The Hammers’ Embers and the Hot Iron Pokers! Published 31/08/18 on Irons United
West Ham fans were treated to a rare sight on Tuesday night as they dominated play in the Carabao Cup tie at AFC Wimbledon…eventually coming out on top with a 1-3 victory. However it was far from plain sailing and the hosts dug in deep to put on a defiant display well into the second half whilst fighting for most of the game with only ten valiant men.
Wimbledon took the lead within a couple of minutes, barley giving the travelling support enough time to still their drinks and sink their pies. The shock lead came as a result of an inability to prevent the ball being crossed from the flanks and a failure of the struggling defence to clear the lines. In fact this has been a failing of the team for the last two seasons, however most fans were hoping that the summer business and new management would have addressed this by now…but no such luck!
At the other end of the pitch there was a continuing absence of composure and guile to finish off opportunities in front of goal, however at least there were opportunities being created in the first instance…so a blessing in the face of growing concern.
The Hammers were noticeably disturbed by the lead they were forced to chase, however that did not deter them in the quest to drive forward and seek the equalising goal. When Wimbledon’s Rod McDonald was justly sent off in the 18th minute…it was only a matter of time before West Ham would out gun and out class the heroics from the lower league side.
Virtually every West Ham player on the pitch delivered a good performance with Declan Rice rising above the recent attention he has been getting on his international conundrum to shine. Yarmolenko was industrious on the right and Diop was assured in the defence. It was warming to see Cresswell back in the left back role and make a convincing account of himself whilst Snodgrass was the engine that drove the team forwards.
Lucas Perez had an indifferent night and it was no surprise to see him substituted in the second half, whilst Hernandez had a frustrating evening in front of goal but eventually scored the third, after Diop and Ogbonna had equalised and taken us into the lead, respectively, in the second half.
Whilst the home support could be proud of the rousing spirit amongst their players, it would have been unsurprising to see the Premier League opponents come out on top in the end. West Ham do not necessarily have a great record in cup competitions, in recent years, against lower league opposition but the dominance in possession and overall quality in play would make all believe that in would not be a glorious night for the underdogs…and so it came to pass!
Many fans will still bemoan at the quality of Pellegrini’s decisions and the acumen of his players to deliver stoic performances in the face of aggressive talents within the league, however the last two fixtures have given even the most bitter critic much to reconsider and lots to be hopeful for. Of course the game on Tuesday night could not be a calibrated gauge of the emergence of a new West Ham dawn, but it was enough to clearly demonstrate the eagerness of the players to impress, be patient and to deliver a growing confidence…that has been so lacking in recent times.
There are many within the faithful who have already set out their stalls, will pick holes within each performance and criticise players with random abandon…sometimes seemingly without even acknowledging the merits of those players or indeed their recent delivery. Whilst the fanbase has been delivered many foul blows over the last two seasons with many demonic underlying facets that would naturally turned the softest of hearts to dense granite…it must be measured against the realism of seedlings breaking earth and seeking the light.
Of course, nothing seen as yet would lend the fans to believe the team are title contenders, or in fact anything other than what has been seen of recent times, however since when have the fanbase had such ideas above their station? West Ham should be hopeful of greater things but the demand for such regality has not yet been earned as yet regardless of the millions spent in the summer!
Patience is the order of the day, certainly for the here and now…but to be defeatist is to hand the opponents the spoils before the war have even been fought. To say this club is evolving or is a work in progress is a platitude that has worn thin and for many fans the results are way past due. Perhaps the overwhelming negativity over the last two seasons is a trait that cannot be shed too easily…but for the sake of the club and for the sanctity of the fanbase…we all need to look to beyond the last two seasons and the move to the London Stadium. we need to hark back to the times before our childhood and realise what it was to be a West Ham fan.
We were not always glorious and we did not expect immediate gratification either. The Hammers had an edict under Greenwood & Lyall to play the game in the correct manner…and they tried and tired again. It was not always successful, however there were years which gave the fans much to cheer about and would fill the souls with pride.
This is the West Ham state of grace at this moment! They stand on the precipice of greatness if only we as a fanbase would be charitable to allow them to be so. However we must also allow for mediocrity and failure in the same vein too. This is the period of great change and we must allow for it to run its course…we must fan the Hammers’ embers and subdue the hot iron pokers…for a while longer at least.
One eye on the past and fully focussed on the future. The club is in transition and we as a fanbase are transiting along with it. Onwards!