Pub Talk: ‘December is going to be a challenging month, I can see West Ham messing up…’

Our team sit down to put the West Ham world to rights...

Jarrod Bowen (WHU) at the Brentford v West Ham United EPL match, at The G-Tech Stadium, Brentford, London, UK on 4th November, 2023.

What can we take away from November?

Meirion Williams: I think the results hid the issues we have in that we had Lady Luck on our side for a few games. It seems we have our best performances in cup games. The League Cup was an odd one. We sneaked past Lincoln and then trounced Arsenal but it’s typical West Ham in that we get Liverpool in the next round. The league worries me.

David Meagher: While it was a mixed month for results, most of our performances have been poor. We seem to lack a game plan and are stuck in a reactive style of football. Antonio’s poor form and absence has dulled our attack. A big eyeopener for me was looking at our bench against Palace with 20 minutes to go and realising we lacked any real game changers. 

Marcus Johns: It’s been such a strange month. On paper, things generally look rosey – but the gut feel is somewhat different. If you’re Moyes in, the results are all that matters. If you’re Moyes out, the style of play is poor and we’ve been lucky. For those, like myself  who are Moyes indifferent, it’s all a bit confusing. There have been times in my 40 years that I’d have bitten your hand off to be in a position we are in, but then again, with some of the players at our disposal, I feel we could be doing much more. But overall, it’s been one of progression.

What have you made of Jarrod Bowen up top?

MW: Desperation comes to mind. Our inability to get in a decent striker means we lose out in other areas. We miss Bowen’s runs down the wing and also miss a physical presence in the centre when Antonio doesn’t play.

DM: Both Bowen and Kudus are best suited to the right wing, but of the two, Bowen looks most comfortable in the central position. If we want to play him there then we need to give him a decent supply on the ground, which we struggle to do. I think in the Moyes system you need a more physical striker up top and Ings is not that while Mubama needs time to develop. It’s a frustrating situation just now. 

MJ: I agree with both David and Meirion in so much that of the two, Bowen looks more comfortable there than Kudus. Both seem at their best when running with the ball from deep than latching onto things. I’d like to see them more fluid and maybe switch things around a bit between those two and Paqueta, to keep the defence guessing. Then, at times, bring Mubama on and try him centrally. He’s got great potential.

What’s been your reaction to David Moyes’ comments about Divin Mubama’s future? 

MW: Play him then was my thoughts. Moyes inability to play the youth is to the detriment of the club. I know that Divin had a run out in Serbia but he needs to be in a starting eleven not one made up of reserves.

DM: I think a lot of fans are getting ahead of themselves over Mubama. His running off the ball needs focusing and i think he needs a run of 25 minute cameos as a sub before we put the weight of our attack onto his youthful shoulders.

MJ : Again, I completely agree. He’s not yet ready to be an out-and-out starter for us, but his intelligence and instinct inside the 18-yard box – as seen with the run for the OG against Burnley – is something that all our other options lack. I think he needs more minutes from the bench, and when we need a change of focus up top.

What’s the best and worst West Ham Christmas presents that you’ve received? 

MW: A long time ago, I received my first West Ham kit. Only problem was in the early 70s replica kit was a rarity and everyone thought I was a Burnley supporter. Burnley were big at that time. It didn’t help that when I was collecting football stickers, I always ended up with loads of Ralph Coates ones in that shirt.

DM: I love my Hammers Crimbo sweater from last year but to be honest i think most of our club merch is overpriced and tacky. 

MJ: I’ve been quite lucky that I’ve always received nice West Ham gifts, though as David said, some of what they sell is shocking. These days, the shoe is on the other foot and it’s the obligatory West Ham shirts for my two sons for Christmas. For me, maybe Santa can bring us three points against Arsenal and a win in the Quarter Final at Anfield.

How are you feeling about December?

MW: Well it’s going to be challenging to say the least. Arsenal and Spurs look tough. We should get a win against Fulham but then I felt we would get all three against Palace so what do I know. As for the cup, if there were replays and we could take Liverpool back to the London Stadium, I think we might have a chance of progression. As for the Europa, it’s all in our hands which is a worry as we have a habit of messing it up.

DM: I think we are heading for midtable in the Premier League, so getting a result against Freiberg is probably the most important game as we need to avoid having to play against the clubs exiting the Champions League. A shock win over Liverpool would be brilliant as we are well overdue a prolonged run in the domestic cups. 

MJ: It’s going to be tricky, but at the same time, you just know it’s the West Ham Way to find it difficult against Burnley and Palace, but go and upset one of the big boys. Spurs under the lights will evoke memories of the 1-0 win in the first ever season at the London Stadium, so I’m hopeful if not fully optimistic. I do quite fancy the cup game though. Liverpool have Arsenal and Man Utd either side of it, so are bound to go weak. A real opportunity there I feel.

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