It is usually the case that when a team is struggling for results, the West Ham fixture is generally the one when they rediscover their winning form and turn their season around. And so it was very nearly the case last Saturday when the trip to Sunderland saw the Hammers go two goals down in the first half. A poor, lethargic performance saw yet another unforced error result in a goal against, and the signs were there that this was to be a bad day at the office. Victor Moses had a subdued half, and I was coming to the conclusion that he should be making way for Antonio when a bit of trickery down the left saw a good cross turned in by Jenkinson, whose needless foul resulted in Sunderland’s first goal. So the Hammers went in just one down, and the half time team talk probably turned out to be not quite so tetchy, and hopes were a bit higher in the second half.
The Hammers’ task was made an awful lot easier just under the hour mark, when Lens of Sunderland collected his second yellow and an early shower, and Payet duly obliged after 60 minutes, knocking in a rebound after a long range effort was fumbled by Pantilimon, who certainly didn’t “catch ’em all!” (Pokemon joke for the uninitiated). After the sending off Sunderland seemed to give up the ghost and West Ham should really have nicked a winner, but after the abysmal first half a point was not so unpalatable.
Things of note that came to me during the match:
1. Mark Noble is a great skipper and always puts in a shift, but he is noticeably lacking in pace these days. Add that to his habit of collecting cards and his error strewn passing, and we have a potentially difficult decision coming up for the manager. Drop the captain? Allardyce wouldn’t do it, but will Bilic?
2. Since the first game or so, Victor Moses has lost his spark a bit. Let’s hope he starts firing again soon.
3. Cresswell seems to be reluctant these days to get to the byeline and put in a cross. He nearly always just passes it backwards. He also gets caught out of position at the back quite often. Get Julian on the job!
Saying all that, we’re still doing great as a whole. When you consider that the manager is still making his mark, applying his football philosophy and getting the players a bit fitter, results have gone well. I just hope we are not flattering to deceive. Oh, and isn’t Bilic just a breath of fresh air? No excuses, no blame, just honesty and integrity.