Pub Talk: ‘Southgate wears blinkers, it’s beyond belief that he hasn’t called up Ward-Prowse…’

The Blowing Bubbles team settle down to put the West Ham world to rights...

James Ward-Prowse (WHU) celebrates his goal (1-0) at the West Ham United v Manchester City EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th September, 2023.

After a brilliant start to the season in August, what did you make of our performances and results in September?

Meirion Williams: Well, the month started and ended that’s for sure. Let’s not talk about the middle bit. In all honesty, the games against Manchester City and Liverpool went pretty much as expected. I must admit that after the first half at Anfield, I was expecting at least a draw so that was a little disappointing. I think the month was a wake up call and we were put in our place a little. What it means to me is that at best, the Europa League will be our goal for the season.

Bradley Holland: I feel like the impact of Rice leaving, actually wasn’t that bad after all, and our team can actually grow in spite of him. Instead of having one hero to rely on, suddenly the midfield has increased in a way that didn’t seem possible. Moyes and the board made good selections in Ward-Prowse, Alvarez and continuing to back Soucek and Pacqueta. I’m excited to see what we can do.

David Meagher: It’s been a decent start which sets a good foundation for looking upwards rather than worrying about bottom half negativity. We are playing better football without Declan Rice as Ward-Prowse has been excellent in that quarterback-type role. The other new signings look promising with Alvarez shining in that defensive midfield role. I think we can play with more freedom and chase results against the better sides. If we can keep ourselves in the mix by Christmas, we have reasonable depth to chase top six and a prolonged European adventure. Maybe even start to blood the likes of Mubama and Potts?

Lucy Farrell: We only lost to Man City and Liverpool, there’s not really much to complain about. Alright, we ground out a couple of results – we would have expected to beat Lincoln more easily than we did and maybe we could have done without the scare in the Europa League, but this team looks really up for, and capable of, a decent league finish and a good European run.

What did you make of the Jesse Lingard situation?

MW: For the life of me I can’t understand why we even let him train at our facilities. We have had too many mercenaries in the past. Why would we entertain another? I wouldn’t even take him back on a pay-if-you-play scenario. He’s not for me.

BH: For a minute I got greedy and wanted another midfielder. I also like the idea of reconciliation and him humbling himself at West Ham’s door. But Lingard could only bear maturity and humility for a moment before going right back to seeking glory and adoration to match the level that he once had but I fear won’t get back. I’d rather Fornals get back into the lineup over Lingard.

DM: It’s a non-story as he is nowhere near good enough to hold down a regular midfield role. He’d be better off in a developing league like Saudi or similar.

LF: I think it’s really nice that he had the opportunity to train with our team. He clearly really enjoyed his time at West Ham and loved being around David Moyes. That’s great to hear from a player who struggles to settle.

What have you made of the Pablo Fornals situation?

MW: I have to say I’m a big fan of Fornals but see him as a squad player now. Like Lanzini, I will be sad to see him go. Sadly his final ball always seems to let him down. I see him very much in the Benrahma category, good but not good enough. Mind you if it was a choice between Pablo or Said on who stays, it would be the Spaniard all day long.

BH: I think we get too hung up on the starting lineup. We’re forgetting we need bench depth and with all competitions we’re in this season, he’s sure to play a big part. Even he with his kind heart, dedication and work ethic should relax and realise he’s vital at West Ham and will continue to be so.

DM: You gotta love Pablo – not just a decent player but a great personality. We should keep him if at all possible as he still has plenty to offer. I don’t think his West Ham story is over yet.

LF: I agree totally. He still has a big part to play at the club. His personality is needed and we’ve seen what a difference he can make to games when he’s up for it. The issue is going to be keeping his morale up. But we need a big squad and want to keep players with his attitude and heart.

We play Newcastle and Villa this month, would you place us in the same band as both?

MW: I hate to say it but I see Newcastle and Villa as above us. Villa look as if they could do something special this season and Newcastle have money to spend.

BH: I’m newer to English football so I don’t have the respect for Villa from their history. I believe though they may do well but they could easily slip below us. I’m in agreement with Meirion in that I believe Newcastle will keep pushing. Eddie Howe as the manager with financial backing and good morale they will keep fighting for top place.

DM: They have both passed us in terms of quality as they can win by playing good dominant attacking football, while we are mostly stuck in counterattack mode with low possession stats. That said, we have a decent system that’s working again and our set pieces are more potent than last season, so I think we will stay close enough to them.

LF: Put it this way, if we’re playing Newcastle I’m not surprised if we don’t win, they’ve got a good thing going and there’s a sense of something brewing. I don’t think Villa are doing anything that we couldn’t do, but yes they are having a positive moment.

Why do you think James Ward-Prowse didn’t make it into Southgate’s latest England squad when Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson did?

MW: It’s a simple answer, the England manager wears blinkers. It is beyond belief why James wasn’t picked.

BH: As an American, I don’t have as much sentiment or opinion on Southgate or England’s squad, in that I follow them but there is not an emotional attachment. I think it will be a matter of time before he’s back in and Maguire is finally out. I really believe that the Rice, Bowen, Lingard brief moment on the England squad as West Ham players would inaugurate England’s return and the hallowed spirits of 66 would come back like some sort of divine prophecy with West Ham leading the way. Since that hasn’t happened, I don’t know if it matters.

DM: I think he will get back to international action but Southgate is a slow mover and needs time to digest the obvious. I think the same applies to his in-match decision making. The quality of the squad is concealing his limitations but in high pressure matches he gets caught out. You’ve got to be impressed by his loyalty, but Henderson and Maguire are finished at that level.

LF: It’s baffling. Maybe he thinks James doesn’t fit his setup as well as he does Moyes’ at West Ham, but he’s a player that deserves a proper shot at international level, not just one selection every couple of years. Maybe Southgate is stubborn and wants to prove that what he has chosen is the best on offer, but I hope he gets his opportunity.

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