Sunday, 21 October 2018

Back to the Drawing Board for Pelle


The Pellegrini era has brought the full range of emotions, from the concern that we might be heading on an Avram Grant style disaster adventure all the way to the naughty ecstasy of playing keep ball against a thoroughly outplayed Man United! However, almost one quarter of the way through the season and languishing just above the relegation zone with just 7 points from 9 games, there is lots to think about in terms of how we can improve our fortunes!

First up, it needs to be recognised that we are playing more attractive football. We are getting much more of the possession and playing the ball on the carpet. Fans are happier and the London Stadium has a better atmosphere.

Secondly, we look like we know what we are trying to do. An initially shaky back four seems to be finding its feet after a pretty terrible start against Liverpool! Diop and Balbuena have developed a good understanding, but we still look uncertain at full back. The Cresswell/ Masuaku debate goes on and on, while Pablo Zabaleta has been very solid on the right. If we can get a few results on the board then we can take a few chances experimenting with different combinations, including Ryan Fredericks as a more penetrating option.

Thirdly, the emergence of Rice and now Diangana is a cause for great delight at a club that prides itself on producing home talent. The fact that Pellegrini is brave enough to give these inexperienced young talents a run in the Premiership is really reassuring. The man has style and confidence - it takes balls to risk youth in such a competitive league where managers are treated as highly disposable commodities.

However, we need more goals! Far too much of our attacking activity is based upon the Austrian. Although Arnie is the kind of guy who seems to relish the responsibility, it does get a bit predictable for the opposition to deal with. Chicharito has never really done it for the Hammers while Perez looks the least impressive of our Summer acquisitions. Beyond that, its sadly back to the familiar position of waiting on Andy C again, hmmm!

Also, our set pieces need to improve. Today against Tottenham we were building momentum on a number of occasions in the first half but our efforts were deflated by poor corners as Felipe Anderson had a bit of a howler. Eventually Mark Noble had to take over but at this stage of his career we know that Noble has limitations in this regard. Lanzini's return can, of course, help hugely with these issues.

With Burnley up next in the Premiership, we face a big fixture that we need to win to get momentum going again. If we lose, then we are slipping back into the worry zone and can expect the media to start putting pressure on Pellegrini again.  

Saturday, 20 October 2018

West Ham vs Spurs: Reaction and Player Ratings



After all the positivity of the Man United game, things feel a bit deflated with defeats to Brighton (away) and our arch enemy Spurs at the London Stadium today. In truth, we deserved a lot more from the Brighton game, while we can feel very disappointed not to have got at least a point after a decent performance today that included 4 or more clear cut chances to level things in the second half. 

On a positive note, we are playing reasonably fluid football and, at the back, look pretty assured (ask Harry Kane who was well policed by our CBs today). Young Diangana looks a real piece of work, while Declan Rice continues to confirm our hopes that he can be  the new Billy Bonds. 

However, a defeat to the Spuds is always disappointing. Here are our individual player ratings:

Fabianski: Another assured performance and could do nought about their goal. Perhaps needs to work on distribution as Spurs successfully hampered our passing out from the back. 7/10.

Zabaleta: Solid without anything truly inspiring. Seemed to be building an understanding with Grady Diangana that almost brought a goal.  Pablo continues to justify his starting berth. 7/10.

Cresswell: Mostly solid but along with Anderson might have done better for the Tottenham goal. A more natural defender than Masuaku, their duel over the LB berth will run and run. 7/10.

Diop: Our best player and probably the overall MOTM despite being on the losing side. Put in a series of perfectly timed challenges on Mr Kane and friends. Physically imposing but also pretty nifty around the pitch and made a few decent forays forward. 9/10.

Balbuena: Also looked solid and after a slow start in Preseason has responded excellently to the challenge of the Premiership. The bargain signing of the season at 3.5 million! 8/10.

Rice: We are gettting used to his assured presence in midfield. He seems to have that special ability to know the right thing to do. Very busy protecting the front of the defence today, which he did to great effect. 7/10.

Snodgrass: Has done really well to turn around a Hammers career that looked all but over. Clearly has impressed Pellegrini and had a decent day today in a more central role than he is used to as he was asked to fill the gap caused by Pedro Obiang's late withdrawal. Active but without doing anything outstanding. 7/10.

Noble: Put himself about throughout the 75 minutes he played. Nobes particularly enjoys getting stuck into the Spuds. Sadly, all that effort came up short today. Still a massive presence for us in midfield! 8/10.

Anderson: Felipe had a day to forget. Poor corner taking, repeated loss of possession and light in defence for the lead up to their goal. Will need to regain his form if he wants to competecwith Lanzini for a role in front of the midfield. Ouch! 4/10.

Yarmolenko: Was doing well until his unfortunate injury that looks like a possible Achilles issue. Fingers crossed that it is nothing too serious but his immediate reaction and stretchers exit did not bode well. 6/10. 

Arnautovic: Always a threat and busy busy busy. Things didn't quite click for him today but once again he led the line with pace and power. Forced Lloris into two fine saves in the second half. Looked excited by the opportunity to link in with Diangana. What were Stoke doing playing him out wide? 8/10.

Subs: Antonio looked more lively than in recent times but unspectacular, Chicharito helped pile on more pressure without quite clicking up front while Grady Diangana was a delight to watch with his tricky and pacey play. Was that a penalty when he was tripped in the box - front the Bobby Moore stand it looked very giveable! There's plenty more to come from this young man!!!



2 comments:

  1. No problems when Lanzini returns-Anderson is given his roving role across the width of the pitch, while I'd like to see Lanzini revert back to a central attacking play-makers role. Imagine what lanzini could add to the present front trio of Anderson, Arnautovic, and Yarmalenko!!
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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Player Ratings vs Man Utd: guess who gets MOTM?



The last time that things felt so good in the crazy world of West Ham was when we beat Manchester United for the last time at the Boleyn! In today's game we were equally as fired up and really from the very start West Ham's intensity seemed too much for a fractured Man United.

After top performances away to Everton and hosting Chelsea last week, this was a step even further upwards as Pellegrini's side pinged the ball around, for once enjoying the open space of the London Stadium.

Picking out a MOTM is a real challenge as this was a team that were totally on fire. The contrast with the Wolves performance of a few weeks ago was simply remarkable! This was a courageous front-footed assault that reaped dividends.

Here are our individual player ratings:

Fabianski: Calm, assured, good under crosses and an outstanding shot stopper, Lucas put in another tremendous performance and pulled off a stunning save to frustrate Fellaini towards the end. 8/10.

Zabaleta: Wow, just like last week, Pablo put in a young man's shift and even added an assist for Anderson's goal. Young Fredericks looked great in midweek but Pablo just keeps on justifying his starting berth! 8/10.

Masuaku: Still keeping Dressy on the bench and rightly so as he again looked tasty going forward and (reasonably) solid defensively. Kept Ashley Young under wraps in a feisty battle down the left flank! 8/10.

Diop: Tremendous stuff! What a signing and with Fabian Balbuena seems to have found their frequency. Physically imposing but also pretty nifty around the pitch and made a few decent forays forward. A tremendous find - as the Special One was keen to point out in his post match analysis! 9/10.

Balbuena: While Diop has been catching everybody's eye as one of the most promising talents in the league, Balbuena has been quietly putting in some truly assured performances and passed the dreaded Lukaku test today with flying colours! 8/10.

Rice: This young man is growing by the game and once again was everywhere today. Declan's positional sense is tremendous fir somebody of his age and he has the pleasing ability to move the ball quickly. If Perez is worth 50k per week surely this man is worth something similar? 9/10.

Obiang: Quietly putting in the yards and part of a dominant midfield, Pedro has been unlucky with injuries in the past but is still only approaching his peak age and now finding excellent form. At one point he looked all set to repeat his Spurs strike, but almost hit the corner flag instead! A real dynamo. 8/10.

Noble: The biggest cheer during last week's Chelsea tussle was for Captain Claret when he departed at 85 minutes. Again today he looked like a man possessed - simply everywhere and constantly nicking the ball and driving us forwards. This was one of his greatest Hammers performances!!! 10/10 (MOTM).

Anderson: Felipe has that x-factor that every team needs and is filling the massive void left by Manu Lanzini's absence. It was great to see him open his goalscoring account with a cheeky heal flick for the opening goal. Not shy about tracking back either, the question now is how we can accommodate both he and Lanzini when they are both available! 8/10.

Yarmolenko: Although Andriy is quite one footed, his penetration is such that he keeps defenders guessing. The relationship with Pablo is growing nicely and, of course, he is scoring. Today's strike looked headed for the top left corner until it deflected to the top right, but having a winger who can shoot keeps the opposition nervous and opens up all manner of possibilities! 8/10.

Arnautovic: A constant thorn in the Mancs side, Referee Michael Oliver really should have given him more protection today and one hopes that he wasn't injured too badly as the challenges became more and more fierce as they went unpunished. Marko had the last laugh though, as he put Man U to the sword from Noble's super through ball with a quarter of an hour left. What were Stoke doing with him out on the wing all that time? 9/10.
just before the end. Could do nothing about Rashford's goal. Thoughtful distribution from kick outs.  8/10.

Subs: Antonio had limited impact and perhaps could have looked more energetic. Snodgrass kept things ticking over while Diangana didn't have time to show his stuff.



Manchester United 'embarrassed' as Hammers showboat!



Rio Ferdinand didn't mince his words with his post match comments on BT Sport after West Ham coasted past an out of sorts Man United at the London Stadium.

West ham have absorbed the Pellegrini way and simply outplayed the visitors for long periods in the match, with Mark Noble in absolutely stunning form as he bossed  the midfield and totally eclipsed Paul Pogba!

Felipe Anderson opened the scoring with a cheeky flick from Zabaleta's cross. Just before half time Andriy Yarmolenko's shot deflected wickedly into the net to widen the gap. 

Although Marcus Rashford pulled one back against the run of play, 3 minutes later Mark Noble raced forward and slotted Arnautovic through for an inevitable clincher.

Ferdinand was obviously impressed with a passage of play that followed soon after wherein the Hammers played keep ball for almost 30 passes as Man United were forced to chase after the ball.

Speaking after the game, Rio commented "The way they (West ham)  played, the personality, in the end they were showboating and for Manchester United fans it was embarrassing".

Onwards and upwards - With Spurs as the next visitors to the London Stadium things are pretty positive right now! For Jose Mourinho this may be the final straw that forces an Old Trafford exit!

High Scoring Draw in Game of Give and Take: Here are West Man Utd!

There's plenty of history between the Hammers and Manchester United, with some dramatic season finales standing out in the memory of moments when West Ham have frequently come out on top! With both sides enjoying mixed fortunes so far this season it looks like anything is possible today!

As the excitement levels rise before the 12.30 kick off, we took some time to consider
the best team comprised of players who have played for both clubs making up the impressive ‘West Man United XI’.  

Ultimately, will these performers be considered Hammers or Devils?





At Man United he failed to inspire confidence - epitomised by ‘the goal that never was’. Joined West Ham in 2005 after falling out over a lack of first team opportunities. Had a good initial season but sustained a back injury in Jan 2006 and slipped into a variety of difficulties that ultimately earned him a place in the ‘Troubled Bubbles XI’! Verdict Neither.

Hammers debut at the tender age of 17, Rio soon forced his way into the regular first team squad where he continued to impress until Leeds paid a record 18 million for him in November 2000. Quickly moved to Man United where he has been a fantastic servant for a decade and was key to the many successes of the past decade.Verdict Devil.

8 appearances for Man United where he was never really given a chance. A bargain signing for 500K for West ham that led to a five year career and over 100 appearances . Versatile defender who had his finest hour when scoring twice in a 4-0 victory over Man United in 2010. Ran out of road as the Hammers regrouped after relegation and moved to Birmingham City. Verdict: Hammer.

Top man. Signed from Cork Athletic in 1952. Noel enjoyed a fruitful 8 years at West Ham with 250 appearances. Captained the Hammers to promotion back to the top flight for the first time in almost 30 years in 1958 . Sold to man Utd for almost 30K in 1960 where he captained a cup winning side and was part of two league winning teams. Verdict Hammer.

Hmmm. One that got away having impressed at youth level but nicked by Man United. He might have fared so much better had he stuck with the Hammers and gotten a better shot at first team football. Many observers would say that he has never lived up to his potential in a promising career ultimately fizzled out. Verdict Neither.

Industrious and gamey, the 'Guvnor'  was never found wanting in the Hammers shirt after replacing Billy Bonds in 1987. He didn’t handle his Hammers departure very well being photographed in a Man United shirt well before the deal was confirmed. Probably did not deserve the  criticisms thrown his way by Fergie and after 6 years and over 200 appearances Verdict: Devil.

Another one thrown in as a teenager at 17 into the Hammers first team. Skilful but perhaps a little ‘ghosty’ at times. Happy to do the unglamorous work and stayed loyal after relegation in 2003 before losing patience and moving to Spurs for 3.5 Million and then Man United where he was a solid performer for ten seasons. Verdict Devil.

Trouble with a capital T during his time at Man United, Fergie tired of his disciplinary problems and Big Sam obliged for a mere 650K. Initially 'Raveldo' looked like an astute piece of business but  disciplinary and personal issues re-emerged and after 18 games for the Hammers he was moved on. Currently AWOL from our attentions! Verdict Hammer.

Arrived at Man United late in his career but proved another astute Fergie signing and achieved legendary status in stoppage time of the 1999 Champions League final. Came to the Hammers not far short of pension age but still had plenty to offer by virtue of his excellent footballing brain. Returned as forwards coach to great effect in the 2014-5 season. Verdict Devil. 

Played in a different era when United were not quite the same powerhouse they are now but picked up a cup winners medal, scoring in the 1977 final against lovely Liverpool. 
Moved to the Hammers in 1979 after a nasty knee injury but still managed to play a major part in the 1980 Cup final victory over Arsenal, teeing up Trevor Brooking’s ‘stunning’ header! Verdict Both.

Arrived at the Boleyn in a bizarre deal in 2006. Bemused Hammers faithful endured two-thirds of a season of Carlos trying to inspire a lacklustre side and then it all clicked into gear for the final 10 games where he couldn’t stop scoring, including a final day win at Old Trafford to keep the Hammers up! The Apache had some classy moments in the United shirt but got sidetracked by his own ego needs. Ultimately moving to City was the final straw.Verdict Hammer.

Substitutes: Luke Chadwick, Les Sealey, David Bellion, Ashley Fletcher.

So, final score 4-4. The odds of that being the score in today's game are 350-1!!! 

Here Comes the Barry McGuigan!



My son phoned earlier this week in a panic informing me that his significant other had bought them tickets to go to a comedy night in Cork tomorrow night! Arrgghhhhhhhh!!! He was desperately seeking advice as to how best to tell her that he couldn't commit to such hilarity as Saturday 29th September would be spent on a Ryanair flight back to Shannon 'considering' the events of earlier that day in the London stadium!

Ahem! I pondered for a moment before suggesting he should lean on a bit of prison slang to emphasise the importance of events in London and his need to be present. This one is the Barry McGuigan son, I advised. This is the principal reason that we have season tickets for the London Stadium. This is the big un! 

Thankfully, she got it. And now we are on our way to observe the game that Hammers fans enjoy the most - forget Spurs et al, the visit of the Red Devils is the game we want to win most of all! With a queue as long as your arm of potential replacements, he was given the permit to abandon his bofriend duties and give it socks in support of the Hammers. 

Let's hope he has a tale of endeavour and heroism to recount, and after a string of performances that suggest that we have finally absorbed the essence of the Pellegrini method, it's looking pretty hopeful. Arnie is scheduled to return, our defence looks to be on a good wavelength and Anderson and Yarmolenko look like they are enjoying their game - even better, as the Special One and Pogba pretend to be friends, the Mancs look vulnerable for an East End drubbing!

Against Chelski we conceded the bulk of possession, but today Pellegrini will be looking to dominate as much as possible and prevent a fractured Man Utd from getting any rhythm. Rice against Pogba will be fascinating as our wonderkid gets to go toe to toe with the World Cup winning midfielder. 

Predicted starting XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Masuaku, Diop, Balbuena, Noble, Obiang, Rice, Anderson, Yarmalenko, Arnautovic.

COYI!!!

Friday, 28 September 2018

Disgraceful Scenes at London Stadium

Everybody knows the Count's favourite number!
The Cup can bring all sorts of extravagant fare - giant killings (yes, we know!), joy and tragedy (F*** off Stevie G!), and hopeless mismatches. Wednesday night saw the ruthless side of Pellegrini - something we Hammers can remember from a recent cup mauling by Man City, as a dominant Hammers side simply didn't know when to stop. All over the world, various protection activists abandoned their posts to express outrage at the whipping dished out by a second line Hammers side to poor League 2 Macclesfield.


Hammers fans were left with a terrible sense of self loathing as we murmured 'enough is enough now lads' while secretly wishing for more. Disgraceful, unwarranted but simply delicious! It had been 35 years since the 10-0 mauling of Bury but in the modern era such huge goal spreads are much less common, making this possibly our greatest ever dismantling job!



Speaking after the game, Rory Nostradamus revealed "eight was probably a bit harsh on the Macc Lads, I'd settle for 4 or 5 against Man U on Saturday!".

Confidence is high right now and maybe after all the disappointment of the first four games we have earned the right to savour a bit of success!

COYI!!!