A reflection on Southampton

Author: . Published: at 10:04pm

Written by Leon Shearing @leonshearing

Firstly I’d like to thank ex for the opportunity to write this article. To even be considered is an honour in itself. Cheers ex.

Wow, where do I start. A rollercoaster of a day but then we are all used to that following our beloved hammers.

It starts early 5:45 (no need for an alarm) as I awake eagerly anticipating another West Ham away day. We hit the road at 8:30 to meet with the rest of the lads I attend games with. I don’t know why but I still get overly excited about going to watch West Ham. It’s not all about the football but about the build up to the game, the company you keep, the other fans you meet and discuss your opinions with, learn their views and the new friends you make along your way. There really are some great characters you come across sporting the famous claret and blue. Southampton is one away day that I look forward to more than most. We take over yates’ each time we are down the south coast. The place gradually fills by the minute with the claret and blue army turning up in their droves to support their idols and the atmosphere is building. By around midday the beer is flowing the place is buzzing and jam packed. People laughing, joking and generally having a good time. Choruses of bubbles ring out around the boozer and everywhere you look there is a fellow hammer singing their heart out. There are blokes wearing Mexican football shirts, sombreros and taches in honour of our little pea who I’m sure will become a cult hero.  After a few more pints we take the short down the hill to St Mary’s stadium which is a ground I quite like. It holds good memories for me as it is the place where I took my daughter for her first away game last season, a 1-3 win which I’m certain you all remember, shame that result couldn’t be repeated yesterday.

On learning the starting 11 I had mixed views with Slav’s selections. Fonte coming in for Ogbonna, I don’t really rate Fonte that highly. He was brought into the club in January as cover for Ogbonna as he had been playing with an injury for a period of time. I think it’s fair to say that Fonte hasn’t lived up to the expectations of our loyal fans. My preferred centre back pairing in a flat 4 is Reid and Ogbonna. For me Ginge is above Fonte in the pecking order as for me he is a no nonsense centre half that gets the job done, is reliable and gives his all for the shirt.
Reid being stretchered off in the warm up was a huge blow for us. He is the best centre back at the club in my opinion and I for one hope that the injury isn’t too serious and he is back fit sooner rather than later.

Cresswell coming in for Masuaku was a no brainer. I rate both our left backs but Arthur didn’t exactly cover himself in glory at Old Trafford a week ago. I’m sure you have all seen the footage of his shenanigans in the lead up to Lukaku’s second goal and that doesn’t sit well with me or most if not all of you I’m sure.

Declan Rice coming in for Obiang was harsh in my opinion. Although Obiang wasn’t great last week he was one of our stand out performers last term and he can feel aggrieved to have been left out. Having said that I do feel that Rice has earned his chance and I’m all for giving the youth their shot, after all we are the academy of football.
This maybe controversial but lots were singing his praises after his substitute performance against Man Utd last week, but coming in when you are 2-0 down and the game effectively lost wasn’t too difficult. Man Utd didn’t need to press the game so there was lots of time and space for Declan to do his thing. I’m not in anyway trying to say he didn’t look impressive, I’m just trying to look at the bigger picture. From what I have heard and seen of the young man in the media and on the pitch I think he has a very bright future ahead of him and we may have a future star on our hands.

To have Antonio back is a great boost for the club and the fans. He us a favourite in the terraces and rightly so. He offers something that no one else at the club does and I don’t mean his crazy goal celebrations. He is quick and ridiculously strong on the ball. His unpredictability is a great asset. I love how he is always positive and direct. I feel pace is something that we lack massively. The modern game is all about pace and a lot of goals are scored from fast counter attacking football especially in the premier league. I feel that we move the ball too slowly the vast majority of the time which when breaking gives the opposition time to get numbers back behind the ball. This is why I believe Antonio is vital to our football club.

After watching yesterday’s game and the defeat at Old Trafford last week we seem to be lacking on the fitness front, this I believe has been an issue for us for some time, stretching back to last season. The match sharpness will come I get that. There is fit and then there is match fit but we seem to be a couple of yards of the pace. There was numerous times yesterday that we wasn’t even close to winning the “second ball” which obviously invites pressure. It’s difficult to do this with 10 men I understand that but to lose out on it so many occasions tells me it is an issue. I hope this is something that Slav and his staff have picked up on and it will he addressed.

I’m hearing and reading a lot of “Slav has got “x” amount of games to sort it out or he has to go”
The board gave decided that he is the man for the job so for me this talk is crazy and frankly a little over the top for this early in the season. I mean what would be the point of working with the manager over the close season on a shortlist of players that he wants at the club, backing him with the funds to get the personnel in and then not giving him time to work with the new recruits. We have moved deadwood on and got in some very good players. With a little under 2 weeks remaining in this window I don’t think and hope that our business is concluded. The squad is beginning to gain depth something if which I don’t believe we have had for a very long time.

Give Antonio and some of the fringe players a crack in mid week for the league cup tie and with Lanzini, Kouyate and Carroll hopefully in contention for Newcastle in the league next weekend things can only get better.

We move on together COYI

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  • Paul
    21st August 2017 at 2:32 pm

    To be honest, I’m already getting a bit worried. This seems to be a continuation of last season. Our manager was a defender, our assistant coach was a defender, so why is our defence so poor? Is there something fundamentally wrong with Slaven’s training philosophy? What is clear is that something needs to happen before the situation gets critical, before we get to Christmas and realise we’re still bottom of the league.

  • SimonR
    23rd August 2017 at 11:11 am

    I’m sorry but injuries or no injuries we should not be beaten like that. Fitness? It’s the tactics or lack off. We have superb players but no one knew what position they were playing. In the first game no one called man on when Obiang was on the ball says it all. No team communication and manager ineptitude means we will lose games unless the players take it upon themselves to fix it.