The GoatyGav Column

Top of the League! Usually a phrase that’s a welcome one to the ears of West Ham fans. Sadly the table that I’m referring to, in which West Ham led the way, is the one for teams that gave away the most points from winning positions. A whopping twenty-six additional points would have been bagged if our boys had have held on for victories having led matches.

A more encouraging stat, however, is that only four of those points were conceded in the last nine games played after the lockdown re-start. If you count every match, including those where the team hadn’t established a lead, then that equates to just over 0.44 points per game lost. Pre Covid 19 outbreak that number almost doubles to 0.76 with twenty-two points dropped in twenty-nine matches.

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If I were to generalise then the over-arching reason for the change, highlighted above, has been a lack of confidence. Many have pointed the finger of blame, for the team’s shaky performances, as having started when Lucasz Fabianski got injured. I’m not inclined to disagree.

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When I watched Roberto in pre-season I remember thinking to myself ‘I really hope this keeper doesn’t end up between the sticks for the first team’. Sadly my fears were realised when Manuel Pellergrini decided to use Roberto to deputise in super Fab’s absence.

It wasn’t so much the flapping uncertainty as to whether he would spill a cross, drop a shot or position himself poorly but more the lack of confidence that Jiminez gave to the defence and, subsequently, the rest of the team. The team looked good in the early games but after Fab’s hip injury things immediately deteriorated. By the time Lucasz had returned to the team the players had not only lost confidence but had also lost faith in MP’s system of play that he was rigidly sticking to. The team’s fragilities were exposed, even when going ahead early, and points were dropped as quickly as our league position.

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Added to the above there appeared to be players who seemed unconcerned by the team’s plight. Passengers, if you like, who just weren’t putting in the graft needed to get us out of the rut. The current speculation around whether Felipe Anderson will remain at the club is warranted due to his inconsistent performances. I feel this is a great shame and am uncertain as to the reason why he’s struggled. When in full flow he’s an exciting player, and a classy act, that I love watching. Is it a footballing cultural issue with his style not suiting the Premier League? Has he just not been bothered to put the work in? Is it the wrong team, or system, for him? Has it been a confidence thing? Does Felipe even know what it has been himself?

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By contrast there were a few battlers who gave their all, and left nothing on the pitch, for the cause. Robert Snodgrass, for me, was one of the most committed on the pitch…absolutely running his legs off until he couldn’t run any more every time he took the field. The trio of Rice, Antonio and Og should have been joined, in the race for Hammer Of The Year, by Snodders in my humble opinion.

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Looking back to this time last year I was filled with optimism for the season ahead. By December I almost felt shellshock at the disappointing let-down. Like most occasions I backed the manager, in the hope he could turn things around, until the point of no return. Right now I’m not sure how I feel about the forthcoming campaign. One thing I do know is that if the team can stop giving away points from winning positions we’ll finish 2020-21 in a far higher position than we did this term.

Perhaps I should be more confident. The defence seem to be improving with every game and I’m convinced that this is down to David Moyes’ coaching, guidance and organisation. He’s also got an eye for a full-back and I expect far more genuine competition for places, and more solid defending, in those areas come the kick off in September. After all…if we hadn’t have dropped any points from those winning situations we’d have finished above Leicester and only a single point off the Champion’s League places this time around.

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It’s time for me to have a little break from posting during the closed season. As you may have read in previous seasons I’m not one for transfer tittle-tattle so I’ll leave that to those happier to keep up with the speculation. Once players are signed I’m always happy to comment but I’ll leave the gossip to the ITKs and those happy to discuss the transfer rumours.

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Just before signing off I would, however, like to send my huge congratulations to Declan Rice for his well deserved HOTY award. I’m also very pleased for Michail Antonio for the runner-up spot. Completely made up for both of them and certainly hope to see them both enjoying their football with West Ham next term.

Until next time I wish all WHTIDers a happy, healthy and fun Summer break, albeit a short one, and hope to see you all in the run-up to Season 2020-21.

COYI!