Yes, it is time to sack Grant. The guy can't organise a team and can't inspire his players. He has the motivational ability of a slug and the tactical acumen of a deaf, dumb and blind nun. So no wonder that, coming into the game without a left back, with two kids at centre back, only one available striker to play up front, 10 men out injured, and then reduced to 10 men ten minutes into the second half because of Obinna's stupidity we...won 2-1! All you Grant knockers, take a deep breath and say...well give him another week!
First half we were awesome. Sears was superb, making wonderfully intelligent runs as he came in off the flank. Upson and Faubert were camped in Birmingham's half. Noble, Parker and Spector were absolutely bossing the midfield. The goal was all down to Noble. He drove from midfield, opened up the Birmingham defence and after a chaotic mess in the box, the ball rebounded to him and his finish was superb. Such incredible power!
At half time, there were only three concerns. We were only a goal ahead, Obinna was making wrong decisions virtually every time he touched the ball and the defence had not been tested in the first 45. Sooner or later, Birmingham were going to wake up to the fact that Faubert was at right back, Upson at left back, and two kids were in the centre of defence. Put the ball into the box in the air and you are going to score. Attack Faubert down the right and you are going to score. Run at Upson and come inside in the box and you are going to get a penalty. Put the ball out to the flanks and you can get in unchallenged crosses all night. Send on Vidic and hang the ball up and how can you not score? And that was when we still had 11 players on the pitch!
Birmingham were obviously going to come out fired up second half; McLeish was fuming on the touch line. Sure enough, they came out on the front foot, and frustratingly, yet again, we retreated into a shell. The fans were doing their bit, the noise inside Upton Park was superb, and I'm bloody sure Grant didn't tell the players to give the opposition the freedom of the pitch.
But there is still a massive mental problem with these players - they are so, so brittle as soon as they come under pressure. Personally, I think it is because we lack a captain on the pitch. Both Upson and Parker are in their own zones, they forget that there are another nine players out there who need to be led. So when Faubert fails to maintain positional discipline, NOBODY says anything to him. When Piquionne decides he has had enough and starts walking, NOBODY has a go at him. When Obinna makes bad decision after bad decision, NOBODY gives him a dressing down. You find yourself screaming at them, saying what Upson and Parker should be saying, and you look at the so called leaders and Parker is moving his hair out of his eyes and sniffing, and Upson has that mad stare in his eyes, and NOTHING is being said. We need a Roy Keane on the pitch, somebody to get into the faces of the spineless bastards, somebody to point fingers and bully and yell.
And so the goal was always coming. Sears saved one on the line by way of warning and, surprise, surprise, it was yet another set piece, yet another header and yet another goal. Birmingham should have scored two more: Murphy flashed one wide and so did Zigic. And, of course, Upson bodychecked Ferguson in the box. It was an absolute nailed on penalty but Fatty Dowd was too far behind the play to spot it. Thank God McBenni shared his crate load of burgers with Dowd at half time!
And then came Obinna's fantastic contribution. First half he had one shot on target, forcing a good save from Foster. Second half he had one shot on target, and Larsson's bollocks were still vibrating five minutes later. It was stupid certainly, but more than that, it was cynical, nasty and absolutely vile. I would not object if the guy was sent packing back to Inter tomorrow. Any man who has copped one in the bollocks can have nothing but contempt for what Obinna did. Larsson wasn't feigning. That hurt. Fcuk him, I didn't want Bowyer at West Ham and I don't want Obinna after that.
So 1-1 and down to 10 men and the team looked tired. There was only one winner from here wasn't there? I mean, I know Zola specialised in conceding a lead when down to 10 men and being played off the park in the process, but not many teams not only hang on but outscore the opposition when a player down. Certainly a team who didn't want to play for their manager would have every excuse to lay down and die! And I'm not going to lie here. Some did give up. Faubert for one. It took a brilliant covering tackle in the box from Noble to keep us in the game, with Faubert only just crossing the half way line as he JOGGED back. Piquionne also gave up. He had run around for 60 minutes for God sake, what more could be asked of him? But eight players were fighting, eight players were battling, eight players were doing their level best to keep the team alive despite Birmingham's effective three man numerical advantage. Cue the introduction of Cole and Hines. Suddenly there were nine players fighting!
And then came the goal! Parker played a good pass. Spector received the ball, attacked the right flank, on his right foot, LOOKED UP, saw the run of Cole, MEASURED the cross, completed the pass to perfection and Cole did what he does best in the box, swung his boot, mistimed the shot and, lo and behold, Foster came over all Robert Green and let a dribbling shot trickle into the net - except it didn't reach the net, the shot was so tame! Yes the finish was woeful but the build up was superb. Spector can play. We should persist with the guy.
So, we won 2-1. Time for Grant to show immense dignity in the post match interview and have yet another chip at Brady. I like the guy. I think he should be given more time. But I fear the decision has already been made. And if his replacement is Hughton, God help us!
Player Ratings: Green 7 (Very good on crosses this evening); Faubert 4 (He was awful second half), Tomkins 6, Reid 5, Upson 6; Sears 7, Parker 7, Noble 7, Spector 7, Obinna 0; Piquionne 5. Subs Cole 6, Hines 4 Kovac (Not on long enough to rate).