The GoatyGav Column

No! Don’t worry! You haven’t wandered on to a Katie Price blog site. I’ll be sticking with West Ham for the duration this morning.

Ahead of the game against Brighton I felt quite chipper. The club had signed Jarrod Bowen at the eleventh hour the evening before. Pre match he made an appearance in front of the crowd to a warm reception. I couldn’t make out the chants directed towards him, from below us in 114, but I’m sure we’ll find a good one for him before too long. Someone whose name sounds like Jeroboam really is duty bound to have us cracking open the Champagne after all. Perhaps a theme there? More of that later on.

It was the other signing, however, that delivered on the day. Tomas Soucek is the final piece in our midfield jigsaw – the one who will bring balance to the force that sits between our defence and attack (bet you weren’t expecting Jordan AND Star Wars references in the same article were you?). For me a combative central midfielder was the biggest element missing from the squad. With Rice, Noble and Soucek in the middle, all of a sudden, it’s looking competitive, harmonised and energetic. The opposition were finding less time and became ineffective as they were closed down and challenged quicker. Many may attribute our first half dominance to Michail Antonio on Saturday but that was just part of the reason we went in well ahead at the break. Frankly it could, and should, have been more at half time and the game made out of sight. How on earth the ball didn’t end up in the back of the net, from a Mark Noble free kick with four West Ham attackers, and no defenders, in front of Matt Ryan? It was nearly as frustrating as the referee’s hand ball decision that VAR overturned for Brighton’s equaliser. I was indignant at the injustice of that decision. From our angle we clearly saw the arm away from Murray’s body and the ball strike it. Plain as day. Interestingly VAR had nothing to say about Glenn Murray blatantly holding Fabianski when the corner was taken for Brighton’s first.

I was a big supporter of VAR at the start of this season. I’m now of the opinion that it’s lost all credibility due to the poor judgment of those sitting at Stockley Park and the method of the technology usage. Insofar as Saturday was concerned, however, the third Brighton goal was the ideal opportunity for the pitch-side monitor to be used by the referee and, once again, it was ignored. Rather than make things fairer and helping the officials on the pitch to make the right decisions it’s failing miserably.

The fact that Brighton were still in it coming out for the second half owed a lot to the lack of clinical finishing by West Ham. The fact that the game ended up three all, apart from VAR, owed a lot more to our defensive frailties. From where we were sat Snodders’ second, and our third, looked an absolute worldie. The replay showed a deflection that we did not originally see however the number eleven’s body shape, and strike, were sublime.

Between the two the more worrying aspect lies in attack, than defence, for me. The reason for my view is that, with Super Fabianski between the sticks again, I believe confidence will return at the back whereas serious questions have arisen about whether we are going to be able to get the best out of Seb Haller or not. I genuinely hope that we can but, right now, he’s a shadow of the player who joined us from Frankfurt. Will he get a strike partner in Bowen without upsetting the balance of the side too much? Moyes has hinted that Bowen won’t be thrown in rather that he’ll have a managed introduction to the Premier League in the same way that many of his players, like Lescott and Baines, did at Everton. How’s it all going to work? No doubt we’ll find out in the coming weeks.

Another result to put behind us this weekend was the Ironesses eight-nil loss to Chelsea. The top three in the division are in a league of their own so the only thing for our ladies to do is to take learning from the match, watched by an attendance of just over three thousand three hundred, and prepare as well as possible for the visit of Manchester City next Sunday. Good luck to the ladies for that one

Loan watch is fast becoming a full time occupation at West Ham. At 5.00 last night the club announced Anthony Scully has been loaned to Lincoln City to add to Conor Coventry, Nathan Holland, Nathan Trott, Aji Alese and Dan Kemp. Friday night may see Scully make his debut for the Imps in a baptism of fire against league leaders Rotherham. Good luck to him. Hope he takes his amazing scoring run to League One.

Despite losing several key players it’s not all bad news for Dan Halajko’s available squad. Xande Silva and Mesaque Dju both returned, to great effect, from long term spells out. Their introduction helped the under twenty threes turn around a two one losing score line to a four two win. The three second half goals came on the eightieth, eighty second and eighty fourth minutes to secure the win against bottom of the table Sunderland. The run in to the end of the season looks a tough one. Five out of the six remaining league games are against top seven clubs with Manchester United snapping at their heels just two points below the Hammers’ youth.

So to sign off with some lyrics this week. “Jarrod Bowen banging goals in, Jeraboam corks a’ flyin’, in a Champagne Supernova, A Champagne Supernova in the Bowl!”