414 days

Today we can count in 414 days since Dean Ashton played a game for his team. Since his first start the 1st of February 2006 - three years and nine months ago tomorrow! - he has started 43 games and subbed 13. Well, 19 goals as well is not that bad. Zola does not know - it seems - when he can be ready for our next game. In small letters: Pity!
Today our manager could confirm another setback as Dyer is injured again.... just as he was ready after last injury. The poor bloke has managed 6 starts and 9 subs for West Ham since he arrived in August 2007.

Well, that has nothing to do with our game against Sunderland which I would like to see as follows:

Behrami Tomkins Upson Ilunga
Diamanti Collison Kovac Jimenez/Stanislas
Cole Hines

I guess my hope won't be fulfilled. But a point would do, Sunderland is a very strong team at home, so we'd better put up another fight like the one we did in the second half against Arsenal. I suggest that Hines scores his first PL goal!


All of a sudden: Energy!

I'm sorry if I misspell things today, as my palms are still wet of sweat. What a finish, what a game! 0-2 down against Arsenal after one heavy mistake and another goal too cheap. We playes allright, created as much as Arsenal did but still was far away from any points. So two changes: Diamanti and Hines instead of Novle and Zola and all of a sudden everything changed. Zola usually make his changes far too late. But not today. Diamanti and Hines both had the opportunity to change the game. And they did. Carlton Cole had been awsome, but far too alone (as usual). But all of a sudden he had som players to play with. All of a sudden we had 2-2! And I will not apologize! The penalty was not the easiest one to spot, but on the other hand it's easy to that Parker should have had one moments earlier. This may be the moment that can change things! All of a sudden few things looks impossible as long as we have the spark of energy that Diamanti and Hines put in the game.

Green 6 - Well, was he at fault at the first goal when he ran into Tomkins and was unable to reach the ball (it fell to van Persie for an easy tapin)? Yes, probably. But things happened very fast and Tomkins did not see a thing. On the other hand Green had two really good saves in the game, on in the last dying minutes which saved us a point.
Spector 5,5 - Did not convince me, but on the other hand played more safe than Faubert. Well, most of the times. He may not be the answer, but I'll give him a couple of more games... Weaker than Faubert but less foolish mistakes.
Tomkins 7 - Another good game from the youngster as he took responsibilty in the middle and to help Spector out. Was strong in the air and fought hard.
Upson 6,5 - Good game.
Ilunga 6 - Better than lately and tried to push forward. Which is not the easiest task against Arsenal, but was level with Sagna. Missed a few good crosses though.
Valon Behrami 6 - Important fighter for us, but far from his best yet after his injury. He can handle his opponents, soon he has to be able to handle the ball too.
Mark Noble 5 - Rans like hell, tries to be everywhere and do the corners as well as the free-kicks. But very little happens. When he put the questions, and goes to the head of the game he must be able to give some answers too, force some kind of conclusion. The speed is lacking, even if he contributes with other things, like his big heart. I'll rest him to give others a game now.
Scott Parker 6 - Good first 45, disappeared after half-time. Before he raised his energylevel again and firstly wasn't awarded a penalty that I think should have been given and later on was given wo yellow cards. The second one was an awful mistake by and insecure referee. He controlled the ball after he - in a very decisive monent - came in front of Eduardo (?), was pushed down and given a yellow. Stupid decision.
Jack Collison 5,5 - Few things happened here, but he progresses from game to game after his lengthy layoff. And in the end he actually had new energy to give the team. We do also have to remember that our midfield had very good opponents today.
Guillermo Franco 4,5 - A bit like Tristan in his debut. Could't affect the game at all. But good in the air despite quite small.
Carlton Cole 8,5 - King on the pitch. So strong, so impressive. Awsome. And a goal as well! My wife told me that Cole will play in "a better" team next year. Hopefully not, but the other players have to lift themselves to his level, now he is too often left stranded on his own like a whale. Well, he was given some help when Hines and Diamanti came on.

Diamanti 8 - He may shoot too often and sometimes try to reach his teammates running around him instead of trying too much on his own. On the other hand he gave us the energy so much needed. He gave us the weapon of his left foot. The freekick was great, the penalty even better! Liked his old hairstyle better.
Hines 7 - Gave us the energy so much needed as well. And pace! I want this youngster to start!
Kovac 5 - Late introduction, just given a few minutes as he will probably start next game, when Parker is out.

A new dawn!
Sunderland next!


Still hope!

Just a link to WesthamtilIdie and an article I do agree with totally: HERE


Is Zola too afraid?

No, I did not see the "incident" where Robert Huth thought it was a K.O. contest he was invovled in and swung Upson to the ground.
I was actually not able to see anything of the game, but some video highlights after the game. And it really looks that Faubert is at fault for both goals. The second should never be able happen at all.
So another loss. Another game we should have won. But did not.
One thing is clear though. You have to critisise Zola for his substitutions. They have always been too late. But today was a really disastrous example. We had to get some points. But our first change came when there was just 12 minutes left. And Hines (who I wanted to see from the start) came off replacing... Diamanti! Far too late, but as important: Why not Kovac or Faubert or Noble?
Diamanti is a threat and the minute after he had been taken off we had a great chance with a free-kick close to the box but no Diamanti left on the field. Stupid.
Stanislas came on even later (then replacing Kovac) and Franco got ONE ! minute (in his debut). Why??
I do not know if there are some statistics that teams loose if they make the offensive changes too early. but I do not care: I did not know that Zola/Clare were so afraid of losing that they did not dare to win.

Arsenal next....


At last (?)

Long time no see, and sure we have missed the breath of Premier League. We are many that have spoken less about West Ham than we usually do during this break, as we try not to demonstrate too clearly that we are all a bunch of maschochists.
We have also really tried to avoid all the papers imaginable as one may contain a Premier League table.
And we have in silence seen, but not spoken too much about, our new record, that we are the club that have the first keeper to be red-carded in an English shirt. (Well, all because of a former Hammer has lost the plot, we know).
Hopefully - and this I do mean - we have not listened to those porn-men Gold & Sullivan when they say they want to buy their "beloved" club but - as they see it - not for any money at all, as it it totally bankrupt. Which they of course want to tell the world.

So now is the time to go back to the field. And Zola has spent his time to tell everyone that he will stay (as we already has told you - and him) and that he now is finally convinced how to best use his players. We have a nearly fit squad (Dyer is missing and the pizza man, I've forgotten his name by now) to grab three points against the surprisingly strong Stoke. They have Fuller, Kitson, James Beattie, Tuncay and Etherington as more or less threats which is not a bas selection. They have Delap, Shawcross and Lawrence and are hard to beat at home. Still we usually do. But would we be able for once cope with an early home lead? There's a lot of questions and I'm not the one to answer them this time. As there is to many insecuritys after our weak sart of the season. Another loss against Stoke will leave us on as many points as during the season 2002-2003. Still I have faith in this team. I have faith in the manager and I will support him and the players as long as they fight until they bleed. One player who will not bleed tomorrow is Scott Parker, as he is suspended. Not a good game to loose him, but tell me one game that is....

So that leaves me with this formation:

Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga
Diamanti, Behrami, Noble, Collison
Cole, Hines

Sub: Stech, Gabbidon, Da Costa, Kovac, Jimenez, Stanislas, Franco.

I can't see Franco start, but it's hard to see him left out for another game. I mean he played over 80 minutes for Mexico last weekend. Nouble on the othe hand has played three games in a week and needs a rest. We could maybe save Da Costa and put in another youngster as Gabbs and Kovac can be cover enough. Jimenez is a good player, but he need to convince me a bit more and as Collison is back and we may need Noble (another one who has to convince me) on the field when Parker is gone I'll sacrifice Jimenez this time around. Diamanti is needed as freekicks may be our solution against the hard men in red and white. And I really would like to see Hines and Cole together in a 442- formation. Hines scored two in his debut for England U21 last weekend and was the match-winner. You do not put a player like that on the bench.


Zola will stay

The persistent rumours that Zola will dash to Napoli as soon as he can, has - in my opinion - been dashed. Today our manager has been revealed as a Word Cup 2018 ambassadour, trying to persuade the big bosses to understand that England is the best place in the world for a football tournament. Would he have taken that stand and task if his mind was to return to Italy a s a p? No chance.
So; At least one less thing to worry about. For now.


Loseophobia or bewilderness?

loseophobia noun
/lu:z.ə’fəʊ.bi.ə//-ˈfoʊ-/ n [U] extreme dislike or fear of losing or failing.

Last year, following the initial two PL wins after Zola took charge we went in to a tragic period of 7 losses, 4 draws and one (1!) win before we could start to produce decent run in the dying days of the year.
The problem then was, as I see it, as much in the head of the players as that the system wasn’t working. The fascinating thing was that the angs of losing, back then, was apparent in the actions and eyes of the players while the talk from Mr Zola was that there was too much focus on the result, and that football was all about going out there and enjoying the game. There was supposedly no pressure on the players to win – just to play the game according to the plans.
If the players thought that it was important to try but not vital to succeed, why the loseophobia?

There are obvious loseophobic signs in the team today. Teams do go behind, some teams just handle it, some brake down. Why don’t our players just buckle down and work? Is there maybe another facet to their anxiety? In my experience the situation as such is not always the problem when groups start to repeatedly under-achieve under pressure, it’s that they are not quite sure how to go about fixing it. When you’re not sure how to fix a problem – the anxiety gets the better of you.
This brings up another memory from last fall. Noble was cited saying that the 433 system would take “a couple of years to get right” http://bubble-view.blogspot.com/2008/10/noble-art-of-4-3-3.html.
Could it be that the players still haven’t caught on to the style of play enough to trust it when the going gets rough?

We turned it around then...


Embarrassing second half

Many rivers to cross.... Well, Fulham was not our bridge to safety, 2-2 with a luckily defelected shot in the dying over-time minutes saved our players from even more blushes.... Can't understand how we were able to play the last fifteen minutes of the first half like we were Champions and then the last 49 like we were the midgets (no offence) of the whole English Pro system. Fulham played with ten men in the second half but were in control after Upson's clumsy challenge after 36 seconds in the second half. Not his only mistake this afternoon. I couldn't agree more with the TV-commentators: Were is our leadership on the field? Today our backbone-players, those the team shall rely on, those who fell totally prostrate.

Green 5 - The second conceded goal was not only his fault, but - one thing you learn as young is: if you are not certain to catch or box the ball when leaving your goalline. Stay put. You can say the same when he gifted the ball to Johnson in the dying seconds. Stupid....
Faubert 5 - An uneven performance. Worked pretty hard but failed to keep Gera in his pocket for their second goal. Some good crosses, some awful...
Tomkins 7 - Our man of the day in the defence. Strong and solid. Good game! The youngest took the biggest responsibilty.
Upson 3,5 - I've never seen him doing so many mistakes as today. I started to shout to Zola to put DaCosta on. I don't know if his layoff after injury had affected him or anything else, but this was far from what you can ask for by our Captain. We lacked the leadership onthe field, he gave away a stupid penalty and did not impress at their second goal either. Gave away possession and gave away passes. What's up? I doubt Capello will start with him next game.
Ilunga 5 - Another feeble impression from our Congolese. Seems to be affected a lot when the team looses confidence.
Mark Noble 5 - Fought hard, had the ball a lot but delivered very little. Another game with questionmarks for him.
Luis Jimenez 5 - Has not affected any game so far, and this was no exception even if he were more invovled in the middle of the park and had some good touches. After ten games I think it's time to ask for more... More pace, more ball, more goals, more good and fast deliveries.
Scott Parker 5,5 - Fought hard but fought to make any impression. I demand more!
Zavon Hines 5,5 - His play today was less impressive than before, and so it will be as he is new to the game and still young. But I think it was right to play him and he moved very well and had a great chance in the end of the first half. Could have been involved more as he challenged by moving from left to right, but his companions failed to see it. Or did not play him.
Carlton Cole 7,5 - Once again: Our only true "hero" of the day. The only one that really impressed. Good goal as he muscled himself from Hangeland and won the header. Was left too alone for big parts of the game. He can't win the matches by himself can he? Where is the midfield when he wins the ball?
Alessandro Diamanti 6 - I like to see that he always want to be involved. Shoots too much and have to find his teammates more often, but runs like hell, have a wonderful left and takes more responsibility than newcomers often do. One of his better performances, but still has a lot to learn.

Subs: Behrami - OK, did not make the team spark when he came on, but he should have been given more time.
Stanislas - A quiet start, then he really tried, and tried and with a huge bit of luck he gave us a point and saved the team for more awkward losses.

Well, this was embarrassing enough. Why can't we keep the standard through the whole game, or at least 60 minutes, why can't we kill games off, why can't we defend like we used to do? Yes we play some pretty stuff which we enjoy to see, as the first half was lovely to see, and I still Zola/Clarke have the answer somewhere. But it is a lot to do from now on!