This article is written by Steve Claydon @trbeat
Here are my five talking points from West Ham v Swansea by Steve Claydon @trbeat
1) Kouyate is back.
Finally, we had (sort of) the Kouyate of old. Marauding runs from the back, taking charge a little more, and leading by example. It was his run that led to our only goal, and after watching the replays, it was quite a quite sublime goal. I’ve always thought that he is at his best when he can go forward and support the attacking midfielders and strikers. I want to see more of this next week, although with a potential injury to Byram we may see him at right back again.
2) Striker 1, 2 & 3 all on the bench.
Listen. Bilic was not trying to throw the game with that many out and out strikers on the bench and starting Ayew up top. Carroll was still carrying his groin injury, and there is no way Sakho is match fit, no way. I am sure that the plan was to hold them out and only play them if necessary. As it is, I can’t see Antonio recovering from that hamstring injury anytime soon, and I would argue his season is over. Calleri, or who I now call Calliou (look it up) is dreadful. I would have rather seen Fletcher on the bench. I wanted to like Calliou, I mean Calleri, but the game is too quick for him, and as a striker, you have to finish those chances that he had during the game or at the very least get them on target.
3) We are a team.
When Byram made that tackle on Sigurdsson at the end of the second half, you would have thought that we won the league. Finally, I saw some passion in the team and what EPL survival means to them. Randolph, Noble, Ginge and more made it known to him how important HE IS to the team. Let’s face it, how many of us would like to go to work every day, knowing your boss is looking to replace you. It can’t be a great feeling. He is still raw, but he played with heart and with a decent run of games and a full pre-season he could be what we need.
I’ll admit that after the first Southampton game, I was very vocal in calling for Randolph to play. Adrian’s antics and rushes of blood to the head were losing us points. Randolph’s play has not been where we need it to be. I was disappointed with both Leicester’s and Arsenals first goals, both of which were similar, speculative cross shots that beat him. Again today, I was never truly confident that he would help us not lose the game. Some of Fabianski’s saves were outstanding and made the game more of a nail biter than it needed to be. I don’t have that same level of confidence in Randolph, so would like to see Adrian back between the sticks. However, what does that do to the team, what does that do to Randolph’s psyche, what happens if Adrian fails again? I don’t think we will see a change until the new season, and contrary to Bilic’s belief I do think an upgrade of this position is needed.
5). Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I plan to write a team review once we have survived this season, breaking down each area and discussing our needs and wants and who can go. For now, a couple of things stand out for me with this team. Firstly, we lack a terrier with some bite in midfield. Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Fernandes are all very nice players, but none of them strikes fear into the opposing team. We need someone who is going to let the other team know there is a game being played. There were a few moments in the match against Swansea where a nice crunching tackle would have cleaned things out and let them know who is bossing. Secondly, I want to see a centre back with some pace, real true pace. Fonte and Ginge are slow, but at least Ginge has awareness. Ogbonna and Reid are OK but lack that catch-up speed. Oxford may be the one, he looks to have that Rio Ferdinand mix of speed and athleticism, my only concern with him is his physique but as I said he is of the Rio Ferdinand mould, and he didn’t turn out too bad.
Well after that emotional game hopefully we can get back to something more West Ham. Three more points should do it, and we can all start wishing for the offseason, resetting expectations, and building a proper foundation to propel the team forward with the right signings with no distractions.