I really don’t want to be too negative or critical of the players and the club because the supporters are so great but there is no getting away from the fact that it hasn’t been an indifferent start to the season.
We’ve gone from beating Cardiff to losing to Stoke and Hull to beating Spurs at White Hart Lane and then being thrashed by Man City who could have easily put seven or eight past us if they have their shooting boots on. They were quality, their movement was excellent and I thought Aguero was excellent. We just couldn’t cope with them. Reid, Collins and Tomkins – they all struggled with Aguero in my opinion.
I know they are a great side but I was left disappointed with our work rate and I felt we didn’t do the simple things right. Apart from Mark Noble, our work rate was second rate but the players should be putting in the same work rate every game. With sides like Man City and the players they have, you’ve got to be on them and you’ve got to bully them. There was a ten minute spell when we didn’t even get a touch of the ball.
Where I was standing just above the Bobby Moore Lower, there were people questioning our passion during the game and I couldn’t disagree with them. It’s tough to see your side go away and beat Spurs 3-0 who are a good side and their performances and results before our game were good. You don’t expect to beat them 3-0 and come back to Upton Park and get thrashed by Man City. On a final note about the City game, I look at the Premier League now and there aren’t the players or teams that excite me except for players like Aguero and Silva. You watch players like that and their movement and touch is world class.
In fact, everything about them is class and I will always pay to watch players like that because you just can’t coach players to play like that – it’s natural. I would encourage every youngster to go to watch them play. Following on from the Spurs game, there has been a lot of talk about Ravel Morrison. He is a young lad who has played half a dozen games for us and a couple of England under-21 games and now some people are saying he is the best thing since sliced bread.
I really don’t want us to put too much pressure on his young shoulders. Let him enjoy his football because there is no denying he is a fantastic talent. You don’t get the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson telling you he is a great player if he isn’t. I know he had a few problems but it does seem like he has settled down. What we do have to remember, however, is that he is only a few games into his West Ham career and to see what kind of player he will become, we need to give him a few seasons here and I hope he stays at West Ham for the rest of is career.
I have been asked recently about player loyalty in the game and my honest answer is that I can understand that players want to play for the biggest clubs in the Premier League. For some it is for the money and for others it is the chance to win trophies and you can’t really blame them for that. There is only so much money you can give a player because if they’ve got anything about them then they will want to be winning trophies.
In my opinion, we’ve always been a selling club and players want to move on. Just look at Rio, he was a fantastic talent and I couldn’t blame him for going on and wanting to win trophies and play in Europe. Another player who keeps popping up in conversation recently has been Diame. I can remember the first time I watched him live which was when we beat Sunderland at home at the start of last season and he was immense and was just ghosting past players.
But then I saw him a few weeks later and it was like he hadn’t played football before in his life. He seemed to repeat this throughout last season and I really find it hard to understand how a Premiership footballer can be at the top of his game one minute and unable to play a five-yard pass the next.
He really needs to work on his consistency – just look at the likes of Gerrard and Lampard. Sure they have off days but even on these days they are doing the simple things right and putting in a shift for their team. Consistency makes good players but unfortunately at the moment he just isn’t consistent enough for me. Moving on to Andy Carroll and there have been a few stories in the media suggesting he is nearing full fitness. For him to have been injured for so long has been a massive blow for us and I think it goes some way in explaining our indifferent start to this campaign.
What I still cannot understand is that every team must have a striker and it has been ridiculous we haven’t really got any back up for Andy Carroll. What happens if he comes back and gets injured again? We should have three or four strikers in our squad who are all capable of playing in the Premier League, causing defenders problems and scoring but we don’t. If Carroll is also our only real option, where is his motivation to be the best he can be when he has no competition?
If you look at most of our positions like full back and centre back, there is competition there but up front there is not. I think we’ve got to give our youngsters more of a chance. We need to be bedding them in because otherwise they will get to 21 and we are never going to know what they can offer us.
Just look at Freddie Sears, he come on the scene and he looked sharp but then he only had one or two more games and a few substitute appearances and now he is at Colchester. We really have got to give our youngsters a chance and I don’t see why we didn’t give a young striker the chance against Man City. Looking ahead to our upcoming games and our run up to Christmas is going to be tough. Being in the Premier League, there are no easy games, but what is really important is what we bring to each game.
They have got to get themselves up to play against the likes of Chelsea and Fulham. If you sit back, you are going to get smashed, especially against teams like Chelsea and Man City who have got players to carve you open like Mata and Aguero. We need to attack more. Away from home it’s not too bad to play counter attack football but when you are playing at home in front of your own fans, you need to be attacking teams.
If you don’t attack teams you are encouraging pressure all the time and there is only so long you can withstand the pressure but if you are attacking them you put them on the back foot. When I played we also had arguments and rows. We used to point fingers at each other because we were all there to do a job and if teammates were not going their job then we had to tell them.
Against Man City, after the first two goals nobody shouted at anyone, they just all got on with it like they were 11 individuals. Football really is about helping teammates be the best they can be and making it easy for them to achieve their best. That’s how I remember bonding with players. You don’t see the same bonds as you used to these days.