Match reports have been few and far between this season as to be fair there hasn’t been a lot to report. Injuries , poor placement of players into positions, and non form of key individuals meant things have not been too great.
This report will not really add to this. We played a sub par Southampton team, but we had all our players in the right places, and Bowen got his long awaiting start, and we just tore them apart.
Haller proved the doubters wrong. Completely different player with others around him.
Today was mainly around the other big WHU event of the day. The supporters “stroll”. Basically this was a marched protest from about 1.5 miles outside the stadium ,picking up more and more people as we traveled in. Alone it proved nothing, but maybe it does give cause for concern with the owners that its not 200 “Old men”. There were women and kids and a few old men, who united in the cause that the lies are enough and we need to move forward.
This is where the issue is for me. The cause seems to be to get them out, fair enough. But we need the alternative, and that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. There are rumours of American Billionaires and Red Bull, but that’s all they are. Best we can get is a climb down and engagement as we continue the relationship.
But lets keep the pressure on. They have already shut down their undemocratic “Supporters Board”. They have suggested holding elections for supporter positions. They will bend over backwards for this to go away, and we need to be constructive with how we use that leverage. First up for me , is let’s test the mettle of the stadium operators and put in a bid. They are losing money hand over fist, and I imagine will take a lowball bid. Once we have control of the stadium, move all athletics duties to Birmingham post 2022. The anniversary games is not a sell out anymore and must cost money to put on.
Once that’s out of the way, we can dig down and reseat the lower tiers into being next to the pitch, a la the Etihad. Yes we may be out of the ground for a year or 2, but it’s not such a big deal ,when we don’t feel we have played at home since 2015 !
So that’s it , the march was good start and hopefully the numbers will get bigger, but we have to have an objective that is achievable else we will be accused of pedaling pipedreams , just like GSB.
I didn’t blog after our killer win against the might of Accrington Stanley (exactly !) on Wednesday because basically it was shit. But Slaven did put out all the new boys, and I thought had worked out that Antonio goes back on the right, Tore goes home and Zaza needs to knuckle down.
So we start today with no Tore or Feghouli, Antonio on the right, and Zaza up top with Payet and Lanzini for company. So far so good. But Arbeloa starts on the left and Nordveit on the right. Excuse me ? Arbeloa has won world cups playing right back, sure if we are going to play a midfielder as a full back, lets make sure the real right back is on the right side.
Anyway, Southampton played everything down their left to get inside of Nordveit, but we seemed to be weathering the attacks and were actually playing well, from a defending standpoint. Attacking was different though, Lanzini was shocking and both Payet and Kouyate looked like they had never met anyone on the team before.
Southampton kept plowing a furrow down their left and got their rewards when Austin broke the deadlock , just before half time.
Slaven tried to ring the changes at half time, swapping Lanzini for Feghouli, but it didn’t work, and in what is now becoming a rather worrying trait we shipped a further 2 goals in the second half to cement our position in the bottom 3.
Now, I’m not pushing the relegation button just yet, but we cannot ship 16 goals in 6 games (more than anyone else) and not be concerned. Reid, believe it or not played well. Slaven has to pick his best back four and get it done. For me, its Reid, Ogbonna, Arbeloa (RB) and for now with Masuaku injured, why not Sam Westley? He’s a defender, plays either side and has a squad number. He’s 22. If he is not good enough bin him.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and I hope the board stick with Slaven, but we don’t have many more games to lose before we lose touch with the rest of the league.
The one thing no one wants to talk about is Mark Noble. He has gone over one summer from someone who should be in the England squad no question, to someone who’s looking lost on the pitch. This needs sorting quickly, either drop him out, or let him play his game further up the pitch, because he slows our game down so much currently, the defending team get to reshape.
First up get well soon Aussie John who didn’t make yesterday’s game, but I will see him later as we are nipping up to the hospital today.
Post our semi dramatic (although not as dramatic as others, LOL) exit from the League Cup, it was back to the Premier League for West Ham, and the visit of Southampton FC.
Southampton had spent most of the summer selling their best assets to Liverpool and Man Utd, and West Ham had been strengthening their squad and continued to do so, with the addition of Alex Song on a season loan from Barcelona being announced just before kick off. So it all looked like a West Ham win.
Great team, great passing, great to watch, big away following, noisy away following, will upset a few big teams, too good to go down, not good enough for Europe. Once upon a time you could guarantee people would be taking about West Ham. These days its more likely that they are talking about Southampton.
Southampton came in good form, as they have held onto all season, but were running into a WHU team who themselves were on a good run. The game started (after the minutes applause for the passing of the legend that was Sir Tom Finney) with Southampton on fire and we were chasing shadows if I’m honest and it was no surprise when they took the lead after 8 minutes. The manner of conceding our first goal in over 4 games was more disappointing. There were 6 West Ham players in a row, marking space rather than players and this allowed Yoshida to ghost in unopposed to get his first goal of the season.
This seemed to wake the hammers up and our midfield in particular. We started to see more of the ball and were closing down the effective play of the Saints a lot quicker which was starting to make them make mistakes. After 20 minutes, Kevin Nolan spotted a run from Matt Jarvis across their back line and lofted a beautiful ball into the danger zone, which Matty got onto, nuts the keeper and slots in the equalizer. To be fair if he had missed he was due a penalty as well, due to the keeper taking him out. There was a slight sniff of offside, but for once the luck was with us. 1-1
We didn’t have to wait long for the next goal, as the Hammers didn’t relent the pressure on the Saints. 3 minutes after the leveller, Carton Cole jumped out of the pack to bullet a header against the post, and the rebound came back to him (from Yoshida’s arm – another pen ?) and rifled in WHU’s second to make it 2-1 WHU after 23 mins. For the first time this season, football had broken out at Upton Park. Southampton continued their possessional play, and might of felt aggrieved not to be level at half time. Adrian did his part again and so did Guy Demel, making some key interventions and clearances.
The scoreline was interesting for me as Mrs MrBen had had her first ever football bet today. She picked WHU to win 2-1, so was hoping for a drab second half to ensure £100 quid into her pocket.
To be fair she looked good for it as the second half didn’t really live up to action of the first. WHU as usual, had a period of play where they gave Southampton some opportunities to level, with both Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez wasting chances. However come the 71st minute, a lovely cross from Stewart Downing met the industrious Carlton Cole who nodded it down for Kevin Nolan to fire in an overhead kick from 5 yards out to bring another 3 points to Hammers. For once a comfortable win, to confirm their top half league aspirations, and extend their current form to 4 wins, one draw and only one goal conceded. And a game where the score was about right. If Diame’s speculative shot near the end hadn’t just hit the bar, but had gone in, the scoreline would of been unfair to Southampton. This game has probably won Sam the manager of the month award for Feb as well, without Andy Carroll for most of it. Things are looking good for the Hammers, and with Newcastle and Southampton slipping up more than expected currently, I don’t think we have finished our table climb. I was eyeing up Man U yesterday but their win against Palace probably makes them an unrealistic target now.
So some points of note. Sam has maintained then when the team is fit we can match anyone, and despite my reservations, he may be right. One other point is one I started last game. Adam Lallana on Sky commentary this morning, was being lauded as a cert for the plane to Brazil. Mark Noble played him off the park, and once again dominated a game with tackles, pick ups and directing play. He deserves a look in, if nothing else.
I have also decided to add a new feature to the blog, The Bloke Behind Me. Now this guy has been there some time, and comes out with the most inane nonsense, week in week out .
So for the in inaugural TBBM, we have “James Collins has probably been our best player this season, but i wouldn’t have him in the team” Nice one mate. The only thing that will stop this feature is the 67 year old Angry John clumping him , so I have that in my influence sphere ! Nice to see Aussie John yesterday as well, coming back for a beer, even though he does live the far sticks of Essex these days.
MOTM for this week was once again Mark Noble. Another game dominated.