Soapbox: Hammers wanted it more than we did

soapboxYet another failure to build on a good home performance as we visit the tackiest stadium in the Premier League – at least until SJP makes an unwelcome return. Pete Sixsmith accepts that Zola’s Boys wanted it more than we did and is entertained by Neil Warnock on a long journey home.

The old maxim goes “After the Lord Mayor’s Show comes the dustcarts”. Presumably the dustcarts are there to pick up the rubbish left – and there was plenty to pick up after this apology of a Premier League game.

Last Saturday, we warmed to two teams who appeared to be able to make passes, create chances and right royally entertain a big crowd.

This Saturday we had to endure two teams who had difficulty in making accurate passes, created a handful of chances and drove a full house at Mockney Castle Park to frustration and boredom.

West Ham deserved to win the game because they wanted it a lot more than we did. Never mind the fact that Sunderland had sold their ticket allocation and that fans had had to make early starts to get there, there was the feeling amongst the travelling support that our players knew they were safe from relegation and that the gravy train would continue to call at their stations next year.

The Hammers knew that if they lost, they would be in serious trouble and that relegation would be a probability rather than a possibility.

They responded by playing in a way that relegation teams have to adopt if they are to avoid visits to Doncaster, Scunthorpe et al and scrap and chase and harry the opposition.

It worked. They stopped us from moving the ball around. Henderson was double and sometimes triple marked. The narrow pitch meant that Malbranque could not get as wide as he would have preferred and there was always a committed West Ham defender there to prevent the ball breaking to Bent and Campbell.

They showed little creativity other than getting the ball up to Carlton Cole as quickly as possible and for the first thirty minutes, Turner had him pocketed. Then Cole began to get on top of our skipper and the game began to swing towards the Hammers.

In the second half, it was Cole who set up the winner for Ilana with a good header and he looked a decent player for forty minutes.

I have an issue over the goal though. The referee, Mike Smith (he of the Liverpool beach ball fame) had pulled Turner out of his defensive position to tell him, in his role as captain, that if Meyler committed another foul, he would be booked. Turner then had to get back into position to pick up Cole and the fact that he was not as close to the forward as he would have wished, may well be down to the fact that he had been pulled out by Smith.

It’s an observation, not an excuse and I wonder if the referee’s assessor had spoken to The Beach Ball Kid at half time and suggested that he be a little more demonstrative with his decisions. Whatever, we gave away a sloppy goal and it was uphill from then on.

Bent fell over when in an excellent position – would he have done if he had been wearing proper studs with little nails attaching them to the sole of his boot – and WHU brought on Franco, who proceeded to fall over every time he got anywhere near the ball. Somehow, I don’t think Ron Greenwood would have approved of him!!

So, yet another disappointing trip and we have two games to try to improve on our wretched tally of a single away win. It was a long journey home with the Walkman and Neil Warnock’s autobiography to keep me company on the coach. It’s an entertaining read in which Warnock charts his many promotions, clubs and disagreements with all and sundry. I picked it up for 90p in Borders’ closing down sale, and his observations on Gary Megson, Stan Ternent, Graham Poll and Steve Bennett kept me entertained and amused as we rolled up the A1.

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16 thoughts on “Soapbox: Hammers wanted it more than we did”

  1. Lateness of the hour, years of alcohol abuse and the onset of old age? Those are only some of my excuses. It wasn’t for taking his shirt off against Chelsea of course but (if I now remember correctly) kicking the ball away that got KR booked. But I do remember remarking at the time how stupid a booking it was!

  2. I have to say I have long wondered about the grey matter or absence of it in pro footballers. It’s not like they can’t afford a Nintendo Brain Training game is it? Or that the clubs can’t instill a bit of discipline and common sense – do they even think of that?

    Deserved or not Gordon was on a yellow when he pulled down Cole. Now heat of the moment or not there were only two possible outcomes to my mind.

    1. He has been fouled by Cole, the ref whistles and if the ball ends up in the net it doesn’t count. No problem.

    2. The ref hasn’t blown, Gordon is sent off, a penalty is given, and whether or not it is converted ten men have to hold out for more than half the game. Big problem!

    Chances are it will be converted and surely it is easier to chase an equaliser with a full side than one that is a player short. And no matter how good Carson is, the third choice keeper between the sticks must make it more difficult to defend a 0-0 should it be missed.

    Doesn’t make sense to me and the stupidest piece of “professionalism” I have seen from a Sunderland player since Jason McAteer got himself sent off in the FA Cup semi final. And there have been some stupid things this season. Richardson’s yellow card against Chelsea for taking his shirt off and Myler’s challenge which got him sent off almost as soon as he’d come on to name but two.

    And how annoying that Portsmouth are in the final after our abysmal performance there. Good luck to them against Chelski.

  3. Ouch Sam, the last sentence hurt – because it’s bloody right!!
    As for the Stadium, well, it’s rooted in its community as it is built on the site of Monkwearmouth Colliery and many of our fans come from the mining areas of County Durham. There’s a lot of history underneath the Stadium.
    I have said that you wanted the game more than we did. You get out of a relagation situation by scrapping. West Ham did that and in Mark Noble had a midfield player who was able to rise above the utter mediocrity that surrounded him.
    Anyway, let’s stop splitting hairs over who is marginally better than the other and do something worthwhile; let’s all laugh at Spurs and Old Flannel Face. When the second goal went in I whooped so loud that Samson the Cat thought it was time to run up the blinds. It’s moments like that that make football worth watching!!!

  4. Tackiest ground in the premier league? I don’t necessarily agree with or like the two mdf castles out the front, but at least our ground has some history. And that’s not at dig at sunderland’s ground either but more the likes of bolton/wigan etc

    I wouldn’t swap our mdf castles for one of these flat-pack grounds stuck in an industrial park, with no atmosphere or history for a second.

    Look beyond the surface Pete – it’s what our ground stands for and has been through (bombed in the war) that is important, not how it looks.

    Stadium of Light – pretty run of the mill really. Nothing exctiting to speak of.

    As for the game – maybe a draw was the deserved result, but we wanted the win more. Gordon should definitely have gone, not for the handball alone but also for the rugby tackle on Cole (who I agree, doesn’t deserve an England place on current form)

    Hold my hands up though, your football has been scintilating all season – 3 wins in your last 20 league games…steady on.

  5. Trevor H, criticism seem strange, Sunderland were by far the most creative and talented team but they lacked that cutting edge effort that was shown against Spurs. S’land were playing for their lives at home against Spurs ( a top 4 team) and went at them from to first whistle. They should have won 8 -0 on the strength of their performance. However West Ham were in the same situation this week and should have lost they were poor very poor. they did not show the resolve required to stay up they had no fight. The Gordon handball was at best marginal and never a sending off and the whistle went as Cole dived into him blindly, Cole did not even complain. Sunderland have underachieved this year but at no stage were they in bottom 3. West Ham on the otherhand have struggled all season because they lack fight. Bruce whether you like him or not is not a quitter, and gets on with the job, Zola was given a top job with a big club and hasn’t cut the mustard, if was English he wouldn’t have had a hope of getting the job. Why are forgieners given preference? Hope you stay up but it will be a struggle and so will next year

  6. The post of the week must surely be from Keith Hutton africa. Alnost as entertaining as Steve Bruces rant. The PL is so tight that if any team that loses a close match 1-0 ups their game 5% then they would win. I agree with the poster about Cole & Upson but did he know that Cole is still carrying an injury? The major decisions went your way – keeper handles outside the area but stays on the pitch, he then rugby tackles Cole and gets away with it and finally the goal that was disallowed could easily have been given.

    Daren Bent falling over when clear on goal. What a laugh. I am sorry mate but Sunderland disappointed me. Great fans but no intelligence on the pitch. I dislike Bruce but he is a good manager.Even he cannot sort them out. A while ago someone said that the best 2 squads outside the top 8 were Sunderland and West Ham. Probably right but you wouldn’t have believed it Saturday. Face it mate, you are as bad as us.

  7. Watched the game and although I felt the passion and committment shown against Spurs was missing, I just couldn’t help notice how poor West Ham were. Carlton Cole and Upson playing for England would seem absurd on that performance. S’land with a 5% improvement would have dominated the game, the question is why was effort missing? Why is it we have a mental block about playing away. It needs to be addressed another 10 points gained on the road would have made this a great season. Pompey, Man U, Man City, Spurs and Blackburn seen us drop point through a small lack of effort. Sorry West Ham but if you stay up you have been very lucky you just don’t have any footballers

  8. I was there Billy along with 2,000+ other suffering Mackems. Isaw a poor game which West Ham deserved to win – read the piece again and you will see that.
    Gordon handled the ball in the box and then stepped out; a yellow card offence. It’s red when the keeper handles the ball outside the box, not when he carries it out.
    It may have escaped your attention that we left Roker Park 12 years ago and play in a modern stadium that does not have a main entrance that looks like the entrance to a second rate Las Vegas Casino. Presumably the castles will go to the Olympic Stadium when you decamp there in 2013. I look forward to visiting. Funnily enough, I quite like Upton Park; it has an atmosphere and a feel that you don’t get at any other London Premier League ground. It’s possible that I won’t be able to sample its unique atmosphere next season.
    Though Noble (sic) had a decent game as did Behrami – but he did the Swiss Roll a little too much for my liking.

  9. Tackiest ground in the PL? Do you forget what a complete dump roker (not worth a capital letter) park was? As for your assessment of the game, I take it you obviously were not there. Gordon shouldn’t have been on the pitch, Nobel and Behrami owned the midfield, Green only had one real shot to save. Yet Bruce still manages to make out as if he has been hard done by. Jfc, get a grip. Made me laugh you had identified this an away game to win..heh you are as bad as us away, so you didn’t have a sniff in all honesty. Sunderland, you make me laugh you think you are a big team, but in all reality you are a medium sized north eastern fish in a very very very small pond.

  10. Have you heard of a guy called Arsene Wenger? hows about Sir Alex – they are the kings of wingeing.

  11. Good fans as ever West Ham won probably because they wanted it more. We could easily have lost it by a goal but you really didn’t threaten. Not a great game, but very evenly matched. Why does your boss winge so much? He is the worst loser in the PL. His interview weas one of the high spots of the season!!

  12. Glad we won yesterday it was vital but big credit to your fans they were loud and proud as always. Always have a soft spot for the black cats as your fans are proper. Very nervy game yesterday but it always was gonna be like that and we may just be safe after that. Well done lads for your support ( both home and away fans).

  13. West Ham were there for the taking, but yet again we fail to turn up for an away game. Evidently, we have a bunch of players who only make maximum effort when they feel like it. Seeing what they’re capable of against Spurs, and then having to endure that mound of steaming chicken poo is becoming more irritating than I can put into words. I hope the players read these blogs because I would like them to know that yesterday they performed like a domestic family pet which can also be described as female genitalia. They were being marked though. It’s a tough life!!

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