After our small adventure in Europe and our last minute loss to Chelsea we start our home campaign in the new shed against Bournemouth hoping for no repeat of last season.
Last season saw us lose 4-3 in an end to end game (see here WHUFC vs AFC Bournemouth EPL 22/08/2015). Our team was missing Andy Carroll that time and it turns out he was absent again today, making it 3 for 3 for the Geordie with respect to injuries and first league home games ! As well as AC, we were also missing Ayew, which gave Valencia another chance to redeem himself as our main attacker. Slaven has obviously been listening to the critics and took Antonio out of the right back slot only to put him into left midfield. So we have to assume he fancies both Feghouli and Gore in front of the best attacking right winger we have had since Kevin Keen. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And Payet was missing. This made me think that maybe 0-0 wouldn’t be too bad.
It appeared that everyone else had the same thoughts as the game itself was dull as hell. Nobody really took it by the scruff of the neck. The first half flashed by in a series of mediocre football, only livened up by the standing West Ham fans bickering with the Stewards. How anyone thinks that 5 teenagers will make 200 fans sit down is beyond me, and so they just kept going backwards and forwards almost pleading to no avail.
As we all got an email regarding this last week, means something will happen and there will be a few empty seats for the next game I imagine.
I got to meet my new seat mate, and I think although nice enough there will be some interesting conversations as the season goes on. Hi Steve if you are reading this..
The goal came late on when Antonio was allowed to play on the right and made the run and got the cross in. Gore picked it up at the far post, put it back in and Antonio nods it in to keep our competitive 100% record at the OS. Food for thought Slaven.
Bournemouth looked a shadow of last season, although Ibe looked useful when he moved into the middle.
Key takeaway from today was that we need Lanzini and Payet back as soon as possible, and Calleri needs to start. He got a chance late on when Noble put him through , that I think will be bread and butter later on if he gets the game time
MOTM Antonio. And a big shout out to debutant Arthur Masuaku, who looks very comfortable at left back.
First off welcome back to the blog. Things have been pretty busy. I do have 2 more entries lined up around a trip to Vegas and a trip to Dubai but time has conspired against me. If there is any interest in the comments, I’ll fire them up.
So onto the show. The longer the summer went on the more concerned I was about our new home. Would there be atmosphere? Is my seat any good? Will it feel like home? Well after a sample size of one, I can say Yes, Fantastic, This will take time.
The ground itself is well laid out and as it was nearly full last night (53K), the atmosphere took a bit of knock early on as everyone is sitting with new neighbours, etc and was feeling things out, so after a rousing chorus of bubbles to begin with (slight lump in throat) things were a little flat (with the exception of both Kouyate goals) . However once people were settled things got going, and for most of the second half you could be in Upton Park, same songs, same sounds. Bearing in mind there were more than a few day trippers yesterday, we need to witness a league game to really compare.
The game. We were 2 -1 down from the first leg, which was a poor show. We still don’t have our Euro participants except for Randolph, so last night we lined up with Reece Oxford pairing with Winston Reid and Nordveit playing in the midfield. The bug bear of nearly all WHU social media “commentators” was also apparent, with Antonio playing right back, and Byram playing left back. This has to stop. Obviously losing Cresswell at LB was not planned, but come on, a professional football team playing a RB at LB, and Right Winger at RB. Especially one who has made it clear he doesn’t want to play there. Needs must, but we will get torn apart in the PL with this strategy. Antonio, for all his talents, is not a defender, and if this carries on I can see him leaving this window.
Seeing Oxford back was great and I hope not temporary. He obviously is not 100% on staying as some seriously big boys are sniffing around, and he hasn’t signed his new contract. 18 years old and £18mn quid could turn anyone’s head. It’s a worry if I’m honest, not just for us, but for him. At this stage Ogbonna and Reid are better, but we cannot let him go to City or United and become the next Scott Sinclair or Wilfried Zaha. This kid is being touted as the future of England, and surely we are in a position to now keep someone like that. It’s Rio Ferdinand all over again.
The 80’s are fashionable currently so I hear. Jordan 1’s are back in stores, as is garish gym gear. Women’s fashion seems to be very 80’s based currently and last week I swear I saw someone playing with a Rubik Cube on the train.
West Ham join in the revival and we get castigated ! I remember a time when smashing the opposition bus, having several thousand fans locked out the ground, starting the game an hour late, throwing bottles at their keeper (plus the obligatory, should be old enough to know better, pitch invader) , running a bar dry, and leaving the ground to make your way through riot police was a staple of most Saturdays. But now people just get hot about it.
OK I jest, but anyone who wasn’t there and has just read the websites and papers, and listened to Adrian Durham drone on (who wasn’t there either) will think (once again) WW3 broke out in Upton Park last night. I’m not condoning any of the above (except the bar bit) but lets be real. Yes the streets were packed, yes loads of people without tickets were there, but a few idiots throw some bottles at a bus and it’s the ICF comeback. Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.
I spent about 5 hours there, and never heard a raised (angry) voice. But I heard many voices, all raised. The atmosphere was just something to behold. This fixture is always an occasion, but last night was off the chart. I was there for the last game of the South Bank, the North Bank and the West Stand, but this was something that will live with me forever.
All the stuff afterwards with the fireworks and all that, although I see some people liking it, isn’t for me and I scooted prior to the Rejects playing, which is a little annoying but like I say, that stuff isn’t for me
There was a video played on the screens, listing many of the players that had passed away but would technically been “young enough” to be there, and although John Lyall, and Graham Paddon were up there, obviously the big one was Sir Bobby Moore. The Man U fans spontaneously burst into a chant of his name. Class Act all round. It was that kind of night.
With all this going on there was a football game on as well, and although late, it was probably one of the best Premier League games of the season. Both teams still have their eye on 5th, and both put out very strong teams. Our nemesis, Mr Rooney, started for United which is usually ominous. But we seemed to contain him ,and he seemed a little off form, which doesn’t bode well for the Euros. Misplaced passes out wide were common place and we started to get the upper hand. For the first time in a long time we played two real strikers up top, I assume to keep the Utd centre backs busy, and it seemed to be paying off. Then Sakho bent one round De Gea from distance, and it was game on after 10 minutes. We had another chance when Carroll went clear from a great through ball from Payet but hit it straight at the keeper. Anyway, we held onto our lead to half time, and it looked like the dream night would happen. In the 2nd half Man U came out firing, and the wingers seem to be on their A game. In fact one of them, Mr Martial strolled though our defence to pick up a straight pass/cross and draw the visitors level. Did I expect it it ? Yes. Did I expect a re run of the first 2 Swansea goals? No. Slaven needs to get the CB’s to work on position when there is an overlap, its just too easy for the opposition.
Soon after Martial got another one by getting into a stoppable position again, and the wheels were coming off. But the team fed off the incredible crowd, and in only 4 minutes, Antonio had equalised with a great header. Once again he had a set celebration ready, but Andy Carroll dragged him up the pitch. He knew it, we knew it, this was our night, and ours only, even if you are the most decorated team ever in the English game. Another 4 minutes, another goal, this time from the unlikely source of Winston Reid, whose other goal was pretty famous on the terraces as well, but will always now be the scorer of the last ever goal at The Boleyn.
We played out the last 10 minutes on the edge but for a change in control. So who won the game? The players played for the fans, the fans went berserk for the players, and Slaven was the architect. Did it mean as much to him as everyone else? Considering he was in tears at the final whistle, I think the answer was yes.
5th place is in the hands of others now, and I think the game at Stoke is a bit after the Lord Mayors show, so we have to see the shake out of FA Cups and UEFA cups to see if we get another shot in Europe in our new shed in season 1, but I for one will never forget this evening. Leaving earlier than most gave me a bit of time on my own taking one last look at the old girl and I left with a heavy heart, but hoping we can build this club on the potential that is now in place. Whether I will be along for the full ride will depend on how the new “experience” plays out, but I have my ticket, and we shall see.
Thanks for the memories, old girl..
MOTM: The Stadium and the Fans
Last week’s win against WBA secured 2 records for WHU. Our highest points tally in Premier League history and our longest unbeaten streak in PL history. On Wednesday was the end of season awards do. I think all 3 contributed to WHU turning up with their minds on their holidays and getting spanked by a fully focused Swansea team who took their chances when they got them, and were clinical in the finish.
Also the fans were the same as the final days of the Boleyn are upon us, with only one game left. Will we win that ? I hope so, just to send the old girl off in style, but we cannot play like we did yesterday. Lanzini and Payet need to cover more ground, and be more clinical in their passing. The only WHU player who came out of yesterday with any credit was Antonio, who was once again out of position and superb. Why Byram cannot play back is beyond me, and then we can drop Moses who was also useless yesterday.
Anyway, for today and the final game against Man U, I have my camera with me, so hopefully the pics are better than usual from the phone.
Gutted is not a word I have used at Football since Mr Gerrard smashed in a 40 yarder past us in Cardiff in the FA Cup Final in 2006. That was a game we had led and should have won, and one moment of brilliance meant FA Cup glory eluded the Hammers once more.
Where do I start with this one? Near the end as we have Man U tomorrow and time is of the essence I’ll be brief.
Once again big team syndrome prevails at Upton Park. Arsenal were allowed to dive and cheat their way through a game whilst WHU were booked for the slightest indifference. We had a goal ruled offside (Lanzini) early doors, that clearly wasn’t.
Arsenal’s first goal came about after Monreal dived in the box, and ref said no foul and indicated a dive. So surely a free kick ? No, but we stop, thinking yes, and Ozil scores.
We also had another ruled off for some reason I don’t know. We were 3-2 up and Carroll got involved with the Arsenal keeper and defender, by the left hand post. There was a tussle and Carroll came out with the ball. Ref doesn’t blow. Carroll passes to Payet. Ref doesn’t blow. Payet taps the ball in and the ref blows??? WTF????
So MOTM is obviously Carroll for his first WHU hatrick. The game ended 3-3 and probably ruined our CL chances and Arsenal’s Championship assault.
One thing I should add, is the atmosphere. When we scored our second to equalize the game, while everyone on the pitch was celebrating with Carroll, Noble was running around the centre circle on his own, and Adrian was shaking hit net , while facing the crowd, like a madman. And the roof was coming off.
Same again tomorrow night and we win. The normal pessimist me has gone. I even tweeted while we were 2-0 down that I thought we would win (just as Carroll got his first)
Palace are without a win in the premier league this year and WHU are tearing up trees pushing for a CL spot. But in true West Ham style we blew a gift. Everyone seems to the blaming the ref, but I differ, and will explain below.