Filed: Wednesday, 25th February 2009
By: Staff Writer
There were very few positives for Gianfranco Zola to take out of tonight's visit to the Riverside Stadium as the Hammers were sent tumbling out of the FA Cup.
It was a case of deja vu for United as they once again found themselves 2-0 down within the opening twenty minutes - for the second time in four days.
Goals from Stewart Downing and Tuncay gave Middlesbrough - who prior to tonight were without a win against a Premier League team since last November - what proved to be an insurmountable lead and it is they, not West Ham, who go on to face Everton at Goodison Park in the quarter finals.
Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke made several changes to the team beaten 2-1 at Bolton last weekend to fairly disastrous effect. In order to accomodate debutant Radoslav Kovac - who had a poor start to his spell with West Ham and was guilty of giving away an unnecessary foul that led to the home side's opening goal - Scott Parker and Mark Noble were asked to play in unfamiliar territory, and the Hammers subsequently failed to provide any real threat.
Middlesbrough - who were just seven minutes away from a win at Upton Park in the first tie before Herita Ilunga's header took the game to a replay - stuck to the same game plan that had proved so successful 10 days earlier, and once again the Hammers failed to respond.
Given very little space on the ball by a 'Boro side that closed down all over the pitch Zola's side once again seemed intent on playing a narrow game that played straight into the home side's hands; it is unlikely that the relegation-threatened Wearsiders will enjoy many easier games between now and the end of the season.
On the few occasions that the Hammers managed to move the ball wide some threat was provided, but with most of the team out-of-sorts a comback was unlikely with 'Boro the only team threatening to score once their early two-goal lead had been established.
A miserable night for the Hammers began with Middlesbrough taking the lead after just four minutes when Stewart Downing scored with an almost identical free kick to that which Matt Taylor beat Green with at the Reebok Stadium.
The free kick came from an unnecessary challenge by recent signing Kovac on the edge of the box; overall the experienced Czech looked well off the pace for most of his 70 minutes on the pitch.
Once again, as per at Bolton, the goal failed to evoke a resonse from West Ham and having gone close through Downing (again) and former Hammers loanee Jeremie Aliadiere it was no surprise when 'Boro's lead was doubled after 20 minutes when Tuncay pounced on a James Tomkins error to volley past Green with an unconvincing yet accurate strike.
United's only decent chance of the opening half fell to Kovac, but the Czech international's well struck shot was expertly dealt with by Brad Jones. It was to be a similar story in the second period, with Scott Parker's well-struck shot on the hour mark being the closest the Irons got to snatching a goal back - and the only real chance they mustered after the break.
West Ham's miserable run without a win now stretches to five games, in stark contrast to the superb form that immediately preceeded it.
However the major worry for Zola and Clarke tonight is that the performances appear to be getting worse rather than better - and the games get no easier, with a resurgent Manchester City (featuring former Hammer Craig Bellamy) up next for United.
'Mad Dog' completes West Ham transfer [28th Jan 2013]
West Ham poised for double swoop [27th Jan 2013]
Play-off final replay on the cards [6th Jan 2013]
FA Cup draw: Man Utd await [2nd Dec 2012]
Wigan await [30th Aug 2012]
Hammers face home tie [15th Aug 2012]
Transfer latest: 14 June [14th Jun 2012]
Hammers in double swoop [30th May 2012]
Allardyce on... Cardiff City [7th May 2012]
01:46AM 27th Feb 2009
''This result has been overdue for a while in my opinion. While we were all dreaming of possible European qualification through the league and a good cup run over Christmas, this was never going to be possible. Why? The squad isn't strong enough, and by comparison to other Premier League sides it's barely top half material.
Lets look at our current first eleven, minus Deano and Dyer obviously, as they will never string enough games together to make a notable impact, this season or the next! Green is a quality goalkeeper and, as we all know, should be an England regular. I just found myself frustrated the other night when after conceeding he was more interested in looking dismayed for the cameras instead of giving his defence the rollicking they deserved.
Ilunga is a decent enough signing but had a shocker against Middlesbrough. He doesn't give us enough going forward and always looks to play the ball to the nearest man, when it isn't always the best option. Upson is solid but I see an air of complacency in his game since he is a 'regular' for England nowadays. Collins I feel is our strongest defender, always dominant in the air and times his challenges well when going to ground, very underated (captaincy material). Neill is better than Faux pas but mistimes too many tackles, which have proved so costly, mainly due to his lack of pace. This also leads to him being out of position when teams attack us on the counter.
Collison has been a revelation. He seems to have adopted Behrami's work rate and reminds me of a young Michael Carrick, but even better. Noble...... where do I start. I want him to be the player he has shown he can be, especially since he's a West Ham boy. Look back to how well he developed under playing with Carlitos in our epic run in to avoid relegation. He played as the industrious attacking half of our four man midfield, and was outstanding. Where's it all gone wrong? Pulling on the claret and blue should mean more to him than anyone else in the first team, so why do so many games seem to pass him by? I don't think he'll ever live up to his full potential.....a shame.
Parker is a 50/50 player. 50% of games he's man of the match and the rest he's dreaming about what if. What if he hadn't of had those injuries? What if he'd been able to prove himself at chelsea? What if he'd joined Tottenham? He was voted PFA young footballer of the year many moons ago but he needs to let that go, and sort out his eyebrow expressions during interviews. He comes across as untrustworthy. I don't like him but respect him when he's on his game.
Behrami, this one's simple....... Hammer of the year.
Cole, great first touch and good at holding up the ball. It puzzles me why West Ham always go for this sort of player upfront in recent history. Top teams don't seem to need a holding striker who best attribute is keeping the ball and little else. I used to call him "Back to goal Cole" but I can't knock his recent form and effort. Well played Carlton. Di Michele, I think a seasons loan is all he'll be getting!''
03:17PM 26th Feb 2009
''That was easily one of the most disappointing performances I have ever seen.
Why is it that Cole can put on one bad performance after another and not sit on the bench? The man has absolutely zero feel for the ball and when he does get his two left feet on it he stumbles around like an amateur. If he isn't offside he trips over the ball.
Sears looked decent last night but he is lacking the confidence and league experience to steal the show up front and the defense, well, what defense was there? They left Green hanging time and time again.
Parker and Behrami know how to work hard from start to finish, why doesn't the rest of the team get it? Those two really are a treat to watch. They don't mind getting in there and mixing it up.
All I can really say is that Bellamy is going to have a field day if they play the same way against Man City :(''
by Alex P
02:01PM 26th Feb 2009
''We cannot score goals.
Diego Tristan is a joke, he is not worth a penny; my sunday team striker would give a better option than this past-it old timer! Di Michele is the most frustrating striker ever to wear the claret & blue colours. The guy gets in the positions, but simply cant score or even worse makes the wrong decision.
I thought we were turning the corner but there is still a way to go; a striker that scores goals and a nippy right-back would do for a start.''
12:33PM 26th Feb 2009
''Lessons learned - Sears too easily brushed aside and needs more upper body strength if played in a central role - not yet ready based on last night; Kovac unbalanced the midfield forcing Parker in to the hole behind the front two- difficult to see Kovac in a midfield with Parker as they duplicate and Noble not comfortable wide; cental diamond does not always work especially if passing not 100% - we need width options and Savio should have been added ahead of Tristan once failure of diamond was obvious; we are fragile if anyone goes missing or gets injured or suspended (look at the bench - after that we just have youth team backup). Still I'll be there to grumble or cheer on Saturday and welcome back Bellars with a suitable refrain.''
11:27AM 26th Feb 2009
''Completely agree with the comment below from Lee - only Green and Parker deserved any credit. Cole didn't have an awful game, but he just had no real service. Tristan and Di Michele were absymal, both of them had no first touch and couldn't pass to save their lives....and Lucas Neill is a waste of space who shouldn't even be at the Club, let alone the Club Captain - get him out and give Parker the armband!''
by rugby irons
10:59AM 26th Feb 2009
''Carlton Cole is the principal reason we are so poor. Last night he did nothing for 15 minutes and then only to commit a foul and then get offside, again. He is useless and without a decent hardworking frontman the rest of the team falter. How is Freddie going to get any better with such a lightweight centre forward next to him?
Cole is affecting everything. He is the reason we are in trouble. Apart from a few lucky weeks, he is rubbish and a leopard doesn't change it spots. For most of the players it was a bad night off, but some are having more than others.Losing so tamely has left a bad taste and plenty to worry about. ''
10:00AM 26th Feb 2009
''I'm so disappointed by the 'effort' West Ham seemed not to put in last night. Kovac - Possibly not match fit, looked so nervous. Tomkins and Sears - Too lightweight, send them both to the Championship for experience. The only two for me that seemed to come out with any credit were Parker and Green.
Also, very disappointed that only a handful of the players acknowledged the fans at the end... Again, Green, Parker, Cole and Upson. I know it was free travel but people still made sacrifices!''
by Brian Eve
08:52AM 26th Feb 2009
''For the second game running Green is beaten by a free kick. So the question is, when there is a known good striker of the ball playing (Taylor last week, Downing, CheatingDivingRonaldo), then wht not put a man on the post? It may not do anything but at least it gives the taker something to think about and less of a space to aim for. Certain players just didn't turn up last night and I am dreading my journey to Upton Park on Sunday for the return of Bellamy and a welcome to Robinho - if our midfield go missing in that game we are going to be torn apart. Well done to the 4,000 fans that made the long slog to the north east, you are a credit to West Ham United.''
08:37AM 26th Feb 2009
''It wasn’t the defeat itself that is still causing me so much anger this morning; it was the manner of the defeat. There was no passion, no fight and certainly no crunching tackles. NOTHING. What is going on?
If only those players could half match the passion shown by the fans at both matches against Middlesbrough…
Look at the superb support we took to the Riverside last night; outsung the home support (albeit in a half empty stadium) for the whole match.
All them fans travelling all that way on a school night…and for what, to be embarrassed by their team, embarrassed by a performance of such ill-discipline with such a lack of determination and passion.
I for one would rather lose 4-0 but with the team fighting for every ball, battling for every header, every corner; but in the last two games there has been nothing, just a weak feeble whimper from a team that has pushed the best in the land, Man United so close in recent weeks.
It's quite a simple thing, run yourself into the ground for the cause, make tackles, do not just stand off and allow a team that is so so poor play the ball around you. The team had no width whatsoever, everything was channelled down the middle and it didn’t work in the first five minutes and was still not working in the last.
You have to hold your hands up and say their first goal was fantastic and good enough to grace any stage BUT it came from us allowing 'Boro to push forward onto us, penning us back with us making them look half decent.
I for one truly hope that this lack of fight and passion is addressed sooner rather than later and would like to see the management drilling this into the players on the training ground along with of course, the fluid fast passing football that they can produce when their minds are not elsewhere.
It is worrying to me that we have put in these last two performances and just hope that they are not a sign of things to come. COYI, show us the passion we know you have!
by Crunching Tackle
01:12AM 26th Feb 2009
''"Mark Noble [was] asked to play in unfamiliar territory"...yeh, the football pitch.''
comments powered by Disqus