Gutted is not a word I have used at Football since Mr Gerrard smashed in a 40 yarder past us in Cardiff in the FA Cup Final in 2006. That was a game we had led and should have won, and one moment of brilliance meant FA Cup glory eluded the Hammers once more.
The first Saturday of the year was a little busy as I had just flown in from Vegas / via Dallas. BA had lost a bag and I needed to get to the early kick off between the Hammers and Liverpool.
I took my seat just after Liverpool had gone close with a cross goal shot, and seemed to have come out of the gate pretty quickly. WHU, however seems to be shutting them down quickly and efficiently. About 30 seconds later Enner Valencia popped in a cross which was met by Michail Antonio to take lead for West Ham. Nice work Sir. The lad who couldn’t get in the team now has 2 in 2.
Liverpool as you would expect had the lions share of the possession, but no end product. Benteke had a one on one after Collins had misread a ball, but Tomkins came across from his right back birth to shepherd the ball out of danger. As mentioned earlier, WHU were harrying and closing down in numbers , so threats were kept to a minimum . Emre Can hit the bar just before half time, but apart from that , WHU were good for the half time lead.
In the second half West Ham played more forward, with Kouyate winning a lot of ball and bring it forward and the midfield were more fluid and interchangeable. In fact , it Was Mark Noble who popped up on the right flank to cross the ball which was met by Andy Carroll to double the lead, and promote some rather enthusiastic celebrations from the number 9, who was let go by Liverpool having been (and still is) their record signing. Liverpool were left to stream forward looking for something, and Klopp didn’t shirk by replacing defenders with midfielders, probably noting that even though we were 2 up, some lucky deflections and defending was contributing to the score. Not to mention the woeful shooting by Liverpool. I cannot remember the last time a team shot so many balls over the bar.
WHU managed to close out the game to win the first game in 2016 with the same scorers as the last game of 2015, and jumped to 5th being the early game.
Once again WHU win a game which will be reported as poor play by the opposition.
However, WHU played well and were all over the pitch. I think Slaven has realised that letting the opposition have the ball all day is not profitable and quicker teams (such as Liverpool) will cut through us (like Leicester did).
The reintroduction of Payet, was very much welcomed by the home faithful, and I get the feeling he only came on after we were 2 nil up, and his name started to ring around the ground. He played a bit of a cameo, but still managed to set up Carroll, and turn Lucas inside out. Hopefully we hold onto him throughout the transfer window. Other players who deserve a mention are James’ Collins and Tomkins. Both were strong in the tackle, and Tomkins seems to be relishing his right back spot (although some of his bombing down the wing needs some finesse !) . One player who really needs to be looked at and I have mentioned it before is Enner Valencia. We paid over 13m for this guy and he is knocked off the ball at the drop of a hat. Personally I don’t think he is EPL standard and would happily bin him this window.
MOTM today was the much maligned Andy Carroll, who battered Liverpool’s defence today, never gave up and got his desserts with a great goal to seal the game.
Hopes were high as The Hammers entertained their struggling opponents under the lights at the Boleyn. Newcastle were not having the best start of the season ever, but WHU were yet to register a point at home, whilst taking full points on the road at Arsenal and (historically) Liverpool.
Since that game at Anfield, some 4 players have joined WHU and one made his debut last night as Victor Moses came in for Obiang, and Tomkins found himself once more in the right back berth. Mark Noble also made his first appearance as officially the club captain, although with the fans he has held that position since Scott Parker left.
WHU started the game with a spring in their step, with Payet and Koutyate especially taking the game to the Geordies. The players seemed happy to close down, move around and make quick passes. Something we haven’t seen for a while. In the 9th minute a neat interchange between Noble and Sakho fed the ball to the edge of the box to Payet, and he shaped up perfectly to meet the ball in his stride to smash it into the top corner
As is usual for WHU the game started to drift and although we maintained the attacks, we were not really making the best of our chances. The Newcastle No.8 Vumon Anita was playing as a one man defence and was stopping everything and everyone coming his way. We continued as is now usual to half time, content to be ahead but not really pushing. But it must be said we were playing further up the pitch than normal and not buggering about passing it around the back.
It made a change not to go in 2-0 down at home, so happy days.
Once again we started the second half with the wind in our sails attacking the Bobby Moore. We cleared an early attack from Newcastle to Moses who ran the whole length of the pitch and got himself in on goal. He shoots, beats the keeper, but not the bar. The rebound comes straight out to Payet who volleys it in to make it 2-0. Big shout to the the team here, as Payet ran off on his own to celebrate, everyone else was congratulating Moses, who had his head in his hands ! From here on, Payet ran the show and gave us his full set of tricks and passes. This started to breed confidence within the team and soon everyone was at it. Against a better team we may of suffered , but Newcastle could not capitalise on the showboat circus. Even Mark Noble was taking people on and getting crosses in. There were back heels and fancy passes all over the place. The crowd were loving it, but occasionally you could see where the loss of the ball could reduce the deficit easily. The biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for the reintroduction of Andy Carroll (again), who nearly picked up a yellow card with his first touch (or non touch as it was on Tim Krull). His five minute cameo ended the night perfectly. The crowd were chanting “Are you watching Allardyce” for the last few minutes in between cheering on the back flicks and nutmegs.
2-0 to the Irons and 5th place in the league with Man City up next to hold on to our perfect away record this season (!). Why are we playing better? My theory is that now that we have a real squad, competition for places is driving players to play a higher standard of football. Lets hope this continues Messrs Bilic and Dicks
On a side note, Kevin Nolan was on Goals on Sunday this weekend and spoke glowingly of the club and his time there. With the stick people (myself included) have given him for the last 6 months, fair play to him, especially having his boy in a WHU kit. In parting, good luck to him in his future endeavours.
So in short, we have a top, top, quality flair player in midfield,backed up with some steel, we can pass balls all over the shop without fear, we score some tremendous goals, we can defend and attack in numbers, we are all in it together, and are always on the edge of going too far and screwing it all up.
THE WEST HAM WAY IS BACK !!!!!
MOTM: Payet, big shouts to Moses, Kouyate, Noble, and Tomkins.
New job has meant I’m a bit behind on the blog. I still have 2 to do on our last trip to vegas (here) and one for this game. The first of the season, on the second day of July, in the boiling heat of old London town.
Despite the litany of dour behaviour that was Sam Allardyce, his poor tactics had one silver lining. You see, if you don’t tackle anyone, ever, and shake the 4th officials hand after the game, you get chucked into the 2nd tier of European competition, along with the Dog and Duck of Armenia, and Ebbsfleet under 17’s, right at the beginning. And so our European tour begins…..
A bit of an odd one. As Chelsea, Arsenal, Totts and these two London clubs were all playing in the capital yesterday, our games kicked off at 16.20? A new one even for Sky.
Arriving in Green Street wasn’t quite the same as Wembley Way for the NFL, but we did have a band in the car park. Some good old Ska from the SkaTonics who were covering Guy Lombardo’s (and latterly Prince Buster’s and The Specials) Enjoy Yourself. Being a bit of a 2 Tone man myself, I stuck around for a couple of tracks and then headed in with a spring in my step.
Tonight saw WHU probably secure their premier league safety as Sunderland went down fighting at Liverpool, but once again there was nothing to shout about but there was enough for Sam to have a pop at the paying punter.
First up, there was a nice touch from the WHU fans below me jin the lower tier just before kick off as they unveiled a banner with NO TO HULL TIGERS on it with crossed hammers at each end. So far so good.
WHU started well, but after 9 mins Collins came off injured and was replaced by Roger Johnson. I assume Winston Reid’s season is still not back on track. Anyway they continued dominating the game and both Diame and Downing looked lively on the wings. Just before the half hour mark, Mark Noble drove into the box , passed the ball and Diame was right in front of goal, but McGregor came out and just took him out below the knee as Diame was lifting the ball over him. The game carried on for about 10 seconds and then stopped (I assumed that as both the keeper and Diame were down and hurt the ref had stopped the game). The keeper was in a bad way and didn’t get up for a few mins. Then I noticed the Hull players surrounding the ref and Mark Noble holding the ball. The second the keeper got up, he was helped off the pitch by a physio and a red card. I am also assuming some use of the radio to the lino was used (although in post match, apparently the ref said it was all his own decision). On comes Harper as a replacement and Nobes comfortably puts it passed him to put the Hammers into the lead.From here in it should of been a walk in the park, and apart from the odd foray forward West ham progressively got worse and worse, still trying long balls, rather than run Hull around with possession.
The second half was when things got really bad, with another freak goal to go with Rooney’s from Sunday. After 3 mins of the half, Hull had a free kick , and Huddlestone’s drilled kick was going wide until it hit Jelavic on the back and diverted past Adrian.
To add to the oddness of the night a few minutes later a rare cross from Demel, was mis-kicked in for an own goal by James Chester. Thanks for that, you have saved our season, and unfortunately Sam’s job.
From then on Hull looked like they were the team with the extra man. But they didn’t threaten at all, and the game petered out into a WHU win. Sam did his usual winger for winger sub around the 65th min, taking of Diame (who played well) for Joe Cole. Matt Taylor was rubbish all night, and was left on !! and that was that.
The final whistle was met with boos all round, and Sam cupping his ear to the supporters. He really doesn’t get it. A win that is perpetuated by constant cheap loss of possession, and an all round bad display, is now affecting the previously silent majority. Everyone has had enough, its that simple Sam. Move on and all will be well. The amount if people who have told me they are not renewing is growing, and the dreams of filling the Olympic Stadium are fading and dying with him in charge (to quote a well known song of the East End).
To be fair, the fans were also booing the MOTM announcement before any player’s names were even mentioned !
I’ve just seen his post match interview on Sky and he really doesn’t understand. He has now had a pop at the fans on national telly. The next home game should be fun.
MOTM ( no boos) for me was James Tomkins. After the Rooney incident at the weekend, he did well, to come back and deliver a great consistent performance, especially after losing his usual partner after less then 10 minutes.
I’m not going to go into detail regarding this game, except to say WHU won 2-0, and gave us some space in that bottom half of the league. It was that sort of game. To be fair, when the usual tannoy announcement came near the end of the first half, i actually thought it may be “The 4th official has indicated that he got bored after 15 mins and went home”
WHU dominated the first half but all the decent chances fell to Norwich and they couldn’t capitalise, mainly due to some heroics from the MOTM Adrian. He was also active in the second half, but as the game went on, the shaky centre back partnership of the canaries started to give the hammers some small chances. Diame came off the bench and his influence should not be underestimated. He dominated the right back for Norwich, and had a chance saved just before he got the cross in for Collins to break the deadlock on 80 mins. Norwich pushed on to get the equalizer and were unlucky to concede a second in “Fergietime” (94m) after Diame broke free and got a fortunate deflection to double the score for WHU.
One incident of note in the second half was one Mr Martin Olsson. He caught Downing in the head (by accident), but Downing put his hands to his head. This prompted Olsson to drop to the deck (not near anyone) and roll around a la Chico Flores. Thankfully, no red card for nothing this time. The WHU fans loved this (“Are you Flores in disguise”) and other less savoury taunts.
So overall a good win, and another clean sheet. Some real pluses were the Collins and Tomkins partnership getting better and better, and Mark Noble once again dominating a midfield. I know earlier on in the season I laughed it off, but he could be playing himself into the national squad at this rate.
MOTM : Adrian
As well as managing football teams, it appears Mr Allardyce has added time travel to his skillset. Yesterday we moved from the 19th Century Football (TM J.Mourinho) to 21st Century defending according to Sam. Not that the defending should of been having to be used, but more of that later.
I arrived more in hope of a win rather than expecting one. Last years game, here was more what I expected, with Swansea on the attack and plucky old WHU getting away with it.
What i got was markedly different, with a positive WHU, attacking Swansea from the off and in reality, Swansea couldn’t cope. Our defence was containing the admittedly under par Swansea attack and Noble seemed to be everywhere. Carroll was dominating their defence in very impressive style, and you just felt it would be his day. More of that later as well.
The breakthrough came on the 27th minute with Noble picking up the ball in our box and spotting the run of McCartney on the left flank. George continued the run up the line and popped in a superb cross for Andy Carroll to rise high into the air and nod it down for Nolan, to get his first in a while, and his first of the game. Like the 58 outside on Green Street, we didn’t have to wait long for the next one (19 mins to be precise), when a Downing corner found Carroll on the far post, to nod it back in for his mate to double his tally for the day, and send the Hammers in 2-0 up at half time. That really doesn’t do justice to Carroll, as the height he got and the body twist to make the nod down accurate really has to be appreciated. However I cannot find any photos on line, so you will have to catch MOTD or sky or just believe me.
The second half seem to be going the same way, with WHU happy to let the The Jacks crack on in their own half and then use Carroll to involve everybody else in the play. Then with half an hour to go everything changed. Carroll challenged Flores for the ball, and having seen that, my eyes has gone elsewhere (the incident was that much of nothing), only to catch Flores out of the corner of my eye, rolling around like a cheese in Gloucester. Game stops, Howard Webb comes over, straight red card to AC. What! Really ? I have tried to find content this morning to put up, but i’m struggling currently (edit, now have some). This was not a red card, yellow at a push. Mr Webb made a grave mistake, that (and lets be serious for a minute), could relegate us. I’m not too sure the FA will want their poster boy overturned on appeal, but it’s all in their hands now.
So WHU has to change formation for the last 30 mins, and did stoically. Special shouts out to Matt Taylor, James Collins and Mark Noble, who just threw everything out there to defend (in a 21st century fashion) our lead. So in the end, 3 points and another clean sheet (our 11th this season, why are we 3rd bottom ?) .
In fact everyone played their part yesterday, including Nocerino (Nosher, anyone), one of our new Italian imports, who came on for the last 5 and looked lively going forward. James Tomkins made a tackle in the first half against Bony, that if it had of been made by Baresi, Beckenbauer, or (dare I say it) Moore, would of been lauded down the decades. If you see it, take into account the lad was on a yellow as well, and it was 0-0. Winston Reid made a welcome return to assist the late rearguard action. This probably signals then end of Tomkins’ run in the team, and is a shame, but we cannot accommodate everyone. It was also nice to see everyone in the correct positions, including Kevin Nolan, who put a shift in for the first time in a long time.
Anyway MOTM goes to big Kev for his contribution, but he was run close by Mark Noble, Andy Carroll and on the outside Matt Taylor.
My first trip to the Boleyn in 2014, came after we had dragged ourselves out of the bottom three, via a win at fellow strugglers Cardiff. Also we had conspired in 2 back to back games to have no cup involvement for this year. With Collins back, and Carroll on the mend, believe it or not I actually fancied us to get 3 points at home against a Newcastle team , who have been a bit up or down themselves. The biggest blow was the loss of Tomkins, due to getting a silly red last week. Him and Collins (until Reid comes back), are as about as good as it gets at the back for WHU. Anyway, another defensive shuffle brought Matt Taylor in as right back. Now, using a left midfielder as a right back tells you everything Sam thinks about our current table topping youth policy !
As much as he puts a shift in , Matt Taylor was getting the run around in an unfair position, and that starts to stretch the defence, which didn’t help with Newcastle going 2-0 up with goals from Cabaye and Remy, and really looking to run away with it. However some persistence from Carlton Cole, got a (own) goal back just before half time and there was a small chink of light opening up for West Ham.
Morrison started the second half, which was a encouraging sign from Sam, that he thought it was on, and after 15 mins Carroll joined in on the pitch, in favour of the increasingly disappointing Diame. With a real two up top and some real supply with both Downing and Jarvis still on the pitch, WHU started to pressure the magpies, and both Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll missed sitters to equalise and possibly go on the register back to back wins.
And then Sam decided all the attacking was a bit too exciting , so he brought Joe Cole on for Jarvis. Now, like most WHU fans , i have always been a JC fan, but this time around the experiment has failed and needs curtailing as soon as possible. He really offers nothing extra to what we already have for less wages, and therefore we need to replace him with something more suitable.
Anyway, WHU go on to stay 2-1 down until Cabaye put a lovely free kick in at the end of the game to seal the win for Newcastle.
So while I’ve cut JC off from the WHU gravy train, lets look at a couple of others in that midfield. Diame and Morrison. Both are similar , in as much they are game winners both on their day, but they really are not interested at WHU. TO my mind lookd like Diame wants out and Morrison is being played out of position. So if Diame want to go, lets move him on. Because if he is refusing to utilise his talent, all the cajoling in the world, from the current management team, will make no difference. Morrison is different. We keep hearing about how good he is, but apart from small flashes never see it. Now we have some established players up top, it makes sense to put him in the no 10 role. But with one up top , Sam will want to ever erratic Nolan there. Thererfore we have an issue. We can leave Morrison in the midfield but sitting along the line and waste him or we move him on as well, and see him become an international rated midfielder.
Interesting times for Sam, and he will need all his management skills to balance the team and get the points. If we right off the next game, away to Chelsea, February becomes massive for WHU, we have Swansea, Villa, Norwich and Southampton, with 3 of those at home . Take 10 points there and stay up, take 1 and get relegated, it really is that easy. Hopefully th Lescott deal will be complete in Jan as well to shore up out leaky defence.
Back to the game. Noble, and Collins played well, and when they were both on the park, Cole and Carroll looked a formidable partnership. But for his 2 goals i’ll give Cabaye the MOTM.
Sam, now is the time for you to do your job, and sort this mess out, or maybe we will move yo on in the January window as well.
Referees, the hardest position on a professional football pitch, bar none. These guys are now as professional as the players and get paid nowhere near the money. They have 30 cameras watching their every move, and are criticised for the smallest thing, that they would never see in real time. But they have a responsibility to be a as fair to both teams as they can. They also have their recently promoted “assistants”. The clue is in the title, they are there to assist, not just react to offsides and throw in’s.
Step up Andre Marriner. Apparently, one of the best refs in the league, had a shocker yesterday. I have never been to a game where the ref makes the wrong call on 3 corners, all against one side (hello assistants !). He disallowed a goal for an alleged foul by Guy Demel. He gave all manner of odd decisions in the favour of Sunderland. This played into his hands, as the WHU players started to get frustrated with these decisions and started to worry more about kicking and moaning than playing.
However there was a football game going on in amongst this ineptitude. Without the suspended Kevin Nolan, Diame came in, and showed his superiority by running nearly all the first half. Jussi was feeling the pressure and started having a pop at the fans after a poor clearance. Sunderland fought a valiant rear guard but had no teeth going forward, as Tomkins and Collins were comfortably on top. But, the disallowed goal aside, WHU made no serious attempts on goal. Jussi made a fantastic save just on half time, to stop the Black Cats going in ahead.
The second half was more of the same with Sunderland probably having the edge. They brought Jussi into action more than once, and he was equal to everything they had. Diame was very quiet, and Joe Cole was subbed off for Collision due to his half hearted attempts at being involved. He really needs to decide if his heart is in playing for this club, or if he happy picking up the wages. Another disappointment was this year wonderkid, Ravel Morrison. A couple of times he had a run at them and frankly terrified them, then would go back into his shell for 10 minutes. He needs to be more consistent. Plaudits of the day go to both centre backs who dominated all day. Especially Tompkins, who has played his way back into Sam’s starting line up. His frustrations in our play were also plain to see, as he went on a couple of 60 yards runs with the ball to try and inspire the midfield.
So 0-0 and another point to keep us just out of the bottom 3. We just need to hold on to that status until we can spend in Jan. I will be missing the next 2 home games, so hopefully we get some points (!). I missed the Fulham game and that was a great 3-0 win, so anything is possible.
MOTM, shouts to Collins, Tompkins and 1/2 of Diame. And welcome back to George McCartney who put in a sterling performance at the back. But once again Jussi held firm to keep us in the game.