Saturday, 28 December 2013

Allardyce Offers Still More Lame Excuses

Well, come the end of the day, the result wasn't as disastrous as it could have been, thanks to every other result going in our favour, including the draws. Hull Tigers are showing what we could be achieving with a half decent squad but, of course, we haven't got one.

So Allardyce has hit the excuse button yet again. Now there's a surprise! This time it's the injuries, the lack of recovery time and the fans that are to blame. The injuries that have deprived him of his "All the eggs in one basket" investment in Andy Carroll and that has left him without a single centre back.

Fair enough, some may argue, but others might question why we only have three centre backs at the club, meaning that one injury or suspension takes us down to the bare bones. Is that clever planning? Is that good management? It aint in my book!

And then there is the problem at the other end of the pitch, with no cover for Carroll until Carlton was reclaimed from the junk yard. So, I've asked it before and I will ask it again, why did Allardyce spend money on Downing when we obviously needed cover for other positions? Why aren't any of the journalists brave enough to ask that question on camera?

Once again we had three midfielders on the bench with two out injured and five on the pitch. But three centre back injuries cripple us, and one striker injury leaves us limp up front. And remember, if pushed, Tomkins and O'Brien can play in midfield as well! And personally I would rather see Rat on the left wing to Jarvis. So why, why, why was Downing bought?

So, to today's fiasco. West Brom must be pretty poor because we scored three goals, but if we are honest, they were the better team on the day and deserved to win. Our opening goal was polished route one, with Jussi's long kick headed on by Carlton and then played through deftly by Nolan to Joe Cole, whose shot beat Foster at the near post. It was well taken, but it was a keeper error.

Then came Tomkins' injury and it was only a matter of time before West Brom equalised. When Anelka did score, it was all so easy, with a pass between our make shift centre backs and a simple finish for the anti Semitic saluting Muslim. One was always likely to bring two, and so it was no surprise when a dozy Demel allowed a header to rebound off his body tamely, allowing Fatwa Anelka to bury another easy opportunity.

The second half then didn't go to script. Allardyce declined to go 4-4-2 and sent on Mogadon Maiga to win this must win game. Desperate times call for desperate measures! But Maiga nearly obliged, courtesy of a dozy linesman and an even dozier Foster. Mogadon was offside by half a yard and his shot deflected off of Nolan's hand before beating the former England keeper's Adrian like attempt to save.

And no sooner was it 2-2 than it was 3-2! A deep cross found Maiga leaping salmon like and heading back across goal to Nolan, who scissor kicked into the inviting net from 5 yards. A typical Nolan finish illustrating why, even now, Allardyce dare not drop him.

Could we hold on for 20 minutes? We couldn't even hold on for one minute! Demel stood off of Berahino who said thanks very much and buried the chance beautifully. 3-3 and with West Ham players looking shattered, it was time to pray that West Brom would not take their chances. And fortunately Berahino struck the post with a free kick stupidly and brutally conceded by Diame, who had been running on empty throughout the second half.

So the must win game was drawn and Allardyce blamed the fans, the injuries and tiredness. We are still alive but we are in deep deep trouble courtesy of the stupid decisions made in the summer.

Player ratings: Jussi 5; Demel 1, Tomkins 5, McCarthorse 5, Rat 6; Diame 4, Noble 5, Nolan 7, Joe Cole 6, Jarvis 1; Carlton 5 Subs O'Brien 4, Miaga 7, Collison 4

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Outclassed and into the bottom two! Blame Allardyce!

I haven't had a chance to listen to Allardyce's whinges yet, having just got back from the game, but it's a pretty safe bet that he is bemoaning missed chances, injuries and silly mistakes.

What he will almost certainly not say is:

"We are second from bottom and rightly so. Our football has been shit for most of the season and there's no point in me moaning about missed chances because I have constructed a squad of players who, historically,  have a dreadful goals per games played scoring record."

"Arsenal outclassed us for 86 minutes today and although we took the lead, there was only ever going to be one winner in that game. True, they took longer to score than we had any right to expect but once they got one goal, they were always going to get three or four."

"What can you expect when you offer next to no threat going forward and when you end up with Tomkins and McCarthorse as a centre back pairing? But don't blame them, in fact don't blame anybody except me. I was given £20m to spend this summer and I spent it on Carroll - even though he was injured - and Downing - even though we had an abundance of midfielders and a shortage of strikers and defenders."

"Look at today, even with Downing and Morrison out, I still had Taylor, Diarra and Collison on the bench despite having five midfielders out on the pitch. But what cover did I have for the striker and defender positions? I signed Rat in the summer but prefer McCarthorse at left back, even though the Romanian featured in a Shaktar team that beat Arsenal not so long ago."

"Yes we missed chances but Carlton has only ever scored two goals in the same game a handful of times in his whole career, so once he had netted, there was next to no chance of him getting another. I know my statistics after all! It was a delicious ball in from Rat, but to expect Carlton to deflect it into the net, you would need to be optimistic to the point of being foolhardy."

"And when Noble played that brilliant pass to Jarvis, we all knew Matty would miss. Again, just look at his goal scoring record and the stats tell you that, after scoring so recently against Spurs, it will be a couple of months at least before he bags another."

"Then there was the Joey O'Brien chance. But why was he in the penalty box anyway? He should have scored but if he can get into the box, why can't Nolan and Diame? Shame about that missed chance by Nolan from Noble's free kick too. He scores every time in training but he's missed three times in game time now."

"At the back we were valiant, but we were marking fast moving shadows. And as for the Arsenal equalising goal, well what can you say about that? Apart from, what cnut picked Adrian ahead of Jussi?"

"So, hands up, I am to blame, totally, utterly and completely, 100% to blame. I spent £20m unwisely in the summer and I have an imbalanced squad in consequence. And I'll tell you something else, we are worse off points wise than we were under Grant at this stage of the season. Now that is bloody worrying."

"One last thing, I want to apologise to the fans for the crap football we are playing. Don't get on the players' backs guys, I'm the cnut who signed them!"

Player ratings: Adrian 1; O'Brien 5, Tomkins 5, Collins 5, McCarthorse 6; Noble 7, Diame 5, Nolan 4, Joe Cole 4, Jarvis 1; Carlton Cole 7 Subs: Demel 5, Rat 6, Taylor 4

Sullivan excited by Nigerian deal

A transcript has emerged of the telephone call which alerted West Ham to the availability of ex Sunderland striker Asamoah Guyan, courtesy of a company working for Tottenham Hotspur:

Voice down phone: Hello? Hello?
Sullivan: David Sullivan here, owner and chairman of West Ham United Football Club and Merchant of  High Quality Porn.
Voice down phone: Hello? Is that Mr David Sullivan?
Sullivan: Sullivan here.
Voice down phone: Mister Sullivan I am honoured to be speaking to you. This is Mr Samuel Obogo and I am calling you in relation to a fantastic opportunity. You see, I have this fantastic striker who is worth thirteen million pounds but at the moment he is stranded in the United Arab Emirates and regulations mean that it is impossible to get him out of the country without your help. All you need to do is transfer the sum of three million pounds to a bank account in Nigeria and, in return, I will arrange for this fantastic striker, worth thirteen million pounds, to be transferred across to the United Kingdom within five days of your money clearing through the account. This is an unbelievable opportunity and a fantastic deal because you pay only three million for a striker worth thirteen million, but you have to transfer the money within the next 48 hours otherwise government regulations will prevent the deal from going ahead...

Expect Asamoah Gyan to arrive in the first week of January and disappear before the end of the bloody month!

A transcript of the phone-call leading to the capture of Andy Carroll has also emerged:

Voice down phone: Eeeee is that David Sullivan?
Sullivan: Sullivan here.
Voice down phone: Eeeee Sullivan, Liverpool FC here. You are honoured to be speaking to us.  I am calling you in relation to a fantastic opportunity. Eeeeee....we have this fantastic striker who is worth three million pounds when fit but at the moment he is stranded in our reserves and his ludicrous wages mean that it is impossible to get him out of the club without your help. All you need to do is transfer the sum of fifteen million pounds to a bank account in Liverpool and, in return, we will arrange for this fantastic striker, worth three million pounds, to be transferred across to West Ham United within one day of your money clearing through the account. This is an unbelievable opportunity and a fantastic deal because you pay only fifteen million for a striker worth three million, but you have to transfer the money within the next 4 hours otherwise Newcastle may sign him instead which means there is no time for a medical. Eeeeee but you can trust us wack, we're not a bunch of Nigerians.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Curbishley's back! At Fulham thank God!

Well we thought he had shot his bolt when he walked off in a huff because of the sale of Anton and McCarthorse. Curbishley was linked with a whole string of jobs but nothing materialised and even his talking head appearances on TV seemed to have dried up; not surprisingly given his hang dog look and East End accent.

But Turds is back! And not as a coach, nor a manager. No! He is back as the "Technical Director" - and I bet he is writing out the word technical over and over again in the hope of learning how to spell it!

You can picture him in his caravan down at Stone, saying to his wife: "Look at that love. Go on read it. Technical Director. Not manager. But Technical Director. Now what do you think of that then?"; only for his wife to reply, "I think that tea will get cold if you don't drink it up. Another spoon of condensed milk perhaps?"

Poor Muelensteen must realise that Turds is there to replace him, should results not turn around quickly. And how ironic would it be if the former West Ham manager were to pull off another Great Escape, this time at West Ham's expense? Mind you, there's no Tevez to help him this time!

Monday, 23 December 2013

James Tomkins faces prison sentence after alleged assault on police officer

Bloody hell, West Ham had better find a crack lawyer and quick. Following his arrest, the club somehow needs to prove that the doorman and arresting officers are Tottenham fans and that this is a working class equivalent of Plebgate; because if the Plod are telling the truth, then JT could well find himself doing a stretch inside.

Drunk and disorderly is one thing. Chinning a pleb is usually admissible if you are a superstar footballer. But resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, well only the Masons get away with that sort of thing!

Meanwhile, if found guilty, JT might like to ask for his assault on Hernandez on Saturday to be taken into account when being sentenced. And his criminal display against Liverpool for that matter!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Manchester United 1 West Ham 1 - Let's ignore the first 45 minutes!

Well it could have been much, much worse. A goal down far too early and two goals behind at half time, the clever money was on the Mancs to run in four, five or six. But credit where credit is due, we maintained our effort levels and actually drew the second half 1-1.

To be honest, with Rooney pulling the strings brilliantly, we were always up against it. If only injury had kept him on the side lines, we might have come away with something - but West Ham just aren't that lucky.

So we set up again to frustrate and hoped to steal a goal - and things were going to plan until we dozed off for a free kick, which United took quickly before slicing through us like the proverbial knife through butter. Rooney played a lovely pass to Welbeck and he shot under Adrian's body into the far corner. Would Jussi have stopped it? Possibly. And Collins falling on his arse as he tried to keep up with Welbeck didn't help matters.

The second and third goals were brilliant. Poor Ginge was done all ends up by Januzaj who finished superbly, and for the third, Rooney fed Ashley Yong who hit the ball first touch with a beautiful bend into the top corner. No chance for any keeper in the world for either of those two!

And with the landslide poised to crush us, suddenly we went up the other end and scored. Maiga slipped a decent pass through to Carlton Cole, beating the laughable attempt at an offside trap, who closed in on goal and, miracles upon miracles, nut-megged the keeper to score. Who needs Andy Carroll when you have the mighty Maiga and Cole, the new Cottee and McAvennie!

So, we left with our heads held...well at least not hung in shame. Collins was withdrawn - we can't afford to lose him as well as Reid, but McCarthorse and Tomkins kept Rooney and Hernandez at bay, albeit both might have been shown red cards.

Typically Allardyce is moaning about the referee because a penalty wasn't given when Morrison's shot slammed against Cleverley's hand from two yards - he might like to reflect on a shocking foul by McCarthorse which would buy a red six times out of ten and a Tomkins foul that stood a 50-50 chance of inviting dismissal.

Best thing about today was the other results! We are STILL not in the bottom three! Fulham and Palace lost at home, Sunderland couldn't beat Norwich, West Brom and Hull shared the spoils and Cardiff moved a step closer to sacking Mackay. Surely with Carroll back, we will be better than that lot!

Playing ratings: Adrian 6; Demel 5 (the two first half goals were created down his flank) Collins 6, Tomkins 5, McCartney 6; Noble 5, Taylor 5, Morrison 5, Jarvis 3, Diame 6; Maiga 5 Subs Collison 5, Rat 5, Carlton Cole 6

After his Tottenham goal, can Maiga deliver at long last?

For 18 months the guy has looked pretty bloody hopeless but, following his match winning goal against Spurs and sparkling all round performance after coming off the bench, there is the hope that he may be about to deliver.

True it was only against Spurs, and even Vaz Te and Jarvis can score against Spurs this season, and true one goal does not a Premiership striker make, but confidence is such a key commodity and, for some time now, Maiga's confidence tank has been running on empty; so now with that goal injection, who knows what may happen?

Take a positive view and the guy has been getting better. True he has missed a stack of chances, but that means the old cliché applies, "You can't score if you don't get into positions to score", so let's be positive and say that Maiga has been getting into the box and getting on the end of things. And give him his due, even when in unlikely scoring positions, he has still let fly; well let float if we are honest but let's not quibble over the credibility nor velocity of his attempts!

What was really encouraging against Spurs was not only that he scored that goal - and he rose superbly and connected brilliantly to do so - but also that he hit the bar with a rasping shot full of vim, seizing on his chance in a flash and actually looking like a striker as he did so. Had that one gone in, I fancy it would have broken the net!

There's still the worry that he doesn't think like a striker because he is always that split second behind the play, chasing down a cross after it has been delivered, or running headless chicken style into the six yard box when a clever striker would check back and so create an opportunity, but maybe that is down to confidence too. Allardyce has presumably seen something on the training field because he keeps giving him a start.

Of course there's also a problem with timing - he could have picked a better game to score his first goal, given we have Manchester United and Arsenal coming up - because if Maiga's goals are going to come along like proverbial London buses, then, allowing for the quality of the opposition, he must be much much tastier than any of us have ever given him credit for!

So is he the real deal? Let's hope so! For now, I'm happy to admit that he is more useful on the pitch than a square football - marginally - but after all the negative things I have said about him, boy would I love Mogadon to prove me massively wrong between now and Carroll returning!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Tottenham 1 West Ham 2 - Truly remarkable! What do I know?

Well has anybody ever been more wrong? I lambasted the team selection. I said if Spurs scored, there would be no way back - and we could have scored five! And I mocked Jarvis and Maiga, the two goal scorers. Add in criticism of the inclusion of Adrian, who was excellent, Diarra who played with real composure, and Taylor who set up the Jarvis equaliser brilliantly and also forced a superb save from Lloris, and I couldn't have been more wrong. But I'll take being wrong like that every week thanks very much!

What a heroic performance all round. At the back, Collins was huge, marshalling O'Brien, Rat and McCartney superbly. The Spurs goal came from a break-away with Collins stranded up top from a corner, and that was the only way they were going to get past Ginge. Just as at Liverpool last season when he kept Suarez in his pocket, the Welshman was absolutely brilliant. And he nearly scored when trying to give the ball back to Spurs after a re-start following an injury.

But the other defenders were excellent too - even Linda McCarthorse! And when he was called upon, Adrian looked decent too. Not that he had too much to do!

In midfield, Collison and Taylor ran and ran and ran. They covered, they closed, they pressed, and once we were behind, they rampaged forward. Taylor so nearly scored with one shot, and his pass through to Jarvis for our first goal was sheer class.

Diarra too was impressive, especially given the fact that he is back 6 months early from injury and that he was desperate to leave the club last season.

Diame and Morrison came on and transformed us from a defensive unit to a well balanced team and, miracles will never cease, both Jarvis and Maiga scored! And what's more, Maiga rattled the bar with a fantastic effort!

Add in the tireless efforts of Carlton Cole, until he tired, and the only disappointment on the night was Joe Cole.

So, to the goals. The first saw Maiga flick on to Taylor who, with back to goal held the ball up, then played a delightful pass between Tottenham defenders for the on rushing Jarvis, who buried the chance with aplomb.

If that was amazing, it was nothing on the second! Our chance seemed to have gone when Diame over-hit a cross, but we won the ball back, Morrison played a clever ball back out to Diame, who looked up and picked out Maiga, who soared like Andy Carroll at his very best and buried the header. As useful on the pitch as a square football I called him after the Sunderland game! I take it all back! Maiga we love ya!

Playing ratings: Adrian 7; O'Brien 7, Collins 10, McCartney 7, Rat 7; Diarra 7; Collison 7, Taylor 8, Jarvis 7; Joe Cole 5; Carlton Cole 7 (superb when defending corners!) Subs: Maiga 8, Morrison 7, Diame 8

Half Time Tottenham 0 West Ham 0 - Backs to the wall stuff!

Well, that's another payday for anybody who bet against West Ham scoring in the first 45, but credit where credit is due, Allardyce's team of stiffs has defended stoutly thus far. Spurs have had chances, but not many, and Collins, McCartney, Diarra, O'Brien and Rat have been chucking themselves in front of shots and crosses as if their lives depend upon it. Anybody who wants Allardyce sacked should think about how committed this bunch of players are - until they go behind of course!

Quite how we can score is anybody's guess. Every player, even Carlton, has been defending so, on the rare occasions that we have the ball, there's nobody in an offensive position to hit with an out ball.

So, if Spurs score, what happens then?

Allardyce shows contempt for fans with selection of a team of stiffs

Ok, he doesn't have many options, but why the hell are Taylor, Adrian and Diarra starting? I know some regard the Capital One Fan Cup as a nuisance distraction, but we are playing Spurs for pity's sake, and we are one win away from a place in the semi-final.

The team screams confused priorities. If we are saving players for the weekend - and what's the point of that given we are playing Manchester United at Old Trafford - why are the two Coles playing? Surely after last Saturday's inept performances by Miaga and Jarvis, Carlton and Joe must be pencilled in to start against the Scum!

West Ham Link To Spot Fixing Investigation

So our former big white Colombian hope, Christian Montano has been dismissed by Oldham Pathetic because of the Spot Fixing allegation. Young Montano is presently launching a claim for unfair dismissal (he learnt something from Curbishley then!) but it seems strange that the club would do something so drastic without being pretty sure of their ground.

Of course, this is not the first time there has been a link between West Ham and Spot Fixing.Years back there was a rumour centred around a throw-in conceded immediately from kick off, with a player - who I will not name for legal reasons - belting the ball high into the stands by way of starting the game. Word around the training ground was that he had placed a bet on a throw in being conceded within 15 seconds of kick off.

All that is in the past though, the worry is the present and how much the present squad may be investing in us not scoring a goal over 90 minutes of a game. As soon as Jarvis and Maiga are named in the team, they could be buzzing friends to give them the nod. "100k on West Ham not to score in the first 45 minutes, another 50k for us to be goal less after 70 minutes, and another 10k on no West Ham goal scorer by the end of the game." Dear God, we could all be multi millionaires on that basis!

Maybe that's how Sullivan & Gold are planning to clear the debt!

Monday, 16 December 2013

West Ham face Financial Fair Play penalties as new striker is lined up

So, Allardyce is in "advanced talks" with an unnamed striker and is trying to thrash out a deal with the player's agent and his club. Great. The trouble is, it's three months too bloody late!

According to Allardyce, owner David Sullivan is "the quickest owner of a football club I have ever had. He doesn't 'ooh', 'aah' and 'um' like most of the other owners I have been involved with"; which is a bit rich given an elephant has a shorter gestation period than it has taken the club to realise that Carroll is crocked and Mogadon Maiga is about as useful on the pitch as a square football.

The BIG question is, what has suddenly happened to the Financial Fair Play penalties that Sullivan cited as his reason for sitting on his wallet in July and August? How bloody foolish were the mugs who, when I called him out on this blog, leapt to his defence! According to the Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil Claret & Blue Klan, I had no idea what I was talking about. Our hands were tied, there was nothing we could do. Just as Uncle David told us!

Well since then we have added Cole and Petric to the squad, and now, half way through the season, we are about to add another striker - who presumably won't be coming cheap!

In fact, we are now over the proverbial barrel with our trousers and pants around our ankles. Club, agent and player will know we are desperate, so here comes another Benni McCarthy or Demba Ba deal - either the player will be on hugely inflated wages and crap into the bargain, or he will have an absurd release clause written into his contract.

And why has this happened? Because Sullivan and Gold spoilt the ship for a hap'orth of tar, hiding behind the excuse of FFP to save a few million quid. And how that has exploded in their faces!

Financial Fair Play penalties? Don't make me bloody laugh. They don't cut in for three transfer windows and everybody with his head out of his arse knows that Sullivan took the club's fans for mugs when he used this absurd excuse even as QPR went deeper and deeper into debt.

Well, as Benjamin cried when Boxer was carted off from Animal Farm, "Fools! Fools! Can't you see what's written on the side of that van? Sullivan & Gold, pedlars of lies! Can't you see? They're taking West Ham to the knackers!"

Saturday, 14 December 2013

West Ham could always re-appoint Watford's Zola and sacked Steve Clarke

With Watford losing their fifth home game on the trot and West Brom sacking Steve Clarke, the tantalising prospect of re-uniting the management dream team at Upton Park has become an outside possibility.

Many West Ham fans believe that Zola has unfinished business at the Boleyn and absolve the lovable Italian of any blame whatsoever for the decimation of the half decent team that Curbishley handed over when he walked out in a Claret and Blue huff over the sale of McCartney and Anton.

According to the Italian's acolytes, Zola was not at fault when we escaped relegation with a record low total of points in his second season in charge - in fact it was his genius on the training field that kept us in the division!

No, our relegation in the subsequent season was entirely down to Grant. Never mind that there is not a single Zola signing still at the club (whereas it was Grant who recruited our single best player - Winston Reid), the Italian is still hailed as a misunderstood genius by a body of our misguided fans.

And, of course, Clarke was the best assistant manager we have had since John Lyall understudied Ron Greenwood. Mr Bibs and Cones was, according to these fools, the brains behind Jose's success at Chelsea first time around.

And how the Zola and Clarke lobby revelled in last season's successes! Zola took Watford to the Championship play off finals and Clarke guided West Brom to heady heights in the Prem. How foolish were Sullivan & Gold to sack them? What a twat Hammersfan was for questioning their credentials!

Well now we can have them back. Clarke has been shown the door by the Baggies and, even as we speak, Pozzo is selecting a horse's head to leave in Zola's bed! So, who wants them back?

Allardyce's reputation is based entirely on the fact that he has never suffered relegation as a manager. Well neither have Zola and Clarke. So the question is, why have one fat c*nt when you can have two c*nts for the price of one?

Bring back Zola and Clarke I say! It's panto season after all! Look out Allardyce, they're behind you! And Scotty Parker could even return with them!

West Ham 0 Sunderland 0 - One of our worst performances ever!

Dear God, that was truly dire and illustrated perfectly the folly of the "all the eggs in one basket" transfer strategy over the summer. No Carroll, no hope. And it's not as if Carroll is a goal machine when fit!

Sunderland could have won 5-0 today and should have won by two or three clear goals. Thank Christ their strikers are as inept as ours and that Poyet doesn't know Fletcher's scoring record at Upton Park. Had the Scot started with Johnson, who also has a decent record record against us, I fancy Blunderland would be heading home with three points tonight. As it was, we had Jussi and the crossbar to thank for a clean sheet.

Going back, we were stretched time and time again, and poor Collins, Tomkins and Jussi must have wondered if they had taken to the field on their own. Poyet's formation meant that we were always outnumbered in the crucial area between the half way line and our back four, and Allardyce seemed to have no idea how to address it. The answer was bloody obvious to me, pull Diame back to assist Noble, and play through the middle via Cole and Morrison, rather than trying to keep the game stretched wide. But, weirdly, Diame spent the whole of the first half ahead of Morrison, and Ravel was completely out of the game.

Second half, nothing really changed. Jarvis came out for the second 45 despite being absolutely inept for 45 minutes, and Mogadon Maiga was spared an early substitution by an injury to Demel, though quite why he was left on when Carlton was introduced was completely beyond me. Joe Cole on the shoulder of Carlton Cole has to be a better option than the footballing vacuum that is Mogadon. But Sam thought differently.

Was there anything positive about our performance, Jussi, Collins and Tomkins apart? Nope. Diame faded. Noble turned circles looking for team mates in space and found nobody. McCartney had our best effort on goal with a miss hit cross. Ravel dribbled up blind alleys. Demel's crossing was terrible. Joe Cole was largely invisible. Carlton looked like Carlton at his worst. And so on and so on.

And Jussi? He made one brilliant save and two very good ones to spare us from humiliation. If Sullivan thinks one signing in January will save us, he is dreaming. And questions must now be asked of Allardyce. This team looks utterly clueless and he has no idea how to change things. Remember, it took a fluke of a goal from Diame to get us started against Fulham and it is difficult to see how this team will score enough goals to survive.

Player ratings: Jussi 9 (it would have been ten but his kicking was awful); Demel 5, Tomkins 6 Collins 7, McCartney 5; Noble 5; Diame 6, Morrison 5, Joe Cole 4, Jarvis 0; Maiga 2 Subs Collison 5, O'Brien 5, Carlton 3

Half Time West Ham 0 Sunderland 0 - Lucky not to be dead and buried!

What a truly dreadful 45 minutes. Sunderland should be at least two goals to the good, and even though Marriner seems to be in the pay of Poyet, that is disgraceful.

Maiga, as usual, has been hopeless, failing with his two good chances to hit the target on either occasion, whilst Jarvis has been even worse. How many chances has he had to cross the ball, and how many times has he hit the ball yards wide of any West Ham player?

But they are not alone in being inept! Where is Joe Cole? Did Allardyce sub him after 3 minutes, because he hasn't been in the game and has offered zero cover for Demel as Sunderland have penetrated down our right time and time again.

And Ravel? Two dribbles apart, you wouldn't know Morrison was on the pitch.

Collins has been chucking himself in front of the ball. Tomkins has played his part in keeping Sunderland at bay. And Diame has been a tiger in midfield. But those three apart? Well never mind not being at the races, we look as if we are in the knacker's yard!

Sooner or later Larsson is going to find a Sunderland head from a corner or free kick and then God knows how we will find a reply.

What changes can we make? We are being outnumbered in midfield so God knows. No Nolan, so do we turn to Taylor? Perish the bloody thought! Sullivan has one signing lined up for January, he needs five or bloody six!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Half Time Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 0 - Pathetic!

This is disgraceful. This is a dire Palace team and they have been playing dire football for 45 minutes but we go in a goal behind for the same old reason, we can't score.

We were as much in control in that half as we were in the first 45 against Norwich, but there's no point in dominating if you can't put the bloody ball in the net. Now, if anyone can explain the logic of starting Diame wide and leaving Joe Cole on the bench, I would love to hear it. We know why, of course, to accommodate Captain Kev, but Diame is half the player when pinned to the left flank, and Cole is twice the creative threat of Nolan and Diame combined.

So, Allardyce needs to move on. He needs to see that Nolan is not now his best option. We saw the best available team in the second half against Fulham, and the team included Downing, Cole, Morrison, Noble and Diame in midfield because that midfield is balanced and that team poses problems for an opposition defence.

What threat did we offer in that first 45? Cole nearly set up Downing and Nolan missed a great opportunity from a carbon copy of the free kick .he failed to convert against Spurs. This Palace team are there for the taking, but only if you have players with the ability to score.

Verdict on team selection and that first 45? Pathetic.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fulham's Parker Performs Perfectly at Upton Park

Bless him. Scotty rocked up at the Boleyn and put in his typical performance: 100% commitment, running himself into the ground, diving in front of shots, covering as many blades of grass as his ageing legs and lungs would allow, even charging into the penalty area on one tunnel-visioned run - and, of course, getting caught in possession twenty five yards out from his own goal, thereby setting up West Ham's opening goal!

If any game summed up Scotty, this was it! He had that trademark exhausted pout on his face from first minute to last and, all so typically, he accepted after the game that it was the players and not the manager who were to blame for the team's truly shocking performance. He said the same about Curbishley, Zola and Grant when at Upton Park, because Scotty knows where his bread is buttered!

So, how many shots did he have on goal? None of course. And how many chances did he create? None of course. And how many of our goals could he be held directly accountable for? At least one because he lost possession as he dwelt on the ball; and you have to wonder where he was during the last 15 minutes of the game as West Ham players ran through unchallenged on the Fulham goal.

Mind you, that didn't stop the match day commentator raving, "Apart from losing possession for the opening goal, Parker was the one blameless player in the Fulham team." Unfortunate then that we probably would not have won the game but for that all so crucial and all so trademark Parker mistake! But there, in a nutshell, is why Parker was ludicrously named "Player of the Year" in the season we went down - because the press love a trier and Scotty tries and tries and tries; he doesn't succeed, but boy does he try and so many can't see beyond the mask of his effort. Never mind the quality, feel the bursting lungs!

So, here's an interesting thought - Scott Parker is now on course for his THIRD relegation from the Prem, achieved with THREE different clubs. Now that's quite some record for a player who some claim is a "great" of the game!

And for all those who idolised him for running around like a headless chicken in his West Ham days, compare the contributions of Parker and Noble on Saturday. I know who I would rather have in my team!

West Ham 3 Fulham 0 - Breathing Space!

Well, looking back after the event, it was all very comfortable wasn't it? Based on that showing, Fulham are in deep, deep, deep trouble and we look too good to go down. But let's take a deep breath and look at things honestly.

The team that started the game had scored just two goals between them all season. Some leapt on my negative half time report, in which I made Fulham favourites to run out 1-0 winners, based on the fact that they had goal scorers in their team and we didn't, but they failed to take note of the fact that our opening goal was incredibly lucky - Diame's shot was grubbing into the keeper's waiting hands until it took a deflection - and our second and third were netted by players not on the pitch in the first 45 minutes. Had that "Diame goal" not gone in, I suspect we would have huffed and puffed all afternoon without blowing the Fulham cottage of straw down.

Listen to Les Ferdinand on Match of the Day and you would think Maiga had a good game, but nothing could be further from the truth. The guy was his usual incompetent self. Yes he hit the post and forced a good save, but time and again his appalling decision making and poor control let him down. He struck the woodwork from two yards, deflecting Noble's perfect free kick with his shoulder, when it was far easier to score. Time and again he rose high and headed the ball on, even though there were no players goal side of him. Twice he was through on goal and failed to work the keeper. And his poor thinking skills were perfectly illustrated when caught offside when literally standing on the touchline next to the linesman and then when he played a pass to Joe Cole who was obviously five yards off himself and so had to allow the ball to roll behind for a goal kick. If Maiga is the answer, it really is a bloody silly question!

Ferdinand's point, of course, was that a striker - any bloody striker, even Maiga - gives us shape and when Jarvis and Downing start, there is an obvious need for a target man. But why wasn't that man Carlton Cole who scores goals against Fulham for fun? If Carlton had played every game of his career against Fulham, he would now be hailed as the Jimmy Greaves of the C21st! And sure enough, when Carlton came on, we looked so much more incisive. Ferdinand felt Maiga was unlucky not to be on the pitch to receive Downing's inch perfect cross, but he fails to appreciate that Maiga would still have been on his heels as Downing rounded the full back, and would only have reacted when Downing put in the cross - and so would have arrived that crucial half a second too late. He doesn't read the game and doesn't gamble, that's his problem.

The other liability in the team going forward was Jarvis. How many opportunities did he get to cross the ball and how few times did he find a player in claret and blue? The guy put in more crosses than any other player in the Prem last season, but wasn't credited with a single assist. That is a frightening stat, and if you want to know how that's possible, just watch back this game. True he almost set up Nolan, but even that pass was just behind Nolan and slightly too high, making the volley all but impossible to execute.

In contrast, Downing was superb. Time and again he skinned Richardson, and time and again he got into the box, to the by-line, worked the keeper or played in dangerous crosses. This was his best game for West Ham so far.

The other star of the show, until the substitutions, was Noble. His range of passing is now superb and whilst his critics will seize on his occasional misplaced passes, they must surely concede that when one man plays so many passes over the course of a game, some will inevitably go astray; not even Brooking or Hoddle had a 100% completion rate! Look at that Maiga header against the post. The freekick was won because Noble played a delicious pass inside Richardson for Downing, forcing the Sunderland man to bring down his flying opponent. Then Noble stepped up and planted that freekick onto Maiga's shoulder! Had Carroll been on the pitch, the back of the net would have been ripped out because of the pace on the cross - it only needed contact with a forehead and not even Banks at his very best could have kept the ball out. Then there was that time when we were boxed in close to our by-line. Noble made himself available, played a couple of one-two passes and then, having engineered a yard of space, looked up and swept the ball out onto the opposite flank where Demel awaited. Had Gerrard done that for Liverpool, the ITV commentary team would have creamed their pants; because it is Noble, it barely warrants a mention and doesn't feature on the MOD highlights! Add in his closing, covering, surging runs, energy, interceptions and tackles, and Noble is looking more and more like an England player to me. Just compare his performance with Parker's!

Defensively, we were secure enough but four grannies recruited from the local geriatric ward could have kept out this Fulham team. Going forward, they were truly, truly dire once Taarabt lost interest.

Then, of course, there's Morrison and Joe Cole to discuss. What a difference they made! The third goal was brilliantly worked between the two of them. Unlike Jarvis, Joe Cole has the intelligence to move inside, swapping positions with Ravel, and unlike Nolan, Morrison has the skill and pace to move out onto the flank and terrorise a full back. Ravel's weaving run was brilliant, JC took up the perfect position, Morrison had the time and composure to spot him, and the finish was perfect. It was a great goal. As was Carlton's finish from Downing's wonderful cross. And neither would have been scored with Maiga, Nolan and Jarvis on the pitch. Great substitutions or poor team selection in the first place?

Anyway, the monkey of poor home form is off our back for now, but we must not get carried away, this game has just given us some breathing space. To be on target for survival, we need 20 points at the half way mark, and that means 7 points from the next 6 games, six games that include fixtures against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. There's not much of a margin of error is there?

Player Ratings: Jussi (Nothing to do!); Demel 6, Tomkins 5 (He should have been sent off in the first half!), Collins 6, McCartney 6 (But imagine him against Arsenal!); Noble 9, Diame 7; Jarvis 4, Downing 8, Nolan 6, Maiga 5 Subs: Carlton 7, JC 7, Morrison 8