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Coca Cola Championship
Sunday, 23rd January 2005

West Ham United 1
Derby County 2

by East Stand Martin

I was lounging on this pier overlooking the Gulf of Siam. The conversation turned to football. A rash bet was made by my companions that Derby would end up with more points than West Ham.

It all looked like easy money - Singha-fuelled bravado on their part - but I am now in serious danger of losing that bet as we capitulated for the third time in a row. Thatís a run that has never been achieved with victories since our increasingly hapless and clueless gaffer took over.

Will he go?

Thereís been a lot of paper talk about Pardewís impending departure. I donít believe it. I have absolutely no confidence in the Chairmanís ability to take a rational decision and more than that, I have no confidence either that any decent manager would want to come and work for him.

That is the technical definition of up sh*t creek without a paddle.

Letís face it, the team performance today was very poor. We look like a mid table team and were beaten by a very average side. What makes it worse is that we are playing with a complete and utter lack of style or conviction.

Union meeting

Maybe it was all worked out at Chadwell Heath. You can imagine the scene with shop steward Teddy convening a meeting. ďHeís teetering on the edge of a chasm boys, letís not turn up and we can send him on his way.Ē You tell me if that possibility can be rejected as pure fiction, because it looked that way out there on the pitch today.

Pardew has that same look about him that Roeder had when he had clearly lost the dressing room and couldnít find a way to inject some verve and vitality into the team. Here we were. At home. On the telly. A 30,000 crowd. All the kids in. A chance to exploit some favourable results elsewhere. What did we get? A damp squib Ė pedestrian to a degree which suited Derby down to the ground.

The only time we looked like we were up for it was in the first five minutes of the second half. Maybe a goal then would have meant an easy stroll to victory, but there have been too many ifs and maybes under Pardew. I see no prospect of him turning the situation around.

Rabid

There are few occasions when I foam at the mouth watching West Ham, but someone should have really sent for the men in the white coats for me when Pardew decided to take Sergei off. To me this was an act of sheer incompetence.

There we were, 1-2 down after conceding a soft goal, surely we needed to ramp up the attacking pressure? Did he not realise that the dice had to be rolled? No, Pardew sticks with 4-4-2 when something far more aggressive was required. The bloke does not have one ounce of adventure in his body. Can you seriously tell me that Chadders was playing well enough to merit staying on in preference to Sergei? To me, the Ukrainian looked like one of the few players with a bit of energy and with the ability to exploit set pieces. After he went off, we seemed even more lacklustre and Fletch was just clueless when we did get a few dead ball situations.

What do you think Sir Trevor would have done in this situation? Not this tactical backward-thinking incompetence.

A pile of sh*te

The response from Pardew after the game was that the team is now in trouble. Great, tell us something we didnít already know. Statement of the bleediní obvious.

I really canít be arsed to give a blow by blow account of the game. You all saw it for yourself either at the ground or on the box. No great insight or creative spark is required to describe a pile of sh*te.

Letís maybe just look at a high and a low

A low. Now how low do you want to go? Hayden Muggins Ė yes, letís go that low. No pace. Diabolical passing. A mediocre League 2 player if you ask me. It was like watching Wayne Quinn.

The high? Well, the only thing that slightly tickled my fancy was the performance of Mark Noble. He looks terrific on the ball, twisting and turning. OK, he did make the odd over-ambitious pass and nearly gifted a goal to the opposition as a consequence. On the other hand for his age, there looks to be a lot of quality there. No doubt someone else that Brown can go and pawn.

Give me some drugs

Before I find myself a dark room and a double dose of Mogadon, letís talk about that cynical foul by Lee Camp on Marlon. Maybe Iím just having a bad day, but to me it wasnít a sending off. Sure, he took Marlon out, but the fact of the matter was that Marlonís final touch sent the ball towards the corner flag. That cast severe doubt on whether Marlon was denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. It was a great ball through, though, by Mark Noble.

Anyway, to be honest, that incident is an irrelevance and should not distract us from the key issue which is the manager. Iím afraid that itís all too simple now for me. I donít like the way the teamís playing. I donít like the tactical judgement. I donít like watching West Ham play with a complete lack of spirit. You can blame the players for failing to do the job that they are handsomely paid to do, but you always ultimately have to come back to leadership.

Leadership is everything. Why do you think that England cricket team have performed the way they have over the past year? Itís leadership. How did we win the Rugby World Cup? Itís leadership. How did Iain Dowie engineer that playoff win for Palace and probably keep them up as well. Itís leadership.

Why are we struggling and looking like weíre going nowhere? Itís a lack of leadership. The writingís been on the wall for some time. Surely even our deadbeat Chairman is going to at least try and do something about this?

Incidentally, just in case there is any doubt in your mind, Mr Brown, David Pleat arriving at Upton Park will lead to such an explosion, it will make Krakatoa look like a two bob banger. If this happens, my friend, I will personally hunt you down to your trailer park and insert my season tickets up you where the sun donít shine.

(Player comments by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Jimmy Walker
Not really tested. Came for one cross which he dropped under blatantly illegal pressure from a forward but did well to recover.


Hayden Mullins
Gave his man far too much time and space in defence. Was more effective going forward and contributed to a couple of good chances. Still looks much better in midfield but if we have to play him in the back four how about in the centre where he is supposed to have played so well for Palace.


Chris Powell
One good combination with Harewood set Rebrov up but had an otherwise quiet match.


Tomas Repka
Solid enough defensively but I think we look better with him at right back Ė time for a swap with Mullins until Dailly returns?


Malky Mackay
Slow and ponderous. Distribution was poor as well. Doesn't seem to be half the player he was before the injury.


Carl Fletcher
Took his goal well and was desperately unlucky not to double his tally with a good header early in the second half. However, there were occasions when he seemed at a loss as to what do with the ball.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Largely anonymous save for one first-half shot. May not be 100% recovered - I can sympathise with his situation having recently suffered from a similar illness to that from which he's recovering so hopefully he'll be back on form in the near future.


Luke Chadwick
In and out of the game. Unfortunately was more out than in, though he can count himself unlucky to have been thwarted by a 'keeper who shouldn't have been on the pitch.


Gavin Williams
A sympathy mark really since his injury occurred too early for him to have any impact on proceedings.


Sergei Rebrov
Some good runs and he can consider himself unlucky to be transferred at a time when we needed something a little different.


Marlon Harewood
Not one of Marlon's better days, though hardly helped by some dreadful refereeing. Should have done better when only six yards out.


Substitutes


Mark Noble
(Replaced Williams, 7) One of the brighter spots of the afternoon. Probably the only player capable of taking on the opposition and not afraid to have a shot. Not the finished article by any means Ė he gave the ball away in a dangerous position that nearly led to a goal Ė but nevertheless he has had a very promising start last few weeks.


Teddy Sheringham
(Replaced Rebrov, 65) For once the get out of jail card didn't work. Largely incognito, his arrival prompted the hoof & hope approach.


Stephen Bywater
Did not play.


Rufus Brevett
Did not play.


Chris Cohen
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: L.Mason.

Attendance: 30347.

Man of the Match: Mark Noble.

West Ham United

Goals: Carl Fletcher 26                  

Booked: Carl Fletcher 22          .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Derby County

Camp, Kenna, Mills, Taylor, Bisgaard, Jackson, Bolder, Huddlestone, Rasiak, Smith, Idiakez.

Substitutes: Tudgay (Bisgaard 73), Reich (Smith 73), Junior (Rasiak 89).

Subs not used: Grant, Boertien.

Goals: Rasiak (10, 63).

Booked: Camp (42), Rasiak (81).

Sent Off: None sent off.

 
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