WHUFC vs Crystal Place 08/12/2018 EPL 2018-2019

December 10, 2018 Leave a comment

WWW. Nothing to do with Tim Berners-Leigh but WHU’s current form stats.

Helped out by playing those around us in a fortuitous  fixture list, only interrupted by the visit of Man City (describes by the Stop HammerTime podcast, as a “contractual responsibility”)

But the style of the wins has been the most encouraging. 3 goals in each ,and most of the action in the second half. So why the slow start ?

Against Palace, it was because they (Palace) came out like lunatics, having probably seen that the Cardiff game could have been all different if the penalty went in. Cardiff and Newcastle were more us feeling our way into the game. Against City that cost us the first goal.

So Palace go one nil up with a soft goal. No panic for West Ham and by half time , although still one nil down, I knew we would not only come back but would win easily. All we needed was a mistake and as all the teams around that position in the league know (including us) , it will happen.

Or you can just pop in a worldie, as the ever improving Robert Snodgrass did straight from the kick off. Surely that completes his transformation back into a West Ham player. He bent one in that didn’t look anywhere near the goal until the last second . From then on it was all WHU, with Hernandez taking a typical poachers goal to secure the lead. The game was over (nearly) when 2 minutes later Anderson bent in one that was better than Snodgrass’s and almost identical to the one he scored against Burnley.

Last month we met some Italian lads on holiday and they told me Anderson would be long periods of frustration interspersed with genius and the case seems to be in their favour. He cannot tackle despite making the run and taking the position, his passing sometimes is off, but boy can he shoot !

As we approached the end of the game we started to go backwards a bit defending our 2 goal lead. By now, with Grady and Anderson on the pitch we were a little lightweight in the tackling dept, and Palace kept coming, eventually getting their second, and making the last 10 more exciting than it needed to be.

So we go 3 for 3 and 10th in the league with struggling Fulham, Watford, Southampton and Burnley next up. 30 points for the new year would be lovely, but let’s not get too carried away.

Best encouragement for me, and worst for non Hammers, is we have proved we are not a one man show. we have won 2 games now with no Arnie. Perez is not his replacement however, and Carroll looked massively sluggish. But with the midfield chipping in with the goals, it will paper over the cracks. Noble looks like he’s back his own self as well, which is no bad thing.

January is coming and I think if we can pick up a couple of full backs maybe Byram and Masuaku can go. With Arthur it’s a shame, as the talent is there but the mistakes can no longer be ignored.

Once again Rice was awesome and this transfer window does worry me. Don’t forget anyone who is still in Europe can buy him and play him. Leaving the negotiations until the end of the season is madness, but lets hope it works.

MOTM Rice.

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WHUFC vs Burnley 3/11/2018 EPL 2018-2019

November 6, 2018 Leave a comment

IMG_6705Once again a late submission, but times are busy these days.

A game we really needed to win as our opponents are not having the best of seasons and we need to close the gap on the middle tier, as we hit our supposedly easier run of games (including city in the middle), which takes us to December.

Injuries mean Grady held his place on the right (ahead of Antonio) and Obiang came in for suspended Noble.  Anderson also started of Antonio, for reasons best known to the manager. He has had no issues dropping players for poor performances previously, and surely Felipe is in that category.

Anyway we get going and seem to be in no problems , moving the ball around comfortably and they don’t overload the midfield which probably does us a favour.

After 10 mins Marko robbed an outgoing ball from their defence to slot home the first, and to be honest it was going to be a case of how many. But Burnley defended well and in spells had the ball, but didn’t trouble the hammers. Until just before half time when with pretty much their first shot on target they scored.

We retook the lead when Anderson bent one round Joe Hart, only to be pegged back again from a corner (again).

For the last 30 mins we brought on Hernandez and having 2 up top made such a difference. I know I have been banging on about this for some time , but we really need to bite the bullet and just bloody do it. It gives Marko licence to go wide if needed and it was him linking up with Anderson that got our 3rd, sealed with a typical assured finish by Hernandez in injury time to take all the points and cushion the gap to the bottom 3.

So , is the heat off Anderson ? From this house, no it’s not. Still not willing to put in a tackle. He woke up once he realised the competition wasn’t much. We cannot carry flat track bullies, but maybe the 2 up top option will give him more space in front to do his stuff, but the jury is still out.

Balbuena and Diop were fantastic again ,but need more help because letting in 2 goals at home normally means 0 points.

Rice is getting better and better and I imagine that contract is getting more expensive. It also looks like Zaba might be on his way come the end of the season, so Frederick’s needs to up his game if the cup game against Totts reserves was anything to go by.

MOTM Balbuena.

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WHUFC vs Tottenham 20/10/2018 EPL 2018-2019

October 22, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ll be brief as its a late file (not feeling too clever). Lets get to the ending first , the spuds won their cup final, but once again , like Wolves a draw would have been a fair result.

We started Cresswell for Masuaku (required) and Snodgrass came in for the injured Obiang. The bench was attack heavy, so we needed to play well.

We actually did. Just one lack of concentration by Declan Rice just before half time let Lamella in to score the only goal of the game.  Maybe this might bring him on that bit more (as would giving him the contract he wants!).

Cresswell gave us balance at the back, however having Anderson in front of him hindered him somewhat. The fella was useless, like really poor. When you have 3 attempts at a corner and cannot get it over the first man, you really need to take a  look at yourself. Noble used to do this and we took him out of the firing line. But at least Noble would win a tackle and not dally around doing the root of nothing. Once flash goal against Man U doesn’t make a season, and the boss needs to pull this fella in before he really flops at the club. Especially when our U23 player Grady Diangana came on early for the injured Yarmalenko and didn’t look out of place at all. Which doesn’t bode well for  Antonio, who didn’t see game time until well into the second half.

It was nice to see 2 up top with the introduction of Hernandez ion the second half to play alongside Arnie, but it may have been too little too late.

One thing that I did see, which I hope was just the ref having a a bad day at the office, was Harry Kane seemed to get away with murder. Diving,  shoving, fouling, all not penalised. It was like Shearer had never retired.

MOTM by a mile was Diop. He’s forming a great partnership with Balbuena and long may that continue. I just hope that some of these poor results but massive reviews for him, don’t turn his head.

 

WHUFC vs Manchester United EPL 2018-2019 29/09/2018

September 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Free scoring West Ham. Words never said in these pages before. But after 11 in a week and 2 comfortable wins at home in the bag, maybe we have changed into a more attacking force on a permanent basis.

Some may argue that 8-0 against Macclesfield doesn’t count. My argument is that not many pro games between any two teams irrespective of their position end up 8-0 , let alone one where the favourite hands out 3 debuts to u-21 players. Anyway, onto the main game. West Ham Man U games always seem to have something about them, whether its “Hands up if you are out of the FA cup” Fabian Bartez or Sweinstiger throwing people and balls into the goal. And obviously the last ever game at Upton Park. Winston Reid, nuff said.

Confidence was high coming into the game and the visitors seem to be in turmoil. Why I just don’t know. The reason I say I don’t know is that the squad and players available should not be having any issues. Seems to be mainly around Pogba and the lack of decent centre backs. Obviously Jose thought a defensive Pogba would cover the defensive frailties. Pogba and the rest of world seem to think he’s better further up the pitch. But Sky making it headline news with cameras at  Carrington ? Ridiculous. Would Fergie have them there ?

We started out of the blocks quickly and West Ham took the lead after 5 minutes with Anderson giving me a heart mumour, with his cheeky flick around De Gea.

Man U, as well as having an unfamiliar kit (pink ? Ecru? c.WHU 1996 ?) had an unfamiliar style. No swagger, no plan, and seemingly, no care. Is this the new Man U, or are the players staging a rebellion to off the manager ?

To be fair to them, they came back into it, forcing a couple of good saves from Fabianski. But we seem to be back on top by the end of the half, and we rode our luck as a Yarmalenko shot defected against Lindelof for our second. The second half was very much United but we seem to be really happy for them to have the ball, as we were dominating everywhere. Diop threw a tackle in on Lukaku that WHU forums are describing a Moore eske. Noble made Pogba look very poor, and PP ended up being subbed off after 70 mins. Masuaku and Anderson were linking up well on the left, to keep us ticking over. Yarma was subbed off rightly for Snodgrass. And what a sub. That fella was everywhere for the remainder of the game, harrying and breaking up play. Rashford made an impact after coming on and took his goal well.

Normally that would be a sign for WHU to collapse, but the new look hammers don’t do that, and a great pass from Noble sent Arnie through for our 3rd, and more importantly 3 points.

We rounded the game off by bringing on Wednesday’s  2 goal debutante Grady Diangana for a couple of minutes experience.

The stadium was lit, which really makes a change, and we deserved the win despite all the papers today banging on about Man U and their implosions.

MOTM was Noble by a mile. Every time this fella gets written off , he comes back and earns his stripes all over again. Having Rice just behind him, frees him into his best position.

Rice ? Just give him the contract. I understand after the Oxford fiasco, that giving a young lad a few bob can turn his head, but this is different. He now has plenty of games under his belt ,and seems to mature with every game. He also seems to be a magnet for the ball by his positioning and that is rare. If this drags out to January, we will lose him, plain and simple.

Its very interesting how MP has upgraded the team. Fabianski is a massive upgrade on the popular Adrian. Diop and Balbuena are streets ahead of Ogbonna plus 1. I think there will be a clear out in Jan ,and I see Antonio being near that door as well. He just doesn’t look right in the team any more. What’s really interesting is that all of those players were nailed on starters when fit last year, and not players I thought would be fringe this year.

Long may it continue. Phone was flat yesterday so pictures are courtesy of the Evening Standard.

 

WHUFC vs Wolverhampton Wanderers 01/09/2018 EPL 2018-2019

September 2, 2018 Leave a comment

With zero points from 3, we move onto a game which may have been more suited to our league position against a team enjoying their first run in the prem since the 2011-2012. Holding onto their Championship talisman Neves ,they have also signed West Ham target Dendoncker and Adama Traore from Boro.

West Ham this week enjoyed their first win of the season beating Wimbledon away in the League cup. Hopefully this gave the team some confidence moving into a game, while not a must win would be a big confident boost ahead of the international break. Of out 2 current mysterious injuries, Marko made the squad while Noble made the bench. What was interesting was Ogbonna was bombed out completely, and the centre back pairing consisted of Balbuena and League Cup scorer Diop.

So we start for the first time this season with one up top. Presumably to counter the fast midfield of the opposition. Should we be doing this at home ? No, is my opinion as we should use the OS to our advantage. This was borne out as even though WHU had the early advantage , Marko was on his own, against 3 defenders, and looked lost and almost disinterested. Snodgrass and Antonio were not as effective as they should be , but at least Snodgrass made an effort. That may be because Antonio started on the left. This is now 3 consecutive managers who are just trying to squeeze him in. He needs to either start on the right or not at all. Anderson seems to be a luxury we could do without right now despite him nearly opening the scoring early on. I don’t think he went past a player at any time in the game. Jack Wilshere was quite industrious in the middle. But with nothing going forward and when it did going nowhere, it was all huff and puff. Wolves were very tidy, and took advantage when they could and finished off the half on top.

Having seen Yarmolenko in mid week, my opinion was he needed to be on, and at the half time break he was duly introduced and made an effect almost immediately on the right and by playing further up the pitch. Anderson was still poor, but after 20 minutes Jack (who was starting to pull strings) was subbed for Obiang. Watching the body language suggests this was planned from the beginning. Once again I disagree. And I would have been wrong, as Obiang did liven things up and we seemed to have more connection with the front line. Hernandez was introduced maybe 10 minutes too late (75) and although he did link it up we still didn’t get any clear cut chances.

Our guests however, were getting better as the half went on (as per the first half – not sure if this is their “thing”) and the introduction of Traore gave some pace to attack our relatively solid centre back pairing. As the whole ground was getting ready to leave after a 6/10 0-0, Traore struck well from distance and beat Fabianski to nail us the bottom of the league and 0 points from 4 (last time this happened we went down).

A draw was the right result, but as in the Allardyce years , we have to play for the whole game and keep our concentration to keep this things more predictable.

Back to Wolves, fair play to them and big shout to their fans, who made themselves known the whole time. And had a big ole tifo flag, not seen in the away end since Juventus in 2016.

So what does Pellegrini do ? 2 up top is essential. Also, we have to be careful not to become the Marko show. I think making him the main man , is not good for him personality wise. Also, when him and Hernandez are on, surely Chicarito should be on the last man and not Marko. Once has played 3 World Cups and been a successful striker all his career, and the other, while good, has played up top for 1/2 a season. Marko also has the physical presence to win the balls and make the passes. Our midfield needs to be more consistent. Anderson left, Yarmo right, and Jack and Obiang in the middle. There, I’ve done it , I’ve dropped Noble. Only for a few weeks but he needs to see how he fits in this team, with the likes of Rice around as well. Diop seemed to play well yesterday which could be bad news for Ogbonna, as Balbuena was my MOTM.

No one is happy , and Everton away next. But if we play well, we stay up. Carry on chopping and changing and we get to have the most expensive team and stadium in the Championship, without the fighters required to get out of it.

Celtic Manor Golf Centre July 2018

July 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Another in the large series of golf course reviews I have done (2).

Not so long ago I was very lucky to be invited to a Golf Society weekend at Celtic Manor Golf Course, Wales. The main course (the 2010) is quite famous having been the venue for the 2010  Ryder Cup, won by Europe (Here) .

On day one we played the Montgomerie Course, named after the designer and Captain of the 2010 Europe squad, Colin Montgomerie. This was a bit of slog in near 30 degree heat, as I didn’t have a buggy. That said with wide fairways in places, and no buggys allowed off the side paths, it was a bit of a pain for some of the buggied players as well, as they were constantly carting 2 or sometimes 3 clubs off with them every time they left their carts. The real killer was between the holes , there are some long walks, which do take their toll lugging a full bag and trolley. I would advise a buggy !

Anyway, A really nice course, with some challenging dips and climbs as it navigates its way around the 2010 course in places. There is an amazing view of the 2010 from the walk through from 3 to 4 ( i think, but could be wrong) which I neglected to take a picture of , so you will have to take my word for it. With the layout, there are some humps with then huge fairways going downhill behind which would really favour the long driver. I played pretty poorly and couldn’t get a run going at all, to the extent that I don’t think I played 2 consecutive decent shots all day. But fun in the sun anyways.

That evening we stayed on site, and enjoyed being ferried about by the on site coaches to our meal at the Rib Smokehouse and Grill and then back to the Manor house for post meal drinks.

Sunday was the main event on the 2010 course, and as we had left our golf bags at the previous course, all we had to do was rock up on the bus to the clubhouse of the 2010, where everything was waiting for us. The locker room was many time the size of my house, and I was given Darren Clarke’s locker to use!

We were then all asked our initials (odd) and then ferried off to be reunited with our clubs at the driving range. After smashing a few balls around, we loaded up the buggies, got a team photo done at the Ryder cup hoarding at the 1st and got underway.

This felt a whole better round to be to begin with, or maybe I hadn’t had as much to drink as everyone else the night before. Driving was straight, and chipping was solid if not spectacular. My new one handed putting technique was paying dividends (more on that later).

As we made our way around you could tell this was purposely built for The Ryder Cup. Decent gaps between fairways, and quite tricky meant , each hole had its own character. Some were linksy (1st). Some were straight out of the American Songbook (18th) . The back nine let me down somewhat meaning although a better score than the previous day, still nothing to be excited about. However that was more than made up by the whole experience, over the entire weekend.

Remember the being asked for initials earlier on ? Well, while you are going around, they make you up a metal keepsake to hang on your bag, with , da daaaa your initials on it.

It also turns out my new putting stroke is illegal, so back to the practice ground for me…..

The hotel was great, the foot was great, the weather was amazing, just need to improve on the golf but don’t we all.

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WHUFC vs Everton 15/05/2018 EPL 2018-2019

May 13, 2018 Leave a comment

IMG_4778

Don’t see this often

The season finished off on a bit of a high today as West Ham pulled apart an on the beach Everton in the last game of the season.

To be fair , it was easily the best performance I have seen us put out all season including beating Southampton 3-0 a few weeks a go.  Noble commanded the midfield, Arnie was on point and linked up well with Mario. Lanzini had his usual poor start, but grew into the game and rounded off the first half with a tidy finish from an Arnie and Mario assist.

Everton didn’t really bring anything to the party. Davies put a shift in in the 2nd half and Baines seemed reasonably interested.

Arnie smashed in a second, which actually looked better because Pickford almost avoided it. Bodes well for the WC next month ! Everton got back in through a very Sam like goalmouth scramble, and then up popped Lanzini to leather in the WHU 3rd to seal the points and 13th in the league.

Of more interest was the interviews afterwards, as both managers have no idea what they are doing next season. Moyes tried to put a shine on by suggesting that with players coming back in and the last week’s performances that there is something to build on and he could be the architect. But level that against his pre Man U interview where he defended his top 8 + finishes and asked if the club could match his ambition. He also mentioned that the Burnley game was the turnaround for the season. In a nutshell he has the measure of the owners and they will have to buy big in the summer if he is to stay.

Sam started waffling about with no smoke without fire when asked if he was out. The Everton fans were not backward pointing out their opinion on their manager. Everton have more choice than us in the market and hopefully will see sense and bin the sanctimonious idiot. Mr 11/10 indeed.

Weird stuff in the ground today, loads of wall hung big WHU panels have gone up. I assume just in time for them all to come down over the close season, when the stadium owners have The Stones, The Foo fighters, Beyonce and Athletics in town.

Also the little temporary bars in the lower tier disappeared, which although a cost saving will be a pain the arse next season.

Special shout out to Ginge today who probably made his last appearance in our claret and blue.  A quiet legend at West Ham over his two spells at the club, lets never forget his pointing at the board at the end of a game just before Xmas suggesting they don’t want to spend money.  Also spending the last 2 away games in with the fans, and taking his kids with him. Top fella and there will also ever only be One Ginger Pele. One more season would be great but if he is off, then fair play and good luck to you big fella.

MOTM Lanzini