The West Ham universe was dealt another foul blow on Sunday afternoon as the Champions; Manchester City came to town and continued in their plunderous ways…and the worst thing of all was that they were allowed to do it without so much of an “Ex-Cuse-Me!”
Before the game, I had high hopes that Moyes would finally abandon his ultra negative and ponderous approaches, and deliver stiff resistance and a mighty challenge to finally test their defences…but I was emphatically proved wrong. I want Moyes to set up his camp to repel the City advances but able to attack with venom at any given opportunity…but that did not happen and it hardly looked like that was ever in the planning! This was not a failure to execute…this was a dereliction of duty and the West Ham fans should have an unquantifiable feeling of disgust right now!
As the first whistle was blown, the Manchester City fans were in fine voice and launching in verse upon verse of “Campiones, Campiones” however the West Ham fans were stunned into relative silence given what was on display. Manchester City were passing with ease and were gradually making inroads into the heart of the West Ham penalty area, however, they remained largely unchallenged the whole time and indeed it was only a matter of time before they took the lead.
Moyes had professed, in his pre-match press conference, that he had a few tricks up his sleeve that would battle against the sky blue invaders, but it was a farce and the punchlines were limp wristed and juvenile. The opposition were allowed to play their game, whilst West Ham sat deep in two rows and stood off their opponents, rather waiting for them to make the first strike rather than put a tackle in. It was horrible to watch and beyond frustrating to be so feeble.
In no time at all Manchester City were 0-2 to the good without reply for nearly 30 minutes. Eventually, there was a little spark in the play from the West Ham offenders, pressure was applied to their defence and a goal was pulled back with a finely executed free kick from Aaron Cresswell.
This had been my stance for the whole week, indeed the whole season! Although City have been excellent this season and their players are truly great, they also have never really been tested…certainly not their defences. If their players were rushed when in possession then errors would likely follow and increased vulnerabilities would rise to the surface.
Shortly before the Cresswell goal, West Ham had started to apply pressure, had started to rush and hassle the Man City midfield and defence…and it was starting to pay dividends as Arnautovic and Lanzini began to become the nuisance that the visitors might fear. For nearly 30mins West Ham had been in a deep slumber and were content to let the visitors have their day in the sun. Too much respect was paid to them prior to the game and during it too, however, the last ten minutes of the first half proved that a more productive second half might be coming and that would delight the home crowd.
Well, the second half commenced much as did the first half and Manchester City pulled the rabbit out of the hat once more. It was simple magic, it was a teenager with a top hat and a magic wand entertaining gullible schoolgirls…but nobody was clapping when the trick was revealed. Instead, all were incredulously looking at Moyes and the players, wondering why nobody was pressing the ball, defending high up the field and putting up any kind of challenge?
Eventually, Moyes made his substitutions but the damage had already been done and Pep Guardiola had already made a change in the second half that would flatter his advances even further. The game was slipping away as soon as the second half started. The players were embarrassingly incompetent and could not manage to contain the Man City players who were out for an afternoon stroll…it was that easy for them.
Many were calling for the substitutions to be made prior to the third goal being conceded as the play had gone flat…but once again Moyes failed to acknowledge the peril that was on display before his eyes…and even when his new charges entered the fray…they were penniless where the entrance fee demanded a king’s ransom.
Moyes had one job to do, he needed to set his team to be resolute and press all over the pitch. The game of football is supposed to be a challenge of will and talents…and even when facing Goliath, there should be some form of fight…but there was none and never likely to be either.
It was a woeful display, poorly executed plans and nobody on the pitch or on the sidelines seemed willing to grab the game by the balls and give it a damn good squeeze. It was like shaking hands with a wet fish…it was uncomfortable and really rather unpleasant to watch, especially when thousands of home fans could see what needed to be done and could not fathom why Moyes and the players could not!
If this was Moyes attempting to convince the footballing world that he is the man for the job, then he failed at every turn. The fans needed some gruel and dry biscuits…but all he gave them was crispy batter waffles and the fluffy maple syrups which just soured the taste in a putrified display.