Monday, 26 December 2011

Away at Birmingham

This game has given many different views. So I thought I best do mine, I purposely left it a little while after, just so I could look back at it sensibly.

1st Half:

Well what can I say, we managed what we have so many times this season, straight out of the blocks putting Birmingham under pressure and it didn't long to pay off when come the third minute Carlton Cole uses his strength to pass the defence a power a left footed shot home into the bottom right corner, what a goal it was too and hopefully should silence his critics for a little while longer. The team kept up the pressure and we kept looking dangerous, especially out wide, Birmingham's full backs could not cope with the pace of Faubert and a few times he managed to get a dangerous ball into the box and it should have been 2-0 had it not been for an amazing save from Boaz Myhill to deny Cole his second of the game when he controlled a ball into his feet and on the turn fired at goal with great power, but the keeper was equal to it somehow. West Ham also had a decent penalty shout when a cross came in and Faubert threw his head towards the ball but didn't connect cleanly, the ball then landed right on Murphy's out stretched arm, I don't think anyone noticed it though as nobody really appealed for it. Whenever Birmingham got forward they didn't look much of a threat, struggling to find space with our defensive line holding strong and our midfield dropping to assist, every cross into the box Green gathered with most ease and it was a very good display from our keeper. Overall West Ham were unlucky to not be 2 or 3 up but that's football!

2nd Half:

This was a completely different game, Birmingham started to keep the ball and find plenty of space and you could tell this boosted their sides confidence as they probed for an equaliser, they seemed to win most 50-50 chances and not long into the half they brought on Zigic for Wood, who us Hammers remember very well for ruining our Carling Cup hopes, now here he was trying to ruin our day once more. The more pressure put on our side, the more it felt they panicked, the team start aimlessly kicking the ball towards Cole and it just wasn't working as the big man was isolated and unable to do anything too effective. We then picked up 4 yellow cards in dangerously quick succession, Nolan, Faubert and McCartney which leaves them out of the game away to Derby and also Noble who is now on his 4th of the season. Then the Birminghams pressure gave the home fans something to cheer, they finally got a goal from a set play and it would be no other than Murphy who could have handed us a gift in the first half. This really rattled West Ham and they kept kicking the ball long yet having no luck with it, we brought on Lansbury for picking who made a little change as he is confident on the ball, producing a good shot that Myhill was comfortable with and also causing another potential penalty when he challenged for the ball with Spector and the ball did hit his arm, but it may have been a harsh decision, the referee must have seen it though as he was very close and watching the action as could be seen from replays. It was tough to say who had more chances in this period, the ball seemed to just keep pinging between the two defences and no one really looked like they had the answer, the introduction of Carew for Cole made little difference as then it was Carew who looked isolated, Sears came on for Faubert towards the end and had a couple of nice runs but there wasn't much end product on our side.

In the end I think a point was very well earned, we had the first half won, Birmingham the second and considering Birmingham have not lost at home, it was a good point to take and our away record still looks good. I think the one issue I saw was our team struggled with long balls as they often ended up going to the other team or leaving our front man stuck with nowhere to go, if we are to use them in tough situations then the side definitely need to work on it as it ended up putting more pressure on our side than the opposition. Or West Ham just need to try and play it simple in those difficult situations, which may also work!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


So as we draw ever closer to Christmas, we are almost at the halfway point of the season.

Personally I would say so far so good. We sit in 2nd which is a very strong position to be in and most of all, all season we've looked a hard team to beat. I wouldn't say we have looked like dominating every game, but to be honest I didn't expect that with a new manager coming in to whip the squad into shape. Personally I can take a lot of positives from that, our defence has looked extremely good, with Reid, Tomkins and Faye all looking very comfortable at the back. Another great sign has been the form of Noble who has really shined for me since Parker left, tackling hard and distributing the ball well, Faubert on the right of midfield has also looked great, he's a very good crosser which always makes him a threat and last but not least who can miss out Baldock, this little striker has scored some good hard worked goals already and he does look like a natural, something we have lacked for a couple of seasons. Another positive is from the game against Barnsley just gone, the debut of Dan Potts, son of former Hammer Steve, not only had he just signed a professional contract but he was forced into the team following an injury to Faye, he took his chance and grabbed it, he was performing well and delivered some brilliant crosses and from most fans points of view, was the true man of the match over Nolan who was chosen by the sponsors.

I have to admit though, there have been some disappointments from the team, namely Nolan, he doesn't seem to dictate the play like he used to, although he can still score a wonder goal as he has cropped up with a couple, but I would like to see a bit more from him. The other worry I've had is the teams possession, it hasn't been as good as I know these players can deliver, we do sometimes give the ball away needlessly, instead of playing the simple pass.

I won't complain too much as like I said we are 2nd and that isn't a bad spot to be in come Christmas (especially as I was pessimistic and said we'd be in the play-offs this season). But now I feel to say some things I'd like to see over the next few months.

First possession, as I said, I know these players are more than capable of knocking the ball about and keeping hold of it, rather than trying to always go forward, I would like to see them retain it a little easier, hopefully this will come as they get more use to the pressure of being the favourites. Next I'd like to see us possibly bring in another wide player, one who could play on the left and right, just incase Taylor gets injured more this season, as we tend to lack a threat on that side when he's out, although if Potts gets more chances, then you never know as he could cross. The only other thing I really want to see is for more younger players to get their chance, Potts proved they are capable enough to play at this level and I think the fact they are young will help their performance, also we have plenty of good youngsters, Potts, Ruddock, Moncur, Montano, Montenegro, Lee, Hall, Spence and Brown just to name some and I'd like to think when they are at the club and in the match squad that Big Sam should not be afraid to try them as I truly think they would play their hearts out for the club and put in some brilliant performances. Come on Sam, give youth a chance (especially if we are winning by 3 goals).

Is there anything others would like to see? Let me know your views!