Well, despite being sent to the stands, Mad Hatter Allardyce is, no doubt, smiling like the Cheshire Cat after starting with Tweedledee Carew, Tweedledum Cole, Tweedledummer Piquionne and Tweedlepapa Diop, and squeezing out a 1-0 victory against Barnsley. That is, of course, the same Barnsley team that shipped five goals in 45 minutes against mighty Ipswich, but what the hell, a win's a win as the Flamingos and Hedgehogs will tell you. And bloody good job too because three defeats in a row might have provoked Queen of Hearts Karren to point at Doctor Evil and demand, "Off with his head!"
The game will be quickly forgotten except for two things: the debut of young Daniel Potts who showed Allardyce that kids can perform if given their chance - Montano, Brown, Hall and Montenegro will be hoping that Doctor Evil has taken note - and the crowd's reaction to the announcement of Caterpillar Captain Kev as man of the match. How many times has a MOTM award provoked boos around a home stadium? True the fans were angry that young Potts had been overlooked, but to boo your captain speaks volumes of the growing unease at what is going on at Upton Park. We played like a team of dormice again today, and only won because Barnsley showed no adventure whatsoever.
And it was always going to be thus. Start a team so obviously devoid of pace and guile and the only way you are going to win is via a set piece. Noble's delivery for the goal was perfect and Diop nodded home astutely but, apart from two penalty claims that were overlooked, that was just about it. The injury and suspensions will be trotted out as excuses but 10 of the 11 starters today have Premiership experience and we should have had more than enough quality to see off a very ordinary Barnsley team. Had Allardyce started with pace on the flanks - Sears and Montenegro maybe - we might have stretched Barnsley; but the way we set up, we were always going to labour.
How crap is Piquionne? He was utterly disinterested at Reading last week and he couldn't be arsed again this. Carew, meanwhile, is a shot bolt. Without Taylor we have no creativity on the left and without Baldock no pace up front. Nolan remains a passenger.
But Potts was promising. And as things stand, we have to be grateful for small mercies!