The Shots Statistics In Full
Shots Off Target = 5; Shots On Target = 1; Shots Into Own Foot = 4
It was a bright enough opening. West Ham got past the opening fifteen minutes where no-one seems to want to score in a Premier League game these days with some ease and had, in fact, come closest to scoring when Ayew’s shot, from Lanzini’s deflected pass, hit the outside of the post. When the Hammers won a corner and our three centre backs all sauntered up-field I am sure that the gaps they left behind would have been visible from space. A quick Liverpool break resulting with three against Cresswell and it was one-nil. A few moments later it looked like game over as Noble supplied his first assist on the season to set Liverpool up for their second. The briefest glimmer of hope, early in the second half, from a smartly taken Lanzini goal was quickly extinguished by another rush of gung-ho defending that left keeper Hart grounded with a resigned WTF look on his face. The final goal was purely academic but was again the result of shambolic defensive organisation that involved lots of pointing but little positioning. It was just lucky that Liverpool themselves had an off-day and barely needed to break sweat.
The Lost Art of Preparation and Coaching
For once it was not a lack of fitness or effort that caused the Hammer’s downfall but it was disturbing at just how quickly heads dropped after the opening goal. Defensive suspensions and injuries hadn’t helped in selections but the defence has hardly been a strong point even with a fully fit and available squad to choose from. Who could have imagined that Fernandes would do a job at wing back against the returning Mane? It is plainly obvious that preparation and attention to detail is not a core competence in the current coaching set-up. Rather than it being form that is poor it is discipline and organisation that is missing. I can only describe Bilic’s style of play as anarchic (or anarchico as it really needs to have an Italian name) where players are allowed to do what they want, when they want. The notion that players do not need to be tightly coached and expertly drilled, given the small margins at play in top level sport, is beyond belief. Although it is always tempting to focus on individual errors those apparent errors are more often than not caused by collective disorganisation.
Were There Any Positives?
The only West Ham player who looked like he belonged in the Premier League on the strength of yesterday’s performance was Manuel Lanzini. It is not difficult to imagine him in a Liverpool shirt by the start of next season (but hopefully not that aberration of a third kit sported yesterday as if it was a goalkeeper’s fancy dress party!) Lanzini aside the best performance of the evening was from the Bugler who topped anything else I have witnessed from the Remembrance observations over the last two weekends. There was one thing that I heard on a commentary that amused me laugh when it was suggested that Slaven Bilic was making use of all his offensive tools. That I found the idea of Carroll and Sakho described as offensive tools to be one of the match highlights shows how starved we have become of entertainment.
Has Anyone Thrown The Towel In Yet?
I was fully expecting an announcement that the axe had fallen on Slaven Bilic’s reign at the London Stadium before this article was ready for publication. Surely it is now simply a question of timing. The image of our manager looking forlorn and lost on the touchline, like Bambi after his mother had been shot, and you sense that putting him out of his misery is the kindest thing all round. The International Break at least provides breathing space for someone to try to re-arrange the current shambles into the semblance of a football team. Sticking for a moment longer with Bilic suggests certain relegation to me. It is not too late for someone to come in and knock what should be a mid-table squad into shape. Assuming that we take no points off the top six clubs then our target is to pick a point and a half per game against the rest for safety (over the course of a season.) Currently we are just three points behind that target and so all is not yet lost provided action is taken.
Jobs For The Moyes
The strong media speculation and bookmakers seem to point to David Moyes taking over, possibly with a contract to the end of the season. He would not be my first choice as a next level manager but beggars can’t be choosers and the better opportunity for change was missed in the summer. It is difficult to know how to assess Moyes. He had a good record at Everton, picked up something of a poison chalice at Old Trafford (despite being recommended by Sir Alex) and was woeful at Sunderland. My big fear is that there are too many parallels between ourselves and Sunderland where a big shiny stadium is expected by those in charge to guarantee success. With Moyes it won’t be pretty but, in my opinion, it should be effective enough, at least for the remainder of the season. As a longer term solution I am not excited either by his dour demeanour and how that is reflected on the pitch. Equally, I wouldn’t be happy with the return of Allardyce or Pardew. Perhaps some exciting young coaches working alongside the manager could help freshen things up and avoid a repeat of what we have now where the manager has surrounded himself with his mates leaving no caretaker option available.