Saturday, 30th August 2014
It all looked so good pre-match. After the second string had stretched their legs in midweek it was as you were with us fielding the same starting XI that had seen off Palace 7 days earlier, namely: Adrian, O'Brien, Cresswell, Reid Tomkins, Noble, Kouyate, Vaz Te, Downing, Zarate, Cole. Not that we needed the mood boost but the parading of new loan signing Alex Song also added to the mood of optimism.
The early exchanges put one in mind of the corresponding fixture last season – the visitors having loads of possession with only wayward shots to show for it. Slowly we came more into the game and had a good shout for a penalty turned down by the country's most dishonest referee when Yoshida nudged the ball away from danger. The irony of it is that we'd probably have stood more of a chance of a spot kick had the ball not gone anywhere near the defender's hand, such is Dean's fondness for self-promoting headlines.
The closest anyone came to scoring came on 21 minutes. A rare free-kick in our favour was played into the box by Downing and, by virtue of attempted clearance and pinball-style rebounds the ball fell to Vaz Te who shot low. Forster stuck out a leg, the ball hit the other leg and nutmegged the 'keeper to roll agonisingly wide of the far post.
It was the football equivalent of cricket;s “chinese cut” - the inside edge that somehow goes between you and the wicket missing leg stump the proverbial coat of varnish. A speciality of mine in my playing days. Forster will have to play for a hellofa long while to make another save that jammy.
Five minutes later we went ahead. Yoshida dallied on the ball for a tad too long and Zarate nipped in to take it off him. Noble took over and pushed forward, letting fly from outside the box. The deflection off Yoshida wrong-footed the 'keeper slightly but Forster's flapped attempted save ought to have been better as the ball flew in at the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
We spent most of the rest of the half in fairly comfortable style. We didn't look good by any stretch of the imagination, granted but the goal seemed to have taken the sting out of the opposition bit. There was a Cresswell clearance from in front of goal after a corner but it was a pretty easy clearance to make and we'd have all been disappointed had that one gone in.
What we really needed was to go in one up at the interval, regroup and work out why we were so out of sorts and return to form in the second half. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way.
Zarate was gobsmacked when penalised by Dean for being in the vicinity when Bertrand, having lost the ball, jumped into him. Clearly Zarate has never met Dean before. However fraudulent the decision, the defending from the free-kick was a shambles. Schneiderlin had been left all alone at the far post. His first effort was blocked by O'Brien but the ball fell kindly for Schneiderlin who buried the rebound.
That was pretty much it for the half in which we had failed to hit the performance levels of our previous two league games but were still level. Just needed t sort it out in the break then.
After a most acceptable chunk of lemon cake courtesy of the lot behind me who were making their first appearance of the season, we resumed. If the half-time team talk had been designed to wake us up it singularly failed. Tellingly the visitors were a little more incisive and Adrian had to pull of a fine save down to his left as Long took time out from clipping players ankles after the ball had gone to turn and shoot shortly after the restart.
We were sitting back and the closing down, which in the first half had been sporadic at best, was pretty close to non-existent. Schneiderlin put one over the bar after a corner and it was only the fact that their finishing was as bad as ours can be that kept the scores level. We did have the odd break - a storming Kouyate run ended with a cross at which Cole was undecided as to whether he should throw leg or head. Predictably he did neither.
Cresswell picked up a yellow for an off the ball brush with Long which, as ever the Irishman made the most of. Long, being well aware of the adage that you can't con an honest man, knew his ref. The visitors got the ball into the net from the free kick but with four players all offside in front of Adrian the linesman's flag was raised correctly.
We made our first change of the match with a double swap on 57 minutes. Zarate who had got nothing out of the visiting defence or Dean came off to be replaced by Morrison whilst Vaz Te, who most hadn't realised was still there, was replaced by Diame.
Dean had been quiet for a while so it came as no surprise when he booked O'Brien for a perfectly timed and executed tackle on Tadic whose recovery as soon as the yellow had been issued was predictably astonishing. It's a shame you can't appeal yellow cards. The appeals would probably take up so much of Dean's time he would be kept away from officiating.
We went behind on 67 minutes and again the visitors can thank Dean for the assist. Sub Ramirez headed over. As all moved to position themselves for the goal kick, Dean saw his chance to make one of those deliberately wrong decisions for which he has become justly famed over the years.
He gave a corner. It was a decision that from his viewpoint it should have been impossible for an honest referee to give. Dean is not an honest referee. The defending of the corner was a shambles. With players out of position trying to achieve the impossible feat of trying to get one of the most corrupt people in English football to change his mind, the visitors took a short corner and Schneiderlin put the ball away at the near post.
We were pretty clueless for the rest of the game. Valencia replaced Cole with massive 12 minutes left to make an impression but such was the paucity of ideas it was no surprise when they added a third, Adrian's save from Clyne falling kindly for Pelle with 82 on the clock.
That was pretty much it really. The place emptied and those of us who stayed did so only out f curiosity to see whether Dean would try to go for hat-trick. In the end, Dean settled for just the two goals and after four minutes of stoppage the proceedings were put out of our misery.
A touch of perspective here. We've played well in two of our three league matches so far this season so we were probably due a stinker. We need to be spending the international break at the difference between the Spurs and Palace matches on the one hand and this one on the other.
Frankly we were so bad Southampton didn't need the helping hand they got from Dean who, over the years, has cost us so many games that any organisation with a genuine interest in improving standards would be asking “why?”. Meanwhile I have a bottle of champagne which I am saving for the day I hear the announcement of either his imprisonment for fraud or his retirement, whichever happens first.
I must find out the odds on those events – maybe Dean could recommend a betting company I could use?
* Want to submit your match reports to KUMB.com? More details here ...
Click here to view all match reports by Gordon Thrower
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Let down by those in front of him. A couple of half-decent saves.
Always seemed to be a yard away from wherever he needed to be at the time. The yellow card ws ludicrous though.
Tried to get forward but got so little cover or help from Vaz Te his effectiveness either defensively or in attack was severely limited.
Seemed to be constantly giving his man a yard as if there were some sort o exclusion zone to be enforced.
His distribution was not at its best today.
The goal apart this was one of his worst performances in a West Ham shirt – he was constantly caught in possession and never seemed sure of what he wanted to do with the ball.
The one player who never gave up. Shame there weren't more like him out there.
Spent far too much time trying to back into his marker. Good bit of chasing back to set up the goal but that was about it from him.
Far too predictable from start to finish.
Ricardo Vaz Te
Unlucky perhaps not to have scored when Forster got lucky in outrageous style but otherwise he was a waste of a space. A strategically-placed traffic cone might have given more protection for Cresswell (though Dean would have probably booked the cone for dissent).
Poor. Just poor.
(Replaced Zarate) Played far too deep to affect matters.
(Replaced Vaz Te) Got the ball. Ran down blind alleys. Lost the ball.
(Replaced Cole) Never got into the match in the 12 minutes afforded to him to do so.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Man of the Match: Cheikhou Kouyate.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Joey O'Brien, Aaron Cresswell, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mauro Zarate, Stewart Downing, Ricardo Vaz Te, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Mark Noble 27 .
Booked: Aaron Cresswell 56 Joey O Brien 62 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand, Steven Davis, Morgan Schneiderlin, James Ward-Prowse, Shane Long, Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic.
Substitutes: Gaston Ramirez (Shane Long 66), Jack Cork (James Ward-Prowse 71).
Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Florin Gardos, Victor Wanyama, Emmanuel Mayuka, Jos Hooiveld.
Goals: Morgan Schneiderlin (45, 68), Graziano Pelle (83).
Booked: Graziano Pelle (79).
Sent Off: None sent off..