The GoatyGav Column
With two points gained from the last twenty one possible there have been many theories put forward about what’s currently going wrong at West Ham. The conversations have started to go around and around while the groundswell of opinion appears to be turning against Manuel Pellegrini. While I haven’t, personally, got to the stage where I’d like to see him replaced even I have to admit that it’s getting close to the time when the owners are going to be forced to consider a new manager or face the likelihood of relegation.
Considering that it will cost the club’s owners a huge wedge, should they decide to offload the Chilean, I think it’s likely that it will be a while before that happens. That being the case, and with many of you WHTIDers tired of the continual negativity, perhaps the focus should shift towards the highlighting and discussion of the possible solutions and not what’s going awry. Whilst I appreciate the viewpoint that it’s important to understand what’s going wrong, before any attempt should be made to put it right, I don’t think it’s particularly constructive to continue to go round and round in circles labouring the same points time and again.
A couple of weeks ago this column’s topic of discussion was around the size of the impact of Fabianski’s injury on the team. I see the goalkeeper issue, and how it’s affected team confidence, as the biggest contributor to our current plight. So what’s a possible solution? Roberto to make way for David Martin has to be, at least, considered by the gaffer. Even if the Spaniard plays a flawless run of games the defence, and deeper midfield, would take a long time to gain full confidence. The psychological effect that it’s having on the players would take far longer to get over than the current man between the sticks’ form could ever. Something has to change and Martin’s introduction is the only option that could affect change quickly.
Another factor that I’ve noticed is the influence of the home support. Despite my own efforts to ‘sing my heart out for the lads’ (well – I did grow up in the North West after all) it’s been far too quiet for my liking in recent games. The change has been noticeable in my humble. When the chips are down we, the match going fans, need to play our part. That said our incredible away support have continued to make their positive contribution but to no avail. In fact you could argue that the team have been worse on the road than at the bowl. Notwithstanding that fact, however, it can, surely, only help if we’re urging the boys on.
In my eyes some first teamers are more guilty of ‘giving up’ than others. Attitude, not talent, is far more likely to get you there and players like Nobes, Snodders, Declan and Antonio set the bar for others to follow. Naming and shaming I have no equivocation in holding Felipe Anderson up as not playing with the heart and desire needed to get us out of this. “Yeah Gav, but isn’t that pointing out the problem?” I hear you say. Well I guess you know where I’m going with the solution don’t you? Anderson needs to be benched for at least two, preferably three, games for me. Pellegrini needs to let him know that his current level is simply not good enough. When he pulled out of that tackle later in the second half, surrendering possession for the umpteenth time, it topped off a truly woeful performance and said everything about the South American’s brittle temperament. Perhaps Nathan Holland isn’t near being ready for first team action but he’d be a huge improvement on Felipe at the moment. While we’re at it how about Anthony Scully in for Haller? Wish I was joking!
While those who aren’t putting it in need to be given a break those who are should be held up as an example. For me Declan did everything he possibly could in the match. Nobes gave everything too but struggled to impose himself as he usually does in games against the Spuds. Many made Antonio their man of the match and, for me, rightly so. If you’re going to take a positive from the match it should be the fact that Michail has returned and, in the time he spent on the pitch, we won 2-1 in a very large part to his contribution.
The last point I will make is that of team shape. Seb Haller has started to look poor but I really can’t blame him for that. In fact I wouldn’t blame him if he wondered what on Earth he’d done coming to West Ham. With two up front he started to look like the player we signed so, despite Manuel Pellegrini’s reluctance to do so, I’d like to see another striker joining him. Would be great if that man was Antonio but I don’t think that sticking him straight on for ninety minutes would be wise at this stage.
Next up Frank Lampard Jr’s Chelsea and, Frankly, I’m not too hopeful. That said I’ll be willing the boys on, in spirit, in the knowledge that our brilliant away fans will be doing the same at the match.