There are many sayings in Football, and one that I have heard on many occasions, and much to my annoyance normally rings true is that “West Ham always come down with the Christmas decorations”. Our last win up to yesterday was on the opening day of the year against Norwich. Since then we have exited the FA Cup and slid down the league, not so much in position but in the points gap compared to the bottom three.
If I’m honest I think that Sam has failed on 2 counts during this time. He has not drafted in the right type of players during the transfer window. Also he has not got through his head that sometimes 2 up top will work. And by two i do not mean a striker plus Nolan, or a striker plus Vaz Te. I also notice Vaz Te is listed as a striker in the official squad list. Really? We should of packed him off to the Championship during this window. In Sams’s defence, holding onto Diame is a big deal.
Yesterdays team was interesting with Joey O’Brien moved across to right back, bringing Taylor into the left back berth. Tompkins and Reid shored up the middle. A centre mid of Diame and Noble was flanked by RVT and Jarvis, with Carroll up top supported by Nolan. Jussi as usual was in goal.
I wouldn’t normally list the team, but someone said something to me at half time that made perfect sense. No square pegs in round holes, e.g JoB on the right side, no Joe Cole and Nolan getting in each others way, and with Carroll a striker who can operate on his own.
Anyway, the game !. The Swans have been a team I have admired since they were in the championship, and probably the team i enjoy watching outside of WHU (there is one other but no way am i mentioning them here) . But yesterday they never really fired at full strength. They still moved the ball round well, but failed to get the ball to Michu. This is because WHU came at them all day, closing well, and making sure everyone did their jobs through communication. The usual gaps at the back were not there, and the midfield (Noble especially), were patient and moved the ball where it needed to go, either backwards or forwards. Carroll was as usual winning everything, and Nolan had two chances in the first half which of those at least one should of gone in, a flick on from a Jarvis cross. Tremmel in the Swans goal was on fire, and stopping everything with feet and hands.
The second half was much the same but WHU seemed to run out of ideas, so Tomkins started to hit the ball longer, And Carroll was charging around everywhere. Sam made a great change bringing on Joe Cole for Jarvis on 62. This changes the shape of the team as JC doesn’t mind cutting in either. From here on in, the Swans were really on the back foot, and the Hammers were trying to unlock a tight defence. On 77 we got our first corner of the half. I noticed Carroll was just hanging about outside the box, which was a little odd. But Noble hit a corker into the penalty box which Carroll out jumped everyone by a mile and powerfully nodded it into the bottom right. It was very similar to his goal against Sweden in the Euros. See here
The relief around the ground was amazing, and the smile on Carroll’s face was pertinent. This is a guy who wants to do well, and the injuries have been frustrating, but hopefully he’s back for the rest of the season doing the business.
The remaining 15 (felt like 50) minutes were typical WHU bad passing, panic, backs to the wall, but with Jussi making a couple of good saves, and Noble making some great interventions just to take the sting out of the move, we got it over the line. Sam saw this as well and brought on Emanuel Pogatez to make his debut in place of Nolan for the last 5. Welcome Emanuel !
In summary, we seem to have a squad capable of playing well against most of the league, but we need to ensure the right people play in the right areas. This could of been the game that keeps up WHU this season. Quote of the day, was the guy behind me comparing Diame to Yaya Toure. Nearly but not yet !
The plaudits will go to Andy Carroll for his goal, and work rate, but for me Mark Noble, who is not one of my favourites, was sublime yesterday. He seemed to know what to do every time he got the ball, by interception or tackle, whether it was moving it up to Nolan, along to Diame, or a long pass back to Reid. Everything was done to perfection with no fuss. Keep it up.