Derby Match Report: A Curate’s Egg

This was a perversely enjoyable game, which kind of summed up our entire season. Good in parts, awful in others. Derby were better than expected – very committed but lacking any real invention. When Robbie Savage is relied upon for set pieces, you know you are in trouble. In truth, West Ham could have won this 4-1 or 5-1 with several clear chances going begging. On the other hand, Derby nearly snatched an equaliser at the end. So, let’s look at the plus points.

The biggest revelation for me was the performance of James Tomkins. Indeed, I would rate him as man of the match. He was assured, confident and looked completely at home. He must have touched the ball at least twice as often as his partner in central defence, Lucas Neill. He has a great balance about him. At first, his loping style reminded me a bit of Elliott Ward, but there’s also a touch of the Rio Ferdinands about him. Make no mistake, we have discovered a diamond here. It wouldn’t surprise me if he became a regular next season.

Elsewhere in defence Lucas Neill had a quiet game, but was reasonably solid. I still think this is his best position. His replacement at right back John Pantsil had an average game. It has to be said that he is better in attack. He made a superb daisy cutter through ball towards the end which nearly resulted in a goal. George McCartney had a quieter game. He’s certainly a contender for Hammer of the Year, but I wish he’d get more confidence in the final third.

In midfield, both Parker and Noble put in strong performances. These two are clearly our first choice central midfield, but they have played very few games together so far -this was only the third. My only worry is that they are very similar players – both tenacious, hard tacklers. Noble is slightly more creative, but perhaps they are too samey to be a successful midfield duo? We’ll find out next season.

For the first time for a long time we played with two out and out wingers. At times we were playing 4-2-4. Ljungberg got better as the game went on. Unfortunately he was at fault for being offside when Zamora scored a goal that had to be disallowed. He had some brilliant interplay with Noble before haring off down the left to cross for Carlton Cole to score the winning goal. Freddie is not my favourite player and I have to say I won’t be heartbroken if he goes during the summer, but credit to him for some of his work today. Julien Faubert was a little diappointing. He played in several good crosses in the first quarter of an hour and his a rasping twenty five yeard shot and I saw enough to believe he’s the real deal, but I wasn’t surprised when he was subbed. He’s coming back after a bad injury and needs games.

I presume Dean Ashton was ill or injured, but Bobby Zamora had a good game. Yes, the frustrations we all know about were still self evident, but nevertheless he did well in winning headers and holding the ball up and took his goal well. Freddie Sears, however, was a different story. I’m afraid he was not at the races today. He barely touched the ball in the first half and when he did have it he looked strangely hesitant. I thought he was subbed at exactly the right time. Parts of the crowd actually booed Carlton Cole onto the pitch which I found reprehensible. “You don’t know what you’re doing” rang out around the ground, suggesting the Curbishley should have kept Sears on the pitch. I was incredulous. And then a few minutes later Carlton Cole rammed their words right down their idiotic throats.

Robert Green was in superb form, making two world class saves. The one he made at the feet of Tyrone Mears was incredible. Certainly England class.

I want to sing the praises of the Derby fans. They have had to put up with a lot this season but they were loud and proud today. Whenever they got a corner it was as if they had scored. They sang throughout the game and were undoubtedly the best away fans we have had at Upton Park this season.

A final word about the referee, Steve Tanner, who I thought had a fantastic game. And it’s not often I say that. He was in complete command throughout. And so to the points…

Green 8
McCartney 7
Neill 6
Tomkins 9
Pantsil 6
Noble 8
Parker 7
Ljungberg 7
Faubert 6
Sears 5
Zamora 7


26 Responses to Derby Match Report: A Curate’s Egg

  1. claire says:

    Agree with most of this – but iI thought Parker was ineffective, and it was Boa Morte, not Cole, who was booed when he came on (at least from where I was in the Bobby Moore Lower). Tomkins MOTM definitely, but Zamora- although clearly knackered- played well and never stopped trying.
    A word about Solano – came on as sub and showed his class passing and crossing. He’d have set up 2 goals for us had we managed to get the ball in the net.
    All in all, we played too deep and Derby took advantage of that and almost stole it from us early in the second half. However, they’re as sad a side as their fans are brilliant.

  2. DaDon says:

    Hmm. Got to disagree on a few points. Firstly, the crowd weren’t booing Carlton coming on, they were booing Sears coming off. Secondly, I thought the ref had a poor game. he should have sent Savage off for pulling down Ljungberg on the edge of the box, and he was absurdly inconsistent on what constituted a foul. His booking of Noble was also ridiculous. Tanner is one of my least favourite refs and he’s been poor on every occasion I’ve seen him.

    I also think you’ve been hard on Sears particularly given that he didn’t get a single decent pass. He always looked lively and gave their defence plenty to think about.

    It’s also very interesting that you chose not to mention the booing of LBM coming on which was far more vociferous and far, far more reprehensible. He’s not my favourite player but to boo him like that before he’s even kicked the ball is excessive and counter-productive.

    Tomkins was excellent though, particularly given how many times he was played into trouble by his fellow defenders. Definitely got a bright future if he can stay clear of injuries. Which is a bit difficult it would seen if you play for us.

    Another big plus for me was that Mullins was dropped, and in the first half at least, it showed as there was more snap and more rapidity passing than we’ve seen in a long time.

    Overall I thought we just about deserved to win but we could have easily lost today. I’m pretty sure that it’s the first time I’ve ever heard the crowd boo at the end of a victory, but it’s sign of how low we’ve sunk. I’ve just seen Curbs’ oh-so-predictable post-match interview and he’s singing off the same old hymn sheet – we’ve avoided relegation therefore the season’s a success. With that kind of ambition we’re destined for another 20+ years of bugger all.

    How depressing.

  3. DaDon says:

    Just seen Claire’s post and I’ve got to add that I thought Parker was far from ineffective – I lost count of the number of tackles he won and he’s staring to express his authority. He’s also brilliant in tight situations and almost never loses the ball under pressure. He’s still got to get his passing game going, true, but give the guy a break he’s been injured most of the season.

  4. colney says:

    i was on talk sport tonight trying to justify why some whu fan boo there team.we were getting slatted and made to look stupid so i had to give the northern monkey terry(i have a terrible voice) christian i bit of stick.

    Let me get this straight.I tottaly disagree with booing however we pay to watch WEST HAM football.simple,were not getting it.

    ok the two wingers are coming back from injury however the two defenders behind them havent !! not once did i see either overlapping there crippled partners ?

    Lundgerg gave up playing on the left and just sat in zammoras position by the end.we were so lop sided sometimes today it made curbs look 3rd division.

    we want our west ham back and what ever or who ever it takes then so be it but f,in do it quick please please please!

    this was a shocking game and you would never know who had just been relegated.

    ps parker was brilliant,fred should not start yet,tomkins had a blinder,lundberg good bye,zamora has got to stay and can someone get matty back quick !!!!!

    finaly,we gained 2 points on the spuds,wahooooo !!!!

  5. Biffo the Bear says:

    i was also surprised when the “you don’t know what you’re doing” started to ring out, tried to start up a “he does know what he’s doing” after Cole scored but was on my own. Sears was out muscled by Derby’s big championship defenders and was brought off at the right time in my opinion. Not the best game but we’re back to winning ways. A much needed three points.

  6. Dave says:

    I cant wait for the season to end.Even with players back next season we need to bring in a striker who is consistent,plus a creative midfielder,and try and offload some players who dont belong in the claret and blue.Apart from that 3 points is 3 points

  7. Gee says:

    Right, for starters all our young players are inexperienced at best and might not make it all. As for our season, we have had huge injury problems. I for one, am happy with our position, tottenham spent hugely more and got less.

    And just exactly where do we belong, well i for one, think 10th is very special for us, out board has spent “relegation beating” money and got 10th, I think thet have had a result. As for fans the problem lies with injuries and a board that are looking for long term success.
    All i say to the critics is be realistic, injuries, mid table investment and when was the last time you saw exiciting football, I can’t remember and I’m 33 so when was this golden erea we should be aspiring too???!!

  8. OzzytheIron says:

    Agree with what you say, except:
    I found it quite a frustrating game,
    I thought Pantsill had a good/v. good game – 7/8 for me,
    sadly, i don’t think Noble and Parker together in midfield is a good idea at the moment,

    other than that, i was pretty annoyed when the ‘don’t know what you’re doing’ chants came out – Sears didn’t have a good game and Curbs got that pretty sopot on. and was also v. impressed by the Derby fans

    lastly i think we should all give Boa a break – give him a chance because he was great at fulham, and if he stays he could be very good here too.

  9. jonnyhammer says:

    I felt really sorry for Freddie Sears; he has bags of pace and a great touch and what do his team mates do ? They pump long balls to him when he is marked by a defender 6 inches taller!

    Nice game plan Curbs….

    Within five minutes of coming on Cole is presented with a ball on the floor in front of an open goal. Not taking anything away from Cole, he was great after coming on but Freddie must have wondered whose cat he had run over!

    Overall a cold, god was it cold, miserable game from my point of view. When Parker beat wo defenders on the wing, was in the clear with two men in the box to pass to, he headed for the corner. Summed up the whole game for me. Ye Gods….

  10. Dave says:

    i like many fans are comfortable with 10th but there is no excuse for playing dire football despite injuries.All the fans want his for more effort,afterall they pay enough to go these games and to watch players who earn more in one week than most of us do in a year.

  11. Hammerboy says:

    In my opinion we were awful. Few of our players earned an 8/10 rating performance in my opinion. Noble, Parker, Ljungberg and Tomkins stood out but it says something when you can only hear the murmuring of bored west ham fans.
    I hate the way we play Sears up front and never give him the ball, he made a few good runs but he needs to bulk up a bit and make up for his size.
    Credit where credit is due the Derby fans were very good despite their horrific season.
    When will we get rid of Curbs for goodness sake.

    An average performance from the Hammers and i find myself wondering whether the season ticket was worth it. Yes i do enjoy simply going to Upton Park, singing bubbles etc. but i’d rather we play good, interesting football and lose than we play awful football and pick up the odd point now and again.

    The ref had a shocking game to say the least and Savage should’ve been off after pulling Ljungberg down.

    Someone summed the game up for me when he shouted out “Curbishley you’re lucky they’re s*** too.”

    Another phrase was ” Neither team had anything to play for and it showed.”

    Prediction for the last 3 games: 1 point

  12. Imp says:

    I also felt sorry for Searsy. As the shortest man on the pitch he can’t be expected to miraculously pull down a ball hoofed 20 ft above his head.

    The ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ chant had nothing to do with bringing on Coley, I think we’d all agree that we needed some spark in attack, it took issue with the fact that Sears, the most lively of the two up front, was moronically taken off instead of Bobby Z, who at that point in the game looked extremely tired and became utterly ineffective.

    Curbs is a very lucky man, had Carlton not covered his arse by scoring, he would have had a hell of a lot more to answer for.

    In short, he got away with it…

  13. ironsmith says:

    Tomkins was the player who for me gave some real hope for the future. He looked relaxed and comfortable on the ball and with the experienced neill alongside who I thought was very good looked solid throughout and he can play football, his passing was excellent. Apart from that good news the only other plus was 3 points. Zamora scored a good goal but did nothing else for me and the reason that sears was ineffective was that he was playing off a poor striker and had ashton played you would immediately see the difference in sears’ game. I was delighted with curbs selection ie no mullins,LBM, cole to start and with the return of ashton, ferdinand, upson feel that with Ljungberg, Faubert, as wingers this is just about the best team. The booing by the less intelligent fans yesterday merely reflects very badly on the club so please refrain and get behind the team even if it is just to make sure we finish above spurs!

  14. richo says:

    Derby were dire and we were lucky to get the win. Just scraping victory over what is essentially a championship side isn’t good enough (especially at home).

  15. chris says:

    3 more points,but cant see us getting anymore now, still think the spuds will nick 10th,cant judge us on this game,derby are so poor!but we will need a fullback 2 midfielders that score! and defiantley a striker to do anything next season…IRONS!!!!

  16. Josh says:

    I was impressed by Ljungberg, maybe this weeks rumours about being forced out gave him the kick up the ass he needed, maybe it’s just the fact that now he’s playing for a transfer. Either way his movement and link up play with Noble was encouraging to see. We still lack that player who can make something happen from midfield but all the movement yesterday was a lot better.

    Sears was disapointing, hopefully Bellamy will have a fit season next year and we can afford to Loan Sears out to get him some experience playing in physical games.

    I still think that if our injury problems can be sorted out, a full pre-season for Ashton, Bellamy, Zamora, Faubert, Dyer, and Parker gives us a hell of an attacking force, one probably superior to the 5 clubs above us in the league right now.

  17. PeteH says:

    Ozzy what you on? were you watching the same game as everyone else? Pantsil is probably the worst full-back I’ve seen in a West Ham shirt. He gives the ball away alot and doesn’t seem to have any composure on the ball. I can see why Curbs is looking at new options.

    Iain totally agree on the Tomkins point, for his home full debut I thought that performance was impressive. He just seems to have something about him and he used the ball well. I can see him playing along side Upson next season and one of the reasons we get rid of Gabbidon.

    Going forward we look a bit like England, like to keep hold of the ball but have no cutting edge. We don’t seem to be able to change gear and lack directness which all the clubs above us have. We need to get in behind the opposition and have players that can go past people. The only time that happened we created good chances and if Deano wasn’t ill no doubt he would of been on the end of a number of those.

    We definately need to trim the squad of the average we have, keep hold of our big players and invest in 2 full-backs and a creative attacking midfielder………

  18. DevoDevo says:

    I have to laugh. This was a dire performance against possibly the worst side ever to have played in the premiership.

    Woeful stuff only lit up by the performance of Tomka.

    Green 7
    Paintsil 5
    Neill 5
    Tomka 8
    Linda 7
    Faubert 6 (can see potential when fit)
    Nobes 6 (not as good as you maintain. Iain)
    Parker 8 (capt in waiting)
    Freddie 7
    Z man 7 for trying (lacks quality)
    Sears 5 (looked lightweight)

    In conclusion, Curbishley gets away with another dreadful performance – I actually predicted 1-1 on here – the sooner we are rid of this clown the better we will be.

    Next season; if we get Dyer, Bellamy, Ashton and Faubert firing on all cylinders, then it might be a different matter. However, Curbishley will still plump for Spector and Neill over Tomkins.

  19. citizen79 says:

    Like a politician Curbs has put a tonne of spin on the weekend’s events and cannot get his head around the truth:

    Trying to make it seem that the fans are unappreciative towards the players who he says are doing a cracking job is completely avoiding the ACTUAL reason why a vast number of supporters in the Boleyn on Saturday booed and showed their anger towards the MANAGER and NOT the players.

    There is a massive difference to what Curbs thinks the fans are saying and what is actually the case, this just underlines the fact that he is not on the same wavelength as the fans as a lot of us thought he would be; being an ex player and West Ham through and through – just goes to show the old players don’t always make the best managers….

    We are grateful to those players that are performing; we all KNOW that the fans will have differing opinions and ideas on team selection and tactics etc, BUT 34,000 people can see when it isn’t working; take this weekend – Derby came out in the second half and put us under pressure, we were struggling, we needed a change, it was blatantly obvious, but it took us conceding a goal before curbs bothered to change things.

    THAT is what annoys most fans, another thing is the fact that he makes changes based on elapsed TIME – – like the 60 minute mark, NO MATTER what is happening in the game, he wont change it immediately, yes Carlton Cole scored, and yes we won, but it was the manner, the fact he again sticks with Boa Morte, Lucas Neil – –

    Derby are an Immensely POOR team, totally out of their depth in the premier league but they made us look average, that cannot happen!

    We are tenth, safe, but still we play conservative negative football………

    Things need to change.

  20. EastHammer says:

    8 for Noble – HOW?

    Iain, can we have honest marks please and cut out favouritism.


  21. Eric says:

    Newcastle is going to be tough. Spurs have Bolton and Reading. Many of you may disagree but i hope to see Bellamy back in there next season.

  22. Iain Dale says:

    EastHammer, I thought Noble had a really good game and marked him accordingly!

  23. Graybo says:

    Mid-table mediocrity or scraping out of the relegation zone in the last match of the season? Which are you happier with?
    Which is it to be?
    Make-your-mind-up time for the Upton Park crowd.
    Realistic expectations on the back of a season wrecked by injuries, please, people.

  24. pjd says:

    must admit in patches we played some decent football but,please someone tell me how zamora{yes i know he scored}can be in the side.he couldnt control a medicine ball.yes he tries but isnt he supposed to.again we had a patched up side so i didnt expect too much.tomkins was outstanding,i loved the way he brought the ball out and looked to pass to feet unlike most of the others.faubert put in some great crosses which zamora managed to get nowhere near.sears will get better but needs to be given the ball to feet.i thought that noble was pretty average and must stop giving the ball away.paintsil is just awful.parker is a good player who needs a partner.must admit earlier in the season him and mullins played well together.anyway almost forgot curbishley,i think he will be here next year ,hopefully he will actually attack as opposed to defend.much too negative especially against the poorer teams.well heres hoping for a decent game against the geordies.attack attack attack

  25. HammerRon says:

    I have never been so bored at UP as i was last saturday, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  26. DaDon says:

    Graybo – why does it have to be either/or? You talk about realistic expectations from the fans but was it not Curbishley himself as well as some players who went public and talked about ‘pushing on’ for a place in Europe? Given what’s happened since, who’s being unrealistic? How hollow do those words sound now?

    The headlines would suggest a decent enough season – 47 points, safety assured some time ago, all against a backdrop of a comedy run of injuries. However in 40 years of going to Upton Park, this season is the most bored I’ve ever been.

    I’ll tell you what my expectations are – that whoever is on the pitch gives their all and proves to me that he wears the shirt with pride. And not just the odd game, but every time they pull it on. Then if results go against us, we get beaten by better teams, then so be it. But right now too many players are phoning in their performances and putting in the bare minimum of effort – and Curbs is doing bugger all about it.

    Not one West Ham fan would have been surprised had we lost to Derby on Saturday, that’s how low we’ve sunk and that frankly is not good enough.

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