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.
West Ham have never won their first three games in the Premier League but with 2 down and a 0 point Palace rolling into town, things were looking good for another small piece of history this weekend. Not to mention the chance to remain top of the league through the International break.
Getting into the ground was considerably easier this time around, but getting there 90 minutes before kick off helps !
Welcome home. well I don’t know about home but definitely welcome back. 18 odd months since my last attendance at a live football match, Monday evening was a time to see if it was all worth it. It also means these missives should be more regular. Hard to report on something that you watched on the TV.
I’ll be honest, after nearly 35 years of continuous attendance, a season off actually worked well for me, and it was good to do other things at the weekends. Like watch West Ham on the telly !
So last season was beyond all expectation and with little or no change to the team we started this year beating a team that beat us twice last year, and winning away, and winning our first game of the season for a few years.
However, our opponents today had beaten Man City in the FA Cup final, and the Charity Shield and just missed out on top four (as did we, grrrr) . But in our favour was the fact that last time we played them we, destroyed them at their own ground.
Getting in was an absolute shambles, one it appears shared by a few other clubs this season. We have moved to digital tickets. Taking away the accessibility issue of this, that should not be too difficult a transition, with options to print, etc. But also asking people who are not qualified to verify COVID staus was always going to be ridiculous. What if I show them someone else’s status, or show them mine in my digital wallet, but the date validation data has past. Are they really going to spend all that time with each supporter, while queues were getting somewhat silly . I queued nearly 30 minutes to get in. Due to it being the first game, most people were OK with this. I imagine in December with some rain flying about, this will not be sustainable in any way. I understand Spurs have already announced “random” checks to speed this up. Not to mention that this was to “keep us safe”. I can honestly say that since March 2020, that was the tightest crowd of non masked individuals I had spent my time with . Sort of defeats the point.
Also there is a safety issue. The queues were out to the edge of the concourse all round the ground , meaning you had to push through other queues to get to your own. With people waiting up to 40 minutes to get in they were getting concerned about other people pushing in and there we have the issue. Tempers can flare easily in these situations, and I think being the first game, probably kept a lid on this. Once again, a league cup game in late October may have a different outcome.
The game itself was different entirely. We dominated from start to finish, and the score reflected that. Yes they had someone sent off (VAR actually being used properly, eg for catching a clear and obvious refereeing error), but in reality we were by far the better team.
The atmosphere was almost Upton Park ish, but maybe that’s what happens when you haven’t been to a game for 18 months ! Even the stadium announcer got in on the act singing the Antonio song, when he broke Di Canio’s record for most Premier League goals. That said, I would still prefer a real striker, who can complement our fantastic attacking force. One injury blows that all up, and backup is essential.
If we manage to secure a striker, Lingard and Zouma before the 1st Sept, I will be a happy boy, but we know how that goes over here. The board over promise and deliver nothing. We are still crowing about signing Dawson as a new signing, despite him being on loan all last season.
Palace up next and we should remain top of the pile going into the break. No complaints with that.
MOTM: Fornals. The fella just holds everything together and has been rewarded by getting called up for Spain in the upcoming break. Well played Senor.
We came into this hoping to extend our much needed unbeaten run to 3 games and possibly secure our premier league status with a win, if other results go the right way. Everton are chasing down Man U for a place in Europe, so we have a game both sides need to win.
After last weeks amazing result against Chelsea, my return to the Boleyn after missing a couple of games, was full of promise. I was under the assumption that bearing in mind the form Liverpool found themselves in, we should be more than favourite to take all 3 points and cement our position in the top half of the table.
I should counter this with my record, which is following me into this season,of missing all the good games and witnessing the throwaways and boring old nil nils in the cold.
The cold was in attendance and the first 10 mins followed suit with Liverpool dominating the early exchanges. Hammers old boy Glen Johnson seemed to have a free reign down the Liverpool right. He capitalised on this in the 11th minute with an absolute cracker of a shot into the top corner to put the Scousers in the lead. A bit like last week against Chelsea, this seemed to wake West Ham up and the midfield of Nolan, Noble and Diame started to carve apart Gerrard, Lucas, and Allen. Diame again was dynamic in his running.
Demel seemed to be getting the better of Liverpool on the right and in an uncharacteristically forward move, had a shot hit Allen on the arm and WHU got a penalty. Noble stepped up and put it Reinas right to equalise. Then WHU really piled on the pressure and were rewarded (!), when Sir Steven Gerrard of Huyton headed a WHU corner into his own net, like Shearer in his pomp.
To be up at the break was probably a fair score even if the goals were from strange sources.
WHU started the second half with Demel off for McCartney, presumably to counter Johnson. This seemed to change nothing, as WHU were easily on top in the early exchanges. Carlton Cole was playing a blinder, accepting passes from everywhere and bringing people into play. Maybe all that time on the bench, has made him study the best parts of Carroll’s game.
With about 20 mins to go, disaster struck. Diame pulled up on another rampage down the right. His substitution was always going to affect WHU, but it also seemed to provide impetus to Liverpool, as the main WHU threat / blocker was leaving the field. Within 3 minutes Joe Cole (ex Hammer) pounced on a ball from Sterling to pull the Pool level.
They then pushed on and got the job done, as Shelvey and Collins got stuck in, and the ball came off Collins to make it 3-2 Liverpool. Turns out Shelvey was a WHU schoolboy as well. Great.
That was that.
Whether they deserved the win or not, I’m probably not the best to comment, but my opinion is no. They were all over the place at times, but fairs fair, they smelt blood and went for it.
So Diame then. Talk about the club shooting itself in the foot. He has a good game that makes the headlines (Chelsea), and all of a sudden our best secret is leaving for Liverpool, Newcastle or Arsenal. And the club are the only ones discussing it. Surely a simple no, would be better than bandying around contract details. This all might be mute though, as he might be out for 12 weeks , easily seeing out the transfer window (thanks to T-C for my ricket regarding the ACN). Apparently he came to WHU for the contract, so up it and get a resign, simples. Irrespective of Diame leaving we need more midfielders in Jan, as Tomkins cannot keep filling in, in this league.
In other news, another WHU old boy was in the headlines, as Rio got coined in the Manchester derby. Bearing in mind how slow he moves these days, you could of hit him with a fiver from 30 yards !
Todays MOTM, purely for taking his chance back in the first team, and having about the best game i’ve seen him have in over a year, was the cult hero of Upton Park, Carlton Cole. Talk about a confidence player, 2 weeks ago I wanted him out of East London ! Fickle football fan, me ?
PS We also this week, won some Olympic thing or other. More news on that in about 5 or 10 years when all the legal wranglings stop !
Normally on here i wouldn’t be getting het up on non WHUFC football stuff, but after watching Ashley Young secure a championship for Manchester United, with his second dive in a week, i felt compelled to comment.
I remember football on muddy pitches and when men were men and all that. Would i like to regress to overly tough football? No!. The skill level and speed and all round facilities are light years away from the 70/80’s, and this has be applauded (and paid for !).
But the histrionics that come with the modern game are outrageous. Some years ago (over 20) Jurgen Klinsmann came over to Tottenham from Europe, as one of the greatest strikers in the world. After one season he was tagged as a diver, by a confirmed parochial English press, due to his tenancy to drop to the ground within 2 yards of any opponent. In England this was not acceptable, and known as a “foreign disease” (Bear in mind the “English Disease” at the time was running around Europe fighting with Police and opposition fans”) . This was the first wave of europeans to enter the premier league, and the things they brought with them was not well received. Diving, ref intimidation, pasta, and extra training.
The years that passed brought more players from foreign shores and made the premier league the best in the world. However, the more diluted it became the more diving became fashionable. From Ronaldo to Di Canio (there i said it), and inbetween, people were dropping like flies. Top flight English players of the like of Owen were happy to go down, and in Owen’s case defend it, and said they would be happy to do it at England level, as well. It was now accepted practice, along with foul throws and shirt pulling.
Now i would estimate about 70% of the premier league are happy to dive, and it is a regular talking point every week. This has to stop, and the only way it can is to punish immediately. Bring in the video evidence for the fourth official. The time it takes to blow up and get people organised is longer than the time taken to review 3 angles of the same incident. If you are guilty you get a yellow. 3 times in 10 for diving / simulation you get a 3 match ban. That will stop it immediately. Remember the elbow business. They mad e raised elbows a sending off offence and after about a month of chais it was eradicated. Well here there will be no chaos, as cheats should be sent off.
While we are blaming Ashley Young, remember he has no personal knowledge of football without simulation, for him it has always been there, and at that level it is accepted practice. He is not the only one , but he is the current poster boy for cheating.
It doesn’t happen on a Sunday morning on Hackney Marshes and it shouldn’t happen on a sky game. One reason it doesn’t happen on in the amateur game, is that the lad would rather run past or around the defender and try and score, therefore taking the chance for some glory. Professional sport is all about winning (rightly) and less these days about real sportmanship (wrongly).
As i watch this game Ashley Young has been subbed off, i assume to hope we forget the incident prior to Fergie’s interview ! I really wonder what Paul Scholes will say to him back in the dressing room ! I imagine nothing, as United won, but I can hope.