How to fight Clubber Lang?

West Ham Opinion

When Bruce Lee was laid out in hospital after suffering an injury during a fight, he started to formulate a plan to show the world there could be a different and more effective way to challenge and beat an opponent. Akin to Sun Tzu – Art of War, he developed Jeet Kune Do; a non-classical style of fighting that has minimal movement but maximum effect.

One of the fighting philosophies handed down from this style was to gauge your opponent and not attempt to match them at their strengths, but rather exploit their weaknesses. “You don’t box a boxer if you’ve never boxed before!”

So enter the dragon of our weighty West Ham predicament and we find ourselves wondering what can Moyes do to make us believe that we can survive the next few weeks within any degree of success? With Lanzini and Arnautovic lost to the injury table and an infirmity list as long as a giraffe’s endoscope, it would appear there are very limited options for our manager to display any attacking tendencies…certainly not without exposing a fragile defence in the process.

Through part misfortune and poor foresight we find ourselves in a situation whereby we thought we might be clear of the danger zone…but just like Al Pacino… “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Each team that we play now will look upon us with saliva dripping from their mouths, like rabid dogs on a manic hunt for prey. We are weakened, we are toothless and we are vulnerable to attack…the future does not look promising for the team, the management and indeed the fans either.

Many will look at our performances now and wonder where did it all go wrong and why can’t our coaching staff get a tune out of these players? Unfortunately, we have an orchestra that has got a shot string section, the percussionist can’t find his drums and the trumpeters are just blowing hot air.

I yearn for attacking football, I want us to be so much better than we are and take the fight to our opponents, but I’m also realistic! We simply do not have the tools and conditioning at the moment to formulate a battle plan, so our only option is to man the gates, get the long spears out of the cupboard and stand fast and fend off the barbarians as much as we can.

Some would argue that this is where Moyes prefers to loiter…in a defensive posture with languid ambition for adventure. The rosiness drained from his pale cheeks to leave a grey purpose that may yet serve us well…or at least until the end of the season.

In his mandate, he was to ensure Premiership survival and not be so concerned about the FA Cup. It pains me to think that our great club that has had such fantastic success in yesteryear showed as much commitment to this competition as a Jezebel would want to live in a convent. I am a May child, so the FA Cup is extremely important to me and forms part of my early imprinting to West Ham, so to not give it the respect it deserves is almost too painful to bear.

Although I admire Moyes and the coaching team for shoring up our defences and making attempts to improve our attacking play when all of our players were fighting fit, he has failed to find a solution to a second team that is bereft of creativity, guile and clinical attacking lunges.

Moyes may be comfortable in this arena…almost too comfortable at times, never venturing to jeopardise his weighty bonus for the desire to entertain the fans and generate some progressive and expansive football. However, if he is unable to unlock the fortunes that have remained hidden for so long then he may well find a contract extension in the summer as unlikely as Victoria Beckham endorsing a carb-rich diet.

However, it does not necessarily need to be this way…there is an alternative and one that has proven to be a success, if only in Hollywood and in the Rocky movies. We have to use our perceived weakness and turn it into our strength. Where teams will be wanting to play us now and put us to the sword, we have an opportunity to do ‘the ol’ switcheroo’ and surprise them with masterful tactics interlaced with commitment and a passion for the cause.

With our injury woes and recent performances found wanting, we have an opportunity to mix our styles, change tactics…to-and-fro during a game that will keep our opponents guessing and will energise us to great results. I could argue we should approach every game in this manner regardless of injuries, however we have to look at the here and now and fight the battles before us.

Moyes should entertain the notion of changing formations during the game from a defensive 3-5-1-1 to a 4-4-2 or a 3-4-3 whilst employing the attacking talents from within our squad. His natural tendency will be to fear our opponents and set up accordingly, however if we start on the offensive with a quick passing game (Yes I know this is stuff of legend for us fans) and drive players forward to support the strikers, then we have the best option to take the fight into the opponents box.

Of course, we should be cautious when facing the better teams, but we should be less so against the rivals around us. Moyes and his coaches will have to work overtime with the squad but it is a policy worth persisting with and will bear fruit…I’m convinced it will. Otherwise we will continue to leave the plains void and allow the aliens a free run at our battleship, ready to pepper our pot until the flavour becomes too distasteful.

We need to be cunning, we need to be adaptable and open games with a plan but ready to switch tact at the drop of a hat. The players need to be well drilled and ready to muster at the sound of the bugle for we can only trust in them once the white line has been crossed.

We need to find the ‘eye of the tiger’ and change from southpaw to orthodox and back again to confuse our opponents, to unsettle and lull them into errors we can exploit. Rocky did it against Clubber Lang…so can we! This is my new Moyes mantra!

About the Author

Alf Gasparro
Life long West Ham United fan, football purist, love motorcycles & soaring with the birds, usually to be found with my head in the clouds...sometimes known as RevelatorAlf