The HamburgHammer Column
We didn't rattle the Palace gates enough - we aren't Top 4 material (yet)
This will be a shorter article than usual, mainly because I was really disappointed with the defeat against Palace. We always do this, don’t we ? We get an opportunity to really push our way up the table, with a home win against a very beatable side, really making people and pundits sit up and take notice…and we blow it. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I was actually very confident beforehand we would win…but at the very least secure a draw if things got a bit tricky maybe. Then reality got in the way…
I had sacrificed watching the second half of the Concordia Women’s team’s game in person, leaving the away ground at halftime, so that I could be in my armchair just in time for our kick-off, but, thinking back to that borefest which was the first half of West Ham vs. Crystal Palace, I needn’t have bothered.
The first half is my main gripe in all this, we looked too pedestrian, didn’t press Palace enough, didn’t really ask their defenders many questions, bottom line: We made it very comfortable for Palace in the first 45 minutes when we as the home side should have put a strong marker on the game.
We didn’t and so the remainder of the game took its course with us taking the lead after a brilliant passing move involving half our team, only to concede twice later on, one from a penalty after an unfortunate but blatant handball by Rice and then a late winner when VAR overruled the referee on the pitch, deciding on a really close offside call. Close it was indeed, but I think VAR got the decision right, in Palace’s favour, unfortunately, allowing the Eagles to fly off back home into the London night, South of the River, with all three points in their lucky talons (thank you, Thesaurus!).
Yes, we created goalscoring opportunities galore, enough actually to comfortably win the game, but overall our effort and desire to take all three points wasn’t quite matching the significance of the circumstance that we could have made a very impressive jump in the league table with a home win. Maybe it was stage fright, who knows ?
I was relieved that Roberto had a fairly safe if somewhat unspectacular evening – he certainly wasn’t to blame for the defeat. Make no mistake: The result wouldn’t have been much different with Fabianksi in goal. I know us football fans have a tendency to look for a scapegoat (or several), but it’s hard for me to find any individual players to blame here. As mentioned earlier, we could and maybe should have put our stamp on proceedings in the first half, probably the result might have been different.
But that would have involved more pressing, more running and the confident swagger of a home side, flying high in the league table. We didn’t rattle Palace enough, especially in the first 45 minutes, and wasted a golden opportunity. That doesn’t make us a bad team, far from it. But it means we are not quite the Top 4 side yet that some on here seem to think we are.
Top 4 sides have a knack to win games, even when not performing at the very top of their ability, those sides know how to win games regardless.
We don’t and we were struggling to break down Palace for long stretches in the game. Not the end of the world, but disappointing regardless. And now it’s another bloody international break. Did they always have this many ? I would prefer an opportunity for our lads to bounce back straight away next weekend, but alas, that ain’t possible.
But hopefully we will be back after the break, better, stronger, hungrier than we were against Palace. COYI!!!
Hamburg football update: On Saturday Hamburg SV beat Fürth 2:0 at home and have now wrestled back the top spot in the table thanks to rivals Stuttgart losing to lowly Wehen Wiesbaden the day before. St.Pauli drew 1:1 away to Nuremberg on Sunday, a good result for them.
I skipped the game of the Concordia first team on Friday evening, my excuses ? Well, it was raining cats and dogs, it would have been a pretty long and late drive to the western outskirts of town and earlier I got a phone call that afternoon of a good mate asking me if I fancied an impromptu evening combining a relaxing couple of hours at a local sauna (a regular one, no naughty shenanigans involved!) with a visit to an American-style restaurant afterwards. I agreed and had a great time.
It was confirmed later that I had made the right choice as Concordia lost 1:0.
On Saturday I watched the Concordia Women’s team take a 2:0 halftime lead away to Wellingsbüttel, it had been a very accomplished performance until that point, so I felt encouraged enough to leave proceedings at that stage in order to watch the West Ham from start to finish.
At least the girls won comfortably: 5:0. They are now in 2nd place a mere three points behind the leaders. As a recently promoted side they are well ahead of schedule in their development. Looks like another promotion could be on the cards this season. Impressive!