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Saturday, 2nd November 2002

Liverpool 2
West Ham United 0

by Graham Godfrey

Watching West Ham United really is like a box of chocolates - you just don't know what you are going to get next. Sometimes it's an absolute pleasure to watch, sometimes it's predictably poor.

Sometimes we just suffer more than our fair share of bad luck (usually against poor teams); today we surrendered from the minute the team sheet went into the referee's room. Failing to take the game to Liverpool always meant defeat was on the cards, you just can't cancel them out when Michael Owen is on form.

As soon as Liverpool scored (with one midget up front) they knew the job was done. What threat do we pose when every ball is played to Defoe, in the air, on a slippery surface?

Today was the second successive game where we have not played to the conditions.West Ham, prior to this season never played the long ball game. We do now, and it's as effective as a chocolate teapot with Defoe, who likes the ball at his feet, in the team - or Paolo (when he plays), a footballer who wouldn't head a ball if you chopped his arms and legs off. So why do David James and his back four persist in lumping the ball up to the front men?

Currently West Ham are a group of individual players - definitely not a team. A short passing game, with decisive balls through to our front men is the way we should play. One of the most frustrating things about the team is that nobody seems able to take a game by the scruff of the neck and impose themselves upon the opposition. If they did maybe some of the others may get to realise that a bit of graft pays off.

Going into today's game with one up front should cost Roeder his job. It was an insult to every supporter who travelled to the game or went down the pub to watch it. You get the feeling - especially with his ridiculous substitution of Defoe for Camara - that he was purely out on a damage limitation exercise, not at all how a team full of attack minded players should approach a game. I'm sure - like the fans inside the ground - that every West Ham player felt 'demotivated' (word of the day that) by the negative way we approached this game.

Poor old Titi Camara. Even Roeder stated that he has worked his socks off to get into the fringes of the team - before adding that Titi must be the most demotivated player at the club. Well Glenn , if you fail to reward hard work (and ignore it when its one of the main things lacking in your team's performances) then can you blame him for being demotivated?

Which brings me nicely to Roeder and his man management, sorry, lack of man management. He may be a good coach - we can only believe what people say, we can't compare him to any one as most of us have little idea of how any coaches really work - but we can see every week how the team is forming and developing its balance and patterns of play.

Going on this seasons performances (or lack of them) you'd have to give him a score of zero on all the above criteria. Rumours suggest he has no control over Paolo Di Canio and didn't have the balls to challenge him on the mystery injury this week (which is, after a scan, supposedly still a mystery).

I've been behind Roeder and wanted him to succeed, but today he lost any respect I and a lot of others may still have had for him. His tactics and substitutions were laughable. Substitutions are meant to affect the game in your favour, lets see then:

Moncur against Arsenal - nearly lost us the game.

The Carrick, Cisse and Lomas debacle at the Baggies game - a joke which took all momentum we had out of the game.

Today's total sham of a substitution - how could Glenn think like for like (which wasn't working anyway) would improve us? He had options to change things - go two up front, sacrifice a full-back (or even the very poor Joe Cole), and try and impose the game on Liverpool.

Even at two-nil down Roeder refused to gamble - this from a man whose initial quote upon getting his dream job was along the lines of "I guess I'm like the horse Fawnhaven which won the National when all the competition fell".

So Glenn must be a bit of a gambler, but why oh why doesn't he try it in his work? He'd get more respect if he was seen to be fighting in his corner, instead he was ridiculed by the majority of the West Ham fans at Anfield, who chanted "you don't know what you're doing". On this showing I'm afraid I'd have to concur.

Roeder's faults aside, too many players in our colours (which were conveniently white today) are woefully under performing and don't look at the races at all. Cole, like Carrick earlier in the season needs to be dropped to give him a kick up the arse. When did he last affect a game? I know he's young, but that's even more of a reason to get him right rather than subject him to the criticism that's coming his way.

Carrick was good today and is improving. Trevor Sinclair needs to play on the right, he's next to useless on the left. So what if it affects his England career - we pay his wages, his best position is on the right - so play him there.

Cisse - he'll come good; Lomas tries hard, he should have scored today but he is still a top flight footballer - we just aren't getting the same out of him this season. Repka is losing his game totally, maybe it's got a bit to do with some of the rubbish he's playing alongside. But you can guarantee at least once a game he'll make a monumental cock up. Pearce is steady, Minto and Dailly fall into the Lomas category, and the rest really haven't had a good chance to prove themselves

Today we started flat, sat back and were under pressure from the off. Owen could and should have scored twice before he eventually did with a trademark bit of skill, a good deal of fortune and a perfect finish. Even this didn't generate a response from our players or management - it took us until the 40th minute to have a crack at their goal (whilst precariously protecting ours).

Once again there was no commitment other than that of a dogged Carrick in midfield. Liverpool cut through West Ham's defence at will, after scoring they knew the game was all but won - the only threat to their goal was the odd doodlebug up to Defoe.

Our chances were few and far between and came mainly after the half-time interval. Our best fell to Steve Lomas, but he shot tamely from just four yards straight at 'keeper Jersy Dudek, who was lying prostrate on the deck.

Soon after Jermain Defoe was pulled down just outside Liverpool's box - the useless homer referee (not an excuse for our defeat but he was very poor) failed to see it, and Liverpool - and Owen - went on to score a second on the counter-attack. I've not seen a replay and don't want to! David James missed Owen whilst roughly 30 yards out of his goal, Owen went wide and struck his shot at goal weakly, Tomas Repka couldn't get there and Christian Dailly seemed to help it in rather than clear it. Very embarrassing, and hard to swallow considering the good position we were in moments earlier.

After warming up for approximately ten minutes Titi Camara finally got the nod, only to our (and many Liverpool fans) disbelief it was Jermain Defoe who was hauled off.

So we stayed with the one striker, never really causing them problems. Roeder was barracked by the away fans for the substitution, yet the support for the team was constant throughout.

We as fans deserved a lot better, but got nothing at all - other than being spat at by a filthy Liverpool player. I saw the aftermath in the bottom corner of the stand; my friend saw the incident, I didn't, but if, as a Liverpool fan on the radio said he did spit in the direction of anyone - be it at Liverpool or West Ham fans - severe punishment should be handed out.

West Ham United, its players and management were a disgrace to the club we support today. We deserve better, I've never felt as embarrassed at a game as I did today. Glenn Roeder is cutting a lonely figure on the sidelines; I'd hate to see it get to the point where he is hounded out, but I fear it will.

Right now it seems the longer Roeder remains as manager the higher the risk of permanent damage to the club is. I truly hope this is rock bottom - because if it gets any worse than this then I'm seriously thinking of jacking it all in ...

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Pearce, Repka, Dailly, Minto, Sinclair, Lomas, Carrick, Cisse, Cole, Defoe (Camara 67).

Subs not used: Van Der Gouw, Winterburn, Breen, Garcia.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Traore, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Diao, Hamann, Smicer (Gerrard 70), Heskey, Owen.

Subs not used: Kirkland, Baros, Diouf, Cheyrou.

Goals: Owen (26,55)

Attendance: 44,048

Referee: Eddie Wolstenholme

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