Hammers fan blog: West Ham owe the fans big time after Newcastle
Lifelong Hammers fan, reluctant city boy and lover of horse racing Paul H gives his thoughts on all things West Ham
They say that a week is a long time in football. Well, since venturing little over a week ago that Manchester United were not exactly a club ‘in crisis’, they’ve been a club in crisis, come out the other side, and seemingly unearthed a new superstar along the way.
Crises, though, tend to last a little longer elsewhere, and having confidently proclaimed last week that talk of a relegation battle at Upton Park was premature; on Saturday West Ham duly turned in a performance that made it very difficult for anyone who witnessed it to think that there will be anything other than that in E13 this season.
So much went wrong on Saturday evening that it would normally be difficult to know where to start; but there’s a real sense amongst Hammers fans that things had started to go wrong before a ball was kicked.
Avram Grant’s decision to recall Valon Behrami and Carlton Cole, and the resultant shuffling of a pack that had gone five games unbeaten, immediately set alarm bells ringing amongst the Upton Park faithful.
Neither player had shown anything in their time on the pitch this season to warrant their introduction, especially not into an in-form side, and in the absence of Kieron Dyer and with Pablo Barrera still getting up to speed with the English game, any switch to a 4-3-3 system looked extremely ambitious.
The manager’s decision to break up the hugely promising Piquionne/Obinna partnership and move the former to an unfamiliar position on the right of a front three, effectively leaving the midfield (at least) a man light against a Newcastle side with numbers across the middle of the park; was as baffling as it was ultimately fatal.
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Whilst the criticism that Grant has received in most quarters since the game has been justified, the players must also shoulder their share of the responsibility for the pathetic capitulation.
In the opening period, West Ham attacked with purpose, the passing was sublime, the tackling was hard, everything was done at top pace, and individual battles were won all over the park.
Five games unbeaten, 1-0 up inside 12 minutes, a full house offering their support, playing some of the best football seen at Upton Park in recent times - all of these things should have been the signal for West Ham to go on and win the game at a canter, and there is simply no excuse for the ensuing 78 minutes.
The tempo and intensity dropped, players that were finding team mates from 40 yards could no longer find them from a couple, the tackling was non-existentIt can only be hoped that there is enough honesty in the dressing room, from both management and players, to acknowledge and address the multitude of errors made on Saturday to ensure that there is no repeat.
In an age when fans are often derided for being hard to please and fickle; Hammers fans’ reactions during the second half and at the final whistle were entirely justified, and Avram Grant and his team should be in no doubt about that. They owe us. Big time.
If any Hammers’ fans are reading this for crumbs of comfort, there are not many on offer.....but last season we were frequently awful for 90 minutes, this time it was only for 78. Progress.
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