West Ham’s home is where the heart is after remarkable support
PUBLISHED: 12:12 27 November 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers fight back to grab a point against Leicester City on Friday night
It started as a murmur somewhere on the far side of the stadium and it was a huge surprise.
West Ham were not winning and we expected a vitriolic reaction, but no, the stirring increased, the crowd began to sing and within minutes it had built to an almighty crescendo of noise.
“I thought the second half was a lot more like us and more like the crowd at Upton Park for me,” said the impressed manager David Moyes after the battling 1-1 draw.
“There was a period in the game of about 10 minutes when the crowd were right behind the team and we needed it, we really did.”
Moyes and skipper Mark Noble had both called upon the fans to get behind the team, but they could not have envisaged this sort of support
“In the second half, it was terrific the way the supporters got behind us and I think they did because they saw the effort from the players. It goes hand-in-hand,” said the new boss.
He is right to a point, but there was something more to it than that. The club has been put under an ugly spotlight in recent weeks, but this was the fans fighting back, this was the supporters showing they are behind their club and always will be.
It had not started well. They went behind to the Foxes first real attack and it was an ugly girl. Jamie Vardy got down the left and his cross went straight through the hapless Angelo Ogbonna to allow Mark Albrighton to guide the ball into the corner.
It was another horrible goal to concede and at times in that first half, Leicester could have added it to it.
Vardy seemed to be allowed the freedom of the left, while Demarai Gray weaved his way into dangerous positions as that West Ham defence looked fragile once again.
But then came the fight back from both the crowd and the team.
“I thought the players worked hard and deserved the applause they got at the final whistle,” said Moyes.
“When we went 1-0 down, they didn’t boo because they understand the game and in the opening nine or 10 minutes we hadn’t deserved to go 1-0 down.
“The players stuck at it and got the goal and I have to say I thought the players did a great job in the second half with their aptitude and the way they went about it.”
Absolutely right, but at the end of the night they had only one point to show for all their efforts.
And Moyes knows one point doesn’t make a march up the table and there is a lot of work still to be done.
“There are bits we are going to have to do loads and loads better,” he admitted. “But I have to say we are trying to do the basics right for now.
“I have to say that don’t think because they ran hard or did a few sprints more than they have done previously that we are there, because those should be a given in every game.
“I’ve said to the players that I thought that work was good, but that our play and our passing in the final third could be better.
“We had some good play, but I thought we could have had some moments of even better play.”
He is absolutely right, but this was a decent start. The players did work hard and were rewarded with Cheikhou Kouyate’s goal right on half time.
They deserved to win it with their second-half performance with Leicester left to cling on to their point, but the fact that this draw was celebrated shows just how far West Ham had slipped under Slaven Bilic.
With the likes of Michail Antonio, Javier Hernandez and James Collins to return to the team sooner rather than later things are looking as positive as they have been all season.
But it is wins that are vital and after the clash at struggling Everton tonight (Wednesday) come games against three of the Premier League giants in Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
And even if those players return and they put in all the hard work and running, they could still find themselves deep in the relegation zone by the end of them.