Put some Pepper on the Pig!

Put some Pepper on the Pig! Published 25/04/18 on Irons United

There are few people in this West Ham world of ours who don’t like a Sunday roast…but a roasting on a Sunday by a team that were only marginally better in many areas of the pitch, is just unpalatable and has left a sour taste in the mouth. Once again the formation and tactics from Moyes was defensive and his changes were lethargic, when what was required was a tweak at half time which could have put a totally new complexion on the game.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Moyes has a plan to contain teams and expose their weaknesses with long balls that would not leave holes in the West Ham defence. The problem with this strategy is that it relies on a high percentage of accurate passing and for midfield runners that would push forward to support the lone striker. Unfortunately, this does not happen nearly enough and ball retention is poor…especially against the better teams, Moyes’ plan falls apart and the defence is placed under too much stress until it breaks…as it did on Sunday.

One of the greatest frustrations with this plan is that there isn’t feedback into it which would alert him early on that it isn’t working. Any plan, any decision must have a loop system at its core that would enable an action to be made, analysis of that action, a review and a feedback to interrogate whether any changes should be made. This clearly isn’t happening in the Moyes model!

A long ball game only works to expose weakened defences that would push high up the field and for strikers to run onto loose balls to create goal scoring opportunities. However, fatigue will play a vital role here, especially if the striker is not partnered with another or whom is not being supported by the midfield.

Of course, there were many errors in the game and two glaring ones for the first two goals, however there was a certain amount of endeavour and application in the first half that may have yielded some positive results, especially as Arsenal were battling their own demons at the same time.

At the half time break there was an opportunity for Moyes to alter the system and introduce Hernandez and Lanzini…but he didn’t! It was obvious to all who were watching that Fernandes and Mario were fading fast in the first half and were not as successful at latching onto balls as they were in the first 20mins of the game. They were ripe to be plucked out of the team and replaced with the creative Lanzini and the goal poacher; Hernandez who most would assume should be in the starting line up.

Because there was a failure to identify the problem areas on the pitch and a delay in introducing the substitutes…Arsenal were able to take the lead as they largely dominated the early exchanges in the second half. This is a classic failure in the loop system…there was little interrogation of the performance, analysis was poor, the review was wanting and the overall feedback was delayed…until it was too late!

As soon as the substitutions were made, there was an immediate impact with Arnautovic scoring but overall the tactics were to remain negative and not press on for the win. This negative approach to the second half is what lost the match for Moyes and the players were struggling to contain Arsenal and play any kind of quality passing game. Noble was the migrant worker in midfield, but overrun with repeated attempts to infiltrate the defence. Kouyate was back to his normal ineffective self who struggled to find any quality in his passing or tackling…even managing to stay upright was proving to be a challenge for him…and even Masuaku continued to show many defensive frailties on the left hand side, whilst his attacking game lacked that certain spark to trouble the opposition’s right back.

There were too many players who once again were out of form and their confidence was being ebbed away by a relentless Arsenal who wanted to go for the win…Spot the difference in approach? As the game went on it was becoming clear that Moyes’ defensive stance was wilting in the afternoon sun, whereas Wenger’s positivity was starting to pay off and it was only a matter of time before more goals were conceded.

Once the players start to struggle against an opposition, the task to turn the match around becomes even harder, especially when the manager persists with the same failing tactics. Confidence drops, energy levels are sapped away and the players begin to lose shape…however a more proactive plan would see the players always on the front foot and asking questions of the opposition rather than the other way around.

Moyes’ game plan is too thin to be effective anymore and requires extra dimensions. He needs his Plan A game to be more aggressive and play Hernandez with Arnautovic or Carroll…even if he wants to continue with the long ball game for now, at least there would be two strikers in the penalty area that might be able to capitalise on chances. 

He needs to recognise the deficiencies a lot sooner and drop those players that have not produced in the previous game but also over the whole season. Continuing to start with the out of form players and expecting a different result is absolute madness…so for all fan’s sanity…changes must be made before the Man City game. Moyes has cooked his roast pork dinner but it’s too bland…he needs to put some pepper on the pig to give it some kick and make it a taste worth savouring.

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