Sitting in my seat approximately 200 miles away from the pitch at the London Stadium for yesterday’s game against Leicester City, even I could see we cannot defend. The clause in the contract which states that West Ham must give the opposition at least a 1 goal lead in the first 5 minutes of a match also needs to be taken out.
As we all know, football is a relatively easy game to understand, keep a clean sheet at one end and score goals at the other. If nothing else, you are guaranteed goals when you watch West Ham. In over 55% of our league matches this season we have conceded 2 or more goals.
The problems with our defending has been ongoing since the first league game of the season. At the beginning, the poor defending was blamed on the move to the new stadium and injuries to key players. Around December and January, we did go on a bit of a good run, which made us all think that the team was beginning to gel and the worse was behind us. Force hope I’m afraid. Now the awful defending is back for all to see and quite simply, something needs to be done very quickly if we are not going to get dragged kicking and screaming into a relegation dog fight.
So why have we been so bad at the back? Here are a few possible reasons…
No. 1 reason may be our No.1. At the start of the season, there was no doubt that Adrian was our No.1 goalkeeper. Unfortunately, his form was pretty bad and by the Stoke game most of us were calling for him to be dropped. Randolph, you’re on. Randolph did ok at the beginning and it seemed as if he had grasped the opportunity with both hands (pardon the pun). For the past 6 weeks, however, he hasn’t really looked any better than Adrian. To me it seems like a choice between Pepsi or Coke rather than Pepsi or Champagne. Do our defenders have the confidence in the keeper behind them or is this part of the problem? I suggest a new goalkeeper should be quite close to the top of the transfer shopping list come the summer.
Now for the full backs. Right full back has been a problematic position all season. Byram looks like he might be able to develop into a decent player given time, but then again, he might be one of those players who reached his level in the Championship. I do believe we bought another right back from Real Madrid in the summer but he appears to have been kidnapped and West Ham are not prepared to pay the ransom. Left back wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Cresswell had not been out of form. I’m sure he will come good again but it’s not helping us now. Then there is the enigma of Arthur Masuaku. At times, he looks really good – especially going forward – and at other times looks very average.
Maybe I’m old fashioned but I have always believed that at least one of your central defenders should have the ability to organise the back 4 or 3 or 5 (whatever it is these days) and to bark at players who are not doing their jobs. As far as I can see we do not have this type of defender in the middle of our defence. Maybe Fonte will be this missing link but he hasn’t shown this so far. Reid is too injury prone for my liking and poor old Ginge is fantastic one minute and a liability the next.
One last reason which may not be helping the situation is the lack of protection the defence are getting from our midfielders. I know this is going to sound very obvious but we need to go back to basics and become harder to beat. Fill the gaps on the pitch, get in teams faces, make the opposition know we are there.
Bilic needs to work on the defence and quickly. Being a defender himself, you would think he could get this right.