Saturday, 21st April 2001
When the 11 came out, it as clear that they weren't up for it either. And, within a few minutes, they were all proved right. Cross from Kewell, far post down, Shaka could only palm it away and they had 4 people in the box, so one of them had to be near to get it in. 1:0 to Leeds. It was their first real attack and they didn't really need to break sweat. Our defence looked terrified the moment Kewell got it and the cross looked like it was coming in. It had "goal" written all over it for around 15 seconds despite the fact that we had a full defence in place.
Leeds then ran the show pretty much for the rest of the half. Highlights were obscured by several people who either arrived late, took their little nipper (I mean taking a 4 year old little girl to West Ham could be construed as torture!) to the loo, collected a pie, etc - what income are these people on who can spend £40+ on a ticket and not watch half the sodding game?
I didn't see Mills' barny on Di Canio, and the screen was showing the Doc Martens logo at the time, so I couldn't see from my high eyrie in the Upper West.
Leeds are the type of team we can't handle - they never give you a moment on the ball, and seem to have more players than we do because at the end of the day they have two distinct advantages over us - they work their nuts off to a man, and they have a system. We, on the other hand, look utterly bereft of ideas, creativity, and most of all, confidence. Every time they got the ball, Leeds KNEW what they were going to do with it, did it, and in double quick time. We, on the other hand, looked pedestrian and no-one seemed to know what anyone else was doing. I suppose it's what happens when your manager doesn't believe in coaching. I mean, I know we haven't played a consistent defensive unit all season, and I know we've played 3, 4 and 5 at the back (we played two of them yesterday) but don't they train to a system into which they can slot whoever turns up? I know UP isn't the widest pitch in the country but is it really necessary to try and play through a swarm of yellow shirts when there are guys standing out in space across the pitch? If we did look like making a break, we were way too hesitant - looked up, thought about it, stood on the ball, looked around for options and eventually, too late, went for the safe one.
We lost all threat when Frddy went off. Why was he played? He was doubtful before the match, but it was clear from the off he wasn't fit. Less than 10 minutes and you've already used one substitution option. It would be criminal if the bench had some real options on it, but it didn't and we got Todorov instead. I wrote after the Ipswich game that he looked like he might be OK. Well he might yet, but not yet. He's way too lightweight; gets taken off the ball too easily and can't hold the ball like Freddy. His effort is fine, but his final ball is dire. He got plenty of kicks to Martyn, but unfortunately they were all dead balls.
Johnny Moncs got subbed after he overstretched for a ball and Foxe came on - one of the few bright spots to the afternoon (Foxe, not Moncs!). He looks very comfortable on the ball, composed and his distribution was excellent.
First half ended and we were lucky to be just a goal down. A quick coffee (my son forgot the sugar AGAIN - he gets them; I pay - he's not performing either) and the joys of the Hammerettes - the "best dancing girls in the Premiership" apparently; then back to the, er, football.
Leeds 2:0 up inside a few seconds, it seemed; and it was Rio. And we clapped him politely. Which was possibly the saddest moment of the day; he deserved it, but there he is, a product of West Ham, and on present showing deserves better than West Ham, and is getting it. Shit. What chance Lamps, Carrick and Cole? Prompted a half-hearted chorus off "Where's the Money gone?" to the tune of Chirpy, chirpy cheep cheep. Good question. See below.
The Batty took out JC and the sides were a bit more even. It happened right in front of us; how O'Leary can have the unmitigated gall to say he didn't make contact is beyond me. It looks even worse on video than it did from the stand, and that's what the twonk says he saw. Twat. I was surprised Joe got up so quick; he's obviously harder to stop than Lennox Lewis.
Diawara came on for Dailly. We went to three at the back. The crowd got really excited about that, which I though was pretty stupid. He hadn't had a great game, but he'd done no worse than some (Stimac springs to mind like a young gazelle) and must have done his confidence the power of good.
First time I've seen Diawara in the flesh, and my first thought was what a prodigious amount of it he appears to have. However, I thought he made a difference and it was his efforts that brought two really top class saves from Martyn.
However, despite some pressure, the clock ticked and the goal to make a match of it never came. They nearly got one with a Bowyer breakaway but Shaka made a good save; people began to leave early (although not as bad as Ipswich). I guess we hoped for something against Ipswich, here we didn't; in truth we were better yesterday against a very good team. However, we only looked better when they went down to 10 men, and they got three points at a comparative canter.
Where has the money gone? Bargain bucket? I mean, when the Rio money came in, did anyone sit down and say, now, what's the plan? Where are we trying to get to, and what kind of players do we need? If Freddy goes this summer, we need two - and no less - really good strikers. The number of times we got the ball in the box only there was no one there was embarrassing. Leeds were the opposite- in defence, always behind the ball; in attack, swarming all over us. We tried to walk the damn thing into the net. As threatening as something entriely lacking any threat whatsoever. Did anyone think about how these players we've got might fit into a system? Or do we really make it up as we go along (because that's what it looks like)?
And can we have a coach? Because as far as I can see the only one we've got has wheels and plush seats. Joe's got to learn a position? Do me a favour; you've had him since he was 15/16 and it's up to him? You don't need coaching, you just need good footballers? If we carry on like this we'll be in the Nationwide for sure. Hoddle's left Soton - they seem to think a good coach helped. George Burley may possibly disagree - and I'm sure there's not an Ipswich fan thinks the players could have done it on their own. And can HR shut the F&*K up? I'm fed up (as are we all) with "bare bones" and "look at their quality" - you bought them; for every nice bit of wheeler dealing there's a couple of complete clangers. And when faced with a real wallet you've no idea at all. And what do you think they think when they read some of your comments? (My Kid bro made the point on westhamonline - if he said some of the kinds of things Harry said in public about his players, about the people that work for him, he'd be out of a job) - Sorry, Harry, time to go - weakest link etc.
If we're not very careful, we'll be one of those clubs with a nice stand they can't afford in the Nationwide. The Board needs to take responsibility. This image of a nice, family club is all very well, but we
have a track record of dodginess (Bond Schemes, Share buy-backs) that combined with the lack of strategy on the footballing side marks us out as amateurs who can't cut it in the Premier League. It's high time we got some really first class leadership in; Rio's obviously seen how an ambitious club runs things and has seen the other side; I'm sure he chats to his old mates about how different things can be. Footballers aren't like us - they aren't tied to the outfit by the chains we are. I'd still support WHU in the 2nd Division - no way Cole, Carrick and co would. And you wouldn't expect them to. We have the best squad in the club's history. Yes, but that's not the benchmark. The benchmark is how your squad compares to everyone else's and what you get out of them - and we're struggling to run up the down escalator.
Rant over (Bitter? Pass the f*cking limes).
Hislop 4/10 Don't bother with the contract extension - go get another keeper. Induces rampant terror in our defence.
Dailly 6/10 Why Stimac stayed on & he didn't I don't know. Should have been at far post to comfortably keep out Rio's header.
Stimac 5/10 Good clearances but distribution is woeful and Wilcox made him look like the lump of lead he is late on.
I Pearce 7/10 Welcome back. Solid.
Moncur 6/10 Tried to put it about and break things up but not very effective.
Foxe 8/10 The business. Really.
Cole 7/10 Does your heart proud to see him float past really good defenders. Harry's not good enough for him, though.
Carrick 8/10 The business. Again.
Lampard 7/10 Made the effort for his new club?
Di Canio 6/10 Has not been the same since Trevor got injured. Predictable and well below any sort of creative par. Should be on the bench but our squad is too shallow, and so we HAVE to play him.
Kanoute u/m Should never have played. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I know Harry likes a punt but this was a silly gamble that shows how bereft we are.
Todorov 5/10 Tried but mostly ineffective. Not Premiership material, I'm afraid. Still, I'm sure he was a bargain.
Diawara 7/10 Almost our only threat. Would do OK in most clubs' stiffs.
G Poll 4/10 Picky and crap. Linesman on West Stand side first half missed two outrageously blatant offsides with first five minutes. And a goal kick which should have been a Leeds corner, so he was crap but consistent.
Leeds 8/10 Played well as a team, knew their jobs, no fuss, worked very hard but cantered home; class act. Rio looked very at home.
Crowd 5/10 Resigned as much as frustrated, got on Dailly's case without justification IMHO, and (obviously only a small section of the crowd) kept standing up in front of me! But observed minutes' silence well (you could have heard a mouse drop) and gave Rio a well-deserved reception that added significantly to my mood of melacholia.
Where was Schemmel? Song? TIHINEN for God's sake? (I know he's in Finland) Not worth £1 million? And have you seen what you've spent more than that on in the past, Harry?
Oh I'm off again. Sorry. That'll do; I need to go and lie down. I mean, being cheered by Derby losing and worried about M'boro 'cos they won? What a season.
* Want to submit your match reports to KUMB.com? More details here ...