Both West Ham United and Newcastle traveled south for their preseason friendlies, taking on teams in Australia and New Zealand as they prepare for the start of the 2014-2015 Premier League season. The two English sides are experiencing rather dissimilar fortunes, however, with Newcastle having won both their games thus far, and West Ham losing both of theirs.
West Ham fell 3-1 to Sydney FC on Saturday, just days after Newcastle beat the A-League side 4-0. The loss only further compounds the Irons’ misery, having lost 2-1 to Wellington Phoenix earlier in the week. According to Sam Allardyce, his side’s “more expansive style” — one fans clamored for after watching rather dull West Ham games last season — has yet to take. But it’s also taking a toll on the defense, which managed 14 clean sheets last season. Will fans soon start demanding a return to the days of bore?
Playing style is not all that’s troubling the West Ham manager, however. Andy Carroll injured his ankle shortly after arriving in New Zealand and will now require surgery, leaving him out of contention for four months. Guy Demel, James Tomkins and Cheikhou Kouyate also picked up injuries, so it’s really not been a great trip for the Irons.
For Newcastle, the trip has been marred by the news that two supporters were killed on their way to the preseason games, en route on MH 17. Prior to today’s win over Phoenix, local Māori performed a folk song in memory of the fans, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, and the team wore black armbands during the match.
It was Yoan Gouffran that made the difference against Wellington Phoenix, scoring the game’s only goal. On Tuesday against Sydney, new signings Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Rivière had their chance to impress with a goal apiece, while Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Adam Armstrong made their arguments for inclusion in the squad by scoring as well.