George Parris: We’ve had a fright before Halloween but we can banish our demons

We could have been eight points better off if things had gone our way

David Moyes (West Ham manager) speaks to his players at the Aston Villa v West Ham United EPL match, at Villa Park, Birmingham, UK on August 28, 2022.

Where has it all been going wrong for West Ham this campaign? That is the question on every West Ham fan’s mind right now.

For me, it comes down to those very fine margins that you see at the elite level in sport.  There’s an argument that we’ve been on the positive side of those margins over the past two seasons and this year we’ve not had our fair share come our way. We were robbed of a point in the Chelsea game because of the VAR decision, and the Everton game could have gone either way but should’ve been another point.

The Spurs match really was a game of two halves but there is an argument on another night, we could’ve picked up all three points. And then, of course, there was the Forest game which was probably the best we have played as a side so far this season. From a position of winning the game, we have ended up losing it – thanks in part to another VAR decision going against us. I hope these things iron themselves out over the course of the season.

And while, admittedly, it doesn’t look great for us at the moment, we could have been eight points better off if things had gone our way. This would’ve put us comfortably mid-table and would’ve given us a platform to build from. But now as we head now into a run of games before the World Cup, we have just got to keep hanging in there.

Better squad

The main difference for us this season compared to recent campaigns is that we have got a better and bigger squad. This is why I’m not hitting that panic button just yet.

Every month is important in the season but it does feel like these games in October are going to be particularly important and have a huge say in how our campaign develops. We need to be looking for double figures and, Liverpool game aside, we need to be winning these games.

I just hope that our confidence and morale hasn’t been hit too hard and that Moyes doesn’t revert to a more defensive-attitude like was perhaps necessary at the start of both his stints with us as he steered us away from the relegation mire. With the firepower we have now, we should go out in an attacking vein. Also we have enough on the bench for players to come on and change a game.

Given what he’s achieved over the past couple of seasons, you would hope that Moyes would get the chance to turn things around. But you need only look at what’s happened already with Premier League managers so far this season to see that no prisoners are being taken by clubs.

Fine margins

His future as West Ham manager will depend on not just the results but also the performances of our players between now and the start of the World Cup. It’ll be the manner in which we get beaten – if we do – but there’s no reason why we can’t put some decent performances together. And whilst those fine margins have gone against us in the Premier League, they have gone our way in the Conference League.  

It’ll be tough but if we manage to get four or even six points from our two games against Anderlecht, that should see us comfortably finish top of the group. The quicker we can not only secure qualification into the next round but also finish top, the better it will be for us. Every win will boost confidence and morale and it’ll also give Moyes the chance to give some of our youngsters the chance to impress on the European stage.

With the squad we’ve now got, it’s been pleasing to see that we’ve been able to put our decent sides in Europe whilst giving some of our key men a rest. It’s going to be interesting to see what Moyes’ team selections will be for our next two Conference League games with so many big games in the Premier League this month. Only time will tell if the recent international break came at a good time for us.

Regroup

It might have given us a chance to regroup, and work on a few things that could help turn things in our favour. But the only trouble with international breaks and having a squad like ours, is that most of the squad have been away with their countries so it’s not always easy to work on things as a team.

After the high of the Euros in the summer of 2021 and then ensuring qualification to this winter’s World Cup, we’ve had the low of this Nations League campaign that’s seen England relegated to the second tier in this competition.

One thing that has come out of this recent torrid time for the Three Lions is just how important Rice is for England. With the way that Southgate likes to play with two holding midfielders and Kalvin Phillips not about, I think Rice is one of the first names on the team sheet.

And it’s been interesting how Gareth has handled his selections and squads with so many of England’s Euros heroes being out of form. You see it happen at every level of football, you sometimes pick the players who have in the past done well for you. I can see why Southgate has done what he has but with the World Cup just around the corner, if players aren’t getting game time at their club then maybe he might have to change things up.

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