The West Ham Dust Settles under a Reds Reign! Published 13/08/18 on Irons United
As the West Ham faithful lick their wounds after a disappointing first outing under Pellegrini in this season’s Premier League, and whilst many would welcome woe and damnation…there are others that would look to the future and wager on better days ahead.
West Ham travelled up to the North West yesterday with an air of optimism and a self belief that they would be able to match Liverpool in their own back yard, but perhaps they overestimated the gulf in capability that still exists between the two sides.
Liverpool have come off an impressive season…4th in the league and runners up in the Champions League final. They were possibly the most exciting and attack minded team of all last year and their strike force is second to none. They have reinforced in the summer with a few quality additions…and they also had an impressive pre season campaign against notable opposition too…so is anyone really surprised that they eventually romped home to a 4-0 victory? I’m certainly not, although I concede this doesn’t make this bitter pill easier to swallow either.
I suppose we have all got slightly carried away with the tremendous business in the transfer window. We now have quality and strength in depth in most positions, with some of the youth players that show marvellous promise too…but we are also in the midst of a major restructuring process under Pellegrini and this cake needs more time in the oven before it becomes a delicious feast on our senses.
The simple fact of the matter is Liverpool are a well oiled machine at the moment and West Ham are yet to find their best feet forward…and in defence too. Perhaps Pellegrini was overly optimistic with his formation and the decision to play a high line, which invited Liverpool to run behind our last lines to slot home their goals…but there were also opportunities to exploit and some players provided us with an inkling that entertaining days would return to us soon.
Wilshere had a good day under the Reds’ sun and Anderson showed glimpses of endeavour on the left hand side too…possibly being forced to defend more than he would have liked, but that was his invitation to join the Premier League. Yarmolenko displayed industry when he came on and Fabianski largely ruled his box with a rod of iron and prevented the game resulting into a cricket score.
There were decent passages of play, some neat interchange of passes at times, but largely too sporadic to be effective. Liverpool appeared to have time and space on the ball in abundance whilst West Ham seemingly ran into dead ends too often to mention. However, there were two through balls to Arnautovic in the first half, that may have been converted on another day…and there were opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half that gave hope for a revival…which sadly never came.
Of course, it wasn’t a glorious day for the footballing world to see the return of the West Ham Way…however there were small reasons to be cheerful too. Some of the players showed promise, guile and industry…and there were a handful of opportunities that may have brought a cheer. But…the old demons were there to be seen and ruthlessly exploited by the ravenous Liverpool attack.
Defensively at sixes and sevens…allowing too much space for Liverpool runs, not marking closely enough and ball watching whilst letting unmarked opposition players run amok in the final third. The West Ham transitions from defence into midfield and attack were better than those of last season but still not enough to trouble the hosts. In truth, West Ham will not be the only team this season that will come away from Anfield with a sore bottom after a severe spanking, but overestimating our own capability may be our greatest downfall right now too.
We are a new team and it will take a while for the players to develop the understanding with each other that is required to thrive in this league. There were players who started yesterday that may not be welcome in future starting elevens…and there are also those who stood in the wings and lay in wait for their opportunity to reach the appropriate fitness levels and take their places in future encounters. The team is not quite ready yet to make an assault on the top half of the table, let alone do battle with the teams in the top six. This is a work in progress that still has a way to go, but in Pellegrini we trust to make our dreams come true, our fortunes rise and our voices roar.
Yesterday was a stern test of our resolve but it wasn’t a shocking defeat either. Systems, tactics and formations need to be worked on and when all players are available…it is likely we will have a different starting line up too. There is much work to do in the defensive areas and the left back role, much improved coordination in midfield and in holding positions to protect the back lines…not to mention those forward explorations into the final third.
However we must remind ourselves…and each other…that this is only the first game of the season and it was possibly against the champions elect. Next week we face Bournemouth at the London Stadium…we hope for an improved display and a treasured result, but for now we must let this dust settle as the reds reigned supreme over us. We shall regroup, refocus and move upwards and onwards. I have faith…I truly do, but I also acknowledge it will take a few more games until the players are comfortable in this new claret and blue skin.