When the fixture against FC Winterfur was announced a few weeks ago I have to confess of never having heard of he Swiss Club before. In fairness I didn’t even know they were Swiss but Google was my friend in this instance.
West Ham waited a long time before giving out any ticket information which makes it difficult for fans to make arrangements. I don’t know if this is done deliberately to stop fans from descending on Switzerland on mass but the club do seem to have a bit of a disdain for the away West Ham fans and I can only presume this is because they have little control over them.
I managed to do this trip in one day given the length of the flight and how close Zurich airport was to the stadium (20 minute cab or train ride).
Whilst the weather in the UK has been beautiful recently there was a less humid feel to the heat in Winterthur but still a beautiful hot summers day.
West Ham fans had already descended on the small square just outside the stadium with familiar banners about board members David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady. I will be interested to see if any type of protest or dissension from the away fans continue this season.
From a purely social media outlook it seems many West Ham fans have let any such anger from last season go. I understand a need to try and be positive as a continued stance of negativity about everything the club does can’t be good for anyone but there were valid points raised by West Ham fans last season that I still do not think have been answered.
This blog will date very quickly as transfers are imminent (Jack Wilshere seems to be nailed on) but as I type the current West Ham squad is not good enough and the loss of Manuel Lanzini and Joao Mario only serve to make us weaker. An unknown French centre half and a right back who was playing his football in the second division are not enough yet to make me think that this coming season will result in anything other than relegation.
I am sure West Ham are going to bring in players simply because I don’t believe Manuel Pellegrini would have taken the job otherwise. It is his appointment that remains the only spark of confidence that I have. I just hope we can manage to get these signings over the line as the last multitude of transfer windows have shown otherwise.
We knew before the kick off at Winterthur that there would be two different starting line ups in each half. You’re never going to learn much from games like this as the players are never going to be at a level of fitness you’d expect and the tempo is always lower than normal.
The new teal West Ham away shirt was on display. I can’t say I hate the shirt but I am certainly ambivalent towards it. I have never been one to get wound up about the style of shirt West Ham are wearing because ultimately it isn’t going to effect me going to games and supporting the club!
But I will say, it looks as far away from being anything to do with West Ham as I can remember. If you didn’t know it was West Ham you’d be hard pressed to work it out.
The biggest shock of the day was reserved for Andy Carroll actually starting a pre season game.
Adrian was in goal sporting a blonde hairstyle which at first I had mistake for the return of Joe Hart (shudders). Pablo Zabaleta fresh from his stint as a World Cup pundit was at right back with Arthur Masuaku on the left and Declan Rice and Reece Oxford were at centre half.
In midfield we saw the return of Pedro Obiang, youngster Conor Coventry with Nathan Holland on the right and Sead Haksabanovic on the left.
Edmilson Fernandes was in the hole behind Carroll.
It was a terrible game of football and in all honesty the beer was the main highlight. I had been warned that the cost of a pint in Switzerland was going to be astronomical but it was only 5 Swiss francs which worked out at £3.79. (Google was my friend again there. What a bloke).
The home side looked sharper and took the lead early on when a simple pass into the area found the head of the Winterthur striker who easily nodded past Adrian after Oxford and Masuaku had been caught ball watching.
West Ham equalised on 33 minutes when a good ball through from Holland found Fernandes who put a low cross in for Andy Carroll to have the easiest task of tapping in from basically the goal line.
Winterthur regained their lead with another simple pass into the area finding the attacker in acres of space to shoot low past Adrian. Rice and Oxford were caught ball watching and defensively we looked all over the place.
The home side should have made it three when a poor pass out of defence saw Winterthur break and Zabaleta was left for dead by the winger who crossed only for what seemed like an easy finish to be blasted against the cross bar.
But we had a chance to get back into the game when a ball was played into Zabaleta who burst into the box only to be bundled over and referee to award the penalty. With no Mark Noble on the pitch it was Andy Carroll who stepped up but his shot was well saved by the Winterthur and former West Ham keeper Rapheal Spiegel to keep the score at 2-1 to the home side at half time.
The entire line up was changed for the second half. Young keeper Nathan Trott was between the sticks with new signing Ryan Fredricks at right back, Sam Byram at left back. Another new signing Issa Diop was at Centre half alongside Angelo Ogbonna.
I midfield Mark Noble and Josh Cullen were in the centre with Robert Snodgrass (yes him) on the right, Martin Samuelson on the left and Marcus Browne just behind Jordan Hugill in the attacking positions.
There was a little semblance of a football match in this half. Most people were talking to one another basking in the hot weather and having a good time. The importance of the result and even the performance was probably best measured by how little any of took much notice of it.
Winterthur increased their lead when a long ball forward was terribly dealt with by Ogbonna whose poor header let the Winterthur player in to prod the ball past Trott who really had no chance.
West Ham were awarded another penalty when Hugill was brought down by the keeper. I thought Hugill made a real meal of the foul but it did look as though he had been caught.
Stepping up to take the spot kick was of course Mark Noble who did what he always does so well and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-2.
All in all everyone looked a bit rusty but that is to be expected in the very first Pre Season game at the start of July. (Robert Snodgrass is still dog shit though)
There is no way you can look at this game and it give you an indication to how West Ham will perform in 2018/19 and history has told is that Pre Season form has absolutely no bearing on the proceeding season.
My concern comes from last season and I cannot forget just how bad we were. We have so much to do in terms of increasing quality and actually finding a way of playing that can ensure we get the best out of the players we have.
Last summer we signed Javier Hernandez and we were generally all very happy but two managers were unable (or unwilling in the case of Moyes) to fit him into our team. If Hernandez isn’t going to start then it is time to move him on and bring in someone else who we can actually make work.
I still think we need a left back as both Masuaku and Cresswell were moved from this position last season because they were so bad.
Another centre midfielder (I think two) and a winger with some pace would also be very welcome.
Regardless of the game I love going away to watch West Ham and going to Europe is always such an enjoyment. It’s a major frustration that we continue to miss out on European competition.
Much respect to every West Ham fan who made the trip.
Wycombe up next. How different will our squad be then?
Written By Vinny Ryan | @vinnywhufc