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WHUFC vs Crystal Palace EPL 2019-2020 05/10/2019

October 7, 2019 Leave a comment

As usual West Ham fail to capitalise on a good run of form and throw away a lead to a decent enough team, but not quite at our level.

As with most Hodgson’s teams, there was a straight 4-4-2 across the board, where defence and midfield play close together meaning we have to break down. Once or twice we did get through, and as you might have seen in the build up for our goal,once we do, it was plain sailing.

Anderson and Lanzini were nowhere near their best, therefore creativity was at a premium. In fact the whole team seem to have a bout of wooliness, that stifled any smart play. Haller had chances to score that he didn’t take , and they got very lucky with a rebound. The penalty was also slightly contentious but more likely to be given than turned down. So all in all, happy with the draw.

Aha, but we didn’t draw, we lost. TO VAR. I’m OK with VAR, but for clear and obvious errors only. It’s an assist, not a judge. For a player to be adjudged 5 mm onside , there needs to be something else with the same amount accuracy. The ability to match exactly when the ball is kicked/headed/whatever. Unless you can 100% match these two, any of these too close calls cannot be made, and you have to go with the on the pitch decision (which was offside). From where I sat, it looked offside as well, but there you go. Lose 2-1 and move on.

We are seventh in a league that outside the top one, looks pretty open.

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WHUFC vs Manchester United – EPL 2019-2020 23-09-2019

September 23, 2019 1 comment

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.

WHUFC vs Newcastle United 02/03/2019 – EPL2018/2019

March 5, 2019 Leave a comment

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.

Don’t get this in Block 232

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

Billy and Alvin

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.

Billy Bonds is after you !
Bill finishing his standing ovation.

All parties have to end, and if you know where to look you can see my empty seat !

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.

Handy to be able to watch replays in real time !

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.

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.

IMG_6709

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.