Thursday, April 20

Why do West Ham keep losing the lead?

Fabio Borini's goal for Sunderland was scored in the 90th monute ;ast Saturday. It's been a much banded statistic that West Ham have lost 20 points from winning or drawing positions this season. 

Slaven Bilic must be reluctant to take his dog out in case he loses the lead. There also a worrying stat in Sunday's Observer that has West Ham top of the league of errors leading to goals, with 12. Though as virtually every goal results from some sort of error, it's a hard stat to quantify. The team has come from behind a few times, most notably at Southampton, but by my reckoning we've only won seven points from losing positions.

Does the fact West Ham lose the lead so often betray a lack of character or fitness? Certainly the number of soft-tissue injuries might indicate there's something wrong with the medical team. Payet's indifference to tracking back might not have helped morale in the first half of the season, but generally it seems to be more about individual errors and substandard players in the wrong positions rather than a collective problem. 

There was a tendency to lose leads last season too, but this season it's been far worse. The goalkeeping position hasn't helped generate any confidence in the rest of the defence. First Adrian was dropped for rickets against Watford and Stoke and now Randolph has started to make regular errors. Right-back has been a problem all season with either Antonio or Nordtveit played out of position or the inexperienced Byram thrown into the Premier League when he doesn't look quite ready. 

While the loss of Ogbonna has been a blow too and Fonte has taken an awfully long time to get any kind of understanding with the rest of his defence. If you add in the fact that Cresswell hasn't looked as good since returning from a pre-season knee injury then you have problems right across the back line. Consequently whenever the side takes the lead the players look terrified of losing it.

Certainly another goalkeeper and right-back would add to the squad for next season. Meanwhile for the final five games the side has to show the collective determination that resulted in a clean sheet against Swansea.


Shane Barber said...

Lack of character? Maybe. Good old fashioned fear? Almost certainly. Once we have a lead, we never push for the kill. We sit back as the opposition respond to going a goal down, inviting pressure and mucking around at the back when we don't have the skills to make sure it doesn't result in an equaliser.

Byram lacks the confidence to go past his man in his own half, so passes back and sideways almost every time. I'm not sad enough to have studied the stats, but I wouldn't be surprised if Randolph received more passes from him than any other player. Close behind him must be Ogbonna, who almost never moves the ball forwards. He just bottles it whenever an opponent gets close and passes back. The situation isn't helped by Noble, who comes too far back to get the ball into midfield instead of making space and giving the defence options to pass out. Because he invariably does that silly turn, he loses the extra second and invites pressure. It's like a slow motion suicide.

It might be confidence, but it smacks of the Allardyce concept of respecting the point. Once in the lead, the team mustn't press for a second goal, but simply hold onto the slender margin they have. Old habits die hard.

Still, shouldn't be a problem this weekend, since few of us can contemplate a West Ham lead over a Lukaku-inspired Everton....

mj said...

In Big Sam style I look forward to seeing us procure a point tomorrow. Lord knows how, as we can't keep a clean sheet so we have to score

mj said...

I mean Saturday

Pete May said...

Yep, agree we we keep putting our keepers under pressure Shane. Though also a problem when we go too gung-ho like against Man City and they just pick off our back four. Collins at least provides a bit more leadership. Will be happy to respect the point after Lukaku scores as he always does….

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