Martin’s Musings on West Ham draw:must do better

It’s beginning to sound like a stuck record and a disappointing school report. “Tried hard but could do better.” Once again our Lads took the lead and once again we lost two points late in the game. Martin O’Neill again stresses the positives but once again bemoans our failure to hang on for the win. Questions are being asked about our tactics and whether or not we sit too deep for too long. We’ll let the manager have his say.


Dear Colin,

We should have won the game and we should have been able to hold on.

There were a number of really good chances to make it 2-0 and with a little bit more care on the ball we could have scored those.

When you don’t take those chances you always leave yourself wide open to an equalising goal.

I’m disappointed for the players. It was a strong defensive performance, particularly in the second half.

I thought we dealt with everything that West Ham threw into the penalty area and to concede in the fashion that we did was very disappointing.

Simon [Mignolet] made a great save in the first half to keep us in front – it was a fantastic save and the goal Steven Fletcher scored was also fantastic, but we knew we’d be under pressure second half.

As that pressure mounted, I thought we dealt with it well. But we missed too many good chances and we should have done better.

We should have had more than one goal today.

However, we do remain unbeaten in the league, but those extra points today would have made it a great start to the campaign for us.

If we had managed to hang on I think we would have deserved it.

All the best,

Beware of forgeries
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15 thoughts on “Martin’s Musings on West Ham draw:must do better”

  1. Would agree on the one tactic MON is using,its nor pretty and will no fans of the beautiful game.To be fair we have been without Johnson and so our attacking options are limited.
    jury is out on the start so far,we await the first win or loss which may dicate which way this season goes from thereon.

    But we serioulsy need a bit more guile up front if we are to improve.Defending is all well and good but it don’t win games.

  2. I think the McClean thing could well be down to the events with Ireland. His slapping down in front of the squad has probably left him wondering if he is as good as he perceives. A couple of poor Premier League performances later and BANG, self doubt. His decision making yesterday was mystifying to say the least.

    Let’s hope this Wigan game goes better than the similar one last season where Bruce’s ship finally sunk.

    • Well in ten months he has gone from a reserve team player to international level. There is nothing wrong with self belief but maybe all the adulation and success has come a bit too quickly for him and he has taken that a bit too far. He should still be a big player for us – he has shown he has ability. He could do worse than talk to Mickey Gray, who despite his love of Guinness and black, understood his place in the side, even after winning his England cap.

  3. Gardner had a poor game but is still a right back for me. Johnson will be ousting McClean over Larsson on current form.

    People are starting to moan about O’Neill already it seems. We have been told by fans of his numerous clubs that he has sides that do well but the football isn’t pretty. I’d take that over playing pretty like Wigan and staying up by the skin of our teeth. If people didn’t want this style of play then they shouldn’t have shouted from the rooftops that they wanted O’Neill in the first place. Like usual though, the average football fan speaks and forms an opinion without knowing the actual facts.

    • When has not knowing the facts ever stopped anyone from having an opinion!? Like you I’d rather we had a team than gets results than does a Blackpool and gets all the plaudits whilst achieving relegation but also I will question whether or not my season card represents good value for money if I spend 70% of my time watching us defend on the edge of our own penalty area.

      MON has proved himself a much better tactician than SB but as Eric points out he can’t simply rely on one tactic. Against Wigan I’d like to see Fletcher and Saha start in a two man attack and if everyone’s fit Johnson and McClean on the flanks. We would then have Sess and Seb on the bench as replacements should Saha start to tire and McClean be ineffective.

      My worry about McClean when he first started was that the opposition would soon suss him out and negate his effectiveness. He has proved me wrong so far but now I am wondering if he has been too successful too quickly.

      He reminds me of the primary school kid who has been led to believe he is by far the best player in his school team and subsequently becomes a liability. His Twitter outburst seems to indicate he has a similar mentality and I hope he isn’t getting too big for his boots. If he is then MON will have to use his man management skills to bring him back to earth or, like the star player in the school team, he may still show off his skills, but his value to the team will go down.

    • Actually, I was rather hoping that MON would bring his Celtic style of Play to the SoL. Yes shut up shop when necessary, but also have the ability to play with flair, thats what I want to see from his sides. It certainly served Celtic well both domestically and in Europe.

      And regardless of ‘the average football fan’ I do not consider it to be asking for too much that the team actually show some ability to keep the ball – if the opposition don’t have it then you are unlikely to concede after all.

      • Celtic comparison interesting. I have a group of friends who are Celtic season ticket holders. First thing they said to me when O’Neill was appointed? ‘It won’t be pretty mind’. They watched his side every week.

        If McClean or somebody else gives the ball away that isn’t down to the manager.

      • I saw Celtic under MON virtually every week as well and the European games, The football in Europe was exciting stuff, the league less so but it had its moments.

        It was not just McClean who gave the ball away, but the whole midfield, something to work on I think. The manager sets the game plan, I would like to see a game plan that allowed flexibility, yes defend but not for the whole of 45mins. We have to be capable of varying the play otherwise we become too predictable. Saturday was a case in point. Big Sam knew we would sit back, so just lump the ball into the area at every opportunity and chances will come, which they did.

        A point away from home is good, but we could have had all three, thats the difference between a top six side and the also rans.

  4. Thought West Ham had a lot more chances than us.
    Any draw away from home in the PL is an OK result.
    Sess and especially McClean are not in form. We’re begging Johnson to come back. When he does it will be perhaps on the left wing with Larsson on the right(?) McClean is just not in form.
    Gardner is OK at right back but I’d like to see the Bard come back soon. Rose needs more games. The big positives here were the defence and Fletcher who seems to be as clinical as (dare I mention his name) Darren Bent.

  5. If the gaffer knew we were going to be under pressure in the second half, why didn’t he change the tactics and/or personnel to do something about it? It was just so predictable, defend deeper and deeper meaning the ball just kept coming back. The equaliser was always on the cards. When we did manage to break out (at least four times by my reckoning) we looked clueless in front of goal. That’s three times from four games we’ve surrendered a winning position. Six points given up! If you’re an optimist we’re unbeaten, a pessimist says we haven’t yet won. By the way, I thought our fans were superb today.

  6. Mignolet made a world class save but he did NOT keep us in the game. Unless you rate punching catchable balls in a pathetic manner and super-gluing your feet to the floor every time a cross comes in.

  7. When Fraizer was walking off injured in stoppage time, why did he take the long route over the pitch? The ref will always add that to the already announced stoppage time and as he was taking that long long walk I just had a bad feeling that they were going to score. He should have got off ASAP and let the game restart quickly.

  8. I an afraid that I do not totally agree with MON’s assessment of the game. I think a draw was a fair result and but for Mignolet we would have lost. Fair enough the defence did play well under the aerial bombardment in the second half which you expect from a big Sam side, but the number of poor passes in the midfield was criminal. Too often possession in good areas was given up far too easily with Sunderland struggling to keep possession and generate some good passages of play. In the second half we just invited the opposition on to us, with little relief when we cleared it and the ball came straight back.

    The performance was not disimilar to the Liverpool game but Liverpool were/are a lot better then West Ham and I would expect us to show a lot more attacking flair and ability to keep possession.

    I think we were poor today and really we should be showing a lot more of what we can do against this standard of opposition. I am not convinced that sitting deep and soaking up pressure should become our tactical norm and I hope that MON has more tricks in the locker than this.

    None of the substitutions were capable of changing the game plan so we just retreated further and further back, it was only a matter of time before West Ham scored and it was probably fortunate for us that the equaliser came so late that they did not have time to seek a winner.

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