West Ham United 1 Derby County 2
Sunday, 23rd January 2005
by East Stand Martin
I was lounging on this pier overlooking the Gulf of Siam. The conversation turned to football. A rash bet was made by my companions that Derby would end up with more points than West Ham.It all looked like easy money - Singha-fuelled bravado on their part - but I am now in serious danger of losing that bet as we capitulated for the third time in a row. That’s a run that has never been achieved with victories since our increasingly hapless and clueless gaffer took over.
Will he go?
There’s been a lot of paper talk about Pardew’s impending departure. I don’t believe it. I have absolutely no confidence in the Chairman’s ability to take a rational decision and more than that, I have no confidence either that any decent manager would want to come and work for him.
That is the technical definition of up sh*t creek without a paddle.
Let’s face it, the team performance today was very poor. We look like a mid table team and were beaten by a very average side. What makes it worse is that we are playing with a complete and utter lack of style or conviction.
Maybe it was all worked out at Chadwell Heath. You can imagine the scene with shop steward Teddy convening a meeting. “He’s teetering on the edge of a chasm boys, let’s not turn up and we can send him on his way.” You tell me if that possibility can be rejected as pure fiction, because it looked that way out there on the pitch today.
Pardew has that same look about him that Roeder had when he had clearly lost the dressing room and couldn’t find a way to inject some verve and vitality into the team. Here we were. At home. On the telly. A 30,000 crowd. All the kids in. A chance to exploit some favourable results elsewhere. What did we get? A damp squib – pedestrian to a degree which suited Derby down to the ground.
The only time we looked like we were up for it was in the first five minutes of the second half. Maybe a goal then would have meant an easy stroll to victory, but there have been too many ifs and maybes under Pardew. I see no prospect of him turning the situation around.
There are few occasions when I foam at the mouth watching West Ham, but someone should have really sent for the men in the white coats for me when Pardew decided to take Sergei off. To me this was an act of sheer incompetence.
There we were, 1-2 down after conceding a soft goal, surely we needed to ramp up the attacking pressure? Did he not realise that the dice had to be rolled? No, Pardew sticks with 4-4-2 when something far more aggressive was required. The bloke does not have one ounce of adventure in his body. Can you seriously tell me that Chadders was playing well enough to merit staying on in preference to Sergei? To me, the Ukrainian looked like one of the few players with a bit of energy and with the ability to exploit set pieces. After he went off, we seemed even more lacklustre and Fletch was just clueless when we did get a few dead ball situations.
What do you think Sir Trevor would have done in this situation? Not this tactical backward-thinking incompetence.
A pile of sh*te
The response from Pardew after the game was that the team is now in trouble. Great, tell us something we didn’t already know. Statement of the bleedin’ obvious.
I really can’t be arsed to give a blow by blow account of the game. You all saw it for yourself either at the ground or on the box. No great insight or creative spark is required to describe a pile of sh*te.
Let’s maybe just look at a high and a low
A low. Now how low do you want to go? Hayden Muggins – yes, let’s go that low. No pace. Diabolical passing. A mediocre League 2 player if you ask me. It was like watching Wayne Quinn.
The high? Well, the only thing that slightly tickled my fancy was the performance of Mark Noble. He looks terrific on the ball, twisting and turning. OK, he did make the odd over-ambitious pass and nearly gifted a goal to the opposition as a consequence. On the other hand for his age, there looks to be a lot of quality there. No doubt someone else that Brown can go and pawn.
Give me some drugs
Before I find myself a dark room and a double dose of Mogadon, let’s talk about that cynical foul by Lee Camp on Marlon. Maybe I’m just having a bad day, but to me it wasn’t a sending off. Sure, he took Marlon out, but the fact of the matter was that Marlon’s final touch sent the ball towards the corner flag. That cast severe doubt on whether Marlon was denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. It was a great ball through, though, by Mark Noble.
Anyway, to be honest, that incident is an irrelevance and should not distract us from the key issue which is the manager. I’m afraid that it’s all too simple now for me. I don’t like the way the team’s playing. I don’t like the tactical judgement. I don’t like watching West Ham play with a complete lack of spirit. You can blame the players for failing to do the job that they are handsomely paid to do, but you always ultimately have to come back to leadership.
Leadership is everything. Why do you think that England cricket team have performed the way they have over the past year? It’s leadership. How did we win the Rugby World Cup? It’s leadership. How did Iain Dowie engineer that playoff win for Palace and probably keep them up as well. It’s leadership.
Why are we struggling and looking like we’re going nowhere? It’s a lack of leadership. The writing’s been on the wall for some time. Surely even our deadbeat Chairman is going to at least try and do something about this?
Incidentally, just in case there is any doubt in your mind, Mr Brown, David Pleat arriving at Upton Park will lead to such an explosion, it will make Krakatoa look like a two bob banger. If this happens, my friend, I will personally hunt you down to your trailer park and insert my season tickets up you where the sun don’t shine.
(Player comments by Gordon Thrower)
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Player RatingsJimmy Walker
Not really tested. Came for one cross which he dropped under blatantly illegal pressure from a forward but did well to recover.
Gave his man far too much time and space in defence. Was more effective going forward and contributed to a couple of good chances. Still looks much better in midfield but if we have to play him in the back four how about in the centre where he is supposed to have played so well for Palace.
One good combination with Harewood set Rebrov up but had an otherwise quiet match.
Solid enough defensively but I think we look better with him at right back ?EUR" time for a swap with Mullins until Dailly returns?
Slow and ponderous. Distribution was poor as well. Doesn't seem to be half the player he was before the injury.
Took his goal well and was desperately unlucky not to double his tally with a good header early in the second half. However, there were occasions when he seemed at a loss as to what do with the ball.
Largely anonymous save for one first-half shot. May not be 100% recovered - I can sympathise with his situation having recently suffered from a similar illness to that from which he's recovering so hopefully he'll be back on form in the near future.
In and out of the game. Unfortunately was more out than in, though he can count himself unlucky to have been thwarted by a 'keeper who shouldn't have been on the pitch.
A sympathy mark really since his injury occurred too early for him to have any impact on proceedings.
Some good runs and he can consider himself unlucky to be transferred at a time when we needed something a little different.
Not one of Marlon's better days, though hardly helped by some dreadful refereeing. Should have done better when only six yards out.
(Replaced Williams, 7) One of the brighter spots of the afternoon. Probably the only player capable of taking on the opposition and not afraid to have a shot. Not the finished article by any means ?EUR" he gave the ball away in a dangerous position that nearly led to a goal ?EUR" but nevertheless he has had a very promising start last few weeks.
(Replaced Rebrov, 65) For once the get out of jail card didn't work. Largely incognito, his arrival prompted the hoof & hope approach.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Jimmy Walker, Hayden Mullins, Chris Powell, Tomas Repka, Malky Mackay, Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Luke Chadwick, Gavin Williams, Sergei Rebrov, Marlon Harewood.
Goals: Carl Fletcher 26 .
Booked: Carl Fletcher 22 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Derby County: Camp, Kenna, Mills, Taylor, Bisgaard, Jackson, Bolder, Huddlestone, Rasiak, Smith, Idiakez.
Subs not used: Grant, Boertien.
Goals: Rasiak (10, 63).
Booked: Camp (42), Rasiak (81).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Mark Noble.