So in typical West Ham style we’ve been knocked off our crest of a wave and come crashing back down to Earth (writing this before the Swansea match).
It was all so inevitable really wasn’t it? After the Tottenham dream, it was back to an Upton Park nightmare, with a defence that’s been so rock solid over the season showing worrying lapses for two of Manchester City’s goals. Perhaps we cannot criticise our defenders too much, after all, they have been magnificent over the course of the season and, when I think about it, much of last season as well. Against City, Winston Reid was singled out for a number of errors in defence but to me he just seemed knackered.
No more than that. We cannot expect our players to play at such an intense level week in, week out putting in heroic efforts to keep us in matches or preserve our leads. It’s just not possible and we need to remember that until the City match we’d only conceded one goal from open play. Again it shows, though, that once we scratch away at the surface our resources are somewhat stretched.
James Collins has no date set for his return according to physioroom.com, neither does McCartney and at the time of writing Demel has a knock. Carroll and Diarra we all know about. So what lessons can we learn from the last home match which we can apply on Saturday?
Well, after the spectacular success of the formation against Tottenham it was perhaps too much to expect a repeat performance. After the sublime play of Ravel at White Hart Lane he was generally subdued and snuffed out by the opposition. Again, we cannot expect him to dig us out of a hole each time he touches the ball.
We need others to step up to the plate on Saturday; Nolan needs to do more, Noble I thought was poor against City, with a terrible passing accuracy from the off. If he does feel he can force his way into Hodgson’s plans he’ll have to do a lot better than that. What I don’t understand is that once we went 2-0 down we eventually started to play.
I have mentioned this many times in the past about our performances at the Boleyn that we often seem to perform at a snail’s pace, only upping performance levels when perhaps our fighting chance has already gone. Against City, though, after Vaz Te’s excellent overhead kick we were playing some decent football and creating chances which is why I cannot for the life of me understand why the manager did not put Cole on in the hope of getting on the end of some of our myriad of wingers crosses when we did have that decent spell.
What was the point of packing the wide areas with players if there is no-one with the ability to get the ball in the back of the net in the box? Then, of course, Cole came on after we went 3-1 down. Again what was the point of that?
After the Tottenham match, Allardyce said the only reason he went with that formation was because he knew the strikers he had at his disposal would not actually score a goal. Fair play to admit that and fair play to do something about it and perhaps by luck more than anything else that formation was the right one to play at that time and a formation that may have suited an away performance against a team like Tottenham.
At home, though, against Manchester City the limitations of that formation were cruelly exposed and the 4-6-0 is not the answer to all our questions. Writing this before the Swansea match may mean that what I’m writing has been thrown back in my face but I hope that this Saturday we will attack with pace and vitality from the off, not sit back and allow Aston Villa to play.
After all we are already reaching that six-pointer stage despite only being a quarter of the way through the season. Nothing less than a win is vital. The good news for me at least is that this week I’ll be there in person to see it, flying in from Dubai and settling in for my pre-match pint at the Duke of Edinburgh. I look forward to seeing you there. COYI!