Saturday, 13 March 2010
Chelsea v West Ham - Who Plays At The Back?
Before the season kicked off, I was calling for the urgent signing of a first choice right back and a replacement left back. At that stage we still had Collins so appeared, with Tomkins, Spector and Gabbidon, to have the necessary cover for the centre of defence. Incredibly, Zola, Nani and Duxbury between them decided: that Ilunga was unbreakable and could be trusted to be ever present all season; that Faubert and Spector could cover the right back berth between them; and that Gabbidon would put his injury problems behind him whilst Tomkins and Da Costa would mature at such a rate that we could afford (unfortunate word) to part with Collins. How stupid do those decisions look now?
But as idiotic as those decisions were at the start of the season, they are as nothing compared with the stupidity of doing nothing about rectifying the problem in January. By that stage, we knew that Ilunga could suffer from injuries after all (shock horror), that Spector did not offer adequate cover for the left back berth, that Gabbidon was still made of porcelain and that Tomkins and Da Costa lacked the necessary experience to hold down a first team spot in the Prem. Ideally, both should be learning their trade in the Championship this season. But what did we do? We signed three strikers and did nothing to enhance the defence.
The most stupid decision of all, however, is the failure to ease Daprela into the team. Valencia murdered Spector at Old Trafford, turning the Wank inside out as the poor sod tried to tackle off his wrong foot. And all the time, Zola had a left footed full back available to him who, if blooded properly, could have been ready for the challenge. So far, we have seen Daprela just the once, against Arsenal of all teams! How unfair is that on a young kid? Let's think of the worst possible game to make your debut in shall we? A London derby, against a rampant Arsenal team, in the Third Round of the Cup, and in front of a TV audience of millions has the potential to be THE nightmare start for a young player. Now that is a special form of planning Gianfranco Zola!
But Daprela came through it with his reputation enhanced as far as I was concerned. Yes he collected a yellow and dived into tackles unnecessarily on a couple of occasions, but he got forward well, cleared the ball off the line and the goals Arsenal scored were engineered down the opposite flank. So what did Zola do? He dropped the kid, in the same way he dropped Da Costa. Why? It was a mystery to me at the time and has been a mystery since. The kid hasn't even been given ten minutes playing time as a sub.
So now we play Chelsea without both Ilunga and Faubert, with Spector coming into the game on the back of two nightmare performances against the Mancs and Bolton, with Gabbidon returning from injury (and with no match practice under his belt) and 7 days after Tomkins' truly dreadful performance against Bolton. Brilliant! This is Chelsea equipped with Drogba, Anelka, Lampard and their galaxy of supporting stars, and we have a back four in complete disarray. And who is to blame for this? Well Zola picks the team and Zola must carry the can for putting Daprela into cold storage and ignoring his development.
What does Zola do today? My money is on Gabbidon playing at full back, with Tomkins and Upson still paired at centre back. Is that the right decision? I don't think so. But just imagine if Daprela is selected today. How many teenagers have been asked to play against Arsenal and Chelsea in their first two starts? You would call that tactical madness. Well Zola has painted himself into that corner through his crass stupidity. If we lose heavily today, Zola will be defenceless in more ways than one. I can see an emotional waving farewell to both sets of fans if we ship four or five.
Posted by Hammersfan at 11:14