Mighty Hammers now without luck

It is not often I wanna sing Rod Stewart songs a Sunday evening.
And even if we have had a tremendous campaign after the stupid Villa game, I all of a sudden begun to sing "Some people have all the luck". And I'm not thinking of the boys from East end this time. Individually we may have met a team better than us, but I would say that we matched Manchester United most of the time (as all the statistics also - but corners - tell us). And for us playing an even game against "The world champions" has to be stamped with more than an OK.
But it took just one second, a sea of space at Neill's right side and a very lucky goal (under too many feet to be satisfied) from the oldest teenager in the game: Ryan Giggs, to close a very tight game and let ManU go for another win.

I think we can be proud of the way we played. But losing is very dire, when you think you don not deserve to, against a team like ManU. A draw had been more in response to the game. Hopefully we can remember this game during the rest of the season. And even if ManC may catch us with ther game in hand, we are still fighting for a place better than last year.

Green 6 - Was as unemployed today as he was last weekend. Did one terrific save on Ronaldo's deflection, but I guess he actually did not have to.
Neill 6.5 - A weak link again, but it must have been a year or two since I saw him this much in our offence. With the help of Behrami he was better than expected, having the most silly player in the PL - Ronaldo on his share. Were lost when Giggs scored.
Collins 7.5 - Another good game, blocked well and took care of some important headers. Tried to make a mark in the offence as well, but... not today.
Upson 8 - Solid as a rock. But as I always state, want him to affect the team even more. Maybe just because we know how much we can expect from him. Marvelous block on Ronaldo's shot.
Ilunga 7.5 - Once again, one of our main weapons goin forward. Should hav had the ball even more when he so often is in a position on the left flank ready to deliver a cross. Solid at the back.
Behrami 7 - Some may call this a low mark for his maximum effort, but even if he is very important for our defence and sacrifices himself totally, I can get irritated when he has the ball to get forward and just stops to play. We know how much our favourite man can run sideways and backwards, why can't he do it forward?
Parker 7.5 - Instrumental in all his tackles. Our hub in the team. Were the best man in midfield, even compared with Carrick and Scoles. Missed some stupid passes though.
Noble 6.5 - Fought as the true hammer he is. But I'm still waiting for a game where he actually raises over the rest and affects the team's display with something extra. At least his corners could be topnotch? Is that naive? (well, all of our setpieces have to be something special a night like this).
Collison 7 - I love the way he plays, with absolutely no respect for the more famous name's of the opposition. Should have dared to shoot when free though. Leaves his flank a little bit to much, we lack width when Ilunga is our only player to go close to the white line.
Di Michele 5 - Can do some tricks but loses the ball far to easy. Should have been able to support Cole much more.
Cole 8 - My man of the match. Allright, one time in the box he turned the wrong direction, but otherwise very impressed with the way he gave everything, held the ball on his own against the world class opposition. For instance, the way he nearly closed down Ferdinand, the chip was maybe not world class, but still.. how he did it. So immense, strong... and (believe it or not) skilful!

Savio - Wanted too much, so tried too much, but we could see that he is a real footballer who just needs some time to grow into this league. Still; Having been here for just 14 days and already shown that he has no excessive respect towards teams like Arsenal or ManU is really good.
Tristan - Had just a blink.

Nonused subs: Lastuvka, Spector, Kovac, LBM, Sears.

With this team we should be able to win next Saturday, shouldn't we?
I'm proud to be a Hammer today, despite the loss. Last year we won, but we played better today!


Joppe - said...

I agree with most of your ratings.
I guess some will have to get lower ratings than others, but I think Neill had a much better game than I thought he would have.

Behrami is obviously offensively hampered by his orders to cover for Neills lack of speed. He is much more structured now that Clarke have made him a part of the team rather than being a wild man with an increadible work rate. I think he brings more to the team now than 10 games ago.

Also Noble is worth another 0.5 to his rating. I think he had a very decent game that shows that he is developing in the right direction. We were not playing Hull today.

Prince H said...

Was it not Michel Turner Upson was up against? Sorry if I missed that...

I agree with your comments though. Neill was better than I thought too, and Noble had a decent game. But still it time for him to show that he can affect the team in offensive way as well. I think he should be in the top of the diamond Zola plays nowadays. But OK, Scholes and Carrick are not cat shit.

Behrami may beone of our favourite players. And still just 23. But he must be able to take the ball forward though. Take fast decisions to move the ball forward and find his teammates when winning the ball and the whole team changes from defense to offence. That can be lethal!

Hakan said...

It was a close game and I wouldn't have had too many complaints if it had finished scoreless. But as you might expect I don't think luck was the decisive factor. United had that little bit of extra quality that made the difference at crucial moments. Giggs took his goal brilliantly, but was also helped by a clumsy challenge from Cole that he could easily sidestep. At the other end Cole lacked the skill to chip Van der Sar (and it was probably the wrong decision to try).

Prince H said...

Giggs did well, but the shot was lucky to avoid all the legs and bodys to go into he net.

As I said you have better individual players, but that was it. Comparing team to team it was very even. We had more opportunities you had more corners.

I'm not so sure about Cole's "clumsy challenge" though. Sometimes I may defend him too much, I'm aware of that, but I dislike when people who is so important for our team is made scapegoats all the time (I do not mean you).
But: If its one man who shouldn't be there to take care of Giggs it's Cole. He was the guy who ran like hell from the middle of the field to fill our all of a sudden empty right hand side. Where were our defense? Why did Noble lose the ball (or could he have been given a freekcick?). So Cole ran like hell and was never able to stop. Pity. Then came Parker, with less speed, and usually a very decisive defender, but he seemed like it was a ballerina show. I don't know where to find Neill or Behrami. Collins was unlucky to stand on the wrong leg when the shot came. So blaming Cole for this goal is really over the top.

It's easy to say afterwards that Cole should have shot instead of the chip he tried. He was strong to get rid of Ferdinand but our former defender was close on his heels, so can't say that Ronaldo or anyone else certainly had scored in that moment.

Hakan said...

The point I was trying to make is that I think you overemphasised the importance of luck in this game. I might very well have done the same had United lost. It's only natural that when you loose you like to think it's because of bad luck, but when you win you like to think it's because of skill.
I was, honestly!, not trying to put all the blame on Cole, but used him as an example of the mistakes that were made ahead of United's goal, maybe as you mention by Noble, Neill, Behrami and/or Parker. Without those mistakes Giggs' shot would never have had the opportunity to avoid all those legs.
There's certainly an element of luck in football. In general, though, it's more interesting to try to uncover other decisive factors. In my blog I try a more statistical approach to explain what decided this game.

Prince H said...

I think it is more truth than a cliché in the words: "Good teams have luck", so in that respect I think you're right. And I would say that ManU are the best team in the league. But still I can't see we were worse than you yesterday. It was just that ball through all the legs that differed (as Green only had to do one save all night), and in that respect I still think you had some fluke...

I see that you refer to the chalkboard on your own blog, but those 1.7 percent (or whatever) in better completed passes tells very little when it comes to the goal. Giggs did well, I can't say anything different. and I guess we won't be able to agree on this... you lucky bastard! ;-D

Prince H said...
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