David Hautzig's Match Report
West Ham 4, Bournemouth 0. Moyes 2.0 A Good Update Thus Far.
Let me be utterly transparent, so that there is no need to read between any lines.
David Moyes is not our enemy.
David Moyes did nothing wrong.
David Moyes has not lied.
David Moyes has not treated supporters with contempt.
If anything, we should be grateful he has agreed to return and do his best to help the club escape from yet another catastrophe in all likelihood created by his past and current employers. To those clamoring for the likes of Kovac, Allegri, Pochetino, or anybody else considered a Top Shelf Manager, I ask you;
Are you mad?!?!
If they are as good as you say, then they must be of higher intellect. And if they are of higher intellect, then they have more then enough sense to avoid our owners like an infectious disease. We do not have the currency to shop in those stores. Among those we were realistically linked with, David Moyes was the best option.
I for one was surprised he said yes. If it were me, and I admittedly hold very long, bitter grudges against those who have treated me or my family badly, I would have told the board to F-OFF. And our board treated David Moyes very badly. But there he was, smiling at the cameras while acting like a gentleman and a professional. When offered the chance by a journalist to take a little dig at the man in the silly Russian hat, he wouldn’t go there. He showed class. Which none in our current Executive Branch have showed of late, if ever.
At the time of kickoff, West Ham were in historically familiar territory. The relegation zone. Most supporters and pundits were expecting Moyes to switch to a back three with wingbacks. But with only two days to train, he opted for the same formation we have used since the start of the campaign. Having said that, I was surprised that Antonio’s current hamstring issue was not met with someone else joining Haller up top. I was also surprised at the result, but I’ll take it with bells on.
West Ham won a free kick in the 13th minute that could be considered the first attempt of the match when Wilson was called for handball. But Cresswell didn’t beat his first man, and you can’t succeed on set pieces when that happens. But if skill cannot do the job, luck will do. And The Hammers had that in the 18th minute when Anderson and Snodgrass combined quite well on the right side of the Bournemouth eighteen yard box. Snodgrass picked out Noble in the box, and his deflected shot went past Ramsdale.
West Ham 1
Snodgrass was back at it again a few minutes later, and his run at Rico came inches from being a penalty. But the foul was committed just outside the box. The delivery deflected off of Anderson and out for another corner. The Cherries cleared, but West Ham closed down with a level of intensity all over the pitch not seen this season. That work rate paid off in the 25th minute when Snodgrass and Fredericks worked the ball down the right. Fredericks sent a cross into the box and Haller finished it in a manner befitting a 45 million pound signing.
West Ham 2
Bournemouth had a decent spell of possession after Haller’s strike, but West Ham held their line and kept their shape, and eventually cleared the area and launched a counter. After a long ball for Haller caused Rico to put the ball out for a throw, the Hammers kept up the pressure with Noble at the forefront. It culminated with the captain dancing around Wilson on the right side. The second he got into the box, I knew what he would do. He would create contact, not dive, and win a penalty. He did just that.
West Ham 3
As the opening forty-five minutes wound down, Bournemouth had their best spell of the match so far. Rico tried a long range shot from just outside the West Ham eighteen yard box that Fabianski had to parry away for an eventual Bournemouth corner. But again, West Ham stayed disciplined and the corner amounted to nothing.
West Ham 3
The second half started with West Ham showing no letup in their pressure. Anderson sent Cresswell into the box with a little chip pass over the head of Francis, and the current version of AC won a corner. Bournemouth cleared but as soon as any visitor got on the ball he was hounded by someone in Claret & Blue. The constant harassment led to a superb run by Haller down the right. He saw Fornals making a run into the box and sent a cross his way. Had it not been for a last ditch effort by Cook to get a touch on the ball Fornals would have been in prime position to volley the ball into the back of the net.
Moments later it was again Haller launching an attack. He laid it off for Snodgrass in the box, but with the ball on his weaker right foot he took another touch instead of a hopeful shot and the moment was lost. A minute later, Snodgrass won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Cresswell stepped up to take it, and my guess is he will hope everyone watching the match was posting on Instagram or checking email as opposed to watching the match.
In pursuit of balance, I’m going to be critical about something. Anderson, despite working hard and making runs, still looked off. He made quite a few poor passes, and when given the chance to run at the Bournemouth defense he took a long range shot. But in what can only be described as delightful irony, just as Anderson was about to be replaced by Lanzini, Rice sent a peach of a long pass over the top of the Bournemouth defense that Anderson ran onto. The Brazilian brought it down, ran at Ramsdale, and slotted it home as his parting gift to the evening’s proceedings.
West Ham 4
The only blight on the day for West Ham came in the 75th minute when Cresswell was shown a red card for a rash challenge on Fraser. When VAR went to check, I thought it was just for posterity. But stunningly, the red card was overturned by the video referee and switched to yellow. While it would have had no effect on today, the decision certainly saved Moyes a headache on Saturday and beyond.
Bournemouth came oh so close to ruining Fabianski’s clean sheet in the 80th minute. Fraser recovered from Cresswell’s challenge to make a run down the left. He crossed into the box for Solanke, who re-directed the ball with his head. It beat Fabianski, but hit the far post and floated into the West Ham keepers arms.
The Hammers came equally oh so close to a fifth goal minutes later when Lanzini played the roll of a striker about a foot taller than he is and got on the end of a cross in the box. His header was hard and low, but Ramsdale made a good stop. Seconds later, Cresswell danced down the left and found Fornals in the box with a low pass. But once again Ramsdale was up to the task and made the save.
There are terms and cliches used in football that sometimes just sound like ways to fill airtime and newspaper columns. Graft, courage, playing for the shirt are a few that come to mind. But today they don’t sound out of place for West Ham. In terms of work rate, closing down, and organization, today was the best performance of the season. Yet it wasn’t devoid of skill or flair. It was, simply put, a fine overall display. So, as my best mate Jon asked right after the final whistle, why did the same players play under the same formation but look that good when they looked so bad a few days earlier? I can’t answer that. But I will not let that legitimate question get in the way of this good day.
Happy New Year.