Sunday, 11 December 2011

A freak result at Reading or the sign of things to come?

Yesterday's performance from start to finish was dire. It is true that Reading only scored when we went down to 10 men, but it has been said often enough that playing against 10 men can be harder than playing against 11, if the 10 are committed, passionate and organised. Ours weren't.

To go a goal down immediately, with Reading exploiting the loss of our right back so obviously and deliberately, was shameful. It is true that McAnuff set up the goal superbly, but we were at sixes and sevens, without a two, when we should have been rock solid. Where was Captain Kev? Too busy chuntering at the officials and stewing.

From that point, we were a total shambles. Allardyce apologists will say that Piquionne stayed on because we needed an equaliser, but we were all over the place because we were a man short in midfield. Cole was on by this stage, a very untimely replacement for Diop as it happened, but we couldn't get the ball to him. The second goal came from a cross from our left, but we were wide open down the right, with Church totally unmarked once the cross had sailed over the flailing Green. Then came the second red and it was curtains. But why was Carew on for Piquionne when we were so obviously unable to get hold of the ball?

Kebe's piss take said it all. We had ten men on the pitch at that stage but it looked like we had seven! And who's fault was that? Allardyce's for not changing things as soon as the first red card was shown. Allardyce's for setting up to contain for the first hour rather than trying to win the match. Allardyce's for building a squad of lumbering players who couldn't outpace a tortoise dragging an HGV.  And Captain Kev's for disappearing from the game at half time.

So was this a freak result? No. Nothing changed yesterday, except our luck ran out. Without Baldock, we have no pace in the team. Without Taylor, we have nobody who can cross the ball or deliver a set piece. Without Diop we have nobody protecting the back four, and with Diop we have no creativity in midfield. This is a team without flair, without imagination, without creativity and, most worrying of all, without pace.

Why was O'Brien sent off? Because McAnuff, hugging the touch line, took him on, going round him on the outside and the Irishman was drawn in to a foul. When did a West Ham player try to run past a Reading player? At one point in the first half, Faubert received the ball on the edge of the Reading box, their left back five yards away standing in the penalty area. A burst of speed would have drawn a challenge and the possibility of a penalty, but Faubert froze and passed the ball sideways. That moment said it all. Faubert is not a right back but he certainly is not at home in the front three of a 4-3-3 formation either. He is hopeless in front of goal and does not read the game, always reacting to situations rather than predicting them. The confidence to take players on isn't there. Where is the electric pace we were promised when we signed him?

We may bludgeon our way to a few more victories but opposition managers will look at this game and realise that West Ham are like the Emperor's New Clothes: if you stop believing the hype, you realise that there's nothing there - we are devoid of true ability and Allardyce, like Osborne, is clueless when it comes to Plan B. Carew, Piquionne, Cole? What alternative do the three offer? Noble, Nolan, Collison? Where is the pace? Where is the dribbler able to go past an opponent and so take him out of the game? Where is the alternative for Taylor on the left? 4-4-2 doesn't work for Allardyce, but 4-3-3 and 4-3-2 and 4-2-2 (all of which we saw yesterday) don't work either!

Lansbury is now our only hope. Can he offer the flair this team is screaming out for? If not, we will be sucked back into the pack before the window opens, and if Sullivan and Gold prevaricate before opening the wallet, we could struggle to reach the playoffs. We used up our luck in November. Now we have to start winning on merit - and in a meritocracy, this team are going to struggle!


Emlyn said...

still second

Hammersfan said...

Yep Emlyn. Still second. Where are we in the table for results in December? The past is the past. We are now dealing with the present and the future.

Anonymous said...

kevin in Manchester writes..

I think it is a blip but even if it isn't what are the options: fire BFS? and if so do what with whom .. we are one of the best teams in a competitive division but you are right we need a midfield wizard,another striker and another defender and I think you will find that the Davids will oblige.

the headmaster said...

Managed to watch it on line, inbetween running around with the hoover, HF.
I've posted a not dissimilar review on C& as it goes. The inability of our full backs to cope with McAnuff and Kebe, the inability of Piquionne to do what he is being asked to do, the implosion and lack of urgency and discipline were all worrying features yesterday so far as I can tell.
The luck ran out is pretty much spot on, for me. I too am beginning to be concerned that this was more than just a(nother) bad day at the office.

Emlyn said...

without taylor (injured) balldock (injured) lansbury (injured) diop (injured) we look toothless. Hmm. didnt sam bring these players in? Waitaminute thats a full midfield! missing. we need a midfield general! hmm, a tough tackling respectable player who can organise his midfield. Oh yeah, you wanted him gone. well he did. look at the away results when he was about. Parker. Parker. Parker.

If it was so easy to play with 10 men we would start with 10 men.

Emlyn said...

at present we are second.

Emlyn said...


Elf72 (Tony) said...

Should've been a freak result but with the suspensions arising from the sendings off and the queue at the treatment table it might be a tough few weeks.

I think we'll buy in January and my glass half full view on the world suggests we might find more balance by having some of our midfielders unavailable for selection.

Bring Montano back and stick him on the left? Noble and Nolan in the middle, Lansbury on the right with Diop dipping in and out dependent on the formation?

Shame we've lost Archie and O'Brien at right back, I'm guessing Tomkins might fill in and send Diop into the back four?

We'll see.

I still think we'll get automatic promotion. We can play a lot better than we have all season and we're still in second place.

None of the competition are looking any better than us each week so all still to play for.


Hammersfan said...

Keep your heads up your arses guys! Before the game, my son said, "We're the only team in the division not to have lost heavily. It's always by the odd goal". Well we have lost heavily now!

The kids idea is lovely but Montano is being used as an impact sub in the bottom division which suggests he may not be the answer. Sears has come up short so many times that it's hard to believe he can flourish. Nouble is being offloaded in January. Who else is there exactly?

Hammersfan said...

Sorry, there's Hall but Allardyce chose to use Diop as a sub rather than Hall with the score 0-0 at home to Bristol City. That probably tells you all you need to know!

Elf 72 (Tony) said...

Exactly what difference does it make if mine or anyone else's head is blissfully up said arse?

If I were to take the glass half empty approach it would ..

A) Make supporting West Ham even more painful than it already has been for the past 30 or so years.

B) Not make a blind bit of difference to the team's fortune.

In fact, the negativity from the fans at home is probably the single largest barrier to us actually making it a fortress.

We barrack our own players, we boo, we groan at every missed pass, we expect the worst and then wonder why we get it. We go quiet when the team need us behind them, we often only sing when we're winning.

Ok, so we got tonked away from home yesterday but our away form has been better because we sing our way through the whole game rallying the team on regardless of the current scoreline.

At Cov there were at least two guys near me, sitting apart, barracking the team and players with some pretty disgusting abuse throughout, in spite of everyone around them singing and chanting.

At home those voices aren't drowned out and it has a negative effect and puts undue pressure on the players.

I don't think you're having that impact through your blog but it does add to the general malaise around the club and the attitude of some of the fans.

I love this blog most of the time, I agree with many of your insights
and find it interesting and funny but . .

Please don't tell people we're so wrong for being positive. It's a virtue not a curse.

Other than that, keep up the good work!!

Hammersfan said...

Fair points Elf. I too am shocked by how quickly the home fans turn. Mind you, the away end was half emply by the time the final whistle blew yesterday. True West Ham outsang Reading for 90% of the game - but I understand from Reading fans that the away fans are always more vocal than the home fans.

It comes down to that old chestnut, is it the responsibility of the fans, who pay to watch, to motivate the team, or should players of £40k a week put in a shift to get the fans going? Sadly, the way Allardyce sets us up does not set the pulses racing!

Elf72 said...

It goes both ways I guess and after the past few seasons you can't blame anyone for expecting the worst but I hope dropping down can be a cleansing, positive experience and get us all feeling more positive.

We can do our bit, we can have an impact and that's why great fans are considered the 12th man.

Sam's set up isn't inspirational is it, but on the whole it has brought us winning football which I hope will give us the confidence to play with a bit more expression and creativity.

But when?! Hopefully we can invest in a few weeks to put that right.

Anonymous said...

You're "shocked by how quickly the home fans turn" are you having a laugh? you're of the same ilk - you're their leader. You're always turning on the team, win or lose you're never happy. I've never understood why you're not a ManUre fan.

Hammersfan said...

But I don't. I didn't turn on the team on Saturday. I yelled for Faubert to get out of the starting blocks when he was flat on his heels once, but otherwise, I only voiced encouragement. Which is what I usually do when on the terrace. I NEVER boo my own team! Afterwards, I appraise honestly.

Lord Canning said...

Bottom line is that up to the last 2 weeks we have been playing poorly and manageing to get something from the game. The last 2 games have seen us mugged by Burnley and out thought by Reading. Are we to return to old ways and invite the adage that claims West Ham will drop down the league like decorations after 12th night. I was never sure that promotion is assured this season, I think it will take 3 to produce a side that will get up and consolidate a place in the Prem. Time will tell, but as true Hammers we look forward to Saturday and 3 points against Barnsley.
Non football point: Shame on you HF introducing a cheap polictical jibe re Osborne. Keep it football, there are enough divisive opinions in football without introducing politics.

Emlyn said...

nonsense. this site never promotes west ham. always negative.

Anonymous said...

14:38 come come Emlyn you know that is not true - HF always promotes West Ham in a positive and happy light.