Tuesday, January 3

Two-nil to the referee!

West Ham 0 Man United 2

This one’s all about Mike Dean. West Ham had started purposefully with Lanzini forcing a save from De Gea and Feghouli having his best spell in a West Ham shirt. But all that changes after 15 minutes. Feghouli miscontrols the ball and as it breaks loose he goes in hard with Phil Jones. It’s a 50-50 ball and Feghouli’s studs are pointed downwards, while Jones clatters Sofiane in a scissor tackle. The United centre back rolls over with a theatricality seldom seen in E20, even by Michael the Whovian who went to 196 shows last year. Mike Dean flourishes a red when even a yellow card for both players might have been harsh. 

Nigel wonders if Mike Dean’s been instructed by Karren Brady to help whip up the atmosphere. It certainly works as the London Stadium suggests, “Mike Dean, it’s all about you!” and then that the referee is an anchor, or something like that. It’s Dean’s fifth red card of the season and sending off Sofiane so early has ruined the game for 57,000 fans and the TV audience. “Christmas cracker!” hollers the gentleman next to Alison, as well as the obligatory “Get up you tart!” Thankfully Matt’s lost his voice as you sense he might have some ungodly words for Mr Dean.

West Ham really give it a go for the rest of the half, with Antonio and Obiang battling for everything. Carroll has sensibly been rested, but Antonio chases everything up front. While 15-year-old Nell asks if Wayne Rooney is still alive. Think he’s in a bathchair on the bench somewhere.

The Post does his bit (but can we hold on to him on the transfer window?) when Valencia miscues and Randolph has to save the rebound from Lingard. But West Ham go close at the end of the half too, as Lanzini’s curling effort is clawed away by De Gea.

An under-pressure Antonio just fails to get a clean header on a Payet free kick in the second half. The key moment comes when Lanzini plays a lovely through ball to Antonio, who in a one-on-one with Dea Gea fires against the keeper’s kegs. Had it been 1-0 West Ham might have held on for a victory that would have set us up for the rest of the season. As it was, subs Mata and Rashford make the difference for United.

Rashford bamboozles emergency right-back Nordtveit, gliding past Havard and Reid before pulling it black to Mata who finishes crisply. Carroll comes on but West Ham’s ten men inevitably sag, and Randolph fumbles a Rashford effort against his own post. Ibrahimovic makes it two as the otherwise excellent Obiang fails to clear and a lucky deflection off Herrera gives him the chance to beat Randolph. Irbrahimovic is clearly offside and two other United players are wondering lonely as clouds among Wordsworthian swathes of green, but bizarrely the lino and Mr Dean fail to spot this.

West Ham fans show their appreciation of Mike Dean
So it ends up a win for United, who are on a fine run, but West Ham have shown a pleasing intensity and had they played with eleven men they might have got something out of the game. Also let’s note that there doesn’t appear to have been any trouble; the London Stadium has at least passed a major security test, even if we have been too distracted by Mr Dean to notice. This is one ref Mourinho won’t be complaining about.

Still, if we play with this level of commitment against City and Palace the results will surely come.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 6; Nordtveit 5, Reid 6, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6; Feghouli 6, Kouyate 6 (Fernandes 5), Lanzini 8 (Ayew n/a), Obiang 7, Payet 6 (Carroll 5); Antonio 7. 

1 comment:

Chrissy Brand said...

When oh when will video technology come in, like they have in cricket and other sports? Grrr!