It’s been another fun old week in the parallel universe of Planet Gold, Sullivan and Brady.
Just when you thought things had hit a new low with the transfer drought, up pops our Recruitment Director with some choice words taken out of the Ku Klux Klan’s Equal Opportunities Manual. I’m totally non-discriminatory on these matters. I’m happy to sign anybody as long as they’ve never played for the Spuds. Do you think I should apply for the job?
My mate Bomber is dead happy about the transfer window. First thing he said to me when he turned up at London Bridge was “Wednesday night it was all I could do to stop launching the remote at the TV”.
I’ve been saying for weeks that there was more chance of me going to a Chas n’ Dave gig in a giant cockerel costume than us signing anyone. In the end, we signed this dude from Preston. Oxford Fred is ecstatic. “He’s the new Jamie Vardy” and this was only after the first tin of posh lager from M&S on the train southwards.
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ESM Jnr is foaming at the mouth about the mismanagement of the club. Let’s face it, this mob in our boardroom are nothing new though. It’s déjà vu. They are the hybrid reincarnation of Old Man Brown. Talk about bad f*cking karma. There is one big difference. Terry was as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel, the toxic triumvirate can’t keep their mouths shut. Vacuous promises. Spin. Twitter diarrhoea. Facebook faeces. Media management more hilarious than that bloke that used to do it for Sadam Hussein.
Is it me you’re looking for?
Let’s not end up on suicide watch. I do like to be beside the seaside. Even if it is February and the weather is dogsh*t.
Massive news. According to a billboard on the way from Brighton station to Welfarespoons, the legend Lionel Ritchie is back on tour. Magnificent. A man that has spent more on plastic surgery than we did in the transfer window. Who remembers that ‘Hello’ video of his? A surreal story involving a supposedly blind woman making a clay model of his cosmetically mutated head. Perfect likeness even though she couldn’t have had a scooby what the modified crooner looked like. Watch it on YouTube, it’s a classic.
Dodgy wedding disco
To the game. We lined up at the Amex Stadium like we did against Palace on Tuesday. The pre-match music was like being at a bad wedding reception, but even then the atmosphere was better than Brady’s Den.
One minute in and the game halted after an injury in the centre circle to Gaetan Bong. What a quality name that is. It took a while for him to get up.
On 4 minutes Zabaleta, playing his midfield enforcer role, lost the ball leading to an attack down our left with the cross caught comfortably by Adrian.
Then on 7 minutes we conceded after Cresswell took Knockaert out clumsily in midfield. The ref waved play on allowing Murray to cut in on the right side of box and slide the ball past Adrian. No-one seemed to want to put in a challenge. Byram was miles away.
No disaster yet though as ESM Jnr had correctly suggested that the ESM Posse should slap a score on West Ham to win 2-1 at 14/1 and another score on West Ham to win and Murray to score at 20/1. Or so we convinced ourselves at the time.
We were toiling badly in the opening parts of the game. We seemed to be a yard slower and on 10 minutes not picking up a second ball led to a move with pace by Brighton down our left side. Fortunately, the cross that came over from Schelotto was volleyed wide.
Brighton just looked like they wanted it more and on 12 minutes. Rice had to defend well in box to clear. Just a couple of minutes later Brighton went close again with shot just over the bar.
It took until 17 minutes for West Ham to show anything at all as Zabaleta sent over a good deep pass, but this was cut out just as Cresswell was running into the box.
João and Cresswell saw a great cross from the latter providing a free header for Byram in front of the West Ham faithful. We all thought he should have scored, although it was a decent save by the keeper.
Just a minute later though João gave away possession away deep in the Brighton half. A rapid counter attack followed and Ogbonna made a big defensive block in box with the goal gaping. The home crowd bellowed for handball but the ref was not interested.
I want out but I’ll still score
On the half hour we were back in it with a superb goal by Chicharito. This is what he is about, great close ball skills (“he needs it at his feet in the box”, ESM Jnr) and a brilliant finish after a little feignt. 43 goals in the Premier League and guess where they have all come from. Yep, in the box.
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Brighton came back at us a bit after that. On 32 minutes, we conceded possession badly in our own half but the shot that resulted was blasted wide. Then just a minute later Zabaleta made a superb block centrally of a goal bound shot. Murray was first to ball in the box on 35 minutes and he laid off a pass. The ball was smashed wildly over.
Then a very good chance to take the lead was spurned on 40 minutes following another good cross in again from Cresswell. João was on the end of it but seemed to be just put off enough by the defender to direct his shot wide.
A minute later, another big chance as a quality curled pass over top by Noble allowed Cresswell to get to the dead ball line and deliver a free header on a plate for Byram. He poorly missed the target by some distance.
With three minutes left of normal time we picked up a free kick right of the box after a foul on Cheikh. Another good ball in by Cresswell to the far post was headed out for a corner. The clearance from the corner saw Byram give the ball away but lively Knockaert was stopped.
It felt like the half time whistle came at a bad time with West Ham in the ascendency. The important thing was to start the second half as well as we ended the first as it was obvious that the next goal would be critical.
The opening moves of the second half saw the momentum wrested back by the home team.
On 52 minutes, poor defending by Cresswell saw Adrian sold short with a header. Murray snapped it up, squared and Ogbonna had to be alert to clear.
Then on 59 minutes the crucial third goal in the game came. It was a wonder goal by Izquierdo who found enough space as the ball broke from a corner. It was a peach, a perfect placement top bins from the edge of the box. No-one was near enough to close him down.
The manager tried to change things with the introduction of Antonio for Rice on 65 minutes but there was little end product for the Irons. Brighton looked more likely to score and the knockout blow came on 75 minutes as the ball was given away by Ginge after a poor clearance. Gross found himself on the edge of the box and smashed a shot past the outstretched hand of Adrian after he foxed the centre of defence with a nice turn.
On 78 minutes Gross tormented us again as he beat offside and cut into the left side of the box. It required a great save by Adrian to deny him and Izquierdo just made a hash of the volley.
On 80 minutes Manager Moyes gave our new signing Hugill his chance, replacing Byram. It made no difference and we just seemed to be labouring under the continued Brighton pace and movement. On 85 Izquierdo ran right across defence just firing wide.
In the last real action of the game with one minute of ordinary time, Brighton missed an open goal as March had a wild swing. It should have been 4-1.
We had a clueless and listless second half with no shots on target. We only won one corner in the whole match. The game turned on a superb strike and we had absolutely no answer. To be honest, we went missing and didn’t respond. They could have scored more.
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The travelling Irons were venting their spleen against the Board at the end, although the reality is that we’ve been on a decent run, which hit a brick wall today. Injuries have hurt us badly too.
1-6 in agregate against a promoted side. They’d only scored 5 goals in the last 13 matches. Same problem against Newcastle, losing 2-6 on agregate. 12 goals conceded and four losses against promoted teams.
Hasta la revolucion siempre
The atmosphere around the club is awful and the Watford game now has even more riding on it. Another one of those 'must win' games which you hardly feel confident about as it's down at Soulless Stratford.
“The real revolution is coming” say the stickers I saw today from the Real West Ham Fans Action Group - though there's probably more chance of regime change in North Korea. I respect the reasons for the protest, although knowing this cabal running our club, they will probably issue some patronising narrative over the next couple of days about the fans needing to get behind the team.
Make no mistake, this was a poor result but not greatly surprising given the week we’ve had. It’s been a shambles. Results elsewhere keep us right in the relegation bog along with a number of other teams. It may be frustrating that we’re in this lower table swamp but I do find it all quite exciting. Every week sees a shuffling of the pack. The concept of mid table obscurity no longer exists.
Player ratings by David Fletcher.
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo (6) Conceded three well taken goals that he could hardly take the blame for. Made up for it with a few decent saves.
Sam Byram (4) Missed a few clear headers and lacked confidence overall in defence as well as in attack.
James Collins (5) Not sharp enough and couldn't keep up with Brighton's pace of football, especially for the first goal.
Angelo Ogbonna (4) Not his usual consistent self, making many basic mistakes and majorly at fault for Brighton's first goal.
Declan Rice (5) Held the line well but was far from his best.
Aaron Cresswell (5) Though he was quite poor on the ball and wreckless in his tackling, he was one of very few players in claret and blue to provide his team mates with good opportunities thanks to his crossing ability putting some excellent balls in and around the Brighton penalty area.
Pablo Zabaleta (5) Failed to step in defensively in midfield leaving many gaps in midfield for Brighton to exploit.
Cheikhou Kouyate (4) Played in an advanced role that he clearly wasn't comfortable with.
Mark Noble (4) Very poor and tremendously slow on the ball.
Joao Mario (6) Was very quiet in large spells of the game but did show glimpses of what an intelligent player he is, but lacked a more attacking-minded midfield partner to link up with.
Javier Hernandez (6) With such a defensive looking side he was a lonely figure up front. Did remarkably well to get himself on the scoresheet with an impressive goal.
Michail Antonio (3) (Replaced Rice) Relented the few attacks West Ham had while he was on the pitch and provided absolutely nothing to the cause. Clearly still on the road to recovery from injuries.
Jordan Hugill (6) (Replaced Byram) Put himself about for a few minutes on his debut.
Joe Hart (0) Did not play.
Winston Reid (0) Did not play.
Jose Fonte (0) Did not play.
West Ham United: Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Sam Byram, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Joao Mario, Javier Hernandez.
Substitutes: Michail Antonio, Jordan Hugill, Joe Hart, Winston Reid, Jose Fonte.
Goals: Javier Hernandez 30
Booked: Aaron Cresswell 8
Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan, Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Knockaert (March 77), Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo, Gross (Kayal 83), Murray (Ulloa 72).
Subs not used: Krul, Goldson, Bruno, Baldock.
Goals: Murray (7), Izquierdo (59), Gross (75)
Booked: Dunk (50), Izquierdo (60), Stephens (81)
Sent Off: None
Referee: Roger East
Man of the Match: Joao Mario