Carling Cup
Chesterfield 2-1 West Ham United 

Tuesday, 24th October 2006
by East Stand Martin

I'm not going to write a blow by blow account of that debacle. Although that was a long journey there and back, I'm glad I went. As you get older, nostalgia plays a greater part in your life and f*ck me, that was like stepping back into a time warp up there.

The ground was smack in the middle of a residential area and surrounded by terraced housing. To me, that is what football clubs should be about, not located on some out of town industrial estate. I know it's not practical commercially, but I like the feel of that. We still have that at Upton Park, although if we get moved to a standalone stadium on some reclaimed land in Stratford, that will all disappear. Believe me the whole feel of our club will disappear. Talk to any Man City fans you know and they'll explain what happened up there.

The visit to the facilties had me chortling. It was roofless and you pissed up a wall. Fantastic.

Then to the terraces. Oh the memories. You know what standing does to a game? You really want to have a chat with everybody around you. Interaction between fans. It was great and the shifting nature of the terraces means that you meet a lot of people. Not great for the shorter people around but it gave you the feeling of togetherness which you simply don't get with the sanitised seating arrangements.

One other point - hats off to the Chesterfield ground staff - that pitch was an excellent playing surface.

To the game.

I can't remember winessing such a clueless, directionless and hopeless performance form West Ham. Our heads are simply not right and we are in complete freefall. Here's what went wrong:

We can't do the simple things - like make short passes. We had no width - the left side with Reid and McCartney was non-existant, the right side was no better with Reo Coker clearly playing in a position which he loathes. Mullins had a complete howler in the centre of the park - kept giving the ball away.

Much of the time it was if the ball was on fire everytime we received it - no-one wanted to put their foot on it. One dimensional long ball hoofing dominated as clearly we had no confidence in the wide players. Paintsil - I'm begining to believe that he sent his twin brother back from Ghana, he was awful.

No fight - they came at us and we capitulated (with the exception of Christian Dailly - now that is what a professional footballer should be about; he's not been involved much of late, but when he stepped on that pitch he gave 100%).

No guile/creativity - only bit of craft was from Teddy when he came on, but the golden opportunity created for Z-man with a delicious defence-splitting pass was squandered.

No urgency/tempo - so f*cking ponderous it was untrue. How many times did we get caught in possession?

No leadership on the park - who is looking to take control? Who's trying to lead by example?

Poor finishing - Z-man was the guilty party here, it seems that his early season goal spree was just a flash in the pan and I'm not convinced that just because he is the on-paper top scorer that this justifies a start at the moment.

Apart from that everything was fine (I must say that I thought Green looks like a very solid performer - that save of the shot that led to the first goal was sensational).

What was particularly disappointing was that we went in 1 up at the break (although we barely deserved it) but then came out and played worse in the second. This reminds me of that Roeder period, where the half time talk always seemed to result in us playing worse. What ever happened to those performances last year when we upped our tempo in the second half. 0-1 down? No problem.

The only time when we looked like we might do something was when Konch and Matty came on. Clearly the thought was at half time that we should keep them in reserve and try and hold the lead. Wrong decision. That left side was clearly not happening and we needed both players on at half time not only to create some proper width but to take the pressure off. We might have got a second goal and then had a sufficient breathing space. Instead, we just kept giving the ball away and allowing them to come at us down both wings.

We were totally outplayed by a lower division side who wanted it about ten times more than we did. That was a monumentally shambolic non-performance that left every West Ham fan in the ground totally embarassed. You wanted the ground to open up and swallow you up and we didn't have the slightest inclination to rebut the chants of 'Easy, Easy' from the home fans. The fact was it was easy. Far too easy.

There is something very very wrong at our club. I'm not sure that I'm that angry with the manager either. From where I'm standing it's the players that aren't turning up. The stark reality is that if the players don't stand up, then a man who showed his clear managerial qualities last year is going to lose his job.

A ninth consecutive defeat and I would not be surprised to see Alan Curbishley at Upton Park, although with this ridiculously prolonged takeover saga going on, something really leftfield could happen. Equally, Pardew might retain his job simply because of the inertia of the takeover. This can't go on for too much longer since the club could be stuck in quicksand unable to make decisions upon which our continued Premiership status might hinge.

(Player ratings by Graeme Howlett)

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Looked assured throughout, safe hands and good distribution. The save that (sadly) led to Chesterfield's first goal was absolutely top-notch. Roy, keep that bench warm.

John Paintsil
A bit of a shocker. Defensively he is a bit of a liability at the moment although going forward he has the ability to pose problems. With our current dearth of wide midfielders Pardew could probably do worse than think about using Paintsil further up the field.

George McCartney
Although there were one or two nice touches he struggled on his debut. It's far too early to reach any conclusions however.

Anton Ferdinand
Our best defender on the night, it was an assured performance from Anton.

Danny Gabbidon
Simply shocking. The Player of the Year hoodoo appears to have kicked in once again.

Hayden Mullins
Failed to impose himself against a side that he should have been comfortable against.

Christian Dailly
West Ham's best outfield player on the night. If the rest of the team showed the same determination we might not be in the position we are.

Nigel Reo-Coker
Awful, awful, awful. Why Pardew continues to persist with him at the moment is a mystery. If we need to play someone out of position on the right flank John Paintsil would surely be the better option at present.

Kyel Reid
Not involved at all. At least all those who have been clamouring for his inclusion can perhaps see why he has not been utilised. Still a year or two away from being ready for contention.

Marlon Harewood
Scored a goal then promptly disappeared (although he did seem to struggle after taking a knock towards the end of the first half). The posturing after the goal was completely unnecessary and gave a good indication of what is wrong at the club right now.

Bobby Zamora
Missed two absolute sitters in the second half that could have killed off the game.


Teddy Sheringham
(Replaced Harewood, 51) Questions will be asked as to why Sheringham was used instead of Cole, who surely would have posed a greater threat on the night. Really shouldn't be playing these days.

Matthew Etherington
(Replaced Reid, 57) Matty has been missing since last May. Something is seriously amiss.

Paul Konchesky
(Replaced McCartney, 69) Seemed to be doing okay until he gave away the free kick that led to the deciding goal.

Roy Carroll
Did not play.

Carlton Cole
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, John Paintsil, George McCartney, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Christian Dailly, Nigel Reo-Coker, Kyel Reid, Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora.

Goals: Marlon Harewood 4                  .

Booked: John Paintsil 30          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Chesterfield: Roche, Bailey, Hazell, Downes, O'Hare, Hall, Niven, Allott, Hurst, Folan, Larkin..

Subs not used: Roche, Bailey, Hazell, Downes, O'Hare, Hall, Niven, Allott, Hurst, Folan, Larkin..

Goals: Larkin (54), Folan (87)..

Booked: None booked..

Sent off: None.

Referee: L.Probert.

Attendance: 7,787.

Man of the Match: Robert Green.