Monday, 22nd January 2001
When I saw the team sheet I have to say that I was very nervous and began to dread the match. Talk about an untried defence. My nerves were horrendous to say the least, especially as Charlton were looking for revenge after that Boxing Day defeat. I really was beginning to believe that this could be a Hammer House of Horror epic.
As soon as the match started I was getting more and more anxious which made me a right pain in the neck to be sat with. We looked completely out of sorts and when Shaun Bartlett scored in the 7th minute I was dreading the next 83 minutes wondering if we would be able to hold our heads up high ever again. The Sky commentary team didn't help and I think I called Trevor Francis all the names under the sun. He's a nice enough bloke but his commentary really irritates the life out of me! They must have been hoping for West Ham to curl up and die.....how wrong they were.
That goal seemed to kick start the engine of the team and from there on you could see a gradual improvement in performance. It was an improvement I never thought I would see. All of a sudden the back 5 just clicked, which was amazing for the amount of training they must have done this past week. Christian Dailly looked very comfortable and I thought he had a very good game. Looked very effective and seemed to be taking charge of things. Very much in the same vein as Stuart Pearce would have done. I was also impressed with Sebastian Schemmel. He played as if his life depended on it and he did the claret and blue proud. He seemed up for it and didn't disappoint me in the least. He gave his all and this from a player on loan. I look forward
to seeing Christian and Sebastian a lot more in the future.
As the match went on and on we created more and more chances but we just couldn't seem to put them away which is a shame. Paolo, Freddie, Joe and Frank were all guilty of missing chances we should have been banging them in but we weren't. Paolo didn't seem to be firing on all cylinders until he got booked. I do think that the booking was uncalled for, there were other incidents in the game which deserved bookings but unfortunately Mr Gallagher didn't see them. It makes you wonder if there is an unwritten code against Paolo don't you? All refs standing together. (I believe that the ref was indirectly responsible for that goal as well, it certainly didn't help us!). Then from nothing Di Canio pulls a brilliant goal from out of nowhere, the chances he had, including that peach of a pass from Frank, had come to nothing and then he belts that one in. You wonder how he does it. We deserved that, it is such a pity that we couldn't have had one more.
I am not going to single out any one particular player for praise or criticism because I think they all pulled together last night. I have seen
plenty of people knocking Frank today which has really infuriated me. He made mistakes yes, but name me one player who didn't make one mistake last night. You don't hear Paolo being criticised for a few misses, or Freddie for not spotting Paolo do you? They have to pick on someone and that person is Frank. I would like to add that I think Michael Carrick was overlooked by a lot of people last night. He had a very good match but most people seem to be concentrating on Joe Cole, which is a shame.
I do think that we deserved 3 points from the game, but we can come away with some pride in our hearts. We just need to have this mentality when we face Manchester United. If we can keep that up we are going to give them a torrid time. As Alan Curbishley said "they (West Ham) have been the best team we have played all season," that compliment alone should say something to us.
We can do it and we can beat the best. We just have to believe. Belief is the most powerful magic of all......so come on West Ham believe in yourselves and do us proud.
West Ham United: Forrest, Winterburn, Schemmel, Dailly, Song, Tihinen, Cole, Carrick, Lampard, Kanoute, Di Canio
Subs: Moncur (Cole 86), Bywater, Camara, Potts, Basilla
Charlton: Kiely, Kishishev, Konchesky, Rufus, Fish, Todd, Jensen, Stuart, Parker, Bartlett, Svensson
Subs: Powell (Konchesky 73), Salako (Jensen 73), Lisbie (Svensson 64), Ilic, Brown
Goals: Bartlett (7), Di Canio (73)
Referee: Dermot Gallagher
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