Parker Shines as West Ham Rediscover Flair

Well he didn’t disappoint, did he? Ninety minutes of absolutely pulsating football, a game brimming over with excitement, three great goals, a team performance to savour, two players putting in their best ever performances for the club, a formation which was almost unfathomable, and a position where Lucas Neill looks comfortable. What more could a humble fan ask for?

The first thirty minutes was the best opening half an hour I can remember from a West Ham team. The tempo and fluidity of passing was astonishing. The tackling was first class and Newcastle looked as if they had wondered why they had bothered to turn up. Indeed, there was no period in the game when we really weakened. Although Newcastle found their feet a little more in the second half, especially after the Owen goal, we still didn’t really ever look as if we were under the cosh. And that was due in large part to the efforts of four players in particular – Scott Parker, Julien Faubert, Matt Etherington and Valon Behrami.

Parker was absolutley awesome today. He, Noble and Behrami controlled midfield. I had assumed Behrami would play on the wide right, but he had clearly been told to tuck in next to Parker, so we had a central midfield threesome which dominated the opposition. Faubert was immense at right back and looked completely at home, but as the game went on he got more space and bombed forward. He put in several very dangerous crosses and his tackling was hard.

Behrami got better as the game went on. He is slightly ungainly and awkward, yet his tenacity in chasing the ball often reaped great rewards. The watching Fabio Capello (who seems to have taken up residence at Upton Park) can only have been impressed by Parker. But I suspect he was also making copious notes about Matthew Etherington and Carlton Cole. Etherington was all over the place. For a lot of the game he drifted into the centre leaving the effervescent Di Michele wide left. I lost count of the times Matty ran at their defence and caused havoc. His goal was his just reward for one of his best games.

Carlton Cole also had his best ever game for the Hammers. He didn’t get a goal, but his efforts were worth one. His control was better and his running with the ball had Newcastle reeling on several occasions. He combined well with Di Michele too.

Di Michele. Well, where to start? He’s like a terrier which never gives up. There’s also a touch of the Di Canios about him. He controls the ball well and tackles as if his life depends on it. He took both his goals superbly and made the third for Etherington. What a debut, yet I still wouldn’t give him Man of the Match. That goes to Scott Parker.

I also like the look of Ilunga. He’s a tremendous athlete and very quick for a big guy. His passing was a little astray at times, but he’s better at going forward than McCartney was, and seems solid defensively too. Looks like a good buy.

Anyway, here are the scores on the doors…

Green 7
Neill 7
Upson 7
Ilunga 8
Faubert 9
Parker 9
Noble 7
Etherington 9
Behrami 8
Cole 9
Di Michele 9

Zola can be justifiably proud of himself. I cannot coneive of a performance like this under Alan Curbishley. On the evidence of his first game, Zola has put the flair back into West Ham. We can look forward with confidence, I think.

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43 Responses to Parker Shines as West Ham Rediscover Flair

  1. claire says:

    Spot on about Parker. He ran the show. Also Ethers who was creative, Parker/Behrami/Faubert/Noble – good combination. Great to see Cole using his height and finding some pace. Yes, he didn’t score but he looked the real deal as some of us in the BML have always said he could.
    Neill was better in the centre but gosh, when Newcastle , especially Duff, woke up in the second half, we didn’t get tight enough on them.
    HOW did Boa Morte miss that sittter, by the way?
    Di Michele – a mixture of magic and disaster. Certainly gave away the goal.
    Lots of positives, but three negatives:
    1) We looked fairly knackered at the end. Seemingly Zola had noticed this and let’s hope the new fitness coach will work on it.
    2) Newcastle were pretty poor, so we should have beaten them well and truly
    3) Bring back Jeremy Nicholas! We can’t hear the announcer, Bubbles isn’t played at the right time, the “music” is pants.
    Cheers
    Claire

  2. Dave Hall says:

    I was very impressed with Di Michele

  3. Chris says:

    And Quashie is going to Brum on loan! What a great day for West Ham!

  4. DevoDevo says:

    As soon as I saw the side, I liked what I saw. Myself and a few others on here have been calling for Faubert at RB with Behrami in front, who is much better in MF. Neill played well last week and was even better today at CB. I have a feeling that he couldn’t be @rsed under Curbishley.

    I thought Carlton Cole & Ilunga were outstanding last week and with another fine showing this week in front of Capello, Cole could be the next Heskey! After a torrid start to last season, Cole has shown bags of character and, in my opinion, should now be selected ahead of Ashton.

    Di Michele, showed glimpses last week of being an intelligent footballer and this was confirmed today.

    Watching the team ping the ball aorund and attack in numbers was like a throwback to the ‘good old days’.

    Only slight negative was the quality of the opposition, but if we can continue this form into some away games and get Bellamy & Dyer fit, we might challenge for a European spot after all.

  5. Pablo says:

    Just the start Zola needed; solid, flowing, attacking game. Loved fresh approach to formation and the players obviously want to play well for the new manager. I don’t think it’s too hard to ‘out-motivate’ Curbs, but Zola has an enthusiasm about him that hasn’t been seen in a long while at Upton Park. As Devo says, quality of opposition was not great and we shouldn’t get over excited, we still need defensive work and potentially a further purchase at centre back, but let’s see if Neill can produce a consistent game quality wise in that position over the course of the next few games. Di Michele looks very promising, a good fit for the type of football we all want to see, maybe Nani is in fact paying attention to our past and is actually picking players that fit the West Ham heritage ?

  6. Gorgonzola says:

    Parker and Faubert are crucial to the formation we played today; Faubert getting forward due to the extra space in front of him because of the 3-man midfield and Parker making up for that one short midfielder. I hope we can keep them two fit but I gathered from Zola’s interview that it’s not a formation he will use all the time i.e depends on the situation and opponents.

    Noble must improve the tracking back part of his game. He loses the opposing midfielders to easily outside our box. Ilunga looked good and Cole did very well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Capello calls him up instead of Crouch.

    Di Michele, he’s like a Di canio and Del Piero rolled into one. Can’t wait to see him with Asthon and Bellamy. I think he’s the type of striker that will miss a few chances so we’ll have to be patient with him sometimes but because he gets into so many good positions, he will as a result have a good scoring record.

    So far, though it’s been only one match, Zola’s appointment was everything I expected. Where are all the Zola haters!

  7. Prince H says:

    Lovely game. My favorite players this beautiful afternoon was Faubert and Ilunga. Rock solid, good goin forward. They both impressed me a lot. IT’s only his second gamein England, but who misses McCartney now? Clever passes from Ilunga too.
    Are we really sure that Bellamy and Ashton will be played when Cole and Di Michele are fit? I doubt it, if it will continue like this. Good to have competition here. Di Michele also a bargain, and Cole. Yes.
    Neill and Ethers did both their best games for ages. Lovely as well.
    I’m not that sure of Parker and Noble in the middle of the park though. Parker is fighting really hard but gives the ball away to often, and sometimes in really dangerous positions. A better team than Newcastle could easily have punished us.
    We have to remember that Newcastle is CC-standard today, the next fw games will prove how Zola/Clarke affects the team as a whole. But I really, really loved it today. Thanks to all players – and our new managers. And the board! Seems to be a bright future!

  8. Iain Dale says:

    Prince, you have to be joking. Parker was immense today.

  9. Plaistow54 says:

    Your summary of the match is spot on Iain. All of the players have responded to the enthusiasm & the style of play that Zola wants. Did you see him jumping & punching the air when we scored. Parker was all over Nicky Butt. Faubert kept Duff in check most of the time even though he was playing out of position. I hope Capello noticed Greens performance. Cole again, he causes so much trouble for defences even though he doesn’t put them away much & he is all over the park working. He needs to work on those high balls coming in. Di Michele cool as, could have had a hat trick. Ethers ran well, good performances too numerous to mention. Zola was gracious to Curbs in the post match interview. Early days, we will meet better sides than the Barcodes but that is the start we wanted. Confidence, positive thinking & the support of the fans means everything.

  10. chris says:

    WOW just got back from pub I’m not the man looking grim but the fella with a big smile, I said I couldn’t see us scoring how wrong I was!! people can say yeah but newcastle are crap but no way our football was magic just like the little man,so pleaseing to see pace in fullback positions and di michele was magic he has craft and a great touch cole was fantastic cant see deano getting back in just yet,parker was mom,wont Kane neil today thats unfair,Is this really all down to zola and clarke or just a bit of luck,who cares! after all the panic the board have come up trumps…..ilunga di michele curbs didnt want them…….yeah that figures!!!

  11. chris says:

    Told you months ago faubert was a fullback!!!!!!

  12. jon.london colney says:

    parker was brilliant,biriani was brilliant,ethers was brlliant,like i said earlier ian he needs games and look what you get?

    as for cole,who the hell is this cole as he aint the same player! he gets better every game ,just need 20 goals and hes the finished article.

    great start ,now lets keep it going.

    coyi

  13. SwedeHammers says:

    If we can keep this bunch away from the injury list, I think we are up for a happy season.
    As a team, I have not seen a more entertaining first half in years. Now let’s hope Zola can get them fit to last 90 minutes!!!

    C’mon you Irons

  14. salmon79 says:

    Agree with most of your comments. First time in 18-24 months since I last enjoyed football like that at UP.

    Parker, Cole, Neill I thought were excellent today, especially Parker and Cole – Capello take note.

    Not sure on Ilunga defensively though, still early days however looks short of match fitness to me.

    Boa Morte!!! I can only hope it’s his last game.

  15. Frank Lampard's beatific face says:

    Congratulations. Barcodes were dire but Zola has started brilliantly. I can’t believe I’m saying this… but I’ll be keeping an eye out for Spam results from hereon out. Heresy for a Chelsea fan as we didn’t give a fyyyuck before but I’m sure many Chelsea are (secretly) doing the same now. Clarke and Zola make it very compelling for us broadminded lot. Maybe you’ll forgive Frank in time?

  16. Connor says:

    Noble deserved 10.

  17. jon.london colney says:

    no chance,im still hungry after he ate the last pie !!

  18. The Headmaster says:

    It was superb although I would tend to want to err on the side of cautious optimism tempered with the realisation that the opposition were poor. This was a fabulous start for Zola and the boys and a pleasure to watch but let’s not do the usual thing and get carried away!
    Additionally, I cannot go with the ‘Llunga was superb’ view – he gave the ball away and got lucky on more than one occasion and would have been punished by a better team.
    Additionally, we were very left sided to day with Behrami being pulled into the middle. Often Faubert had no outlet whatsoever on the right side of midfield.
    I felt for LBM to be honest. The shameful booing of a player as he enters the field is in my view reprehensible. How many of us would feel like doing our own jobs if everyday when we turned up for work we were being undermined by the very people who were supposed to be on our side?

  19. hammeredcalv says:

    I was aware of just how good a certain mr di michele is,as i stated in a previuos blog when we first signed him, i watch him tear us apart when we played Palermo in sicily, he will be a star for us hammers,llunga will get better with fitness,and will offer us more than linda ever could, yes Newcastle were poor,however we played some very good flowing football for a change, Zola and Clarke have achieved an awful lot in a week,imagine what they can achieve ina year or two!!? can people get off boa”s back please,the guy needs confidence not booing !! you boo boys are not true hammers in my book so ffs find yourselves another club,or start supporting all our players!!nuf said.

  20. irontc says:

    Great day out yesterday. Sun was bright on the East side.

    Do we think De Michelle meant to cross the ball to Ethers for third goal or was it
    a fluffed shot? I cant make up my mind? Not that it really matters, but if it was a cross it was fantastic.

    We need a free kicker!

  21. Ian the Hammer says:

    Lets not get carried away now people. A great performance it was indeed but NU are very poor at the moment. Cole needs to score more but maybe the time is right to sell Ashton. He’s never fit & when playing does’nt cover the ground that Cole does. If we can double our money on him & get Bell’s fit I’m not sure we need him.
    As for LBM, I would feel sorry for him if he didnt continue to put himself ahead of the team, what about the ridiculous atempt with the outside of his foot when others were placed in much better positions. He has to work twice as hard as the rest to get back onside with us. He has been a complete joke since arriving at our club & whenever I see him play still alienates himself from the majority.
    Anyway, well done GZ for getting us off to a flying start, his humility in recognising what AC had done before him & honesty is so refreshing I feel even if we aren’t the most succesful team in the country, with GZ we’ll have the most liked manager! Cant wait to see him after we’ve beaten chelski

  22. Hammered in Singapore says:

    There were times to day when Zola came out of the dugout to tell the players, “keep the ball down, pass it.” And they did. Yesterday there were very few long hopeful punts up field. Instead we had a team passing the ball really well, good movement off the ball and we saw confidence on the ball too. What a transformation.

    The new formation helped too. Etherington: instead of being marooned wide left, as often is the case, he was given license to come in and run at the defenders from all angles creating all kinds of possibilities. Noble’s link play was excellent. His pass for the second goal just split their defense. Where Zola had him playing today allows him to play the game he was playing when he linked so well with Tevez in the run up to end of ‘that season.’

    As you said, Parker was fantastic, in defense and in supplying the creative in the midfield. In limping off I hope it’s a small knock rather than another layoff. But for me Cole was the most impressive. If he can now add goals to his game he’ll be a most impressive forward, big, fast, skillful and immensely strong.

    I particularly liked the way we kept pressing forward. There was a time a short while ago when we would have tried to kill the game and in doing so let a team back into the match. Yesterday was different and long may it last.

  23. Bakunin says:

    …”The first thirty minutes was the best opening half an hour I can remember from a West Ham team”…
    Behave Iain. That sentence suggests you’re a very recent convert to West Ham then. I can recall untold better performances in the first half hour. I’m willing to accept a certain level of journo exagerration, but purlease.
    Anyway, Capello was there to run the rule over Owen, but i’m certain he ended up putting a few ticks next to Coles name as well. 17 games without a clean sheet, though not just Greens fault entirely, does him no favours in regard to England.
    In midweek Zola mentioned about the team flagging in the last 20 minutes, both physically and mentally, which is what let West Brom snatch the win. Again yesterday on 65 minutes that’s exactly what happened again, but this time they were alerted to the fact and picked it up again.
    Boa Morte, i believe, with the goal at his mercy had a split second where everything negative of the last year flashed through his mind and so too did thoughts of redemption, this increased the pressure on him at the vital moment and he snatched at it. well that’s my theory. I think his attacking instincts were seriously curbed under Curbs (pun intended) and as such this restraint caused him frustration which resulted in sending offs and poor performances etc, he will be a revelation under Zola, like the whole team will.
    Curbishley made a point last week of going on record as saying that the new signings were nothing to do with him, thanks for the heads up Curbs, we now know Nani is more astute than you in the transfer market then, which bodes well for the future i think. Still a lot of work needed, especially regarding the clean sheets, but it’s a good start. Ciao.

  24. Gorgonzola says:

    People should just get off Boa Mortes back. Half the mistakes he makes is because he is under pressure all the time due to the fact everything he does is put under the microscope and that he is booed even before he comes on the pitch. Would anyone here seriously be able to play their natural game in that situation? No!

    All the people that boo are either yobs or bloody ignorant. Boa Morte is a human being. I give Iain credit for not slaying him this time although his posts in the past have done nothing to prevent the situation that we now find ourselves in in regards to the treatment of our own player. It’s sad.

    The people that do this would be ashamed of themselves if they met him face to face because they would have no answer to the question of why they do what they do.

  25. Pablo says:

    I agree Bakunin, however, you have to go back a bloody long way ! I think our Trev and Bonzo were playing ;o)

  26. Biffo the bear says:

    The difference in just a week is amazing. Some players who I thought were ok but nothing special have been given the freedom to express themselves and must be over the moon to have Zola as their boss.

    I do agree that we shouldn’t get too carried away as Newcastle are complete shite, but having said that still have some quality players.

    So glad to see the end of the long punt upfield from the keeper.

    Mr Curbishley seems to have gone to great lengths to let everyone know that he didn’t have anything to do with the signings of Di Michele and Ilunga, apparently him and Mervyn had a look at Di Michele and didn’t like the look of him.

    Ok, so you don’t like a striker who’s got pace and strength and skill on the ball, doesn’t lose his head in the box, composure and the willingness to track back.

    Says it all really.

    We did tire in the last 20 minutes, not sure how long it takes to get that extra fitness. Took me a while to be able to have those few extra pints after the Sambucca shots, but practice and dedication and I’m there now!

    I’ll be very interested to see how we play at Fulham, which is a game I normally go to but £48 is takin the piss so I’m giving it a miss this year.

    Nice to see the Chelsea guy putting his comments on here. At last we seem to be about to get the football we’ve always wanted.

    I have to say I was very worried during the close season, all was quiet from the board and things did not look good. I think they’ve handled the whole thing very well. Shame about their response to having the Bobby Moore charity on the shirts, I thought that was a great opportunity, even just for the one game and then have the shirts on sale in the shop afterwards, would have made a great gesture and generated money for both the club and the charity, but hey.

  27. Plaistow54 says:

    Iain, I read that brief article, jlc. Could be a Tottenham supporter. With the players he mentioned, he is miles offside. We do have a big squad, somewhere in the mid thirties with Jack Jeffery on loan to Leyton Orient i think it is. There is room to trim but not the players he is talking about. Duxbury says we are buying in January. If justice is done next week in court, i would think that is correct, Nani & Zola are already looking in Seria A. Miles to go yet, but we are facing in the right direction for sure.

  28. Upton Spark says:

    I can’t really believe this will last?
    West Ham playing the old way,with bright exciting football. Cole actually looking like a centre forward.
    I was really excited by the midfield,Parker and Ethers looking the pick.
    I hear that Zola is after a 12 mill midfielder from Italy.
    Can’t wait for the next game.

  29. brooking still the best says:

    Great day, whatever way you want to look at it. The barcodes are a poor side? well yeah but there is alot worse sides then them in the league dispite their current situation.

    Curbs didn’t want Ilunga, if i was a winger, I wouldn’t want to take the piss out of him! He looked good and when he gets fully up to speed of the premiership, I think we will have a real player. Di Michele, what a home debut!
    It’s only Zola’s first week in charge, but if the team continues to improve like this, then who knows? Must not get to carried away, but I am for the first time in ages looking forward with proper excitement and optimism. If Bellamy, Ashton and Dyer ever do manage to get fit…. I know a big IF.

    It was only a couple of weeks ago I was thinking why we was employing Nani. I now know!

  30. Van Der Elst says:

    Only saw the highlights but thought Cole looked surprisingly good. Very surprisingly good.

  31. Upton Spark says:

    Just to say that I was very upset at the mindless morons at West Ham yesterday as they booed the arrival of Steve Clarke.
    We don’t want that sort of support as the bloke hasn’t even had a chance to do much yet. Everyone can’t be wrong about him being a really brilliant coach,so why boo him?
    Is it just because he comes from Chelsea? Is it because he is Scottish?
    These same people who booed him, have never thought of changing their jobs I suppose? Get with it you idiots and give him a chance.
    As for Zola;he is just CLASS!!

  32. Plaistow54 says:

    Yeah, unbelievable isn’t it. We move forward both in style & enthusiasm & some people are still not happy. Clarkes record speaks for itself. He looks like a big strong lad. I hope he puts it in perspective. There are plenty of good West Ham boys who are behind both of them. There is always rivalry in football, of course, it’s a competitive sport, but some mindless individuals just want to cut their nose off to spite their face. Stop it.

  33. PETER,G says:

    well said upton spark, this man can only be a big bonus for us,…. happy days are here again. 5 of our players got a rating of 9 and the rest got 8 and 7…………….thats a new 1 on me, COYI

  34. Goatygav says:

    All round superb performance. The new boys looked fantastic – both Ilunga and Di Michele have a bit of class about them. I won’t get too excited as it’s early days and we were at home to one of the worst sides in the division however the early signs are very encouraging.

    I’d like to see us do well in the Cups so I’m hoping for a first away win of the season this week.

    As for those booing Steve Clarke – the bloke’s at our club now – I really like his style. He hasn’t come in saying this and that – in fact there were about 3 sentances – one of which was to state his respect for our fans – doesn’t that say something about how he views our support compared to Chelsea’s? He’s going to do very well for us so, to those who are on his case, get behind him and he’ll repay us tenfold.

    COYI!!!!!!

  35. E1 says:

    Sorry , I don’t agree with the statments regarding ehtrington he drifted in and out of the game and his defensive duties were ignored thats why llunga was under more pressure, he will be a make weight until changes can be made or we get bellamy back, the system looks good though and if neill can be consistant we could well be looking at a few clean sheets.The squad so I hear is to be reduced to around 22 to 25 so some of the younger players may drop down again or go out on loan, we will need a bit more quality and depth if we are to push on , What a great day it was and we have at something to look forward to A GREAT FUTURE !!!! COYI

  36. Goatygav says:

    Not so sure I agree that our Youth players not making it through will be part of A GREAT FUTURE E1. I’d like to see us continue to give Tony Carr’s academy players the chance to show what they can do in the first team rather than just buy established palyers in from other clubs. I believe the young players will stay with our first team squad.

  37. E1 says:

    Goatygav Only some of the younsters may be moved around they will still be brought through, but I feel that the club will want to make big steps this season and experience will probably be the way they go Long term I hope we will see more and more home grown talent coming through and STAYING , this will take time and we need succsess in order for them to want to stay. A Great future both short and long term. If we are only to have a small squad then can we push on this season with what we have ? I Agree with you Goaty we need to keep the academy players involved and I feel the same way but are they all (at the moment) worthy of a place in the first team squad. We have 7 at the moment in 31 man squad if you take out the deadwood , davenport, bowyer, quashie, spector, walker, lbm,gabbidon, collins and ethrington thats 16 and we are left with only 15, 3 are injury prone bellamey Dyer and ashton leaves us with 12 experinced players 3 youth players that have proved a point sears tomkins and reid takes us back to 18, we are still looking at needing 4 to 6 more players, the youngsters will only get better but going on loan may be a better option at the moment. Time will tell but I still feel confident the club will in time bring more and more younsters in and through, but will be looking for more experience sort term.

  38. Dominic - Malta Hammer says:

    GZ made a couple of changes we really needed. Behrami and Faubert both deserve to start so moving Neill in the centre of defence meant that were both on the pitch.
    He left out Devenport, who was being rolled all the time when marking opposing attackers.
    Anyone notice CC’s work rate compared to Ashton? It’s a blesssing that he is out. We do not miss him a bit. I am sure that Cole and Bellamy will be our best partnership, with either Matty or Di Michela giving a hand to the front men.
    I also heard that GZ said we need a creative midfielder. If so he was spot on.
    Looks like than man knows what he’s doing.
    COYI – we can make it in the top 7.

  39. JJ says:

    I agree with everything you said but we have to remember that we were up against a team/club in shambles. I can´t see us performing like that if Zola´s debut was against Pompey or Villa.
    But yes, it was very promising and leaves me so anxious for the next match!

  40. WHU Kim says:

    How many times haver we lost to clubs that we should have beaten though. Let’s not lesson the performance just because Newcastle are in dissarray, they still had good players out on the pitch. That was the first time our side had played that formation, with new players and other players playing in new positions. I hadn’t heard the boos for Clarke, a shame that as I think his signing is the key to Zola’s success at manager.

  41. brooking still the best says:

    If anyone did Boo clarke, they should piss off down to the Orient or even worse, white fart lane. They dont deserve to be supporting a club that just might be looking upwards.

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