We all think we are experts at selecting the West Ham team that should play in any particular match. A quick look at social media would tell you why selection by committee doesn’t work. It has been tried for various sports teams and has rarely been successful. We have to trust the appointed person, in our case Slaven Bilic, to make his selections based upon a much more intimate knowledge of the personnel under consideration than we will ever have. We also have to trust that he and his staff have worked upon formations and systems and styles of play appropriate to the game about to be played. I would always trust Super Slav ahead of the current England manager, for example.
However, prior to today’s game, upon seeing our team and formation, and in anticipation of writing this article, I made the following notes.
- Disappointed to see us trying a 3-5-2 formation today with three centre backs. I think Slav has got this horribly wrong – I just hope he proves it to be a tactical masterstroke, but I fear not.
- The formation and selection mean that Antonio will once again be wasted at right wing back, which against a team of the attacking calibre of City will effectively mean he is playing at right back again!
- If Lanzini is fit enough to be on the bench then why not start him? We desperately need his creative flair, and even if he doesn’t last a full game, better to have a go from the start rather than waiting until we have potentially fallen behind.
- Disappointed to see Byram only on the bench. This lad could be our right back for years to come. OK, he made a mistake in the Astra game. He looks the type to learn from it. I would have liked to have seen a back four of Byram, Masuaku (who looks to have fitted in well), and two of our centre backs, either Collins and Reid or Collins and Ogbonna. I am always concerned by the Reid / Ogbonna partnership. I don’t think it works.
- With Nordveidt out, I would have loved to see Obiang in the side (who I prefer anyway) or Oxford as a defensive midfielder. Has Slav ever played Oxford again as a defensive midfielder since the opening game of last season when he kept the Arsenal midfield in his pocket?
- Valencia = blind alleys = total waste of time. Has he scored since we drew with City at Upton Park in January?
- Tore = I’m not convinced yet.
- My back four has been selected in number 4 above. In front of them I would have Obiang or Oxford as defensive midfield, Noble and Kouyate, Lanzini and Antonio, with Fletcher leading the line.