Sunday, 4th March 2007
Today’s last second disaster was another one of those just waiting to happen given the season we’ve had. At no point in that game did it feel like we were going to win and I said to the bloke in front just after Z-man’s goal that it felt like a repeat of that game against Fulham when we lost out at the death.
Never in my wildest imagination though did I think that the f*ckers would steal a win, though.
I had to turn the radio off on the way back as the dashboard was in real danger of being smashed up following the stream of smug bagel-noshing tossers that came on to crow about their victory. Still, I suppose we had our time last year when we handed their biggest enemies the Champions League spot.
Remember that? I still laugh out loud when I think about it. Don't think I was quite as pleased as Arsene Wenger though.
Even though we are surely doomed, at least they didn’t send us down and I like to think that our win last season was sweeter than what they got today. Our goose was really cooked by those deplorable displays against Watford and Charlton. Reading away didn’t help either.
That first half was surely the best we’ve seen from the team for a very long time. By contrast the Sp*ds were awful – largely because they were failing to link up with Lennon who is probably the best player they’ve had for years. I look forward to him leaving for a big club very soon.
The team looked pretty super-charged in that first 45, although the commitment and the tempo led you to fear for players lasting the full 90, either because of repeated fouls or lack of steam. We were in their faces, not allowing them any space.
Bowyer and Quashie had a point to prove and they were putting themselves about to great effect. Every time the Sp*ds looked for Lennon, Neill was there to halt him in his tracks. The start for Noble gave the crowd a real lift and his opening goal was actually met with a stunned silence around me. We’ve actually almost forgotten what it was like to score a goal and there was a real air of incredulity.
Passion at the core
Tevez was magnificent, running around like his very life depended upon it, although I will still say that he does disappoint me with his failure to bamboozle and beat players in and around the box. He does not have the trickery of Di Canio, but one thing he does have in common with the Italian maestro is passion.
He proved that with the most outrageous goal celebration we’ve seen since the crazy Italian went radio rental when he got that winner at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. I have to admit I totally lost it when that free kick went in – it was just a massive release after so many games of goal drought for the South American.
If you saw someone running around in the East Stand Upper (Bobby Moore end) in an Argentinean shirt after that goal went in. I confess it was me. I put that on today because I had dreamt that he was going to do it against the N17 nonces. That is the happiest I’ve been this year.
However, when this season is over, it will be recognised (if it hasn’t already) that the decision to take both the Argies on was a dodgy deal which should never have been contemplated. It smelt badly when it happened and it did have an effect on both the manager and the team. This is not a popular view, I know, given the near cult-status of Tevez, but it does look like we are going to pay a big price for the sordid dealings of Mr T Brown and Mr K Joorabchian.
Do not concede before the break
The priority was to avoid a repetition of the Newcastle game where a goal (admittedly offside as f*ck) went in on the stroke of half time. We managed it and as we watched the truly bizarre half time entertainment courtesy of a number of Chinese blow up sex toys, the optimists were saying that we had more than an even chance.
Not me. I was unconvinced due to the serial fragility of our team this year. It was clear that the first 15 minutes was going to be massive and you felt that the Sp*ds could simply not play as bad as they did in the first half.
It went tits up too early after the combative Bowyer arrived too late and conceded the spot kick. It just had to happen and the penalty taker just had to be Defoe. You did wonder if Green might save it, as he had made a couple of great saves in the first half. It was not to be.
On the edge of a nervous breakdown
From then on we were living on the edge. You could see the confidence drain away and we appeared to lose the momentum we had in the first half. Passing began to go astray and you wondered what Matty was doing – he seemed fearful of moving anywhere near the wing. Noble, the local boy done good, also looked bereft of energy, no doubt because of lack of match fitness. Davenport, too, lacked mobility due to a knock.
The equaliser came after a simple pass was not executed by Konch – a well-worked move, but one which was pretty much gifted by us to the filthy Finn.
The writing looked like it was on the wall, but Curbishley did what a bloke near me was begging him to do – go for sh*t or bust on the basis that a draw was very little use. Kepa and Z-man were introduced and it was another excellent set piece play by Tevez which delivered the chance for a great headed goal which sent us all into delirium once again.
Prayer mats out
5 minutes left and prayers were offered that we could hang it out but you could see the vultures perching on top of the Rio Stand. Then it came. The free kick in almost an identical position to where Tevez had scored and an equally brilliantly executed shot over the wall which Konch could only deflect into the roof of the net as he tried to get back onto the post.
4 minutes added time and anything could happen. We were still fighting and Tevez went agonisingly close from inside the box. God only knows what frenzy of celebration from him and the fans would have ensued had that one gone in.
But then the bitterest of bitter blows as over commitment up front allowed a counterattack after Z-man gave the ball away. They scented blood and although Green did well to keep Defoe out, it just had to f*cking spill out to Stalteri.
We had to go for the win and you can’t blame anybody for loading the attack. I did hear someone criticise the tactics, but it was sh*t or bust after all, one point was not really worth it.
Right spirit, too late
At least we went down fighting, showing real commitment to the cause. We would not be in the position we are today if we’d played half the games this season like that. What is disappointing is that the change in manager couldn’t have delivered that spirit from the beginning. His time out of football meant he couldn’t hit the ground running. I think he was taken aback by what was required, leaving him almost in shock.
Sacking him now is a waste of time. I wanted Pardew to stay, but the reality is that we now must take relegation on the chin and try and rebuild. It will be very hard to get back first time – you just have to look at the top of the Championship today to see what a fight that is going to be. Given the time to reflect and work out who he wants for the battle ahead, Curbs is as good as any to navigate a way back. We will have to do that without a number of players, including Tevez. At least we all had the sheer adrenalin hit of that goal celebration in this forgettable season.
(Player ratings by Het-Field)
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Some magnificant saves. But another four conceded meaning in three games he has let in 15...
Some excellent play, a welcome return to the side. At fault however for the penalty which gave Spurs the initiative back.
Very determined but lost it in the second half. At fault for the second gaol by failing to close down Berbatov.
At fault for third goal by giving away a needless free-kick. Mindset is questionable. Are his days at Upton Park are numbered?
Another Neill attempt at a second debut. Looking forward to see him play for a full half.
Poor passing. Two ludicriously bad attempts at goal. Injury compounded a bad evening.
Vindicated the views of 90% of Hammers fan's views. Fizzed around the place and took his goal well.
Poor. Far more interested in injuring Spurs Players. Gave away penalty. A poor return.
No threat at all. The quicker Boa Morte returns the better.
One goal, two assists. Says it all. He will be the best player ever to be relegated in the history of the Premiership.
No real threat. Far more gusto in his attempts to impose himself.
(Replaced Upson, 10) Good in the air. One of our better options. The injury didn't help him.
(Replaced Quashie, 79) One headed chance, otherwise innefective.
(Replaced Etherington, 82) Another goal pretty much guaranteeing him top goalscorer. Some nice runs. Better than our other options.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Matthew Upson, Nigel Quashie, Mark Noble, Lee Bowyer, Matthew Etherington, Carlos Tevez, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Mark Noble 15 Carlos Tevez 38 Bobby Zamora 83 .
Booked: Mark Noble 6 Carlos Tevez 42 Lee Bowyer 50 Lucas Neill 53 Paul Konchesky 62 Nigel Quashie 77.
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Robinson, Chimbonda, Lee, Gardner, Dawson, Jenas, Tainio, Lennon, Ghaly, Defoe, Berbatov..
Substitutes: Huddlestone (Ghaly 45), Staltieri (Jenas 56), Taarabt (Chimbonda 86)..
Subs not used: Rocha, Cherny..
Goals: Defoe (49 pen), Tainio (62), Berbatov (87), Staltieri (95)..
Booked: Chimbonda (-)..
Sent Off: None sent off..