The Beast Is Back: Moyes Ambitious In Team Selection

Never thought David Moyes would be a gambling man, but here we have it! With a line up that shows a back four, and a plethora of deadly attacking options, Moyes and West ham are poised to put the pressure on Watford.

The biggest news of the team selection: Marko Arnautovic is back! The offensive catalyst return from a hamstring injury ahead of schedule and joins Chicharito, Antonio, and Mario in what should be a formidable attacking force. Arnautovic’s work ethic, and constant pressure on the ball should test the Watford centrebacks all game.

Joao Mario will be the spark plug for West Ham’s offence, as he will sit centrally and be the outlet from midfield to attack. Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate both are in Centre-mid roles and will be active in relieving their centrebacks, but will also need to keep the ball moving forward to the top heavy formation.

Moyes needs to enact his game plan that he used against Huddersfield Town – pressure everything. Noble was the example with this tactic, pushing his teammates up, and eventually scoring off of an agitated pass from the keeper which Arnautovic pried off the defender. This type of constant pressure, especially on keeper Orestis Karnezis, who has been an injury replacement for regular keeper Heurelho Gomes could be susceptible to mistakes.

With an attacking heavy team Moyes is gambling that his players can lock down the Hornets, and keep the offense on high! Should be fun.

Come On You Irons!

– Adam

Middle Fingers To The Hornets: West Ham vs. Watford

With the storyline focused around Watford captain Troy Deeney’s availability for this match, West Ham have an uphill battle welcoming the Hornets to the London Stadium. Coming off of a 4-1 shellacking of reigning champions Chelsea, Watford are invigorated under their new manager Javi Garcia, and new attacker Gerard Deulofeu.

Deeney, who netted a penalty in the Chelsea match, celebrated his goal by throwing up double middle fingers, a proverbial “fuck you” to his doubters and to the people saying that Watford were going to move on from him in the transfer window. First choice on penalties for the Hornets and team captain, Deeney is a mix of clinical and physical, with an attitude to boot. His size and surprising speed in the area will make him more than a handful for the ‘best-guess’ backline of West Ham.

Despite Deeney’s goalscoring abilities, West Ham will need to focus more heavily on the new man in town, loanee Gerard Deulofeu. Coming from Barcelona, Deulofeu has a pedigree that would make him a viable option for the La Liga giants. Falling out of favour with new recruit. More than just a handful to spell, Deulofeu will challenge the wingbacks at West Ham for the entirety of the match.

He made the Chelsea defenders look silly at times, and invited the play of fullback Daryl Jaanmat to follow him up, creating a beautiful goal for the Dutchman. Who ever plays against Deulofeu will need to be sharp and ready to move. Aaron Cresswell should get the go, but newcomer Patrice Evra could also see a start or a switch to provide relief from the bench.

For West Ham they need to take up the fight Deeney did previously; show the world why you belong. Admittedly I am not confident in West Ham securing three points, not for lack of skill and ability, but due to the shallow squad, injuries, and off field antics. It is obvious the unrest at the club due to another disappointing transfer window and subsequent fan unrest has caused the play on the field to drop.

This should be a wake up call for the clubs supporters – once kick off happens get behind the team on the pitch and support those players. The London Stadium, while not a spiritual home is the home of West Ham, and it needs to be a fortress to help secure these precious points at home.

The team also needs a “fuck you” performance from their stars. Chicharito has been more than good for West Ham since the Marko Arnautovic injury, and with Arnie back in training the two could be a devastating dynamic duo up top. Jordan Hugill, West Ham’s new striker also needs to make a statement in the Premier League. Maybe most under the gun to perform is Michail Antonio. Only introduced for a few minutes against Brighton, the once squad ace needs to get back on form and start popping home goals.

So, will West Ham win? Sure they can. There is no lacking of skill, the only question is if this squad can bend and not break under pressure. With points at a premium, the matches against midtable teams like Watford need to be taken seriously. This matchup allows West Ham the precious ability to pop the new manger/player bubble Watford are currently floating into East London on. Silly hornets, Bubbles are for hammers.

Come On You Irons!

-Adam

Kick In The Ass Needed, Kick To The Head Signed – Welcome Evra!

Despite the overwhelming belief that the powers that be in the West Ham board need a kick in the ass, West Ham opt for a kick to the head and sign Patrice Evra. The 36 year old leftback joins West Ham on a short term contract after being released by Marseille following an incident with a fan altercation.

Patrice Evra will be among friends at West Ham starting with his manager, David Moyes. Evra played for Manchester United during the Moyes reign, where he was first introduced to the Scottish manager. As well, Chicharito played under Moyes at Man U and will link up again with Evra. The French leftback has also played with Angelo Ogbonna at Juventus, hopefully adding some cohesion to an often confused back line for the Hammers.

The signing is a bit confusing for West Ham supporters. The club failed to make any defensive midfield impact signings during the January transfer window, which is their largest area of need. The Evra signing does not address this issue, and also goes against a policy that David Sullivan himself put in place, stating the club will look for younger options, specifying no players over 32.

For Evra, he will fill a gap at the club. With Arthur Masuaku serving a 6-game ban for spitting against Wigan, Aaron Cresswell is the only leftback option at the club currently. Evra can offer respite for Cresswell, and hopefully press pace up the wing in an advanced wingback role.

Regardless of his passed incidents, and colourful attitude off the pitch, if he can help West Ham secure more points then I am all for the signing. This should not, however, be the end for West Ham free agent signings. Heavily short on midfield coverage, West Ham should look to the likes of former Bayern Munich, and more recently, Sunderland defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff who is a free agent. Coming off serious injury it is a low risk signing that could pay dividends.

West Ham surely need to beef up their midfield, and a few more free agents could help with that, despite it being the cheap, predictable route for the clubs owners.

Come On You Irons!

-Adam

Time Is Up For Moyes’ Player Positioning

A depleted squad securing one point at home is fine for a January result, but losing 3-1 to a relegation rival, and team that was just promoted is inexcusable. Sure, Moyes’ diamond works and is versatile, but sticking with the same formation when you have better options on the bench is stubborn.

What was featured in this woeful formation was career rightback Pablo Zabaleta playing his second concurrent game at center midfield. Many, myself included, believed this move was out of desperation against Crystal Palace, but it apparently was feasible to roll it out against a team struggling in the standings. After hammering that square peg into a round hole twice in a row, Moyes needs to adjust his faithful formation to suit his players, not force the players to fit.

Michail Antonio, an offensive threat when playing was a substitution late in the match and was never able to get situated in the match. Why would Moyes’ not install him directly into the lineup to give Chicharito support with speed and physicality? Again stubbornness seems to be the answer. The adage says that you don’t change a winning formation, but not changing a shallow formation because you drew a mid-table team in your own building is idiotic.

I don’t think Moyes has been to blame for much this season since he was appointed manager, but this blunder comes at an inopportune time. West Ham’s relegation rivals all seemed to add points, and jump closer to surpassing the Hammers. With the transfer window depressingly gone Moyes will need to make due with what he has for team selection, but he needs to throw tradition, sayings, and folklore out the window and make a team that wins.

Moving forward Moyes needs to rely on who is in form, and who is available. Chicharito, who netted for West Ham in this match seems to be getting back into stride in recent games. He needs the support of a Michail Antonio or Jordan Hugill up top to step his game up further.

Defensively both Declan Rice and James Collins showed their ages in this match. Rice, with youthful inexperience and Collins with the wear and tear of a grizzled veteran. Poor man marking and active feet resulted in multiple goals against for West Ham and should force Jose Fonte and Winston Reid back into the line up for West Ham’s next match against Watford.

COYI

-Adam

Away Days: West Ham at Brighton

West Ham kick off the post transfer window era with a trip down South to Brighton and Hove Albion. Deadline day acquisition Jordan Hugill has traveled with the team and will make the squad for match day.

West Ham look to continue an impressive unbeaten start to 2018 with another performance that will return points, and with a stronger squad than their previous match at home to Crystal Palace, should. With a 2-0-3 record since the New Year, West Ham are doing their best to stave off the relegation zone, despite the mere eleven point difference from 8th to 20th.

Brighton have gone 0-2-2 in 2018, with losses to Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion. Their track record against West Ham this season shows a different story however, having served up a 0-3 thumping at home for the Hammers. That match saw manager Slaven Bilic begin a decline in fan support and eventually helped in his sacking.

For West Ham, David Moyes needs to learn from his predecessors mistakes, and his faithful diamond formation should help. Brighton used their speed down the wing, mostly with José Izquierdo’s blazing pace, to open up the Hammers, and sent in balls to striker Glenn Murray. For the Hammers, the previous match saw their poor defensive structure taken advantage of, but their own wingers could change this.

For West Ham, the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and Aaron Cresswell should be able to support the back three to quell the Brighton offence. As well, Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate will drop into defensive support as they did to shut down Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha.

That brings in the tricky question of “who is going to start?” for West Ham. Well, the formation has shown that it wont change, regardless of opposition or squad depth. Here is my best guess:

Brighton formation

Michail Antonio’s return from injury and disciplinary suspension will force out the successful Sam Byram on the wing. Antonio starting up top makes sense due to his position in a striker duo with Chicharito. Most likely he will play 45 minutes or slightly over (capped at 60) and new face Hugill will make his debut. Pairing with Chicharito is a no brainer after his game against Crystal Palace.

The Mexican fox in the box worked well with Joao Mario, West Ham’s other January addition, and has developed his game outside of the box. Him with Antonio and Hugill’s physical and aerial presence should prove to be effective against the gulls of Brighton.

West Ham have the team to take on and defeat Brighton, although I’ve thought that before. If Moyes’ defensive drilling can keep its shape, the added squad depth with Hugill’s acquisition, and Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, and Michail Antonio returning from injury should be the difference for West Ham over Brighton.

Come On You Irons!
-Adam

Why Tony Henry Sacking Shows More Than a Guilty Conscience

West Ham United sack their Director of Scouting Tony Henry after his quotes about African players. I would assume everyone saw this coming, but it could lead to more Mayhem for David Moyes than it would see.

Henry’s comments were horribly constructed and shined a necessary light, outside of the grieving fan base for another pitiful transfer window gone by, on the ludicrous nature of West Ham’s upper management team. Whether he was not understood, or didn’t mean what he said, a director of scouting, who is in multiple countries watching players from across the globe should know how to formulate a sentence that doesn’t sound racist. Ironically, after the window passed, the “mayhem” caused by African players at West Ham, as said by Henry, does not compare to the insanity in the board room.

West Ham were quick to fire Henry after investigation on the incident was concluded. This is where things get interesting – put on your tinfoil hats. West Ham hired Moyes as manager to organize the squad and keep the team up. For the most part this has been a success, although the season is not over yet. Moyes, who has worked with Henry at Everton in the passed, was poised to strengthen his squad with the fine relationship between him and his scouting director.

After the firing of Henry, and the January transfer window that saw two first team players brought in for a side reeling from injuries, the writing could be on the wall for Manager Moyes.

The fan base on social media was hardly split when Moyes was appointed, shouting out that he was the cheap option, would bring boring football, and that he hasn’t been a solid manager since Everton. But, after a string of solid performances (in the Premier League), he seems to have the full support of the armchair pundits, myself included.

Moyes is essentially managing for a future in football. Should West Ham end their season an not be relegated, I believe he will have new life in his managerial career, anything higher than 17th and it is a lock. However, I now highly doubt that that future will be at West Ham. With his longtime business partner fired without a second thought, and a window that saw minimal effort in getting Moyes the players he wanted, the board of West Ham could be signalling that Moyes will only last this season at the club.

It makes sense insofar as believing the line that West Ham will be going to the ‘next level’ after leaving Upton Park for the Olympic Stadium. A defensive minded, grind-it-out manager isn’t really where the club want to be, so bringing in players that would suit that style for Moyes would, for the board, not be wise investments.

After his sacking from Watford this season, unexpectedly so, many would assume West Ham could make a move for Marco Silva as their next manager. I would support this, but that signing would need to come with a substantial budget over £50 million.

Alright, tinfoil hats off now.

Firing Tony Henry was the right thing to do for West Ham, and it opens up more opportunity for next level development. Could this void be filled with a director of football for the club? It would certainly be welcomed if it saw David Sullivan stepping down from the role of transfer negotiator!

COYI
-Adam

The Origins of My West Ham Obsession

So here it goes – maybe an explanation for why I’ve been so fixated on a foreign team, in a foreign league, playing what to us is a foreign sport.

For anyone who follows my personal Social Media accounts, my writing about West Ham United has been constant, if not annoying. But, for me, the Premier League is something that is hard to explain – a sort of cultural tide that grabbed me and pulled me out to sea. As those close to me know, I am an avid Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, and Minnesota Vikings fan (I’m coming around on the Raptors too). What West Ham is for me has turned into a bizarre obsession, on a different level than my other North American teams. So let me try and explain why.

Waking up from a crippling hangover at the hands of my two University roommates, I had just enough energy to get my bedding into the washing machine before collapsing back on my bare mattress to comfortably regret the night before. From a previous Leaf game, my television was on a local sports station and when turned on was showing the walkouts of West Ham hosting Hull City.

Due to my condition, I couldn’t reach the remote to change to something soft and soothing, so I instead doubled down on the game-winner was my team. West Ham comfortably cruised to a 3-0 win on January 15th, 2015 and I was hooked.

Since that day I haven’t missed many matches, a strong feat considering the very limited T.V. coverage in Canada, but I made it my mission. I went all in on West Ham United, and I have no intention of dropping the shield with the crossed hammers – my promise to never drink again that I made that same morning has not been kept.

A history lover by choice and educational trade means two things: I currently don’t work in my field, and that I dove headlong into the annals of West Ham history. This only fueled my love for the team further. Learning of the Thames Iron Works origins of the team, and the blue collar attitude that grew from that tradition made me even more content in my decision to support the team.

West Ham were an oxymoron to me; Playing the gentleman’s game, with crunching tackles and an unapologetic attitude to get physical, win the ball, and put in a shift.

The team’s rich history of varied players was also an attractive feature. England and West Ham captain Bobby Moore is synonymous with the club, and his international career and composure he added elegance to East London. Then you get the likes of Julian Dicks – The Terminator. The man often possessed in competition, would put body on the line and smash the opposition in order to win.

For me, having visited East London recently for my first ever match, it is now a life long commitment. Is it easy? For love of the team yes, for access to streams and broadcasts, maybe not. Is it worth it? Undoubtedly. Community is something to be valued, and despite how the current situation of the club may taint things, the West Ham family is still strong, and I am proud to be a part of it.

 

Come On You Irons!

-Adam