I like to make my own custard. The secret is when you pour in the milk, take the custard off the heat, otherwise you will get a curdled mess. And keep whisking because you need to get just the right consistency.
So, football is the same. You get all your ingredients, a Brazilian trickster, a Mexican cheat, a Polish wall, an Argentinian playmaker, et al, stir them all together and hope you get consistency. Unfortunately, for the chef, he can’t seem to make progress. And for those tasting the custard, the lumps are still there.
Now, Cardiff is 3 degrees of longitude west of London. So, in real time that’s a time difference of 12 minutes, as one degree of longitude is 4 minutes in time. So, the only conclusion I can come to is that the West Ham side were suffering from jet lag for the first twenty minutes of the game.
I did hear the West Ham coach only arrived an hour before the game. Even if that is not true, there is something wrong with the preparation. Perhaps, they should travel the day before, so they can adjust to the climate.
I think we can say there is something amiss with Arnautovic. It’s actually painful to watch. He should have started, as the combination of him and Lanzini could be lethal. My belief is that the club have agreed he can leave in the next transfer window and have already agreed a fee with the Chinese club for £35 million. This would be a bargain as he is now probably worth about £10 million and probably is a real downer in the dressing room.
I must say, I’m getting bored. The only home game I’ve missed this year was against Fulham. I missed the fact the game was on a Friday night and agreed to a dinner date. Strangely, I realised I wasn’t that bothered. The games now are at such varying times. Soon, we’ll have midnight games to please fans in Bora Bora.
I apologise for my little jibe against Hernandez. But, for a player who prays on the centre line before a game, he has got a strange set of morals. Wasn’t the eleventh commandment ‘I shall not cheat’?There really should be a greater sanction against such players. A fine would be in order.
Looking to next season, we have got some great players as a base – Diop, Balbuena, Rice, Fabianski, Lanzini and Anderson. But we’ll have to spend another £100 million, or £50 million net after selling players. We certainly haven’t got the depth to compete for the Europa cup.We couldn’t even beat AFC Wimbledon with a second string.
With relegation all but impossible, and winning anything actually impossible, many have said the season is for all intent and purpose over. While some may not understand this, I find these kinds of matches kind of enjoyable. We have all spent a large chunk of our lives watching West Ham desperately try to avoid relegation. One eye on the screen watching us hold on for a result against Wigan, or Sunderland, or Manchester United, while looking at the results around us on another screen literally every few seconds. To just be able to watch football, at least for the highly pessimistic and fearful of us (images of Dan Silver slouched in his seat, hands in pockets, chin tucked to his chest come to mind) is a treat to me. And I for one sat content on my basement sofa just watching football. I can’t say I enjoyed much of today’s match. But at least the result won’t send me into panic mode.
Like any Warnock team, Cardiff are a threat from set pieces. They had a chance to show that inside of the opening minute when Anderson brought down Murphy on the right side of the West Ham penalty area. The Hammers dealt with the delivery but Cardiff got the ball back into the box. Gunnarsson took a low shot that Fabianski handled. But moments later Murphy was on the run again on the right. His low pass to Hoilett was treated like a piece of radioactive waste by the entire West Ham defense, so Hoilett had pretty much no problem directing the ball into the back of the net.
Cardiff kept on the front foot, with Niasse making a run on the left in the 7th minute. Diop made a terrific tackle, and West Ham defended the ensuing corner well. But it didn’t stop the pressure from Cardiff, and West Ham were on their heels hoping for the onslaught to stop. The 13th minute could have brought a second from Cardiff when Fabianski raced Niasse to gather the ball in the West Ham eighteen yard box and lost the race. Niasse tried to loop the ball over the West Ham keeper but his touch was too heavy and the ball went way over the bar.
Midway through the first half, I had a dark thought. Anderson hadn’t completed a pass in what seemed like ages. I wondered if it was time to tell him that no, not even his spot is definite. Not that I had any idea who would replace him, mind you. But I definitely thought about it.
The visitors started to look more comfortable on the ball around the half hour mark. They moved the ball side to side while waiting for someone to make a run. In the 31st minute, the most unlikely of candidates to break on goal did just that. Noble ran behind the Cardiff defense and Anderson came inches away from finding him. It did, however, beg the question of whether or not we had the right lineup up front. Those kinds of balls need a target. We had a petulant one on the bench. Time would tell if he made an appearance.
Having only gone into halftime in front one time this season, Cardiff were hell bent on doubling that number. They kept the pressure up, gave West Ham no time on the ball. There was a steel door across the center of the pitch and West Ham couldn’t go through it. The Hammers looked better, especially down the right side, and they managed to win two corners late in the half. Yet neither produced even a shot off target. Snodgrass had a late attempt from outside the box but it sailed high.
Cardiff asked the final question of the match when Murphy tried a curling strike from 25 yards out, but Fabianski was equal to the task.
Cardiff City 1
West Ham 0
It’s not like I have any clairvoyance or anything, but when Arnautovic came on for Anderson to start the second half, I gotta say I looked back at what I had written and nodded in agreement.
Cardiff had a set piece from a dangerous position in the 50th minute when Diop was a luck boy not to be booked for a tackle on Hoilett just to the left of the West Ham box. The set piece was handled well, but Cardiff kept the pressure on and were rewarded. Hoilett started with a cross that Murphy headed back across the face of goal where Camarasa was there to force it over the line. There was a question of offside, although Fredericks looked to have played Camarasa onside. There was no question, however, of which side was playing better and deserved the lead.
Cardiff should have scored a third in the 57th minute when Niasse went around Diop as if he were a mannequin and was in on goal alone. Yet somehow, someway, he flubbed the shot and sent it wide. And if that wasn’t the chance to put the lights out, moments later Fabianski came up with a tremendous double save on Niasse and Camarasa to keep the game alive. Life support, mind you. But there was a pulse.
I love Antonio’s enthusiasm and drive. But until they decide to put the goal high up in the lower stands behind the goal, he shouldn’t try any more long range shots.
West Ham had their best chance of the match in the 71st minute when Rice decided to try a low drive from outside the Cardiff eighteen yard box. He beat Etheridge, but the ball bounced off the center of the right post and back out for Cardiff to clear. A few minutes later Arnautovic made a little move to his right and tried to beat Etheridge to the near post but the Cardiff keeper made a good stop. If nothing else, it might have moved Arnie back closer to the starting eleven.
With ten minutes to go, Hoilett did very well to fight off both Fredericks and Snodgrass to win a corner. The delivery came to the shiny head of Gunnarsson but the ball went over the bar. Cardiff kept the ball deep in West Ham territory, and won another free kick in the 84th minute. Hoilett sent a curling ball at goal, and Morrison and Fabianski both went for it. The end result was a high boot and a yellow for the former, and likely bruise for the latter.
West Ham won a corner in the 86th minute when Antonio and Cresswell played an overlapping run that went a bit wonky. The delivery from Nasri wasn’t memorable. Neither were the two throw ins from Antonio moments later. Nor the move in the box from Arnautovic. Or the corner from Snodgrass.
Cardiff City 2
West Ham 0
Don’t get me wrong. Cardiff deserved the win. They worked harder, made no defensive blunders, and took their chances. But they didn’t show a lot of quality. This was a side that had conceded five to Watford in their last home game. In other words, even a neutral would probably say West Ham are a better side and had an off day while Cardiff did what was needed to win. The only thing left on my ledger for the morning or early afternoon was deciding what was for lunch.
This weekend West Ham travel to South Wales to play against a Cardiff team still apparently reeling from the tragic death of Emiliano Sala before he had even played a game for them. Ahead of the game I once again spoke to Paul Evans from Cardiff City Blogsite Mauve and Yellow Army to discuss the upcoming game and the season so far. The last time we spoke we were about a third of the way through the season. Now with only nine games left how would you sum up your 1st season back in the Premier League?
If I’d been asked that question about six weeks ago, I would have said not too badly, but events have cast a shadow over the season and, after it initially appeared that the team had shown strength in the face of tragedy, recent games suggest that it is now having the effect many predicted.
What do you think seeing your ex-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær turning around Manchester United? Do you wonder how he would have performed with a mass of great players in Cardiff? Or do you think that maybe you could persuade ‘The Special One’ to come to Cardiff now that he is out of a job?
Ole signed one or two players who have done well for us (e.g. Morrison and Pilkington), but he was a disastrous appointment. I can remember him addressing the crowd before his first home game, against West Ham as it turned out, and thinking what is this doing for our opponents – we lost 2-0 that day and it was a sign of things to come.
Based on what he is doing at Manchester United, I think he’s got some good tacticians with him there. It was impossible to tell what Ole was doing from one week to the next with us and I don’t there were many City fans unhappy to see him go, but, to be fair, he has shown over the last two or three months that he isn’t as bad as his spell at Cardiff suggested he was – as for Mourinho, we’ll let someone else have him!
Talking of managers how do you rate Neil Warnock’s year? Is he hampered by not having a good enough squad, or has he not maximised the potential of the players you’ve got there.
I think, generally speaking, Neil Warnock has has a good year, but I’ll qualify that to some extent in my answer to one of the other questions you’ve asked.
What have been your highlights, and lowlights of the season so far?
Last time we were in this league we beat eventual Champions Manchester City and came out on top against Swansea in a derby. I don’t think there has been anything to match that so far this season, so I’d go for scoring winners in added time to secure our only two away wins so far at Leicester and Southampton. A persistent lowlight of the the season for me is the way we have been so passive against top six sides – i’m not expecting us to be turning them over on a regular basis, but we have seemed in awe of them which is unlike us. More specifically, we were awful against Huddersfield in January and barely any better last week against Everton.
The title looks like being a two horse race: who do you think will end up as top dogs, Manchester City or Liverpool? Which two teams will join them in the Champions League positions?
Manchester City are the class act of the division for me and Liverpool were unable to quite shake them off during their poor spell around the turn of the year – I think Liverpool have probably lost their title chance with recent 0-0 away draws.
Who joins those two in the Champions League next season is a tough one. For me, Spurs are the best of the other four, but there is a bit of a frailty to them lately, Arsenal are the weakest judging by their games with us and what I’ve seen of them on the telly, but are hanging in there, Chelsea are having one of their “walkabout” phases and I’m not wholly convinced they are back to something like their best and, instinctively, I’m against any group of players that “down tools” in the way that Man United’s did in the first half of the season, but, if I had to pick two from four to make it into the Champions League, I’d go for them and Spurs.
Where do you think West Ham will end the season?
Not a clue! Anywhere between seventh and about fifteenth – you’ve been very inconsistent and, after the amount spent in the summer and the managerial appointment you made, I think I’d be quite disappointed with the season so far if I were a West Ham fan
You intimated when we last spoke that it would be difficult to stay up this season. Looking at your upcoming fixtures you do have to play four of the teams near you, but you also have to face both Manchester teams and Chelsea: are you going to be able to escape the drop? If so, which of the teams above you do you think will join Fulham and Huddersfield, both of whom look truly doomed, in being relegated?
We’ve also got to play Liverpool in those last nine matches, so, a combination of our fixture list, the loss of the talismanic Sol Bamba and the way we’ve played in our last three matches makes me very pessimistic (I see Saturday as our first truly must win game of the season). There’s also the awful Emiliano Sala situation (which is now, sadly, turning into the squalid row about money that it always threatened to be) which, leaving the emotion of the whole thing aside, has seen us pay a club record fee for someone who is never going to score us a goal or win us a game.
Therefore, although £15 million is not a fortune by the standards of this league, it is getting towards half of what we had spent on other new players since getting promoted.
This brings me on to what I would call a weakness of Neil Warnock’s – excepting Sala, his buys when spending big money by Cardiff City’s standards is not impressive. Warnock has chosen to create a squad which, in terms of natural ability and technique, is the worst in the division in my opinion, but has tried to bridge that gap through things like strength, character and team spirit. For much of the time, this approach has looked like it had a chance of working, but the number of times we’ve conceded three or more in a game (eleven) is testimony to the risks behind an approach which leaves us virtually nowhere to go if plan A isn’t working – “Warnockball” played badly has absolutely nothing to commend it at all.
We’ve done well to be the one of the three expected relegation sides that may still confound the pundits, but, in truth, I’m fairly sure we’re going down now – that was a big win for Brighton last weekend because it means that we need two wins to get past them, Southampton have definitely improved under Hasenhüttl and we could never go to Old Trafford and perform like they did, so Burnley’s recent downturn might offer a little hope (they were the worst side I’ve seen us play this season), but we need to get points on the board before we can start to make them panic and it’s hard to see us doing that at the moment.
If worse comes to worst and you are relegated, what should your priorities be for next season?
To hear our manager talk, our budget for this season was peanuts, but that’s not true, so I’m not one of those City fans who think we’ll do something akin to what Stoke did last summer if we do go down. I think it’s more likely that we will be competitive in the transfer market without being extravagant. Whatever happens though, the truth is that we have an ageing squad and a midfield which is likely to be rocked by loan players not returning and Aron Gunnarsson moving on. That all makes me think it would be a good time for Neil Warnock to retire to his farm in Cornwall so that we could bring in a new, more modern thinking, manager who would, hopefully, make improving our truly abysmal record of recent years when it comes to developing our own players a priority.
Which /Cardiff City player will get your vote for player of the season, and who else has had a look in?
Last time we were in this league, goalkeeper David Marshall was, far and away, our best player and this time around Neil Etheridge would be my nominee for that award (that tells you all you need to know about the nature of our two Premier League campaigns!). Honestly, I find it hard to come up with other contenders – Bruno Manga has his backers, as does Bamba and I’ve liked the rare shafts of skill provided by Victor Camarasa at times, but it has to be Etheridge as far as I’m concerned.
How will Cardiff City line up against West Ham this weekend?
Neil Warnock finally seems to have lost patience with a set of wingers that have been too flakey week in, week out for this division, so it’s hard to predict a side – Sol Bamba’s season ending injury means we’re down to two specialist centre-backs, but I still believe that a side with three centre-backs (Lee Peltier can play there), a couple of wing backs, three central midfielders and either two strikers or a striker and number ten would give us the solidity that we can lack when we play wingers. However, I think it’s more likely our team will look something like:-
Prediction for the score?
Your inconsistency gives me a little hope, but, based on our home form since Manchester United beat us 5-1 just before Christmas, you can probably expect one of your most comfortable wins of the season – I’ll go for 0-2.
Well many thanks to Paul for his time once again. I think I will agree with him and also go for a 0-2 victory to West Ham. COYI
4th March 2012 – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel topped the UK box office and Gotye featuring Kimbra was number one with ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ as West Ham United recorded a 2-0 victory over tomorrow’s opponents Cardiff City in front of 23,872 at the Cardiff City Stadium. Davy Jones of The Monkees had passed away four days earlier while actor Philip Madoc, known for many roles but perhaps most fondly remembered for playing the German U-boat captain in a famous episode of Dad’s Army, died the day after the game.
Skipper Kevin Nolan opened the scoring in this Sunday lunchtime encounter two minutes before half-time, meeting Nicky Maynard’s short pass and stroking a low effort into the far corner of the net in his first game back from a three-match suspension. Popular left-back George McCartney (pictured above) doubled the visitors’ advantage against the Bluebirds, managed by former Hammers centre-half Malky Mackay, with 13 minutes left of the contest – the Ulsterman, in his second spell with the club, picked up the ball on halfway before embarking on a run which took him into the hosts’ penalty area. When his initial cross was blocked, McCartney met the rebound himself to steer the ball into the net with his right foot to register his second, and ultimately final, goal in claret and blue. My video below shows the action from this match in the Welsh capital.
Cardiff had gone into the match on the back of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup Final the weekend before. Sam Allardyce’s Hammers would finish third in the Championship in 2011/12, while Cardiff would end the campaign in sixth place. Reading won the division, with the Irons beating the Bluebirds in the Play-Off Semi-Finals before clinching promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking with a Wembley win over Blackpool in the Final. Manchester City won the title and Chelsea won the FA Cup.
Cardiff City: David Marshall, Kevin McNaughton, Ben Turner, Mark Hudson, Andrew Taylor, Don Cowie, Peter Whittingham, Aron Gunnarsson, Joe Mason, Kenny Miller, Rudy Gestede (Haris Vuckic).
West Ham United: Robert Green, Joey O’Brien, James Tomkins, Abdoulaye Faye, George McCartney, Mark Noble, Henri Lansbury (Gary O’Neil), Jack Collison, Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te, Nicky Maynard (Carlton Cole).
A decent number of players have worn the shirts of both West Ham United and Cardiff City. These include:
Goalkeepers: Tommy Hampson, Stephen Bywater and Peter Grotier.
Defenders: Clive Charles, Danny Gabbidon, Phil Brignull and James Collins.
Midfielders: Gary O’Neil, Matt Holmes, Trevor Sinclair, Ravel Morrison, Bobby Weale, Billy Thirlaway, Joe Durrell and Jobi McAnuff.
Strikers: John Burton, Craig Bellamy, Marouane Chamakh, Billy Charlton, Nicky Maynard and Keith Robson.
Bobby Gould, Malky Mackay and Frank O’Farrell all played for the Hammers and managed the Bluebirds.
Today’s focus though is on a player who turned out for Cardiff before a loan spell with West Ham later in his career. Roger Johnson was born on 28th April 1983 in Ashford, Surrey. A Chelsea season-ticket holder as a boy, he started his career with Wycombe before signing for Cardiff in the summer of 2006 for £275,000. The 6’3 centre-half made his debut at the age of 23 in a 2-1 Championship win at Barnsley on 5th August 2006 and scored his first goal for the club in a 4-1 home win over Preston on 23rd February 2007. He also scored in a 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in April of the same year as the Bluebirds finished 13th under Dave Jones. The 2007/08 season saw Johnson score late winners against Brighton at home in the League Cup and at Norwich in the league, as well as goals in draws at Hull and Watford. Johnson also scored in wins at Preston and at home against Bristol City in the Severnside Derby. He notched a crucial goal in Cardiff’s 2-0 victory at Premier League Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter final, a run which took the Bluebirds all the way to the 2008 FA Cup Final at Wembley, which they lost 1-0 to Portsmouth. Johnson was awarded the club’s Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
Johnson scored a late winning goal at home against Southampton on the opening day of the 2008/09 campaign and also scored in 2-0 home wins over Preston and Sheffield Wednesday, as well as a 2-2 draw at Wolves and 4-1 home victory over Derby. He had played every minute of the season until he had to leave the field at Crystal Palace on 11th April 2009 after being hit in the throat by an elbow from Palace defender Claude Davis; Johnson suffered breathing difficulties and was forced to spend two nights in hospital. Davies was found guilty of violent conduct by the FA and banned for three matches. Johnson was voted the club’s Player of the Year for the second successive campaign and was named in the Championship Team of the Year as Cardiff finished one place outside the play-off spots in seventh position.
Having scored 14 goals in 136 appearances for Cardiff, the 26-year-old Johnson moved to Premier League Birmingham in the summer of 2009 for a fee of £5m and won the League Cup with the Blues in 2011 having knocked out West Ham in the Semi-Finals. Birmingham were relegated at the end of the 2010/11 season but Johnson remained in the top flight, signing for Wolves in a deal worth just over £4m. Despite being club captain, Johnson had disciplinary issues at Molineux and the club were relegated in 2012 with Johnson subsequently placed on the transfer list. He joined Sheffield Wednesday on a three-month loan in September 2013 before moving to the Hammers in another temporary switch.
With Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United 19th in the Premier League and having just been beaten 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round, the 30-year-old Johnson was brought in on loan until the end of the season. The Hammers were without fellow centre-halves James Tomkins, James Collins and Winston Reid at the time, while Everton’s Johnny Heitinga had rejected a move to Upton Park despite the two clubs agreeing terms. Johnson made his debut in a 6-0 League Cup Semi-Final first leg defeat at Manchester City on 8th January 2014, two days after joining the club; he also later played in the 3-0 home defeat in the second leg as the Irons were trounced 9-0 on aggregate. Johnson’s league debut came in a 2-0 win at former club Cardiff on 11th January 2014 and he made his home debut in a 3-1 loss to Newcastle the following week. After two months out of the side, Johnson returned to make two substitute appearances in 2-1 wins against Hull at home and away to Sunderland, both in late March. Nicknamed ‘The Relegator’ by skipper Mark Noble for his role in demotions at both Birmingham and Wolves, Johnson made six appearances in total for West Ham United before returning to Wolves at the end of the 2013/14 season.
Johnson’s contract at Molineux was eventually terminated by mutual consent in February 2015 and he joined Charlton soon after. He moved to Indian Super League side FC Pune City in the summer of 2015 but rejoined Charlton in January 2016. Now 35, Johnson is at National League side Bromley having joined the club in October 2017, five months after his second release from Charlton. He returned to Wembley for the FA Trophy Final against Brackley last season, scoring a 95th-minute own goal and eventually being on the losing side in a penalty shoot-out.
Tomorrow’s referee is 50-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his seventh Premier League match involving West Ham United – the Hammers have won five of the previous six league matches he has officiated. His first Premier League appointment with the Irons was our 3-1 win at Southampton in February 2017. He also took charge of the Hammers for our 3-0 win at Stoke in December 2017 – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches. He also refereed our 2-0 home win over Watford in February 2018, our 3-1 home win over Everton on the final day of last season and our 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in August.
Scott was most recently the man in the middle for our 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture against Cardiff at London Stadium in December, a match which saw him award a penalty to the visitors which Lukasz Fabianski saved. He was also in charge for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and also sent off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.
Cardiff City will be without injured centre-half Sol Bamba for the rest of the season.
Manuel Pellegrini has Fabian Balbuena and Aaron Cresswell available but Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko are still sidelined. West Ham are on a seven-match winning streak against Cardiff, keeping clean sheets in five of those games.
Possible Cardiff City XI: Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Bennett; Gunnarsson, Ralls, Arter; Camarasa, Reid; Zohore.
Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Snodgrass, Lanzini, Anderson; Arnautovic.