Man City vs West Ham; Hammers hold on to their dignity!

I found myself looking forward to this afternoon’s game, believing that no matter what the result it was something of a free hit. The much discussed injury list affecting the hammers at the moment in combination with Manchester City’s excellent start to the season under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola meant that all but the most ardent die-hard and optimistic Irons expected nothing from this afternoons encounter, but just hoped to see some positives coming from the performance.

In the first half those positives were few and far between. At least the selection of Fletcher gave us something to potentially get excited about although it always looked like a flawed strategy to play three centre backs and use Antonio and Masuaku as wing backs. In what proved to be a torrid first period, our wing backs were found wanting defensively and with Masuaku on a yellow card halfway through the first half, he looked a red card waiting to happen. Fortunately, that didn’t happen in the end but that had more to do with the half time reorganisation.
In truth, the two nil halftime score line flattered the Irons and once again, as an attacking force, we were totally inept. The performances of Tore and Valencia were the low lights of 45 minutes of poor football from the East Londoners.
Of course Bilic needed to do something at half time and withdrawing Tore in favour of going to a flat back four bringing on Byram was probably as much as we could have hoped for.
During the first 15 minutes of the second-half, our best player was probably the offside flag which saved us on a couple of occasions. Then, out of nowhere an excellent jinking run by Masuaku was followed by a sublime cross duly dispatched by the player that will not be a right back as long as I have a hole in my you know what! Well done Antonio.
Suddenly, the mood changed and with the long-awaited reintroduction of Lanzini, you sniffed the improbable.
The remainder of the game was fairly edgy from a City perspective with the Hammers probing and prodding although in truth creating very little of real merit.
Indeed, as the game reached its climax it was the Blues that looked the more likely and, if we are honest, were fully deserving of their third in injury time.
It could have been so much worse, in truth. Let’s just hope that the international break sees a return to fitness for some of our star players and the introduction of one or two new faces, to wit welcome Zaza!

Man City vs West Ham – Q&A with a Citizen

Last season I started to do these before away games and the plan is to continue to do so this term.

This week I am indebted to @PoppyPowerz who, as a Man City devotee, has kindly offered to answer my questions.

Q. 1: City have made a fabulous start and look to be playing with greater freedom than in recent years; is that the way you see it?

A: I actually see it as a proper freedom; we seem to have adapted to Pep’s style, his methods – and are relishing in the opportunity to go out and express ourselves. 

Q 2: Mancini was clearly loved by the fans. Did they feel the same about Pellegrini? Were there rumblings about how the news broke of Pellegrini’s end of tenure and do you feel these impacted on the team last season?

A: The opinion on Pellegrini was very split; by some he was loved, by others not so. It was almost a split down the middle. I’m not sure we announced it at the right time or whether it impacted on the team but we have moved on! 

Q 3: Are City fans genuinely excited by the arrival of Guardiola? What are the expectations? Is it a win the title or he’s a failure mentality at City, as would be the case at Chelsea for example?

West ham limp to an ignominious Europa exit – again.

If the first half performance against Bournemouth was a 3/10, this one against Astra merited a 1 – for turning up. Except we didn’t.

Looking at the team sheet before the game did not exactly set the pulse racing and, if any flicker of pulse was ignited pre-match, it was most certainly extinguished by 45 minutes. We were dreadful.

Tore started right with Antonio on the left. Why? This didn’t work on Saturday and by just past the 30 minute mark, Bilic had dispensed with the experiment on the European stage too. Frankly though, in the first period, neither approach resulted in a wide man getting to the bye-line and delivering anything into the box.

Calleri missed another sitter (for a supposed centre-forward) but in truth we created next to nothing against our resolute and entirely more canny Romanian opposition.

Håvard Nordtveit was allegedly in the starting 11 but I don’t recall a single worthwhile contribution from him in those first 45 minutes. Indeed, he was subbed at half time but replaced by Valencia. Again, the expectation with his arrival was not exactly soaring and so it came to pass. Another inept and ineffective display from the Ecuadorian whose days are surely numbered in the claret and blue.