David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 0, Newcastle 2. The March Towards The Championship Begins.

I don’t need to start this with a complaint about the incompetence of our owners. Been there, done that. Won’t make any difference anyway. We are stuck with them apparently, so whatever. And despite my snarky title above, I don’t think relegation has been confirmed just yet. Instead I want to lodge an official complaint against my USA broadcaster, NBC, and their new Peacock app. Costs me $5 per month, which is fine. What’s not fine is that it does not permit me to play through my television with an HDMI cable. I tried mirroring with my older Apple TV but that was a bust. I had to settle for watching on my iPad at my desk while typing on the computer. A far cry from a 65 inch flat screen and a comfy couch. Yeah, boo f-ing hoo for me considering the current state of the world. Guess I’m just having a moan. Very West Ham of me.

It was interesting to hear the banter between Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe, and Rebecca Lowe on NBC. They collectively said that both West Ham and Newcastle are too big to constantly be near the bottom of the table. “They should be the Leicester and Wolves” said Lowe. Mustoe then wondered aloud if perhaps the ownership for West Ham was the problem.

Ya think?

Callum Wilson is our new Lukaku, in that he seemingly scores every time he plays against us. With his injury record I can’t blame Moyes or anyone else in Stratford for staying away. In the 4th minute, Wilson got on the end of a decent cross from Lewis but his header went wide. Moments later Shelvey started a counter attack that ended in a Newcastle corner when Diop sent a cross out behind the goal. The delivery went into the box, and chaos seemed to ensue. A shot went off Fabianski, but the flag went up so the fear we all felt was unnecessary. For the moment, at least.

West Ham had their first opportunity in the 14th minute after Hayden fouled Antonio, giving the home side a free kick 35 yards from goal. Noble floated a ball in to the box, and Ogbonna ran onto it and headed it off the bar.

For all of the talk about Cresswell needing to be replaced, Bournemouth attacked our right backs last week. And Newcastle did the same again in the 21st minute when Lewis sent a low cross to Wilson who got a toe to it but sent it wide. Two minutes later they won a free kick 25 yards out, but Shelvey’s attempt took a deflection and flew straight into Fabianski’s arms. Moments after that Newcastle attacked again, this time going at Cresswell, and Ogbonna put the delivery out for a corner. The set piece found Man Bun all alone in the box, but his header went over the bar.

The first 25 minutes could be summed up pretty neatly. West Ham were anemic. Slow. Plodding. We made Newcastle look like a top four side. And a draw felt like the best we could possibly hope for.

The Hammers showed a sign of life in the 29th minute when Fredericks put a quick cross into the box. Soucek rose above the crowd, and when he put his forehead through the delivery I thought I’d see the net ripple. Instead it went wide. A minute later Rice lost the ball and launched Newcastle on a counter. The ball went wide to Shelvey, who tried to beat Fabianski at the near post but hit the side netting instead. A moment later Man Bun did well to chest down a pass near the top of the 18 yard box and after one touch tried a volley that took a deflection and went out for a corner.

West Ham thought it had a shout for a penalty in the 34th minute when a poor Fredericks cross somehow found Fornals, whose shot went off the bar after what was thought to be a handball by Lascelles. VAR said no. Seconds later a truly horrific back-pass by the same young Spaniard set Saint Maximin on a run, with Fredericks in pursuit. Amazingly, Fredericks played defense like a defender, forced Saint Maximin off the ball, and eventually West Ham cleared.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Newcastle 0

In the final seconds of the opening forty five minutes, Declan Rice went in for a tackle near midfield. He did not get back up right away, so when he walked out onto the pitch for the second half there was a notable sense of relief.

The inevitable happened in the 56th minute when Manquillo broke down the right and sent a cross into the West Ham box. It took a slight deflection, and guess who was there to tap it in? Could Fabianski have done better? Who the hell knows, but he does look to have lost something since his injury last season.

Embed from Getty Images

West Ham 0
Newcastle 1

Moyes made a double switch in the 67th minute, removing Noble and Fornals while inserting Haller and Yarmolenko. Seconds later, Antonio won a corner and Haller got on the end of it. His attempt on goal was blocked by what looked to be the arm of Hendrick. VAR had a look, and disagreed with Moyes, Haller, and everyone else in Claret & Blue.

West Ham pressed as well as they could for a leveler, but every attempt looked half baked. Rice ran into a crowd, a Cresswell delivery on a corner found nobody in the box, nor did a second corner from Yarmolenko. A header from Haller was weak and no trouble for Darlow. There was virtually no movement from anyone up front for The Hammers, who looked disjointed and out of sync, as if all of the optimism from our decent end to last season was undone. Only one shot on target all game was a testament to that.

Newcastle took full advantage of that, and in the 87th minute Hendrick put the match to bed with a shot from inside the box that Cresswell did absolutely nothing to prevent.

Embed from Getty Images

Full Time
West Ham 0
Newcastle 2

Two teams that historically do very poorly on the opening day of the season got together, and unsurprisingly the team that had been in the papers for absurd levels of drama capitulated. It’s ridiculous to seriously say we will go down after one match. West Ham often pull some surprise wins out of the hat to counteract their more plentiful shock losses. But the West Ham players looked demoralized. Lost.

A lot like us supporters.

Embed from Getty Images


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham Lose Big. And Not Just To Bournemouth.

Wow. When I found out our friendly today against Bournemouth was televised on ESPN3 (so many ESPN’s I cannot keep track) I had this whole plan to write a report with some funny comments about writers needing match fitness too. And then, almost as if on cue, West Ham took what should have been an utterly innocuous few days and turned it into one the larger s*#t storms in the board’s infamous and relatively failed career in football. And that’s saying something. The bar for such things is pretty high in their world.

Embed from Getty Images

While many may disagree with some of this, in my opinion so much of what we have all experienced the past few days is more about what it represents than the actual events. Let’s start with the match that lit the current wild fire, the sale of one Grady Diangana. On it’s face, with zero emotion or history as a factor, one could make the argument that it had merit. He went out on loan to gain time as a first team footballer. In that time, he played very well for West Brom and became a fan favorite. But he also missed a sizable part of the season with a hamstring injury, an injury that has a better than small chance of recurring if The History Of Hamstrings is a textbook you own. West Ham have a cupboard full of only one type of player, and that’s midfielder. Despite his good performance this pre-season, particularly linking up with Haller, that’s still a small sample size on which to make a decision. So some of the evidence points to making the deal with West Brom.

But we all know it’s not that simple. If we hadn’t been told that the move to Stratford would result in changing those hiding fortunes of the club, would there be such an uproar? We were told the move would bring in world class players, yet now the owners say we have no money and that it’s all the fault of the previous manager and his hand picked DOF, who were in charge for less than two seasons. Can we blame Pellegrini for the 170 million spent on strikers over ten years, only to sell those same strikers for 70 million? There’s your 100 million pound debt right there. Or as one person on Twitter said, although I haven’t done the research and math to confirm it, they have taken more out of the club in dividend payments than they have spent on fullbacks since they purchased their initial share in 2010. The list goes on and on. You don’t break up with your partner because they forgot to refill the toilet paper or they ate all the leftover Chinese food that you wanted for lunch. Those transgressions are usually an example of what has been wrong for many, many years.

Embed from Getty Images

The same can be said for Mark Noble’s outburst on Twitter yesterday, and the reactions by Rice, Wilshire, and Haller on that platform later. As I said on Twitter last night to my good friend Dan Silver, “I’m 55. I’m no dummy. It doesn’t take rocket science to see through that comment. His saying he’s “angry” was his diplomatic way of saying F-Off to them. It was as good as saying GSB out.” It goes without saying that Mark Noble is West Ham through and through. There is virtually no chance he has not held back comments and feelings during the reign of incompetence we have been witness to. But everyone has a breaking point. That moment where years of anger and hurt just overflow, like a pressure cooker, and they blow. If someone bought my company and over years turned it from one of the most respected wine and spirit distributors in New York into a gimmicky member of the trade that is never spoken about in the same breath as other respected suppliers, I’d likely go ballistic at some point as well. I’d probably quit to be honest. I may not have been able to predict this would be The Captain’s breaking point, but I was neither shocked nor critical of him for doing it. Some have said it was unprofessional and he could be punished for it. OK. He can afford a fine, but I don’t know if he could afford the self loathing he might feel not putting West Ham ahead of those that currently own it.

They need to go. They won’t anytime soon because they possess the dangerous combination of arrogance and stupidity that always leads to doom and destruction.

And we played a meaningless friendly today that might not be so meaningless. The squad looks unsettled now. When you perform as poorly as we did one week before the season opener, conceding five goals to a relegated club, it shines a pretty big spotlight on the issues we all know already exist. And because of the firestorm created in the past 48 hours a normally annoying pre-season result will absolutely turn into a large gas tank poured on the flames.

Just another day in As The West Ham Turns.

GSBOUT

Embed from Getty Images


The David Hautzig Column

Maybe There Is A Plan Now?

Robbie Earle, one of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang members, said something here as a studio analyst for NBC’s coverage of the Premier League that some might find crazy. He said, more than once, that this West Ham side should have been mid-table and challenging for Europe as opposed to surviving by the skin of our teeth. But is that crazy? While saying anything that could be construed as Pro GSB hurts me like one of those leg cramps you got growing up…growing pains my mom called them…I think I agree with him. And if that’s the case, what do I expect and want from this window?

Not a lot.

Embed from Getty Images

In fact, if we did absolutely nothing I’d be less afraid of relegation than I was a few weeks ago. If Moyes has shown us anything in his two spells it’s that he is a good coach. Probably a far better coach than Bilic or Pellegrini in that he can take existing players and make them better when needed. Arnautovic as a striker? Why was Moyes the only one to think of this at any time through Arnie’s career? Other managers used Antonio up top in emergency situations, which at West Ham seem to occur every other Tuesday, but with no success. One thought right back was a stroke of genius. Bless him. Yet Moyes not only put him in the strikers seat, he also gave him specific instructions as to how he wanted him to play in that role. Antonio said as much after his goal explosion at Norwich.

Embed from Getty Images

There are some other examples, notably Ogbonna and Rice, both of whom seemed to improve under Moyes tutelage. Yes, the additions of Soucek and Bowen were instrumental and helped support both Oggy and Dec, thus allowing them to work with far less angst. But if we are to blame managers when things go south, Moyes has to be given credit for Soucek and Bowen because he was at the helm when they joined.

I’m even cautiously optimistic Moyes could help Fredericks become a better defender if he stays, which I believe he will. Impossible, you say? Well, if you remember what a train wreck Winston Reid was under Moron Grant you know that such reclamation projects aren’t impossible. Regardless of what you think of his four years at the club, Sam taught Reid how to defend. Moyes might be able to do the same with Fredericks. If he can, that would truly be like a new signing, one that could help end the rot of losing more points than any other team from winning positions.

Embed from Getty Images

Up front we have the curious case of Haller. Some have decided he is useless. A flop. A snowflake unable to handle the rigors of the EPL. Let me ask you something. If you owned a restaurant, would you hire a chef from a competing establishment that specializes is fine seafood and expect him/her to crank out Hawksmoor worthy steaks, cooked on a stove you bought at The Home Depot? Haller was fantastic, top drawer, when teamed with Jovic. Yet we wanted him to be Drogba 2.0, then quickly judged him as Zaza 2.0. If Moyes doesn’t think he’s up for it, fine. But I would much rather keep him and play him correctly, with Antonio lurking around the box as instructed by Moyes.

Embed from Getty Images

Covid has turned our normal internal calendar into total mush, and mine has reset to something like this;

With only a few weeks to go until 2020/2021 kicks off, I think we have a chance to keep the form we showed for the final six matches. That form ended up being our lifeboat, because we very well might have gone down without that points haul. And under that lens, Soucek and Bowen are kind of like summer signings, and we are just taking an unusually long international break. Hate ‘em or just dislike ‘em (notice liking them isn’t an option), GSB did spend a ton of money on their Pellegrini Project and it did not go that well. So I understand the need for a little fiscal responsibility, even if that’s not palatable on Twitter.

My friend and West Ham Yoda, Nigel Kahn, has often said the focus each window should be on bringing in one or two better players, and then integrate them into a squad that is being improved by the manager and his staff. I think if we do that this summer, we could go to the next level. And before any of you lose your cookies over that, the word “next” is of the utmost importance. For us, that means somewhere above the bottom five. Then, it will mean mid-table. Then, if we are lucky, it will mean consistent top half with the occasional flirtation with Europe. Any ideas that we can do better than that anytime soon are likely pipe dreams.

That’s called a “plan” in case you’re reading this, Mr & Mrs Board.

Maybe it’s time we tried that.

Embed from Getty Images


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Aston Villa 1. And That's That.

It’s a funny thing, perspective. When the season was put on pause in March and the scale of the pandemic began to come into focus, I wholeheartedly supported calling it quits on the season as so many other leagues did. No, it would not have been fair to Leeds, Slaven, and whoever wins the playoffs. And with our precarious position at the time, or pretty much any time, it would have allowed us to push the re-set button on a truly crappy year on every level imaginable. Life isn’t always fair was my reply to all of that. But now with the benefit of good old 20-20 hindsight, I can see why this was a good idea. No, not from the perspective of “integrity of the competition” or what have you. Personally I didn’t and still don’t give a toss about that. Not when the world is metaphorically on fire. What I mean is, sport is so often described as an escape from the rigors of daily life. And for our kids generation, and even for many of us older folk, this is the most difficult period the world has ever seen. Watching football has been like a portal back into the life I knew, miss terribly, and look forward to experiencing again. And if cricket, or baseball, or auto racing is your thing I suspect it has been equally helpful. In the end, despite all of the controversy surrounding it, it was the right thing to do.

And yeah. We stayed up.

A little social statement to start. I have yet to not be moved by the site of the players, officials, and coaches taking a knee at the start of the match. Particularly because the murder that ignited it happened so far away, yet the consistent solidarity shown by a league across the ocean, playing a sport that is still foreign to many Americans, is remarkable. It’s so common to forget important messages once the next news cycle begins. I hope the message continues next season.

If you want to let a player know he is no longer wanted at a club, David Moyes gave a lesson on the topic today when he put his starting right back the last two games on the left to cover for the injured Cresswell instead of playing his backup left back, Masuaku. If Arthur were a piece of clothing, Moyes would be dropping him off at the thrift shop after the match. On the end of the pitch, if you wanted to see how Antonio and Haller could work together up top wouldn’t today have been the perfect time to take a look? I think Haller will be here in September, so the decision to not give him a proper run out with Antonio today was a head scratcher.

West Ham should have opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Antonio was sent in all alone with a Allardyce special long ball over the top from Diop. In the form he has been in, the ball going well wide was actually a shock. Moments later Guilbert floated in a cross from the right to an unmarked Samatta, but his header had very little pace and was gathered up by Fabianski.

Embed from Getty Images

By the time I gave it any more thought, the match was past the half hour mark and Fornals won a free kick 30 yards out after a foul by Guilbert. Noble rolled the ball to his right for Rice to do his best imitation of the wonder strike against Watford. Lightning rarely strikes the exact same spot twice, and maybe Rice will give those long range shots a rest when we return in September. Or maybe he won’t.

Noble won a free kick in the 41st minute near the top of the Villa eighteen yard box, but the captain couldn’t beat the first man so the most notable part of that moment came at Goodison when Everton drew level with Bournemouth. A few minutes later Grealish had a chance to ease the pressure even more when McGinn set him up on the left but his curling effort neither curled nor was much of an effort and Fabianski made the easy save. The missed opportunity became even more problematic when Bournemouth regained the lead just before halftime.

Thank God we aren’t part of this.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Aston Villa 0

Haller came on to start the second half! But Antonio came off. I guess we will have to imagine what they would look like together for at least seven weeks.

Villa started the second half brightly, with McGinn catching Johnson out of position to find Trezeguet on the edge of the area but he couldn’t find Grealish or Samatta with the cross. Seconds later Villa tried on the left, this time with Grealish looking for McGinn in the box but Diop was there to block the shot. Moments later Villa won a free kick on the right side, but Diop put the delivery out for a corner. Fabianski grabbed the set piece before anyone else could, but Villa asked another question in the 50th minute when Fredericks took down Grealish at the edge of the area. Villa couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, and Bournemouth stayed in the bottom three.

The Hammers won a free kick in the 60th minute when Targett missed his target (had to, sorry) when he tried to tackle Noble near the edge of the Villa eighteen yard box. Yarmolenko stepped up to take it and curled the delivery over the wall, but could only find the side netting. Moments later Rice fouled Luiz 30 yards from goal, and Grealish won a corner when his delivery hit the wall and went out.

Can anyone tell me how and why those sports bra looking things became part of every kit? Not judging. Just don’t understand.

Haller had a sniff at goal in the 73rd minute when Noble one timed a pass from Fredericks to the Frenchman with the 45 million pound price tag in the box. But Haller’s header had no pace and Reina had no trouble. A few minutes later Diop was called for a foul against Grealish, though to be fair Grealish ran into Diop and drew the foul. The delivery of the set piece was sent out by Diop for a corner. Villa went short, and Grealish danced into the box and got off a shot that was deflected out for another corner. Villa couldn’t capitalize, which took on a very nerve wracking tone for Villa because Stanislas put Bournemouth up by two goals at Everton.

And then Lanzini did nothing with a free kick twenty five yards out.

Villa came inches away from securing their top flight status in the 82nd minute when Davis made a good run off the ball, and Grealish found him on the left side of the West Ham box. Davis made a little cut to his right and fired a low shot that just went wide.

Over the past few weeks, I have been called Nervous Nellie by many people. Sean, Nigel, to name a few. The main culprit to this bout of anxiety was Jack Grealish. I said many times, maybe even here, that if we needed the result today it would be Grealish that would put the sword to us. Thank heavens we didn’t need anything today, because when Grealish fired his shot past Fabianski it felt like his destiny.

Embed from Getty Images

West Ham 0
Aston Villa 1

The part of the story nobody saw was the looping, deflected effort by Yarmolenko seconds later that somehow found the space between the goal and Reina’s outstretched hand.

Embed from Getty Images

West Ham 1
Aston Villa 1

Villa won a corner in the first of the four minutes of added time, and they did what they needed to do. Play keep away, which they did for roughly a minute. Even then they kept the ball in the West Ham half, and the clock kept ticking. West Ham looked utterly disinterested in trying to score a winner. Although a winner would have put us ahead of Brighton and given 2 million pounds to our esteemed board!

Final Score
West Ham 1
Aston Villa 1

Embed from Getty Images

It has to be said that Bournemouth have every right to feel hard done by. I say that because of the goal scored by Sheffield United on the first day of Project Restart that VAR didn’t catch. Obviously we don’t know if the game would have ended 1-0 had VAR not bottled it so badly. Sport doesn’t work like that. But the fact that the video system that was created LITERALLY to make sure that such potentially catastrophic things don’t happen failed. It simply failed. And Bournemouth may never recover.

But to kind of paraphrase my friend Sean Whetstone on Moore Than Just A Podcast, this isn’t a Bournemouth match report. It’s a West Ham match report.

The losses to Wolves and Spurs sounded many alarms in Claret & Blue. Mine included. But the past six games have been good, and as it turned out we bloody well needed it. 39 points is nothing to feel chuffed about. But the performances over the last six matches gives us reason to think we may achieve something we never had under the absurd leadership of GSB.

Stability.

Moyes has talked about the Red Bull model of buying younger players from lower divisions and developing them into top flight talents. But Red Bull have a plan behind it. They buy specific players with specific traits to suit specific needs. That’s why it works for them. Will our plan be similar? Or will specific players be defined by who is represented by Will Salthouse or some other favored agent? Considering how Sullivan in particular laments the power of agents he depends on them almost entirely. And if the latter is the case, will Moyes be able to shut that nonsense down? Time will tell. Thankfully the new season is only 7 weeks away, so I’d like to believe the good form we ended this season with has a better chance of carrying over to September 12th.

While I sarcastically said that if we go down I at least would get my weekends back since only limited matches are shown here for The Championship. But I would have missed this. The interaction with my friends in the UK has been very valuable to me during this awful time. I’ve been lucky to be able to stay home, and that my wife and children are OK. But chatting with Nigel and others about football was as normal as normal could get for me. Yes, we would have still done that had we gone down. But I wouldn’t have seen that much, so my participation would have been limited. I’m glad I get to keep that.

Take care everyone. Stay safe. Hug your family a couple of extra times, kids especially if you have any. Pets can fill in nicely if you don’t. I’ll be back in September, maybe earlier if I have something useful to say.

COYI


David Hautzig's Match Report

Manchester United 1, West Ham United 1. Done And Mathematically Dusted.

It’s a rhetorical question, and more than a little absurd during the biggest crisis the world has seen in many yers, but have you ever had one of those days? Today was one of them for me. Which stunk. I was really looking forward to watching the game in peace today, followed by the final day in The Championship. Both West Bromwich Albion and Brentford were streaming here on ESPN. Then life and work interfered on multiple levels, and from multiple directions. So the match was on in my kitchen while I inhaled lunch and tried to put out multiple fires. I texted Iain to tell him to expect nothing from me, and if I could deliver a little prose I would.

The embers are still burning by the way.

If I were writing this like a thesis paper, the point I would want to prove was that we were in this match on equal footing to the home side. Yes, Manchester United had a huge possession advantage in the opening minutes. But it didn’t seem to bother us that much. And as the first half moved through time, we grew into the game. As the opening 45 minutes were about to end, Pogba looked to have taken one for the team right in the kisser. However, the much maligned VAR took a look and the French star allowed his survival instincts to take over. Hands or nose, you ask? The brain doesn’t care much about football at that point and votes hands all day long.

When Antonio stepped up to take the penalty, don’t tell me you weren’t shocked. I sure was. I wonder if there is a bonus for Antonio if he scores ten goals? Maybe Noble just wanted to let his teammate keep up his scoring run. Whatever the reason, it worked as Antonio put it in the back of the net with ease.

Embed from Getty Images

Manchester United 0
West Ham 1

Greenwood leveled in the 51st minute for the home side, but to be fair I was selling some Billecart Brut Rose to a customer and was staring at my IPad when the goal was scored. It could have been a stormer but I wouldn’t know. Still haven’t seen it, actually.

Embed from Getty Images

The final 40 plus minutes of the match were noteworthy to me because, well, we were probably the better side. Bowen came close, and Rice almost scored a duplicate of his world beater against Watford. All the while we looked solid and comfortable at the back. Even Masuaku, who I almost forgot existed, came on and looked perfectly decent.

Embed from Getty Images

Which got me thinking.

Antonio said after Norwich that it was Moyes coaching him, telling him to be in the eighteen yard box more, that has led to this goal scoring bonanza. After Rice scored against Watford, he ran right over to his gaffer. Moyes downplayed it, and it could have been nothing more than exuberance. Ogbonna looks steadier than he has in ages. Is it possible that Moyes is the best coach, the best teacher, these guys have had in years? And if that’s the case, will we see marked improvement in players like Fredericks and even Cresswell? I remember thinking Winston Reid was so out of his depth he might as well sell wine with me when Grant bought him. As it turned out, Sam taught the New Zealand international how to defend and in a short time under his tutelage we were scared out of our wits that he would leave for Arsenal. Moyes has earned the chance to show us what he can, and cannot, do for an entire season.

I’d like to think that now, after all this time, I have finally learned my lesson. Don’t get too excited when things are going well, and don’t despair like I’m Dan Silver’s twin when things are rotten. Oh, we had reasons to be afraid. The run Villa is on right now could have spelled trouble. I expected it from them. Thankfully Sunday will mean little to us.

I know I will not change.

I cannot.

I don’t know how.

COYI.


Copyright © 2020 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.