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Premiership
Sunday, 17th September 2006

West Ham United 0
Newcastle United 2

by Jacob Steinberg


One day Glenn Roeder may explain to the world why he presumed the Upton Park crowd would find it funny when he decided to wind them up at the end of Newcastle’s comfortable 2-0 win. The Newcastle manager was in charge of the West Ham side relegated three years ago, and the support has found it hard to forget.

There was no doubt that Roeder was going to be on the end of a frosty reception on his first return to West Ham, but even those who were willing to forget, if not forgive, his part in that disastrous season found it hard to excuse his actions today.

A few boos here, a few nasty comments there, but that’s what football fans do- what did he expect? To most, he is the man who took West Ham down. That’s the superficial of it, without wishing to enter a debate about the roles of others connected to the club.

So vigorous waving to crowing Newcastle fans, prominent clenched fists and a refusal to leave his technical area were only ever going to be provocative and the West Ham support voiced angry disapproval. Referee Rob Styles should have sent Roeder away from the dugout, but in an afternoon in which the Styles managed to miss some of the most blatant handballs ever seen on a football pitch and somehow ignored a couple of dangerous tackles from Scott Parker, it was not surprising Styles got it all wrong.

Anyway, next: some football. At least the incident gave us all something to remember the game by. It was a truly awful encounter, with Newcastle less bad than an utterly woeful West Ham, whose season is yet to take off. The absence of Dean Ashton and the exciting but unsettling presence of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez are factors, but the present manager Alan Pardew acknowledged that the display was sub-standard.

Both teams played in Europe on Thursday, perhaps explaining the afternoon siesta had by all during the first half. There was far too much long ball football all round from two teams who supposedly play attractively. A wonderful free kick which Tevez curled against the bar was totally out of keeping with much of the tedious play and Lee Bowyer also went close with a dipping volley from the right touchline after Shay Given’s poor clearance went to the former Newcastle player.

Newcastle were tidy enough and looked particularly dangerous from set pieces- Shola Ameobi was denied by a good save from Roy Carroll- but an early glaring miss from Obafemi Martins seemed to hint at the £10m Nigerian being an expensive mistake.

Not so. Five minutes into the second half, he evaded Mascherano and as Anton Ferdinand backed off, Martins passed to Damien Duff in space and the left winger unerringly slammed home his first Newcastle goal.

From there, West Ham huffed and puffed but there was a disturbing lack of attacking verve from the home side. Players looked like their confidence was shot to pieces and an equaliser never looked likely. With fifteen minutes remaining, Martins capitalised on Danny Gabbidon’s inexplicable slip and slid the ball calmly past Carroll to secure Newcastle’s win.

In some twisted way, West Ham fans could be strangely grateful for Roeder’s late gloating- at least it let them forget about their team’s terrible performance, if only momentarily.



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Player Ratings

Roy Carroll
No chance with the goals, and it seems harsh to stay it, but he just does not fill me with confidence. He hasn’t really made any mistakes- it must be his inability to leave his line that worries me, although he does make some good saves.


Tyrone Mears
Average and poor distribution. Did ok against Duff, but not a patch on PaIntsil at the moment.


Paul Konchesky
Has lost the ability to pass and the amount of times he and Etherington left the ball for each other only for it to go out was infuriating.


Anton Ferdinand
Guilty of backing off Martins for the first goal. Guilty of long ball rubbish.


Danny Gabbidon
What has happened here? A shocking mistake. I would not mind seeing James Collins drafted in against Man City. I rate Gabbidon as our best defender but he has been below average so far. Perhaps his lack of a pre season has hindered him.


Javier Mascherano
A class act who never gives the ball away although could he perhaps offer more going forward? Still, when you have to play without a midfield partner…


Nigel Reo-Coker
As with every other game this season, he had a disgraceful game. Totally invisible defensively and in attack. This is our captain. What a joke at the moment. Please drop him or at least substitute him.


Lee Bowyer
For me, wasted on the right. He doesn’t have the mobility to play there- reminds me of Beckham in his last days for England. Best position is central midfield where he will be able to get more involved.


Matthew Etherington
One great run which ended in a bad tackle, and from there he was non-existent and weak.


Bobby Zamora
No lucky goal today which means we should look at other parts of his game- hmmm…


Carlos Tevez
Not sure why he went off. Only player who looked likely to score.


Substitutes


Marlon Harewood
(Replaced Tevez, 45) A confidence player who needs goals. Under a lot of pressure right now.


Yossi Benayoun
(Replaced Mascherano, 67) Should have started- what with him being our best player.


Hayden Mullins
(Replaced Mears, 67) I feel sorry for him. He is a far better footballer right now than the captain and has done nothing deserving of a place on the bench. Ok, Mascherano is obviously a better player. Doesn’t mean they can’t play together.


Robert Green
Did not play.


Carlton Cole
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: R.Styles.

Attendance: 34,938.

Man of the Match: Javier Mascherano.

West Ham United

Roy Carroll, Tyrone Mears, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Javier Mascherano, Nigel Reo-Coker, Lee Bowyer, Matthew Etherington, Bobby Zamora, Carlos Tevez.

Goals: None.

Booked: Tyrone Mears 45 Marlon Harewood 74 Paul Konchesky 78      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Newcastle United

Given, Carr, Moore, Ramage, Babayaro, Milner, Parker, Emre, Duff, Martins, Ameobi.

Substitutes: Sibierski (Ameobi 72), Harper (Given 86), Butt (Emre 90+3).

Subs not used: N'Zogbia, Rossi.

Goals: Duff (50), Martins (75).

Booked: Babayaro (41), Moore (74), Parker (77).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Jacob Steinberg's Man of the Match: Javier Mascherano