Stoke Match Report: Down With the Tottenham!

This is the sort of match which we often fail to get anything out of. But we came good in the end. It certainly wasn’t our best performance of the season, but we did deserve the three points. Stoke didn’t help themselves by self-combusting. They weren’t the worst team we will play this season, but despite being first to the ball a lot of the time, they failed to capitalise on the possession they had.

I can’t ever recall a player being sent off for hitting one of his own teammates, but that is what happened to Ricardo Fuller just as Stoke were kicking off following the West Ham goal. I suppose it’s this sort of thing that keeps us going to matches. Just when you think you have seen it all.

Our clear man of the match was Valon Behrami. What an engine he has. I don’t think I have ever seen a player like him. Tenacious is a word which hardly does him justice. He was all over the pitch and won the ball back countless times. When he first came to the club I thought he was a headless chicken, but he knows exactly what he is doing. I didn’t think I would ever admit a player deserved to keep Noble out of the team, but I will make an exception for Behrami.

Overall, the midfield had quite a good balance to it. Scott Parker was all over the pitch too, although too often his final ball was off beam. He takes too long to decide what to do with it and today missed the obvious ball on too many occasions. Luis Boa Morte had one of his better days today and in the second half gave the team some much needed width, although he still had an annoying tendency to drift infield. Jack Collison was superb again and quite why he was subbed is anyone’s guess. His tackling was effective and he was probably the most creative of the midfield four. He’s also not afraid to shoot.

With two of our defenders being changed (O’Neill and Davenport) I suppose it was inevitable that we looked shaky at the back on occasion. The Stoke goal came about because neither Faubert, nor Collins picked up Faye from the corner. Otherwise Collins was commanding in the air and had a good game. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for Julien Faubert, who has joined Carlton Cole as the crowd’s favourite whipping boy. At times he was simply awful, giving away possession too easily and being weak in the tackle. He fared a little better in his regular forays forward, but too often his crosses were misdirected.

Carlton Cole was largely anonymous in the first half and only really came to life after he scored. Confidence is a wonderful thing. The truth is he should have scored immediately after the Stoke goal. A poacher would have tucked away Collison’s cross without thinking twice. Cole blasted wide. But for all that, he was miles better than the totally ineffective David di Michele. Apart from a skilful cross, he contributed very little to the game and it was a mystery to us all when Zola substituted Tristan for Collison rather than di Michele.

Tristan again looked totally out of it after he on for the last 20 minutes. Yes, he scored, but it was quite a flukey goal. I couldn’t understand why Zola thought Tristan or di Michele were better bets than Freddie Sears. But why should I complain? We got three points and now sit in tenth place, just one win away from a European place. What a difference a week makes, eh?

Green 7
Ilunga 7
Upson 7
Collins 7
Faubert 5
Behrami 8
Collison 8
Boa Morte 6
Parker 6
Cole 6
di Michele 4

UPDATE: To all those Spurs fans leaving comments protesting (several using very homophobic language) at the headline to this article, your comments won’t get through moderation. So piss off.

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62 Responses to Stoke Match Report: Down With the Tottenham!

  1. chris says:

    Hope LBM comes good he has real pace,I would give him a 7 today.
    I know I shouldn’t complain but I’m still not convinced with cole,but hey 2 goals in 2 games we cant moan!!
    Agreed Iain di michele’s legs have gone after his shoelace moment I would of never played him again.
    Then theres Faubert who after playing a good game against portsmouth has another shocker!!!! going back to france,cant wait! I’ll drive him there myself.

  2. freddyfreddy says:

    I agree with everything said, apart from the particularly harsh criticism of di michele

    now I realise he was not our best player today, but to give him less than faubert is very harsh!

    he was average, but not poor in my opinion

  3. DagenhamHammer says:

    Getting really sick of the abuse Cole is getting from most of the people around me in the BML. We can all see he’s never going to score a shed load of goals but at least he’s giving it his all and not hiding in the treatment room like half of ’em. Despite what the table says tonight we are very much in a relegation battle and we need to get behind the team… ALL OF ‘EM! COYI!!

  4. 44hammer says:

    Agree with most of the article but Faubert was absolutely rubbish we must find a replacement for him as it looks as if he wants away anyhow. Matt Derbyshire at blackburn would be a useful low cost option.

  5. Dave Hall says:

    Dagenham Hammer. Every team below us is also in a relegation fight aswell as a couple of teams above us. What is promising is that this is two wins over the christmas period, which is good for confidence. And we have Bellamy back for the next game. Agreed, it wasn’t the greatest performance, but with the changes we had out there, we did ok. I agree with the comments about Cole, it’s not right getting on his back in the grounds, this will only pull him down and sap any confidence he is trying to build.

  6. gossy says:

    So can we now get behind Cole? Let’s face it he is all we have got at times, therefore the fans need to help get the best out of him. He has been instrumental in the 6 points that has made life look a lot better. Looking forward to a hopefully quiet transfer window.

  7. brooking still the best says:

    Not bad, not bad at all. This is West Ham so they was bound to make us sweat for the 2nd goal. It’s funny, unlike most game at home I was quite confident we was going to score today

  8. Big_Casino says:

    Good summise Iain…. just a few points to add:

    i) For me, Di Michele is barely a Championship player, let alone a Premiership one. Blatantly a desperation deadline day signing. The sooner we get rid, the better. What is perhaps most embarrassing is that Nani has come out and called him ‘a great player’ – if that is his genuine opinion, then I fear we may have appointed the wrong guy as director of football (a job that surely has to go to Trevor Brooking when he relinquishes his role with the FA)

    ii) Carlton Cole, for all his hard work, is not good enough in my opinion. His control, passing and finishing border on the obscene – but as things stand, he’s all we’ve really got… so as difficult as it is to bite my tongue, I am trying not to berate the guy too much – and credit where credit is due, he did score a good goal today.

    iii) Julien Faubert. How he ever got a £6m valuation is beyond me – if we can redeem half of that in January for him, I’ll be well chuffed.

    iv) Boa Morte. Good game today by Boa – in fact I think most of his contributions this season have been half decent. Keep it up Luis.

    v) Valon Behrami. A stick on for Hammer of the Year already. An absolute class act. Would like to see Zola start him in the middle more when Ethers and Dyer are back to give us width on both flanks.

    vi) Zola. Think he made a few strange selections and substitutions today. Di Michele shouldn’t even make our bench, let alone the starting eleven. I feel he should have started Freddie Sears – or at least brought him on at half time. But aside from that, we did win, and I do personally have faith in Zola/Clarke. I think they are the right people for the job – just hope the board don’t screw them over the way they did Curbs, and sell off the crown jewels in Jan.

    P.S – I have to say Stoke are the worse team I’ve seen in a long time, a very long time. I’ll say right now that they will finish bottom of this league come what May.

  9. LJ says:

    Carlton took his goal really well today and also made the winner.

    I too hope that means people will get off his back. What’s the point of demanding he does things that we know he can’t and never could? He works his back off, clears on the line, keeps the ball well and shoots when he can. He’s not worse than Marlon was is he?

    Also he’s not delusional about his ability unlike Monsieur Faubert who should be feeling like the proverbial football parrot after that display.

  10. DevoDevo says:

    Posted my initial feelings and ratings on other thread, but I have to say that Big Casino seems to think exactly the same as myself and my ratings confirm this.

    I have posted on here more than once that LBM has done well for us this year and today many of the ‘clever’ passes were made by him. Shame he couldn’t score when Sorenson got a hand to his shot, but I’ll say it again, he has a part to play for us. It’s evident that Iliunga gets forward much more when he has LBM in front of him.

    For me, Collison is the most accomplished of all our midfield players, including the excellent Behrami and should be the central midfielder alongside Parker (poor distribution today, but invaluable tackler). Dyer’s return will pose a nice connundrum for Zola come the new year.

    As for Stoke; I thought they were a disgrace to the Premier league and can’t wait to see the back of them.

    Europe here we come.

  11. Hamster says:

    Iain

    I have to say sometimes I do wonder if you watch the games?! I have to disagree with you and Big Casino on a few points.

    1. I think Boa was our best player today by far. Behrami was great (Noble will never be as good) as always but Boa floating around gave us something different today. So my MOTM.

    2. Collison had a good game, but he is far better than Noble.

    3. Di Michele had a good game and is certainly not a championship player. Sears’ time will come.

  12. DaDon says:

    Di Michele barely a championship player? This kind of nonsense undermines any other opinion you might express here. And Iain, to give DDM a four and less than JF is absurd. Di Michele is past his best, no doubt, but he still did a lot of good things today and was making a lot of space for himself, it’s hardly his fault that our indecisive midfield weren’t able to find him. He was involved in our winner and on another day might have scored himself. It’s hard to judge players fairly when they come on for a few minutes here and there, they need a run in the team to show their worth.

    JF, on the other hand has had plenty of opportunities to prove himself and has proved that he, if anyone, is barely a championship player. I doubt if anyone in the championship gives the ball away half as much as he does, even when not under pressure. If anyone deserves our derision it’s him.

    CC is infuriating, absolutely, but he has to be given credit for keeping going and he does a lot of good stuff outside the box – he has good control and can pass the ball well enough – his real problem is no killer instinct in the area He’s an OK player who could become a good one in time, clearly some of the emphasis on finishing in training has started to pay off although we need to see more.

    One last thing – whatever you may think of Di Michele, Nani also brought in Behrami and Ilunga and has an amazing track record of finding players (including Toni and Pirlo). If you’re going to slate him, you’ve got to make a better case than that.

  13. Behrami,Collison top boys today run and run and run. Really drove the boys on today.
    Faubert is disappointing and just get on the eurostar, boa has had his best game of the season but still can go, Upson and collins were in command without the stupidity of faubert or parker passing to players with 2 or 3 Stoke players around them. I haven’t had such a laugh at a game for so long, very entertaining and the joint relieve by the fans and Cole when he scored.
    Parker is the most unimpressive midfielder in the country. Passing is so north of the mark, he runs around in circles so often he might as well have 2 left legs on. Headless chicken comes to mind. If we sell bellemy we will be doommmmeeeedddd I am telling you.
    Keppp the boyo

  14. Essex Hammer says:

    At the moment – I don’t care who plays well, who plays bad etc just as long as we win and those pikey chav Spurs scum lose. Please take them down Agent Harry. We need a few more wins to get us firmly away from the bottom pack but I think that we all know that we are a bad team in a strangely crap Premier league this season.

  15. Upton Spark says:

    Well I did predict a struggle today but I think we just about deserved our win and I must say that Behrami and Collison were magnificent today and Faubert was just pants. Faubert says if a French club comes in for him he would consider going SO;P–S OFF then mate!
    If we can keep our better players at the club then we will have no worries under Zola and co who are getting the team playing some attractive stuff.
    Keep it going lads,it’s a joy to watch when you play as you are doing right now.

  16. Bernie Bonds says:

    Chill boys 3 points & Spurs lost. HAPPY NEW YEAR

  17. Kim says:

    Oh happy days. Six points over the Christmas period and I left Upton Park a very happy hammer today. I thought the referee was absolutely awful. He stopped the flow of the game and made some very dodgy decisions indeed.

    Am I alone in thinking that Stoke play like Leeds of old? Agressive, bad tempered and undisciplined.

    Please can we stop giving Cole a hard time. Yes he is infuriating but he is what we have as a striker over the minimum height for most rides in Disneyland and he works so bloody hard. Get behind him and build his confidence.

    Berhami is fab and LBM was great today (words I never thought I would write!). Scotty seems a bit nervous going forward but god knows why because he is one of the most naturally talented players we have. Di Michele did make some very good moves. My main problem with him is that he doesn’t like getting amongst the play when we are playing physical sides.

    Roll on Barnsley and hopefully getting to see Dyer play. Oh and I do hope that the end of Harry Houdini has come. Surely a one trick pony can only ride his luck for so long…

    COYI

  18. Bernie Bonds says:

    Chill boys 3 points & the yids losted lets see what happens in window ?we could be in europe!!!COYI

  19. Gary says:

    Hi Iain,

    I would totally agree with your comments about todays game.
    Although you are right to point out about young sears not getting his chance.

    He is head and shoulders above them muppets who played today up front.
    He also looks like he cares about our team unlike again those three.

    I think Zola must realise that Cole just is not good enough before to long.

    And love your comments to the [word deleted by editor].

    Gary

  20. StainesWestHam says:

    Hee hee, so funny that Spurs lost. It makes it even less likely that Bellamy (or any other half decent striker) would want to join them for their relegation dogfight. I spoke to a couple of Spurs fans recently and they are starting to turn against Redknapp.
    I’m also baffled about Di Michele, he doesn’t fit in to our side, always looks very lightweight and doesn’t move off the ball so unsure what he contributes? Lets get rid of LBM, Michele and Faubert. Bring in Jimmy Bullard!

  21. curtis says:

    y doesnt this guy play sears????? he is better than dimichelle tristan and everyone is better than cole..cole is the biggest waste…guy is unbelievable,,, lbm was good today keep it up

  22. Allan Herring says:

    Good goal by Cole, but not sure which was the funnier Stokes fighting sending off or Coles miss shots!

    We were very slow all round, passing was pathatic especialy Faubert.

    MoM Berhami with whom we would have lost to a very poor side.

    Bellers must stay as he has pace which the others lack.

  23. Allan Herring says:

    Ian please add out to with
    As follows,

    MOM Berhami without

  24. RapidHammer says:

    I think only “4” for di Michele is a bit harsh. He played quite well in my opinion though he never came close to scoring. He’s got some good technique and if he’d play more frequently I think we would realize that he’s quite a useful player. Anyway I’d prefer starting Craig Bellamy in the next game.
    What we really need is a creative midfielder who doesn’t give the ball away as often as the current players do. For the team the back to back wins must have been a massive boost. Even if we were not able to sign anybody in January I am sure Hammers won’t be relegated!

  25. Big_Casino says:

    DaDon – I fully respect your opinion on Di Michele – but you’re not going to say anything about the guy that is going to make me change my mind. I stand by everything I posted earlier and don’t see that he adds anything to our squad or team. I’m not going to go into each of his many failings – he simply ain’t a Premiership player.

    As for Nani, if you re-read my original post, you’ll see that I did not slate him, I merely expressed my concern for firstly recommending Di Michele, and then labelling him ‘a great player’. And surely even you will have to agree he is not a great player.

    But as you rightly say – he did pinpoint Behrami, an invaluable addition to our squad, and Ilunga, an adequate replacement for George, but not a better one. I hope, if Nani and Zola get any more funding, that Nani will bring in more players of the ilk of Behrami.

    But he got it wrong with Di Michele, and lest not forget Walter Lopez – who is clearly not impressing much due to his failure to get even close to the bench, let alone the first team. We have a right back, in Lucas Neill, who is preferred ahead of Lopez at left back, and Lopez is a natural left back. So methinks that he is maybe another not so great addition by Nani.

    And I think Curbs knew the likes of Di Michele and Lopez weren’t good enough, which is why he didn’t want to be seen as the person who signed them – he knew they wouldn’t make the grade and quit because the club bought them anyway, against Curbs’ will. We replaced Bobby, George and Pantsil with Di Michele, Ilunga and Lopez… and I for one would have Bobby, George and Pantsil back for those 3 any day of the week.

  26. Very impressed by Behrami , quick, good passer, handful for defenderd – can we sign him please? Why no Bellamy playing today? I had visions of him scoring against us today.

    Not the best game of football I have seen and we hit self-destruct when Fuller was snet off. At least Shawcross (future England player for sure), Faye & Higginbotham played well for us. Pericard is a disgrace to football and should be shot, the fool can’t even stay on his feet FFS.

    West Ham derserving winners and on a roll now after thumping Pompey at home, who I think may well join the relegation battle sooner rather than later.

  27. Essex Hammer says:

    Oatcake – Bellamy was on a 5 yellow card ban

  28. Dave Hall says:

    I’m loving the style of football we are playing under Zola, and although up until the last 2 games we didn’t hit the net much, this is all coming together now. Surely we can’t knock the football we are playing lately, our defence is more solid, and with Bellamy reaching form, lets enjoy. How many times in the past have we had such a good christmas as this.

  29. Old Rag Man Reg says:

    Excellent result today and especially because, as you say, it is one of those fixtures we, all to often, slip up in…the other results, once again, all seemed to go our way and it seems that we, finally, appear to be on the receving end of some good luck.

    What a shame that Stoke, a traditionally good footballing side, should use such time wasting spoiling tactics…Stanley Matthews will be turning in his grave.

    We now have four (dare i say) ‘winnable’ fixtures ahead of us, and if we can show the same steely determination as we have over the last six or seven games (excluding the spuds debacle) and keep hold of our key players we will be in good shape for the future

  30. RunningHammer says:

    It don’t get much better – 3 points and 4 goals against Portsmouth giving me much needed ammo against all the pompey fans at work tomorrow! AND we win against Stoke today and the poor old Spuds lost! Not only that but one of their numptys got sent off! HA HA HA!!

    Vital points for West Brom drags the scum closer to relegation. And how funny was Harry Redknapps miserable clock on MOTD ?!!

  31. claire says:

    Dagenham Hammer – not sure where you sit in the BML, but in our bit of it we’ve been supportive of Carlton Cole (although when he missed that sitter today we were a bit strained)
    Collison superb throughout and ran Behrami close for MOTM.
    It wasn’t pretty, and neither goalie was seriously tested, but it was a win, and with a most bizarre line-up we did it.

  32. scully says:

    the same di michele that set up the 2nd goal

    give the lad a chance he will come good. should play up top with bellamy

  33. Hammer says:

    Just got in. Excellent result. Don’t mind that we did not play great, I think we have been doing that lately and not getting what we deserve so we’ve earned it. We kept up the pressure and earnt the win. I for one am glad for Cole, no he is not the best but as DagenhamHammer says at least he gives it his all and don’t hide in the treatment room, so until something better comes along stop giving him stick, IT DON’T HELP. I, like many others thought Di Michele done ok. A good run in the side would see positive things i think. Again Berhami was outstanding. We must keep this team together. It has real quality and players that Zola and Clark can work with and get through to. Ok it is not a super team but i think it is one that the managment can work with and enable us to stay up. Then MAYBE we can kick on.
    A happy Hammer tonight. Happy new year people.
    COYI

  34. eleeNYC says:

    We’re all in this together!. We are far better off than Man City. Too many egos in the locker room. Our squad gets along. We are Hammers! Hold on.

  35. E1 says:

    Great result, not our best performance but don’t they say that it’s the mark of a good team who play ugly and win ? overall ratings 8, fabuert 3 and Di michele 5,cole and parker 7. Stoke don’t deserve to stay up and they don’t deserve their supporters, who I thought were good today. The work zola has been doing with cole looks like it is paying off he can only get better hard work and confidence is all he needs. The next 3 games are going to decide wether we are in a religation battle or chasing a european place nothing less than 6 points will do. Lets hope we keep hold of our better players off load the dead wood and can afford to bring in a couple of new faces of quality.
    The back of today’s programme shows a squad of 32 I can only see 19 worth keeping long term, so we should if we can get rid be able to raise enough cash to do something.
    Spurs loosing again is good news and I think this could be the end of Arry’s magic.
    COYI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Perth hammer says:

    Chuffed at the win,although Clarke needs to sort out some basics like having a full back on the back post.apart from Ginge drifitng,this might have prevented their early goal.Faubert’s not a full back,playing him there is russian roulette

  37. SJ Chandos says:

    Well, that was certainly an hard fought victory! However, being West Ham Utd FC, we had to make it more difficult for ourselves by giving them a goal start. And what a bad goal it was to concede. Their player got a free header on the right hand side of the box, an area that Neill would normally be covering. I guess that is what you are likely to get defensively with Faubert at right back!

    I disagree with Iain about Stoke City’s performance. I thought they were the worst team to play us this season. They lack any real quality and are totally one dimensional in their tactics. I also dislike their blatant time wasting, play acting and use of the dark arts to gain territorial advantage. Still, I guess that they are just doing what they have to in order to give themselves any chance of survival. On the evidence of today, they really look a Championship team and prime candidates for relegation.

    However, I totally agree about Berhami, his performance levels and work rate are fantastic. Collison is developing nicely and Noble will soon get back to his best. Parker has been really influential in recent matches, while the defence is now really very solid. If only Ashton was fit and on top form, we would have no problems up front, but if onlys do not cut any ice. We need to get a centre forward in, if at all possible, to strengthen our attack.

    Still, well done to Carlton Cole for his very well taken goal and getting the assist for Tristan’s winner. The winner was a bit flukey, but think back to our total lack of good fortune in so many matches this season. Funnily enough, I turned to my mate about two minutes before the goal and said that we needed a lucky break to win this one. And we certainly got it for once. But overall we deserved the win. Well done to the team for back to back wins over Christmas.

    What a difference six points make! Now we need to try and take 7 points over the next three games. I think we can get at least a draw at Newcastle and win the home games against Fulham and Hull. It is all about putting a run together to consolidate our current position in the top ten.

    The board have now rejected a 15m joint bid from Man City for Bellamy and Parker and are making the right noises about key players not being for sale. Lets hope that they maintain that stance and concentrate upon unloading Quashie, Davenport, Bowyer, Boa Morte, etc. If a French club offers 4.5m for Faubert, snap their hand off especially with Dyer on the verge of a comeback and Stanislaus nearly ready for a first team debut.

  38. Torontofan says:

    I realise that Faubert had an awful game against Stoke. But I thought he was outstanding against Portsmouth especially with his very timely challenges. He did everything right in that game and I watched it again as I did record that particular game. I take my hats off to the board for rejecting the 15 million joint bid for Bellamy and Parker from Mabu Dhabi City FC. Perhaps Mabu Dhabi City should raid Tottenham for the likes of Lennon and Woodgate for 15 million. Lastly watching Harry Redneck’s expression as and when his side were conceding goals against bottom feeders West Brom could be described as —-CLASSIC. I love West Brom!!

  39. SJ Chandos says:

    I am starting to get a little concerned about the lack of first team opportunities for Freddie Sears. Sears seems to be in a transitional phase, excelling in the reserves, but yet to make the full transition to PL football. But I suppose the question is:how is he to realise his potential unless we give him playing time in the PL?

    Perhaps the team’s league position has contributed to his reduced opportunities, with Zola relying more on experience. I would, however, like to see Sears start in the FA Cup match against Barnsley, playing a 4-3-3, with Sears, Tristan and Bellamy in the strike force. Lopez’s also deserves to get a run out playing left midfield, in advance of the impressive Illunga. Hopefully Dyer will get at least 45 minutes as a substitute, because we really do need him back in first team contention. We should rest Cole and Parker and have them on the bench if needed.

    If our league position contines to improve in the 2nd half of the season, I hope that Zola and Clarke gives more PL playing time to Tomkins, Sears and Reid; as well as giving first team debuts to Stanislaus and Spence. Time will tell!

  40. Auckland Hammer says:

    Our passing & crossing left alot to be desired in particular Faubert , Di Michele & Parker. Great effort for a change by Boa Morte he was up for it that’s for sure. The only national team Faubert will be playing for is representing France in the next para olympics !!! We were ripped off with that one. Poor form not having someone on the post for there goal. Sort it out Mr. Clarke. Onwards & Upwards !!! Sears now deserves a chance Di Michele is average.

  41. Ozuptonparker says:

    Agree Faubert was absolute pants good to see Spector on gotta be a better option than the frog, his final ball was diabolical and approach play one dimensional. How anyone can want Linda back over Ilunga is dillusional. Don’t get me wrong Georgie boy was great but things have changed at UP the same way we had to clear out NRC and Harewood, ..fresh blood and players hungry for the cause Ilunga is more than an adequate replacement thought Di Michele worked some good channels today and lets be fair his link play with CC looked a tad rough except for the one moment he controlled and volleyed to CC but needs to work on that. Sears was due to come on but we scored the 2nd and GFZ decided to go with Mullins, his time will come probably vs the tikes. Overall we made hard work of what was a potential banana skin but we’ve started to make our own luck Fuller nowithstanding and if we thought Jones was a tool maybe we better keep an eye out for when we get Tanner next….

  42. James says:

    I do hate leading with my chin but only reference the last two games, Happy New Year you spuds!!!

    COYI!!!

  43. brooking still the best says:

    I notice allot on hear are calling for Freddie Sears to get his chance. He did get a run in the team earlier in the season and did nothing. Sometimes you have to take kids out of the firing line and give them more time. I hope like everyone else, he proves to be a decent player but he has got it all to do at the moment and should be given the time. Zola knows how and when to bring the kids on and we should respect that he is giving Sears the time and the space he needs to progress to the next level.

  44. John Simkin says:

    Iain, I think your assessment of the game was fairly accurate, although Faubert did not deserve a 5. He is to my mind the worse player in the Premier League.

    Like you, I have been amazed by Zola’s decision to play Di Michele instead of Sears. However, there is one possible reason for this. Zola could have been afraid that if he played Sears yesterday, and he had a great game, Duxbury/Nani might have argued that West Ham could afford to sell Bellamy.

    By the way, Fuller was not the first player to have been sent off for fighting his own player. Other examples include:

    April 2005: Newcastle’s Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer against Aston Villa. Both these players apparently offered their commiserations to Andy Griffin yesterday.

    November 1995: Graeme Le Saux, broke his hand after hitting David Batty when Blackburn Rovers were playing Spartak Moscow. It is believed that Batty had called Le Saux “gay”. Le Saux used to read the Guardian in the dressing-room which to players like Batty and Fowler (who also questioned his sexuality in a game for Liverpool) is a sign that you are attracted to men.

    January 1979: Charlton’s Derek Hales and Mike Flanagan were sent off for fighting in a FA Cup match against Maidstone.

  45. Toby says:

    Can i just say that you fully deserved both wins and against pompey you were excellent! 🙂 Up the hammers from a villa fan

  46. Mike says:

    Just to say guys and gals, that I thought LBM had BY FAR his best game in the claret and blue, and would have been for me, a worthy MOTM. He looked pretty lean when he came on against Pompey but against Stoke he got stuck in, was pacey and dangerous running forward with the ball (both through the middle and down the wing), passed the ball, got a coupla crosses in and was very unlucky not to deservedly get on the score sheet after Sorenson took the sting off his goalbound shot.

    Anyway, if only he could match that sort of performance on a more regular basis, he could definitely justify his selection. But is great to have 6pts in 3 days as I fear with so many other players under-performing and looking jaded from Boxing day (Parker, Illunga, Collison, Cole to name a few), in hindsight without LBM I fear we wouldn’t have mustered the turn-around and all be breathing a little easier in the top half of the table.

  47. Paul W says:

    Iain

    Generally I agree with a lot of what you write. However, I am very disappointed that you did not make mention of LBM and only gave him a 6. We all thought that he was the one player that looked like he might make something happen and he played some wonderful passes. You have been highly critical of him in the past (sometimes rightly), but you need to balance this when he puts in a good performance. Possible MoM, though Behrami probably shaded it.

  48. jon.london colney says:

    can someone get the daily drivel to print some facts or shut the f… up.now there the only paper that knows man city have bid 15mill for bellamy and parker.how the f… are they the only paper to know this?

  49. Iain Dale says:

    Paul W, do you have blinkers on? Which part of “Luis Boa Morte had one of his better days today and in the second half gave the team some much needed width, although he still had an annoying tendency to drift infield.” did you not read?!!!

  50. Ray Moore says:

    Why if Man City have all this money are they going for two players who are at West Ham? I personally think Bellers and Parker are excellent but both Liverpool and Chelsea didnt think both players had what it takes to win them the premiership, hence them letting them go.

    Mark Hughes wont be in a job for long if this is all he can come up with to try and compete with the likes of the top four. The daily mail never print anything positive about west ham.

    I hope the board sticks to their guns and if they are going to sell players at least get some good money for our best players. Defore at 16 million if anyone would pay that for the jumped up little pr*ck bellers must be worth a lot more.

  51. Jolly says:

    Hi Iain,

    Good post – couldnt diagree with anyhting you’ve said.

    2 points to make – in 30 yrs of watching WHUFC ive never seen;

    1. A team try to time waste from the 10th minute!!!!!
    2. A 8-0-2 formation before?????

    A decent performance, a good win and without doubt the worst opposition ive ever seen at the Boleyn.

    COYI!!!!

  52. Matt says:

    “They weren’t the worst team we will play this season”

    Disagree!!

    Also think you’ve been far too harsh on Di Michele.

  53. Goatygav says:

    Good shout brooking still the best. Freddie’s got plenty of time to develop. He’s doing ok in the reserves where he’s getting used to playing top tier defenders from other teams.

    Over the last few weeks I’ve gained more and more respect for SC and Gianfranco. They can see what’s wrong with the team and have taken corrective action (Cole’s shooting and the team’s concentration and fitness in the last 20 minutes of games). They know how to motivate players (Benching Faubert certainly brought the best out of him when he was brought back in against Pompey).

    I’m pleased to see that they are prepared to give players the benefit of the doubt too.

    Although I’m not convinced Carlton Cole will prove to be a Premier League quality striker you’ve got to admit he’s improved in the last couple of games and, if he continues to go in the right direction, will do a decent job for us for the remainder of the season.

    Fantastic result against a tough team to beat in Stoke. Even without Bellamy we created plenty of chances and managed to stick a couple of them away. I thought it was a terrific team performance and I’m not going to single anyone out for criticism. Loved the moment of magic from Di Michele and he seemed to work hard too.
    COYI!!!!!!!!!

  54. the headmaster says:

    Stoke were utterly dreadful and got what they deserved – thankfully.

    This game was won by our centrebacks solidity (again), as well as the creativity of collison, Berhami, Ilunga, LBM and the persistence of Cole.
    Faubert was poor and the right back position remains seriously weak in Neil’s absence. Di Michele is nowhere near the pace of the prem yet and may never get there.
    Most frustrating player for me yesterday was Parker. Slow and indecisive going forward and lost the ball on countless occasions.

  55. WHU Kim says:

    I agree nearly all of your comments Iain although I think Tristan was a class player in his time and has a goal scorers instinct. He may not have known much about the goal but the fact was he was in there for the rebound. A poacher will get goals. I do not rate Di Michelle though and I also think he’s blocking opportunities for Sears. The ref should have nipped Stokes timewasting in the bud by getting the yellow card out much sooner, they were at it from the start.

    I am really disappointed that you were nasty to Spurs though, please remember at all times that they are a BIG CLUB. I repeat they are a BIG CLUB and will soon be pushing for the Champions League……

  56. DevoDevo says:

    Mike – Ilunga jaded? He never stopped attacking and was our one player getting in wide positions. OK, Faux Pas did as well, but then he can’t cross for love nor money.

    Newcastle are there for the taking, as are Hull. Fulham represent our hardest task coming up and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bobby Z scored (he’s due one!).

    If we can get 7 points (6 would still be good), from these then we would be looking to press for a European place.

    The recent performances make the Tottenham debacle baffling. One of the worst Spurs sides I have seen and we gifted them 3 points.

    Good to see you’re still here, Toby! 🙂 You were lucky against us but should have buried Arsenal in the 1st half. Good point in the end.

  57. Goatygav says:

    I LOVE it when a team waste time and it end’s up their own that they’ve wasted. Of all the uninspired things about football it’s the one that bugs me most. Worst of all is when players go to the corner flag and sheild the ball. Whether it’s the other team or West Ham it’s the thing that gets my goat the most!!

  58. Imp says:

    Big Casino, put quite simply, you baffle me.

    Zamora over Di Michele, McCartney over Ilunga?! Utter Nonsense.

    Firstly, Zamora has played every game but one for Fulham this term and has scored, wait for it…..once. Di Michele, with only two full games and a handful of substitute appearances, managed to scored twice and get an assist on his, and Zola’s debut (I remember well, big fantasy league week for me!). In short, give the man a chance. We managed to endure Zamora’s mediocrity for 4 years, waiting for Di Michele to turn the corner should be a walk in the park…

    Secondly, Nani, far from being a misguided fool ‘whos got it wrong’, is a shrewd man with an eye for a talent. Ilunga, who has been a revelation since donning the claret and blue, is not only an adept replacement for Macca, but was also free of charge. Di Michele was free, as was Walter Lopez and a certain Mr Tristan. Please explain to me how strengthening the depth of our squad, free of charge (with the exception of wages, of course) is a bad move. Whether these players will cut the mustard in the long term is irrelevant; with these players on board we have options in a squad ravaged by injury, and as the old adage goes, ‘the best thing in life are free’.

    The man brought us Valon Behrami, and brought the world Andrea Pirlo, Luca Toni and Roberto Baggio (amongst others, so ease off and give the man a chance!

  59. chache says:

    Hola Hammers! creo que deberíais confiar en Tristán. Es un jugador especial y si se siente querido es capaz de todo. Él tiene mucho arte en sus botas, para regalar juego y goles al equipo. Y el West Ham tiene un equilibrado y muy buen equipo con el que se puede compactar.
    Ánimo DIEGOL!!!! Eres muy grande.
    Vamos Hammers
    GOOOO WEST HAM, go for the gol!!!!

    Cieza’s Hammers

  60. Scalyback says:

    Have to agree with Imp in his repost to Big Casino. Everything he says is fact and irrefutable, as much as I liked Zamora….

  61. Roy says:

    Big Casino is right with one exception. Di Michele is a joke. OK he scored twice in a game earlier in the season but even then had a poor game. He was our worst player on Sunday (worse than Faubert!) and is probably only here for the money. Kneeling down, doing up his boots, against Tottenham when a free kick was being launched into the box was laughable. He couldn’t get a game for Torino – a well below average Serie A side – so what exactly makes him good for us?
    On another point of player judgement, I heard Iain on 5-Live on my way to the game on Sunday. He called Damien Duff “one of the best wingers in the world”. Eh? He was a good player when he joined Chelsea but is distinctly average now, although I will concede he has had a lot of injuries. But one of the best wingers in the world? Without even thinking about it I give you Messi, Ronanldo, Ribery, Young, Walcott, Robben etc., etc. – and even though the last three are not among the best in the world thay are several long streets ahead of Duff.
    Still, we all have our own opinions.

  62. DaDon says:

    Di Michele was NOT our worst player on Sunday. That’s just crap and not even worth arguing. And even if it were true, players need a proper run in the team before they can be judged. You may have noticed that Tristan hasn’t exactly set the world alight, but I don’t notice anyone slagging him off because it would be very premature. The same is true of Di Michele, give the guy a break.

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