Sunday, 23rd September 2001
Glenn Roeder's men obviously forgot to read the script because yes, this was a totally one-sided game - but it was West Ham, not Bobby Robson's high-flying Newcastle who were basking in the glory of a 3-0 success come ten to six this evening.
Newcastle have been tipped for big things this season. Eight points from their first four games this season and unbeaten prior to this afternoon's match, why, even Hammers fans could grudgingly accept why they were hot favourites to end that awful run this afternoon.
But West Ham, beaten miserably at Middlesbrough last week were outstanding at the Boleyn again, just as they were against Leeds three weeks ago. The telling difference this time was that they took their chances in front of goal. Fortress Upton Park anybody?
Tomas Repka and Don Hutchison were making their home debuts today. Upon their shoulders rested Glenn Roeder's managerial career, as more than two-thirds of the Hammers meagre transfer budget was spent on bringing them to the club.
And they certainly lived up to expectations - Repka especially, whose performance oozed class, the likes of which we haven't seen since Rio departed.
From the off West Ham grasped the mettle. Chances came thick and fast, and it was only a matter of time before the first one went in. That chance was gratefully accepted by Don Hutchison, making an emotional return to Upton Park seven years to the month since he first played here. His close range range header from a corner settled the early nerves, and more importantly broke the duck which had seen us go five games this season without a goal from open play.
The goal was no more than the Hammers deserved; it followed chances for Michael Carrick and Tomas Repka which, in all honesty should have seen the Hammers' two up by that point.
From then on it should have been a rout. The only disappointment was that it took so long for the second goal to arrive, but when it did, it was certainly special. A sixty yard Christian Dailly pass from the heart of defence found Paolo Di Canio on the left edge of the penalty box. Di Canio, using all his masterful trickery teased the unfortunate defender before burying a low drive beyond Shay Given to double the Hammers lead.
And it was not long before number three arrived; Freddy Kanoute, missed so much so far this season latched on to a Di Canio (who else?) flick before cooly planting the ball beyond the helpless Given.
Newcastle were certainly shellshocked; maybe they belived the pre-match hype a little too much, but it was no contest out there today. High profile wingers Robert and Solano were taught a lesson by Messrs Schemmel and Winterburn who stood resolute throughout. Alan Shearer and (the vastly improved) Craig Bellamy were kept in check by Repka and Dailly, the latter whom is certainly confounding his critics this season. And with the return of Di Canio and Kanoute the Hammers front line were a constant thorn in the side of a lacksadaisical Newcastle back line, which brought back memories of the kind of defence once employed by former incumbent Kevin Keegan.
Di Canio especially was full of trickery for the watching Sky cameras; oh how we wish he didn't have such a phobia about playing away from the Boleyn. One back-flicked pass on the left wing in the first half was unbelieveable; one array of touches in the second half on the edge of the Newcastle penalty box was just plain rude.
Further value for money was offered by John Moncur who broke all known records by getting booked inside 15 seconds of entering the fray as a replacement for Laurent Courtois. A horrendous tackle on the touchline was greeted by howls of laughter all around the Boleyn. Monc's face said it all.
So a first win as manager for Glenn Roeder was greeted with ample enthusiastic applause at the final whistle - and rightly so. This was a quality performance, making last week's capitulation at Middlesbrough even more mysterious. The return of Di Canio and Kanoute was without doubt instrumental, but the whole team seemed to step up a level this week.
On last week's performance we are relegation certaintees. On today's, prospective European candidates. We'll preobably end up somewhere between the two come May 2002, but what this win gives the team - if nothing else - is the confidence to go on and show the rest of the Premiership what West Ham are really made of.
Hislop (7) Rarely put a foot wrong, although he has had far busier days. Maybe a little indecisive at times but never really looked in trouble.
Schemmel (9) Kept the flying winger Robert in his pocket and was always on hand to aid Trevor Sinclair on the right flank. An excellent performance.
Winterburn (8) Received a ridiculous booking, but otherwise accomplished throughout. Talk of retirement seems nonsense watching the evergreen Winterburn week in, week out.
Repka (9) One of the best home debuts you will ever have the pleasure witness. Alan Shearer never had a look in.
Dailly (8) Apart from a couple of first half wobbles he is improving every week. Three notably accurate sixty yard passes from the heart of defence, one of which led to the second goal.
Hutchison (8) An effective performance capped by his (second) debut goal. Chelsea are welcome to Frank Lampard judging by this.
Carrick (8) Worked tirelessly from box to box. Hard to believe he is still a teenager. Will be a mainstay in the heart of England's midfield for years to come.
Courtois (7) Tried hard without everything coming off. However, just by being on the park he gave the Hammers that width which they have lacked so far this season.
Sinclair (8) Roeder must not let him go. Not one of his more productive games, but still one of the best wingers in the Premiership. How Eriksson continues to overlook him for England is a mystery.
Kanoute (7) Clearly not fully match fit, much of Freddy's play was disappointing. But he showed the mark of a true predator by pouncing for the third goal. Will prove to be a real asset for the Hammers this season.
Di Canio (9) In years to come those of us lucky enough to have watched this man play will enjoy recounting stories of his trickery to future generations of Hammers supporters. A joy to watch.
Clash of the day: Seb Schemmel v Laurent Robert
There is no doubt that before the game French winger Laurent Robert would have been heavily tipped to win this fascinating duel.
But the Hammers right-back (who cost just 1/20th of the £9.5m Newcastle splashed out for Robert) kept the tricky winger at bay for the whole game, showing the likes of Gary Neville - who had a torrid time against the former Hammers target last week - how it should be done.
Man of the Match
Paolo Di Canio, Christian Dailly and Seb Schemmel were all in with a shout for this, but Tomas Repka - making his home debut - just clinched it with a commanding display at the heart of the Hammers defence.
The men in black (4/10)
Needlessly intrusive; Nigel Winterburn was booked for one of the most innocuous challenges you will ever see. Hopeless at spotting Alan Shearer's tactic of backing into defenders to earn a free kick.
The West Stand
My fist chance to witness the Boleyn from the new Dr.Martens sponsored West Stand (and that's the last time you'll hear it called that by me); you certainly are a long way from the pitch and it is far from finished, but overall a much improved experience.
West Ham United: Hislop, Winterburn, Schemmel, Repka, Dailly, Carrick, Hutchison, Courtois, Sinclair, Di Canio, Kanoute
Subs: Defoe (Kanoute 82), Moncur (Courtois 86), Forrest, Soma, Byrne
Newcastle United: Given, Elliott, Barton, O'Brien, Dabizas, Acuna, Solano, Robert, Lee, Shearer, Bellamy
Subs: Distin (Barton 57), Amoebi (Solano 75), Harper, Bassedas, Lua Lua
Goals: Hutchison (18), Di Canio (52), Kanoute (81)
Booked: Winterburn (alleged foul, 57), Schemmel (bad tackle 69), Moncur (scything tackle, 86)
Referee: Peter Jones
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