work in progress just yet. Having got to the dizzy heights of equal fourth (although we were quoted as being fifth for some reason), and three points away from a third place finish to the weekend, the mind was busy with the ‘oops we’ve blown it again’ thoughts. What appeared to be a disappointing showing from our creative players, however, was, in my opinion, instigated by a masterclass in how to hold a solid defensive formation from Crystal Palace. Rarely have I witnessed a team get back in to shape so quickly with two banks of four holding five yards apart, on the edge of their box, with nigh on military precision. Not only that their pressing was well timed and precise too. Annoying as it was I have to applaud their organisation, patience and resilience.
Although I didn’t see the latter game for myself I’d have Palace’s defensive performance alongside that of Wolves’ in the Citeh game this weekend – so confident am I of it’s quality.
Despite all of that, and with slightly sharper finishing, we could have been two up at the point when Haller put us ahead. I’ve read many comments that Anderson improved after the break, and I’d agree, however that really was coming from a low starting point. Ok – so he had little space to work in, and was closed down super quickly every time he went near the ball, however some of his touches were not up to his usual standard. I’ve absolutely no idea what was going through his mind when he had the opportunity just inside the box, and ‘screw-footed it’ in completely the wrong direction, midway through the first period. Lanzini was little, if any, better. What Manu did was ok but there was so little of it I couldn’t make out whether he was on the pitch or not.
I’m not going to get in to a ‘Pellegrini got it wrong’ conversation however the omission of Artur from the bench really did come to haunt MP when Cresswell was forced off. I don’t say this just because we had no direct, left-back, replacement but because I think that the game was made for him. Interesting how the consensus has completely changed of late following good displays from Cresswell and, before he was suspended, Mas. Now it feels like we’ve got different options for different matches with the two of them but, on reflection, AM would have given us more against the South London team than AC did.
Speaking of Pellegrini my Brother and I noticed a very nice Ferrari F488 pista whilst sat at the lights, near the A12, at Waterden Road. After pointing out the Ferrari to my Bro he mentioned that the Huge Bentley behind it was pretty tasty too. I looked over at the drive thinking what a professional looking chauffeur he was but noticed that, in actual fact, it was Mr Pellegrini himself (he’s now not known as the ‘Engineer’ in Thurston circles but as the ‘Driver’). So the window went down, picture was taken with multiple thumbs ups, despite us not quite capturing MP’s thumbs up to us on the phone camera’s CCD. Another misconception went out of the window, namely the ‘professional driver’ one, too when the gaffer cut in from the wrong lane at the final junction before the A12. We let him off as his response to our over-enthusiastic (considering how we were feeling about the result) thumbed signals was such a polite and positive one.
So, for me and the Bro, we’ve got over the defeat and it’s upwards and onwards for the rest of the season. I’m already looking forward to visiting Goodison Park and taking three points away after giving the Evertonians a good thumping.
Sadly nothing to report on the U23 or Ladies teams this week. Many of the ladies, like our men’s team, are off on their respective international duties. Equally, if not more, sadly the Academy team lost 4-1 at Fulham however it wasn’t a game that was reflected in the score-line but one where Fulham took full advantage of their chances. Like Wolves and Crystal Palace their conversion rate was top notch. Let’s hope we see the same from our boys next time out.
Have a great week all.
Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!