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Monday, 19th August 2002

Newcastle United 4
West Ham United 0

by Vinny Ryan

New season - Same old story.

All of us were hoping that the away form would get itself sorted this season. But on this evidence it certainly has not.

We were dealt with a huge blow before a ball was kicked - Freddie Kanoute was ruled out with injury. Kanoute tends to do this a lot and it wasn't the biggest surprise to me when this was announced.

What was a surprise is that instead of replacing Kanoute with a physical presence like Sinclair or Camara, he chose to play Joe Cole up front with Jermaine Defoe. The two smallest players we have. Meanwhile Ian Pearce came in at right back with Sebastien Schemmell on the right wing.

It was obvious that Roeder wanted to contain Newcastle. This is why we lost so badly.

It all started off in a mundane fashion, with both teams just getting into the feel of the season. Newcastle (as expected) were the team who played the more attacking football. But the Hammers defence stood strong and there were not too many clear cut chances.

The main talking point (although it was hardly anything) was Shearer having a goal disallowed for a push on Dailly. Our best chance came when Cole had a shot from just inside the box which went inches wide. That chance was to be our last.

Half time came and after a few free kicks for Newcastle just before the break I was relieved to be going in at 0-0. It was clear to me however that we needed to change the way we were playing as we offered nothing up front and the midfield were being overrun.

The second half started with us on the back foot and Solano nearly scored from close range, but James got the block in. Newcastle were starting to mount up a lot of corners and it seemed only a matter of a time before we would collapse.

And collapse we did - around the hour mark. A corner was swung in and Lua Lua was there unmarked to hit a low shot underneath David James. Terrible, terrible marking.

The defence would again be at fault for Newcastle's second not long after the first goal. Lua Lua (who isn't very tall) got in between two of our defenders (Dailly and Repka, I think) to head in his second of the night, and to confirm that we would be going home with nothing.
A third goal come a few minutes later with Alan Shearer getting in on the act.

Schemmell and Cisse were replaced by Moncur and Labant. Schemmell looked very unhappy and went straight down the tunnel.

Cole (who was our best player by a mile) was buzzing around trying to make things happen but apart from him and Defoe, no one looked the least bit interested.

Jenas and Dyer walked all over our midfield. Although Cisse looked quite good, Michael Carrick was abysmal and was the worst player on the pitch by a mile.

Gary Breen needs to get into that defence straight away, as it was very, very poor tonight. It was poor all last season, yet Roeder thought he'd go with it anyway.

Glenn reminded me of Harry with his tactics tonight. I haven't had many bad things to say about Roeder since he joined the club but tonight's defeat was down to him as he changed the system.

Player Ratings:

David James (6) Wasn't at fault for any of the goals and made a few good saves. But his persistence in hitting his goal kicks out to Trevor Sinclair (and hitting them too high) was a joke.

Ian Pearce (5) He did well in the first half and I was happy with what I was seeing. But after the break he was dismal.

Tomas Repka (5) Dreadful. Never seemed comfortable and gave away too many free kicks.

Christian Dailly (5) looked very dodgy. His distribution was dreadful and headers were often too short. The sooner Breen replaces him the better, on this form.

Nigel Winterburn (6) Our only defender who didn't do much wrong. Got booked in the first half and looked very committed.

Seb Schemmel (5) He's not a right winger, but was played there anyway. Did little of any note and failed to get forward enough.

Edouard Cisse (6) Looked a very decent player. He looks good in the air and is not afraid to get stuck in. I am sure he will be a big hit.

Michael Carrick (4) The worst player on the pitch; gave the ball away so many times I lost count (no joke). I was saying prior to the match that I am very worried by Michael Carrick and feel he is overrated. Tonight confirmed this to me. He is not better than Lampard and when Lomas comes back I would put him on the bench.

Trevor Sinclair (5) Just wasn't in the game. Found it very hard to get the ball and make a pass. On a night like this, players like Sinclair are vital. But he failed to do anything of note.

Joe Cole (7) Why was he playing up front? Yes we lost Kanoute, But that is no reason to play Joe Cole as a striker. He did well and every attack was instigated by him. But it seems like his final ball and shooting ability has not improved.

Jermain Defoe (6) He was starved of any service, and can't be blamed. Made some clever runs and I'm sure if we had someone to create goals (like our main creator Paolo Di Canio) he may have had more clear cut chances.

John Moncur (on for Cisse) I was hoping we wouldn't have to resort to bringing the man with no footballing talent on this season. I was wrong.

Vladimir Labant (on for Schemmel) Hardly got into it. I would have like to have seen him start.

Overall - Bottom of the league after the first game. An away game - a massive defeat.

Sorry Glenn - but the blame lies with you.

KUMB Match Facts

West Ham United: James, Pearce, Winterburn, Dailly, Repka, Carrick, Sinclair, Schemmel (Labant 71), Cisse (Moncur 71), Cole, Defoe.

Subs not used: van der Gouw, Breen, Camara.

Newcastle United: Given, Hughes, Dabizas, Bramble, Bernard, Solano (McClen 87), Dyer, Jenas, Viana (Elliott 89), Shearer, Lua-Lua (Ameobi 81).

Subs not used: Harper, Griffin.

Goals: Lua Lua (61, 72), Shearer (76), Solano (85)

Booked: Winterburn (34, mistimed slide tackle), Cisse (38, foul - bad call), Shearer (77, late tackle)

Referee: Paul Durkin (5)

Attendance: 51,072

Man of the Match: Joe Cole (9)

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