|An archive of Cockney Hammer's West Ham-related daily news digests.
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West Ham 2 Reading 4
In just 60 SECONDS his hapless Hammers threw away the lead and handed two goals to rivals Reading, then failed miserably to show any response despite what was at stake.
Instead of regaining the second automatic promotion spot, West Ham are now four points adrift of the rampant Royals.
And on this evidence you would not bet on them coming through the play-offs either.
Upton Park's marketing men billed this as Showdown Saturday.
But it became Shambles Saturday as the hosts finished the game looking ragged and clueless — and with the cracks between Big Sam and the fans only getting wider.
Boss Allardyce said: "We committed basic errors. We were poor defensively and gifted them three goals. It could have all been avoided but we shot ourselves in the foot.
"We started well then conceded in the 44th minute and then instead of clearing a simple ball we gave it straight to them and came it half-time losing and shell-shocked.
"We responded by scoring but then gifted them a stupid penalty and then, for the fourth, we were claiming offside instead of dealing with the threat. Perhaps the pressure got to them. We needed to win today to ease that but we blew it and instead have only put more pressure on ourselves again.
"We have to win all our games. There are no more opportunities to take a point and think that will be enough."
Allardyce and the fans have fallen out over patchy home form and the perception he plays long-ball stuff.
In one minute yesterday he finally clicked what the 'West Ham way' has always been.
Regardless of who owns, runs or plays for the club, it has an uncanny knack of mucking things up.
Carlton Cole gave them the perfect start in the eighth minute, burying a rebound after Kevin Nolan headed against the post.
But Kaspars Gorkss beat Nolan to a corner to equalise and Julien Faubert messed up a clearance to present Noel Hunt with an easy chance to make it two goals in a minute.
Ian Harte's penalty made it 3-1 after Abdoulaye Faye tripped Hunt.
Ricardo Vaz Te pulled a goal back but Mikele Leigertwood hit a fourth.
Royals boss Brian McDermott could not toast the win as he runs the Reading half-marathon today in aid of the Duchess of Kent Hospice.
He said: "I'm doing it with 20 other staff and I'll still come 25th.
"In the second half we passed well.
"If I wasn't the manager I'd have been in the away end with the fans — that looked a great laugh."
West Ham 2-4 Reading: Daily Mirror match report
Noel Hunt is determined not to hit the bottle after Reading seized the initiative in the race for the top flight.
The Royals striker drowned his sorrows following last year’s play-off final defeat, but cannot erase the pain of the loss to Swansea.
Brian McDermott’s men have not suffered a collective hangover this season, though, and are the form side in the run-in. After Kaspars Gorkss cancelled out Carlton Cole’s opener, Hunt scored Reading’s second, won the penalty for the third and inadvertently set up Mikele Leigertwood as Reading put their destiny in their own hands.
But Hunt knows with six games left they cannot afford any let-up. He said: “It’s only there for as long as we want it to be – and we won’t give it up easy that’s for sure.
“Hopefully last season at Wembley hardened us. I drank myself into a coma for a week after it. It was a gutting experience.
“I can remember it all, every incident. We don’t want to be back in the play-offs but we have to take one game at a time.
“This is a massive win for us. I’ve been here four years and the objective has always been the same: to get back to the Premier League . . please god, this is our year.”
West Ham looked to have put their Upton Park woes behind them, they have won just nine out of 20 at home in the league, when Cole’s seventh-minute finish set up a first half they dominated.
But two goals in three minutes just before the break, Gorkss heading home Ian Harte’s corner then Hunt slotting home when Julien Faubert’s attempted clearance fell into his path, gave Reading a half-time lead. When Abdoulaye Faye brought down Hunt, Harte dispatched the penalty.
Ricardo Vaz Te’s header gave the Irons a 77th-minute lifeline, only for Leigertwood to grab a fourth after the ball came off the heels of Hunt and West Ham’s appeals for offside went unheard.
Sam Allardyce has now seen his side slip four points behind Reading in the second promotion spot, but Kevin Nolan is determined the Hammers will keep the pressure on all the way to the final day of the season.
He said: “We’ve been hit with a sucker punch and we’ve got to get up. Not all hope is lost and we’re not all down in the dumps yet.
“We’ve got to make sure we go on a run and hopefully put a bit of pressure on Southampton and Reading.”
WEST HAM 2 - READING 4: BALD EAGLE BRIAN MCDERMOTT FINDS SOL MATE
READING boss Brian McDermott is a huge Sir Alex Ferguson fan – but admits he will never use the hairdryer.
McDermott, who is completely bald, gained an inside track on the Manchester United chief’s tactics through ex-Old Trafford striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The pair met on a coaching course and McDermott was enthralled by the Norwegian legend’s stories of Sir Alex’s man-management techniques.
And, as the 50-year-old plots the Royals’ return to the top flight, he has put Fergie’s tactics into practice.
He said: “I did my pro licence with Ole and he was talking about how Sir Alex was great with not just the No.1, but the No.30 – they all feel part of it.
“I then spoke to Sir Alex. The advice I was after is between me and him, but that tells you something about him – he wants to help the young managers.
“The hairdryer has not really come into my equation, though.
“You have to be fair and honest. I am friends with the squad, the staff, the players, but that is not to say I can’t make big decisions.”
McDermott’s all-for-one mentality was on show at Upton Park as his men refused to be ruffled after Carlton Cole’s seventh-minute opener.
Two quick goals from Kaspars Gorkss and Noel Hunt sent Reading on their way before Ian Harte added a penalty.
Ricardo Vaz Te replied for the Hammers but Mikele Leigertwood struck late on to seal the win.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was angry with their defending but insists his men will be up for the play-offs if they fail to close the four-point gap on the Royals.
He said: “If we do get that disappointment, we can’t let that spill over into the play-offs, and we will have to go and win them.
“I don’t mind losing when you can’t stop a team’s creativity, but the four goals are all c**p from our point of view defensively.”
Deluded: Big Sam has come in for stick over the way the Hammers play
Hammer blow: The Irons took the lead but were pegged back by Reading
Wembley way: It has been 32 years since the Hammers lifted silverware
The West Ham way: They take their pie and mash seriously in the East End
On the road: The West Ham way is more than pie (and mash) in the sky
Outside Nathan's 'Pies and Eels' on the Barking Road, the queue was almost as long as Upton Park's wait for a home win.
Of course the 'West Ham Way' matters. But so does mash. This was then devoured at the feet of the raised statue of West Ham's World Cup winners at the bottom of Green Street.
The Boleyn bar across from there was rammed early. But you could sense the hesitation. It was around here, in Cassettari's Cafe - 'caff ' - that the notion of the West Ham Way was born in the 1950s.
Players such as Malcolm Allison, John Bond, Dave Sexton, Frank O'Farrell and Noel Cantwell - who all became thoughtful managers - were said to have moved salt and pepper pots around table-tops in earnest discussions about how the game should be played.
This legend is part of the West Ham Way. But it is not myth. Ideas, in part formed here, were translated on to the pitch - successfully. West Ham gained silverware, and a reputation, one that their fans adhere to.
As they sang at Peterborough last Tuesday: 'We're West Ham United, we play on the floor.' It has hardly always brought glory.
West Ham have never won the League. When winning their last significant trophy - the 1980 FA Cup - it was as a Second Division side.
Trevor Brooking famously scored the only goal that day and if there is an image that encapsulates the West Ham Way, it is Brooking on the half-turn, already aware of where his next grass-cutter is going.
Hammer blow: The Irons took the lead but were pegged back by Reading
The thing is, Sam Allardyce knows all this, Allardyce played against Brooking. But that he is now the keeper of Brooking's flame jars for some at Upton Park.
Part of this is about tone: Allardyce can be blunt to the point of arrogance about West Ham's history and is clearly irritated even by the word 'Way'.
Yet, listen to Allardyce in a social setting and he is different, he will talk football, provoke debate: 'Is your first touch more important than your last?'
That's a favourite. It's caff-chat. At Bolton he signed Ivan Campo and for all his frustration with 'Way', Allardyce sent out a team against Reading that had Mark Noble, Gary O'Neil, Matt Taylor and Kevin Nolan in midfield. Ricardo Vaz Te was on the wing. Each one of them understands 'floor'.
'I think it's probably the best we've played all season at home,' said a downbeat George McCartney afterwards. 'The first 42 minutes, there's only one team in it.'
This was true. West Ham pinned back a good, coherent Reading team and were deservedly 1-0 up. But Reading manager Brian McDermott transmits a quiet fury and his players know it.
They came away from a Jason Roberts-Abdoulaye Faye kerfuffle indignant. The visitors became aggressors; by half-time they were 2-1 ahead.
'Shell-shocked,' was Allardyce's assessment of his team at the interval. They looked it when they re-emerged, minus Noble, minus conspicuous fire too.
The Allardyce stereotype - lump it, fight for it - was absent. Damagingly so. Maybe he is inhibited by the 'Way'. Faye was inhibited by Roberts and Noel Hunt, that's for sure.
Hunt is a West Ham fan who pays to go to Upton Park which, as Jobi McAnuff said, is costly - '32 quid!'
Faye conceded a penalty to Hunt in the 59th minute. Ian Harte guided it in to make it 3-1. There were 37 minutes left and though Vaz Te scored with a soaring header, there was a lack of creative aggression from the hosts. And belief, it seemed.
Mikele Leigertwood made it 4-2 as Faye and Co stopped defending, claiming offside. The ground began to empty in silence. So Reading are four points clear in second.
There are six games to go. And Allardyce concedes his team need to win six. Unfortunately, three are at Upton Park where the points tally in the last six is five out of 18. Yet, it could be worse.
One year ago today West Ham also lost 4-2 at home having taken the lead. That was to Manchester United. Avram Grant was the manager. It was the start of a run that brought one point from the last 24.
West Ham really had lost their way. There is still time to find it. The search resumes at Barnsley on Friday night.
Gareth Bale has admitted he will struggle to reject the advances of Barcelona or Real Madrid should either side come calling for him in the summer.
Tottenham are lining up Ecuadorian Christian Ramirez - a stand-out in the Under-17 World Cup - for £1.5m when the attacking left-back turns 18 in August.
Allan McGregor has won three titles, three Scottish Cups and five League Cups at Rangers
Swansea are ready to offer Aston Villa's £5m-rated former Cardiff defender James Collins a controversial return to Wales.
: Daily Mirror
Scotland keeper Allan McGregor has emerged as a summer target for West Brom if they cannot strike a deal with Birmingham to keep Ben Foster.
Express & Star
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says the title race will be over if Manchester United defeat Blackburn and QPR in their next two games to go eight points clear, before City play again.
Meanwhile, City captain Vincent Kompany has defiantly insisted that title-race nerves are not getting to his team-mates.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp says five wins from the last seven games will ensure White Hart Lane hosts Champions League action next season.
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cotterill is hoping for the all-clear to keep Garath McCleary by offering the winger an £8,000-a-week deal.
David de Gea
David de Gea was dropped after Manchester United's 3-2 defeat to Blackburn in December
Sir Alex Ferguson says David de Gea has finally 'got a grip' of life at Manchester United after he was forced to drop the keeper earlier in the season.
Former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia has been placed in temporary charge of Bayer Leverkusen after Robin Dutt was sacked following a fifth consecutive loss.
Full story: Daily Mail
Stoke winger Jermaine Pennant took to Twitter to criticise manager Tony Pulis for playing him out of position in the 2-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Wigan.
babe of the day
http://pbff.playboygirls.com/pic00115/p ... 04JP_4.jpg
Cheers CH. A comment above about the West Ham way sums up for me exactly how it is ...
Quote Regardless of who owns, runs or plays for the club, it has an uncanny knack of mucking things up.Unquote
Owners, Managers, Players; they all come and go. The only thing that never changes is that we are West Ham and we only ever do things the hard way ... if we do them at all.
cheers CH. Trying to find some positives at the moment..that reminder of a year ago v Man U and what happened afterwards has put the light out for me
BFS says we will be up for the play-offs. I have serious concerns. We lacked direction and leadership on Saturday which probably cost us the game. Reading were not even close to the best teams we've played this season, yet we were steam rollered. 5 chances 4 goals, at least two were down to piss poor defending. We had ample chances to be well clear at the break, but failed to convert. That don't win you the play-offs.
Nice, thoughful article that last one - surely that wasn't in the Mail?
Had to laugh at Ian Holloway's comments yesterday about how he didn't understand how the fans were bitching over style after the way we beat his team twice this season. Mate, those are pretty much the two best games we've played all season - if we played like that every week no-one would be complaining.
But what if we have a run, Reading choke a bit against Leeds and Brighton, then Soton beat them.
I can see it happening (all apart from the bit where we go on a run)
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