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West Ham’s Ogbonna hopes defence has turned the corner

09:15 23 September 2016

West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (right) Accrington Stanley's Seamus Conneely battle for the ball

West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (right) Accrington Stanley's Seamus Conneely battle for the ball

PA Wire

Hammers defender explains shaky start to the season

West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (right) and Accrington Stanley's Scott Brown battle for the ballWest Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (right) and Accrington Stanley's Scott Brown battle for the ball

West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna came out to meet the press with a look of relief on his face, following Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley.

After conceding eight goals in two games, the team had kept a clean sheet and won the EFL CUp tie game with a late, late trademark Dimitri Payet free-kick.

“Thank you for Dimi, definitely,” said Ogbonna with a big, booming laugh. “It was a really tough game, but we needed this win for the team, for the manager and for everything, so maybe everything is going to be all right.”

It was only against a League Two side, but there is no doubt that Ogbonna felt it was a vital sign.

West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (right) Accrington Stanley's Seamus Conneely battle for the ballWest Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (right) Accrington Stanley's Seamus Conneely battle for the ball

“The clean sheet was important because our team want to show we are strong and we are together and we have a lot of leaders in this group,” adde the 28-year-old.

“I have read a lot of things saying that we have no leadership this year, but this is not true.

“You don’t need somebody that has to speak and shout on the pitch. We have leaders like ‘Ginge’ like ‘Reidy’, like ‘Nobes’ and Obiang and even Dimi and Lanzini.”

Ogbonna is clearly a deep thinker about the game, so what does he feel has been the problem with the defence so far? He pauses for a moment before answering.

Angelo Ogbonna of Italy during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E group stage match between Italy v Ireland at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on june 22, 2016 in Lille, France.Angelo Ogbonna of Italy during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E group stage match between Italy v Ireland at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on june 22, 2016 in Lille, France.

“When we talk about the defence I want to talk about the whole team,” he said. “Last season, everybody wanted to show what they could do. There was a new manager and new players and they wanted to prove themselves.

“Maybe this year we were a little bit more relaxed and sometimes when you are too confident and the team is too much friends, you can go out on the pitch and we think everything is going to be easy.

“We have made mistakes, but nobody wants to make mistakes, of course we don’t. We’re disappointed with that because on the training ground we try to make everything easy, but maybe it is time to understand what has been happening and learn from it.”

However narrow the win, it is likely to boost confidence going into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Southampton as West Ham look to haul themselves back up the table after a tough start.

“The season has been difficult because we didn’t start together,” added the big centre-back. “Some players came back late, some were not fit. This is the best league in the world, so a lot of players came to England to show what they can do and the level is so high.

“For us, we bought players, but we have had a lot of injuries, like Ayew, Lanzini as well, Carroll and Cresswell, and these players are the best in the club.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but this is the truth, but maybe now we have turned the corner.”

Let’s hope so. But the proof will come against the Saints on Sunday.

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