So with 3 Premier League, and 4 Europa League games played, West Ham United must be welcoming the International break for once. Three wins and three defeats, but it’s fair to say, we have all been feeling a bit deflated with our two defeats in the League, and the terrible exit in the Europa Laegue qualifier the other night. So I thought I would take a closer look at our start to the season, to see if I can inject a little bit of optimism back into the supporters.
Let me start with the Europa League. An aggregate victory of NK Domzale seemed pretty straight forward, however, our 1-1 draw in Romania against FC Astra and the disappointing home defeat a week later, really showed how depleated our squad was, and how we needed some fresh blood in attack, and some players back from injury. There is no doubting that West Ham played terrible that night, and Slaven Bilic has said how angry he was with the players.
The league has seen us start with two of the hardest games we will have all season. Chelsea away was always going to be different from last year. They are a new team under Antonio Conte, and have shown that they are going to be title chasers come May. However, we didn’t play well did we…. We started ok, but when Chelsea, and Eden Hazard got into their stride, they looked dangerous. However, they didn’t crucify us either. Antonio has already admitted his mistake for the penalty, and had Diego Costa actually been sent off like he should have been, then it would have probably have changed the outcome of the game. We should have held on to a point, but when you’re playing against world class players, any mistake is usually punished.
Bournemouth at home wasn’t a classic, but we showed patience and perseverance to grind out a win and get out first three points of the season. It’s no coincidence that the winner came from Antonio after he was allowed to play in his rightful position on the wing. With the new ground and new atmosphere, it was important to start with a win at home.
The weekends game was not a surprising result. Guardiola doesn’t get his reputation based on failed title attempts in Spain and Germany. He is probably the best coach out there at the moment, and to play one of his teams, at their ground, when they have started well… well it’s going to be difficult for any team who goes there. First half was poor, we all know that, but one thing we learnt from a Slaven Bilic team is that they don’t give up. Bilic would rather lose 4-0 and go for a point, then lose 2-0 and just try and defend. That man Antonio popped up again, and got us back in the game. Attacking moves were made, and we showed more guts in the second half. Ok we lost, but at least we went down fighting.
We have all seen the list of players we have out at the moment… Payet, Lanzini (just coming back), Feghouli, Carroll, Cresswell, Nordtveidt, Cresswell. And then we have the new signings who weren’t available in Edimilson and Zaza. With Payet, Lanzini, Feghouli Nordtveidt, Edimilson and Zaza all likely to be in the squad for our next game after the international break, the squad will look much stronger. For me, the season starts for West Ham United on Saturday 10th September – and we need to get behind the boys. No in house fighting, no arguing about standing and sitting, and no moaning about the likes of Tore and Valencia. We need to stand United, get used to this move, and get behind the squad!