Carlton scare

It's been reported that, even though a scan is not yet performed, it's likely that the knock/twist Cole got to his right knee resulted in ligament damage. If that is the case it could be months before we see him on the pitch again.

I usually don't comment on this kind of rumors but as it would have an enormous impact on our chances to stay up I can't help myself this time.

Scare update: the initial 4 months rumor is now commented by under cover club puppet Jason Burt of the Telegraph, who reports that Cole will face only a four to five weeks at the sideline. Let's hope that his info and the quality of that prognosis is good.

Second scare update: As you already read in PrinceH's comment, the OS released a "it may not be as bad as the rumours say" statement saying that he will not need surgery. It seems as my first hunch may be right. Less than the tabloids but more than the official "don't worry" report by Burt.


West Ham-Burnley 5-3

Piuuhhh! Should we be extatic after five wonderful goals (when did we do that last time?) or unhappy for conceding three after that? Well, this time I'll stay happy. We really, really needed the win and after a nervy start we took control over the game completely. And after Franco had hit the crossbar the goals came dropping in. A lot of players played really well, and the grandmaster of the plan was Parker who had a wonderful game. So did Franco. I missed the guests last goal (in the 95th) but looking at the newcomers first two (who both came from our right) it's hard to blame any specific player, our new CB-duo looked actually really good....

Green 5,5 - Dropped one ball quiet early and was hardly tested, but he hasn't looked so solid lately and I want him to take control of his box much more. Sometimes he just stays at his line instead of a) work further out or b) govern over his outfield players more. Not bad at all, even if he could have taken control of some crosses better (maybe even one of their goals) but I may ask if something happened mentally since he really became England No 1?
Spector 5,5 - A surprise for me, I thought Faubert was to continue. Started with some bad passes but grew during the game. Hulls both goals came from his side, at one he was not present at all, the other one he had no chance to stop the cross. Still he made a bold move and gave us a good penalty, even if I want him to develop his offensive skills much more. Nearly all our attacks came from our left.
Da Costa 7 - Well, this young portugese is a good player. He showed that today as well.
Gabbidon 6,5 - Good to see him back at his preferable place, should have been much closer to his player when Burnley scored one of their goal, otherwise calm and settled. With him as a backup we do not have to worry too much about Upson.
Ilunga 6 - Good to see him back too. Had a great first half and much of our play started from him in the first half. Went a bit fatigue and could with a little faster feet maybe stopped one of Burnely's goals.
Collison 7,5 - Looks more and more "uninterchangeable" for us. His best game after he came back and another good goal with his head!
Kovac 5 - I can understand that Kovac with his experience has a part to play in a game like this. Sorry he (once more) never delivered. Fought, but often in no-mans-land. Or if you want to see it in a more happy way: Covered the ground which is so important... Must ask though: When will he learn to make an easy pass? Noble need to play in his position next game. Must say Kovac gave Parker more freedom to work forward!
Parker 9 - Not only the best player on the field. Probably the best player in PL this weekend. At least noone can have worked harder. THis time his hard work also gave a brilliant result. Showed what a Captain can do, and made many more beautiful offensive runs than he uses to (Partly because a defensive player like Kovac was there behind him!). Which gave our wingers and frontmen better quality to work with. Had a wonderful game defensively as well...
Stanislas 7 - What a striking goal!!! I am happy he was to play all 90 minutes even if looked very tired in the last twenty. It will make him an even better player. Even if Parker, Ilunga and others had to cope without him defensivly in the end. Had a terrific first half and to have the width that Stanislas give us, and also the "cool energy", shall not be underrated.
Cole 5,5 - Far from one of his better games. Came off at halftime with a injured knee, I'll pray tonight that it is not as bad as we fear.
Franco 8 - This guy is a terrific player who works tirelessly, who moves well, who find his teammates well and scores! He is not tall but do also had a couple of better-than-good headers! Few new players has so easily adopted to the english game! Really impressed!

Hines - 6,5 Came on at halftime for Cole and gave the team a terific spark and energy. AS well as freekicks! Is very hard to tackle. And light as a feather and exceptionally fast he relly moves well out of reach from the defenders who are lost or has to foul him. Still a bit uneven. And somteimes fall too easy.
Jimenez - Came on for Franco and with a new haircut he as able to arrange a penalty. And his first (I think) goal in PL. I guess he played mainly to have another cahne to learn our game, but I do doubt he ever will.... These minutes was OK though.
Faubert - Came on for Collison in the last minutes to help Spector on the right.

Overall: We can not concede these easy goals, because the players minds and the audience hearts can't cope with that. 5-0 to 5-3 is not that impressive. But even if this was another game where we fell apart defensivly (fix it now Clarke!), I'll stay puzzled but happy! We won! We scored five goals!!!

Anyone who knows where Behrami was?

ManU next!


Another must-must win

I think the team tomorrow (today) is easy to foresee. With Matthew Upson out (thigh/hamstring) and Ilunga back (hopefully after some days in full training) Gabbs can be back in his preferable position and Ilunga of course in his. An alternative is of course Tomkins (also back after a minor knock) but Da Costa and James together looks a bit too unexperienced for my taste. Tomkins and Da Costa may look more solid in the air, but Burnley is not the best team talking about headers and I think Gabbidon, who hade a really good game on the left against Hull, will suit Da Costa, also impressive since he got his chance. Diamanti seems still unfit which I really feel is sad, as a game against hard-fighters Burnley may give us some chances to strike with free-kicks.
It will be nice to see Parker as our captain though, it always looks like he is the true one on the field.

So I will go with:
Faubert Da Costa Gabbs Ilunga
Noble Parker Collison Stanislas
Cole Franco

I'd rest Behrami, he looked a bit fatigue against Hull and we need some creativity and width witch Stanislas will give us. Hines will certainly get his chance from the bench, if needed.

Bench: Stech, Spector, Behrami, Kovac (don't know why, but he will be there for sure) Dyer, Hines, Nouble.

Nervous? Of course.... But even if we should have won quite comfortably against Hull I can't see that just more one of their goals should be counted. So from my point of view it was not the way we dropped the gols against Hull (who by the way won again in midweek, they are not THAT bad) that made me angry, it was the way we just stopped our own creativity and started to look too much on our opponents... Please, do not do that against the fresh newcomers...


Follow the money - Financial Times on stats in football

I don't browse through Financial Times on a regular basis but maybe that has to change.
Simon Kuper has written a really interesting ARTICLE on the use of stats in football. Or rather the future of stats in football.

We are already on that path as we are fed possession percentages and stats of corners, shots on goal, meters covered etc. etc. every time we watch a game. Also, Opta Stat and "Chalkboards" has fuelled quite a few of my discussions. But that is all descriptive stats feeding us the numbers, leaving us to be ignorant although on a higher level.

Mike Forde, Chelsea's performance director, talks about that in the FT article - the problem of using the numbers as a basis for predictions and actions. He gives an interesting correlation between possession ad outcome of a game, but I won't spoil that for you. You really should read the article.
The future is in feeding the right numbers into the right algorithms and to make the right deductions from them.

This is still in the far future I guess, and many would add "I hope" as this way of looking at sports has always turned people off.
Most people are content in believing the experts or their own analytical capacity.
Fair enough, but I'm off to buy "Moneyball"!


Why are they feeding us crap?

There is an interesting but confusing PR-war
going on fuelled by the delay in making the financial-books public.
The amount of debts we carry has been the fundamental discrepancy.

Some stories say we are fine as the debt is managable (approx £45 m) after having renegotiated the terms of the loans down to a level where the turnover (approx £90m) can carry it. One example of this financial optimism is the article by owner pipeline - Jason Burt of the Telegraph - painting a picture of a club in decent economic shape going in the right direction and with a prosperous future.

Other say we're deep in the brown stuff, carrying more debt than the £100 m Straumur wants for us, triggering the Sullivan rumor/offer were he supposedly said he'd take on our huge debts for nothing (if he got the Club along with it).
The Intermarket Group's view seem to be somewhere in between.

This PR war is nowhere as obvious as on KUMB and the "West Ham for sale" thread were posters claiming ITK status are fighting a war to convince the fans that their view is the only reasonable.

But now back to my original question.
The real economic discussion, the evaluation of the Club, the debt and a possible bid for it, is not exactly a public hearing. It is going on inside a few London (?) offices by people having access to all the necessary financial information.
So why are they feeding us all this crap? What good is it for the respective sides to have this going on in the press?

Or are they actually preparing for the situation after this has ended, to gain acceptance for actions to come, may it be transfer funds that never appears or the sale of a player we were supposed to keep?


Daft fouls costed us 2 precious points!

2 goals up after 11 minutes then you know we're in trouble.

Da Costa, the player that impressed me most in the last game certainly had a troublesome first half. After making questionable decisions in several situations he daftly fouls some harmless Hull player after 25+ minutes ... 1-2. We all knew what was about to happen didn't we?Even if the collective nervous breakdown was not as obvious as in previous games, Hull certainly found all the motivation they needed.

Gabbidon wasn't the best player on the pitch but still my MOTM. He's been out for so long and is played in an unfamiliar position and he puts in a great performance. With a Stanislas in front of him, who was not really up to his defensive duties, he didn't have an easy task but did very good considering.

I'm a bit disappointed with how we play the game. Even one man up we don't have the skill to run the show, and we are talking about Hull for crying out loud! I'll come back to this in a later post. But the short version is that I think we are not trying to dominate games with short passes. We are a team that plays on the brake but in stead of outside players darting along the sidelines as we've had in Konchesky/McCartney-Etherington, we now play a high speed passing game. The result is pretty much the same though - after 8 seconds of possession we either have a chance or lose the ball to the opposition. We seem un-capable of using the passing game to put a lasting pressure on any team, not even a one man down Hull!

I hope you all noted that the future was on the pitch for the last 20+4 minutes! Starters Stanislas and Collison was accompanied by Hines when he came in for Behrami. I think they all did well.


None of our business!

Rumors are flying, or maybe shuffling along, about possible buyers of the Club.
There are several direct and indirect rumors of several persons/groups interested in buying the club.

The first part of the puzzle - are there any interested in buying?

The most talked about propable new owner at the moment is the one represented by the Intermarket Group. The Intermarket Group, in its current state is not our future owner. They represent a group that for some reason is not interested in revealing their identities. This secrecy has hampered the Intermarket Groups credibility as a serious bidder, forcing them to go public about having persuaded Rotshilds (current owners appointed representatives) that they have the required financial muscle. If the strongest rumor is true they have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Club and even if that does not necessarily mean that a due diligence process have started I can't see the reason for such an agreement if a closer look at the West Ham books is not at hand. A due diligance process closes the books to other potential bidders and the Straumur creditors will want to make sure that they chose the one that will make the best offer first.
Of course a formal bid will not be tabled before any buyer have been through due diligance.

David Gold, West Ham fan and former Birmingham City owner have, following a period of denial, repeatedly stated that he is interested in a West Ham takeover and he is also my favourite to end up as our owner. As “Pink Palermo” wrote on KUMB: “I really want to believe the fairytale of billionaire west ham fans (Intermarket group) saving our skins, but if they were super super wealthy like the Citeh fella they would have bought the club by now, not be pissing around demonstrating they've got proof of funds”. (please note that Pinky has an agenda of his own of some kind and mysteriously appeared on KUMB around the time of Golds sale of B-ham, has since produced 1000 posts (!) and is always restating that due to huge debts West Ham is worth approx. £1…).

Even if Gold is my favorite to do the deal he is not necessarily my favorite owner, whoever that may be.

Then there are a few other direct or indirect rumors about other groups having shown interest in a West Ham takeover.

A rumor about a group called Nuram Investments surfaced the other day. That rumor may be more than a bit shaky as there seem to be only one source for this and no followup.

Now the Sun (!) says that Sullivan (the Gold and Sullivan of B'ham Sullivan) has offered £0 (!) for a 50% share of the club in exchange for injecting £40m into it and turn it into a profitable business...
Well, by the time we are profitable and the remaining 50% can be sold for a reasonable amont of money Straumur will no longer exist and therefore will not be able to enjoy the success, so there is no reason for them to be interested in that kind of bid.

Another rumor was generated more or less as a consequence of 2 ITK-rumours rumours not matching - meaning there must be 2 different bids - ah well, thats the quality of some rumors.

The second part of the puzzle Рthe owners inclination to sell - may reach a turning point at the Hilton Hotel Nordica in Reykjavík on December 1st when the creditors of Straumur will hold a meeting to discuss a extension of the Straumur moratorium beyond the current deadline of December 11th. The Icelandic court is officially deciding if the moratorium will be extended, but the Dec. 1st meeting will most likely decide if Straumur can go on playing the waiting game, or if they will be forced to accept the best bid tabled.

What we as fans must learn to live with is that the seller in this case does NOT resemble someone selling a puppy and wanting the best family to have it. The Straumurs creditors couldn’t care less about us and sees West Ham as any asset to be sold to regain as much as possible of what Straumur owes them. “We cannot afford to be picky” is a common comment among fans as is “we need to get it right this time”, but all we can do is wait and hope that the new master will be good to us.


Short term loans of good players is the threat!

Last year at this time I wrote THIS and THIS post about the effect of our table position on the likelyhood of key players leaving in the January transfer window.

As far as I’m concerned only the names have changed since then and the owners, regardless who they are, will not dare to endanger our PL status as this will be disastrous for the asking price of the Club (or their investment - if sold).
I’m confident that we will stay in the Premiership with the present squad but the margins are so small that there is no room to worsen it.

Ergo, key players will stay for the rest of the season?
Yes, but for the lingering threat of short term loans.
If an Italian striker with World Cup ambitions is willing to take a short term deal before moving on in the summer or a French Arsenal target wants to show his worth in the PL, or something in that vein, some of our most important players may be in jeopardy.

This would be acceptable for people with only short term interest in the wellbeing of the Club but of course a great blow for those of us that has invested 40 years in supporting it…

Btw is that a claret/blue/white scarf?


Money on it's way?

Well, we've read this a hundred times before. We've said that next time, we deserve better, just like SJ Chandos (now on "West ham til I die") do now. Still: Nice reading HERE


Another sticky, stinky 0-pointer against Toffees

So three days after the game I was able to pick up the copy and no doubt we were a bit unlucky.. no points against Everton again but a loads of chances in the second half. We did not play bad. We were the better team. But... And the loss of Carlton Cole is huge.
But I do wonder if the way we always seems to loose energy in the first half - after about 15-20 minutes - and more waits for the game just to continue. It's like Zola/Clarke wants this relief to the game and this kind of "acting", which you can see as a bit of cowardness, seems to cost us in more games than this.
I know we can't run like monsters during all 90 minutes. Still, if we are not able to kill games off (which we never can) with our first energy we need to find something else to hurt our opponents but play a waiting game. Can speed make up for the energy? Or team smartness? Movement? Not losing control, liability, or power as indiviudals, but still able to find the team spirit even if the energy level lowers? Just to keep the opposition not to rise their own power and spirit?

Green 6 - Not much to do at all. Were never able to see Sahas first shot and was a bit unlucky on their second.
Faubert 7 - Really impressive game. Had a lot of help defensively by Behrami but did play like a modern FB. Back to want we want and need?
Da Costa 7, 5 - I'm not so sure that we will miss Ginger sooo much. This boy seems to take his chance like a full pro. I can't really remember a mistake, plays with a lot of comfort and smoothness. And he can not only jump as high as Ginger, he can surely pass a ball too!
Upson 6,5 - As always I miss him to show us that he is the captain in the team. Had a decent game but with 100 percent luck (?) he could have been helping Green with both of their goals.
Spector 6 - Not involved much but he did things totally OK. Moved forward and took care of most thing on his unfamiliar place on the field.
Collison 6 - Started the first 20 very bright, but all of a sudden we did not see anything more. Was subbed halftime. Was he injured from the start?
Parker 8 - Great game. Man of the Match. What stamina, what energy!!
Behrami 7 - Very, very important for the team, one of his better games lately. Still I expect even more offensively.
Jimenez 4 - Another disappointment from the Chilean. It looks how I felt when I hadn't been playin basket (which I did) for fourteen days and still thought I could go out on the field and do my very best. Which I was never able to, the legs were always to weak after a lenghty layoff. Jimenez legs do also seem to weak, but still he seems to think he can do it. Will not start against Hull, I'm quite certain.
Hines 4 - After the matchwinning performance it's not unusual that a young player will come back with a nightmare game. So for Hines who were unable to do anything right for all 90 minutes this time. Still think that it was good by Zola to play him. Will hopefully learn a lot from this game. One out of the three golden opportunites should be a goal. At least he moved good out there....
Franco 7 - Important contribution. Moves well, meets the ball well and I liked the way he moved to Hines just after a missed opportunity just to push the youngster on. I like this guy!

Stanislas 6. On at halftime. Good contribution with speed! Nothing spectacular today but gives the team new energy, width and new opportunities. Will need a goal in one of his next three games I guess.
Diamanti 7 - Well on in the 56th (JImenez off), and what a difference a diamanti can give. Explosive energy will and commanding the field with surgical passes and loads of failured shots. Do we like this guy? Well, next time his contribution will lead to a win everything will erupt! Can Zola keep him outside of the first eleven longer? Well: Yes I suppose so, only the team knows if he can do 90...



A(nother) loss that really shouldn't have been.
Kate Perry as a new West Ham-toy.
The awesome victory for David Hayes (a devoted Millwall-fan) against Valujev.

Hard weekend.


Speedy recovery Ilunga!

Lately I have been a bit fed up with Ilunga’s lack of commitment. He seem to be interested in the attacking part of the game but strolls back to retake his position as left back. What pisses me off is that he undoubtedly has the talent and he is OK defensively when he puts his mind to it, but too many times we find ourselves without a left-back when the break is on.
My theory is that this is one important reason for the shaky look of our back 4. Ilungas absence stretches the remaining three players too much and leaves holes that are not easily covered.
Now this happens in every team in every game, the back 4, as well as some of the midfielders must be prepared to take on defensive duties of a player that has “gone missing” for one reason or another. But the reason for not being there must be a good one! Ilunga does not seem to be able to present any reason other than lack of interest for his defensive duties! How this can be tolerated by Zola and Clarke is confusing to say the least.

On Wednesday Ilunga was replaced by Spector after a few minutes and even though it was a blow for the team and Ilunga, I was very eager to see what kind of impact this would have on our defensive game.
But Villa refused me any opportunities, at least during the first half of the game.
Again and again Heskey, Young or Agbonlahor tried to outpace poor Faubert – but didn’t really get passed him. They did create the corners and it almost seemed as if this was their primary goal. (no wonder 10 out of 15 Villa goals has come from dead ball situations). However, this left Spector with an easier task. Eighteen times (!) Villa chose to attack on their left side compared to 4 on Spectors side and 4 in the middle during the first half.In my eyes Fabert had a brilliant game but why Villa kept at it is beyond me!
In the second half the stats evened out a bit as NRC replaced Heskey, but still they charged down Fauberts side twice as many times as on Spectors.

So basically, the jury is still out – Spector did well in that game, also when attacking but let’s see how he performs against another opponent!
But then, the best thing would probably be that Ilunga got well and understood that a speedy recovery of his left back spot after we lose possession is vital for our defensive game!

Optimal timing and opposition?

The most interesting questions following the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa is why we did not implode following our 1-0 goal, why we managed to keep up our game for the remainder of the game?

The games of late have been discouraging as the lack of morale and/or belief in our ability and/or game plan has resulted in a mental breakdown as soon as we have something to hold on to or lose. The Sunderland and Fulham games in fresh memory…
When we have nothing to lose however as in the Arsenal game or after the 1-2 goal by Gera in the Fulham game, or after the 2-2 game at Sunderland, we suddenly have nothing to lose and we are able to play football again.

I’m fully aware that this is a general sports phenomenon and everyone that has seen a few games can appreciate the change of face of a game that follows any goal of “importance”. However, as with the flu, the symptoms of the disease can vary significantly. West Ham of late have shown the “full blown picture”.

Why then did we not suffer from this in the Villa game?
The answer is in the timing of the goals as well as in the Villa game plan. Both goals were scored in overtime – not giving us the time for the typical “rebound nervous breakdown”. Zola had the opportunity to install some faith in the troops during the break, sending them out into the second half with a greater belief in themselves and the cause. To be quite honest, there was not that much time to show the signs of a mental breakdown after the brake either as their equalizer came only 7 minutes into the second half and a few of those minutes were used for the penalty debacle (not the save – the call!). Still, during the opening minutes of the game West Ham did not seem to suffer much from post-scoring stress syndrome.
The deduction here must be that we would be in a far better table-position if there were timeouts in football…

But the Villa style of play certainly helped. They did not, for the entire game, put our ball carriers under any significant pressure during the early buildup phase. They focused on cutting off passing opportunities, and even if this was effective in getting the ball back, they regained possession in their own half and they didn’t put the panic installing pressure on Parker, Behrami or Collison.
It can be that Villa was the optimal top 15 opponent for a team with the shakes.



Thanks Zavon Hines! U saved my evening.
Well not to mention all others, including Robert Green.
Hines first goal in PL and his injection to the team means a lot. Thanks!


The team that faded

Before the game I had accepted a draw as a pretty good result, as Sunderland seems to be a hard nut to crack at home. After the game - when we got that single point - we all seem very disappointed, and of course we should be, after having a 2-0-lead and again lost a lead when the opposition acted with only 10 men.
I saw the game a couple o hours (on the telly) afterwards but had of course read reports from fans and journalists. Most of them told me that we had a terrific first half but were awful in the second. I do not see that clearly as the first 30 minutes of the game was pretty even and we had spells in the second half that looked decent. But our last 15-20 minutes of the first half was as great as the second 15 minutes in the second half was scrappy. As Kovac, Noble and Spector all was underperforming most of the game the big change was - I would say - while Collison had a awesome first half and where Behrami was important too, that our important midfield men lost the plot (or their breath) in the second and where never close to put pressure on Sunderland or create a positive own play. That was enough.... 2-2 after a lucky second goal from Richardson. Well, they deserved it alltogehter.

The referee Mariner was bad and Steve Bruce may complain in the way Jones had to go, but I think he should be more than happy that Cana stayed on the field. He could have had a second booking three-four times. From the tv-repeats I can hardly see that the free kick that Sunderland was awarded (and gave Kovac a yellow card) which Andy Reid took so beautiful was a freekick at all. And Kovac's sending off was totally wrong...

But: I may be a little bit more positive than others here. As I was surprised by Zolas more than careful starting lineup, I also saw what we can do from here and at least we had some very good moments going forward which we've hardly seen before this season. Now we got to transform this to more than one-pointers! Can two home- games change this? First Villa and then Everton. A couple of weeks ago I would say that I would have been happy with two points from this games. Now I want six! And actually think we could have at least four!

Green 6 - Not challenged at all in the first half (besides Reids freekick where Green not acted at all as he didn't have a chance), made three very important saves in the second and was very unlucky at their second).
Spector 4 - No, he is not good enough. And when Tomkins had a pretty bad day as well, and Behrami went fatigue in the second half noone was there when Sunderland stormed down their left flank. The best moment of the Americans game came when he had a wonderful cross towards Cole in the second half, but he looked lost defensively all the times with Reid and Richardson. I can't see Faubert as a solution to our RB problems either, and once more I would try Behrami in this position. Or Gabbs.
Tomkins 5 - After a couple of great games this was not one to remember for the youngster. A handful of mistakes in the second half (after a quiet first) may have kept him awake last night.
Matthew Upson 7,5 - Great and solid as a rock in the first half. Wonderful! But faded in the second, well he did OK still, but as a Captain you need to take those rough decisions and push the team forward when it blows hard.
Ilunga 6 - Ups and downs during the whole game. Pushed the team forward when he could in a good manner, and had some harsh moments with Jones (who was rightly sent off after pushing Ilunga in the face, even if Ilunga actually acted like a dying bird in the moment as well) but also did some mistakes in the middle of the park. We've complained that he must run back to his position faster when the team loses the ball, well he did today.
Behrami 6 - Very involved! Made mistakes as he yet has to be friend with the ball, but was also very important with his fighting spirit and no nonsense play. Which we need and I like. Faded.
Noble 5 - Another not so impressive performance. While the rest of the team had a good first half and a below pair in the second I think Noble fought better after the interval. Made too many sloppy half-mistakes during the whole game though.
Kovac 4 - Did we miss Parker! His first half was pretty bad, his second was awful. He is not reliable in Parker's role. I'd rather play Noble in his position next time Parker is suspended. Kovac should be an important senior player in our squad but still looks like a teenager.
Collison 7,5 - His first half was absolutely his best in a West ham shirt ever, and one of the best of a West Ham player this season. Put up both goals and dominated the midfield. His lack of match fitness may have cost not only him but the whole team in the second as our midfield all of a sudden acted like a bust baloon.
Cole 7,5 - This man is good! His first half was excellent and even if Paul Merson may have been exaggerated a bit (or not seen Cole in the game against Mersons old team Arsenal where he was outstanding) I have to quote: "First half he was unplayable. He was absolutely phenomenal. It was like an 18-year-old playing in an Under-12’s league. Honestly, he was frightening, absolutely frightening. He was Drogba, he was absolutely brilliant." Opposed to many in the team Cole had even a decent second half.
Franco 7 - The surprise of the day. This certainly does not look like a new Tristan! His first goal may have been an easy tap-in. But he played very mature the whole game and I think he can be important for us from now on.

Subs:Diamanti 5 - Came on late in a game which does not suit him. Our players where tired and he was not able to fight down Sunderland by himself. One decent shot though. I would have started with him.
Hines 5,5 - Some very good moves. Should have been given more time.

Please do not look at the table yet!
Villa next!