Talking Point

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything West Ham related, and while I might have missed expressing my thoughts, I haven’t missed this football club continuing to be bad. Since my last post we’ve been hit by a global pandemic and the lockdown period for many was very strange and posed a multitude of problems, be it financial, physical or mental issues or all of the above. Football became secondary during this difficult time and while football without fans is undoubtedly very different (and worse), I had enjoyed seeing German football return and slowly started to remind myself of the fixtures West Ham had to play.

Despite the Sky commentators repeatedly mentioning that Moyes was happy with the level of fitness following two friendlies against QPR and Crystal Palace, I have thought the team has looked sluggish and fatigued at various stages of both the 2-0 losses to Wolves and Spurs. When the club announced the re-appointment of David Moyes, I wasn’t particularly happy; I tweeted saying that it was without question an uninspiring appointment. I was, however, willing to give him a chance. The Scotsman’s win percentage as manager is lower than Avram Grant and my Dad and I have both agreed that is a pretty damning statistic. I knew that Moyes would not set us up to play attractive football as he was brought in like last time to keep us up first and foremost, and then build upon the foundation he had set. We looked really poor against Nuno’s Wolves and I appreciated that most teams would look rusty in the first game back, but simple passes, positioning and fitness all looked a real problem for us, whereas Wolves looked a structured and polished outfit.

The 2-0 loss to Spurs is a poor result but there was a little bit of improvement from Wolves. We looked slightly more organised and while Declan Rice was fantastic at centre back in the previous game, the team was definitely buoyed by his return to the midfield. I sat in the living room watching the game and just felt we never looked like scoring, and defensively weren’t good enough to keep the Spurs attackers quiet for the duration of the game (Spurs didn’t even need to be especially good). I’ve caught snippets of the two games that Aston Villa who in my eyes are our main rival for that third relegation spot and, while they’ve only accrued two points, not only is that two more points than us since the restart but they really look up for the fight and ready to give it their all for the fans. Yes, on paper following the Chelsea game we might have ‘easier’ games than some of our relegation rivals, but having watched us sit incredibly deep in both games and genuinely posing no attacking threat with a manager who is never proactive in making substitutions, I don’t have much hope we’ll be in the Premier League next season. There were three players for us against Spurs who I felt could be happy with their individual contributions, Fabianski, Rice and Jarrod Bowen. Declan Rice has been outstanding for us this season and my hopes of him replacing Noble as captain are fading because like the fans he deserves so much better than what West Ham are offering at the moment.

Despite the fact that I am becoming increasingly concerned we will be swapping Anfield for Stoke’s ‘Bet365 Stadium’ next season, I’ll try to outline some positives. Since the restart we’ve been without club record signing, Sebastien Haller as well as our best centre back this season in Angelo Ogbonna. I believe both the Frenchman and Italian international should be back fit for our game against Lampard’s men at the London Stadium, and they both improve us. While Michail Antonio always puts in a shift for the team, he isn’t a player who can play up front on his own, he doesn’t know the intricacies of the role. There’s also no doubting that while Issa Diop has had a shaky season, he looks more assured alongside Ogbonna. We will also be the third team Chelsea will have played in the space of six days, and so perhaps we can take advantage of that with more rest time. If we can create a bit more in the final third in the upcoming games, I back Haller to score some goals because he has been missed in the opening two games.

At random points of my days I start thinking about what the squad will look like if we are relegated, and there’s no doubt that it will be very different. Virtually the whole midfield and attack would go as well as maybe all of our centre backs. At least with championship football we would get rid of players on high wages who either don’t warrant that money and or aren’t fully committed to the team. Maybe Xande Silva will become a star man, Josh Cullen might finally get a proper run in the team, somehow Noble will still be starting despite his mobility or lack thereof in central midfield now seriously hindering the team. Will Moyes be the manager irrespective of the division we are in? I really hope not but most likely because the board will do what is cheapest and most convenient for them which is keep this outdated manager that didn’t get touched by another club in the time between being sacked by us and returning to East London.

West Ham are sadly a sinking ship and we shall continue to sink under Gold & Sullivan’s ownership and, with Moyes at the helm, it’s a ship that might not return to sea level for a long time. If we don’t go down this season, next season at the very least will be another real struggle. The pain, when will it end?