Fans fume at woeful Calleri
There is certainly no doubt that the board made their fair share of poor signings in last summer’s transfer window, but along with the departed Simone Zaza for many fans Argentine striker Jonathan Calleri has been one of the worst and yesterday many fans ran out of patience with the former Sao Paulo man. Calleri has enjoyed much more game time in recent weeks due the injuries sustained to Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, the Argentine started for the second consecutive game at The Bet 365 yesterday; it was not to be Calleri’s day. The 23-year-old missed his usual catalogue of early chances, poaching over from a neat pull back to the edge f the area and then the chance of the game, Calleri saw his shot rebound off of Potters defender Bruno Martins Indi and was faced with a semi open goal, instead of simply finishing easily with his left foot he opted to try a rabona which cannoned back off of the Stoke defender and out of danger. Many fans now believe that the young striker has had enough of a chance and should be sold just like fellow summer signing Simone Zaza who was shipped to Valencia in January, having failed to register a single goal in Claret and Blue. However, Calleri has managed to do one better than the Italian, scoring a scrappy late goal in our 1-3 victory at The Riverside Stadium. Calleri is only on loan and rumours continue to circulate about whether Bilic will opt to sign the former Argentina Olympic team member. So with Andy Carroll set to return to the starting line-up against Spurs on Friday, have we seen Jonathan Calleri start for the last time in a West Ham shirt?
Strange Bilic tactics leave fans bemused
Most Hammers fans were left confused by the strange defensive tactics of Slaven Bilic, with many critics also suggesting that they played a role in us not leaving with the three points. Bilic strangely opted to name an unchanged line-up from another 0-0 draw against The Toffees last Saturday, controversially leaving out skipper Mark Noble as he returned from a two-game suspension. After a positive first half where we seemed to do everything but take the lead over The Potters, Slaven Bilic opted not to take off Jonathan Calleri who had had another dismal half of missed opportunities, but instead decided to substitute Arthur Masuaku who had been playing very well down the left flank for usual left back Aaron Cresswell, it is not yet known whether Masuaku had sustained an injury in the first half, but never the less it would be the first of three very odd changes. After a slower start to the second half The Croat decided to bring off the bright record signing Andre Ayew who had tested the very best of Jack Butland with a sensational over headed effort in the first half, Bilic replaced the Ghanaian with skipper Mark Noble, the substitute was hardly like for like as the defensive midfielder replaced the front man and the travelling Hammers fan knew this, greeting the switch with boo’s. The third and final Hammers change resulted in Jonathan Calleri finally being hauled off with nearly ten minutes to go, but it wasn’t for the bright young striker Ashley Fletcher, it was for January flop Robert Snodgrass who was greeted with yet more boo’s from the travelling Hammers faithful. The draw leaves us still in danger of falling victim to the drop zone, as our best remaining chance of getting the win that would make us more or less 100 percent safe, went by the wayside. One thing is for sure Bilic will certainly need to redeem himself tactically speaking, when we face title contenders Tottenham Hotspur in a massive London derby in five days time.
Hammers still nervously looking backwards
At the blowing of the full-time whistle yesterday at The Bet 365 Stadium, we edged closer to that magical 40 point mark that would all but ensure our safety. However, many fans couldn’t fight off the feeling of frustration as what many fans feel was our best remaining chance of finding a vital win this season went begging. After two frustrating draws in a row, we now find ourselves once again looking backwards and not forwards, as three tough Premier League games remain and we drop to 15th. Despite the fact that a Premier League relegation would surely be a huge shock from here, we sit only eight points above the drop zone with three of the five teams below us having games in hand over us. To make matters worse we face Tottenham at home, Liverpool at home and Burnley away on our remaining Premier League fixtures, Spurs are fighting for the title, Liverpool are fighting for The Champions League and Burnley possess one of the best home records in the League. We really do face a very undesirable run in. So have we done enough in our poor season to avoid a shock relegation? Only the next few games will tell.
Adrian proves his worth yet again
Our Spanish shot-stopper Adrian San Miguel kept his second clean sheet in a row which also ended a run of 13 Premier League away games without a clean sheet yesterday at The Bet 365, after making a deserved return to the first team ahead of Darren Randolph just a week ago. Yesterday’s goalless affair certainly was a game for the goalkeepers as both Adrian and Potters keeper Jack Butland made a string of magnificent saves to keep either side getting on the score sheet. Adrian was most tested in the second half when he saved smartly from Xherden Shaqiri, Marco Arnautovic and Saido Berahino to justify his recent return to the first team. One thing is for sure, despite Slaven Bilic being under his fair share of pressure recently the Croat has certainly seemed to have made the right call in bringing the Spaniard back for these two games, as we took our fifth point from the last three games.
Bilic: “I’m pleased with the way we played”
Our Croatian boss Slaven Bilic has declared that he was satisfied with our display against The Potters yesterday. Despite our missed chances and our overall lack of clinical attacking play in the final third, the boss appeared to be fairly pleased with a hard-fought point; he had this to say in his post-match press conference “I’m pleased with the way we played. We limited Stoke to a few chances and had lots ourselves. We were good on the ball”. The frustrating 0-0 draw was our second consecutive game without scoring or conceding, and Bilic also came to the defence of Jonathan Calleri, after the Argentine missed a string of huge chances in another dismal individual display. Bilic was asked about a particular chance were Calleri, instead of tapping in simply with his left foot instead decided to try a rabona with was blocked by Stoke defender Bruno Martins-Indi. The Croat had this to say in response to the missed opportunity: “I don’t think he went for the spectacular, I think that the ball was in that position and it was easier for him to try to score like that”. Bilic’s comments angered many Hammers fans, as he continues to give Calleri chances and defend him after a loan spell that has been nothing short of a disaster. So will Bilic need to defend Calleri next week? Or will Carroll or Sakho return like they are expected to against Mauricio Pochettino’s men on Friday?
Adrian:9, Fernandes:7, Reid:7, Fonte:7, Collins:7, Masuaku:7, Cresswell:7, Nordtveit: 6, Noble:7, Kouyate:8, Lanzini:7, Ayew:8, Snodgrass:6, Calleri:5