We need to get our act together FAST for Freiburg


We need to get our act together FAST for Freiburg

West Ham’s relief at snatching a point was accompanied by the realisation that this was a missed opportunity to push on in the battle to qualify for Europe. We need to get our act together FAST for Freiburg.

Danny Ings scored his first goal of the season to deny Burnley a precious win but David Moyes will know that this was not good enough writes Michael Talbot.

West Ham, who trailed 2-0 at half-time, will need to be better when they look to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Freiburg on Thursday. A spirited recovery kept them seventh but they cannot regard a home draw with Burnley, who remain 10 points below Nottingham Forest in 17th place, as acceptable.

We need to get our act together FAST for Freiburg

Those who remain adamant that Moyes should depart when his contract expires at the end of the season were given plenty of ammunition during a wretched first half. West Ham were flat, their legs drained by their exertions in Germany three days earlier, and they made no attempt to seize the initiative during the opening stages.

It was far too easy for Burnley, who were wretched while losing at home to Bournemouth last weekend, to get a feel for the ball, grow in confidence and push their hosts back before going ahead through David Fofana’s third goal since joining from Chelsea on loan in January.

West Ham could hardly argue it was against the run of play when Fofana sent a brilliant rising effort beyond Alphonse Areola after squeezing past weak challenges from Kalvin Phillips and Nayef Aguerd. They sat off Burnley, who did not take long to find gaps on the right flank, and it was hard to think of anybody in claret and blue who looked comfortable on the ball.

We need to get our act together FAST for Freiburg

Nobody emerged with any credit. Aguerd, filling in for the rested Kurt Zouma in central defence, was far too casual. Konstantinos Mavropanos, who ended the opening period by handing Burnley a second when he turned Josh Cullen’s harmless cross beyond Areola, struggled to complete simple tasks. James Ward-Prowse offered little drive at the tip of West Ham’s three-man midfield. Jarrod Bowen, who was isolated up front, kept drifting offside.

Then there was Phillips and his quest to shake off the rust that accumulated during his long spell on Manchester City’s bench. Brought in for Edson Álvarez, the midfielder looked utterly bereft of confidence and fitness on his third start since arriving on loan.

His passing was poor, he offered no drive and it was not a surprise that Moyes took him off at half-time. Gareth Southgate, who was at the London Stadium to watch Burnley’s midfielders give Phillips the runaround, has a big decision to make before naming his squad for England’s friendlies against Brazil and Belgium this month.

Southgate will surely have noted that West Ham improved after bringing Álvarez on for Phillips. The plodding Ward-Prowse also made way, Michail Antonio coming on to provide a focal point in attack, and Burnley were pegged back at the start of the second half. Paquetá, more menacing after moving inside, was calmness personified when he strolled through on goal and slid a low finish past James Trafford.

It seemed inconceivable that Burnley, whose time-wasting antics infuriated the home fans, would hold out. They immediately chased a third, the lively Fofana shooting straight at Areola and Jacob Bruun Larsen’s effort fizzing wide, but the pressure at the other end was growing. Paquetá had two chances and a deflection took Vladimir Coufal’s cross on to the bar. Bowen found Mohammed Kudus, who shot over after wriggling past Lorenz Assignon.

A definite game of two halves the Freiburg return leg needs much thought after this display!

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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!"

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