Thursday, March 29, 2007

Inept, woeful and unacceptable. For once it’s not West Ham getting a kicking from fans and the press but its England. Two very important qualifying matches have come and gone and the end result is 4 points. You might think that 4 points if a good return from two away matches but what the problem is, is the performances and who they were against.

Let’s go back to the start and Saturday’s game against Israel. The “left sided problem” has been long standing for England and when Jose Mourinho started to play Joe Cole on the left hand side of his Chelsea team, something clicked. The boy once labelled the “English Maradona” became a man and came of age at the world cup as one of the only players to come away from that tournament with his head held high. Unfortunately for him and for England he has suffered two big injuries this season which have limited the time he has spent on football field. With Bridge and Ashley Cole injured or suspended there was two gaps on the left side of England so the chance was there for naturally left footed, inform players to be given their chances. Therefore who do you pick for the left of midfield and at left back? Lucky for England Barry at Villa has hit some real form this season, Baines at Wigan has gone from strength to strength and Shorey at Reading has been playing well enough for the newly promoted side to perhaps be given a chance. Jamie Carragher and Lennon played on the left against Israel. Both good players but right footed, naturally out of position and limited by what they could do on the pitch by being played on the left. Anyway onto the other things that went wrong. The front two of Rooney and Johnson battled and worked hard to position themselves and try and fashion chances but the service was poor and neither player looked like having a cutting edge that was needed against a side that packed everyone back into their own half. You have to beat what’s in front of you and what was in front of England this game was a defence of 10 men. Conditions cannot be blamed; a culture of fear as you step out onto the itch in Israel cannot be blamed. The blame for me lies with the manager. Good leaders always admit that the buck stops with them and form McClarens comments that all the respected coaches in the world were calling him and saying England were brilliant and al that tosh, well that’s the sign of a man not excepting his share of the blame when things go wrong. Plus Phil Neville at right back? Oy Veh. There’s plenty more to be going into but for the sake of staying calm before I type something about the Andorra I wont.

This bit was typed after the Andorra match on Thursday. Reports in today’s papers are Lampard was dropped from the team rather then “injured” with a limp wrist. Well either way it was brilliant news he was dropped. Martin Peters earned the nickname of ghost for the way he would appear in the box or anywhere around the pitch unexpected and with maximum effect, through a goal or an important tackle. Lampard ghosts through matches but not in a Peter’s way, more in a have a million greedy shots and take a million deflections for it go in and take all the glory for his fat self. Personally I would rather he was dropped for being piss poor then an injury so if the papers are correct with this report then good.

About a World Cup too late but them the brakes. Over 10,000 England fans had made the journey to Barcelona to see England play against a side that in all honesty will struggle against the teams that play on Hackney Marshes on a weekend. 0-0 at half time. Now once again England was confronted with a side that packed their own half and never showed any interest at all in trying to get a goal. It took Paul Robinson 28 or so minutes to have a touch of the ball and that was to retrieve a wayward free kick that I think counted for Andorrans only chance on goal all match. Anyway chances were few and far between which is unacceptable for this side against such poor opposition. Gerrard was the first to test the goalkeeper after 20 minutes. 20 minutes to have a shot on target? A decent Downing chance was wasted and at half time the crowd really turned the screw on McClaren and his England flops. The second half performance was as controlled as the first and two quality finishes from Gerrard dug us out of a big hole. The telling thing was that after every goal and for long periods of time some of the crowd chanted “Still want McClaren out”. This I think has been born out of the obvious and what everyone can see is that McClaren is a man full of hot air and not many ideas. Middlesboro fans were in large glad to be rid of him and that says a lot. We could not break down Andorra as they packed their half as I said and we failed to get Lennon involved in the gamer. To try and get him on the ball he was bought more infield and it nearly paid off straight away but then he drifted out of the game again. Why? Cause at times the service was not good enough. The BBC pundits were right to point out that why do you need to have so many back against this side? Lennon and Downing should have been told that they are not allowed into the England half unless to defend a free kick or corner. Push them up and get the balls into them to run at the much weaker opposition. Why sit Gerrard and Hargreaves back so far at times? It’s Andorra for pity’s sake. I can understand Gerrard collecting the ball to start a move or drive forward but it looked to be t times he was a holding midfielder. In the first half some fans chanted for David Beckham. He will never be bought back by the inept manager in charge of the national team but you could see why he was chanted for. His delivery and ability at times to ratchet up a game and take it by the scruff of the neck was what was needed that first half. Richards looked impressive until he went off injured and the injury he picked up might have ended his season, along with the other injury he has been carrying for some while now according to reports.

Funny how Gerrard has a bigger influence on a match when he plays in the middle. A position that according to Jamie “I’m Lampards cousin” Redknapp is one that the Liverpool manager has “Brainwashed” the country into thinking he cannot play in. Management calls for big decisions and McClaren and most pundits have fudged the issue of Gerrard and Lampard. Alan Hansen last night on Match of the Day said that they can play together and they are both similar players. Ok then in that case for the sake of the team you go for the player who is more technically gifted, a bigger leader o the pitch and someone that is 100% regarded as a threat wherever he is on the pitch. Better order a reinforced bench as Lampard is going to get splinters. Well that’s if we had a manager with sense in charge.

Also well done to David Nugent for two reasons. For stealing Defoe’s goal and for the example set to championship players. If you are in form and there is a spate of injuries then you will get a chance. Take not please Dean Ashton, for the love of God please use this as an example that you can play in the championship for West Ham and still be in the England frame.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ripped off and treated like an idiot, that's the Wembley experience for you. Being at the match was good but at times it felt like you were being talked down to and told to applaud flags being carrid onto the pitch and bollocks like that. Anyway:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Once more I start with “It’s been a while”. I really should post more here but….. well no excuse I should. Anyway an away win for West Ham? What’s the world coming to? Obvious comments of the second goal was not a goal and we were very lucky are true and we have come away from Ewood Park with 3 points. Damn this club for giving people a false sense of hope when it’s too late.

Ol’ Eggy has been making comments to the Newham Recorder about a number of things relating to West Ham. He has reconfirmed his commitment to the club and talked about building the club into European contenders. Fat chance and will only believe it when I see it. He also mentioned that two goal hero Tevez is not under the clubs control (no shit) and that his masters will decide where he goes in the summer. 200th year anniversary of the abolishment of slavery this year eh? He also talks about moving the club to a ground that could hold 60,000. Once more I will only believe it when I see it when we fill such a ground. On the other hand the Barking development on the river should add a lot of houses to the area; then again the development of the Mardyke without anyone being told will add houses as well.

The argument for reserve teams in the football league has crept up again and my arguments from before remain the same.

With that dealt with I have some good news, I am going to Wembley! Two tickets to the Under 21 match and 9 rows from the front. I don’t care about the result cause all I care about is I am going Wembley! Watching the younger England players (were a few are already living the lifestyle of a person who has too much too young) will still be more enjoyable then the team the joker of a national manager will be sending out to face Israel. I have not come across anyone who has a hope of us beating them. They are below us in the world rankings (which are a joke in itself) and have a number of players who still play within Israel but still with a no hoper manager and players who are either injured or miss-firing, I can see a battling side scrapping for every ball upsetting the so called “stars” of England. 2-0 Israel.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It’s been a while. Lots of different circumstances, work and such have come together in a way that has made me unable to post something “meaningful” on this blog of mine. Anyway onto a matter that has popped up today:

The Football League Board is looking into getting rid of draws and having sides face a penalty shoot out to determine a winner. Being completely honest, I don’t see where this one has come from. I mean that in a way of where has the outcry to scrap draws been? Who has felt that draws have hindered the game? I think this has come about because the league wants the amount if games limited. Cup games would no longer be two legged affairs and no replays permitted. To me it is the fault of those behind the Champions league and other such competitions for the extra amount of games being played. The UEFA cup format was messed about with to add a group round, just like the Champions league was in the early 90’s for the sole purpose of more matches equal more money. Domestically teams who are away too much stronger opponents play for the draw in most cases to try and get home advantage in a replay. Some of these games can be negative but the tradition of the FA Cup should be respected and failure of a side to beat another is part of the game. With regards to the league I just think the idea is not a good one. Would there be a jump straight away to penalties or would there be extra time? If there as extra time players would “burn out” quicker which would give people like Wenger more excuses to blame the French national side. I don’t see draws as a problem; I see the plans to further cut the league numbers down to 18, potentially 16 as a bigger problem. If rent-a-quote Sepp Blatter got his way only the biggest and best teams would be in the leagues of Europe. And when I say Europe I mean Italy, England, Spain and Germany (and a few from other countries throw in).

Now a non football related paragraph (!!!!!!!!). The Cricket World Cup has started and my pick for the tournament is………not Scotland that’s for sure. It’s Australia. That’s no shock really but I feel that the Aussies will be more determined to show everyone how good they are after England success down under (and that was a pleasant surprise) and the 3-0 series whitewash against New Zealand. Speaking of which I have a sneaking feeling that New Zealand will go far and make the Semi Finals at least, even possibly the Final.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Alex Ferguson is not good at celebrating goals. 26 seconds in
Talking Tactics: Curbishley suffering through Pardew's poor work By Stewart Robson,
Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:08am GMT 04/03/2007

Under severe pressure all footballers' flaws will become prominent. Even when a player has matured and developed his game, his frailties will reappear at crucial moments if not fully focused. The best players overcome them. Lesser players allow them to escalate. Having watched West Ham this season it is obvious that several players cannot cope mentally with the pressure, which has highlighted their faults. .

The obvious example in last week's horrendous display against Charlton was Paul Konchesky. Ever since watching him as a youth team player, I have seen he has a tendency to lose his head, when defending and attacking. Last Saturday all his flaws resurfaced. He committed a reckless tackle early on to get booked, then proceeded to miss challenges which resulted in goals and he was continually caught out of position. In addition his passes were erratic and aimless.

Another example was Anton Ferdinand. When under pressure he loses all sense of positional responsibility and plays within his own world. Throughout his fledging career his lack of game understanding has been hidden by his supreme athleticism, but when he lacks confidence his thinking time is elongated and with it his awareness erodes. To cover his insularity, he starts shouting at team-mates in an attempt to convince the crowd he is a winner. According to reports, the West Ham manager Alan Curbishley has recognised these shortcomings.

When players are fearful they often retreat within themselves and allow the game to pass them by, and this has blighted the career of Matthew Etherington. He looked ashen-faced and frightened by the game, unable to alter it in any way.

To a lesser extent the same could be said of Hayden Mullins, because he did not get on the ball and dictate play as he would have been instructed to do, but played one-touch football due to his fear of making a mistake, allowing Alexandre Song to dominate him. It was no surprise that Etherington and Mullins were taken off.

Loss of confidence also hinders decision-making at crucial times. Callum Davenport's decision to play Darren Bent offside for the third goal proved costly. Christian Dailly's overlapping runs to give width when Yossi Benayoun went infield were mistimed and ill-judged, leaving Charlton and Jerome Thomas acres of space to counter attack, which culminated in the second goal.

Even worse was the shape of the back four when Darren Ambrose scored the first, because the anticipation and decision-making of the defenders was extraordinarily poor. I feel sorry for Curbishley because this has not just happened after his arrival. He has taken over a team who had been allowed to spiral out of control by his predecessor, Alan Pardew. He has tried to rectify it by instilling some discipline but found the players unresponsive.

I suggested in an article at the beginning of the season that Pardew had created a 'yob culture' at West Ham. As I saw first-hand at Wimbledon, the year they were relegated, this behaviour is dressed up as 'team spirit' when you are winning but on losing and under pressure, that so-called team spirit turns to anarchy.

Once ill-discipline has set in, it is hard to redress until you can get rid of the offending players. Unfortunately for Curbishley he was probably a little too honest when he made his initial assessment of the players and they have been resistant to his ideas.

Many will point to the arrival of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano as the starting point of West Ham's decline - but it was not. The route to the problem started with the open-top parade on losing the FA Cup final and Pardew's refusal to accept that the two Argentines could have been the necessary ingredients to take West Ham forward. Last Saturday, Pardew benefited from his own poor work months earlier.