Saturday, 8th December 2001
Just like the Cup match in January the odds were stacked against us. We had played Aston Villa on the previous Wednesday and the first half performance worried me and many others. We just couldn't string two passes together.
But today was totally different.
We played the type of football that is typical of West Ham. The passing was fluent. The attacking was full of promise and the rewards were all deserved.
Credit must go to Glenn Roeder who saw on Wednesday how we were just not good enough - and he changed it around. He put Sinclair on the left, Hutchison on the right and Cole with
Carrick in the middle. It paid off big time.
We played some great stuff early on and I was just waiting for Man Utd to overrun us and score - but it just didn't look like happening.
Yes, they had their spells of pressure but that was to be expected as they were the home team. But we defended well and looked great; it was a joy to watch.
Hutchison had a great shot saved by Fabien Barthez (who was targeted all the way thorugh with chants of "let's all do the Barthez" ). Soon after Schemmel had a shot which just went wide.
Overall the first half was great to watch and I was very pleased. But surely it couldn't carry into the second half....
Man Utd came out after the break attacking; I thought a goal was coming for sure. Scholes had a header which just went past the post. But when we were on the break you could sense maybe, just maybe we could get something. And we did.
On 64 minutes Schemmel lifted a cross from the right wing to Di Canio in the box. He turned and whipped in a magnificent deep cross which took out the defence and keeper and Jermaine Defoe met the the ball with his head which went in off the underside of the bar. It sent the travelling Hammers into jubilation once again.
The goal inevitably brought back that feeling I had on January 28th in the FA cup. This somehow seemed even more sweet.
Once again Man Utd laid siege to our goal but our defending was just so cool and calm. Repka looked like nothing would phase him whilst Dailly looked equally commanding.
The season hasn't been great but this has made up for it. I hope we can go on from here now. The football was great and every single player deserved our applause.The support was just brilliant.
The journey back was even sweeter watching the Man Utd fans going back to there homes in London.I was singing everything I could out of the car window.
We'd beaten the Mancs again.Twice in one year.
C'mon you Irons...
David James (10) I think I now realise why we paid the amount of money we did for him. James made some top notch saves and commanded his area superbly. Outstanding.
Nigel Winterburn (10) Same old Nige - f*cking excellent! He was solid and distributed the ball really well.
Tomas Repka (9) Finally Repka gets back to form. He just looked so solid and nothing was going to get past him.
Christian Dailly (9) Like Repka, solid. He won everything in the air. Yorke and Solskjaer didn't get a look in.
Seb Schemmel (7) Was attacked a lot by Chadwick (who I thought was Man Utd's best player until he was taken off) but generally done well.
As I have previously mentioned, Roeder changed it around in midfield by playing Hutch on the right, Sinclair on the
left and Joey Cole and Michael Carrick in the middle. This is testament to Roaders tactical game plan - and how it worked
Don Hutchison (8) Looked so much more effective. Stronger and well worth the £5m we paid on this display.
Michael Carrick (10) I have had a go at him in the last few weeks but i'm glad he shut me up today! One of the best players on the pitch.
Joe Cole (9) Looks so much better in the middle - his driving runs forward were just what we need in midfield. And he's not afraid to get stuck in.
Trevor Sinclair (8) Looked much better today and was up with most of our attacks. Gave Nigel Winterburn good cover too.
Paolo Di Canio (8) Sell this man when he is capable of pulling out another great assist? I don't think so. Every attack we had he was up with and involved in some way. His cross that lead to the goal was sheer class.
Jermain Defoe (10) This boy is going to be big. He is out of this world. Great goal, great performance and a special talent.
Titi Camara (6) Came on for Defoe late in the game. I can't say he looked any better!
West Ham United: James, Repka, Dailly, Schemmel, Sinclair, Carrick, Hutchison, Cole, Winterburn, Di Canio, Defoe
Subs: Camara (Defoe 84), Hislop, Minto, Potts, Courtois.
Manchester United: Barthez, Gary Neville, O'Shea, Silvestre, Phil Neville, Chadwick, Butt, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Solskjaer.
Subs: Beckham (Chadwick 59), Cole (Butt 69), Fortune (Yorke 81), Carroll, Wallwork.
Goals: Defoe (64)
Booked: Schemmel, Hutchison, Di Canio, Butt, O'Shea, Keane, Scholes, Gary Neville
Referee: Paul Durkin (6)
Man of the match: David James
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