Tuesday, August 22

Time for Ginge to return to West Ham defence?

More bad news. Winston Reid is going to miss the Newcastle game with the calf strain he picked up during the warm-up at Southampton. So now is surely the time to bring in Ginger Pele James Collins to partner Angelo Ogbonna. Collins is invariably the man for a crisis and had a great game in the must-win game against Swansea back in April. He also brings some inspirational leadership qualities to the back-line.

Jose Fonte had a poor game at St Mary's, being at fault for the first goal and the first penalty. He's proving a real enigma during his West Ham career. Fonte was captain of the Southampton side that finished sixth two seasons ago and won the European Championship with Portugal. Most Southampton fans would have him back. Yet he's looked poor during his spell at WHU. Is it a matter of age (he's 33) or settling in to a new club? Perhaps significantly he had his best spell when West Ham played a back five towards the end of last season when he wasn't taking on strikers running behind the defence. I wouldn't give up on him, but he needs to improve fast.

Whatever the line-up, the Hammers need to sort out their central defensive problems and long term, after the ageing Ginge and Fonte have moved on, we also have to decide whether to give Declan Rice (his favoured position is centre back) or the on-loan Reece Burke and Reece Oxford the chance to cement a place in the back four.

Sunday, August 20

Hammers pay the ultimate penalty

Southampton 3 West Ham 2

Having watched Match of the Day I still can't see that it was a penalty. Yes, Zabaleta puts pressure on Yoshida as he goes up, but if every coming together for an aerial challenge were a penalty Lee Mason would end up awarding thirty spot-kicks a game. A point gained from 2-0 down with ten men would have set up our season. But as it is we're bottom after two away matches and defensive mistakes have again cost WHU.

You knew it was all likely to go wrong when Winston Reid injured his calf in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Ogbonna. Fonte was outpaced by Gabbiadini running behind him for the opener (that was the Saints' first home goal in nine hours of football) and had no need to pull back Davis for the penalty that made it 2-0. I'd thought the crowd goading him might inspire Jose, but again it looked like time was catching up with him. 

Marco Arnautovic had looked lively early on, putting a good chance wide after a great through ball from Antonio and then producing a fine save from Forster after Hernandez whipped in a good cross. So it was inexplicable that he then put his elbow into Stephens' neck and rightfully earned a red card. Noble could also have seen red for a rash challenge and the Hammers had some more luck when Gabbiadini hit the bar.

But at least the side looked annoyed at 2-0 down with ten men and staged a great comeback. Antonio showed real strength to turn and shoot and Hernandez proved just what a fine poacher he is by tapping in the rebound off Forster before the break.The equaliser was a great goal. Cresswell produced a fine cross and sub Diafra Sakho was unlucky to see his header tipped on to the bar by Forster. But Hernandez was brilliant in the way he reacted to poke home with the outside of his boot.

Redmond hit the top of the bar late on but it looked like a deserved draw until the Hammers fell victim to that late Lee Masonic conspiracy. Charlie Austin rolled it home after Nobes had told him Joe Hart knew where he was going to put it. We can't even get our gamesmanship right at the moment.

If Jose Mourinho is letting his horses run free, some of ours look set for a spell with Steptoe and Son. The positives were the form of Antonio and Hernandez, but now the Hammers really have to get a result at Newcastle. 

Saturday, August 19

Plenty of options for Slaven at the Saints

Today's match at Southampton should offer a more reliable measure of how West Ham will do this season as a lot of teams will be beaten at Old Trafford. Bilic has quite a few selection options to consider. I'd play Cresswell over Masuaku at left-back and there might even be a case for bringing in Fonte to a five-man defence. He'd get a lot of stick from the home fans and that just might inspire him to have a good match and prove 'the immutable law of of the ex'. 

Antonio is fit so has to come in to he side and will certainly provide more energy up front, presumably at the expense of Fernandes or Ayew. It was also good to see Sakho get on the pitch at Old Trafford. He's a fine striker when fit, so at some stage it would be interesting to see him partner Hernandez. While young Daclan Rice might also have put himself in contention. After coming on for Mark Noble he completed 22 passes, didn't give the ball away once, and looked entirely at home against Pogba and Matic. Whoever plays, with four away games in a row, we have to get something from St Mary's. Irons!

Farewell Feggy

Arrived back from my holidays to discover that another of last summer's buys has gone. Sofiane Feghouli has been sold to Galatasary for £3.8 million. He actually had a decent second half of last season and ended up with four goals. If Bilic had faith in the player it's a little strange that he hasn't given him a second season as a squad player at least. More evidence perhaps that we're making up our transfer policy as we go along. Yes, Sofiane could be frustrating, but his performances in games like the 3-0 win against Palace suggested he would at least offer an option as a conventional right winger coming off the bench. Farewell Feggy —  and we certainly won't forget your kissing of the green plastic after scoring against NK Domzale in the Europa League.

Tuesday, August 15

Hammered at Old Trafford

Manchester United 4 West Ham 0

Managed to watch this while on holiday at the Grapes in Hexam, surrounded by disappointed Toon Army members who had just lost to Spurs. Once Obiang was robbed by Matic and United broke to allow Lukaku to score it was all over. Very disappointing to concede the second to a set piece and why was Masusku marking Lukaku? Zabaleta made one great saving tackle and showed a good attitude though was exposed by Rashford's pace, while Arnautocic did at least have a header on to De Gea's bar. But little else to offer from West Ham apart from a Fernandes shot saved by De Gea just before half-time. On a vaguely positive note sub Declan Rice looked confident on the ball when he came on and sprayed some fine passes.

Still, United had spent £125m on Lukaku and Matic and may well win the league on this form. Hopefully the new signings will bed in for WHU and be strengthened by the possible signing of William Carvalho and the return of Lanzini, Antonio and Kouyate. A terrible start but there's a long way to go yet.

Friday, August 11

A new season beckons

Well, the new season has kicked off and Arsenal have scored four at home while I have, possibly rather foolishly, predicted that West Ham will finish eighth in the Observer fan previews. Though it might be 18th, who knows? Been up in the Lake District so not much news has filtered through, apart from the fact that West Ham have signed Montenegro wonderkid Sead Haksabonovic from Swedish side Halmstads BK for £2.7 million. It makes a change to sign an 18-year-old and anyone who can make their debut at 15 surely has to be a bit special. Should be fun hearing Paul Merson try to pronounce his name, though it will cost a bit to have it on the back of a WHU shirt if they still charge by the letter. And now the Hammers prepare to kick off at Old Trafford on my birthday. What could possibly go wrong? Have to hope Little Pea stays fit and makes Jose feel green. Come on you Irons!

Thursday, August 3