If this was a movie it would be binned at submission for being too far fetched.
We have the return of the once great one to save the day again. We also have hero returning to the site of his recent exploits to see if he can repeat the formula from the dark side. And we have the introduction of a former hero, now into his dotage, to see if he can just one more time recreate the magic that made him famous throughout the land.
Here we are again, nearly 2 years to the day since i wrote this . And we find ourselves back in the same boat, calling the same batphone. But we also find ourselves in a better cabin on that boat.
Slaven went as he tried to work with players Sullivan bought, who were clearly not good enough. Pelle went as he made good signings , based on recommendations from his team, but couldn’t get them into a formation suited to their skillsets. Which for someone with his experience, is odd and backs up the Man City fan opinion regarding stubborness and unwillingness to change.
So once again, in comes David Moyes, And once again the team he has inherited is way better than he maybe expected. Subtle tweaks here and there are already producing results.
I have been saying for ever we need to get two up top (since Allardyce) and DM has moved Anderson into the space behind Haller to great effect. We seem to to have changed to a back 3 with pushing full backs, which definitely plays to the strengths of Fred and Arthur. However this may be curtailed with the injury to Fred during the Gillingham game. I cannot see Zaba charging up and down against Sheffield United this Friday.
Despite me doubting him massively when he signed , DM needs to find a space for Fornals. His recent performances, cannot be dismissed, and he could be Pelle’s last present to the faithful. Either Snodgrass or Lanzini needs to make way. Snods would be the easiest, however Lanzini doesn’t appear to be at it at all. His Instagram shows him in London very rarely and maybe January would be a good time to move him on for a few quid for someone who needs a playmaker.
Which brings us to the one remaining puzzle. Defensive midfield. Pushing Noble further up the pitch is always good for him (this has also been discussed by me ad infinitum). But 5 at the back and 3 towards the front (Anderson, Haller, Lanzini) leaves 2 . With Noble pushing towards Lanzini, leaves Rice in that hole. Are we good enough for one holding midfielder ? 3 center backs suggests we are . What we cannot do however is this insane substitution of subbing Noble for Sanchez. Sanchez is not equipped to play up the pitch, so invariably plays further back, which when we are chasing is counter productive and brings teams on.
DM will (and has already) upped the tempo of play. He has also dealt with the Haller issue (for now. Against better opposition we may see a switch back). He seems to have brought Diop back in from the cold, and put Noble in his natural position. So far so good.
The real test will be Friday against Sheff Utd. A team on the up, and a team that will fancy their chances against us (home or away). Another clean sheet will be a result for us. Draw or win , I’ll be happy with.
Personally I thought Moyes should have had the job longer term than he was last time. He has enough experience and is young enough to still be hungry. Lets get behind him and see this season out, and hope this time he sticks around !
Before we finish, can we just take some time to digest that Mark Noble is currently the Premier Leagues highest scoring player this decade !
Before someone tells me I only write about wins, I have only made one of our two previous home games this season and that was the predictable white wash by City on the opening day, and there was literally nothing to write about.
I arrived at this game quietly confident (and had been for a couple of weeks). We have been not only playing well but seem to be settled in our style and cadence. This hasn’t been seen for some time. Man U on the other hand seem to be struggling with team selection and a (for them) poor transfer window. This also hasn’t been seen for a while.
I watched Man U in their Thursday night European game and thought they huffed and puffed, but in Greenwood they had a player, who could get in amongst our defence.
Talking of which, the preferred line up seems to be Ogbonna and Diop in the centre back berths. I have warmed back to Ogbonna since his most recent run in the team. He has stopped the silly mistakes and seems confident to be the leader over Diop, whereas with Reid or Collins he wouldn’t despite being the better player. There were some interesting words being said about Balbuena by MP, so lets trust the manager on that one. And 5 games unbeaten suggests he is right.
There were 2 enforced changes this week, Cresswell coming in for Masuaku at left back and Fornals getting the nod over Wilshere for the Lanzini position. Fornals, sort of yes. Cresswell however seem to split the support, who were vocal in their support for either Zaba or Johnson, both right backs.
Longer readers will remember my obsession with round pegs in round holes, so I was happy with the selection. I don’t get the stick Cress gets although I admit he was a better player pre injury. We are not enamoured with high quality left backs !
Our visitors decided not to play Greenwood, which suited me and with no Pogba, and the aging Mata and Matic playing, seemed quiet understrength.
The first half was a pretty dull affair up until just before half time, a Noble – Anderson interchange ended up with the ball at Yarmalenko’s feet, and he duly slotted it away.
I did have a lot of words to follow that wordpress dained not to save, so I’ll be brief.
Second half, West Ham were the better team by far, especially after Rashford left the field with an injury. Cresswell topped off a good game on this comeback by raising the spirit of Dimitri Payet to drill in a free kick late on in the half.
Nearly everyone played well, Noble was outstanding. Fornals, not so. He needs to rise to the pace of the game. I was very surprised to see Anderson and not Fornals being replaced by Wilshere. But I suppose MP thought the game was won and he needed the gametime. MOTM was Ogbonna, commanding at the back and looking like a leader.
The press have gone to town on Man Utd with no praise for us, as usual. We are now back to back winners against Man U in the league at home. Yesterday was plainly a good team performance against a not so good one, but this time I dont feel it was a bad day at the office for our visitors. It’s more endemic and could be the new standard unless things change quickly. There is a malaise in Manchester , which I think was displayed by the subplot of Phil Jones and Ed Woodward. Why Greenwood never got a chance I don’t know.
Apparently Sky was full of Roy Keane trapping off. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
On the way I met a group of lost early 20’s Man U fans, and each one shook my hand, so at least real fans got it. These are lads who have only known success, so fair play. Also had my photo taken by a crazy Ukranian who was shouting about Yarmalenko.
Oxford and Bournemouth up next. Both away. Would be nice to get an unbeaten September in.
Very late as is becoming the norm, and I know I’ve missed a couple of games, but Fulham at home was just that. Fulham at home. Despite their early lead, as soon as it went to 1-1 they really didn’t want to know. Since then their manager has been sacked and former hammers favourite Scott Parker has been installed, so good luck to him , he will need it.
Newcastle arrived on a decent run and were likely to be a better test than when we beat them at their place earlier in the season.
Actually, stuff that. The Geordies were also devoid of ideas and even their fans were (for them) a little quiet. Today was all about a real club legend. Billy Bonds. Six foot two, eyes of blue and all that.
The stand I usually sit in was being renamed after him, and he now sits alongside Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking in getting this honour. This led to Gary Lineker winding up twitter suggesting the remaining stand was becoming the Mark Noble Stand. Although a little premature I think that would be better than what it probably will be. The Lycamobile stand ? The Betway ? The Kens Cafe ?
Anyway I say the stand I usually sit in, as for the first time since we moved I sat elsewhere for the game. In the prawn sandwich seats no less. Not quite a box, but very corporate. We (me and @mrsmackay) were kindly hosted by a supplier of hers to enjoy the game in a different atmosphere. This involved getting there considerably early and me seeing the “dark side” of the stadium I have never been around to that side, not even for other events.
Its very much what you would expect if you have been in the Club England section at Wembley. Lots of escalators and people knowing where they are going (except for you). We ended up in a lounge called the Forge for our lunch. Whilst munching, we enjoyed an interview, on a stage about 10ft away, about Mr Bonds, from some ex players. Namely, Alvin Martin, Ray Stewart, Stuart Slater, Pat Holland and Kenny Brown (jnr). Being the game was against Newcastle, Alvin was given the liberty of retelling his historic hatrick against the magpies (again!).
Food was 7/10. Entertainment was 8/10. Half time was interesting , listening to a guy on an acoustic guitar, playing Jump Around by House of Pain. Different, but he just about got away with it. Service was as you would expect, polite.
Anyway we filtered out early , as Bonzo was getting his presentation 20 mins before kick off. We were greeted by a great sight.
Billy was led out though an honour guard of ex players
And then was interviewed by Alvin Martin
And then cut his ribbon, to open the stand. During his lap of honour there was not a dry eye in the house, especially from the man himself. as he made his way around the stadium a tribute played on the screens.
Then there was the little matter of the game. Mark Noble is the closest we have to a Billy these days, and we are all hoping that the mantle will be taken up by Declan Rice in the future. He did himself no harm by netting a header after 7 minutes, much to the consternation of @mrsmackay who wanted a bet on him to score the first goal only to be dissuaded by yours truly! From then on there was only one winner and a mistimed tackle on Hernandez gave us a pen just before half time. Ably converted by Mr Noble. The second half was only notable for me for 2 reasons. One, Longstaff at Newcastle is being touted as better than Rice, and was hooked at half time while Declan was picking up another MOTM and more plaudits. Secondly, and more interesting was Marko entering the fray (mystery illness from Wednesday cleared up). Clearly not happy at being a sub and not the darling of the fans anymore, outside of 2 runs it was Marko pre Moyes of sulking and and waving arms. He needs to sort himself out or the manager has no option but to start him from the bench every game, which actually is doing peak Marko a disservice and could actually cost us points along the way.
So, another good day at a stadium that is slowly (very slowly) becoming home. Not sure if I could do corporate every game but it has its advantages.
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.
I’ll just pop this in the corner off my wrong foot.
It’s not there Dave ?
If you get away quick Paul, Noble wont follow you all the way home as well.
And so the season winds its way to its sorry end with our premiership status once again secured due to the inadequacy of others and self harm. OK, that’s the fun stuff out of the way!
This game is usually a decent affair but the scoreline of 0-0 tells you everything. Neither keeper was massively troubled (although there was a good double save from Adrian in the first half) , and both teams were happy to play it out and see how they got on.
Although near the end things got very tasty when Pogba got some afters on Carroll that went unpunished so he thought it would fun to do the same thing to Noble about 2 minutes later. This didn’t go down so well, and at one point Noble had him by the neck, which is no mean feat as Pogba is about a foot taller.
Yellow cards all round and the game ends in hugs all round. That’ s about it. One point off the magical 40 with Everton to come in a guaranteed Big Sam bore fest.
In other news, I have a new job, which in itself is not that amazing. However I do have this view on my journey to work every day now.
3 games since David Moyes took over and the shoots of recovery were there to see against Man City last week. But we lost and still found ourselves adrift at the wrong end of the table. This game is usually tough, but maybe we could just improve again and realise the potential in the team.
First post of the season and there has been a reason. I wanted to get a tell for the team this year, before I committed anything to record.
We didn’t finish fantastic last year and this year has been more of the same. Two 3 2 losses mask the fact that we were at least 2-0 down in both. A hiding off of Man U can be washed away by the fact they seem to be scoring for fun against everyone.
But in reality we are possibly 2points off where I expected us to be. So not so bad ? Wrong.
First off, I know its been a while. Work and other things have been taking up most of my time and I just haven’t had the opportunity to put fingers to keyboard. Even my twitter posting is down 61% for April (@mrben09) .
Anyway yesterday was a beautiful day, and we welcomed Swansea to Corp HQ. The Swans are usually 3 points for us, but currently we are slipping down the table like a drunk octopus and although Swansea let go a winning position late on Wednesday night, generally Paul Clement seems to have turned the corner for them.
Could it get any worse? The recent few games have been a wake up call for all WHU fans, that with a big ground and a big pitch comes big responsibility.
With that in mind Slaven made some further changes, bringing in Obiang for Lanzini, and pushing Ogbonna out to left back, for another centre back change with Reid and Collins making up the back four with Byram. Personally I would have played Arbeloa and got my wish in unfortunate circumstances as Byram was stretchered off just 7 minutes in, with I think a thigh knock.
Noble was pushed further forward to help the front man, who seemed to be Antonio or Tore. Basically we had no front man. I’ll assume Slaven wanted a point first, but it did look odd. We were getting most of the ball, but finding it difficult to break through. Adrian didn’t have a lot to do, but neither did Valdes in the opposition goal. WHU shaded the first half, but we went in 0-0.
We needed to change up top, and Slaven took off the ineffectual Tore in favour of Zaza. Tore was terrible if I’m honest, and needs to be benched if this is his best. Zaza isn’t much better, and it’s a bit worrying that if he plays 15 games we have to buy him for 20mn. Hopefully Andy Carroll and Ayew are close to returning.
But it did give us balance to attack, and once again we had most of the ball. On 51 however, Boro had a corner and Stuani got a header at goal, which appeared to bounce off of Noble, who was on the line, but the referee and his technology ruled it over the line, and normal service at the OS had been resumed !!
But for once, we didn’t have to wait long for a response, as Payet took the by the scruff of the neck and ran through Boro’s defence to score a Goal of the Season contender and make it 1-1. Cue jubilant scenes in the OS, and atmosphere breaking out abounds.
Then Noble made way for Lanzini and it looked game on, but once again Zaza got no service and those balls that did come his way, didn’t really inspire confidence in my opion of the Italian.
So we put the run of losses to the sword, at the expense of another injured full back. Did we play well, no, but we also didn’t let in another torrent of goals. We probably actually looked better to the observer than we the fans thought we did. Every time Boro made one of their quick attacks the fans started to panic , as we seem to slip goals like a poor project manager recently.
The fans, as they were against Southampton, today were largely well behaved. The standing nonsense seems to be sorted for now. Whether the club has accommodated the move requests or not, there seemed to be no outbreaks of bother, and some areas seemed to be standing and other were seated, all with no issues. One of the standing areas seems to be to my left in the lower tier. and we got 2 new songs. “Stratford’s a shit hole, I want to go home”, and “Can we go back to Upton Park”
My new neighbour was OK today as well. So all good.
Payet will get all the headlines, but Reid and Collins were way more solid than recently today, and everyone else did their jobs, with the exception of Kouyate, who seemed very quiet. Hopefully Obiang will get a run in the team now, even if its in the space of (whisper it ) Mark Noble.
oh, there was one more talking point. Antonio had a shot from miles out near the end, the spooned off nowhere near the goal. The crowd reacted , as they do, with a collective “why do that?” moan, and Arbeloa started clapping the crowd for making that noise. And it didn’t look sarcastic either, more a “I agree with you, what the hell is he doing ?” Interesting……