Belgian Waffle: West Ham’s Revenge Visit To Anderlecht

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then waiting forty-six years to take it should bring a deep frozen sense of satisfaction. But can the Hammers do the business in Brussels?

In a bad week for conferences, West Ham renew their Europa Conference campaign with an away trip to Belgian side, Anderlecht. Should the Hammers prevail and maintain their perfect start in Group B it would create clear daylight between themselves and the rest of the pack. Getting the group sewn up early would be a huge bonus given poor domestic form and the prospect of ten games in the next thirty-seven days.

Older Hammers will remember well the only previous encounter between West Ham and Anderlecht. The 1976 European Cup-Winners’ Cup (ECWC) Final, played at the infamous Heysel stadium – a 10 km hike across Brussels from tonight’s venue.

Anderlecht were part of the European elite back in the 70’s and 80’s. The days before mega TV deals and big money when success was shared around more evenly, allowing the Belgians to win two ECWC Finals, one UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cups – as well as appearing as losing finalists four times.

In the 1976 Final, the Anderlecht line-up featured Dutch masters Rob Rensenbrink and Arie Haan plus future Hammer, Francois Van der Elst. They were firm favourites to win the game against an out of form West Ham who relied heavily on the legendary services of Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds. If you think the Hammer’s current form is bad now, in 1976 it was abysmal. In all the league games played between January and May the record was: played nineteen, lost twelve, drawn six and won one (against QPR). A run that saw the team fall from top spot in November to finally finish eighteenth (out of twenty-two).

Even so the Hammers put in a decent shift on the night. An early lead through Pat Holland was cancelled out just before half time before following a poor Frank Lampard back pass. Van der Elst put Anderlecht ahead just after the break, but the Hammers clawed their way back into contention when Keith Robson headed home from Brooking’s cross twenty minutes from time. With the tie nicely poised, the game turned when Holland was adjudged to have brought down Rensenbrink in the penalty area. Where was VAR when you needed it? Rensenbrink netted from the spot and Van der Elst scored his second late on, to make it 4-2, as the Hammers pushed forward for an equaliser.

Anderlecht remain Belgium’s most successful club side of all time although their pre-eminence has been usurped by Club Brugge in recent years. Although the Purple and White have never finished outside the Belgian league’s top six, they are floundering this term in a lowly tenth position. What we wouldn’t give for tenth!

David Moyes is likely to make several changes for tonight’s fixture following a welcome first home win, with some signs of improvement, at the weekend. It will be the usual switch of keeper and possibly the return of Vladimir Coufal and Angelo Ogbonna in defence. Ideally there should be further chances for Flynn Downes and Said Benrahma in midfield and possibly a recall for Manuel Lanzini. Surely, Gianluca Scamacca must be allowed to continue his splendid Euro scoring form and maybe, just maybe, with Jarrod Bowen and Maxell Cornet nursing injuries, we might even get to see Scamacca and Michail Antonio on the pitch at the same time. It has been reported that several youth team players have been added to the squad in Brussels but past evidence suggests that carrying the bags is the only action they will see.

Most recognisable names in the Anderlecht line-up are ex-Tottenham warhorse, Jan Vertonghen and expensive Wolverhampton striking flop, Fabio Silva – a player so ineffective he couldn’t get a game in a team with no strikers.

The previous two group games have seen (what has become) the trademark slow start from Moyes’ team, having fallen behind against both FCSB and Silkeborg. A repeat tonight would be best avoided while another three-goal haul (making it five in a row in the competition) would be more than welcome. West Ham to win 3-1.  

8 thoughts on “Belgian Waffle: West Ham’s Revenge Visit To Anderlecht”

    1. Predicting the score was probably reckless but fortunately I got away with it. One more win should tie up the group. Now looking forward to another three points at the weekend


  1. Hi

    Did you see the game? Another decent performance – Downes or Dawson my man of the match. Downes looks a terrific prospect to me. Areola had virtually nothing to do apart from one magnificent save.

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. hi richard, yes i live streamed it here in thailand, i thought we played better, with exception to lanzini and benrahma.
      i sense danger for both these players, come next transfer window, think their failure to impress will see them transfer listed, sad, because i had high hopes for benrahma.
      i thought he would be the player we desperately need, a player to go past people with ball at feet, like lingard, or st maximum, those players are very few and far between, maybe paqueta will do that, when he realises he gets less time on the ball in this league, we still need a player that can do that.
      i would like to see us buy lucas moura, clever player spuds willing to let go, he would be interesting.
      bowen was very sharp, constant threat, and i like that defender palmeri, gets forward a lot, but needs to do more when hes in opposition danger areas.
      overall a good team performance, albeit 2 or 3 improvements needed defending, but a lot better.
      100 win record in the group, but still conceding goals, and sloppy chances, must be stronger, even with basic defending.
      when i was young, i played a very high grade of football for various sides, winning the railway cup, and the essex senior cup, i was once scouted by arsenal scouts at a game i played in billaricay, but failed to go any further, i represented an essex boys team, i was a left back, no one could get past me, i was proud to acheive that in every game, i modelled myself on billy bonds, very hard but fair.
      the game has changed now, you cant be just a defender, you must be more of an athlete, up and down the pitch, defending, but wing back attacking too, not sure if i could compete nowadays.
      my son is currently trialing for a chon buri side here in thailand, he is 13 yo, they are run by ex spuds players and funded by AIA , the insurance people that sponsor spuds, hes doing well, but has been told he lacks stamina, so i have enlisted him in the gym, we will see how he progresses.
      hes busting a gut to visit family in england, and go to the london stadium for a game, we both are to be honest, maybe we can do it one day, god only knows how we would obtain tickets.
      take care

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Which teams did you play for in Essex? I played a lot of Sunday (and some Saturday) football in Dagenham, Southend and Basildon. I was a very versatile player – equally mediocre in every position 😉


      2. i mainly played in ilford and district league, and west essex at harlow town, we won the essex senior cup with maypole sports in harlow, and my railway works team took me all over the country, very exciting, i loved those days.
        dennis coxhall scouted me, he later worked for west ham, but left when the bonds and redknapp tiff started, he later told me harry was ruthless, nasty man, get whatever he wants at any expense, i told him to write a book, but he declined, saying he might want his job back at west ham in the future, didnt want to burn his bridges, but left to scout for chelsea i think.
        referees would very often make a beeline for me after the game and compliment me, natural left footed hard to find, i would be handy for moyes now, in my prime that is, many years ago.
        i was taken to leyton orient also, by reggie wood, the scout there, but didnt make the grade there etheir.
        take care mate

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I believe it was Denis Cocall who first brought Joe Cole to West Ham’s attention. He obviously had an eye for top talent! I can imagine Redknapp being a very ruthless and devious operator. Not the jolly cockney geezer character that he likes to portray


    2. I didn’t get the chance to watch live and have only seen highlights so far. Not bad being able to bring on Rice, Scamacca and Paqueta from the bench. I think no nonsense players like Dawson and Downes can be easily overlooked. Like what I’ve seen of Downes – always busy and making a nuisance of himself. It will be a blow if Dawson departs in the winter


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