Stick or Bust….. What would you do?
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and in that time we’ve had an injury crisis, lost our form, got players fit and come through our patchy spell to make it 8 unbeaten in the league.
I think Mr Bilic, deserves an immense amount of praise for how we battened down the hatches during our rocky patch, grinding out results may not have been too pretty on the eye but they were certainly games we would have been getting nothing out of in the second half of last season, I’m sure he will have learnt a great deal about the personality of his squad during this period as well, in terms of who is prepared to put their body on the line and who can adapt to different scenarios.
Antonio, is certainly one of those players the manager will have learnt a lot about, seemingly out of favour before the injuries hit, but he has come in and won people over by sheer hard work, and having a Delap style throw is worth having in the team’s locker! Whether he is worthy of a place in the starting XI when the whole squad is fit I’m still not convinced of, but it is reassuring to know he can step up to the top table when needed. James Collins is certainly another one who fits into this category perfectly.
Our two most recent Premier League games have certainly been up their as real highs, the game against Liverpool was certainly a great result, I’ve read a lot of people talking this up as one of our all-time great performances but I wouldn’t go that far, I thought it was solid enough and we took our chances ruthlessly, both our goals came when Liverpool were on top. I felt both Kouyate and Noble did give the ball away carelessly in that game and we could have been punished by a more dynamic side. I love Mark Noble as a player, but really wish he would cut the switching of playing whilst in front of the back four from his repertoire, it makes me nervous every time he does it as I’m sure anyone who has done their homework on us will be aware he will attempt to do this an press and force an error.
Lanzini was different class in that first half until his injury, he seems to an ability to have more time on the ball than any Hammers player I can think of in recent memory, in fact the player who he reminds me of on the ball more than any other is Luca Modric. I also thought we saw the true potential of Obiang in this game; his awareness of what was going on around him was great and had a knack of being all over the opposition like a rash, without ever needing to resort to diving into challenges.
Moving on to the Bournemouth performance I thought we were a bit flat in the first half but the introduction of Jenkinson really made the difference. Tomkins has been a very adequate deputy at full back this season but I do think it is a specialist position and Jenkinson will have the shirt back before too long. You can stick a centre-half up front for the odd game or two and he will look half decent, but in the long term this never works. Ian Pearce/Glenn Roeder comes to mind here!!!
There is not too much to say about the goals. Payet’s free-kick was amazing, I was watching him warm-up before the Liverpool game and he was doing this for fun. Valencia’s was slightly different I’ve watched it on numerous occasions and still can’t work it out, but the technique on both was top notch!
The real point of this blog though is what you would do if you were in charge of West Ham now? Would you stick or bust in January, as we are only one point off a Champions League place, or would you like things to evolve naturally with what we’ve got already? For me firepower up front is still the issue. Jelavic doesn’t seem to have enough about himself although I will concede he took his goal against Wolves well and Sakho always looks like a player who needs a couple of games under his belt to look sharp, so if we could find the right player on a short term basis fantastic however I’m sure every club in the top half of the table is looking for this deal as well so it will be hard to pull off.
Elsewhere the sound of Sam Bryant coming in which @ExWHUemployee has mentioned on a few occasions and has been written about elsewhere is certainly appealing. A versatile right sided player would really hit the brief. If someone like this came it could we get someone like Joey O’Brien off the wage bill? Other than that I am happy with the depth the squad has already shown. Our injury situation surely can’t be worse in the second half of the season than it was in the first!!