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Premiership
Saturday, 10th February 2007

West Ham United 0
Watford 1

by Nick Bull


It’s 1996, and my under-9 five-a-side have just lost their final group game in the league stage of a prestigious local tournament. We had already qualified for the second round, yet because the shot that beat us came of my right foot, I was in tears. I hate losing, and this is the first example that I can remember of being a ‘bad loser’.

I’ll happily admit that I take defeat badly. This season, with West Ham, I have tended to become grumpy and often sort-tempered after seeing us be beaten once more. Strangely, last night nor today (Sunday) have seen me in such a mood. I’m use to losing by now; it can be taken for granted. Last week was realistically the end, and the Watford defeat destroyed any small hope that shone in the eternal optimist. Mark my words: West Ham will be playing Championship football next season.

I suspect that Watford themselves will be relegated too. That really saddens me. Their results and league position suggest that they are one of the worst teams in Premiership history – in many areas I don’t think anything is further from the truth. Only in terms of ability, is it correct. Nonetheless, when it comes to determination, effort and character, they are right up there with the best in this League.

Take Darius Henderson, yesterday’s goalscorer, as an example. First Division Reading deemed him surplus to requirements. League One Gillingham loaned him to struggling Swindon a couple of seasons ago, a side one division below the Kent team. He hadn’t scored a Premiership goal until yesterday. He competes aggressively, too. Overall, ‘Hendo’ is the perfect metaphor for Aidie Boothroyd’s Watford.

On the other hand, the current West Ham side have cost millions to assemble. The wages are slightly more than pocket money. The manager is on a fair few pounds as well. I doubt any of them are aware that Battle is a place on the South East cost. Worryingly, the number is probably the same for those who know the meaning of the term. When this team start fighting as a unit, and not a couple of individuals here and there, I may be a little prouder in my support of West Ham.

Tevez wants to play for this club. He always seems motivated. Reo-Coker looked lively at times, though still short of meeting the criteria for a captain. Green is similar to Carlos; surprising considering what he is subjected to every week in goal. Individuals are all I see out there, not a team. My disgust continues hand in hand with the dismal form.

A couple of weeks ago – before the game against the Hornets in the cup – I listened to a conversation outside the ground between two men, one happened to be the son of John Lyall. What would his old man make of the shambles at the moment? This week also saw the one-year anniversary of Greenwood’s passing. Would he using the word ‘lift’ five times in a post-match press conference? Anyway, it’s too late now; it should have come after Manchester United and Fulham.

Another similarity with many defeats this season is that, whilst having large parts of possession, nothing ever came from it. Ben Foster in the opposition goal had very little to do all afternoon. The blank canvas yesterday really worries me. The forty-odd goals conceded this season shows how weak Watford are at the back. Malky Mackay hardly impressed during his stint at the club, yet yesterday he seemed rather in control. That worries me. A lot. Bobby should have scored in the first half following up Reo-Coker’s poor shot. He missed badly. Tevez was unlucky twice; his free-kick was agonisingly near to the goal. Then there was Marlon’s penalty.

I can see a mass exodus in the summer; based on yesterday’s performance I would be (a) glad to get rid of some of the players and (b) surprised anyone would want to take them on. The ever-inconsistent Spector had possibly his weakest game for the club. Benayoun did his usual trick of getting involved for a minute or two here and there, before going back to looking careless and bored. Quashie met his adopted billing of a ‘Championship player’. Zamora and Harewood offered little. Ferdinand’s average season continues; the penalty might have been soft, then again he was petulant to pull the shirt of Henderson.

Many are adding the manager to the list of those they want to see move on. Without sounding fickle, I am not warming to Curb’s and his tactics. Eleven men behind the ball for corners and set pieces is awfully defensive, even worse when you need to be winning games. Staying with two up front when you’re behind baffles me. In general, we paid too much respect to Watford.

As ludicrous as this would have seemed a year ago, I can see West Ham finishing bottom of the League. Relegation is bad enough, twentieth place is frankly embarrassing. Based on pride, I would say that is where we deserve to be. Yesterday’s visitors would be leagues above us. It was Watford. Watford, for f~#!’s sake.

Positives from the game

- Tevez looked lean and ready to fight
- Green back in goal

Negatives from the game

- We lost. Again.
- We lost to Watford. Again.
- There was no determination.
- Did I mention the lack of fight?
- The strikers cannot score for love nor money.
- Lucas’ latest injury

Suggestions for Charlton

- Go to the Valley with an attacking mindset, and tactics to match
- Stop the 11 men behind the ball nonsense.
- Start Tevez
- Bring back Mullins
- Fight.
- Fight some more.



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Player Ratings

Robert Green
He started a game again. Unlucky with the penalty; just the way the season is going for him. I just hope he doesn’t listen to songs about not being fit to wear the shirt.


Lucas Neill
January 13th. Collins is rushed back against Fulham. He gets injured. Why was Lucas bought in so quickly when he wasn’t 100%? Poor management.


George McCartney
As a defender, he does his job with confidently. Failed to help Etherington going forward; though Matty returned the (lack of) favours too.


Anton Ferdinand
His terrible season continues. A nervous and unsettled was topped off by the poor penalty gift.


Calum Davenport
Performed well, meeting everything that was required of him.


Nigel Quashie
Unconvincing would be a compliment.


Nigel Reo-Coker
He tried, which I’ll happily admit. Won the penalty too, which again I cannot deny. His lack of influence on the game still worries me.


Yossi Benayoun
Flashes of inspiration from the start of the second half up to the penalty miss. Did little else before or after.


Matthew Etherington
Definitely better than Boa’s recent displays. Final ball was often poor. Still baffled by Curb’s decision to move him into the middle for the final minutes.


Marlon Harewood
He tried, and failed. Brilliantly sent Foster the wrong way for the penalty, although the miss was more impressive.


Bobby Zamora
The scoring run of August seems more than six months away. About as far away as Bobby’s display was from the required level.


Substitutes


Jonathan Spector
(Replaced Neill, 32) One of the weak links on the pitch. Never went forward, and his defensive abilities looked shabby at best.


Carlos Tevez
(Replaced Zamora, 46) Too good for this team. Sure, he hasn’t scored, nevertheless he works his socks off. Looks lean after his time on the sidelines.


Luis Boa Morte
(Replaced Quashie, 80) Rightfully dropped, which was a start. His substitution failed to produce anything noteworthy.


Rob Carroll
Did not play.


Christian Dailly
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: A.Wiley.

Attendance: 34,625.

Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez.

West Ham United

Robert Green, Lucas Neill, George McCartney, Anton Ferdinand, Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora.

Goals: None.

Booked: Calum Davenport 12 Jonathan Spector 67 Yossi Benayoun 76      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Watford

Foster, Mariappa, DeMerit, Mackay, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Francis, Cavalli, Henderson, Kabba..

Substitutes: Bangura (Cavalli 75), Ashikodi (Kabba 79)..

Subs not used: Priskin, Shittu, Hoskins..

Goals: Henderson (12 pen)..

Booked: Mariappa (75)..

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Nick Bull's Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez