Wednesday, 10 February 2010
A Huge Game And A Defining Moment
Tonight is a HUGE game. In fact, I don't think they come much bigger. Defeat is almost literally unthinkable and would surely result in Zola either walking or being sacked. A draw isn't much use either. All it will do is keep us in touch with the teams around us and leave Zola dangling by the flimsiest of threads.
Will the team be up for the battle? After Sullivan's comments about impending pay cuts, it would be no surprise if some of the players have decided that their futures lie elsewhere. Upson knows he is off anyway so why should he care what happens between now and the end of the season? Yes he needs to do enough to stay in Capello's plans, but "enough" needn't involve taking silly risks that could result in serious injury. Would anybody be surprised to see Upson sitting on his arse and indicating to the bench that he can't play on? Any niggle and he is going to be thinking, if it is a strain, I don't want it to become a tear. And he is the captain, supposedly leading by example! Cole may also be thinking the same way. Why should he take a pay cut when many pundits are calling him "the most improved striker in the Premiership"? And if he is thinking of moving on, will he risk injury in the cause?
And what about Zola? How will he motivate the team tonight? The players will have heard the rumours about Zola being replaced and will have read Sullivan's comparison of Zola with Ardilles. They will already have been harbouring doubts about his capabilities, now they may well be thinking "What do you know?" as he outlines the tactics.
And then there is the irony of our opponents being Birmingham. If Sullivan is there, both sets of supporters may turn on him at some point in the game. If we lose, the humiliation may trigger a knee jerk response, with Zola shown the door before the last man to leave the ground switches off the lights!
If we lose this one, I think we will go down. We desperately need the three points but we desperately needed the three points against Blackburn too and we played that game as if it was a pre-season friendly - with not a single player booked and hardly a shot on goal in the whole 90 minutes.
Will Upton Park be a couldron or a morgue tonight? If Zola wants the fans to get behind the team, he needs to select a team that creates openings. But will Zola be too scared of losing and so go safety first again, with Behrami, Collison, Noble and Parker all clogging up midfield? If he does, and we lose, then Sullivan would be fully justified in sacking him.
I fear a 1-1 result personally, with a stay of execution for Zola until the weekend.
Posted by Hammersfan at 18:34