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Premiership
Saturday, 13th January 2007

West Ham United 3
Fulham 3

by Nick Bull


I want to blame Graham Poll. I am desperate to use the five additional minutes at full-time as the scapegoat for the draw. I’m trying, but it isn’t working. The endless list of basic errors committed by West Ham on Saturday are the real reason why Fulham took a point away from the East of the Capital. To go further, they are on of the main explanations for the mess we find ourselves in at the moment.

Seasons revolve around turning points. Worryingly, I fear this last minute draw may be the second that has ‘acted’ against this team so far during the campaign; the other being Tevez hitting the post against Wigan. The fixture at the JJB seems to be gaining significance with every passing week, as it is the Northern side that are flirting with relegation more and more. Comforting for them is their point gap over us.

Three goals conceded at home against a mid-table side is not good enough in the Premiership. Two of them, in particular, were remarkably poor. The first was as comical as a goal could be. McCartney’s decision to concede a corner was baffling; particularly with Carroll being available for a back pass. It got worse; the lack of marking from the resulting delivery was disgraceful, with Spector particularly to blame. The way the ball trickled over the line only makes it worse. Set pieces consistently lead to goals, and for all the training that goes by, things do not seem to be improving. Portsmouth, Reading and Fulham have all capitalised in the past three weeks, and I fear the list may get longer. McBride's header - Fulham's second - was as easy as the American could want it. 'Bread and butter' is how commentators would describe it. Something needs to be done urgently with the back four. Anton and Gabbidon have hardly looked convincing together this season, hardly helped by the latter's time on the sidelines. Collins’ year has been plagued with injuries, Dailly always gives 100% yet will get found out at this level. I’ve wanted to see Spector in the centre, and once is plenty I now feel. McCartney and Konch are in a battle to see who is worse. Urgent cover must come this week; nothing less will do at the moment. Shaun Newton at right back is not the way forward.

Attack is the best form of defence, some say, so why the team sat back in the way they did after going 2-1 up also concerns me. With over forty-five minutes left, Fulham were there for the taking. The fast start had caught them sleeping, an onslaught of pressure could have seen the opposition capitulate in a way West Ham did at Reading on New Years Day. At two-all, their defence was found out again; another Benayoun goal should have given the home side three points. Whether or not they would have been deserved is open to debate. Like West Ham’s, their defence can hardly strike fear into opposition teams. Personally, the real lack of chances created suggests Fulham were justified to collect a point. The lack of goals this season is not encouraging, the real shortage of chances and domination in games even more so.

Losing Tevez so early on in the game hardly helped; Boa Morte remained on the pitch longer yet was kicked and pushed consistently by his former team-mates, thus muting his threat. Yossi took his two goals well, although faded in and out of large periods of the match. Reo-Coker did little inspire, Quashie was hardly awful despite clearly being off ‘Premiership pace’. Is he better than Mullins? I’m going to be bold here, I’m not sure. Time will tell, I guess, which is something the Irons have less and less of with each passing second. Carlton Cole looked a Championship player at best, his decisions when in possession were notably poor. Zamora’s first goal since Anfield in August was well taken, the sending off could be considered unlucky, however his all-round performance did not exactly stand out. For the second week running, the team scored three. Nonetheless, I still worry about our attacking credentials. He has not scored yet, however Carlos’ injury will be clear when he doesn’t play. None of our other strikers have my faith these days, and I am not putting all my hopes on Deano when (if?) he comes back this season.

Watford lost on Saturday, I think they are going down. The Pardew revival has hit a stumbling block at the Valley, their fixture list could add to their woes. Add them to the Championship next year too. Middlesborough’s win in South London keeps them afloat, Sheffield United may well be safe owing to their fighting spirit. Wigan, currently on a dreadful run of form, still sit with a three-point cushion over West Ham. The have done for a long time now as well. I cannot help but think those two points dropped against Fulham will cost West Ham dearly. I do not expect to beat Newcastle. Liverpool are gradually getting better away from home, so the next League game at the Boleyn will be tough. Time really is running out. Excuses are not enough. New signings are not enough on their own. Working hard in training is irrelevant if it is not repeated on match days.

How much does West Ham United Football Club mean to those we pay to see every week? An urgent call to arms is needed. That and a centre back………



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Player Ratings

Roy Carroll
I feel more comfortable when Green is in goal. Sure, Carroll played OK, Rob is just a better keeper.


Christian Dailly
Always one to give 100%, Christian did what he was asked to do, be it on the right on in the middle. Contender for player of year, owing more to the downfall of so many.


George McCartney
Nervous looking performance. Did not look comfortable going forward or defending.


James Collins
A gamble to play him, surely? Did not pay off either.


Danny Gabbidon
Just when Danny returns for a couple of games, he gets injured. I still think he’s vital to this League battle; off the pitch his impact could be greater than when he plays.


Nigel Quashie
His free-kicks were awful, at least he got stuck into Fulham. Judge him after a couple more Premiership games.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Yes, he battled, but he still does not look like a captain.


Yossi Benayoun
At times, this was the Yossi of old. Two good goals too, just needs to stay in the game for 90 minutes.


Luis Boa Morte
Ineffective. Most people would when they’re being kicked everywhere.


Carlton Cole
Despite the header for goal #1, he puts himself about a lot less than Marlon. Footballing brain sometimes lacking, too.


Carlos Tevez
Typical. Tevez begins to get a run in the side, before Fulham take their anger out on him. Then Boa Morte became the victim.


Substitutes


Jonathan Spector
(Replaced Collins, 11) I’m sure someone told me playing in the centre was the American’s best position. I’d disagree.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Tevez, 13) Good to see him score again, yet I can’t help but think he is not the answer to the lack of goals.


Shaun Newton
(Replaced Gabbidon, 81) You know times are hard when Newton has to play right back. Not as bad as he could have been, I guess.


Robert Green
Did not play.


Hayden Mullins
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: G.Poll.

Attendance: 34,977.

Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun.

West Ham United

Roy Carroll, Christian Dailly, George McCartney, James Collins, Danny Gabbidon, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole, Carlos Tevez.

Goals: Bobby Zamora 28 Yossi Benayoun 46 Yossi Benayoun 64              .

Booked: Nigel Reo-Coker 35 Carlton Cole 90        .

Sent Off: Bobby Zamora 76    .

Fulham

Lastuvka, Volz, Rosenior, Christanval, Bocanegra, Queudrue, Brown, Routledge, Helguson, McBride, Radzinski.

Substitutes: Montella (Helguson 67).

Subs not used: Warner, Pearce, Omuzusi, Runstrom.

Goals: Radzinski (17), McBride (59), Christanval (90).

Booked: Christanval (6), Queudrue (22), Rosenior (38), Helguson (67), Bocanegra (77), Routledge (84).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Nick Bull's Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun


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