Tottenham 3 v 2 West Ham

Too good to go down? Haven’t we heard that somewhere before?

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So we have an experienced Premier League manager in charge. He has kept us in the top flight when many thought we might struggle. Many are happy that he has done his job, but some believe that a change is needed. So at the end of the season the experienced manager departs, and the board bring in someone who has not managed at the top level in English football. Some think it is a risk. He probably wasn’t the first choice of the board but he gets the job. All new managers have a honeymoon period where the fans will allow some dodgy early results. And we do have some unexpected defeats at the beginning of the season.

But the performance of the club improves, and as the season progresses we have some great results. We do much better than most would have expected.

On October 24th we beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park. We have some unexpected victories away from home. A seventh placed finish at the end of the season exceeds West Ham’s usual position in the Premier League.

So hopes are high for the season to follow. We have a talented squad, and a star player idolised by the supporters. But the season doesn’t quite go to plan. Early on we are playing a game at home and hold a two goal lead, but we don’t hold on to it, and fail to win the game. How the season might have been different if we had we won that game.

The early season results continue to fail to meet the high expectations held by the fans, and everyone associated with the club is disappointed with the start we have made. We visit White Hart Lane to play our arch enemies from North London. It’s a typically competitive derby and we lose the game 3-2 to a last minute goal. And one of our centre backs is sent off.

We are in the month of November, and after twelve games of the season have been played we have just eleven points. Not in the bottom three, but only just outside of it. That is less than a point a game. Relegation form many believe. Many will argue differently. Our team is a good one. Too good to go down. It will all come good soon.

Now most of you will think that I am writing about our current predicament. But I am not. Going back to the start of this article, the experienced manager is Harry Redknapp. The new manager is Glenn Roeder. In Roeder’s first season in charge in 2001-2002 we did beat Chelsea 2-1 on 24th October. We did have some unexpected victories away from home. We did finish seventh in the Premier League. Hopes were high for the season to come. In 2002-2003 we did have a talented squad. Di Canio was our star player and was idolised by the fans. We were leading Arsenal 2-0 but failed to win the game. How the season might have been different if we had held on to that lead and picked up three points. We did lose 3-2 at Tottenham to a last minute goal, and Ian Pearce was sent off. After twelve games we had eleven points. But most weren’t worried. Most believed we were too good to go down.

For Harry Redknapp read Sam Allardyce. For Glenn Roeder read Slaven Bilic. In Bilic’s first season we did have some unexpected defeats at the start (Leicester, Bournemouth) and we did beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park on 24th October. We did have some unexpected victories away from home. We did finish in seventh place in the Premier League. We went in to the new season (this one) with high hopes. We did hold a two goal lead in an early game (Watford) but failed to win the game. How might this season have been different if we had picked up three points then? We did just lose 3-2 to a last minute goal at Tottenham, and for centre back Ian Pearce being sent off, read Winston Reid. And we have got just eleven points after twelve games of the season. And we are not in the bottom three, but just above it.

The parallels when comparing 2001-2, and 2002-3, are uncannily like 2015-16 and 2016-17. But of course 2016-17 isn’t over yet. We are just twelve games in. But for those who believe that history might continue to repeat itself, shall we look back to what happened at the end of 2002-3?

We finished in eighteenth place and were relegated despite some improved performances towards the end of the season. But how could it have happened? We were too good to go down they said. After those first twelve games in 2002-3 we then didn’t win a single game in our next nine league matches. It won’t happen this time will it? We are too good to go down. Aren’t we?

5 Things We Learned From Broken Heart Lane

Where do I begin, to tell the story………..?

5 Things WHUFrom the Jaws of Victory

There is never a good way to lose to Tottenham but if you were to write a script to illustrate the totally worst case scenario it might be one where your team is desperate for points, are playing away to your fiercest rival (the league’s only unbeaten team), are leading with just two minutes of normal time remaining only to end up conceding two late goals and having your captain sent off.  Disappointed, deflated and dejected.  A neutral may well have enjoyed the game which in the first half had the hallmarks of one of last season’s famous away victories at unlikely venues.   West Ham had taken the lead and Tottenham looked short on ideas.  Early in the second half, however, sloppy play allowed the hosts back level and for a while it looked like the floodgates might open; but the ship was steadied and a penalty saw the Hammers restore their lead and recover their composure.  It stayed that way until the the frantic finale and a West Ham implosion in the final act that turned a potential thriller into a tragedy.

A Formation Too Rigid

I have strong reservations about 3 at the back as the default formation.  It can work in some instances and against some oppositions.  From the outset I thought it was high risk against a team like Tottenham who do much of their attacking down the flanks, particularly through their full-backs.   Having said that the set-up worked well enough in the first half and Antonio and Cresswell were able to get forward in support of our uncharacteristically swift counter attacking play.  After the break though Rose and Walker were pushed further up leaving our own wing backs neutralised as an attacking force and ultimately exposing Antonio’s defensive limitations.  If the wing backs effectively become full backs then the 3 centre- backs are surplus to requirements and leave the midfield shorthanded.  It would seems obvious but a formation cannot be so rigid that it is unable to adapt to changing circumstances.  That is a sign of a good team and good coaching.

Oh No, Angelo!

A game of two penalties and you couldn’t really argue about either.  Tottenham could well have been awarded a penalty earlier in the game when Ogbonna was all over a Tottenham player in much the same way that Janssen impeded Reid for our own penalty.  I have lost a lot of patience with Ogbonna and the goodwill from the last minute goal against Liverpool has almost run out.  He mixes sound defending with all too often inexplicable casualness as he did when giving the ball away in the build up to the first Tottenham equalizer.  He can also be seen grappling at almost every defensive corner or set piece.  A shame that Reid was sent off as I though he had an excellent game.  The backchat interpretation has become as inconsistent as the grappling and simulations one.

Bizarre Substitution Watch

The first substitutions after the hour mark were well timed and helped to stem the threatened Tottenham tide.  Ayew has continued to disappoint so far both in effort and contribution and his replacement by Fernandes, who was unfortunate not to start, was the correct move.  It was no surprise to see Sakho replaced after 60 minutes in what was his first start of the season.  He did a lot of good work without the ball but not much with it.  His replacement Zaza did nothing with or without it apart from playing the most delayed pass of all time when Payet was well placed.  Quite why Bilic perseveres with the Italian is a mystery as he serves no purpose as either a short or long term option.  Fletcher would have been a far better choice.  The final substitution was nonsensical in terms of both player coming on and player going off.  Without the presence of Payet there was no threat for Tottenham to worry about and they were free to press forward en masse.  Nordtveit has done nothing to promote any confidence in his abilities and coming on cold at that point contributed significantly to our ultimate undoing.

A Nod’s as good as a Winks

I don’t understand why Tottenham didn’t give Winks the number 40 shirt.

England 3 Scotland 0

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?

Likely LadsIn the mid-1960’s there was a comedy programme on TV about two young football-mad Geordies. It was called the Likely Lads and was one of my favourites at the time. It starred a young James Bolan and Rodney Bewes. It was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who wrote other successful comedy series such as Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

It was set in Newcastle and the two working class friends, Bob and Terry, had different outlooks on life. Bob (Rodney Bewes) aspired to be one of the middle classes, whilst Terry constantly accused him of being a traitor to his class. This “class warfare” was the basis of much of the humour in the sitcom, and was a common theme in comedy programmes of the 1960’s and 1970’s. There was a very famous sketch in the Frost Programme in 1966 which featured John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, and Ronnie Corbett, representing the upper class, middle class, and working class respectively. The beauty of the routine was enhanced by the heights of the actors who were very tall, medium height, and short. For me it was one of the all-time brilliant comedy sketches.

A few years after the Likely Lads finished it was reprised in 1973 with two further series entitled Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads. My favourite episode was first aired on 20 February 1973. I remember the date very well for reasons I won’t expand fully upon, but West Ham had just beaten WBA 2-1 on the previous Saturday afternoon, with a 98th minute goal scored by Pop Robson, which was just desserts as West Brom had produced one of the most negative, time-wasting performances I have ever seen from a team. A scrapbook I kept at the time included a Sunday Telegraph report of the game where David Miller wrote “this wretched display by West Bromwich – hacking, arguing, and niggling throughout – will leave few of those present shedding tears at their imminent disappearance into the Second Division.” Another cutting in my scrapbook, this time by Sam Bartram in the Sunday People, includes the words, “Referee Kerkhof’s rumbling of the Albion time-wasting tactics was one of the few things that he did right all afternoon.”

The following Saturday, along with my fellow writer, Geoff Hopkins, we visited the Victoria Ground in Stoke, where we lost 2-0. My main recollection of that day was the long trip home, finally arriving at 4am before getting up to play Sunday morning football the following day.

Sorry, I digress. My favourite “Likely Lads” episode was called No Hiding Place. It consisted of Bob and Terry’s attempts at avoiding the score of an England international game being played in Bulgaria one afternoon, as they wanted to watch the highlights of the game at 10.20 that evening without knowing the score. In those days of course, there were fewer resources for finding out the outcome of games, but they still had to avoid TV news, radio reports, and evening newspaper coverage. The situation was exacerbated as they had a £5 bet each with another character in the programme that they could avoid finding out what happened before settling down to watch the game at night. This other person, Flint, played by Brian Glover, was intent on tracking them down; the comedy unfolded as they went to extraordinary lengths to avoid knowing what happened. The irony in the end was that the game had been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

I was reminded of the episode when trawling through the TV channels a couple of weeks ago and came upon it on one of those stations that constantly broadcasts old comedies. It brought back memories and I set myself a challenge to mirror the programme by avoiding the England v Scotland live game on Friday evening, and watching the highlights without knowing the final outcome.

I went to the cinema when the game was on, but I had to make sure I didn’t turn my phone on for the whole evening, and also drove with the radio turned off. I also had to be certain  that when I got home I avoided the news on TV which followed the game, as they always like to tell you what happened (look away now if you don’t want to know – and then they give you about half a second to find the remote control!).

In my younger days I loved to watch international football. Perhaps it was because there were usually West Ham players involved? These days I am not too bothered, except perhaps for tournaments, but I have many memories of the England v Scotland encounters of the past, and I was keener to see this than usual. However, I was not that keen that I wanted to watch the whole game!

As it happened I succeeded in my personal challenge and settled down to watch the match without knowing the outcome. ITV condensed the highlights into about 20 minutes of football, and then a much longer discussion about the game. In what I saw England looked good going forward; they scored three headed goals with clinical finishes, but looked woeful defensively. Against better sides they might have conceded a few goals. Scotland, too, looked quite good going forward, but their finishing left a lot to be desired to say the least!

On the whole it was a good evening. An enjoyable film followed by brief highlights of the game which had the right result. I was glad I didn’t stay at home to watch the whole match. I did wonder to myself how hard it would have been these days, to avoid knowing the outcome of a game for around ten hours, as in the Likely Lads.

And whatever did happen to the Likely Lads? James Bolan has been a successful TV actor throughout his life, most recently in several series of New Tricks. Those readers with young children or grandchildren will know him as Grandpa, in Grandpa in My Pocket. Rodney Bewes has appeared on TV, the stage, and films, but not much recently that I can recall. Reputedly, the two actors have not spoken to each other since falling out in the 1970s.

West Ham 1 Stoke 1

Trading Places. Would a different perspective bring new insights to Slaven Bilic.

Pedro ObiangI wonder if Slaven Bilic would like to swap places with me. No I don’t mean that he becomes a writer and I become West Ham’s new football manager. I don’t think that either of us is cut out or suitably trained for the other one’s role. I was just wondering if he would like to swap his touchline view of the game with my seat in the upper tier of the East Stand. I don’t really want to swap, but for just one game I would like to watch the match from his vantage point on the touchline. I’d like to be able to see what he sees when he watches the game from there, because it seems to me that he watches a different game to me, judging by the decisions he makes regarding the team and tactics to be employed for each match. I’m not sure, but I think he would benefit from a different view too.

Last December at Upton Park the match against Stoke ended goalless, but of all the 0-0 games I had ever seen it was one of the best. This time we drew with them again with a goal apiece. But what did I think of the game? Well, it is 100 minutes of my life that I won’t get back. I like to go to football to see us win, but what’s more I like a bit of entertainment. This is my 59th season of watching us play. I’ve seen very few less interesting games than this.

I don’t have great memories of watching us play Stoke in the past. And this game has been added to the list. Entirely forgettable. At least my journey to and from the game was trouble-free. I haven’t always been able to say that. Past trips this season have included a suicide by someone at Mile End station, another unfortunate individual having a heart attack at Leytonstone, and the evacuation of Stratford station, leading to long delays, and a very long walk to Leytonstone station.

The board held up after 45 minutes suggested that we were going to be “entertained” with one further minute. I looked at my watch to check the time, and looked again more than five minutes later when Mr. Marriner eventually brought the first half to an end. I’m afraid I thought Mr. Marriner had as poor a game as most of the West Ham team. To me, he just didn’t seem to understand the game. This was highlighted by the award of a free kick to us which broke up one of our rare promising attacks a few seconds after a Stoke player had been flagged for offside.

What else can I remember about the game? I can recall a header from Ogbonna, which brought a reaction save out of Grant in the Stoke goal, Payet’s free kick which went just over the bar, and Antonio’s headed goal which apparently would have gone wide if the Stoke defender hadn’t deflected it in. I couldn’t see the deflection from my seat. Perhaps Mr. Bilic had a better view on the touchline. Pedro Obiang, was once again my West Ham man of the match.

Stoke were more organised than we were, and had a definite plan. Bony looked dangerous early on, and created chances which, with better touch and finishing may have led to goals. Our attack had no idea how to penetrate their well organised defence. To me this was epitomised by the excellent full back play of Pieters, who stayed close to Antonio and frustrated the life out of him. But all credit to Antonio for keeping going and once more getting his head on the end of a Payet cross for our goal. Payet, like Noble, just as they both did at the game at Everton last week, were guilty of frequently giving the ball away, either by bad passes, over-elaboration, or getting caught on the ball, leading to swift Stoke counter attacks.

I don’t recall any of our attacking play that could be described as swift. It was ponderous, retention of the ball, perhaps looking to improve our passing statistics at the expense of meaningful football, going sideways and backwards, and occasionally a lump forward to nobody. You could see the building frustration of Ayew who came deeper and deeper to try to get some action with the ball. Lanzini’s touch was a little off, but at least he was trying to inject a bit of pace into the proceedings, realising the need for more urgency and movement off the ball.

I was shocked to see the double substitution on the hour. Don’t get me wrong I was delighted to see both Fernandes and Fletcher come on, two very important players for our future, but not at the expense of Lanzini and Ayew. I would have liked to see both Noble and Payet substituted, but captain and talisman both seem untouchable when it comes to making substitutions. They did however, combine together to create the goal, so perhaps the Bilic view was better than mine.

I like the look of Fletcher, and with some more game time and experience I believe he will prove to be a better striker than both Carroll and Zaza. I can’t see much of a long term future for these two at the club, and I wonder about Payet who seems to be increasingly disinterested. We are all entitled to bad games but his heart just doesn’t seem in it. I can’t recall a single occasion of the crowd singing “We’ve got Payet ….” which has always happened several times every game for more than a season now.

And as for Adrian, what was he thinking? It would have been a penalty if they hadn’t scored anyway. I’d like to see Randolph given his opportunity now. It wasn’t just the goal he conceded, his performances have been below par all season, with the occasional superb reflex save.

But that’s just my view. Obviously Slaven Bilic sees the game very differently from his view on the touchline.

5 Things We Learned From The Limp Draw With Stoke

Sorting through the debris of a dire draw with Stoke at the London Stadium.

5 Things WHUA Very Poor Spectacle Indeed

No doubt about it this was one of the poorest games of Premier League that I have seen all the way through for a long time. I would imagine that any neutral observer would have walked away/ switched off at some point before half time. Very little action and incident with just two saves of any note during the whole 90 minutes; one at each end. Any football that was played was played by the visitors and it was fortunate that they appeared to come with very low expectations in the absence of Amautovic and Shaqiri.  West Ham didn’t deserve to win and they barely deserved a draw.

A Rigid Style with No Obvious Pattern

We tried 3 at the back, it worked in a couple of matches and now we appear to be sticking with it rigidly regardless of opposition and circumstances; repeat until accidentally stumbling upon a new formation. From the kick-off a typical piece of Noble-Collins shuffling backwards and sideways before a hopeful punt up-field set the tone for what was to come. The 3 centre-backs playing it to each with no urgency or sense of what to do next allowing a well discipline Stoke side plenty of time to close down any space. It was impossible to work out what the game plan was meant to be and even more puzzling why it took so long to do anything about it when it was clear that the original plan (whatever that was) wasn’t working.

Slow and Sluggish Doesn’t Win Anything

In those games where we have looked a better team we have approached the game with intensity and pace. This doesn’t seem too difficult to comprehend to me and so would expect match preparation to focus on achieving those objectives. How can a team collectively turn up for their 90 minute working week with such little energy and spirit. Where is the leadership? It really didn’t look like the players knew what they were supposed to be doing which, I guess, may go back to the lack of a plan. We had Cresswell pushed way up, Antonio dropping too deep and Ayew (our lone striker) coming back to retrieve the ball in his own half. We might hope for a moment of magic from Payet to come to the rescue, as he did so often last year (and he looked well off the pace), but he still needs others to create space to work in. The lack of movement in front of him did him no favours. Stoke were given every opportunity to fill any space that became available while we were much more generous with it for their attacks.

Those Strange Substitutions Again

The BBC reported that inspired substitutions changed the game. Hardly! The substitutions, like the curate’s egg, were good in parts with the right players came on but the wrong players went off. There appears to be a predetermined plan that no matter how well or poorly anyone is playing that Lanzini and Obiang are the players taken off. Maybe because the technical area is such a long way from the dugout it is easier to decide these things beforehand. I don’t know! Not for the first time this season Pedro was our best player and, even if Lanzini delivered no end product, at least he was willing to run with the ball with an attempt at purpose. But no, off they both go! As far as the men coming on were concerned Fernandes didn’t really get into the game but Ashley Fletcher made a good account of himself and looks much more like a footballer than Zaza does. Plus there was a little cameo from Feghouli that included probably his first successful cross of the season.

Where Do We Go From Here?

If the alarm has not yet reached the full light flashing, klaxon blaring, buzzer sounding intensity that you see in the movies there has to be some very serious warnings being issued. As things stand we don’t look like we can play our way out of trouble and I doubt we are equipped for a relegation dogfight. Of course there is still time and there are hopefully enough poorer teams to keep our head above water but this is not a team on the up. We have seen no consistent signs that the foundations of a solid and organised team are in place. We still struggle to break down teams we should (and need) to beat and the freak results against the top teams will not be repeated so readily. After his monumental gaffe for the equaliser it is time for Adrian to take a break from first team duty while Mr Marriner has forced decision to leave Mark Noble out of the next starting eleven. Noble looks increasingly lost and pedestrian to me; I have long admired his commitment but that is no longer enough on its own.  Perhaps we will have other striking options by the time of the Tottenham game but I am not going to be holding my breath. And please let’s not stick slavishly to 3 at the back and learn to use it when it is appropriate to the match and opposition in hand.  My approval rating for the management team is currently at all-time low.  Not a time to panic but a demonstration that all is under control would be welcome.

Everton 2:0 West Ham

Twenty questions following West Ham’s disappointing defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.

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  1. Why do Sky Sports, in their coverage of Premier League games, only believe that one team is playing in the match? The pre-match time was devoted almost exclusively to talking about Everton. An interview with Gareth Barry, analysis of Ross Barkley, talk of Lukaku’s goalscoring, and an interview with the Everton manager, Koeman filled all the lead up to the game. West Ham were playing too! Why were we completely ignored?
  2. Why are we unable to convert superiority into goals? For the first half of the first half we totally controlled the game, but somehow you knew that the failure to score in this period would come back to bite us.
  3. Do the West Ham players practice shooting? And if they do, why are they unable to make a better fist of it when playing the game? Obiang, Lanzini, Payet, Antonio and Ayew all found themselves with excellent opportunities to score, but failed to hit the target, or produced shots that never even remotely tested the Everton keeper. I’ve seen better finishing in Sunday morning football.
  4. Why does Ogbonna continue to demonstrate the Italian defender skills of holding opponents when they have corner kicks? If the incompetent officials acted on their early season promise to crack down on this, then he would have given away several penalties by now. His grappling of opponents’ shirts is so blatant I cannot understand why the officials fail to see it. He’s got away with it so far, but ….
  5. And on the subject of officials, especially referees, why are they so incompetent? There were shocking examples of the referee and his assistants failing to see obvious things. A blatant corner that we should have been awarded, the wall for Payet’s first free kick counted out by the referee at just about six or seven paces from the ball, and Lukaku being offside in the build up to Everton’s second goal (you could see he was offside purely by looking at the way the grass was cut across the pitch – and it was later confirmed when replayed), were just three of many examples. And to show that this report is not completely biased, how could the referee not give Everton a penalty in the 93rd minute? The foul by Ogbonna was so such a stone-wall penalty I just cannot see how the referee failed to award a spot kick. Why do the authorities not see the need for video replays?
  6. Why did we fade so badly in the second half of the game? We created at least half a dozen good chances in the first half, with Payet and Lanzini prominent in the moves, but those two players, and the team as a whole, were just a shadow of themselves in the second period.
  7. Why do players get booked for fairly innocuous hand ball when so many bad tackles and flailing arms go unpunished? Reid’s completely unnecessary handball means that he misses our next game at home to Stoke.
  8. Will Bilic finally give Oxford the opportunity to demonstrate his obvious potential as a replacement for Reid in the Stoke game? I doubt it, as almost certainly Collins will come into the team.
  9. Why does Adrian when making saves not push the ball away for a corner but keep it in play? This was a bad error which contributed hugely to Lukaku’s goal. He did the same against Crystal Palace last season.
  10. Why was Reid’s clearance so poor just before the first Everton goal? And why was he so slow to react when Adrian parried the ball?
  11. Why do we always have to let Lukaku score his customary goal against us?
  12. Why was the impressive Fernandes taken off to be replaced by the totally ineffectual Zaza?
  13. Why was Zaza brought to the club?
  14. Why does Payet have to take every free kick in shooting range? There was a free kick awarded in a position ideal for a left footer, and it may be appropriate to let Cresswell have a go sometimes. I realise that Payet has been very successful when taking free kicks, but why every single one?
  15. Why did we give the ball away so cheaply on so many occasions? Noble and Payet were particularly guilty in this respect, setting up dangerous Everton counter attacks.
  16. Why does Kouyate only appear to be a shadow of the player we have seen previously?
  17. Why have we now failed to keep a clean sheet against Everton in 17 consecutive Premier League games?
  18. Why have we allowed Everton to have a better record against us than against any other teams they have ever played in the Premier League?
  19. Why have we already lost four away league games this season, before the end of October? We only lost five in the whole of last season.
  20. Will we ever learn? On the evidence of today, it doesn’t appear so!

5 Things We Learned From Saturday

Other than a chicken kebab here are the takeaways from Saturday’s West Ham game.

5 Things WHUTaking Points over Performance.

After a faltering start to the season there is obvious satisfaction in getting two consecutive wins under the belt. In the opening quarter of the match we looked to have carried through the momentum from the previous week and played with rare freedom and confidence. Once Sunderland had weathered the storm, however, the game became more even and the tempo of our game fell away. Not for the first time this season we started well and then fizzled out and it is worrying if we cannot get a sustained 90 minute performance out of the players. Ultimately we took the three points and in the circumstances, as with any club floundering in the lower reaches of the table, we must prioritise points over performance for the time being. That is not going to keep the London Stadium filled in the longer term though.

A Late, Late Winner

It is not too often that West Ham grab a late winner deep into added time. Sunderland had settled for the respected point by then and it is to our credit that we get plugging away despite an overall disappointing second half. I have to admit that I didn’t see the goal coming as the short corner was taken and it was unexpected to see that Winston Reid had taken up a position on the edge of the box. Still a nice piece of skill from the Kiwi and a decent shot past an unsighted keeper. Possibly a suspicion of offside but not conclusive except to Mr Dour, the Sunderland manager.

No Penalty. Mr Madely?

There were penalties awarded in the Premier League yesterday. Prior to this week’s matches there had been 31 given in 80 matches. Yesterday’s referee, Robert ‘Bobby’ Madely, who last season had deemed that Loftus-Cheek tripping over his own feet outside the area was worthy of a spot kick seemed not to be aware of the new interpretations on grappling and holding as first Ogbonna and then Reid were both grabbed by Sunderland defenders. In the light of penalties that have been awarded elsewhere this season this again showed shocking inconsistency.

Swiss in a New Role

Slav had decided to stick with three at the back after the success at Crystal Palace and it was a surprise to see Edmilson Fernandes fill the gap left by the criminally suspended Aaron Cresswell. The formation suits the currently available players and so it is likley to the how West Ham set up for the foreseeable future; probably until it goes badly wrong. I do like what I have seen of young Fernandes despite not playing in his normal position. He looks very assured and comfortable on the ball as well as being full of energy. When Cresswell returns it would be disappointing to see him dropped to the bench and he would get my vote over Mark Noble in midfield on current showing.

No Striker, No Goals

It is now 9 games gone and a striker has yet to score a goal for West Ham; a sorry state of affairs that will continue to hold us back. Surely it is obvious to anyone who has been watching that there is no way that Simone Zaza looks cut out for the Premier League. This is not a player off form or simply low on confidence but one whose talents, whatever they may have been it Italy, do not translate into the English game. It is a waste of everyone’s time to keep playing him. We have seen enough to know that he is not a £20+ million striker. With continuing doubts over the fitness of Carrol and Sakho our hopes rest with the return Andre Ayew but in the meantime we may as well give Ashley Fletcher more game time; what use is the occasional 5 or 10 minutes? Sorry Simone here is your air ticket back to Turin.