An unwelcome distraction

West Ham head into the first enforced international break in Premier League action in far better state than anyone could ever have imagined.

Unbeaten in our first four games, 75% of which have been away. A transfer window that has seen a successful revamp of our midfield. To be honest, with form and morale high we could have done without the international calender disrupting us.

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10 of our squad will be on international duty in the next week or so, though sadly (for him at least), the in form Jarrod Bowen’s three goals in four games weren’t sufficient enough indication of form for Gareth Southgate to grant him a return to duty with the Three Lions - whilst Messrs Phillips & Maguire get a free pass.

Not good enough to play for your club, should mean not good enough to play for your country.

From a claret and blue perspective, much of the next two weeks will be spent praying to the deity of your choice that no injuries are suffered. Most notably Michail Antonio, who has begun the season in bullish mode, displaying pace, power and presence belying his years and suspect hamstrings. Trips to the Caribbean to represent Jamaica against Honduras and Haiti aren’t the best way to prepare for a tough resumption to our league campaign.

Our next two league games throw up two of the most challenging fixtures on the circuit. Firtly treble-winning Manchester City visit us, then a trip to Anfield where history hasn’t been kind. Refereeing standards less so. But that’s a different debate for another day, after I’ve purchased a bleep machine to make it suitable for family consumption.

Our opening four games last year saw us accumulate just three points, those points coming from the final of four attempts where a deflected Pablo Fornals effort saw us overcome Aston Villa. Following on from the tail end of the previous season, where only four points were mustered from our last seven league games as a bid for Europa League glory petered out at the semi final stage and papered over a lot of cracks domestically. And thus the seeds of Moyes' discontent were sown.

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But what a difference we’ve seen this season so far. 10 points in the bag from four games, where we amassed just 15 points in the opening 19 league matches last season.

A hoodoo on the South Coast broken, a Bedfordshire banana skin avoided and a richly-assembled Chelsea seen off. For the most part done with little possession but much quality and sublime finishing. Even Match of the Day took notice, as three of our efforts made the shortlist for Goal of the Month (as an aside, my research shows we’d had only 10 winners in the previous 31 years of the Premier League era).

So with confidence flowing, the break has arrived at an inopportune time. No real time to prepare for the visit of the title holders, team spirit disrupted by the accumulation of air miles, raids on duty free and nervy waits on safe arrivals back at Rush Green. But it’s not all bad news.

While those representing their nation are elsewhere, those left get time away from the spotlight. A chance to reflect, bask in the joys of the start we’ve had. Moyes and the back room staff get the opportunity to work on plans, assess wether Jesse Lingard has the gumption to be a worthy free agent addition and continue to plan for the future.

And all this without the shroud of fanbase discontent hanging over them.

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