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!