The HamburgHammer Column

Yeah-molenko!!! Europa League, 'ere we come!

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Some things in life are incredibly simple and straightforward: When West Ham score, I am usually a happy man and I don’t really give a hoot who the goalscorer is, I even cheer own goals by opposition players.

Sometimes though, a certain goalscorer makes that grin on my boat just that little bit wider and lasting longer. And Saturday was such a case when Andriy Yarmolenko found the top corner from a tricky angle. That was a very satisfying goal for a multitude of reasons. First of all, just a minute or two earlier Yarmolenko had been denied a certain goal of the month candidate by the goalpost. All through the first half, nothing had been going right for the fiery Ukrainian, not his various attempts to win a penalty, not his passing.
As in his previous appearance against Watford the game seemed to pass him by in the main.

Yet I had seen Yarmolenko do some fantastic things on a football pitch in the past, mainly for Borussia Dortmund and the Ukrainian national side. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was looking very much forward to his exploits as a West Ham player. Then he did his knee in his first season and didn’t kick a ball for a long time. Still I knew he had a lot to offer and, provided he got through his rehab alright, I figured we would get to see the real Andriy Yarmolenko in claret and blue.

That goal doesn’t make him a worldbeater just yet. Nor does it mean that he is completely back at the level he is capable of reaching. But it was a start. And it was bloody nice to see the unadulterated joy and relief when he ran towards the West Ham bench (which, don’t forget, is quite a bit of distance to cover) to thank the physios who helped him on his long road to recovery. It was a beautiful script for Yarmo, but by no means the only one in our win over Norwich.

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Apart from the first 10 minutes which were very scrappy this was a very good team performance and if we had been just a bit more clinical/ruthless/focussed it could have been a proper old drubbing for Norwich (which I have a bit of a soft spot for, having been to Norwich before and finding it a really beautiful city).
Our defence, overall, looked surprisingly solid – with Masuaku being the pick of the bunch on Saturday, reliable at the back and always dangerous when going forward.

I was gobsmacked there wasn’t a booking in the first half though, including when Sébastien Haller mowed down the Norwich skipper who later had to come off. It was good to see Haller walking over to his opponent when he had to go off injured eventually. But it didn’t surprise me as everything I have heard about Haller from those who know is that he is not a nasty player at all, just very competitive, but essentially a good guy and character to have at your club.

Haller’s goal looked like an easy enough finish, but make no mistake, that’s just because he is such an intelligent player. Look at him, checking his runs in transition, checking out the position of his opponents, making sure he stays onside, waiting for the killer pass (which arrived from Masuaku) to then put the ball in the net with perfect accuracy.
I have an inkling he will be scoring plenty of goals in a similar vein this season.

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I cannot single out a West Ham player who had an indifferent game on Saturday, everyone was contributing. Our attacking play at times was breathtaking, albeit lacking in final product too often, our creative guys like Anderson, Lanzini and Haller (backheel magician!) were, well, very creative and those are the chaps you want on the pitch to get the home crowd at London Stadium off their seats. I have rarely watched a West Ham game where I felt this comfortable throughout we would get the three points.

With the table being as close as it is (we are currently just three points behind Manchester City and in 7th place, ahead of Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea!) this promises to be a very exciting season all around, although we have already had to witness the West Ham injury curse back into the house, with Antonio looking certain to require surgery on his torn hamstring (from the Newport game) which is likely, at this point, to keep him out for 3-4 months. All the best to him of course, and a full and speedy recovery!
Perfect opportunity for Yarmolenko now to cement his place in the side, but, as per above, things are looking good for Yarmo now!

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In other news we have sold our Mexican paceman down at West Ham, Javier “Little Pea” Hernandez to Sevilla which should be confirmed later today. It does look a pretty risky move by West Ham, losing another striker at this stage when we can only replace Chicharito with a free signing basically.

The question is, however, what good does it do to keep the player (who would have been in a position to leave for nothing anyway next summer), considering he has never managed to cement a place in the starting XI and he also doesn’t seem to fit the system and style of football that Pellegrini wants to play ?

Hernandez has always been a luxury player, big name, used to score for fun while playing for Manchester United, good enough still as a super sub (if you can afford to spend £145k a week in wages for a player fulfilling that role) or as a second striker with others providing the majority of running, chasing and tracking back. I reckon he did never really fit the profile for a West Ham striker, so it’s maybe for the best to part ways in such fashion here and now.

It also gives us some money to potentially sign someone in January, if need be, and of course save the quite substantial wage packet we used to pay to Hernandez for far too little contribution on the pitch in return.

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It’s a bit of a shame that it’s another international break now, just as we have begun to hit a bit of form at West Ham. Next up, after the break, is a very tricky, but winnable tie at our fellow team playing in claret and blue, Aston Villa. At this point in time it feels really good to be a West Ham fan, let’s try to enjoy it while it lasts. Right now we have a very decent squad which is playing some wonderful football for us all to enjoy. We have even managed to keep another clean sheet!
At this rate we may struggle to find things to moan about, at least in the short term…COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Well, St.Pauli played the kind of game that West Ham fans had to suffer in the past time and time again, being 3:0 up at halftime, to see the opposition going down to 10 men after a red card – and still draw the game 3:3. A really shocking result under the circumstances!
Hamburg SV beat their neighbours from Hannover 3:0 in a game played in a friendly atmosphere as both clubs and their fanbases get on really well.
HSV continue to impress, sitting top of the table.

Concordia’s first team, like St.Pauli one day later, had a day to forget on Friday when they lost to the worst team so far this season by a 1:4 scoreline, at home as well! The only goal for Cordi came from a penalty and the away team, Buchholz, scored with basically every single chance they created, helped along the way by shocking individual errors from some Concordia players. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, I suppose!

Much better from the U23s who beat table toppers Viktoria Harburg 1:0 to snatch top spot from them while the Concordia Women’s team surprised everyone by winning their away game 5:0 which gives them a very credible midtable ranking for now – a solid position to work from in a very strong league.

The HamburgHammer Column

Ant and Séb's Saturday Afternoon Takeaway: Noble back to his best

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And…they’re off! Like horses or dogs bolting along the track after a sluggish start we have finally hit some stride getting our first win of the season, plus some other nice firsts added on top, making it a really great weekend for West Ham: It was our first win in August since 2016. It was the first goal for our new star striker and record signing Sébastien Haller who scored a brace actually, with two proper striker finishes, one an easy tap-in (but you need to be in the right spot at the right time) and then a lovely bicycle kick, showing both skill and, again, positional awareness.
Which means that West Ham are now officially the first team with 150 different goal-scorers in the Premier League.

For this game my routines were all over the place: First I had to use my West Ham matchday screwdriver for rescuing a trapped wasp from the lighting department of my bathroom cabinet by unscrewing its top board (I usually only use this screwdriver for watching football as most of you will know by now).

Then I forgot to put the kettle on to make some tea for the game (I suppose the heat inside and outside my flat made me yearn for cold beverages rather than steaming hot ones) and I almost forgot to put on a West Ham shirt…but at the end of the day it worked anyway.

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What a game this was! I have seen plenty of PL games over the years, but this is already in my personal Top 10 for the simple fact that you couldn’t take your eyes off this one!

In the first 70 seconds we had Watford out of the blocks straight away, with an early and decent shout for a penalty at our end (which got denied), only for West Ham winning a penalty claim of their own with the next move of the game when Manuel Lanzini got caught down the other end after a quick counter attack masterminded by Haller.

Who would take this one though ? Our regular taker, Captain Fantastic, with his dead leg finally back from the deceased, or new boy Haller (also available again after nursing a knock) who is a brilliant sniper from the spot in his own right. No real contest there, Mark Noble took the ball and put us ahead with one of his textbook shots.

Now, let’s get this out of the way here and now: We are a much better team with Noble in it. His contributions sometimes go unnoticed because he tends to do mainly the hidden work on the pitch, the little, yet oh so vital things and he also provides direction and motivation by the bucketload for his teammates. It’s a thankless task sometimes and he’s not getting enough praise and acknowledgment for it in my eyes.

You usually only realise how bloody good Noble is once he is suspended or out injured. When Watford got carte blanche for one of their quick counter strikes which led to the equaliser, with 3 or 4 West Ham players merely jogging back down the pitch, watching the Hornets’ attack unfold with mild interest, Nobes was absolutely spitting fire and rightly so. I reckon he will let these players know again in training this week that such a lackluster effort is unacceptable at West Ham. Jogging is for the local park, in the PL you run.

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Numerous times you could see our skipper during the contest, pointing with his arm in a certain direction, identifying a potential pass, or space to run into for his teammates. Like a conductor leading an orchestra with his baton, creating wonderful music for the audience to enjoy, Mark Noble directed our play. Not to forget he is basically a diehard West Ham fan who happens to be on the pitch in order to play for West Ham…

He really made us tick all game long and allowed our creative players to do their thing, with Lanzini and Anderson playing some wonderful stuff, but lacking end product in the first 45 minutes unfortunately. We looked really dangerous though when attacking at pace, but so did Watford which made the game such a great spectacle to watch.

Our defence at this point is still a work in progress, we still looked shaky at times, but only conceded the one goal (although how Watford’s Hughes managed to miss an open net for what would have been their second goal, I will never know). I keep saying how important it is to have consistency at the back, so I would like to see us play the same back four again as often as possible now, so the lads can find some chemistry. If they don’t we can still bring in Balbuena, Cresswell or Zabaleta again.

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Haller almost scored a beauty in the first half with an acrobatic scorpion-style back heeler in mid-air that nearly fooled Foster, but thankfully Haller managed to bury two slightly easier opportunities in the second half. When he started hitting the badge with his hand after scoring, I had to cringe for the briefest of moments as I was having a flashback to seeing a certain Austrian fella kissing the badge, but Haller obviously is a different person, so I suppose he can celebrate any way he feels comfortable with…he can even do the crossed hammers or dance around the corner flag next time…;-))

One significant factor that led us on the road to victory was Antonio replacing Yarmolenko. The Ukrainian was very enthusiastic throughout, but it showed that he’s been out for such a long time and that he still isn’t quite up to speed yet. Now, talking of speed, Antonio didn’t waste much time when he came on, causing some instant havoc and making the Watford defence look like ours at times. We showed some classy moves, attacking with pace.

If we had been a bit more ruthless tucking away some of our various other chances created after winning the ball and breaking away quickly (Anderson for instance), we could have given Watford a right old bashing. But three points is three points. And it was nice to see what could lie ahead this season, especially if we can manage to sort out our defence along the way. I for one am fairly optimistic it can be done. Looking at the early league table, level on points with Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, we can easily improve our position in the league further with a few more wins. And with the worst game out of the way already (Man City), I’d expect us to give it a right good go from now on.

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We have a midweek encounter awaiting us in the League Cup tomorrow, somewhere in Wales, Newport to be precise. Fun fact: Newport is the birthplace of James “Ginger Pele“ Collins.

With so many players available for selection and desperate for gametime now, Pellegrini can mix and match things a bit, maybe give Ajete and Chicharito a start. Yarmolenko and Sanchez too probably, with Fornals providing the creative spark. With Snodgrass adding a bit of graft and guts.
Games like these always have the warning BANANA SKIN spelled out in giant imaginary letters, of course.

But if our shambolic exit at the hands of Wimbledon last season should yield one positive despite everything else, it should remind our players that it can and will happen again if we are not taking that game and opposition team seriously. Yes, they are not PL quality. But Newport are at home, they are fired up for what could, at least for some of their players, be the biggest game in their careers and their ground will be rocking with a partisan atmosphere for as long as we haven’t scored against them.

I hope our lads turn up and show the Newportonians (or whatever they are called) they should stick to playing rugby maybe…;-))

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Hamburg football update: HSV won 4:2 away at Karlsruhe, a truly vital three points gained which helped them to cement their top spot in the league table. Next up is the much loved derby against Hannover…
You can watch how St.Pauli are getting on against Kiel later this evening on BT Sport 3 if you fancy some German football (7:30pm UK time).
Expect a feisty Northern derby in a packed football stadium, a game which the hosts from the red light district cannot afford to lose, given their bad start to the season.

The Concordia first team lost 0:1 away at Niendorf, in a game where hardly any pass found a teammate. Plenty of endeavour, not much football under a mercilessly burning sun.

The Cordi U23s beat St.Pauli’s fifth string by a 6:0 scoreline which was surprising as St.Pauli were top of the table before the start of the game.

The Cordi Women’s team unfortunately lost their first home game this season 1:3. The girls need to come to terms with the fact that every team they’re facing now will be stronger than any of the teams they played against last season. Steep learning curve ahead.

The HamburgHammer Column

Dead Leg United 1 : Seagulls 1 - A good point collected down at the beach!

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The Brighton fixture was one of those unusual games for me that do happen every once in a while. I tend to watch every West Ham offering religiously, my eyes fixed on the TV screen, from the first to the final whistle. And it started out reasonably normal on Saturday at 4pm local Hamburg time, with me following my usual “matchday-watching-on-the-telly-routine“ to a T: West Ham shirt of choice on, check! Favourite West Ham mug filled with steaming hot tea, check! Screwdriver at the ready, check!

So I was about to settle down in my armchair to watch the mighty Hammers attacking Brighton on their own manor when suddenly the dog and bone was making a noise, it was my favourite/only brother calling in, delivering a most welcome bit of splendid news, he had been to yet another screening/CT scan which had yielded a negative result (for traces of cancer), hence making it very positive news actually, as you can all imagine.

I had the game on in the background, with the sound down, while chatting away to my bro for over an hour, discussing the latest German and Hamburg football news, Brexit (as you do!), the latest updates with regard to my nephew etc.

Suddenly Brighton were 1:0 up, ah, nevermind, still plenty of time left to turn things around, but three minutes later or so (when I checked the screen again) it was 0:0 once more, so VAR had done us a favour apparently. Phew!

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Whenever I did have a butcher’s at the game during the phone call, it didn’t really keep me glued to the screen for long though, at least not in the first half! We were clearly struggling against a very impressive Brighton team with our emergency line-up, having to replace Haller, Anderson and Noble.

I mean, three players/starters out with a dead leg, what are the odds ? I have had my fair share of dead legs in my lifetime and while I have never been in the position having to play professional football with one, obviously, the dead legs I used to experience were certainly painful affairs and multi-coloured in appearance, but they never really seemed to have a long-term impact on my ability to run or move.
Yes, I actually did move at pace, quicker than walking speed, in previous years, occasionally, if absolutely necessary…LOL

Anyway, second half came and with it Antonio replacing Wilshere and suddenly the game was picking up in terms of action and incident, starting to look like a proper old game. I had finished the phone call by the 55th minute or so.

When we took the lead (against the run of play really) I was absolutely delighted as it was crowning a well executed counter attacking move. Manuel Lanzini was the main protagonist though, putting the goal on a plate for our lone striker Chicharito, but then again Lanzini was on fire all game, absolutely brilliant! He truly looked like the Lanzini before his knee injury and as we all know that used to be a fantastic player.
Long may it continue! Who could have guessed at the start of the season that Chicharito of all people would score our first goal of the new campaign.
Say what you like, he got his chance and he buried it! Kudos, Little Pea!

But our defence is still what it is, so it didn’t come as a massive surprise we conceded the equaliser not long after. There was more action on both ends of the pitch now with astonishing misses from Brighton, some dodgy defending by Masuaku and Diop plus Antonio fluffing a late opportunity to snatch all three points from the Seagull’s beak. Earlier he had blasted a shot from distance into Row U – amazing how much elevation professional footballers can get on their shots sometimes…;-))

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At the end of the day a draw was probably a fair result. You won’t find me moaning over an away point in the PL. There really aren’t easy away games in this league (anymore). Brighton look like a very tidy outfit this season and their early form is quite impressive. I would expect them to do well this term and other teams will be very fortunate to get a win when travelling down the English Channel coast.

Considering we had Noble, Haller and Anderson out it was a decent away performance overall and a very valuable point won.
That’s how you get yourself away from the bottom of the table. Dark days ahead though, by all accounts, for Newcastle, Southampton and Watford this season. Talking of which, Watford away will be our next game and I’m really looking forward to that one, especially with Haller and Anderson likely to return from injury, Noble too perhaps.

Surely the league table as of now seems to indicate that no team has pulled away from the others massively yet (hard to do after just two games played), it’s still early days and once we will have won our first game (or two) we can climb the table quickly. That, however, will require more solid and focussed defending from our lads. Surely something worth working on extra hard in training…

Our younger prospects seem to have started the season really well, with the U23s beating Newcastle away while some of our loan players have done us proud too, goalkeeper Nathan Trott helping Wimbledon to a draw while Grady Diangana put his name on the scoresheet twice for West Brom after coming on in the second half.

Good stuff! Next week will hopefully bring us some positive news from the injury front for the Hammers, those will of course be nowhere near as brilliant as the news about my brother’s health, but obviously far more relevant for West Ham fans far and wide…;-)) COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Mixed bag for the Hamburg teams. Hamburg SV beat Bochum on Friday evening and are gracing the top of the table now with 7 points out of 9. Fantastic early season form right there!

St.Pauli on the other hand failed to protect a 1:0 lead away at promotion favourites Stuttgart, conceding a 90th minute losing goal in a 1:2 defeat. With just one point gained from three games, they are staring down the wrong end of the table with the pressure rising already. Long season ahead for them, it seems…

All three Concordia teams were active on Sunday at separate times in different locations, but I didn’t quite make the tripleheader. My brother was joining me for the first and main one, the league game of our first team, playing at USC Paloma at 10.45am – and the lads treated us to a mesmerising 7:2 away win in the pouring summer rain. Great team performance, smiling faces among the Cordi faithful and second place in the table after four games. This is how it must have felt like for the Man City fans when they beat us 5:0…

Afterwards I dropped off my bro at his front door at the other end of town, so unfortunately I couldn’t make the season debut of the Cordi Women’s team who earned a 1:1 draw away at HEBC at 1pm with the day finishing off with the Cordi U23s playing away at Rahlstedt at 3.30pm. The latter one was a 3:3 draw and despite Cordi not winning it was a highly entertaining contest. Lower league football at its best!

The HamburgHammer Column

City taking our pocket money again - but they're not on our route every week

The new season begins, every fan up and down the country is ready, excited, hopeful it’ll be maybe a better season than the one before.
Us West Ham nuts were especially eager to see the new signings in action and maybe giving the current league champions a run for their money.

And what do they do, on your own patch as well ?
They bully you, make you look stupid and exposed in the second half and stroll away at the end with your pocket money jingling mercilessly in their fingers. While you’re heading back home, empty handed, gaze fixed at your shoes, tail between your legs…

That first defeat of the season was hard to take, harder to watch and unfortunately it was the same old capitulation against Manchester City at the London Stadium we’ve seen before. In all the previous games between the sides in London so far, it’s never really been much of a contest.
We should be used to it by now, but as fans we simply don’t want to get used to it. The defeat didn’t come as a surprise.
The manner of it was a bitter pill to swallow, but we shall regroup and move on.

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This time, we at least played well first half. Really well, actually. We went at them, ran, chased and pressed, created chances too, put plenty of effort in, failed to score and then conceded a very unlucky first goal down the other end.

Then second half arrived and we were suddenly lacking the energy displayed in the first half. And so Man City started to do their thing, taking opposing teams apart at will, with two or three clinical passes, pouncing on any mistake or weakness, with the same kind of empathy that a pack of hounds might show when being in sight of the fox they’ve been hunting down for the best part of an hour.

First half was a football game, second half was a training exercise. I hope we learned our lesson.

Then again, we won’t be playing opposition like City every week, a thoroughly well-assembled team of superstar players, on the pitch and on the bench, million for million a world-class squad, managed by one of the best tacticians in world football. 0:5 defeats at home shouldn’t happen. But they do happen of course.

It’s down to the gulf in finances leading to a gulf in quality between teams playing in the PL. In truth, City are now playing pretty much in a league of their own, only briefly entered by teams like Liverpool. Or Manchester United or Chelsea whenever they have a good season.

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We shouldn’t read too much into that result or over-react. Second half wasn’t good enough, granted. But I still feel very confident about our squad this season, despite the Man City drubbing.

Haller already looks highly promising and given the right support upfront will be fantastic for us.
Fornals may need a bit longer to adjust to the pace of PL football, but he will be good for us too. The young Swiss striker Ajete will be another option for us I am extremely excited about, same as the kid we picked up from Portugal in defence.

Pellegrini’s plan clearly is to play positive and attack-minded football, sacrificing clean sheets at the back in the process. Going for a barnstorming 4:3 win rather than drawing 0:0.
I like this approach. I was unhappy during the Allardyce reign because of his ludicrous “Respect the point” philosophy. As a football fan, I don’t want to be bored senseless.
It’s called “The beautiful game” for a reason. I am not sure the football gods had Catenaccio in mind when inventing the game. Of course you lose some games this way, but I’d rather lose occasionally while trying to win every game, to be brutally honest.

West Ham fans have been crying out for our team to try and play the kind of football that’s pleasing on the eye, the West Ham way, trying to score goals at every opportunity. We are doing that now under Pellegrini. It’s not gonna work all the time and defending indeed is not our forte. Hopefully that can be improved on though in training.
However, I am grateful that Pellegrini is trying to inject a philosophy into our club of playing attractive football. Given some more time for the players to gel, the results will follow, that is my firm belief.

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A quick word on VAR. I said before I am a fan, I understand though that it will take some time to get everyone adjusted and tuned into how it works. I felt that the delays were tolerable, in most cases there wasn’t even much of a delay to begin with. There are still calls that are incredibly close, even after watching several replays some of those offside decisions looked 50/50 to me and it’s not much easier for the actual guy doing the VAR. But I am happy with VAR finally be up and running in the PL as well and I am certain people will come to appreciate its merits in the near future. You still win some and lose some, but overall it will, hopefully, make for a more level playing field in the league.

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Next game away to Brighton won’t be easy, no PL game is these days. And Brighton have started the season on fire, taking Watford to the cleaners. They will be tough opposition, playing their first home game this season against us, but I’m expecting a reaction from our lads on the pitch, I’m also expecting changes to our line-up, especially as Felipe Anderson was limping off which made it look as if he might be out for a week or two at least. Good opportunity for Yarmolenko or Fornals to step up to the plate.


Hamburg football update: I know that especially our own Nigel Kahn is waiting eagerly for this segment…;-))
Let me tell you, I am aware that most on here don’t give a hoot about any football results from Hamburg, be that the two big clubs or that little club of mine that’s kicking balls about pitches at the 5th level of the league pyramid in Germany: Concordia.

However, I am deliberately putting this bit at the end, so people can choose to ignore it or read on. And I know some of you have been to Hamburg before and have at least a fleeting interest in German football, we even have a Freiburg supporter on here.

So, here we go. For the big clubs it was cup weekend. St.Pauli were playing in a feisty North German derby away at Luebeck, a game craved by the fans and cursed by the local authorities and police forces who had to oversee that game. Fortunately, St.Pauli managed a narrow win after extra time and penalties against their bitter rivals from the fourth tier of German football (think of it like Millwall, we no longer play them regularly, but when we play them in the cup it’s potential carnage).

Hamburg SV were away too, against a club fighting for its very existence off the pitch at present for monetary reasons, Chemnitz from East Germany. Hamburg SV didn’t show much swagger on the pitch though and only just prevailed. A poor showing, but a win nonetheless. Just like St.Pauli they had to survive a penalty shootout.

It was a highly successful weekend for Concordia too, starting with the home game of the first team on Friday evening, in the pouring rain, beating one of the top sides in the division, Victoria, by a 2:1 scoreline. The game had everything, good passing, feisty challenges, a red card, a penalty and the right team winning of course.

If you fancy it, the highlights of that game can be watched in the clip below. Six points out of a possible nine represent a very decent start to the season for this new Cordi team. They look like a talented group of players, all showing the right attitude and application straight off the bat. You can clearly see a difference in terms of team spirit and effort already, compared to the previous nightmare of a season.

Then, yesterday, the Cordi U23s also won at home, 5:1, compensating for that horrible 1:7 away defeat in last weekend’s game. They are also on six points from three games now and ready to gun for promotion again.

The Cordi women’s team didn’t play, they are kicking off their league season with an away game next Sunday.

The HamburgHammer Column

Let the show begin - fasten your seatbelts!

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Let me begin by selfishly congratulating my nephew Daniel to his 12th birthday today – he has gone through a few West Ham shirts (presents from his uncle) already in his lifetime and one fine day, despite Brexit, I hope to bring him to London to watch a game and pick up something in claret and blue from the club shop too of course. We’re having a lovely birthday barbecue with the family in the sun later today and it should be a jolly nice affair with some lovely food thrown in for good measure.

As for our final preseason game against the mighty Bilbao, well, it wasn’t exactly jolly but entertaining enough. Our goals were beautiful team collaborations while those we conceded were either unlucky or simply not defended well enough, but once again, you wouldn’t expect any defender to be as sharp in a preseason game as we all hope they are going to be once the league fixtures have arrived – which is basically not far off at all now. Only a few more days and life will be back to normal, with regular West Ham games at the weekend. It’s about time…

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We also have the final stage of the transfer window to endure this week and, frankly, when it comes to West Ham I’m going into those final days with NO expectation or anticipation WHATSOEVER.

All those stories about us being skint, having blown all our money on Fornals and Haller basically, well, those stories no longer wash with me. But I also know there’s nothing I can do or write that’ll change anything in that regard. Our board will spend (or not) as they see fit which is their prerogative as owners.

If we make some more signings I will welcome them at West Ham with wide-open arms, if we don’t sign anyone else at least I will no longer be surprised or bemused by it…

Offensively our team could be a revelation this season, provided the main protagonists can stay fit, healthy and available. Just imagine the likes of Lanzini, Anderson, Fornals, Antonio, Yarmolenko and Haller developing some chemistry in training and the upcoming matches and right there you have a blueprint for most PL defenders’ worst nightmare.

On the other side of the ball though we (still) look shaky and highly suspect. Again, preseason games are not the best sample size to evaluate your back four’s true quality. Why bust a gut or over-stretch for a ball in a glamour friendly if injury could put you out for several league matches when things really matter ?

Also, Fabianski has been out for the latter part of preseason and we all know how he oozes class and competence which in return lifts the performances of his defenders and vice versa.

The Winston Reid issue though is a curious one.

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He’s been out such a long time that people are always going to question whether he can ever return to the form we all witnessed when he was our best defender by a country mile.

Now we’re hearing he’s being rested regularly, his gametime monitored and managed, so he can ease himself into proceedings slowly which sounds like a straightforward and wise plan. I for one hope Reid can make a proper comeback as indeed we could do with another experiencedoption at CB this season.

Aaron Long has been rumoured to be a potential signing for us in the next few days, one of the best young-ish defenders in the MLS, who also has a fairly low release fee at his current club New York Red Bulls. There appear to be some work permit issues, but it doesn’t really sound like a massive hurdle at this stage which could prevent a transfer in the near future. To be fair though, we could also do with another striker and also a DM, but we are skint apparently, aren’t we ?

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As always, at the start of a new season, I am both excited and optimistic, I fancy us to turn some heads this season, hopefully for all the right reasons.
I would expect us to improve slightly on out league position, but maybe not massively. Top 6 ? Not sure we have spent quite enough on new players for that to happen.
Our squad is too unbalanced for that to happen methinks. And we know that West Ham United as a club are topsy-turvy personified.

We’ll get injuries, we’ll still get bad refereeing calls, we may concede more penalties given by VAR this season than we are being awarded at the other end. I am fairly optimistic though that we won’t see a player throwing out his toys out of the pram this season, derailing our season in the process. One cannot be too certain of course, but again, I’m optimistic…COYI!!!

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A heartfelt welcome to my fellow German Katharina Baunach, yet another Kraut lacing her boots for the West Ham Women’s team next season, three in total now! Baunach is 30 years old, she was a winner of league titles and cups both with Bayern Munich and VFL Wolfsburg and she is a super-solid no-nonsense defender. I didn’t find any videos of her on Youtube, showboating in front of supermarket entrances, doing backheels or scoring a multitude of goals for club and country.

That’s probably because her game is about defending first and foremost, not about flicks and tricks. But you don’t get to play for and win things at powerhouse clubs like Bayern and Wolfsburg if you’re a minger.

So Katharina sounds like another decent addition that will make our side a better one, on and off the pitch. And of course you can never have enough Krauts in your team, can you ? ;-))

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Hamburg football update: A mixed bag really. St.Pauli lost 1:3 at home to Fuerth and the pressure is building already after just two games. With plenty of injured players, surely the club from the redlight district will need to make some quickfire emergency signings if they don’t want to find themselves at the wrong end of the table straight away.

Hamburg SV are hoping for their first win of the season when they take on Nuremberg, away, later this evening.

The Concordia first team are still in the local cup competition (where the games are coming thick and fast with the next one being played tomorrow evening), however, in the league calendar they have now suffered their first defeat, 2:4 away to Sasel. Tough game, but there is no time to mope and moan, as the next games are looming large already, the cup game tomorrow and the next league fixture at home on Friday evening.

The Cordi U23s meanwhile are suffering from numerous injuries and some ill discipline as well with sendings off galore, resulting in a tough start to their season. They lost their recent cup game 3:4, having two players sent off including the goalkeeper for handling the ball outside the box and then got walloped 1:7 against the same opponent a few days later on Saturday, having not a single substitute on the bench. At this point it’s all pointing towards an uphill climb for the boys this season…

And the Cordi Women’s team played their final preseason game, away to the third string of the mighty St.Pauli women’s side. They did Concordia proud, winning 2:1 not far from the notorious Reeperbahn.

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