Following what Joe Hart accurately described as a “terrible” goalless draw with Shrewsbury Town, tomorrow night we host the League One club in an FA Cup third-round replay.
Undeserving of even a draw at New Meadow, here’s hoping we manage to show some passion on the pitch and beat Shrewsbury at home. We have to play to our strengths, get the ball down and pass accurately. Before long, Shrewsbury will be exhausted and we’ll be running circles around them in the second half. Lower leagues are great in the air, and in our last meeting, we looked as though we were panicking on the ball and hoofing it up to anybody… which of course came back to them, meanwhile we showed no ambition to get the first or second ball.
Some of the youngsters were the only ones who looked hungry for the ball, particularly Cullen, who lost a tooth in a debut he certainly won’t forget. And while I agree that we shouldn’t prioritise the FA Cup, we should still put in 100% on the pitch regardless and give a good performance.
Moyes said: “The biggest disappointment is I didn’t think we showed enough steel. When you come to places like this you have to show yourself physically, that you can battle and compete. I didn’t think we did that at all. It’s a mentality thing. You’ve got to go and show that wherever you are, you’ve got to respect whatever players you’re against and recognise it’s going to be tough.”
That says it all. West Ham players have the privilege of playing in the Premier League and some of the biggest competitions in the world, but if you don’t work hard enough, it can be gone in a flash. The FA Cup could give us a bit of an edge this transfer window, and while we have to put the league first, it’s certainly an opportunity not to be sniffed at. Losing to Shrewsbury isn’t going to attract the big names.
I’d like to see Moyes make a few substitutions earlier if things aren’t working, or similarly if they are working, for example when we led by three goals against Huddersfield. He seems to prefer making substitutions in the final 15 or so minutes, but personally I feel it’s too late to change an enormous amount or give less experienced players enough time to find their feet.
Combining experienced players with some of the youth, as well as having a couple of youngsters on the bench and a few game-changing players is also how I’d approach the game. Those who play every week should be excited to show the youngsters the ropes and make sure their debuts for the club are successful, as opposed to casually walking around offering little support.
That said, I’m looking forward to tomorrow and expect to see a big change from the last game. After Moyes’ post-match comments, I can’t imagine the team talk was very pleasant, and I’m hoping this has got the players riled up and ready to smash Shrewsbury.
Have YOUR say tomorrow underneath the big screens before AND after the game. Come and say hi and where I’ll be interviewing for the The West Ham Way and make sure you head over to http://www.thewesthamway.co.uk to check out the latest content!
Over and out,
PS. Shoutout to the guy who lobbed his cap onto the pitch for Joe Hart. Moments like that make football the brilliant sport it is.