The last home game before the boy sets off to university. I put a brave face on. It is strange after all these years to have your son sitting next to you supping beers pre-game.
A home game against the ‘appy ‘ammers. We all knew it was going to be tough and within minutes of the start of the game this became fairly obvious.
We can all look at our glaring deficiencies in creativity and attack and playing to small strikers against a packed defence but I choose not to do so. I say this every time we play a Moyes side but there is no one quite like him in producing dull turgid football. He makes his sides very difficult to beat. His managerial “style” is to constantly have everyone behind the ball and never shows an iota of attacking ambition unless and until his teams go behind. I actively detest this. I understand that when you play away to a top six side that you do not want to leave your self exposed. I get that but on Saturday if you strip away the name on the door and the fact that we were quite rightly 10th in the Premier League at the start of play , we are currently not a top six side nor are we playing like one.
This game will be remembered as the game that broke VAR. The 50/50 decision to chalk off the equalising goal and the indignation of Moyes at the injustice of it all. Well that is fine but did anyone stop to think why West Ham did not think that it might be a good idea to attack a team which has let in eight goals in four games? No of course not because it doesn’t fit the narrative. So in the past Moyes could have blamed lack of funds and smaller squad. Not any more he has some exciting attacking options which he prefers to keep in a dusty cupboard. Please let me know why we didn’t consider Maxwell Cornet to be a viable squad player?
As for our performance everything was too predictable and slow. Even with the young bucks of Loftus Cheek and Gallagher starting the fact that the opposition had just put a blanket of players behind the ball meant I had to boo when the officials said there would be 2 minutes added time at the end of the first half. An absolutely awful first half of “football” not helped by the fact our attacking options were Stering and Pulisic both of whom had literally no service. The only highlight was a quite delightfully directed back header from the sublime Tiago Silva.
The second half was more of the same until we changed it, Broja and Mount came on and things livened up, relatively speaking. So much so that West Ham actualy crossed the half way line and won a corner. Indeed they scored from their second corner. The first corner was directly before the second, the ball is swung in and punched out by Mendy (catch it) the punch is volleyed back at a good height and Mendy punched for the second corner (catch it). The second corner comes in, there is a melee the ball is not cleared and they score. Mendy complains he is fouled, he was, but he is a big lad with no confidence and he possibly could have done better. The whole situation at set pieces is worrying.
Guess what, our players are not happy they are losing. The forgotten Ben Chilwell comes on and scores a brilliant goal from a nothing ball into the box which he wins and then somehow beats the keeper at the near post. Never saw that coming , although the presence of Broja has suddenly given the previously untroubled West Ham defence something to think about. A further substitution and the much maligned silky German Kai Havertz comes on and scores. Another goal fashioned by Mr Chilwell.
Footballs a funny game and from nowhere we are in front. As any football fan will tell you unless you are five up with a minute to go there is never a foregone conclusion. Yet again our fragile error prone defence proved that to be the case. As happens, the team who has done nothing all game suddenly realise they have to do something. Thanks to a loss of possession by the ponderous Jorghino, inexplicably brought on, they hit the post. Crisis over? Not really a minute later they score from a poor back pass of a header from Reece James followed by a poor piece of keeping by Mendy which produces a goal. However a 50/50 challenge on Mendy is punished as a foul. It was not given by the ref but uncle VAR stepped in to rescue us for a thoroughly deserved win on the balance of one team wanting to play and the other not.
So a team that looked like they could not be arsed at Southampton suddenly find the fight the fans demand and well done them. All the good things that came out of the game and there were a few are tossed aside in the VAR furore. The fact that Wesley Fofofana was barely mentioned meant for me that he looked like he had been playing for us for years.
The VAR fall out however has been hilarious. Week after week there have been dreadful VAR decisions. We suffered in our home game against Spurs but nobody cared. This particular weekend and our decision and one in another game have highlighted the ineptitude of the process. What a surprise. I wouldn’t be shocked if we are made to replay the game or just deducted the points. If we are I won’t be going. Playing a Moyes team twice in a season is enough for anyone.
Clayton Beerman (@Goalie59)