Tuesday, 24th July 2001
I travelled down to the game in great spirits, had a beer in the boozer chatting away to some Posh fans about football, Defoe etc and then ambled off to the game. Well impressed with the Hammers support.
Looked to be a good 1,000 (but I've never been good at head counts), not very vocal, but all in good spirits.
Teams are announced and Sinclair and Di Canio get a HUGE response from the Hammers' following and then a rousing chorus of Bubbles rings out as the Posh team is announced.
On to the game then. I know it was only a pre-season friendly and I wasn't expecting too much apart from seeing how fitness levels are and how new faces look. The game itself wasn't much of a spectacle, probably again what was expected - a "comfortable" win for the Hammers. Rather than explain the course of the match, here's detailed player reviews instead.
James (8/10): Well impressed with him. Came for every cross and collected every cross. Shouted like mad at the defence to "get out", but nobody listened. He was constantly having a go at Foxe, telling him what to do etc (more on Foxe later). Overall a steady match and although your heart goes in your mouth every time he comes out to claim a cross, he instils more confidence in me (and hopefully our defence) than Shaka did last season.
Winterburn (7/10): Steady, consistent but underused. We seemed (surprise, surprise) very one-sided and Winterburn and Cortois looked like they were at a totally different game. Not much went down our left hand side all night.
Foxe (5/10): When I saw him last season, he looked reasonable and I reserved judgement for a while. However, last night he filled me with loads of confidence - about a thimbleful !!!!. This guy has to improve or we are in SERIOUS trouble. About the only good thing to say is that he stays on his feet - probably because James was shouting it at him all night he was too scared to fall over. His distribution was pitiful (I'd love to see the passes over 10 yards completed stats). Went off in the 2nd half when James whacked him one. Probably wanted to see the back of him too.
Dailly (4/10): Got a rapturous (NOT) welcome when his name was announced and he played with about as much confidence as that would instil in anybody. With Dailly and Foxe at the heart of our defence I am so happy I could slash my wrists. If Glenn is going to earn our respect then this is the MAIN position(s) that he needs to look at and quickly.
Schemmel (6/10): Steady performance, defended reasonably well with Sincs as back up and linked very well with Sincs when going forward. This guy is all heart and desire and this more than makes up for his lack in ability. A good performance, even if he didn't pull up any trees.
Cortois (6/10): (See Winterburn). In the patches where he did get the ball he looked impressive. Skilful flicks, good crosses and the right ideas all of the time. With us being too heavily right-sided, he needed a bit more support. Hopefully he'll get another couple of run-outs before a decision is made.
Carrick (7/10): This guy just seems to get better and better. Graceful is an understatement. This was summed up by one superb (ala Lampard for those who are missing him) run straight through the heart of the Posh defence whilst playing a one-two with Fredi (I think).
Moncs (8/10): What else can you say about this guy. Within 5 minutes of this friendly he was exchanging expletives with the referee and seriously looked like breaking the record for the quickest red card (currently held by John Moncur - ha ha). The rest of the game involved the obligatory 6 step-overs, one or five crunching tackles and his own brand of midfield link up/playmaking play. I really like this guy and if they could find the mould, we could do with 2 more younger models.
Sinclair (9.5/10): I think the mark tells the tail. God how we missed his skill and flair last season. All of our great attacks went through or ended with this guy. He is class and I'll tell you now he's worth a damn sight more than the poxy £6m offered by the barcodes. He's always looking to do something and with the skill and pace he's got....well I think we all know the rest. Top geezer.
Di Canio (7/10): Out of sorts again save a few flicks and 1 brilliant piece of show-boating in front of us Hammers fans in the 2nd half. His heart is with us definitely and he loves it. Look forward to hopefully seeing him back to full fettle in the new season.
Kanoute (9/10): Looked in great form, and looks to have grown another 6 inches in height in the Summer (either that or Posh's defenders are all short-arses). His skill and control are looking close to immaculate and if only he could push the ball into space and have a crack at goal occasionally I reckon he could be BIGGER dogs' danglies than he is now. Hopefully we can keep his interest.
Defoe (sub): Superb. Posh fans must hate the sight of him. Looked up for it as soon as he came on (80th minute ish) and could have scored a blinder before he scored his great goal anyway. This guy is a real handful (OK maybe a bit taller than that) and hopefully he can test his skills against Premiership defenders this season. One for the future and a bright star in our current camp.
Other Subs: Nobody really worth mentioning. Ludek Answar (Can't be arsed to check the spelling) looked reasonable and had a flying header go just wide. Couple of basic errors though for a centre midfielder. Soma looked steady when replacing Foxe and I'd like to see him given a starting chance next time up. If Soma was any more laid back I'm sure he'd fall over.
If you've got this far, here's the funny bit.
Second half, James half spills a cross in front of the Posh fans and obviously gets the cat calls and chants of "Dodgy Keeper". Some bloke stood near me shouts out "You should have seen the last one".
I'll leave you with that.
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