Carling Cup
Chesterfield 2 West Ham United 1

Tuesday, 24th October 2006
by Nick Bull

There I was, sitting on a coach outside Saltergate, waiting for the long journey home to begin. The radio was playing ‘Drive’, by The Cars. Linked synonymously with that Irishman and Michael Burke, all I’ll think about now when I hear it is that losing feeling somewhere in Derbyshire.

"Who's gonna pay attention, to your dreams?"

Rather apt lyrics. And what contrasting images the song conjures up. One, shots of dying African children that inspired Live Aid. The other, a bunch of well-paid footballers producing an inept and shameful performance. I still cannot quite fathom how disgusting and disgraceful it was. The former is still more harrowing, though the gap certainly is close. A run of defeats is never good, but some of the teams that the Irons have played are established and difficult sides to beat. To label Chesterfield as a small club would be accurate, if not harsh, because nothing should be taken away from how they played on Tuesday night. West Ham rolled over and died five minutes in; the opposition must take some credit for the capitulation of the Premiership side.

I don't quite know where I should go with this one today. Ten articles in, I've written about one victory and eight defeats. Yet every time things seem to be improving slightly - post Reading and Tottenham - they in fact have become much worse - Portsmouth and Chesterfield are notable exceptions. Every game for the last month has been a must win, this statement has to be turned into reality. May is a long way off yet, but the Premiership is one quarter into the season, and the points haul of five is woeful. Confidence is much needed, and Tuesday night was a great chance for this. Going one up at the start of the game should have given this West Ham side the basis to play the free flowing, attacking football that everyone knows they can play. The alternative? Hopeless long balls. Actually seeing it served up is much worse than the thought.

As ESM has stated in his analysis of the debacle, Christian Dailly was the best outfield player on the night. He may not be flash, he certainly lacks lightning-quick pace, but his aggression, determination and ability to read the game was second to none. People in the stands may not like him, but he deserves another start again simply because of the way he is playing at the moment. Too many players seem to have begun to rest on their laurels, the only alternative for the manager is to drop them. The only victim of that so far is Roy Carroll, who was unfairly dropped for the trip to White Heart Lane. Luckily, his replacement Rob Green is more than able between the posts. Along with the Scotsman, he did himself proud on a night where so many let themselves down. He didn't deserve to lose that game. I hope he ignored the boos when he was walking off - they were not for him.

Everyone else was shocking. The Harewood goal means nothing. Great, we scored for the first time since mid-September. Bothered. The finish was superb, but it was all Marlon really seemed to do all night. I like the guy, but he just isn't doing it at the minute. Zamora probably couldn't score a tap-in at the minute either, now his goal scoring run of August has ended. Sheringham also played a part, but his best chance was taken by the Z-man who put the ball over from close range when his senior was poised.

The midfield is about as creative as The Beatles were at their (brief) worst. Forget Sgt. Pepper of last season, we now seem to have the Yellow Submarine. Mullins was hardly seen on the pitch, rarely doing what he does best. No wonder his critics are on his back again. (Dailly is also a defensive player, but got involved). Reo - Coker and Reid were nowhere, the latter is the more worrying of the two seeing as he was playing on his natural flank. His debut at West Brom last May will be replaced with the negative memory from this game. Admitedly Benayoun needed to be removed from the starting line-up following two poor performances but captain isn't a right-sided player. Perhaps playing Marlon there, and Carlton Cole in attack would have been a more viable option. Etherington was deployed to bring some much need flair to the flanks; sadly he again performed to his poor standards seen this season.

Defensively, I really cannot fathom what is going on. As early as it may seem for him, the jury is out on George McCartney. He struggled on the left, which wasn't what was called for with Konchesky performing so badly at present. Let's see how he performs while T2 is out suspended. Paintsil was even worse, his distribution was woeful, and that's being generous. His man beat him too often, and he was abysmal to be blunt. The central pairing of Anton and Gabbidon did not function either; one must wonder if James Collins' chance is coming again soon.

He surely cannot be the only one waiting for their chance to impress should the manager make the changes. That's a big if. I still believe Sunday's team will be much the same as it was on Tuesday, which worries me after the display that was churned up. Talk about going through the motions. That is not good enough on Sunday - more so than ever. I keep on saying that. It must change. It needs to change. Pardew knows that. Forget the Brown 'vote of confidence', his time is running out.

"Who's gonna tell you when, it's too late?" I don't want to know.

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Another strong performance, another defeat to accompany it. Faultless for the goals, his saves kept West Ham in the game.

John Paintsil
Awful. Poor on the ball, worse defending it.

George McCartney
Not the best debut for the Irishman - though the timing hardly helped his cause. Perhaps judge him after a couple more games.

Anton Ferdinand
Not too bad, struggled to form a solid pairing in the centre with Gabbidon, which only aided the opposition.

Danny Gabbidon
Very poor. Such a disappointment after looking good against Tottenham in the previous game.

Hayden Mullins
Very quiet, very ineffective.

Christian Dailly
Underrated player in the team. If only the team was made up of 10 Dailly's (+ 1 Rob Green). Who would have thought we'd be saying that?!

Nigel Reo-Coker
Never in the game. Anything but a captain's performance when most needed.

Kyel Reid
See above. Disappointing, especially as this was Reid's chance to impress.

Marlon Harewood
Great goal, where was the big man for the following forty-five minutes?

Bobby Zamora
Not happening for the Z-man. The season start seems a long way off.


Teddy Sheringham
(Replaced Harewood, 51) Had time to change the game, but failed miserably.

Matthew Etherington
(Replaced Reid, 57) Struggled on the left flank following his introduction.

Paul Konchesky
(Replaced McCartney, 69) The norm from the Konch of 2006/2007.

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.