The new season has finally come round and where better to start than against a recently promoted team? Two years ago we entertained CCFC in our first game in the Championship. This time both teams are in the Premier League, but one has an extra years experience.
This summer Sam had been quietly going about his business. Securing Carroll, picking up Ratz and Downing, reintegrating Morrison back into squad. The net result of this pitchside was exactly the same team from last year with Maiga replacing Carroll / Cole.
BUT…. we looked fit. Joe Cole and Nolan for example had definitely dropped some timber over the summer. Ravel had made the bench, along with Downing. RVT was there as well, but Downing coming in might accelerate his exit (hopefully). I will also mention at this point that i was wearing shorts, the first time in nearly 3 seasons. About time !
West Ham started the game looking assured, and Cardiff started at pace, moving the ball around snappily. But after a while it was apparent where the experience laid. One thing i noticed in our first year back in the prem was the fact that the game, although slightly slower than the Championship, is way more accurate and bad passing is punished. This was happening to Cardiff who made a sequence of bad passes, particularly when in attacking positions. Nolan and Noble seemed to be picking up presents everywhere simply by closing down quickly.
One of these led to Matt Jarvis getting down the wing with 13 mins on the clock. His cross was looking all the world like a normal ball into the air until he cleverly cut back and found Joe Cole with a well placed pass. Cole collected, spun and smashed it past Marshall to open the Hammers account for 2013/14.
The game pattern had pretty much been set. Cardiff attacks breaking down and West Ham keeping Marshall and the Cardiff back four busy. As usual the second half came around and we still hadn’t got the second goal we needed. Cardiff showed signs of reinvigoration through Bellamy and Campbell’s interactions, but with no other assistance, most of this effort came to nothing.
We were also looking stale so Sam mixed things up a bit. He brought on Downing after 70 mins. JC should of made way as despite his goal, Jarvis was tearing Cardiff apart on the left. But BFS being BFS he took off Jarvis (is Sam scared of big name players ?).
For a fella who had reservations about coming to WHU, Downing looked like a man reborn, getting straight into the game. Just four minutes into his hammers career, he shot down the right again, and fed in Mark Noble. Nobes in turn pushed it into Nolan who wasted no time in firing past Marshall to double the score. This left the result in no doubt.
I have it on good authority that Cardiff have not finished spending and on watching this game, this is really needed. Some of those lads need to adjust quickly if they are serious about staying up. Their fans will follow them everywhere though, and this must help. Special mention to Craig Bellamy. A firm favourite of mine in his short spell at WHU, he still makes those lung bursting runs, and still looks a class act. He also got warm applause from the West Ham fans when he was substituted.
On the subject of fit for premier league. Maiga? Please. He was getting shoved off the ball all the time. If he has been kept in favour of Carlton Cole, then someone really needs to have a word with BFS.
In short a great start for the Hammers and a 3 point lead on a team we could be struggling against come the end of season. Will Cardiff stay up ? Judging on one game is harsh, so i’ll just say investment is required.
MOTM: On the first half performance, JC by a mile. But over 90 minutes, it has to go to the new trim Kevin Nolan. A goal, loads of blocks, tackling and running back, he gave the Hammers a real captain’s performance.
My view of the new season.
Can I leave you with this. You really need to take a look at yourself if you are wearing a shirt with the name of a player on the back who is younger than you.
Oldie with Moore 6. Acceptable. 30 years old with Greaves 9. Fine. 40 years old with Wilsher 10 (saw 3 on the way home). Sad and unacceptable. You are not 12.