Unbeaten away but only just!

There is always a question mark before almost any football match and this afternoon, as we made the trip to the north east to face a Sunderland side who have had a woeful  start to the season, the question surely surrounded whether or not it would be possible for us to maintain our excellent start in terms of away fixtures. On paper, we had to be favourites. On the back of three successive away wins, particularly given the places we had achieved those victories in and against a Sunderland side short on confidence, I am sure that many of us almost expected the three points. That in itself is testimony to the journey Bilic has already taken the Irons on.

As we know only too well though, football games are not won on paper. A schoolboy error, by far from the first this season from a Hammer, this time from Jenkinson, gave away a needless free kick in the opening six minutes. The resultant play had clearly been worked on at the training ground by our opponents although, our own marking and general awareness left something to be desired and against the pre-match odds, we were behind to Sunderland’s first goal in a while and some! 

It went from bad to worse. We struggled to gain any sort of foothold into the game and, in contrast, our opponents who were clearly buoyed by their early success and being backed on by the home roar continued to dominate and cause us multiple problems . 

Competition Time; ‘Nearly Reach The Sky’ Anyone?

We have teamed up with author Brian Williams who has agreed to run a Q&A for us (we may even do it as a video podcast), in connection with his excellent book Nearly Reach The Sky, the publication of which, of course, coincides with our emotional farewell to the Boleyn Ground this season.

I took the opportunity to read the book following recommendations on social media and it is certainly up there with the best of them. It’s like a trip down memory lane, a reminder about exactly how and why we all love this wonderful institution that for many of us has become an extension to our very core being! In short, even if like me you are a lazy or infrequent reader, it is a ‘must read’.

Anyway, here’s the rub; we have also been given the opportunity to reward a couple of our readers with copies of Brian’s book (and he has kindly offered to sign these too) so we thought we’d run a fun competition that we all might enjoy in order to select our recipients.

What we’d like is a few lines, or more than that if you like, that sums up your relationship with West Ham United. It might be amusing, poignant, indicating elation or despair. The choice is yours. If you want to send us an image to accompany your entry, we’ll publish those too.

We’ll close entries at midday on Monday 12th October and publish the entries and the results later that week. Send your submission via email to competition@claretandblues.com

Unconvincing home form continues, as the Irons snatch a point

The first half was a half of two halves. Before the match we had speculated how Bilic might approach today’s important encounter and as the first half began it appeared as though the strategy was similar to previous home matches. We looked as though we were intent on playing on the counter as opposed to pressing and taking the game to our opponents. Norwich City have an outstanding away record, being beaten only once in their previous 17 away fixtures. Accordingly it seemed likely that they too would wish to play on the counter. As both teams had set out with a five man midfield, the intrigue would be to see which coach had the edge in terms of threat and possession.

The game began worryingly from a West Ham United perspective. Not only was the lions share of possession conceded but as an attacking force our own chances were limited whilst Norwich looked threatening. Once again we fell behind to a catastrophic self-destruction button being pressed, this time by Mark Noble. Mark divides opinion amongst some fans with our own Matt being one of his harsher critics. Too many more sideways balls across our own half that are poorly directed and end up at the feet of the opposition centre forward will not endear mark to those critics! Yes, perhaps Tomkins could have shepherded the forward rather than trying to retrieve the wayward pass and equally true the forward finished impressively, but it was a goal of our own making just as Creswell’s indiscretions against Bournemouth had been.