Monday, 14 September 2009
Time To Decide - Is Zola or Clarke in charge?
After two consecutive inept performances, Zola now has to make a decision. Is he going to bow to Clarke's conservative instincts and go "safety first" every game, accepting that the best we can hope for is a draw if the opposition scores; or is he going to follow his own inclinations and put adventure ahead of caution, challenging the team to swap punches and back themselves to score more than their opponents?
Thus far, the signs are bad. The games at Blackburn and Wigan were depressing, with negative tactics employed in both and team selection becoming more conservative after the first of those two games - despite all the evidence that even with Jimenez playing, we weren't going to score in a month of Sundays. Quite how anybody leapt to Kovac as the solution to our lack of creativity after the Blackburn game is a mystery that will probably never be solved. It reminded me of the appalling decision to pair Mullins and Parker in midfield for the home game against struggling Tottenham last season. In fact, you don't have to go back that far. It echoed the decision to bring on Kovac with the score at 1-1 for the home game against Tottenham THIS season. Safety first, caution, stopping the opposition scoring - the philiosophy according to Turds.
One decision that has to be made is what should be done with Noble. The lad is class and is West Ham through and through, but he is not a right sided midfielder. Either he is moved inside or he is dropped because with him wide on the right, the only threat to the opposition flank comes from Faubert overlapping. Noble does not have either the pace nor the positional discipline to play the role. Of course, if Noble is retained, and Diamanti is selected, then there is no place for a fit again Jimenez, unless revolutionary tactics are employed. Stanislas is also a problem. The kid has potential but he is still very raw - and it shows. If selected, the lad should at least play on the right flank where he is on his natural foot, not forced to play wide left because Clarke and Zola want cover for Faubert and don't trust Junior to provide it. The obvious solution to the problem of the right flank is Behrami, but he is more a destroyer than a creator in my book so I don't see his inclusion leading to a lot more goals. Then there is Dyer of course, but can he really be regarded as a first team player with all his injuries? Any attempt to plan around him seems doomed to frustration - work all week on tactics and it is odds on he won't make it onto the field come Saturday because of a niggle or a twinge somewhere. The guy would be nicknamed Sicknote if Beano hadn't outAndertoned Darren Anderton and claimed the title in perpetuity.
I now want to see Zola show he has balls. I want him to take charge and stamp his optimism on the tactics of the team. Yes Clarke can drill us defensively, but within the framework of a team that is playing offensively. Liverpool would be a dangerous game to "go offensive" but if we sit back and soak, they will outscore us anyway. So sod it, let's go for broke. Ilunga is a big loss but that was always going to be the case and the failure to sign an experienced understudy was disgraceful. Gabbidon is not a left back and nor is Spector so, like it or not, Daprela or Da Costa have to be picked until Ilunga returns. I would go for Daprela.
My team for Liverpool would be:
Green: Faubert, Gabbidon, Upson, Daprela; Stanislas (or Dyer), Behrami, Parker, Collison; Diamanti, Cole.
This would move Stanislas onto his right foot with an injunction to go past his full back and get in crosses, whilst re-establishing some balance on the left hand side by including a true left footer in Daprela. Behrami and Parker should afford defensive cover enough for when Daprela and Faubert range forward. The formation is still not ideal because there are not enough goals "in" our central midfield pairing but, that is the problem of playing Parker: he contributes very little in the final third so you need a Gerrard or Lampard paired with him in midfield - and sadly, we don't have anybody of that calibre. If Noble were to be included, I would leave out Parker and I don't think we can do that can we?
I'm not pretending it is easy to find the right combination but that is the problem of picking up players that Nani fancies rather than allowing Zola and Clarke to sign who they actually need. Kovac was a stupid signing and I suspect that Diamanti will now make Jimenez somewhat surplus to requirements. We are short of cover in both full back positions and still do not have a natural left sided midfielder. The jury is very much out on General Franco.
Whatever the personnel choices, Zola must now take control. This is West Ham and at West Ham we play to win, not to draw 0-0.
Posted by Hammersfan at 20:46