Saturday, 6 March 2010
A Cold Wind Blows Through The Boleyn
We can go down. As unpalatable and as unacceptable as that statement is, it bears repeating: we can go down. And more, far more than that, I concluded whilst freezing my knackers off watching our inept surrender against Bolton today, not only CAN we go down, we WILL go down if we perform like that in our remaining home games this season. First half, we were abysmal, defending like blind, one legged three year olds and attacking with all the threat of a toothless pekingese. Second half we improved but, outside of Diamanti, offered no threat to the Bolton goal whatsoever until Stanislas drove his shot against the woodwork. We made Bolton look as good as Man Utd at times and, by halftime, should have been four goals behind.
As I have always argued, it is so much easier analysing a game away from the passion of the arena. Perhaps we were better than we appeared from where I was watching, but I somehow doubt it. Yes Diamanti bought a brilliant save from Jaaskelinaan with that first half free kick, and yes Parker broke into the box with purpose but no end product on two occasions in the second half, and yes Cole had two chances which he shirked in the first half, and yes Diamanti almost bent that other free kick in, but for most of the game we played as individuals, not as a team.
Spector was murdered first half down our left flank; Coyle had clearly watched the game at Old Trafford and sent Bolton out to exploit our vulnerability down that flank. Tomkins was bloody hopeless and was horribly at fault for the second goal, having missed the cross for the first, leaving Davies unmarked to score in the process. Faubert was back to his very worst and Upson might as well have been sitting on his arse (as at Wembley) for all the use he was. Man marking in the box was non existent and there was nobody closing down Bolton players on the fringes of the box either. Our defending in the first 45 was possibly the worst I have seen since that six goal thumping at Reading.
Going forward, we were little better. Parker ran with the ball but did not pass. Dyer repeated the trick when he came on as a substitute. Behrami was terrible all game: his crossing and passing were shocking; if Unreal City want to pay £15m for him, then they can have him! And Kovac? Well, as I said, Bolton players had the freedom of the park in our half and I thought that it was the Czech's job to shield the back four. And as for the front two! Well Cole had his worst game for as long as I can remember and Franco might as well have not turned up for all he contributed. I think it took all of five minutes before supporters around me were calling for him to be replaced. His "shot" over the bar just before he was replaced said it all, although quite why Parker, who was through on goal, stopped and looked for a pass backwards is a mystery to me anyway. But then, seeing Parker's other two shots in the game, I guess he was just acknowledging that trying to score is a pointless exercise for him anyway. And Mido? Well, he looks to me as if the pounds are coming back on. He did nothing of note after replacing Franco.
I will acknowledge that Diamanti scored whilst playing on the right and Stanislas very nearly pinched an equaliser whilst playing on the left, but I still think that the midfield looked even more disjointed once Diamanti was moved on to the wrong flank. Look at how hopeless we were in extra time, reduced to drilling the ball down the middle because we had no natural width down the flanks. The best move in that period came from Bolton who were unlucky, with 10 men, not to score a third when they struck the woodwork.
I left the ground with the complaints of fans ringing in my ears. Upson is already thinking about playing in the Champions League next season apparently, and Cole is dreaming about playing for Arsenal. Arsenal and Chelsea lie in wait and if we play like this, God help us. Thank God Wolves and Burnley lost. But the relegation trap door is wide open and anybody who chooses not to recognise that is a fool. Meanwhile, on the evidence of this game, Davies is head and shoulders better than Cole at leading the line. Perhaps Capello should think again!
Player Ratings: Green 5 (one missed cross, one terrible clearance, no real saves of note) Faubert 4, Tomkins 0, Upson 5, Spector 4; Behrami 4, Kovac 4, Parker 6, Diamanti 8; Cole 5, Franco 3 Subs: Dyer 5, Mido 5, Stanislas 6
Footnote. I came home utterly fed up but life has a way of putting things into perspective. My wife told me of a phone call whilst I was at the game: a close friend has suffered a severe aneurysm and is in a coma in hospital. I do not have a god to pray to but if you could put in a word to yours, it would be appreciated. A very close friend of Tony Gale's sister, Trudi is related to the extended West Ham family. If defeat today buys her recovery, then I am glad Bolton won.
Posted by Hammersfan at 22:56