A few minutes into the Nottingham Forest game I wasn’t sure how the match would turn out. I must admit I was quite nervous about this fixture; a poor performance would have left the Aldershot result feeling like more than the blip it was, and would have left me a little more concerned about the season ahead.
I watched the match with one of my oldest mates near his flat in Shepherd’s Bush. A Man Utd fan, he’d agreed to join me for our game if I stuck around and watched Man Utd vs Arsenal afterwards (which was nothing if not entertaining). We watched them in the Green Rooms on Goldhawk Road, a sports bar in what looks like a small, converted warehouse. The only problem was their main, better-quality screen was showing the ESPN coverage of Spurs vs Man City – complete with ear-ripping audio – while the Irons were being screened on the silent, fuzzy projector next to the snooker tables.
It’s weird watching one match but hearing another. There’d be moments when we were knocking the ball around by the half way line and the other game’s commentators and crowd would suddenly go mental and you’re sat there, a few beers fuzzing your reactions, wondering what the hell is happening for a few seconds. It was also a bit weird that our goals all came during quiet periods of the other match, leaving me to break the silence and celebrate enthusiastically in front of a bar full of Spurs fans. Still, they all left before the end of their match. Not sure why but it was something to do with being embarrassingly outplayed…
A few things have stuck with me from the Forest game. This team are playing with smiles on their faces. This might sound like nothing but it is something that I love to see when watching professional football. I’m in no way comparing us to them, but watching Barcelona you can’t help but notice the enormous smiles that are fixed to their faces, even when it isn’t quite going as smoothly as they’re used to. On a smaller scale, this is what I’m seeing more and more at our club.
Looking at my own experience playing 5-a-side and Sunday league football, my mates and I would try something out in training and if you could pull it off in a match it would be a brilliant feeling, giving you a proper little grin on your face. The way I see it that is exactly what I’m seeing in this West Ham team. We’re far from an amazing attacking side, but we’re definitely more organised than I’ve seen us for a long time. Our play going forward is getting better and better every week.
All our goals on Sunday came from simple training ground tactics, which is one of the things I hoped we would notice under Sam Allardyce. Under Zola and Grant I was left constantly wondering what the hell the team were doing in training because they looked so clueless and gutless during matches. I wouldn’t be surprised if we found out that under Grant the team would turn up for training, stretch a bit and just play a training match for fun.
We’re getting more and more professional by the week with the current regime, and I’m loving it. If we can get promoted then I think we’ll start next season as a much better-equipped Premier League club than we have been for years. We’ve shifted a lot of deadwood from the squad and signed some good players who, along with the rest of the squad, are being shown the right way to be a professional footballer. The transfer window closes in around ten hours, so we might see some more players come in to add strength, depth, and hopefully excitement, at the expense of old Scotty Parker.
Onwards and upwards. COYI.