Slav’s content …but an issue may remain

BilicberryOk, I can understand why Slav declared himself content with the 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.

To pull two goals back is always an achievement and he of course mentioned the extraordinarily emotional and physically draining game against Liverpool in midweek.

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that I’m as big a fan of the manager as anybody else but the word ‘content’ carried some conotations which caused concern because what was said before the match didn’t fully square with what came afterwards.

At the pre-match presser Slav said: “We have a few knocks and injuries but overall it’s a good feeling. Even those guys with a knock, they feel good. When you win you don’t feel the fatigue as much. 120 minutes is of course a lot to play, but we are all looking forward to the Norwich game on Saturday.”

Yesterday in the post-match presser he declared: “You can talk about positives and negatives but when you consider we played for 120 minutes on Tuesday night and the fact we were two goals down here in a very short period of time, it was a good draw.”

Now, the two statements aren’t entirely contradictory but it’s a photo finish and whilst I’m certainly not prepared to blast the boss or anyone else at the end of a week when we won an important Cup game and gained a draw in the League it’s important to maintain perspective.

And the simple truth is that for 70 minutes we didn’t perform against a not very good side who somehow were allowed to establish a two goal lead.

That we recovered both of them very quickly and with more direction and pace from Emenike – who has barely been involved and is therefore totally presumably full of himself – could have won, tells its own story.

I’d also be more ready to accept the Liverpool match explanation had I not see the team perform in the same manner on several other occasions this season.

The slow starting business has been a feature of many games and can’t really be put down to a Liverpool hangover.

At the end of it all we have collected another point from a totally desperate relegation haunted outfit and at this stage of the season those games are as tough as they come.

But we are not helping ourselves and dare I suggest that had we played for 90 minutes in every game this seaon we may even be top of the league.

It’s a problem but then every team has one or two. I’m not moaning and I trust our superb manager to get it right. But it’s becoming frustrating and is not an issue that I believe can be blamed on tiredness or anything else!

One other point. No two players worked harder and drove themselves to the point of exhaustion on Tuesday than Valencia and Antonio. Maybe we might have started with Carroll and Moses yesterday. Just saying.



About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

12 comments on “Slav’s content …but an issue may remain

  1. Totally agree Hugh and as iv’e said a few times today..I cant understand this not turning up for the 1st half..When we start fast like against city we put them on the back foot.. when we play like we did against Newcastle and some other games were always chasing. If we can play like we did for the last half an hour against Norwich why can’t we do that for the 1st hour??

  2. I like you admire and respect Slav he is a breath of fresh air as a PL manager but like you can not always understand his thinking tacticts wise. I do find our inability to start well a huge worry 🙁 We create ourselves problems then and have to recover and try and catch up which makes no sence to me. Its not happened once or twice but on a regular basis. The only time we seem to really get it together from the start is against huge teams like Man City etc.

  3. had this game down for 3 points to be honest,why do we look so awkward against teams of a lesser ilk?
    we did the exact same in the reverse fixture!!!
    what odds on that 1 at the beginning of the season….

  4. I agree that the team could’ve been switched up a bit because we were very slightly tired. It was harsh to say that we didn’t turn up for 70 minutes because apart from the goals where Antonio was sleeping and the rest of the defence for the second goal. We overall good in my opinion. Just really disappointed that we drew because we could’ve easily won if Emenike had scored those two incredibly easy chances. In my opinion Emenike is a luxury Carlton Cole if you ask me

  5. Funny how everyone has fastened on the 70/20formula since I posted it immediately after the match. Nevertheless it is very true, so is the fact we could have been top but for this one flaw that plagues us. There have been enough games that we should and could have won that we threw away because we have sleepwalked through the first twenty minutes

    • I really don’t want to dent your ego but this is the first time I’ve visited the comments section since I wrote it in a report immedtely after the game and on the Facebook forum at 5pm last night

  6. Still happy hammer canchaz
    It’s another game without loosing,they are fighting for their lives we are not quite at the races,
    Still think Slav does not quite know what his best 11 is and is waiting for everyone to be fit,
    Funny Liverpoor did not have a hangover against a team we had trouble beating,
    We need to start getting some results in the league,

  7. When I saw the team selection on sat I predicted exactly what happened. I totally agree Antonio and Valencia should not have started, Moses had to start. We have to win games to catch the top 4 so here was an ideal opportunity to play jus two holdin midfielders and 4 attack minded players. Instead what does Bilic do for the third of 4th league game he plays 3 holding players and 3 attack minded players. We have nothng to lose so wake up Bilic and go for it. And btw only Kouyate is one of the holding players.

  8. I don’t think there is any question that there seems to be an issue with starting far too slowly, whether it’s against teams that lack confidence or are brimming with confidence. Particularly against the likes of Villa and Norwich you’d have expected the players to be right in their faces from the first whistle and dominate them. That being said, there is a measure of resilience that has been missing. OK, we’re not winning as many as we might think we should be, but the team is becoming very hard to beat. Retain that resilience, and instil in those forward minded players a killer instinct to go for the jugular every time, and the wins will come.

  9. Against these lower in the league teams we are not startng on the front foot, we are not pressing with numbers so we do not win the ball back or win the second balls, we are also not getting sufficient numbers into the box to maximise goal opportunities, it is blindingly obvious, effectively we are set up not to lose against them and to wait for mistakes or a bit of magic, it is a very negative approach which has mostly resulted in negative results against these teams. I have faith that SB will turn it around and also when Lanzini is back he will make a difference, without being in the dressing room its hard to say whether this is the mindset of the players for these games or whether it is a management decision, the players that look positive in these games are the players that want to give and go Payet, Antonio, Byram and also Adrian with his distribution, the rest for me seem more intent on keeping the defensive shape of the team than looking to press the play and pass or punch through the opposition that is sitting deep. If we are going to play that way far better to do it in the Allardyce style which works well against these teams, hit long diagonals to Carroll and win the second balls, ugly but effective alternatively play on the front foot, risk losing like the bug teams do in order to win, that comes from committing numbers in attack and leaving you vulnerable to counters but hey ho, better to win one and lose one than to draw two from a points perspective.

    • Addendum, best of all mix up the long ball style with the fast counters to give the team more ways to win, it is tough for SB because this season the main goal was survival and accumulating points, we have 40 now and to be honest with the form of the bottom 4 or 5 teams I would be surprised if that wasn’t more than enough, so it is time to experiment with different styles of play against the so called weaker teams, preferably a high press, slick passing with lots of movement, to open defences with intelligence rather than the suck them up the pitch then counter at pace approach that has worked well but will likely be less effective next season and hasn’t worked well against defensively minded teams. If we think Norwich were hard work then Sunderland will be much worse and they certainly won’t be as easy to come back against, so we have to out compete them from the start be first to every second ball and use our superior quality all over the pitch to blow them away.

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