Saturday, 23rd September 2006
I first met the toxic northern monkey watching cricket in South Africa, and the Citeh v Irons game is an important part of the football calendar where the tripe nosher is always looking to put one over on me.
Ever since the win in the FA Cup last season, I have had bragging rights. Not only did we beat them, but Gilo missed that match as he was totally poleaxed in a hotel room in Mumbai. Heíd been bigging up his boys all day, but had made the schoolboy error of serial consumption of Kingfisher beer at the close of play. As the match didnít start local time until 1 a.m., he was totally out of it. The lights were on, but no-one was at home.
When he came to the next day myself and a few other assorted Hammers fans gave him a right slaughtering. He was not happy.
Anyway, after a couple of bottles of wine on the train with Oxford Fred we arrived at a salubrious outlet called The Junction in Audenshaw. I swear the DJ was the wrong side of 70, but this did not deter Oxford Fred from demanding ďPaint it BlackĒ by the Rolling Stones. This number always does something quite strange to Freddie as his impression of Mick Jagger is almost akin to the voice that emanated from the girl that is possessed in The Exorcist. Itís very f*cking scary, believe me. To say we came out of the boozer somewhat swervy after a frenzy of Jack Daniels & Coke would have been a slight understatement.
The next day, looking like pieces of spent trash, we followed Gilo off on his usual pre-match ritual of meeting up with his various mates in pubs on the way to the ground. My favourite is The Bradford, owned by Mickey Francis, once the top dog in Cityís firm, The Guvnors.
As the beer continued to flow, I had the joyous pleasure of watching the Yids getting turned over in the early game. The sun was shining. Jenas had just made himself c*nt of the week by missing a sitter. Uncle Fester was jumping up and down on the touchline. All was well in the world.
Then we turned up at the ground and it all went t*ts up. Over 24 hours later I am still totally p*ssed off about it. I cannot even bring myself to attempt to record what happened, so hereís the report in a nutshell: we didnít f*cking turn up.
This was a team that had just got turned over by Chesterfield in the Cup. They had been on the most appalling run Ė one of the worst in the Premiership, and we made Ďem look like world beaters. All the banter pre-match with the City boys was about just how desperate they were. They were expecting nothing and hoping for a draw at best.
The first half was about two poor teams showing very little indeed. Undoubtedly, they created the best chances, but were very wasteful in front of goal when they got into good positions. We created nothing and had no shots on target. Painfully lacklustre, this performance could not have provided a greater contrast to the fluid counter-attacking West Ham that stamped their mark on away grounds last season.
Where is the pace that was the main feature of our game? We look like we are suffering from a collective bout of glandular fever.
True, it was unfortunate that Anton got injured, necessitating a switch where Dailly went central and Mullins went to right back, but even before this happened the writing was on the wall. We were getting murdered down the flanks by both Micah Richards Ė who should have scored just before half time Ė and the other teenager Ishmael Miller who simply left Mullins for dead in the move that led to the first Samaras goal.
Thereís a lot simply not happening in the West Ham team at the moment and itís time to take a long and hard look at some of the players.
The biggest disappointment for me so far this season is Nigel Reo-Coker. This is a bloke whose surging runs turned so many heads. He was the engine of our team. Determined and committed. Heís gone missing and appears to have dragged everybody down with him.
Our left side is also looking a shadow of its former self. Matty often seems to start slowly at the beginning of the season, but Konch has also made a very hesistant start. The combination between these two was a joy to watch last season, all Iíve seen lately is a catalogue of dire crosses and only a very rare bypassing of opposition defenders. Iím beginning to think that Kyel Reid should be given a run out.
Yossi Ė one or two nice little weaving runs, but there seems to be little end product. Mascherano Ė knows how to roll the ball back and forthwith his foot and can deliver the odd delicious pass, but keeps getting caught in possession and outpaced. I am not sure he is as good as Mullins was last year.
Tevez. Fish out of water. I know he likes the ball at his feet and the long punt game just doesnít work for him. However, for someone with such reputed world class, I am yet to see him take on a defender and beat him. Compare Tevez with what Di Canio brought to the team. Thereís no comparison.
Marlon and Z-man. Both looking below par to me. Neither have had a real sniff of a chance for the last three games. Where is the Marlon that bustled forward and made himself one of the biggest handfullís in the Premiership? No sign this season and you wonder when he is going to get back in the goal scoring frame. Itís almost impossible to believe but in the last 180 minutes of play, there have been no shots on target I can remember.
No way back
It was clear to me that even after the first goal, there was no way back. The second goal just snuffed out any hope of a fluke equalizer that we would not have deserved.
After the match, I had to face the music, but there was little crowing from Gilo and his northern monkey pals, but just pure and simple incredulity that their out of form team had not even been put under the slightest pressure. Some might say that the result was no worse than last year, but as I stood having a drink in Mary Dís Ė the favourite post match haunt of the jubilant City fans singing their anti ManUre songs Ė the reality sunk in. We had just been outplayed by a team that had suffered 13 defeats in 16 games.
If the Newcastle performance was dire, itís difficult to argue against this being a worse performance. If we serve anything like this up in Sicily, we are going to get massacred.
The manager is not the problem
At this moment in time, Iím finding it hard to blame the manager. It looks to me that the players need to stand up and be counted to try and turn this worrying situation around. Where are the leaders on the park? Itís time to cut out the complacency which almost looks like itís the product of people trying to rest on their laurels from last season. Itís a wake up call and itís time to get out of bed.
Itís also not good enough to use the takeover speculation as an excuse. Many people in their jobs face uncertainty and corporate changes. It should have no bearing on our performances, as the players should be focused on the task in hand, not whether some Iranian businessman likes the cut of their gib. Leave all that to the media and forget about it.
The only minor consolation in this game for me was that the pressure has come off Stuart Pearce. I love that bloke and Iíd hate to see him lose his job. Iím not even going to lend any credibility to the fickle tossers and media rats who are suggesting that Pardewís job might now be at risk. The manager is not part of the problem, he will be part of the solution. Any new board at West Ham needs to start from that point.
(Plyare Ratings by Jacob Steinberg)
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He again made some good saves and was well beaten by Samaras. He was slow leaving his line for the second however, and his wayward kicking is infuriating.
Poor distribution and poor defending at both right-back and centre-back.
Poor defensively against Richards, poor control and poor passing.
We missed him when he went off. Hopefully not too bad an injury.
Ok, but missed Ferdinand more than any other player.
Decent passing but was mostly quiet.
If you want to go to Arsenal, be my guest. It is frustrating because we watched him destroy Barton here in March. Today he was dominated and a waste of time.
He looks dangerous but flatters to deceive, thanks to little end product. We need more from him at the moment.
His crossing was wide of the mark and Richards handled him easily. One of those games spent in hiding.
Didn't look confident the one time he had a chance to shoot and lost the opportunity. Failed to hold the ball up.
(Replaced Ferdinand, 22) We know he's not a right back and it was sad to see him there.
(Replaced Harewood, 65) On far too late.
(Replaced Mears, 67) Ditto.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Anton Ferdinand.
West Ham United
Roy Carroll, Christian Dailly, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Javier Mascherano, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood.
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Barton, Hamann, Sinclair, Miller, Samaras, Corradi..
Substitutes: Dickov (Corradi 70), Reyna (Miller 81), Ireland (Samaras 89)..
Subs not used: Hart, Beasley.
Goals: Samaras (50, 63).
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..