The HamburgHammer Column

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That was not for the faint of heart! Maybe it’s because I spent too much time recently following television coverage of election day, no, election week in the USA, way into the wee hours, day after day.
Or rather night after night.
So I was a bit bleary-eyed. A bit on edge.

How often can you honestly say you’re watching history being made in real time ? And strictly speaking that one still is not quite over yet, unlike our game against Fulham. Unless Scott Parker intends to appeal to the United States Supreme Court over Haller’s offside position seconds before our goal, but I doubt they are in charge of PL jurisdiction.

The Fulham game looked like being over going into injury time still goalless.
And I thought that goalless the game would remain.
Then we scored…and it looked like game over again. Then the 4 minutes of injury time had ticked away …and surely this time it was over. The final whistle would blow and that would be it. I could put the screwdriver down and relax.

But no, too close to call, in fact there was a call, a late VAR call…PENALTY to Fulham! Oh, bugger! As my fluffy friend Winnie the Pooh might have said, if he was a West Ham fan. We know he’s a bear of very little brains, so who knows ? Maybe he watches baseball. ;-))

So, a late equaliser then, with the last kick of the game. Football can be cruel. I’m sure the football gods must be giggling to themselves a lot, watching down on us overly emotional supporters.

And then young Ademola Lookman must have had a brainfart of epic proportions. I can’t remember seeing a penalty taken in that cocky manner by a player this young in a long time. Not in a competitive game anyway.
I was too flabbergasted to celebrate initially. Or pity the guy.

Doing a Panenka with the last kick of the game that could, should, no, simply HAD TO give Fulham a late and probably deserved equaliser:
REALLY ??? They look so cheeky and cool when they come off, when they don’t there isn’t a hole on this planet big enough to hide the shame.

The name Ademola has Yoruba origins and means “King/Crown along with wealth”.
Good luck with all that, son, if you keep doing things like that!

To be fair though, the lad is young and looking at his tweet directed at his teammates he has already learned his lesson and held his hands up.
Lookman will get over this and develop into a very decent PL player (not quite sure about king status though) and I reckon he will not try a Panenka penalty in a competitive game again anytime soon…

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So, no crown for Lookman. Certainly no cigar! But consolation from our general, Fabian Balbuena who showed himself to not only being a very good defender, but also a good sportsman.He was one of the first to give the young lad some words of encouragement. Which was lovely to see.
My stream had been very erratic and jumpy throughout, a bit like our performance.

Did we underestimate Fulham ? Were they playing with a new spring in their step after their recent win ? It was end to end stuff. And exciting to watch for a neutral.
Which I am not.

So quite often I couldn’t quite believe how clueless we were at times with the ball, trying to figure out a way to breach the Lilywhite’s wall. (Forgive me, after watching days of US election week coverage I have fallen in love with the Game of Thrones-style vernacular they were using on the telly…the Blue Wall, doesn’t that just sound like something being crushed by dragons or undead creatures from the North ?)

Even Moyes said afterwards our crossing was terrible. We didn’t play that bad really, surely the effort was clear to see for the entire game, we looked just a bit unfortunate or puzzled at times, bereft of ideas against a quite impressive Fulham side. I didn’t quite expect the Cottagers to be such a handful.

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Let’s quickly deal with Seb Haller. I thought he wasn’t brilliant. But neither was the rest of the team, attacking wise. Haller brought down the ball in fantastic fashion several times, only to see his teammates failing to do anything of consequence with the opportunity. Haller surely showed more fight, got stuck in more, helped out defensively too. He looked like he wanted to be there.

But it was also clear to me that Moyes still wasn’t prepared to tweak the system for Haller. It’s a separate question if Moyes should do so and why.

As things stand I don’t see Haller being able to show us his best which is down to a combination of West Ham not playing in a way that is conducive to showcasing and utilising Haller’s strengths and the player getting frustrated because of that fact. I can see a parting of ways in January which will hopefully suit all parties concerned.

I have argued before how Haller could be a very good striker for us, lethal even. But as the club/manager is unlikely to go down that route there isn’t much point of keeping Haller, as much as it pains me to say it.

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I didn’t expect us to score, it just felt like one of those days. Then Benrahma and Lanzini came on and we got a very late opportunity. Yes, Haller was offside and in other games we have seen similar situations being deemed offside by the referee. Then again, due to the referees’ being very inconsistent when making those calls, we have also seen instances where play was allowed to carry on.

Benrahma unselfishly played a brilliant pass to Soucek who was in perfect position to slot the ball into the net. Wonderful team goal.
The penalty was controversial because it was very soft and because the incidence happened after injury time had actually passed (although it’s in the discretion of the ref to add some additional time on top as we all know).

But this time we were the lucky ones and it sends us into the international break with a smile and a decent position in the league table. Antonio should be available again when we face our dear friends at Sheffield United in just under two weeks. Ogbonna left the game due to what looked like a groin issue. Early reports seem to point towards a minor know which could see him missing out on joining his Italian teammates, but he should be good to start against Sheffield United in 13 days.

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Diop, of course, is a very decent replacement to have available, but that would then mean that Dawson will be on the West Ham bench after all!
And who knows ? He might turn out a solid enough player for us, should we ever be in a situation where we need him to come on and step up.

It’s a pity though that there is an international break again. I don’t care much for national team football outside the tournaments themselves and we are in partial lockdown,
so I really would love another West Ham game next weekend.

Guess I will have to find myself another book to provide weekend thrills. A West Ham equivalent of a page turner. We’ll see about that…COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Starting with St.Pauli who played Bilic’s former club Karlsruhe yesterday. The “Boys in brown” were in urgent need of a win to climb the table. Not happening. They lost 0:3 which puts them in 17th place for now, one place from the bottom. Then again, only three points below 7th place, so tight margins in Bundesliga 2.

Hamburg SV will face Kiel away in a North German derby game later this evening and again, if you have BT Sport 2 and fancy it, you can watch that game live, kick-off is 7:30pm.
HSV are fun to watch so far this season, for a change, and games against Kiel are always feisty affairs, so I would recommend you have a butcher’s!