Saturday, 3rd February 2001
Saw Jamie Carragher stuffing his face in a nearby KFC before the game and thought I might have a bit of a story but it turned out he joined the likes of Harry's Boy,the new Finn, Owen, Chicken Burger and Big MacAllister (sorry!) on the sidelines. For our part Shaka was out, joined by Paolo who conveniently picked up 'flu again. More likey missing so as not to pick up a yellow that would result in missing Sunderland.
Opening exchanges were even, with Kanoute in on goal Westerveld blocked and Schemmel followed up the rebound only the find the side netting. Liverpool soon started to click though but several crisp attacks were thwarted by timely interceptions by Dailly and Tihinen.
On 20 minutes there appeared to be no real threat when the lively Smicer checked inside and unleashed a rasping , dipping drive from 30 yards beyond Forrest. The Reds were staring to take control but were helped by a Hammers side that seemed to stand off and invite the many waves of attacks coming at them. Despite Cole looking busy trying to orchestrate things for the Hammers most moves fizzled out to nothing. Freddie was getting no help, strike > partner Camara simply did not support him.
You felt it was just a question of going into the interval at one down and surely we would see an improvement in the second half and things would change. Alas, Liverpool had other ideas and with another predictable Hammers move going nowhere Winterburn was caught in possession. Fowler gathered, set off and intelligently spotted a gap at Forrests near post and drilled it into the gap.
2-0 game over bang on half time.
Or was it, suprisingly no half time changes but a real difference in terms of effort and spirit as the Irons had a real go to retrieve the game.
Freddie had already got Babbel, stretchered off, now he was after a goal.
Foiled by the keeper , then he set up Lampard with the home keeper again blocking. That ten minute spell was followed by some incisive , quick and clever Liverpool attacks.The Hammers faithful were aiming their frustration at Camara. He failed to follow up the Lamps effort and Titi was not supporting Freddie at all. He really was bad, one boob after another, running down blind alleys,shocking. On 55 minutes a change was made but it was the other ex Red Song, who recieved a warm Anfield welome home. Why Schemmel was sacrificed I'm not sure and Song may as well have had a Red shirt on the amount of times he proceeeded to lose possession and position.
Liverpool were starting to open us up at will on the counter and it was no real surprise when Smicer set up Fowler for the third and it really was over now as streams of away fans headed for the exit. Bulgarian striker Todorov spent 20 minutes stripped and ready to come on and he eventually did on 73 minutes. Shades of George Graham as Freddies withdrawal was met with 'You don't know what your doing' cries. H desperately pointed at his leg to indicate Fred had a problem. We weren't interested, we just wanted Camara off as he was making a complete Tit of himself.
Fowler deserved a hatrick and thought he had one only to be pulled up by either Heskeys block on Forrest or Smicer going out of play in the set up.
Smicer was involved in all three and impressive but Fowlers workrate and skill on the ball when he dropped deep stood out.
The only things that shone for the Hammers was the wit from the travelling contingent. They talk of Scouse humour but the Cockney boys won this battle.
New songs aired were 'Who knocked the Mancs out?' , to the tune of 'Who let the dogs (Moncs) out?'. 'Let's all do the Bartez' with one arm raised.
Also 'We've got DiCanio, you've got our stereos' which was also fired at Everton fans a few months back.
Pity the players could not use such imagination and effort on the park.
Harry mentioned several players were tired after three big games in a week and it showed. With over a week until we face Coventry at home there should be no excuses for that one, as anything other than 3 points will start to see us looking over our shoulders worryingly. That would be unacceptable.
Forrest 6 - Made some decent stops but many were having a pop at him in the half time inquests. You can't help wondering if Shaka would have got to those two first half goals.
Schemmel 6 - Worked hard up and down the line but did lose the ball several times, still a shock to see him replaced by Song though.
Dailly 7- Swept up well at times and used his speed and strength to block the power of Heskey a few times.
Tihinen 7 - Again another good display from the brave Finn. Seems to be able to detect danger but the defence had their work cut out against the rampant Reds.
Pearce 6 - Never gave up of course but looked drained as he struggled to keep tabs on the quick inventive home forwards.
Winterburn 5 - Not one of Nutty's better days. His dwelling in possession and lack of speed caught him out several times. Many moves broke down on the left including the one that lead to the killer 2nd goal. Another tired old man in need of a rest.
Lampard 6 - Did okay and along with Joe was behind our better moves.
Carrick 5- Michael was unable to influence things in the middle. It all got a bit crowded and he gave the ball away far too cheaply.
Cole 7 - Joe looked very lively early on and was going through Reds just like me on the Liverpool ring road. Looked totally drained as the game wore on and hobbled off 10 minutes from the end.
Camara 4 - The worst individual display from a West Ham player for some time. We've moved on from the days of Newell and Jones but this was a reminder of those days. I was prepared to give him time to settle but he had no excuse of being tired. He had a point to prove to Houlier and blew it big style. Quite how he was left on for 90 minutes is a mystery. Titi will really have his knockers now.
Kanoute 7 - Clearly not 100% but battled on manfully without any real support. He was closed down quickly but remained our only proper threat.
Song 5 - Untidy when he came on for Schemmel, we were more open on the right after he took the field.Like Camara he had a point to prove and failed.
Todorov 6 - Looked keen and full of running, one nice dribble, but no chances to show what he can do in front of goal Soma 6 - Only got 10 minutes and looked a little out of place in midfield. Showed enough composure and lay offs with his left foot to suggest he may look okay at the back.
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