The pundits warned us when Sam Allardyce left: “be careful what you wish for”. It’s true that any manager can have a tough start, but the appointment of Slaven Bilic has been nothing short of sensational! The 16th century hoofball of Sam has been replaced by some vintage West Ham Football. I must admit that I did not grow up with all the heroes of years gone by and did not really know what the West Ham way of playing football is. I saw a few decent squads in my time supporting the claret and blue, but never have I experienced this excitement and optimism. We are definitely nowhere near what we can be. The players will need time before the new found free flowing football come as first instinct. The first signs of change have been promising.
Our match against Newcastle came with nerves and excitement. Our home form has been worrying and doubts started to creep in if we can win at home after two defeats at home. The game started a bit nervy and cried out for someone to get it going. Dmitri Payet once again stepped up and scored a fabulous goal after a nice layoff from Captain Fantastic Mark Noble. Vurnon Anita should’ve known better not to give the majestically Payet any room at the edge of the box. The game settled nicely and it allowed us to sit back and play on the break. Newcastle had their chances, but we were never under threat to concede. We once again showed why we are so dangerous on the break, with Moses blistering pace down the left flank. He raced into the box, cut back and blasted the ball against the crossbar only for Payet to calmly slot the ball home. The game faded out in the second half, but the damage was already done. We also saw Andy Carroll make his long awaited return from injury in the 87th minute. He nearly got on the end of a cross himself, but it will still take some time for him to find his rhythm once again. It was a great 2 – 0 win at home, but it came at a price with Angela Ogbona picking up an injury.
Manchester City awaited us next. We met them in fine form, winning their first 5 league matches, leading the scoring charts and keeping 5 clean sheets. Things looked grim, but we knew we can get a point if we really mark them tightly and hit them on the break. We started the game with a bang. Some nice interplay between Lanzini and Payet, before Moses ran at the heart of their defense, Sakho running a line to open the defense to allow Moses to release a thunderbolt to give us an early lead in the first 6th min of the game. It was an individual strike, but the whole team and especially Sakho’s run gave me hope for the remainder of the match. The goal created urgency amongst the City players with them throwing everything at us. We look solid dealing very well with the Premier League’s most expensive strike force on display. Bilic was right in claiming that there must’ve been two of Winston Reid on the field. I was overjoyed to see Sakho get on the score sheet in the 31th min. Winston Reid found some space in the box to head goal wards, only for Sakho to tap it in. City scored before the break through new star man Kevin de Bruyn releasing a screamer of his own. It was one of the best defensive displays I’ve ever seen. We worked well as a unit to claim a memorable 2-1 win. Reporters asked Bilic how it feels to be sitting second in the table with four wins from six games, he just smiled and said: “Of course, I like it when we are winning. Of course it is brilliant! It is like when you come to a pub that is full of girls!”
We played Norwich City on the weekend at home. They have been doing well under the stewardship of Alex Neil, they are solid in defense and good moving forward.
The game started rather slow for the home fans. The Canaries played like the home team. We tried to get into the game but we looked slow, tired and just not up to it. Robert Brady latched onto a wayward pass from Mark Noble to score an easy opening goal. It was a big disappointment but it got us showing more urgency in possession. We soon got rewarded through Sakho. Payet once again being the provider and Sakho being the clinical finisher we’ve come to know.
I was a bit disappointed in the way we played after we’d equalised but it’s important to remember that we’ve played a 120 minute match mid-week. I thought we could score at any moment but it just did not happen. As the game went on, my faith ran out with them looking much better than us. Nathan Redmond scored a decent goal for them with Mark Noble again losing concentration to allow Redmond to score in a crowded box. I was devastated to see us go behind and felt like our entire season has come to an abrupt halt. I could not bear to watch, already hearing the pundits slamming our inability to beat teams at home. Luckily our boys managed to find some much needed energy to get the equaliser through our unlikely prolific goal scorer Cheikhou Kouyate.
The pundits still decided to have their dig at us. Easy for them to say! They’ve got their pundit jobs either because they got sacked or they don’t have the balls to manage themselves. It’s easy for them to judge but we’ve been nothing short of sensational this season. We went to Arsenal with them tipped to win the league after winning the Community Shield. We went to Liverpool with them unbeaten and not having conceded a goal. We went to Man City with them winning 5 in a row, leading the scoring charts and also not conceded yet. Talk all they want, we’re rocking 3rd spot on the table while the pundits said we would get relegated. Sure we would’ve loved to sit on top of the table, but this is the English Premier League! Super Slav and his band of brothers have done exceptionally well. The last team to win away from home against Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City was Chelsea 10 years ago and they went on to claim the League title. I say bring on Sunderland! COYI – Onwards and upwards!!!