Sunday, 9 May 2010
West Ham 1 Man City 1 - Much Ado About Nothing
Well I was not alone in being disappointed by the decision of Mancini to leave Tevez and Bellyache out of his starting line up. Bellamy's next stop is almost certainly Spurs and you have to wonder if Tevez will be in the Premiership next season; my money is on him switching to Real Madrid.
Man City left out some of their best players and their stomach for a fight if truth be told. Even Vierra looked like a pussy cat, whilst up front Adebeyoor and Santa Cruz were on cruise control. Yes we got a draw, and yes we could have won, but Burnley beat Tottenham, Villa lost to Blackburn and Hull drew with Liverpool, which tells you how interested the big boys were on this last day of the season with everything, bar the World Cup, already settled for the season. Why risk injury in a futile cause with the biggest competition in sport less than 4 weeks away? Gareth Barry no doubt served as a warning to everybody in Sky Blue of how dreams can be cruelly dashed so close to the Big Event.
Meanwhile, I was on Daprela and Johnson watch, trying to work out why Zola has preferred Spector over the Swiss Roll all season and if Johnson really is England material. The conclusion was interestingly self contradictory. Johnson is good, very good, and is certainly worthy of a place in the squad in my opinion because he is genuinely two footed, unlike Stanislas, Spector, Behrami, Noble and Diamanti, and anybody else I've forgotten who Zola has elected to play on the wrong flank. It was also informative to see how often Wright-Phillips and Johnson switched flanks, a ploy Zola has ignored all season.
But at the same time, Daprela acquitted himself well. He stayed on his feet most of the time (he was booked when he went to ground), got in a number of superb challenges, including a tackle on Tevez in the box, and looked like a Premiership left back. True, the City goal came from a Johnson cross on the right but come on, a Wright-Phillips header? Surely the blame must lay elsewhere for that? His one weakness, surprisingly, was going forward. He was strangely reluctant to get up the left flank to knock over crosses; but perhaps that was on instruction from his manager?
Without Behrami, we had a much better balance in midfield. Kovac was the anchor, and that's not rhyming slang, Parker was the cut and thrust, Diamanti was like a gnat, bloody irritating to both sides, and Boa was...hang on, I'm steeling myself before I type this...Boa was...class. Dear God, I don't believe I've typed that! But he was. He was always available, he held the ball well, he passed the ball well, he covered well and he scored. As a replacement for Behrami, he was a revelation, doing everything that Behrami does, and offering an attacking threat as well! I have been one of Boa's biggest critics but, on that showing, I would offer him a new contract: not on silly money of course, but a new contract nevertheless.
At the back, Daprela apart, both Upson and Da Costa played well. If we can keep Upson, these two have the makings of a good centre back pairing. A couple of Da Costa challenges reminded me of Collins at his best, especially one superb block. Da Costa also looks comfortable on the ball. Tell me, why did Zola waste so much time with Tomkins? Faubert was ordinary and made one terrible error. he is still not a Premiership right back.
Up front, Cole was again disappointing and Ilan missed a good chance. Franco looked by far the best of the three again when he came on. He must be so annoying to play against: he reads the game well, moves into space cleverly and is a physical so and so. I would definitely retain him for next season.
The goal was brilliant, a lovely back heeled pass from Diamanti and a superb run and finish by Boa. Some of our pass and move football was impressive too, although City were not busting guts to try and frustrate us. We did not look like a team that has struggled to avoid relegation, but then nor did Burnley or Hull today. The terrible truth is that we have finished 4th from bottom, and that means we have performed worse over the season than a Wigan team that has lost 9-1 at Tottenham and 8-0 at Chelsea. This performance against a lukewarm Man City team should not mask our failings!
Player ratings: Green 6 (no save of note); Faubert 6, Upson 8, Da Costa 7, Daprela 7; Diamanti 6, Parker 7, Kovac 6, Boa-Morte 8; Cole 6, Ilan 6 Subs: Franco 7, Stanislas 5, Spence (Not on long enough to rate)
Posted by Hammersfan at 20:53