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Sunday, 17th September 2000

West Ham United 1
Liverpool 1

by Adam Makepeace

1-1 was the result at Upton Park today. Another game, another under acheivement and another "we played very well just didn't score enough goals" or words to that effect from Harry. Quite how long this has to continue I don't know but I'm getting thoroughly sick of it.

How he has the arrogance to say the board won't get twitchy I have no idea. If we are in this position in another four games or so there will be a lot more people than the board getting twitchy. After all, we will be 1/4 of the way through the season and bottom of the table with supposedly the best squad at Upton Park ever. According to Harry, even better than when Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters brought the FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup to Upton Park or when the likes of Cottee and McAvenie in the peak of their careers almost brought the championship itself to E13 just 15 years ago.

Onto the match and we lined up with our usual Grandads in defence. Stuart Pearce, Winterburn and Stimac. Rio Ferdinand being the only player under 32 apart from Sinclair as wing-back. The midfield consisted of Lomas, Cole and Carrick and it was the weakest midfield I've seen us field for some considerable time now. In attack, Di Canio and Kanoute. Neither of these two are out and out hitmen, certainly not Di Canio and it showed.

We were behind just ten minutes into the match. Good run by Murphy followed by a low cross across the face of goal which nobody dealt with and eventually ended up falling to the seemingly unmarked Gerrard on the far post who stuck it home to make it 1-0 to Liverpool.

For much of the first half we played some neat football. Neat football that was getting us f*cking nowhere. Good build ups, Joe Cole displaying the kind of skills that will very shortly earn him an England call up I'm sure but nobody who could put the ball in the back of the net.

Di Canio, Cole and Kanoute missed a few chances between them and the answer to our problems are quite clear really. We are crying out for a John Hartson or a Tony Cottee. Someone who knows where the goal is, somebody who doesn't necessarily f*ck about with silky skills, just has the natural ability to stick the ball in the net. Davor Suker may be the answer to our problems but he hasn't shown it so far.

We had enjoyed the large majority of possession in the first half and the second half was much the same although Harry had obviously given them a deserved kick up the a*se at half time and we looked more hungry for a goal.

It eventually came when a penalty was awarded for a foul on Kanoute 6 yards out. A definite penalty and an opportunity he should have scored from had he not been brought down. Di Canio tucked away the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way whilst rolling the ball into the left hand corner for the equaliser.

We spent the remainder of the game searching for a winner that never came. Admittedly, the effort was there but once again we just couldn't find the back of the net and on the odd occasion Liverpool managed a break our defence was still looking frail although Ferdinand was solid throughout.

On the final whistle the overall consensus was one of disappointment although there was some applause from our fans. We remain routed to the bottom of the table however and in desperate need of points. Harry once again gave a post match interview in which he said that we played very well and he was pleased with our performance seemingly forgetting that according to the table we are the worst team in the league.

Half our problem lies with the fact we are fielding players carrying injuries, the other half being we can't score enough goals of course. I couldn't work out why Sinclair was not at his best today until Harry revealed that Trevor along with Rio and Kanoute had been carrying injuries and had not even trained all week. In that case they should not be playing. We do have a certain amount of cover or at least we did until Harry shipped out Kitson on loan for instance.

If Sinclair is injured then he should (finally) give Newton a chance. Rio on the other hand I thought was our best defender and didn't look to be carrying an injury at all. Putting him through 90 minutes with the likes of Potts on the bench is only going to aggravate his injury however. Harry complains about always having too many injuries and then risks prolonging them.

And on the issue of substitutes btw he picks a bench consisting of a goal keeper and 4 defenders. Just what is he on?? We need a change of formation and we need a hitman. A midfield consisting of Cole, Carrick and Lomas is never going to work. They are always outnumbered for a start. Cole is an attacking midfielder and his job is to create chances and generally feed the two strikers. That leaves just Lomas and Carrick to battle it out with the opposition's midfield.

With a 4-4-2 formation we will become much more solid particularly in this area and Cole will be relieved more of his duties in midfield and be given more of a free role between midfield and attack. An extra man in defence may also help tighten things up a bit more in that area. It would also be great to see Sinclair playing on the right of midfield as winger and not a wing-back for once as I think this is his best position.

Our current team is not suited to wing-backs and three in midfield and this where Harry seems tactically weak to me in that he cannot see this and correct things.

We face Walsall at the Bescot in midweek now and I'm sure it will be the same old story. I'm going for 1-0 to them with the hope of a recovery at the home leg if we can manage not to field a few ineligible players this time.

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