- by Paul Walker
- Filed: Monday, 18th October 2021
It's not just Jarrod Bowen who's on fire these days, it seems. West Ham are too. This is different, this new West Ham we are now seeing that David Moyes has been banging on about.Leaving Liverpool has been a bit painful over the decades for West Ham fans, beaten regularly on either side of Stanley Park.
Bowen’s on fire ?? pic.twitter.com/21NiT0JBoq— West Ham Away Days #GSBOUT (@west_ham_olas) October 17, 2021
Everton fans will vouch for that, but Sunday was so different. They sat in near silence wondering exactly when they had last seen a performance against them like West Ham inflicted. It must have dawned that it was a few years back when David Moyes was in their dug out, and Everton regularly dished out the beatings.
This was classic Moyes. West Ham were massively competitive, brave, defiant, hounding players in possession. Dominating play. That's just how Everton used to operate.
This was always going to be a big test for West Ham on a ground they rarely do much on. I can think of three in recent years, when Andriy Yarmolenko scored twice on his debut in 2018, when Dimitri Payet master-minded that comeback and then last season’s behind-closed-doors victory.
But now? This is becoming a habit, even if it has taken 92 years for us to win back-to-back league games at Goodison Park. (And if anyone is interested, Vic Watson scored two in a 2-1 win in 1930 and the previous year, Viv Gibbins netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory.)
Moyes, in the mass of quotes after this latest 1-0 success made the clear point that a big team, a successful team, does not lose back-to-back matches.
It has been a long fortnight since the injury-time defeat to an annoying, time-wasting Brentford. Lose another one and we would have been in the bottom half of the table.
You expect a little backlash after so many players had been away on international duty, but not this very different West Ham. That first 20 minutes of high-octane, total control was a joy to watch. Control of the ball, possession, movement and pace. How we were not way ahead at the break was hard to believe.
Although Everton got their act together a bit, we ended the match with 61 per cent possession, 16 shots and nine corners - for an away team. How good was that? The set piece goal from Angelo Ogbonna, our 29th since the beginning of last season, was a long time coming but totally deserved.
Now I know it’s not always a good thing to heap praise on our team and individual players because fine words can come back to hurt you very quickly, and with home games against Genk in Europe on Thursday and Spurs on Sunday - how we must win that one - things can go a bit astray.
But just how amazing was Declan Rice? Moyes was almost unable to do him justice, but he tried! Rice had 94 touches in the match, completed 71 of his 78 passes, recovered possession ten times and created two chances.
Everton could not live with him and of course it started all ‘the big boys are closing in’ nonsense. The contract situation needs sorting out, but with the player’s advisors unwilling to talk at the moment, there’s not much chance of things changing any time soon.
How West Ham get out this situation is difficult. They can throw money at the problem, double his wages, even treble them, but it’s status and top European competition that Rice wants. But if we keep going like this, if we can squeeze into the top four - Moyes did it once before with Everton - we may be able to hang onto Rice for a few more seasons.
As far as the here and now is concerned, let’s just enjoy the moment and relish seeing such brilliance emerge under our wings. Relish every minute. The lad is a joy to watch and that elegant change of pace to leave opponents trailing has a touch of the Trevor Brookings about it. The glide of Martin Peters into dangerous areas. And that’s as far as I am willing to go in comparisons.
He’s part of a side that is now gaining supreme praise. Danny Murphy on MotD was full of it: it's a pleasure to watch us, the best West Ham he has seen, a side playing in the style and competitiveness of Moyes’ very best Everton teams. And Murphy would know all about that.
Our away form is crazy. Our last three away games - wins at Everton, Leeds United and Manchester United and I’ve been lucky enough to see them all. How good is this? I can’t recall a domestic trio of successive away wins like that ,although I am sure someone will find a comparison. Though good luck with that.
Those three venues and places are traditionally grounds we do not do well at, to put it mildly. That’s why this is such a different West Ham. How often have the wonderful travelling Claret and Blue Army witnessed these sort of results?
West Ham are unbeaten away this season, and there’s a tough Europa League win in Zagreb to throw into the mix. In our last 24 away matches in all competitions we have lost just five. The last time we lost away was at Newcastle exactly six months ago and we are unbeaten away in our last nine, this season and last.
As I said, Everton was a key match. We needed to show resolve, character and determination from front to back to eradicate that Brentford defeat. And that’s what we saw from Moyes’ team. How often in recent years have the away fans seen us concede early and lose 4-1? It’s been five, six or seven times, in my memory.
Our fans were left to amuse themselves by goading their rival fans with predictable songs about jobs and benefits. And that’s another little annoyance for me: it’s only banter and should be treated as such. Sometimes more than others.
We get annoyed when rivals sing that ‘we are not West Ham anymore'. Now I lived and worked in Liverpool for around 15 years and don’t have the stereotypical view on Scousers that so many do have.
Those songs we sing, ‘we pay your benefits’ and ‘stand up if you have a job’ are now so out of touch, so "loadsamoney" 1980s. They actually make us look cheap. In fact the unemployment rate in Liverpool is around 4.1%, in London and east London generally it’s 4.7 % the same as the national average. So who exactly is paying our benefits? I should be bigger than this, but it has irritated me for years.
And while on the subject of annoyances, how could Stuart Attwell not see Salomon Rondon kick back and stamp on Tomas Soucek’s face - and why did he not stop play immediately for an obvious head injury?
He managed to see a nonsense decision to book Michail Antonio for diving, but avoided the long list of assaults on the same player. He really is one of our poorest referees.
But, at the end, we got the win we deserved, the away fans chanted Moyes name and young Bowen was the last off the pitch, beaming ear to ear and applauding fans as they sang his new song.
The lad did look as if he was enjoying his recently elevated street cred too much... but you can’t see him having much trouble impressing a potential father-in-law. Although maybe that’s going a touch too far at the moment!
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