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Premiership
Tuesday, 30th January 2007

West Ham United 1
Liverpool 2

by Nick Bull


If one more so called football fans sends me a Text message attempting to laugh at West Hamís current plight, I will not be happy. My mood will be even worse if someone tells me that this club will survive relegation. Iíve heard it time and time again; tonight is merely my tipping point. Iíve had enough.

Fair dues to one friend, his SMS summed up the season: ĎNo passion and even fewer ideasí. Ten out of ten, mate. And having started this report at half midnight, having just arrived home, I have no idea what Curbishley has been saying post match. Large parts of me donít want to hear this anymore either. No excuses or hiding anymore. We need to hear something good.

The performance tonight was drivel. Liverpool were hardly awe inspiring, nonetheless they put in a lot of effort. I donít like Peter Crouch much at all, but boy he tries hard. His goal was well deserved for his endeavour. That really bugs me. I wish I could start by praising the commitment of the team in claret-and-blue. Sadly, I canít. Even worse is knowing that having got the score back to 2-1, it seemed that half the players out on the pitch tried increasing the pace. There is nothing more annoying than that. Iím disgusted by it, actually. Why should we applaud their efforts in the last fifteen minutes, when for three-quarters of the game no-one out there really wanted it?

Having been in this job over a month, I would have expected to see some improvement by now from Curbsí team. Perhaps tonight wasnít the best marker; Liverpool are bang in form, and did not play on Saturday. Only the Newcastle fixture has given me heart. Everything else has been dire. Having spent a lot of money, no more excuses about injuries should be used. I know only two of the back four tonight would be first choice, but itís only Neill, a centre-back and Tevez that were out of the team tonight. Apart from those new faces, what has really changed since Pardew was sacked?

Going forward we created one good chance, and that was converted. Marlon made a attempt out of nothing, a couple of half-chances came and went too. That is not good enough. Going forward this team are absolutely clueless. Through the middle we become too tight and too predictable, many-a-time tonight we simply resorted to moving the ball sideways or backwards due to lack of movement. Crossing is hardly a strongpoint either, few balls into the box made their targets tonight. The one real time we did this Blanco got on the scoresheet Admittedly, sometimes it may help if Cole and Harewood were to challenge harder. Boa Morte is not offering an attacking outlet; he drifted inside far too often when McCartney needed an overlap on the left. Benayoun was in and out of the game as per usual, and tends to come inside to create chances. This also failed again tonight. Quashie, like Mullins, does not give the team any real attacking credentials, and Reo-Coker may surge forward on occasions, however tonight a lot of moves broke down before he did something good with the football.

Defensively, a better opponent would have scored a lot last night. Confidence was clearly low, particularly with Carroll in goal. Sure, he made an error on Saturday, yet the decision to boo and chant about Robert Green was rather unsavoury. (Having now read his press conference) Curbs has stated the back four played deep in the first half as Ďthey hadnít played together beforeí. So, youíre telling me that the plan for a porous defence that is short on confidence was to invite pressure onto themselves? I think those tactics are dreadful. Dailly and Davenport will only gain if they are doing everything right and donít have to deal with great deal of opposition attacks. Also naive was the decision to keep the midfield so defensive; often it seemed like West Ham were playing 4-4-------------2. Cole and Harewood were isolated, everytime a clearance was made it went straight back to Liverpool. I still canít get my head around these tactics. The same goes for the substitutions. Two nil down with thirty-five minutes left, but Curbs left it way too long to replace players. Had the changes have come sooner, a point might have come our way. Go figure.

Upton Park is on the turn. I think things are going to get real nasty soon. The booing of certain players before kick off returned. Donít do it, please. The same can be said for songs about other players that arenít playing, which could only weaken already-low confidence. Especially donít start doing after the targeted on-pitch player makes a mistake. (Saying that, I want to hear 35,000 joining in with a Mark Noble chant). I still adore the man, yet the chanting of Pardewís name baffled me to. The booing against this was possibly the right thing to do; I thought a few scuffles might have kicked off at this point. Despite all this, if players are not producing the goods Ė or, worse, any effort Ė I totally understand voicing our discontent. I donít see why we, as fans, should waste our time trying to lift these players if they are simply going to churn up passionless performances. Sadly, too many players seem to being this at the moment. Last night I thought McCartney, Dailly and Davenport all did OK, and looked as if they wanted to fight. Everyone else really didnít impress. Reo-Coker slipped back to his usual standards from this season. Someone told me Boa Morte played, I certainly didnít see him out there!

The people around me were constantly checking the Wigan score. Excellent, they lost again was their general consensus. Actually, no, it is irrelevant as we failed to gain on them once more. Their current run is awful, however they are still a couple of points clear on us. Their luck is going to change soon, possibly at home to Portsmouth soon. I can safely say that they will only lose a couple more at most on this current run; therefore we need at least four points from Aston Villa and Watford. After the last two showings, Iím sceptical. Whatever Iím getting told by many at the moment, West Ham will not be alright in this relegation battle.



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Player Ratings

Roy Carroll
Not at fault for the goals, which is always good. Still, he looked edgy. His poor delivery returned spectacularly, looks weak when crosses come in.


Jonathan Spector
Looked poor defensively, especially in the first half. Really did not aid any attacking credentials.


George McCartney
Iím warming to him; he looks solid on the left flank. Always tried, especially going forward even though no-one wanted to support him.


Christian Dailly
He tried, as Christian always does, but clearly not the easiest of days. Donít think our tactics helped him.


Calum Davenport
Looked solid for large parts, but the first goal came from his error when challenging Crouch. As above, the gameplan hardly aided the defence.


Nigel Quashie
His passing looked average at best, and did not really get stuck into Liverpool as much as he possibly could have.


Nigel Reo-Coker
A couple of runs, which produced nothing. Flashes of desire, but they seemed to come and go.


Yossi Benayoun
Iím sorry, but I really donít rate Yossi much anymore. Yet again, he was hardly present. Offered nothing.


Luis Boa Morte
Fulham must be laughing.


Carlton Cole
When he tries, it is encouraging, however sometimes he just seems plain sluggish.


Marlon Harewood
Offered little, one first half chance aside. Saying that, he had nothing for feed off from.


Substitutes


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Cole, 72) Looked energetic when he came on, producing some nice touches. Great assist for the goal.


Kepa Blanco
(Replaced Harewood, 74) Well taken goal; offside or on, it does not really count for much. Looked keen.


Robert Green
Did not play.


John Paintsil
Did not play.


Hayden Mullins
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: C.Foy.

Attendance: 34,966.

Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker.

West Ham United

Roy Carroll, Jonathan Spector, George McCartney, Christian Dailly, Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole, Marlon Harewood.

Goals: Kepa Blanco 74                  .

Booked: Nigel Reo-Coker 60          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Liverpool

Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Alonso, Gerrard, Riise, Kuyt, Bellamy, Crouch.

Substitutes: Pennant (Crouch 70), Gonzalez (Bellamy 84), Fowler (Kuyt 90).

Subs not used: Dudek, Zenden.

Goals: Juyt (46), Crouch (52).

Booked: Alonso.

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Nick Bull's Man of the Match: Nigel Reo-Coker