Click HERE to rate the performances of the West Ham players who played against WBA
Back in January 2011 West Ham were in a downward spiral. Avram Grant had lost the dressing room. Martin O’Neill was lined up to take over but then changed his mind., West Ham then unexpectedly won a match towards the end of the month and the owners decided to stick with him. Bad mistake. We ended up being relegated. Those of us who couldn’t understand Grant’s appointment in the first place weren’t exactly surprised.
We now find ourselves at the end of the year firmly rooted in the bottom three, having played a series of matches where our performances have been less than inspiring. Luck hasn’t gone our way, to be sure, but throughout December we haven’t deserved to get much out of any of the games. Today’s was another where we were lucky to get a point, even though we led twice.
I’ll come on to today’s performance in a moment, but the main point of this blogpost is to make an appeal to the joint-chairmen. Make a decision and stick with it. If you’re going to fire Allardyce, do it now. This evening. But if you are not going to fire him, stick with him. You’re in the best position to judge whether he can make it and turn things around. Use your experience from the Grant era to inform your decision, but it is your decision and you need to be accountable for it. And if you are going to give Allardyce your confidence, you need to buy two central defenders and two strikers in January. Nothing less will be good enough. If you fire Allardyce, you’ll still need to do this, FFP or no FFP.
It was a pulsating game and it was a game we put ourselves in a great position to win. Bizarrely, I had fallen asleep on the sofa and only woke up when I heard the roar of the crowd as Joe Cole put us one up after only three minutes. [In case you are wondering why I wasn’t actually at the match, I’m on a ten day break in Norfolk]. So I missed the fact that Kevin Nolan played an assist. So when I later tweeted “Just realised Kevin Nolan is actually on the pitch” I got some well deserved abuse. We had two more chances to increase our lead, but as usual didn’t put them away. So it came as little surprise when WBA scored and then put in a second on the stroke of half time. We weren’t exactly helped by having James Tomkins injured, resulting in four full backs playing across defence. You do have to question why we had no central defender from the Development Squad on the bench. I think Pelly Ruddock is on loan at Luton Town. Perhaps he should have been recalled.
At 2-1 down you always fancied West Brom to add to their lead. Anelka, Berhani and Brunt were on fire. Enter Modibo Maiga. He came on for Carlton Cole at half time and quickly put in a brilliant long range shot which Foster parried wide. A few minutes later he hit another one from outside the area which Foster let under his body. Maiga sunk to his knees and I am pretty sure I saw him wiping tears away. A few minutes later up he jumped to head the ball down for Nolan to smash into the net. So Nolan had two assists and a goal, with Maiga grabbing a goal and an assist.
I have to say I thought it was a very jittery performance from Jussi. Not what we have come to expect. He was certainly at fault for their third goal. Defensively I suppose we did about as well as could have been expected with no recognised central defender for more than three quarters of the game. Noble put in his usual committed performance but Diame was again a disappointment. Nolan will rest of the fact that he got two assists and a goal, but for large parts of the game he just disappears and it appears we are a man down. i thought both Cole and Maiga did well, which is at least some consolation.
So, as we all struggle to come to terms with the fact that we are in a serious relegation battle, the next 30 days are certainly going to be very interesting for our club. Let’s try and be as calm as we can.
Jussi 5, Demel 6, O’Brien 6, McCartney 6, Rat 6, Noble 7, Diame 5, Nolan 6, Cole J 6, Cole C 6, Maiga 7, Jarvis 7,
Please use this thread to comment on the game as it progresses.
Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Tomkins, McCartney, Rat, Diame, Noble, Nolan, J Cole, Jarvis, C Cole
Subs Adrian, Collison, Maiga, Taylor, Diarra, Demel, Chambers
The selection today will be largely be dictated by injuries. Both Ravel Morrison and James Collins have knocks and are unlikely to feature. The main bone of contention will be who partners James Tomkins. It may well be George McCartney again, but in an ideal world he would be rested for this fixture. Personally I would play Alou Diarra there. He’s fit again and I believe he has played in that position in France. He certainly has the physical stature which McCartney does not.
Again, in an ideal world, Carlton Cole would remain up front, having scored 2 in 2. But with his dodgy knees it would be asking a lot for him to play two games in three days. Otherwise, because of injuries, the team more or less picks itself. And doesn’t that illustrate the problem? I wonder, though, if there is a possibility of Andy Carroll making the bench. It really would give everyone a lift.
If we don’t get three points this afternoon it is safe to say that there will be serious calls for Sam Allardyce to be replaced, probably by Malky Mackay. We’ll address that particular subject on the site tomorrow.
RESULT OF THE JUSSI V ADRIAN POLL
I am quite surprised by this. 400 of you voted in the poll to express your goalkeeping preference. Adrian won out over Jussi by 55% to 45%. Seeing as Jussi has had 8 clean sheets this season, you’d have thought this was one position you wouldn’t want to change personnel in. Our problems are not in defence. They lie in the fact we can’t score goals. If you have a tight back four, surely you don’t change it?
PS West Ham have released Mladen Petric after only three months and three substitute appearances according to the Daily Mirror.
UPDATE 12 noon: Team is Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Tomkins, McCartney, Rat, Diame, Noble, Nolan, J Cole, Jarvis, C Cole
Subs Adrian, Collison, Maiga, Taylor, Diarra, Demel, Chambers
Player Performance Results