The team performance was nothing like what we saw against Crystal Palace the previous week, and our rather hideous defeat at the hands of Southampton has moved us out of contention for European football.
It has also left a very bad taste in the mouth of the West Ham supporters as we continue to chase our first win at home this season. And chase our first draw. Basically, we’d like to not lose at home at some point.
It was an extremely disappointing afternoon, but with everything in life, there were lessons to learn from the game, and here are five things I learned from watching West Ham versus Southampton.
You Can’t Hurry Love…Or Team Building
We are going to be good this season, but we aren’t that good right now. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor was Manchester City.
This transfer window has arguably been our best in the past 5-10 years, and the board has shown a strong commitment to improving our squad with signing players like Cheikou Kouyate and Alex Song, but it is going to take some time for the team to get itself together, and in the meantime, we’re going to have to endure some disappointing afternoons. Like Saturday. Because that was not fun at all.
It’s a Game of Give and Take…and Defending
Having new players is not an excuse for a poor showing though; Southampton are also a team full of ‘new’ players, given their summer exits, yet they out-played us and looked like a team, and they deserve credit for that.
They marked us well – in particular, their marking of Mauro Zarate kept him frustratingly locked out of the game.
Defensively, they came across stronger than us, and this is an area where I still worry that we may not have strengthened enough compared to how strong our midfield and attacking options are (should we chose to use them some day.)
We did not defend well enough on the day, and whilst Aaron Cresswell is a fantastic long-term signing for us (and he will only get better and stronger as he adjusts to Premier League football) and I’m looking forward to Carl Jenkinson not being injured, we don’t have a lot of strength in depth defensively, and that may continue to hurt us this season.
I want to support Sam. I want to get behind him. I really do; but it is frustrating watching some things offer so much potential for change, yet what we saw on Saturday really was the same old West Ham.
The (loud) rendition at the end of game of “F**k off Sam Allardyce” was a manifestation of so much frustration that supporters feel not just about the poor start to the season, but also a reflection of unpopular substitutions and starters and that we beat a much stronger Southampton team last year.
It’s just another day for you and me and Allardyce…
There’s also no point in making incredible signings if we are going to utilize them in odd ways—or not utilize them at all. Carlton Cole did well to score against Palace, but he did not bring enough to the side in the first half to warrant staying on in place of the lively and promising Enner Valencia (or even Diafra Sahko) after halftime.
Bringing Valencia on in the 79th minute was too late; the damage had been done by then, and to leave a player who scored on Tuesday night out of the game entirely was disappointing.
Of course you can’t let the fans pick the side, but I think poorly timed and poorly chosen substitutions let West Ham down on Saturday, and that’s a really shame given that we were capable of much better than what we saw on the day.
Mark Noble’s goal was certainly a highlight of the afternoon, and was timely given his not being called up yet again to get just a tiny substitute appearance during a meaningless England friendly.
The set up from Zarate was fantastic; he dispossessed future Southampton goalscorer Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield and set up Noble to hammer the ball home with the help of a well-timed deflection. Stewart Downing and Ricardo Vaz Te both had shots saved, but we just didn’t keep up the attacking prowess we started the game with.
It was a very disappointing afternoon, but our season has not been defined yet.
Sam needs to work hard to incorporate the brilliant new signings into the team and ensure we are getting our money’s worth from them.
Three home loses is not pleasant to endure, and it will get better—besides, we still have more points than Manchester United. So there’s that.
Footyettes. What did you learn from the game? Where did it go wrong for West Ham – and where did it go right for Southampton? Let us know below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.