ESM's post-Ipswich thoughts

Not long back from outlaw country having successfully avoided ending up like Edward Woodward in "The Whicker Man".

I'm not going to submit a match report this week as I see someone has already done a good job on that and besides, most will have seen what happened on the box.

However, here's a few random thoughts which have occurred to me on the way back:

1. Although I do accept that Anton looked a little shaky last week at Wigan, I also said after that match that the prospect of a return from Repka filled me with greater doubts than playing the youngster again. You can disagree with me, but surely there was some logic in sticking with the same back four that had done well over recent games? Hayden was struggling down the left, and although Anton may well have found Bent difficult to handle, I'm not sure that he would have a worse job than Hayden today. Tom looked unhappy playing right back. I applauded Pardew last week for the "If it aint broke don't change it" approach. Why the change now?

2. Zamora had another poor game today. I'm sure those of you who have read what I have said over recent weeks, might be thinking that I am digging him out because I constantly compare him to Defoe. The fact is that he looks second to the ball, his first touch is often horrible and he has wasted some very decent chances today, missing the target in an unacceptable fashion. I heard one or two boos from our lot when Marlon got subbed but applause for Z-man when he went off. I never boo any of our players, but that has to be perverse by anybody's standards. His confidence is low and he hasn't scored away from home since his very first game for the team at Bradford in early February. He's only got two in the last twelve. The stats don't lie, yet we still have him playing that central attacking role. I said that I thought he should be benched after the display at Wigan, and quite frankly, I do not see the case for starting with him in the second leg. Maybe if Hutch had been fit then he wouldn't have started today - who knows?

3. Dailly was very solid today again and Melville put in a good old pro's performance;

4. Jim Magilton and John McGreal were probably better than anything we had on offer today - maybe there is an advantage in having been through this playoff mill before in that you know what to expect. I thought it would be just like a cup game, but it feels different to that as when you are one down away there is certainly more of an overriding desire to prevent another goal rather than going out and getting an equaliser;

5. It was very warm out there and that was bound to have an effect on energy in the second half. I was somewhat surprised to see the Ipswich management team quickly out in the first half with water for the team when there was a lull in play, but no-one doing it for our players;

6. Matty looked dangerous when he had the ball, but didn't get enough of it for my liking. This may have been due to the fact that we did favour the long ball up to Marlon/Z-man a bit too much. Keep it on the ground a lot more at Upton Park, please boys. That's what Ipswich did and it worked well for them;

7. The Ipswich crowd were really effective today. I thought those mascots of theirs - the two horses (one is called Crazee, the other I dunno) did a great job winding up the crowd. Can you imagine our useless couple doing a job half as good as that? I know we will all be up for it, but Gimme a f**king outfit (I fancy being Henry VIII and strutting around with my bitch Anne Boleyn) and I'll give it a go at getting our crowd going. Have a whip round for [KUMB forum regular] Di Greekio and get him over from Greece, he'll go mental for it. Another clever move: It was clever of Ipswich splitting up the Hammers' fans into two sections. It blunted our impact a bit. Anyway, we know we have got to turn Upton Park into a cauldron next Tuesday, just like the manager is expecting;

8. I'm not happy we lost, but it could have been a lot worse. Let's not forget that apart from Wimbledon and Burnley, Ipswich have conceded the greatest number of goals this season in the division. I think we can keep 'em out at Upton Park, but we must go for it and start with high energy from the outset. We do not need to worry about the away goal rule, which would have been a real problem, and I am really convinced that if we score first on Tuesday, we will win the semi-final;

9. In the return leg, let's do a Sir Trev and employ the old 4-3-3 from the start, I'm not that frightened by their attacking options and I reckon they will collapse under sustained pressure. Someone does need to get on the case of Matt Elliott though, he had a great game in the centre of defence today and showed the value of the old head in this pressure situation;

10. Fear not, my friends, we can turn this around. As was once said, "We have nothing to fear except fear itself". In any event ESM Jnr is desperate to go to Cardiff and the team needs to think about all those junior Hammers out there who think the same (as well as the whipper snapper, middle aged and senior Hammers who haven't had a big day out for too long). It's time to rally to the cause and put on one of those legendary 'night under the floodlights' performances at the Boleyn. If we pull this off, I just know we will do it in Cardiff.

PS Hats off to the boys who turned up with the 'Norwich' Hammer England flag. Shame the steward got arsey about it. I want to see it out and in their faces at Upton park on Tuesday.

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