Written by: Barry Andrews
He can blame VAR. He can blame the Premier League & the broadcasters all he wants for the fixture dates, but the fact is we simply haven’t been able to compete in the first two games back. Yes, they were never going to be easy fixtures but the chasm between us and Wolves was enormous, and the gap between us and possibly the worst Spurs side I have seen for a number of years on a seven-game winless streak, was also frighteningly large.
The most laughable moment was immediately before the Spurs game, when he was being questioned by Sky, and he spoke about how important the benches would be during this time after a three month break…..staggering coming from a man who half the time forgets he even has a bench to utilise, and is so blindly optimistic about his tactics he clearly never feels the need for a change. An article in the Athletic even highlighted this issue pointing to the fact that we have used the second lowest number of substitutions in the league. Now I could live with that statistic if we were doing well and thus adopting the “if it ain’t broke” stance……but clearly it is smashed to pieces lying in a pile by the bin.
The players of course have to take a bulk of the blame. There is simply no excuse for a lack of effort and desire on their part. 100% effort is the basic minimum expected of professional athletes, especially when they are earning the eye-watering amounts of money which they do. Yes I know careers are short which is used as a justification to these figures…..but to me that’s even more reason to expect they put a lot of bloody effort in when only required for a short amount of time.
The apparent lack of desire & fight aside though, the players look totally lost and in some desperate need of a guiding hand or at least some effective man-management to kick them into shape. They look like they have never played alongside each other before and playing in a formation they have never played. They don’t look like they know the job they are supposed to be doing on the pitch and there is confusion everywhere. I cannot remember seeing such a dis-jointed side. There is no shape and no flow to the game when they are in possession, and they are chasing shadows when they don’t have the ball. Every time I look at the line-up and then look at the game and the patterns of play which develop with and without the ball, I genuinely cannot even tell what formation we are supposed to be playing as they have it so wrong.
Tactically we have been dreadful. In the Wolves game we barely coped with their starting formation and offered absolutely no threat what-so-ever, the Fornals chance aside. Then when Nuno tweaked their formation to add some width and more urgency we were left straggling behind in the dust cloud of Traore. Against Spurs, the decision to play Noble as an attacking central midfielder was a baffling one, surely Wilshere was the obvious choice for that role? I would love to know what instructions the full backs have been given, but whatever it was, it has been disastrous. We look so poor on both sides of the pitch in wide areas defensively. Cresswell in particular seems to have been told to track inside continuously to play off the shoulder of the Centre back for no apparent reason regardless of whether or not anyone is on the touchline in space. It is just inviting unnecessary pressure onto ourselves in key areas of the pitch.
How did we end up here at this point? How is barman Moe in charge again? I just don’t understand how we got here but it is definitely the West Ham Way. Only we could employ a man that we felt wasn’t good enough the first time around. Life is full of choices. Our football club is being continuously run off the back of bad decision making from top to bottom.
Fundamentally, the problem is still the same as it has been since big John Hartson left, and before he arrived it was the problem since the McAvennie/TC partnership of ’86. We just don’t have a goal-scorer. Both games could have been different if Fornals had put away the two clear-cut opportunities he had. Unless you have a goalscorer in this league you are doomed. That fact is evident when you look at the statistics of our ability (or lack of) to come back into the game when going behind. I cannot think of one relegated side in recent years who had a goalscorer & teams don’t tend to go down just due to the number of goals they concede.
Once again Rice has looked by far and away our best player, and we need to enjoy it folks, because these are going to be the last games we see of him in West Ham colours. Bowen has been sharp & hungry unlike most of the others and continues to impress. Soucek has done OK I think & Fabianski hasn’t done anything wrong but aside from those four there are not too many positives to throw around. I am a big Felipe Anderson fan, but even I have lost patience now. He looks utterly lost and devoid of any shred of confidence. It’s players like him, Lanzini & Fornals where we need that spark to be ignited from but at the moment Moyes is trying to light a match in the howling wind and pissing rain. We desperately need Snodgrass back to not only provide some welcome aggression and competitive mentality, but also to provide some much needed creative threat on set pieces where we have been shocking so far.
If/when we do go down, I hope the board keep Nolan on and give him a try as boss, with Noble as his assistant.
I hate being so negative, especially at a time where the football has been so sorely missed for a few months, but I just cannot see us getting out of this one. We have all been here before and notice the warning signs only too well. It is going to be a titanic struggle this time and I am not convinced we have the right mentality in the squad to lift ourselves above water for long enough, and certainly isn’t going to be helped as the man in charge steers doggedly onwards into the iceberg and has no intention of altering his course…