The GoatyGav Column
I don’t know about you but it feels like 2019 has kicked the crap out of me. As a nation we’ve become the butt of numerous jokes, have endured unprecedented levels of uncertainty in our economy, have had to put up with important procedural decisions being delayed because of that uncertainty, felt at my fellow Britons’ throats in this divisive environment and have lost any kind of optimism about the short and medium term future. To top it all off the weather is bringing even more misery than usual – especially for those poor souls having to endure flooding. Overall not a million miles away from how we’re currently feeling as West Ham fans.
In last week’s article I put forward one aspect of why I believe the team’s confidence has nosedived. Like any kind of crash, however, it’s never down to one single factor.
Since his arrival Manuel Pellegrini has spoken of installing a ‘Big Team’ mentality to the squad. Frankly I like the cut of his jib in this respect. He’s very familiar with this kind of self-belief due to his previous managerial roles in the game. You don’t get as far as he has without knowing what you’re talking about and I’m sure that he has utter conviction in his belief that he can get the players in to this mind-set. But will this work for every player, at all times, or is there a negative aspect of this ‘confident’ attitude? I wonder if some of the players started to believe their own hype a little and found that, all of a sudden, they went off the boil due to their ‘I’m the man now’ arrogance. There’s a very fine line between confidence and arrogance and the latter can often have a negative effect.
As I’ve watched recent matches player’s energy levels seemed to have dropped away. Earlier in the season there was a zip and a crispness about our pass and move that’s been absent for some time. The team weren’t converting every chance but were creating so many good opportunities that it didn’t seem to matter and was enough to win games. More recently it appears that the team are desperately short on ideas as the ball appears to be moving much slower. The whole approach seems laboured and lethargic to my eyes. What’s gone on to create this I’ve no idea. Has the dressing room been hit by colds and flu bugs? Are training sessions ‘coaching’ the intensity out of the team? Are the players simply not in sufficiently top condition to give the same, energetic, performances that took us to fifth place in the Prem? Whatever the reason is the first team are in an extremely worrying trough at the moment as all concerned, staff and fans alike, are starting to look down the table, instead of up it, with major apprehension.
When the going gets tough the tough get going. Question is exactly how tough, or resilient, is this squad. This needs turning around and turning around immediately. Last time out the international break came at a most inconvenient time. The team were playing confidently and well so we really could have done without the squad breaking up to go and play for their national sides. This time it’s just about the best thing that could have happened to West Ham. Players can get away to fresh environments, play for their respective countries and come back to ‘go again’ against the Spuds on the 23rd. The upcoming fixture list looks daunting however that’s usually the time that West Ham knuckle down and ‘put it in’. Let’s hope the lads can use this change, break, or whatever you want to call it to reset and return to go at it with alacrity.
Nothing further to report on the Ladies or PL2 teams this week, as they have not played any fixtures since my last post on here, however the U21 squad travel to Exeter to play their EFL ‘Leasing.Com’ Trophy match against the team at the top of group M. Since getting off to a flyer in League two this season Exeter City have only won once in their last four League fixtures. Earning a creditable draw away to fellow League two opposition, Cambridge United, in the F.A. Cup last weekend fortunes may be turning for the Grecians ahead of the visit of Dimitri Halajko’s charges and, one suspects, a stern challenge awaits. Despite this Exeter are without players due to international duty so I’m hopeful our youngsters can put the Devon side to the sword. Halajko’s teams have played some really attacking and entertaining football so far this season. Sadly it looks like the game won’t be streamed but I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on it via the official site’s live blog and wish the boys all the best in this final group match.
Have a good (at least better) week everyone.