Saturday, 29th August 2009
You donít need to read the Financial Times to know that the recession is biting up there though. All pretty quiet in the pubs on the traditional big northern Friday night out. More like Feeble Nights than Phoenix Nights. A bit depressing really.
They donít know the meaning of closing time though which always leave yours truly feeling shabby as f*ck the next morning. Still, itís not far to Coronation Street where I always fondly recall that wondrous Tevez offside goal during that prolonged escape to victory.
A shirt with a health warning
Selling briskly outside the away pub was the inevitable Millwall riot commemorative t-shirt with the imaginative ĎI 8 Millwall Pikeysíslogan on the back. What an original piece of football haute couture, itís the must have of the fashion season. A warning though. From what I have read about the views of various commentators on the racist overtones of the corruption of Ďturnpike travellerí, I would not recommend wearing that at a meeting at the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights. Or on the wrong side of the river.
Inside Ewood Park it was comforting to find that there are actually some catering operatives who possess similar skills to those found in the East Stand of the Boleyn Ground. This time no chance of a cup of Rosie Lea as the water urn wasnít ready. Does it really take much f*cking thought to flick a switch?
The lineup was pretty much as expected with Jimenez back in but you had the feeling from the first 10 minutes of the game that it wasnít going to be a classic. Much of what was going on was centred on Jason Roberts using his physical presence to plough through the centre of our defence and he nearly got an outstretched foot on a ball that was nodded down after a free kick had been conceded by Collins on 8 minutes.
There was some nice one touch football around which mainly involved Jimenez but consistently there was either no end product or shots got blocked by a determined Blackburn defence. Carlton Cole was being his usual game self and on 19 minutes stormed through about three challenges only to scoop his shot over the bar because the final challenge made him lose his balance.
Cole was at it again a few minutes later after good movement down the left. He fired a goalbound shot which rebounded kindly to Jimenez around about the penalty spot, but he was expertly closed down.
Although our defence has been looking fairly solid so far this season there were a couple of occasions where we taking to many attempts to clear from inside the box. It was fortunate that James Collins was consistently excellent in throwing his body at the ball to stop shots. He stopped both Dunn and Andrews this way. On 26 minutes he also managed to get a head on a shot which looked certain to nestle in the net.
Our makeshift left back Spector was struggling a bit as well, skying a couple of clearances to put the pressure on his colleagues. He is struggling in this unfamiliar position and simple does not offer the offensive capabilities of Ilunga.
Faubert is the real deal
West Ham started the second half in more dynamic style with the revitalised Faubert (is he the same player that frustrated us so much last season?) doing well with a difficult volley into the corridor of uncertainty, but there was no-one there. Cole then tried a 30 yard shot which looked like it had the keeper worried a bit before it sailed over the bar. This was followed in the 49th minute by an attempt by Collins from a corner where he tried to swivel and score, but his shot went the wrong side of the left hand upright.
Blackburn were generally not too clever with over-elaboration in the centre of the pitch. This was winding up the locals big time who were begging for an early release of the ball.
Faubert made a great pass to Stanislas on the hour and he picked out Cole in the box who in turn passed out centrally to Parker who shot poorly wide.
Jimenez was swapped for Dyer with 25 minutes left, but the dirge that largely followed was a catalogue of misplaced passes and niggly fouls which disrupted the flow of the game. Jack Collison nearly gifted Blackburn a goal as he gave the ball away not far outside the Blackburn box, allowing a rapid counterattack. The sub Hoilett was found in space with Green deciding to come halfway to meet him. He floated a shot at goal which from where we standing at the far end looked like it would dip into the goal. Somehow it didnít drop in.
Parker gave away a silly foul on the edge of the box on 78 minutes and got a yellow. It was a dangerous position but the shot curled over harmlessly.
To me, to you
Dyer had not been up to much at all since his arrival and he was involved in the comedy moment of the game as both he and Cole left it to each other to gather a promising ball forward out of defence.
The game fizzled out with Blackburn looking more likely to score. A mishit shot rolled wide and then Collins had to win a ball in the six yard box.
It was an awful spectacle and neither team showed much in terms of quality. Collins had a great game though and it is encouraging to see something at last from Faubert . Cole worked tirelessly again, but our midfield did not cover themselves in glory. They work hard but you are looking for that creative guile which has been lacking in the opening to the season. Dyer was dire.
Maybe we were still getting over the crazy night a few days before, but Blackburn were there for the taking and I can see them struggling at the bottom this season. We are all awaiting this Diamanti geezer to see if he can bring an end to lone star Cole. Letís hope that he is a real gem rather than zirconite.
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Rarely called upon due to Blackburn's inefficiency in front of goal.
Another competent run-out at right back.
A couple of dodgy clearances that he treid to send into orbit but fairly solid that aside.
Some great headers and tackles in what could be his Hammers swansong.
Did a good job keeping Roberts contained.
His usual combative self.
The pick of our midfield today.
Lots of effort (as always) but to little avail.
A couple of good bursts down the flanks.
Some bright touches and would have had a brace but for the untimely intervention of Pascal Chimbonda.
One of those days when little came off for the England striker.
(Replaced Jimenez, 66 mins) Not involved a great deal.
(Replaced Collison, 87 mins) Brought on to ensure no late defensive errors occured.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Phil O'Dowd.
Man of the Match: Mark Noble.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Julien Faubert, Jonathan Spector, James Collins, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas, Luis Jimenez, Carlton Cole.
Goals: None .
Booked: James Collins 9 Mark Noble 54 Scott Parker 79 .
Sent off: None.
Robinson, Jacobsen, Chimbonda, Samba, Givet, Dunn, Nzonzi, Grella, Andrews, Pedersen, Roberts.
Substitutes: Hoilett (Nzonzo (60), Kalinic (Roberts 74).
Subs not used: Brown, Salgado, Emerton, Khizinashvili, Olsen.
Booked: Dunn (75).
Sent Off: None.