David Moyes put out a fairly strong team this afternoon as West Brom came to the London Stadium for the FA Cup 4th round. There was plenty of interest surrounding the game with former manager Slaven Bilic now in charge of the baggies alongside West Ham legend Julian Dicks, now part of Bilic’s backroom staff.
As with almost every West Ham cup match, an upset was most definitely on the cards, if indeed you can call it an upset with the sides only 4 places apart in the league pyramid.
There wasn’t much to be happy about in the first half from a West Ham perspective. No pressing, slow build up play, sloppy passing and a lack of understanding doesn’t leave you with much left over. From back to front West Ham were poor and it didn’t take too long for the visitors to break the deadlock as West Brom’s left back Conor Townsend found himself in plenty of space on the edge of the box, finishing with a lovely driven effort that Darren Randolph could do nothing about.
The rest of the half saw very little action of note, a few break away chances for either side with the key difference being that West Brom looked dangerous going forward. West Ham on the other hand looked woefully short of ideas. When it wasn’t a poor pass, it was a complete lack of interest from players to make themselves available. It can’t be coincidence that every time the ball drops loose, we’re not the one’s picking it up.
I noticed a rtheme in the first half. Darren Randolph seemed very reluctant to kick the ball up field, instead playing the ball usually to Balbuena to hoof it long. I wonder whether Randolph is playing injured?
It was a relief when Balbuena decided to kick it long because his short passing was atrocious, much like many of his teammates and he would make way for Angelo Ogbonna at half time with the score at 0-1.
David Moyes decided to make all three of his substitutions at the break. Alongside Balbuena, Pablo Fornals and Carlos Sanchez were also replaced by Michail Antonio and Mark Noble. It was clear that Moyes didn’t like what he’d seen in the first half. Much like the rest of us.
The second half wasn’t much better. The substitutions improved us a little bit. Most of that was the positivity of Michail Antonio. Sounds familiar huh?
In the 73rd minute, West Ham were given a lifeline after Semi Ajayi was sent off for West Brom following his second yellow card. It was now or never for the hammers who chose the latter option and looked just as toothless playing with an extra man. West Brom were comfortable, West Ham were clueless, resulting in a number of long shots from twenty plus yards.
We didn’t even register an attempt on goal until the 85th minute after Diop misjudged the flight of the ball (not for the first time) and proceeded to shoulder it in to Jonathan Bond’s hands. A couple of late long-range efforts saw Bond make some more routine stops and the keeper was relieved to see Mark Noble shoot over late on in the game as the goal opened up for the skipper. It pretty much summed up the afternoon. Not good enough!
At times during the game I questioned whether any of our team had met each other before let alone played with each other. Nobody seems to have a clue what anybody else is going to do with the ball. When players can actually be arsed to make themselves available, the pass is usually terrible. We never do anything with any tempo. Sure, we don’t have pace, but we can try to move the ball quickly can’t we?
Nobody came out of this game for West Ham with any real credit. It was more a question of who was worse? One name worth mentioning is Sebastien Haller. We paid £45m for him in the summer and I think we’ve been done. Does he even want to be a striker? I know he likes to be the assist maker, but that’s not your role mate, get in the f***ing box. When he’s not standing still, he’s falling over. After today’s performance, I think Ajeti deserves the lone striker role more than Haller. Whether Ajeti has the quality or not is still questionable, but he at least seemed to put himself about.
Today’s performance was just as bad as the Leicester game. We have defenders that can’t head, midfielders that can’t pass, strikers that can’t shoot. And a whole team of bottle jobs who can’t deal with the situation they are in.
Declan Rice – 6