Match Report

Match Report: West Ham 2 The Referee 3

Click HERE to rate the performance of the players who played against Everton.

If I see a worse referee at Upton Park this season, we’ll be in real trouble. Mr Lee Mason gives his profession a bad name. He had an absolute stinker today. The only thing he got right was our penalty, but that was so blatant he couldn’t really have done anything else. He gave corners when they were goal kicks and vice versa. He gave fouls when they weren’t and didn’t when they were. And he lost us the game. From my vantage point Mark Noble’s tackle on Ross Barklay was a brilliantly timed one. It wasn’t a foul, and it certainly wasn’t a yellow card. Sadly Sun Goals haven’t shown the incident, only the goal, so I will have to wait for MOTD to see if I am right. *UPDATE: OK, having seen MOTD, I admit it, I was wrong!

The first half was scrappy. Everton had a lot of the possession for the first ten minutes but we gradually made our mark and began to slot some passes together. There was no lumping it forward and defensively we were very sound. Everton played a lot of pretty stuff around the penalty area but I don’t remember them really having a shot in the first half. Morrison took his goal well, and even though it got a deflection which wrongfooted Tim Howard, it was well deserved. Ravel Morrison improved with every minute of the game. In the second half he felt confident enough to do some Joe Cole-esque flicks. To accommodate Morrison in his favourite position Mo Diame played out on the right and did really well. I thought Mark Noble had a great game. At times he orchestrated the midfield like a conductor. He won the ball tenaciously and drove forward at every opportunity. It was just a pity that his midfield partner Kevin Nolan contributed very little to the game. His balls forward were invariably hit too hard.

Defensively we were magnificent. The scoreline will never reflect that, but Reid and Collins were outstanding. And I thought Joey O’Brien was brilliant, back in his customary position of right back. The timing of his tackle on an Everton player when he was through on goal was superlative and is probably the incident I shall remember most from this game. Razvan Rat didn’t do badly in his first premier league game, although I thought the pace got to him at times. I felt he hadn’t really got much of an understanding with Matt Jarvis, but did better when Vaz Te switched wings.

And as for Maiga… well, the best that can be said is that he had a shot. Admittedly it flew over the crossbar, but at least he tried. Maybe I just can’t see what he does, but my Everton supporting friend thought he did well in the first half. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? Mladen Petric didn’t set the pitch on fire, but he did play a major part in winning the penalty, so that’s more than Maiga has achieved in five games.

Jussi Jaaskelainen has now conceded three consecutive goals from free kicks outside the area. Simply not good enough. He was man of the match last week, but those statistics will give cause for concern. However, would any goalkeeper have saved any of those free kicks? I’m not sure.

I think we just have the chalk this one down. For most of the game we played well. We played some good football. The sending off changed everything. Onwards.

Afterthought: What did we all think of the new stadium announcer? I thought he did OK initially, but no one could hear the half-times because he wasn’t close enough to the microphone, and he mispronounced Petric’s name, which was pretty poor. He kept saying Petrick.

Jaaskelainen 5
Reid 8
Collins 8
O’Brien 8
Rat 6
Diame 7
Nolan 5
Noble 8
Morrison 7
Jarvis 7
Maiga 4
Petric 6
Taylor 5
Vaz Te 6

Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Everton

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Everton

I am not one to think a point is a good result, but let’s face it, a point against Everton is more than we usually get against them. They beat Chelsea last week and we know that Martinez has got them playing good football, so we shouldn’t underestimate them at all. They also have several players who are capable of scoring goals, which is of course where we are at our weakest. If I sound as if I am reconciled to a defeat I don’t mean to be. We know we have a sound defence and three clean sheets in four games is testament to that, but make no mistake, our defence is going to be sorely tested today. Collins and Reid need to be at the top of their game. It will be interesting to see if O’Brien continues at left back or if Rat makes his first full appearance in the Premier League. I’d stick to O’Brien. This is not a game for experiments.

One experiment which hasn’t worked is Modibo Maiga up front. I think he needs to be replaced by Vaz Te today. He may be a frustrating player to many of us, but he does know where the goal is and it’s the position he is desperate to fill. He might as well get his chance. Otherwise I think the rest of the team picks itself. I hope Ravel Morrison continues on the right, but he needs to see more of the ball than he did at Southampton. He can make things happen.

I’m hesitant to make a prediction, but I’ll go for 1-1. I reckon we’re going to need to score at least two to win this.

Guest Post

What Exactly Is The West Ham Way?

By Paul McCailey

The terms ‘Tradition’ and ‘The West Ham Way’ have been bandied around an awful lot over the past few years, particularly since Big Sam took over. Opinion on him is still split – Tony McDonald’s article of 16.9.13 on this very blog is a good example of this – but one comment that is often made by West Ham ‘commentators’ is that, under Big Sam, we look the most solid and defensively sound as we have ever done.

This has got me reflecting on the quality of teams and players we have had over the years. As I am in my mid thirties, the earliest team I can remember is the ‘Boys of 86’ which I suppose was the first season I really got interested in football. Most of my fondest memories came in the late 1990s under Redknapp with the exciting prospects of players such as Ferdinand, Lampard, Cole et al coming through the academy coupled with excellent buys like Di Canio and Sinclair. The country was raving about these players! Surely this was it – keep these players together, add some others, and we were going to be challenging for the highest European honours….. well, we all know what happened there! Relegation in 2003 and again in 2011.

But of course this was not the first time we had been graced with a team of talented players – 1986 with Parkes, Martin, McAvennie and Cottee giving us our highest league finish ever; the 1970s with Brooking, Bonds and Devonshire, taking us to 2 FA Cups and defeated European Cup-Winners Cup final, and before them, the glory years of the 1960s, with domestic, European and world success in consecutive years.

But on a closer look, teams with those players in during the 1960s and 70s – with many (if not regular) international players in them – could never put consistent performances together to maintain challenges over a league season. While we may be one of the ‘elite’ 7 or 8 teams never to have dropped below the second tier of English football, we are also the only one of that group never to have won the title. We have been consistently mid-table over the past 50 years, finishing somewhere between 8th and 17th, with only 3 top six finishes in the top division since 1960. We have also been relegated on 4 occasions, with close shaves on several others. The ‘glory years’ of mid-60s to mid-70s saw the side only make 3 top-ten finishes, and spent the latter half of that decade fighting relegation and losing – despite Bonds, Brooking and Devonshire.

The only occasions I have seen those sides play has been on video; but from talking to people who lived through that and watched the side in those days it seems that there were a number of reasons why we never pushed on and challenged for titles. The board at those times seem to crop up with bad decisions – not investing after 1986, appointing Roeder after Redknapp and often selling our best players! Defensive naivety is another – yes, we had Moore, Bonds, Martin, Dicks, Ferdinand, but these were perhaps never part of strong units. Under Redknapp – a period I can comment on from experience – we were always, as has been the ‘West Ham Way’, on the offensive, playing exciting football and looking to get forward. The result was some excellent results, but also games like the 5-4 against Bradford or the 4-4 draw against Charlton. At the time it seemed obvious that we needed to tighten things up a bit, but it wasn’t done. Redknapp’s later teams on the South Coast or North London kept that attacking ethos – but they seemed more solid at the back, too. It seemed that we were so intent on playing ‘the West Ham Way’ that we weren’t able to tweak and improve it. Other sides, be that the Liverpool of the 1970s and 80s, or even Arsenal in the 1990s, were able to combine flowing football with solid defenses and consistency – perhaps something we never could. We also seemed to get bullied by more physical teams (notably Allardyce’s Bolton side) who managed to stop us playing and then complained about how awful the opposition were despite the fact they’d beaten us.

As a result, we have settled for mediocrity providing we were entertained. So we narrowly beat a team like Bradford at home 5-4? Well, it’s West Ham, isn’t it? Knocked out of the cup to a Championship team? Well, we get bullied by those sort of teams, don’t we? Had a great performance against Man U? Yeah, well we raise our game against the big boys, don’t we? Never mind we haven’t beaten Liverpool for decades and also get spanked by Man U just as often as we nearly get a result.

As a consequence, I think my point is this: we have for too long accepted (albeit with a fair amount of moaning) that we won’t be a top, top side; that we might get a good cup run if we’re lucky; that we in a ‘good’ year might challenge for a top 6, but not top 3 or 4, spot. To me, comparing our history to, for example, Liverpool since the 50s or 60s, or in more recent years Tottenham, shows a club bereft of serious ambition to capitalise on one of the best supported clubs in the country, with the financial influence of the City of London on it’s doorstep, and a capacity to produce some of the most technically gifted footballers our country has seen. Where we have started to show ambition it has been mismanaged and fallen foul of a global economic meltdown which – we should not underestimate – almost put our club out of business or at the very least ‘done a Leeds or Portsmouth’.

But where are we now? Are we destined to remain in mid-table mediocrity, flirting with relegation? I am optimistic. We are still in a challenging situation financially, but under Gold and Sullivan I believe we have chairmen who have the best interests of the club at heart, have ambition, and are willing to put their money where their mouths are – though admittedly not at the same level as billionaire foreigners. We have a manager who is not the long-ball servant served by his reputation, but a manager who is experienced and who has ensured we are tough and resilient.

Of course there have been question marks over the past month – lack of a plan B, lack of a second striker, only 6 shots on target in 4 games – and if we suffer a continuing problem with injuries our hopes of a top ten finish this year might vanish – but you can never see a team with Allardyce at the helm being relegated, can you? I believe we might have a painful year this year, but I also believe looking ahead that the future is rosy: a solid squad with a good mix of youth and experience, with some good youngsters coming through; a move to the Olympic Stadium which has finally won over the majority of fans; a debt that is planned to have gone in a few years; but above all a board who we can trust not to sell our best players or youngest stars, who have already looked to build on the team year on year, and one that seems to have something no other West Ham board has had before – ambition.

So who knows? Perhaps in 10 years’ time we can start to write a new history that our children and grandchildren can be proud of, not of glorious failure and underachievement, but one of success and silverware.

And we might even play some entertaining football, too…

Talking Point

Agent Lomas, West Ham Legend

Former Hammer Steve Lomas or Agent Lomas as he is now known has not had the best starts as Millwall manager, however as an undercover agent 4 losses, 2 draws and a recent win it is an excellent start for his secret mission.

Some of you might remember that back in May 2011 Millwall fans chartered a plane to display the banner ‘Avram Grant Millwall Legend’ over the the Wigan ground as we were relegated after drawing 2-2 after being 2-0 up.

After Millwall’s 5-1 defeat against Derby last weekend there was much talk on twitter whether it is time to pay them back with our own banner saying ‘Agent Lomas West Ham Legend’ After an inquiry into the cost of a plane including a banner with 32 characters is just £550 + VAT. Many have already pledged donations who want it to happen but it would be all be about timing. Is it possible Agent Lomas will be discovered and sacked before the end of the season and possible relegation?

The air traffic clearance is also an issue, the plane would be unlikely to get clearance to fly over the new Den but they do play Wigan in April next year and Bournemouth very soon.

However some have commented that to copy them would be crass and we should come up with our own idea, alternative suggestions include an ambitious plan to create a 30 second one off TV advert on Sky Sports News, hiring an adverting hoarding board close to the Millwall ground or one of those mobile billboards on a lorry.

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