West Bromwich Albion 1-0 West Ham United
Saturday, 26th April 2014
If ever you needed proof that Allardyce is not fit for purpose, this was the game. It wasn't that we were awful; we weren't. But for almost the whole of the second half, we were bereft of invention, of creativity, and that is a damning indictment.If we weren't awful, we weren't great either. But then neither were the Baggies. However, after having had the first good chance; Foster saving smartlyfrom Carroll, something he would repeat more than once; we were opened up on 10 minutes, when terrible defending allowed Berahino to score. Ultimately it decided the game.
I'm not going to blame an individual. McCartney slid from a long way behind at the edge of the box, but couldn't get a foot on the ball to stop the attack. Reid never came out from the middle to close Amalfitano, when he probably should have done. Demel was the wrong side of Berahino when Amalfitano played the ball in but, as the full back, was always going to struggle to get in front. It was a collective failure, not an individual one, and they happen occasionally. It's frustrating, but I can put it down as just one of those moments.
Unfortunately, whilst we did create a few chances, we couldn't put any of them anyway. In the first half, we threatened a good deal, principally in the form of Jarvis on the left flank, who put a number of dangerous balls across the Baggies' box.
His one bad moment came on 27 minutes when he didn't finish off a good move. It seemed he didn't have the confidence to shoot, and the move fizzled out. By that time, Carroll had seen a fine header saved well by Foster. A brilliant Diame touch had allowed him to get a good cross into the big man, which the keeper did well to keep out.
On the half hour, we were again left frustrated by Foster when he made another good save to deny Demel. There wasn't much he could do about our best chance on 70 minutes. Carroll got up well to meet a corner, but the bar came to West Brom's rescue instead. You had the feeling it just wasn't our day...
If Foster saved West Brom the victory, though, Adrian saved us from falling further behind more than once. Another piece of awful defending on the hour nearly let WBA in, and Adrian made another decent stop on 75 aside from other more regulation saves. Albion, it must be acknowledged, threatened several times on the break; a final score of 2-1 or 3-2 to them would have been no great surprise, except that both keepers had other ideas.
In general we kept the ball quite well; for once the possession stats are solidly in our favour at 57%. The problem is that we did so little with it in the second half. For all the possession we had, there were just two Carroll headers that are worth mentioning after the restart. Sam has one tactic only - stick it up the flanks, stick it into the box.
In the first half it worked, because Jarvis, my man of the match, gave Reid (their version) a right old roasting. And, for a change, could actually cross the ball! Apart from 5 minutes where he mysteriously and pointlessly switched flanks, presumably on the manager's instructions.
In the second half, he disappeared from the game. Partly that may have been because Reid was taken off at half time, apparently limping. But mostly we just seemed to stop passing to him. And then Sam pulls the same tactical masterstroke as last week - put on Carlton, having taken off both wingers. Genius it is not.
We have no idea how to play the ball through the middle of the park, no creativity, no variation. If a team can stop our wingers or stop AC, we have nothing else. Diame might go on a run through the middle, but half the time he'll trip himself up, and that's about it.
Nolan was again conspicuous by his absence, despite allegedly being on the pitch somewhere. What the hell is the point of playing him? We know exactly what he does. Never mind the mathemetics; we were, in practical terms, safe before this game began.
Nocerino and Armero have both declared they hope to stay; they should be playing in these games, which are relatively meaningless for us, so that we can see whether they can cut the mustard. Instead our tired old dog of a manager goes back to the tired old bone that is Nolan, and we lose yet again, playing unimaginative, one-dimensional football, with Allardyce's tactical cupboard as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's!
We are now safe; I write this Monday morning. Cardiff can't catch us, Fulham can only match us and their goal difference is hideous. Norwich would have to win both their remaining fixtures to pass us. Next for them it's Chelsea away, with the latter back in the title race, and then Arsenal at home to finish. Can't see six points going their way, so at least 3 teams will finish below us.
We've still two important fixtures. Our biggest rivals in our last home game of the season, and then to the Etihad when we still have a say in what happens to the Premiership, perhaps. Sam had better come up with something quick. And it'd better not be 4-6-0 again!
But then that's the one plus point of results and performances such as we've been having recently, I suppose. They may yet seal the manager's fate. As with many of you, I shall be very, very interested to see what message the poll sends to the owners this week...
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Were it not for Foster, it would have been a lot better; were it not for Adrian, it could have been a lot worse!
Solid enough performance on his return.
Got caught out by Amalfitano on the goal, but otherwise about average.
If I'm to point the finger at any one individual for their goal, it would be Reid but, in fairness, he was left horribly exposed. Otherwise coped reasonably well.
Did OK up to the point were a thumping challenge gave him a dead leg. Came off just after the half-hour.
Another average performance. Couldn't unlock WBA at all in the second half.
Had that one moment of brilliance just after the quarter hour, otherwise as average as most of the side.
Through little fault of his own, more or less disappeared in the second half, but terrorised the Baggies' defence before half time. If only he'd play like this every game.
Only occasionally really threatening, for all his effort.
Anonymous. Again. Once is bad enough, but it's unacceptable to be doing that two games on the trot.
Had most of our best chances, but couldn't find a way past Foster.
Slotted in comfortably when JT departed.
Replaced Downing. Should have replaced Nolan. Maybe he could have created something in the middle; no longer has the pace to play as a winger, though he'll try...
Had barely 10 minutes and precious little service. Unable to influence proceedings at all.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Ricardo Vaz Te
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Adrian, Guy Demel, George McCartney, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Mo Diame, Matt Jarvis, Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll.
Goals: None .
Booked: James Collins 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
West Bromwich Albion: .
Subs not used: .
Booked: None booked..
Sent off: None.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Man of the Match: Matt Jarvis.