The final frontier – Going boldly into the next Hammers’ season! Published 26/04/18 on Hammers Chat
The West Ham season is coming to an end and most would think the club has been saved from relegation, albeit not because of outstanding recovery performances but rather due to other teams being more incompetent. This weekend, the Hammers entertain Manchester City at the London Stadium and most will be expecting a loss to the newly crowned Premier League Champions…however there is much to be hopeful for and there is a realistic chance that David Moyes’ men could get a result…if not a win!
However unrealistic it might appear, the fact remains that Manchester City under King Pep have not been severely tested defensively this season, however there does lurk a slight vulnerability, if only the likes of Arnautovic, Lanzini or even Hernandez could fashion a play to test it. Ever since West Ham travelled up to the Etihad Stadium, soon after Moyes took the helm, and narrowly lost 2-1…there are those who would believe and hope that ground is to be made and opportunities to be exploited, although it will be a stern test of willpower and determination to resist their advances.
The fans would naturally expect Moyes to set up defensively once again as is his trademark but work to create chances with some solid counter attacking plays or possibly a plethora of long balls over the top of the defence for a willing Arnautovic to run onto and steer his efforts towards goal and into the back of the net. Oh…how wishful thinking this is…but not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.
The key to a solid performance will be for each and every player that crosses the white line to perform at their optimum best and for balls to fired into the box on a regular basis with a high degreed of accuracy. The strikers must hold up play and engage with forward running midfielders…but ball retention will once again be the lynchpin to the success or the failing on the afternoon.
If Moyes can engage his players to pass and move, be patient and work the ball into advanced positions, then there is a greater chance of success in the final third of the pitch. However, the players and the manager must be positive and adventurous too. If he opts for a negative posture once again, then the game will be lost to repeated assaults by the Manchester City offenders which could lead to an embarrassing scoreline at the final whistle.
Nothing can be taken for granted, but this game has to be marker that is laid down for the rest of the season and going into the next campaign also. If Moyes is to be the man at the top, then he must demonstrate a willingness to defend the home shores, but also venture out onto the high seas in favour of adventure and reaping the spoils of footballing wars.
Hart will be rested for this game, as he is unable to play for his parent club. This will give Adrian an opportunity to prove his worth…although most would suspect that it will be another tough day of the office for him. However, if he is to stake his claim for the rest of the season and to start again after the summer, then he must pull off miracles and give confidence to his rear guard…that a safe pair of hands has got their backs.
The key area of the game will be in midfield, so the players need to step up but and deliver a performance unlike most of those of the season. The fans will expect club captain; Noble to lead the line and rally the charges but it will be up to Kouyate, Mario and ably supported by Zabaleta and Masuaku on the flanks to dominate midfield and support the strikers whilst driving into the opponent’s penalty area.
In short, West Ham must alter the game plan to take the fight into the heart of their back lines, ask serious questions and force them into errors, whereupon Lanzini, Mario or even Cresswell might take advantage from a dead ball situation. There are of course many ifs and buts, but any team that is constantly under pressure will undoubtedly make mistakes that can be capitalised upon.
The key for this encounter is that West Ham must not be beaten by the spectre of the Citizens’ approaches, but rather they should be bold with chests puffed out and ready to charge at any opportunity. The opponents will not be expecting it and the fans will be thoroughly entertained…which is what the game is all about in the final analysis.
The team and the manager have a desire to win games and earn points to ensure absolute safety in the Premier League this season, however they have to be brave…to embark out into the final frontier and that would let them go boldly into the next Hammers’ season. Whether it is a dramatic change in formations or within the starting line ups, the manager must lead from the top and encourage is players to go for the jugular as Manchester City will be ripe for picking…as they focus on their summer holidays or joining their respective national teams at this summer’s World Cup!
Whether the game is won, lost or drawn…the players must not feel overwhelmed by the City advances. Instead they must have a positive mental attitude and believe that the visitors will be intimidated by the stadium and the crescendo of noise that the fans would like to make. If they have courage and a steely determination to never give up the chase, work as a cohesive unit to regain possession when all seems lost…then there is a possibility of assured survival and an opportunity to prove to the footballing world that anyone can be beaten and any struggling team can have their day in the sun too. These are the voyages of the star ship West Ham…Its five-year mission set by the board: to explore strange new stadia. To seek out new life in players and new footballing civilisations. To boldly go where no West Ham man has gone before!