|Cheer up lads!|
Competitive football in July is a strange delight. It takes our attentions away from the tiresome transfer merry-go-round while providing an opportunity to run the eye over new signings and younger talent coming through. However, as last night's disappointing performance against Slovenian 'giants' NK Domzale demonstrated, it can also expose our lack of game sharpness and sap confidence.
Despite the obvious negatives from a game where we never got out of second gear, there were some definite positives to take from what was a revealing encounter:
1. Sofiane Feghouli will be a huge addition. Although he drifted out of things as we lost our way in the second half, before that he looked very lively and assured on the ball. He is clearly blessed with a tasty first touch that makes space for everyone around him and preseason has shown that he knows what to do with the ball when given the chance. No doubt every Hammers fan is looking forward to seeing him link up with Mr Payet as one senses they are very likely to 'click'.
2. The Michail Antonio 'experiment' MUST now be abandoned. Aside from it's stunning failure, it's only a matter of time until another club senses that he is being misused at West Ham and swoops with an offer to play him in his proper position. He simply doesn't think like a defender, both positionally and in terms of his tackling as he innately tries to win the ball rather than block progress. After Domzale's second goal he looked lost - neither fish nor fowl he looked fearful of attacking but still out of position in defence. Byram looked better at RB when he moved there but we are very thin on full backs for a side with major aspirations. Mr Bilic's case for funds to sort out the full back positions was certainly strengthened by last night's proceedings.
3. Enner Valencia needs a fresh start at a new club. He may well still be banging them in for Ecuador but he has failed to deliver during his time at West Ham. Last night he again looked out of sorts and after his first few efforts floundered you could sense his head dropped. It's Matt Jarvis syndrome all over again - nice guy but it's time to move on and make space in the squad for a more consistently incisive talent.
4. Given that the game was only aired on BT Sport it seems unlikely that top striking talent from across Europe and beyond will have observed the shambolic performance. We lost and deservedly so as we failed to create a single decent scoring opportunity and we gifted a soft penalty as compensation for an even softer one given earlier to Domzale. Strikers need service to shine and there was scant evidence that any new recruit could have done better than Andy Carroll last night. On a positive note, once again we were reminded how useful the big man is in defending set pieces as he cleared more than half of Domzale's sixteen corner kicks! Yes, sixteen!!!
5. Adrian is a truly top keeper. His double save at the end of last night's game kept West Ham firmly in the tie. A 3-1 lead would have put Domzale in a envious position, especially as we seem to concede goals for fun right now. At 2-1 we won't have to chase the game too much and are surely still favourites to progress. Last night's result will make next week's Olympic Stadium debut all the more exciting and meaningful. Rather than some tame affair with a foregone conclusion, we will surely see a strong side get stuck in to Domzale. It'll be a chance to test our ability to recreate the Boleyn atmosphere - a challenge we are all looking forward to.
|That's more like it!|