Sunday, September 1

Out-passed by Stoke…

West Ham 0  Stoke City 1
Bit of a Clockwise-style journey to this one. We leave our holiday in north Wales at 9am and after a long journey through Welshpool on to the M54, M6 and M1, arrive on Holloway Road to discover that Archway tube is shut and the game has started. Though thanks to my lovely WAG Nicola for driving beyond the call of duty. By 3.15pm I’m on the tube at Holloway Road and at Upton Park by 4pm outside a strangely silent Boleyn Stadium. Matt texts that it’s "a half that may never be repeated" at half-time.

Only problem is all the East Stand turnstiles are closed, but eventually I’m let in to the away end and through a gate into the East Stand. The stewards and police seem baffled that I should want to catch the last 35 minutes of a dire match.

There’s an ironic cheer from Matt, Lisa, Michael the Whovian and Fraser upon my tardy arrival. A quick resume reveals that Stoke have been the better side and we’ve not had a shot on target, while Jussi has made a fine double save to keep WHU in it and Maiga missed a good headed chance from a Jarvis cross. Joe Cole is injured, Vaz Te is mutinous, Noble is playing terribly and so is Nolan, Downing has switched wings to no effect and been subbed by young Ravel Morrison and Maiga is having a ’mare. Apart from that everything else is OK. Only Collins has played well. Should I run for the Silverlink now? I’ve arrived just in time to see The Vicar’s Son harangue Maiga for some terrible control.

Morrison has one good run before misplacing a pass and that’s about it. Jarvis pulls back a couple of good low crosses that no-one anticipates. We look way off form and lost without Andy Carroll. With eight minutes to go Nolan loses possession and after the resulting Stoke attack is cleared Diame gives a free kick away on the edge of the box. Almost inevitably Stoke sub Pennant wafts a fine free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner.

Delilah and “We’re Stoke City we’re passing the ball!” echo from the delirious away end. Outpassed by Stoke’s Adam and N’Zonzi on our own pitch. The four minutes of added time passes easily enough for the Potters.

West Ham’s response is minimal though O’Brien does waft a shot over after being found by Maiga. Mark Hughes punches the air at the final whistle having out-thought Big Sam.

The post-apocalyptic décor of the Central’s beer garden suits our mood as we sip fizzy lager, cider and Guinness in the craft-ale free war zone. Seems like they had Bashar Assad in as the landscape gardener.

The absent Nigel, cycling in France, texts "I hate WHU". Fraser smokes a cigar and reflects, “I don’t think four points will be enough to stay up.” While Matt wonders if it’s the worst West Ham home defeat he’s ever seen as we delve into out mind palaces of excruciating games. “At least when we lost under Grant we could always say that Parker played well…"

“Nolan’s had a worse week than David Cameron,” sighs Matt, though strangely Michael suggests that in 30 years time a Middle-Eastern global war crisis might be remembered more than a West Ham home defeat. West Ham have certainly decided against any first-strike pre-emptive attacks today.

Outside the stadium we catch a glimpse of a smiling Mark Noble in his black Range Rover signing autographs. Michael the Whovian ignores him as he’s no Jonathan Spector. It’s rare for Nobes to have a terrible game but his form today was worrying. And it seems utter madness that our game plan relies on a big striker like Carroll and we have no alternative having spent £6 million on another winger.

Still, it could have been worse – I might have seen the whole 90 minutes. 


Phil Nichols said...

It was dire. Certainly the worst performance since returning to the Premier League. Hopefully, Noble was just having an off day. You should have seen Collison against Cheltenham. Now that was worrying. I can't think of any West Ham player who has developed so little over such a long period. I think the biggest problem yesterday was how pedestrian our counter attacking is, everything is so ponderous. Lumping the ball up to poor Maiga was ridiculous, when we have two good quality wingers. The service to all three was attrocious. Get Morrison in for Nolan I say. The big Geordie can come back quick enough.....

Pete May said...

Yes, high balls at Maiga was hopeless and Nolan never seemed to get in the box. Maiga might work alongside Carroll but he's no target man. Why did we let Carlton Cole go if no-one to replace him as reserve big man up front? Collison looked great in his first year but has been hampered by that knee injury so will only be a squad player, I fear.

Pete May said...

My pal Tony emails: "I honestly think it was among the worst 90 mins I've spent at Upton Park in the last 50 years. So depressing."

Pete May said...

While Big Joe's verdict is:
Who ever thought we could be out passed by the Potters? Suppose it's all down to how long Carroll can last this season now - Feel sorry for Maiga as he always looks like he's trying really hard without actually knowing what he's supposed to be doing, however he was truly awful and missed an absolute sitter which would have put us 1-0 up in the first half - Shawcross and Huth could put their feet up all day long safe in the knowledge that if Jarvis and the injured Downing did get past their man there'd be nobody in the middle to convert.
On the plus side went to St James's and even if an injured Andy Carroll (instead of a fully fit Maiga) had played we'd have beaten the Magpies by three clear goals. Stoke only scored from a free kick - four points without our centre forward + Morrison looking like he might be the creative midfielder we've not seen at E13 in ages - No need to panic just yet?

Anonymous said...

I grew up watching brooking devonshire martin etc....I have no interest in big sam teams, it took decades to develop the great technical westham way of playing and you guys are going to let this long ball merchant completely mess it up...

i don't support a team ...i like to watch good were always guaranteed this at westham ...not anymore