So another interesting day of growing pains in the OS yesterday tapped off with a poor performance.
Payet was back, and Antonio was placed back in his rightful position in midfield. Zaza started up top, and with the exception of Byram being played in front of Arbeloa we probably had our strongest team in my opinion. That opinion has now changed, but lets get onto that later.
WHU started the game on fire and were pressing like crazy and Zaza seems a good addition to the squad, getting about their back 4, and he’s not scared to put a foot in. Goal machine Antonio scored another header from a Payet corner after 5 minutes and WHU didn’t let up. Lanzini tried to score a Rabona, Zaza went close. Watford were not in this at all and by the time Antonio doubled his tally after another audacious cross from Payet, they really looked buried.
Then we started to show boat. Actually we were trying to take the piss, and it was quite disrepectful. Then, Ighalo twisted a couple of times in the box, wasn’t closed down, and Adrian was beaten on his near post. A poor goal to let in at any standard. This should have woke West Ham up to the fact that there was more than one team involved in the game. But no, 4 minutes later Collins jogged back , when Deeney was bearing down on him, let him in, and Deeney took his goal well to level the game 2-2 at half time.
The conversations in the dressing rooms, I imagine, were completely different. Slaven would of been bawling out the team for their complete lack of effort closing out the half, and telling them they better buck themselves up. Watford’s Manager , would have been telling them, that if they keep prodding West Ham would fall apart. Looks like Mazzarri was correct, as WHU capitulated and by 63 minutes were 2-4 down. Disgraceful. Obviously the fans turned on the players, and you know what, they deserved it.
Bilic now has to look at taking Collins and Adrian out for Ogbonna and Randolph. I was surprised Darren re-signed as a no 2, after his great showing at the Euros, but maybe Slaven saw this coming, and words had been had with his team. The arguing amongst the defence, and the disorganisation must be worrying for Slaven, who ruled his own back lines with authority. Reid needs to take more control, and maybe the selling of Tompkins was too rash.
Anyway, all the headlines that should of gone Watford’s way were overshadowed, once again, by other events in the stadium. Here’s my take.
Stewarding is shocking. These people are not connected to the club, and have no feeling for the club, and are not employed by the club. They are also in the main, kids, who have no authority at all trying to ask / tell people to move, sit down etc. Also, celebrating the opposition’s goals is not normally acceptable behaviour. There was some kerfuffle down in the South East corner which ended in some ejections apparently, but once again it looked nothing to me. The standing thing has been dealt with, people have their letters from the club, so they know the score and the penalties. However there is a fine line to be trod, as there is in every premier league ground, where blind eyes are given to certain areas of the ground. This is not an assumption, this is a fact. These lines are to be trod with experienced stewarding (like the lot we laid off from Upton Park), not a bunch of kids supplementing their student incomes with a min wage wander about the Olympic Stadium for 4 or so hours every second Saturday. I saw a tweet from @missymissyj yesterday that summed it up .She is an Ex Chief Steward from UP now working at the OS. She, on her own had to go in and sort out issues, with no back up as the kids don’t want to know. She is thinking of jacking it in, after 3 proper home games ! The GLA or LS185, or whoever runs the stewarding needs to take a long look at how this is going to work.
Seating. West Ham have never had a “neutral” area like Fulham, and opposition fans were always separated properly and I cannot remember the last time i saw a fight inside Upton Park. Yesterday, the top tier for away fans was opened for the first time. Right next door to the home fans with zero segregation. And zero police, and zero visible stewards. With the swings on the pitch I imagine contributing somewhat, it went off in the second half, and then some police turned up because, and i kid you not, the “stewards” were filming the trouble, probably to show their mates at school on Monday. Maybe some planning might be required before the visits of our friends from Tottenham and Chelsea.
Daytrippers. So probably a contentious subject, as I don’t like to play the hard core fan, who will not accept any new blood. BUT, when I hear people behind me shouting at Payet, telling him he has done nothing all game (2 assists in the first half hour), you do have to ask. Also people leaving with half an hour to go when the score hit 2-4. And I mean thousands of people. Now I get that the availability of more tickets and cheaper access will bring in more casual fans, and it makes the club dough. But some of these people really are beyond the pale. Maybe some more strongly worded letters from the board will help with this as well! Or maybe they were leaving as the near toxic atmosphere that was blowing in with our friends “the stewards” was affecting their enjoyment. Who knows, but all I can say trippers, is get used to it, because we normally take 2 or 3 of these beatings a season.
MOTM Antonio reinforcing his selection on the National Squad.