Saturday, 9th February 2002
No, I'm not talking about the match - I'm on about the journey back. Our car broke down around the Birmingham area on the M42 and it took well over an hour for the recovery truck to pick us up ... we got home at 11.30pm!
Oh yes, there was also a match - but not a very good one. We lost 5-0 at Everton earlier this season; today I thought we were worse.
It looked promising in the opening 15 minutes; we were winning plenty of ball in midfield and had a few chances. But after that we fell apart, and but for a few half chances in the second period we were awful.
When I heard the team announced at the start it only confirmed how weak our squad is. Sinclair, Hutchison, Di Canio, Winterburn, Carrick and Repka were all out. In place we used players like Minto, Foxe and Garcia, who are just not Premiership quality players.
Up front we looked poor - both Jermain Defoe and Freddie Kanoute were under par (although Freddie saw much more of the ball). Many said they were looking forward to the Kanoute/Defoe partnership, but they have played together three times (against Liverpool, Leeds and now Bolton) and we have lost twice and drawn the other. And, neither Jermain nor Freddie have scored whilst playing together. As a team we have only scored one goal in those three games.
Glenn Roeder changed the system to 3-5-2, but it didn't work out. I would have rather seen Courtois on the left wing and Labant at left back (but I suppose it's easy to say that in hindsight).
Bolton scored the only goal of the game just before half time (as usual); we conceded from another set piece (as usual). It's simple things we are doing wrong, simple things like not marking properly, which is costing us dear. This should be immediately addressed on the training pitch.
This is my first criticism of Glenn Roeder this season; he has got to get the players working at set pieces and 'marking a player'.
Our fans were not great today - we were quiet, subdued even; as in several games this season barracking individual players seems to be the thing people want to do.
No Di Canio today so fans are stuck now - they can't blame him. No Hutchison either - who can we pick on? Anyway - we were very poor and didn't deserve a thing from the game.
Overall - this was Bolton's first win in eleven games; we should not be losing to teams like this. The problem, whatever it is needs to be addressed quickly - if we do not get three points against Boro' next weekend then we could be in big, big trouble.
David James (7) He didn't put a foot wrong. His kicking was excellent and he made some decent saves to boot.
Scott Minto (6) Didn't really do anything wrong - but he doesn't really do anything at all.
Hayden Foxe (5) Poor distribution of the ball. Looked shaky every time Michael Ricketts ran at him.
Christian Dailly (6) Holding the defence together in the absence of Repka.
Sebastien Schemmel (5) Wing back is not his best role.
Joe Cole (6) All the skills in the world mean nothing if you cannot produce something at the end of it. Right now he can't shoot accurately or make a telling pass. This may prove to be a real handicap in the future.
Richard Garcia (5) His full debut for the Hammers was not a great one. At times he looked out of his depth.
Steve Lomas (7) Played quite well throughout. He battled well in the second half.
Vladimir Labant (7) His left foot was the only way we were getting any chances today. Looks a good buy by Glenn. Man of the match.
Jermain Defoe (6) Missed a good opportunity in the first half but didn't do much else. He was no better than Freddie.
Frederic Kanoute (6) Ineffective but involved throughout. Doesn't make the right runs and makes it hard for the player passing to him. When with ball at feet he looked more of a threat.
Paul Kitson (6) Looked sharp, played a major part in our scramble for an equaliser during the last ten minutes.
West Ham United: James, Schemmel, Dailly, Foxe, Minto, Garcia, Cole, Lomas, Labant, Kanoute, Defoe
Subs: Kitson (Garcia 77), Andersson, Potts, Courtois, McCann
Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, N`Gotty, Bergsson, Whitlow, Charlton, Gardner, Töfting, Nolan, Warhurst, Ricketts, Bobic
Subs: Southall (Warhurst 45), Holdsworth (Ricketts 83), Hansen (Bobic 85), Poole, Wallace
Goals: Gardner (37)
Booked: Foxe (9), Kanoute (26), Warhurst (35), Lomas (80)
Man of the match: Vladimir Labant
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