Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

West Ham 4 Cherries 0

Date: 1 January 2020

West Ham supporters may think the arrival of David Moyes has brought about an instant change of fortune, but Bournemouth fans know the truth of the matter: we were abysmal today, and any team would have thrashed us.

We have had Smith, Aké and Brooks injured for a while; and to that list we can now evidently add Stacey and King; but we still appeared to have a reasonable line-up on paper today. Eddie went for the same 4-1-4-1 / 4-1-2-3 system we witnessed on Boxing Day – but today it was more often 4-1-4-1, mainly I suspect because Francis is our only fit right-back and he can hardly run the whole wing on his own anymore. So Harry Wilson was played in front of him. So far, so good, but this meant that in King’s absence (and with Fraser apparently unwell overnight) Solanke had to be given the wide left berth that didn’t suit him at all.

So there were some key injuries, and some players out of position. But that doesn’t fully explain the abject performance we witnessed today. Passing was dreadful, marking was dreadful, no-one other than Ramsdale and Lerma seemed fired-up (indeed no-one other than those two looked like Premier League footballers), and Callum Wilson was as statuesque as he’s been all season!

So, although it surprisingly took 17 minutes to score their first, once they’d done so the Hammers’ goals came thick and fast. Poor passing and poor defending on our part enabled Noble (who always seems to score against us!) to be the first on the scoresheet, albeit dependent on a slight deflection off Lewis Cook. Nine minutes later came the second West Ham goal (a great volley) and by half time Harry Wilson had given away a penalty – which Noble of course took – and we were 3-0 down. Bournemouth fans booed as their players left the pitch.

By then it was a bit late to try something different, but Eddie did anyway: he brought on Stanislas and Fraser (for Rico and Harry Wilson) for the second half. They played as wing-backs (right and left respectively) with now a back three; an unchanged centre midfield; and Solanke becoming ‘twin’ striker to the left of Callum Wilson. Our movement on the ball, and our general shape, looked a bit better for a while. But with both our strikers off-form this was unlikely to lead to any comeback. And indeed on 67 minutes Anderson beat Francis (well, sadly anyone can beat Francis these days) to score West Ham’s fourth. Eddie’s response to this was strange: he brought on Simpson for Gosling and switched to a 4-4-2. The rules of the game don’t of course allow a substituted player (in this case Rico) to come back onto the pitch – so Simpson was forced to play as left-back now; a position that hadn’t suited him on Boxing Day and still didn’t.

There was one bizarre incident five minutes later, when West Ham’s Creswell was red-carded but the card was overturned after a VAR check so he was able to play on! Not that being up against ten men would have helped us today. During added time there was an over-the-top pass from Fraser to Callum Wilson, but the latter couldn’t keep the ball down and any chance of a consolation goal was frittered away – though to be honest West Ham deserved their clean sheet. After the final whistle the Bournemouth players did their traditional thing of coming over and applauding us fans; but what was needed was an apology – and our money back – not a handclap. Most of us just turned and walked away.

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):

Ramsdale (6);
Francis (5), S Cook (5), Mepham (5), Rico (5);
Lerma (7);
L Cook (5), Gosling (5);
H Wilson (5), C Wilson (3), Solanke (4)

By the end the line-up was:

Francis, S Cook, Mepham, Simpson;
Stanislas, L Cook, Lerma, Fraser;
C Wilson, Solanke

My 'man of the match': Jefferson Lerma.

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