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West Ham v Crewe: post-match thoughts

Filed: Thursday, 18th March 2004
By: Graeme Howlett

The thoughts of both Alan Pardew and Dario Grady following West Ham's 4-2 win over the Railwaymen at Upton Park last night.

Alan Pardew

“Marlon's fine after his little tumble. I don't know what happened but I think he hit his head – he had his “showbiz” head on in the second half. He was brilliant for most of the game today and I think he seemed to get carried away with wearing the no. 10 shirt at west Ham in the second half! We're a young team and we needed to be a little bit more ruthless in the second half. To be fair we weren't too dissimilar in the second half from the way we played in the first but i felt we got a bit “flicky” in the second half, which was a shame. I'm not going to say we were complacent – I just think we showed a bit of inexperience. We couldn't have played much better in the first half and it can be tough to apply a different mentality to the second half. The best teams have that ruthless streak and we're trying to evolve that as we go.

My instructions for the second half were to be professional and ruthless and I have some sympathy for the players because I thought we were superb for the first 15 minutes and we had two or three good chances before we concede what we thought was a disappointing goal – we thought there was a foul and an offside. From that point we lost the flavour.

We've been watering the pitch because there's no life in it at the moment – the grass has been destroyed by the heating system which we've got wrong.

I don't really want to go into the second half too deeply. You've got to look at what happened tonight. We were up against a side with some good young players and we caused them no end of problems with our passing and movement. We've got a nice mixture to the team. We can get in behind if they defend high and we certainly have the quality if they play deep. We're going to need that in our home games and we know that we've got a very different type of game to come on Sunday when we'll perhaps have to be more aggressive and assertive. We'll certainly have to be very very strong mentally.

I don't think the conceding of the two goals was a sobering message. We were more disappointed at our failure to take chances. We had some good opportunities and that's when you've got to be more ruthless. That' the only sour thing from my side. Our defenders are unhappy that they haven't kept a clean sheet but as a team we're pleased with our performance.

We know that the top two have done a terrific job but they have the toughest hurdle to overcome and that's getting over the line. All we can do is put pressure on them and we've done that again tonight.

I was disappointed in (Bobby Zamora's) reaction to his substitution. We have a young team and while he might have been disappointed in coming off we had Brian Deane who was desperate to come on and do well. I know Bobby was disappointed in himself but I felt that I wanted to keep him for Sunday. There's no bad feeling between us – I understand that he wanted to stay on and get his goal but it was just an unfortunate incident when we played so well.

As for Matty Etherington and David Connolly i'd have to say that they're both touch and go for Sunday.

I'm sure the West Ham public were here tonight saying “that's more like it – that's what i want to see”. I hope so. We're a young side and we set some good standards in the first half tonight and we have done over the past few weeks. We need to get in a groove if we're going into the playoffs. I know that having been involved in the playoffs for 3 out of the last four years. If we can get into that groove we'll put pressure on the top two as well. All we can do is win as many games as we can and see what happens.

(On the performance of McAnuff) if you're going to be a wide player at West Ham you need to have confidence in yourself and you need to grow into the role like Matty Etherington has done during this season. Jobi will have grown with that performance where he showed some sparkle. He caused the defenders problems all night and when you have a right winger with the ability to come in on his left foot like that he will always cause problems.

I feel that we've gone forward as a club in terms of the squad and the players we have available. If we get promoted then i can build on that quickly. If we don't go up we'll have to look at the budgets and hopefully progress further in this division. We've got some very good young players under contract this year and i think we're in a better position than most that have fallen out of the Premiership – especially the bigger ones, the Forests and the Derbys and maybe Leeds when they come out. I know the board has had a lot of criticism but we ain't in too bad a position especially when compared to some of the other teams that have come out.

Although there might be some who say I'm the ideal manager to lead a team through the playoffs because I've been there before, there are those who might say that my record is crap having got there- it all depends on how you look at it I suppose!

Dario Gradi – Crewe Alexandra

Clayton I*ce has probably pulled a thigh muscle. It's more serious than normal – he goes down in agony most games!

We made a game of it in the second half but it was a bit late in the day. We did a similar thing in the home match against West Ham where we gave them a good game then having gone down to two early goals. It's easy when you're 4-0 down – you've got nothing to lose so you may as well have a go. They were very good first half – we couldn't hold them for pace anywhere on the pitch really. Our centre halves allowed their forwards to get behind them too often. There wasn't much trickery involved – we just let them get behind.

We coped better in the second half but by then the pressure was off. At 4-2 though it was game on. I had wanted to take Dean (Ashton) off for a rest but I couldn't because I thought there was a chance of getting the two goals back.

Each game throws up different problems. Earlier in the season it looked like we couldn't score goals. Jones & Ashton have improved over the past few games and we brought in Hignett to inprove the goal threat – which he hasn't particularly done. After tonight we'll now be talking about our defending because we haven't defended well tonight.

For a neutral it was a terrific game but from my point of view when you're 4-0 down away at West Ham the game's lost isn't it. I've learnt that strange things can happen but not very often. For a little while it looked like it might happen tonight. We were weak down the left hand side with Craig (Hignett) and David (Vaughan) who's not a physically strong player so I brought on Tonkin who was better without doing particularly well.

First half West Ham played as well as anyone has played against us. I thought they were going to score every time they attacked. They still had a lot of pressure on us in the second half but didn't get in behind us as much as in the first half. We didn't live so dangerously in the second half – I thought they were only going to score every other time they attacked!

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