Why The General didn’t start

Fabian Balbuena was left out of the starting line-up against Brighton yesterday as the manager looked for a right/left central defensive partnership.

ClaretandHugh has received confirmation that the Paraguayan defender was fully fit for the game but the manager believed he needed a more flexible central defensive partnership.

As a result he called up Angelo Ogbonna, made him skipper, and then watched him endure one of his worst games in the claret and blue.

It was a decision he almost lived to regret against a positive Brighton side and the odds are that the Paraguyan international will be recalled to the back four next week for our trip to Watford.

A source told us by phone that the manager wanted a left/right partnership following last week’s 0-5 drubbing by Manchester City.

The manager will also be considering the right back role this week where Ryan Fredericks again looked out of touch and that could involve a call up for Pablo Zabaleta or Ben Johnson.

The other alternative would be to switch Johnson to the left side although to drop Masuaku after one game is probably an unrealistic option in the manager’s world.


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

11 comments on “Why The General didn’t start

  1. To be honest Johnson probably isn’t a bad call , he will work hard to impress. I see another Rice where the lad doesn’t big himself up , keeps his head on straight , bags of potential . Hope the lad does well ⚒

  2. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Diop looked better on the left side with Balbuena right and we often talked last season about him having to shift over to accommodate Ogbonna. When Balbuena returned Diop immediately looked more comfortable. Why make Ogbonna captain also? Much like Cresswell, presumably the captain is somebody who will at least play some part in every game. I think Snodgrass would have made more sense if not Declan.

  3. Our problem is in defence mainly our full backs, They don’t seem to be working with the centre half’s and we need to be more direct at times. Everybody seem to be playing the same way. We’ve got the fire power we should start using it… C.O.Y.I

  4. Don’t get it – they were a good pairing last year. MP seemed happy with them. If the answer is Ogbonna playing alongside Masuaku, what exactly is is the question? And as Cresswell and Ogbonna have worn the armband so far this season, who’s getting that honour next week – Wilshere? Bring back The General!

  5. Interesting article Hugh. Appreciate throwing light on this matter. However truth be told. We cannot go on re-shuffling the defence every week, hopi g the other player is better. Ogbonna or the general / Masuaku or Cresswell / Fredericks or Zab ???? Unless these players can be immediately and drastically improved into current Premier League standard players, we will struggle, struggle, struggle. Maybe Declan can help out in centre-back, but then we sit with another problem in midfield, which already is there without out captain. If Pelligrini’s dream of WH becoming a top 6 team is to be realised, then we desperately need 3/4 top class defenders asap. We cannot continue to put Fab under pressure and ship in so many goals per season. I really wish the manager well as he sorts out this problem.

  6. If Frederick ain’t up to it then bring on Zabba but it has to be Johnson on the left IMO and coz we already are -5 ģoal difference the general Has to be recalled as Oggie don’t look on his game at the mo and we need a good result and performance at Watford and build confidence other wise I dread to think what Norwich will do to us judged on the tv footage of their first two games.
    And Noble to start instead of Wilshere

    • I don’t know why we haven’t tried Ogbonna at Left Back with Diop and Balbuena in the middle. Am sure he’s played there a lot before, Cresswell and Masuaku are both rubbish, and Og might work better there….

  7. According to the stats on the WHUFC website Arthur was one of our best players, having not watched in real time will leave it to others to clarify but in terms of central defence, last year with Zabaletta on the right we were pretty solid when Balbuena and Diop played together. I wonder how long it will before Reid or Cardoso get a look in ?

    • There are lies, damn lies… and statistics….
      Arthur certainly didn’t look ‘good’ as a defender…

  8. It is always difficult to judge quality when there is no leadership.

    Sending out a back 4, which is at best Championship quality AND without any leadership or guidance, is basically suicidal. Exactly as was almost proven yesterday.

    In my opinion, Diop’s career is on its way to being ruined unless he is accompanied by an experienced centre back.

    None of our full-backs are premiership quality and, Ogbonna…………….

    It is leadership / experience that is lacking and you can debate “left this” and “right that” as much as you like, all of which misses the point.

    The nearest yesterday’s team had to a leader was the youngest player on the field.

    MY Hero, El-Mooro’s head must be spinning right now, wherever he is.

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