Now I know there will be those reading this who will be saying “we have had a tough set of fixtures to start the season” but forgive me for not having too much confidence when the three ‘easier’ matches we have played all resulted in defeats.
Last season Slaven Bilic was sacked after just 11 matches and whilst the claim “he was taking us down” is a statement based on nothing but opinion if West Ham were to lose the next two games (Leicester away and Burnley home) would it not be reasonable to expect serious talk of a change in manager?
To many such a suggestion may seem ridiculous but I am not sure why. After 11 games it was deemed enough to make the judgement or do we carry on to Christmas like we did we Avram Grant and Glenn Roeder (and then we didn’t even get rid of them at all)?
But hopefully it won’t come to that and we will get some much needed points out of the next two games. It is hard to predict whether we will because we are so inconsistent and the injuries as usual are piling up.
To only be in October and have Lanzini, Obiang, Wilshere, Sanchez and now Yarmolenko all injured is farcical. If you had told me in the summer that come October West Ham would line up against Tottenham with a midfield three of Rice, Noble and Snodgrass I would think you had lost your mind.
Spending £100m in the summer was great PR from the club but really that is all it has been as the underlying problems through the squad remain and trying to find the differences between this season and last is becoming a difficult thing to do.
There is still a fundamental issue with the lack of pace through the team. We signed Ryan Fredericks to inject some pace at right back but a couple of poor displays quickly saw Pablo Zabaleta reinstated and in fairness he has been impressive since he came back into the team.
The two centre halves are getting better with each game and it is difficult not to be impressed with how both Diop and Balbena are performing.
But the positives end there with the midfield still struggling and I don’t believe it is because players are not trying but I just don’t believe they have the ability to do anymore than they are doing.
Declan Rice has impressed and looks very composed on the ball. I still think he lacks a little bit of confidence when on the ball but I am sure that will develop with time. But whilst the role Rice is playing is important, it is not going to win you a game and the other two midfielders are therefore vital in getting that ball up the pitch.
I like Mark Noble and find the criticism of him mindless at times. I don’t think he is a bad player at all but I do recognize that as he gets older his ability to play at a high standard week in week out will diminish. This is why I never wanted to see Mark Noble playing every game this season and I believed with all the signings that we would achieve this but yet again we are reliant on him because there is no one else either available or better than him to come into the side.
I was all for the departure Cheik Kouyate as his form had long been on the decline and I was sure we could bring in better players but when Robert Snodgrass is lining up as the centre midfielder in a Premier League game I find myself thinking that Kouyate would actually make our starting line up which is a real concern.
Then we have the 40 million pound man Felipe Anderson. He received some ferocious criticism from the supporters who witnessed his performance against Tottenham which I think in the main was merited but perhaps this is because most of us do not really know what type of player he is and are blinded by that transfer fee.
I also think we as fans are still not truly over the loss of Dimtri Payet and long to see a player like him again. So when we sign a Brazilan winger for £40m and see he has a great set of youtube highlights then we will all get excited. But when he is no where near the level of the anomaly that was Payet our disappointment just turns to anger.
Don’t get me wrong though his display was horse shit but my only excuse for him is that he just has no inclination to how to defend. In the system we play he has to track back and do more but he just looks like a lost child when trying to do so.
In fairness over the years West Ham have allowed certain players the freedom to never defend. Di Canio, Berkovic, Payet and even Arnautovic were never required to defend with Arnie being so ill disciplined at working for the team that David Moyes decided to change his position and put him as far away from the defence as possible. This obviously worked out well though I continue to doubt the success of this move was ever truly forseen.
With Yarmolenko picking up with what seems like a long term injury the decision to bring on youngster Grady Diangana was nice but surprising. The message it sent to Michail Antonio must have been a hard hitting one with Antonio looking a shadow of the player who easily won the Hammer of the year award just two seasons ago.
I don’t believe Antonio is just plain lazy. I think his issues are far worse in that he is no longer the player he was. His ability to power past defenders and give us something totally different is gone. There was a point against Tottenham where he knocked the ball past the defender and ran past him only for the defender to catch him up. Two seasons ago you would not have caught Antonio.
I did not want to sell him in the summer because I didn’t believe there were many obvious players out there who were better but unless something dramatically changes then I would think he will be gone in January. It is clear that Pellegrini is not a big fan of him either otherwise Grady Diangana wouldn’t be coming on ahead of him.
Saying that, Antonio might not have to worry about Pellegrini come January if results continue the way they are.
The trouble with writing blogs such as these is that things can change in an instant and you can see on social media how quickly the opinions of West Ham fans can change in an instant. Against Manchester United Anderson was a world beater worth his fee, and after Tottenham he should be benched in favour of a player who has never started a Premier League game.
Off the pitch doesn’t seem much better either although we have barely heard a word from David Sullivan since the summer which is never a bad thing.
But in the same year that head of recruitment Tony Henry was sacked for offensive and racist comments we have youth coach Mark Phillips suspended for attending a “Democratic Football Lads Alliance” march. This group are associated with the far right and racism.
Whether you agree with that or not that is how this group is perceived by the wider public so whilst people can bleat on about the wrongs or right of how the DFLA is viewed the fact that Mark Phillips decided to go on this march (the reasons for him doing so are irrelevant) to me means he either knew about how the DFLA is perceived or he was just that naive.
Obviously he knew enough to delete his twitter account which had a number of retweets supporting this group.
The club did the correct thing in suspending him as they will need to investigate the severity of his links to this group. If this was just a genuine error and his reasons were totally personal then I expect him to be reinstated.
Obviously on twitter anyone with a view against the DFLA is derided and ganged up on as it would seem that free speech only works if you agree with organisations such as these. Some of the abuse certain fans have received (by grown men who should know better) is nauseating but I guess that is just the way of the world now. Agree or be called a snowflake or a racist depending on your view.
None of it looks good for West Ham though and that really is the point. No matter which way your political alliances sway towards this is just another PR disaster for a club who generate one embarrassing story after another.
On November 6th it will be a year since Slaven Bilic was sacked. How do you believe the club has fared since that dismissal? Do we still long for the days of a 7th and 11th placed finish? I fear we are far away from anything like that at the moment but ultimately winning games will change that view and we need to start with a win against Leicester.
Written By: Vinny Ryan | @vinnywhufc
One thought on “Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes”
Could we not put Masuaku at left wing, in front of Cresswell and move Anderson more central and have Snodgrass in Yarmalenko’s position