The West Ham Soapbox: head start on the Hammers



Not a great game. Pete Sixsmith‘s words, echoed by many, but he also sees reason to draw on such results, from largely uninspiring play, for hope that we may actually be on course in our loftier ambitions …

So, another three points in our relentless quest for a Europa League place and the delights of Sherif Tirana or Bangor City on a Thursday night. I am tingling with excitement at the prospect of playing such giants of the European game.

If we do make it to such exalted heights, games like this one are the ones that really count. This was a bread and butter fixture, against a side similar to what we were: one perennially struggling in the lower reaches of the Premier League.

Unlike us, they have little internal stability. After a disastrous flirtation with financially bankrupt Icelanders, they are now in the hands of morally bankrupt East Enders. I searched in vain for David Sullivan and his wonderful Soviet kitsch overcoat. I imagine that had our Chairman seen anything Russian near him, he would have gone berserk and hit him with a hurling stick.

I showed my contempt for the Fifa decision by refusing to wear the splendid Ushanka that Monsieur Salut had brought back from Leningrad.

Instead, on a bitterly cold afternoon, I wore the SAFC bobble hat that I was pictured wearing at The Sports Direct, the hotchpotch stadium formerly known as St James’ Park. My head was cold throughout and to be honest, there wasn’t a great deal on the pitch to warm me up.

We were the better side, that’s for sure, creating the only genuine chance of the entire game, when Jordan smacked home a wonderfully accurate low cross from Gyan.

The more I see Asamoah play, the more I enjoy his presence on the field. He is a player of the quality never seen in a red and white shirt before – at least not by this writer. He has vision, can create space and can finish. He also plays as if he enjoys the game, unlike some of the dour faces that you see on certain players who look as if they would be much happier delivering post or repairing lorries.

The goal came after he had made a brilliant run that completely fooled the Hammers defence. Old boy Ben Haim played him onside and his beautifully weighted cross was put right in front of Henderson who never broke stride in poking it past Robert Green.

A very good goal which started with Craig Gordon and was worked up field, slowly but surely, before Gyan’s injection of pace. It should have been a base on which to build and I felt that had we scored a second, West Ham would have folded. But we were too ponderous in our build up and the ball was not pushed up to Gyan and Bent quickly enough.

Their defending was stout and resolute with Tomkins having a very good game. Our midfield was on top, with Cattermole in particular showing that he can avoid the disastrous second booking by being sensible, but we do lack a little imagination.
Richardson was his usual frustrating self, a mixture of quick bursts, misplaced passes, excellent tackles and easy loss of ball. He has been with us for four years and has never been less than a good player – but has he improved?

At the back, we were far better than in the last 10 minutes at Wolves. Ferdinand had a good game and the presence of Mensah meant that he had to concentrate or else face the wrath of Big John. He did and did it exceedingly well.

The full backs were as sound as they usually are, with Wee Shuggie McBardsley showing how players can bounce back from near obscurity without a loan spell at Bramall Lane. What he lacks in quality, he makes up for with sheer honest endeavour. Some of our technically more gifted players would do well to take note.

It was a frustrating afternoon. I really feel that we are on the edge of something. We try to play football. But there is just that spark missing, particularly in midfield. It is hard working but pedestrian. If we were to make one signing in January it needs to be a player who can give us that little bit extra there. Adam Johnson? Charles N’Zogbia? A rejuvenated Andy Reid?

As for West Ham, I think they will go down. They worked hard and their back four (often supplemented by their midfield) was organised, but going forward they showed nothing . Carlton Cole was awful and they will do well to unload him in the future.

Boa Morte should have been sent off for a two footed lunge at Richardson, while Parker and Spector were neat and tidy without ever grabbing hold of the game. I sensed the stench of relegation about them – and believe me, I know from bitter experience that aroma in the nostrils.

Fulham next week and a meeting with M Salut in the White Horse at Parsons Green. Whether I wear the Ushanka depends on the mood in the country. Having heard some of the Little Englander comments on 606 at the weekend, it may well be wiser to don a bowler hat.

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7 thoughts on “The West Ham Soapbox: head start on the Hammers”

  1. Ferdinand has lost whatever it was he had in the first place. He’s a 8,000,000 quid also ran, too prone to mistakes. Bardo is sensational, but I wish he’d stop shooting! Someone should tap the oaf on the shoulder and tell him not to give up his day job. I’m a singer by trade but you’d never catch me playing the tamborine.

  2. Agree with Geoff. For me Ferdinand was awful. I thought that it was a far more entertaining game than the Everton one myself.

  3. ‘New’ Sunderland first half – back to ‘old’ Sunderland 2nd half.
    Have to disagree about Ferdinand, I thought he looked vulnerable too many times – loss of confidence?
    Now he has found his Scottish birth certificate, Bardo has been a revelation. Gyan brings something very different to the game.
    There is so much promise but just not quite…….

  4. Tell you what, Martin, I’ll buy some, too, and whoever wins, we’ll split the money!
    Some people seem ready to write Da Silva off already. But I agree he’d a better bet than Ferdinand alongside Big John. There’d be more consistency with him.
    A dilemma picking two out of the three up front, certainly, but very nice to have that choice and to be able to switch one for another in mid-game if necessary.

  5. I am finding myself agreeing with Bill Taylor twice on the bounce. That has to be some kind of record! Maybe I’ll nip out and buy some lotto tickets.

    Excellent summary again Pete. I thought Ferdinand was decent but he fills me with trepidation of trepidous proportions! I think Paulo Da Silva might have been a better shout to partner Mensah!

    Brilliant mind games by Brucie to get young Jordan playing the way we know he can. Some of the one touch stuff was great to watch in the first half. Our second half showing was disappointing. It seems we don’t have the belief that we can kill a game off, except Chelsea away! It would be nice to witness some stress free games for a change.

    I’d love to see N’zog or preferably Johnson, but City won’t let him go – will they?? We need a talented left footed midfielder – no doubt.

    I don’t think playing Bent, Gyan and Wellbeck works, unless it’s to attempt to rescue a game. It’s a hell of a dilemma picking two of the three though.

  6. This to me had echoes of the Everton game. In the first forty five the midfield and forwards pressed the Hammers deep in their own half, hassling for the ball and dominating posession. Then after the break all the defending was done just in front of our own penalty area. It’s like they did all the defensive training in front of the South Stand.

    I have followed Sunderland for long enough never to feel comfortable when we have a two goal lead with two minutes to go – never mind just the one so was pretty nervy for most of the second half.

    Gyan, I agree looks class and so he should at £14m. He is good in support as well as in front of goal and with both him and Bent fit, Darren no longer has to do it all on his own. A few more games together and they should start to gel more and more.

    At least I hope so. Then we really shall start be able to look forward to day trips to Poltava and Figueira da Foz.

  7. I know Colin’s been skeptical but I’ve said for a while that N’Zogbia would be a good addition to the Cats. And he wants away from Wigan, doesn’t he? Johnson’s been scoring some good goals lately, though, and he’s a local lad (we can overlook his Middlesbrough youth days). Andy Reid is too hit-and-miss. Bringing him back to the SoL would be iffy at best. So… Zog or Johnson; either one would do for me.

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