Pub Talk: Our team assesses the Hammers’ start to the season

The Blowing Bubbles team reflects on the events of the opening month of the 19/20 season.

What have been your thoughts about VAR in the Premier League so far?

Meirion Williams: I’m still a big fan and I’m happy to see some delay if it means the right decision is being made. I was always a fan so my opinion hasn’t really altered. There is too much money in the game these days and one incorrect decision can cost millions.

Rik Moran: Oh God, we could go on about this for ages. I think it’s here to stay but certainly needs improving. I’m concerned with how it will a ect fans at grounds.

Ben Harshaw: I have been very much against VAR from the get go and it has done nothing to change my mind. As I feared, it is having to much influence and is slowing the game down, the rules don’t seem to be clear in some instances and the FA need to clarify them, not to mention the inconsistency in explanation to fans from ground to ground. Not for me!

Emily Pulham: I was so in favour of it and now I think it’s awful. The whole idea was to have a more fair playing field, but it’s still completely subjective and spends more time worrying about someone’s shoulder being a millimetre offside – not really a clear and distinct advantage – and disregarding clear penalty appeals. We thought it would lead to less bias and wrong calls, but at the end of the day it’s still humans making the calls they want to make and hasn’t made anything better.

What did you make of our opening three matches against Man City, Brighton and Watford?

MW: The Citeh game was pretty much a throw away game but I was disappointed at the second half collapse. A point at our bogey team was a good result and then a dominant second half performance against Watford was just what we needed. Happy with four points and midrange mediocrity

RM: I was hoping for six points. I wrote off the Man City game because I never expected us to get anything from that. I thought we could have beaten Brighton, but credit to them, they played well. And then the Watford game, well, what a cracking game of football. End-to-end with both teams going for it. Top stuff.

BH: City first half was certainly positive, second half was poor but we won’t be the only team ripped apart by them. A point at Brighton is more than we have got the last two seasons so that’s a bonus especially considering we didn’t play well and had injuries. Good win at Watford, a team who although aren’t in form finished around us last year. Four good points to build on.

EP: Happy with four points against these it’s a point more than we got from these fixtures last year! It’s the first time we’ve ever not lost against Brighton at the Amex in the Premier League, so that’s great, but no points from City doesn’t reflect how bad of a game it was and how poor the score line ended up.

Who has impressed and disappointed you so far this campaign?

MW: Obviously Haller has looked impressive, as has Lanzini, and I hate to say it but so has Antonio. Noble showed against Watford just what we miss when he’s not in the team. As for disappointments, Anderson continues to drift in and out of games. It was his failure to track back that resulted in Watford’s goal but then he set up Haller for our second goal. I find him so frustrating. I want to see more of Fornals too as he looked impressive for Villarreal.

RM: Like Meirion, I’ve been impressed with Antonio. He seems to have stepped up a level. What I’ve not been impressed with is sadly, our fans on social media. There’s been so much negativity already, sadly it always seems to outweigh the positivity.

BH: Lanzini has been very influential and links up well with the hard-working Haller. Like the others, I think Antonio has been superb and must be a starter over the next few weeks because he has given us a whole different dimension with his power and industry. One other who has caught the eye has been Fredericks who I feel would be seriously missed
if absent. In terms of disappointments, the defence, particularly in the middle, has been shaky and allowing too many chances to opponents.

EP: No one – and I mean no one – has impressed me more than Michail Antonio. He’s working incredibly hard at the moment, and we’re a different team when he’s on the pitch – I just wish Pellegrini would let him play more than one half per game. Harsh to express disappointment this early in the season, but I expected more from Cresswell against City.

What have been your early impressions of our summer signings?

MW: Haller looks a beast and can be the forward we have been looking for. Early days for Fornals – I guess we will have to wait and see what he can deliver. The rest have had little or no impact in my eyes.

RM: I agree with Meirion, Haller has started well. Roberto from what I saw at the pre-season games needs some improvement. Ajeti: I certainly need to see more of. Same with Fornals. Overall I was pleased with our transfer business. Did you see the Haller interview on MOTD by the way? If that’s him not playing at his best can’t wait to see him when he does. I love that he’s that self critical, it can only help to drive his performances.

BH: I don’t think there isn’t anyone who hasn’t been very impressed with Sebastien Haller. His movement, link-up play and overall endeavour give reason for optimism. The two goals at Watford will give him confidence and I like how he is willing to set up a team mate in a better position. Fornals certainly has the talent and is a real asset from set pieces alone. Given time to adjust to the pace and physicality, I feel he will offer plenty. I’m praying Fabianski can remain fit because, from what I’ve seen, I haven’t been filled with confidence in Roberto.

EP: They’ve certainly got potential! Fornals is lively and energetic, and Haller was a dream to watch in the second half against Watford. Did we sign anyone else? Doesn’t matter, those two are the business.

What are your memories of Paulo Wanchope as a West Ham player?

MW: I loved Paulo when he was at the club. He was such a character and it’s a pity that his career with us ended. He had a great partnership with Di Canio and I always wanted to know what he thought about playing with the Italian maestro.

RM: I remember Paulo working well with Paolo for the season he was with us. I was disappointed when we sold him to Man City because I thought he could have done more for us, but wasn’t given the chance.

BH: Wanchope was the type of player we love at West Ham: Exciting and enthusiastic. He played at a special time with a certain Italian. Would have loved him to be with us longer.

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