Sunday, January 5
Nottingham Forest 5 West Ham 0 (FA Cup)
“Less a teamsheet and more suicide note,” is Matt’s texted comment on the team of kids Big Sam sends out at Forest. He gives debuts to Callum Driver, Danny Whitehead and Sebastian Leitget, while George Moncur plays his first full game. However, there is experience in the side in the form of Jarvis, Downing, Diarra, Maiga and even Ravel Morrison.
The first half is mainly Forest with the home side taking the lead after 12 minutes after Moncur brings down Paterson and Abdoun chips home a cheeky penalty. Morrison produces a fine free kick over the wall saved by Darlow but that’s about it. The three centre-back formation doesn’t work well and Jarvis and Downing struggle as wing-backs, though Downing does get a couple of good crosses in. Maiga can’t hold the ball up when he gets it and we need a bigger performance from a £4m player. Driver denies Forest a second with a good tackle, but it looks ominous at the break as Halford and our former makeshift goalkeeper Lansbury miss chances.
YOU'LL WIN NOTHING WITH KIDS
It’s bad on TV but Matt is actually there, having taken Lisa on a romantic mini-break to the Lace Hotel to see our reserves get tonked and an ice hockey match between the Panthers and Devils the previous evening. His half-time verdict is: “I am the only one trying to be positive! Some angry blokes slaughtering the kids, which won’t help their confidence. Not many home fans here.”
What hope we have goes in the second half as Diarra goes off for Burke and Downing is replaced by Blair Turgott, so it’s two more debutants. Leitget has a deflected shot saved and Morrison has a shot from the left flank stopped as the Hammers show brief signs of life, but then the kids start to look disheartened and as Roy Keane later points out show little of the passion and energy you’d expect. The midfield stops tracking Forest’s runners and Paterson drifts through for a second. Sam is serenaded with “You’re getting sacked in the morning!” from the West Ham fans. It gets worse. Paterson scores from Lansbury’s lay off and Hammers collapse, though credit Turgott for at least getting a shot in and forcing a save. Paterson completes his hat-trick and Andy Reid finishes the humiliation with a fifth in added time.
The youngsters have been let down by a lack of leadership from the senior pros and as Roy Keane points out, Big Sam “didn’t even sound up for it in his pre-match interview”. West Ham have a tremendously difficult week with the semi-final at Man City on Wednesday and the trip to Cardiff on Saturday and a huge injury-list, but it’s never good to send out the message that you aren’t too bothered about winning a game, as this teamsheet did.
At least Matt and Lisa’s afternoon improves with veggie potato cakes and Red Harvest Pale ale at the contemporary art gallery.
Allardyce was correct to rest some senior players and play a few kids, but it needed the likes of Taylor, Collison, Rat and Joe Cole to lend some experience too. Losing 5-0, even with the kids, isn’t great preparation for a massive two games coming up. After this we need to play the full-team at Manchester City and Cardiff and win back some pride.