West Ham saw off Fulham 2-1 in their final pre-season friendly of the Austria trip on Thursday evening as the Hammers players head for home following tn days of gruelling training and a couple of matches.
The 0-0 draw with Sturm Graz II on Monday was turgid and while the second half of Thursday’s game was distinctly average, the first half wasn’t as West Ham took a 2-0 lead into the break.
Manuel Lanzini and Ashley Fletcher gave the Hammers the lead before a late Ryan Sessegnon consolation goal made the final score 2-1.
It’s often hard to find things to look at post-match following friendly games but what did we learn from the win in Graz and the draw on Monday?
Nathan Holland really could be the real deal
A lot of attention was focused on Reece Burke and Josh Cullen in the build up to the training camp as they are the West Ham youngsters who have been at the club for a while now and done their loan stints away.
Both are now expected to step up to the first team sooner rather than later – but football.london understand they will likely both be loaned out again this season – so the next crop of youngsters are getting a go.
Declan Rice did well, Moses Makasi struggled but the one who stood out was 19-year-old Nathan Holland, who was excellent across the combined 90 minutes he got.
He’s got a lot to learn and a long way to go but the raw talent is there for the former Everton youngster and hopes for him are high.
Toni Martinez needs help
Playing the 18-year-old Spaniard as a lone striker in his two sets of 45 minutes over the past five days was not a good decision by Slaven Bilic. He won’t have learned anything from it and you feel sorry for Martinez.
Watching the teenager at Oxford during his loan spell, Martinez played better with two up front or at least a striker to play off, he had none of that against Graz or Fulham.
Martinez hardly touched the ball during the two games and hopefully he will get another crack when the Hammers are in Germany, maybe he could pay alongside the incoming Javier Hernandez?
Manuel Lanzini absolutey is now the heartbeat of the West Ham team
Despite it being pre-season friendlies and only getting 45 minutes a game, the Argentine was simply sensational and a cut above everyone else on the pitch at the same time he was .
He is so crucial to West Ham now they simply cannot even fathom not giving him a pay rise and a long-term contract. Alongside Pedro Obiang, they are arguably the two most important players in the West ham team now and one of them as a new contract until 2022.
It’s not Lanzini and that needs to be sorted.
Slight concerns over Andre Ayew and Robert Snodgrass
The West Ham record signing in Ayew struggled over the two games, wasting three presentable chances in the first half against Graz and then barely figuring in the second 45 against Fulham.
It must be a concern for not only Bilic but also Ayew himself, who may well have a Marko Arnautovic-shaped problem to deal with in the race for a first team spot.
Snodgrass was poor in the first game and barely figured in the second game but it’s harsh to single him out as the whole team were not at it in the second half against Fulham. Snidgrass knows he is in the firing line and needs a good Germany trip.
Bilic and his players will head back to east London no doubt satisfied with their ten days worth of work in Bad Waltersdorf but also slightly annoyed.
Cheikhou Kouyate picked up a freak injury which could keep him out for the first month of the season and one of his potential replacements, Edimilson Fernandes, didn’t play in the second friendly.
The manager was aggy that his players weren’t scoring enough in training and they responded by scoring twice against the Cottagers but sterner tests will come.
There is still a tendency for Bilic;s side to be ponderous with the ball and not get it forward quickly enough- without Michail Antonio, admittedly it’ll be hard – so there are still some concerns.
But it was a training camp and the fitness levels looked good so Bilic will no doubt head back to the capital a happy camper