I WILL BE ON
NEWS AT AROUND
8.10pm TO TALK
ABOUT THE GAME
Just as this game started, I turned to my neighbour and said: “I don’t fancy this.” “Nor do I,” he replied. How wrong can you be?
There are few matches where you could nominate three players from the same team as man of the match, but this was one of them. West Ham played like a real team, with no obvious weakness and no sign of missing Craig B*****y.
My three nominations for MOTM would be Valon Behrami, Jack Collison and Carlton Cole. In the end I would give it to Behrami, but only very narrowly and mainly because his performance was constant throughout the match. This boy has an engine on him the like of which I have rarely seen. He never gives up, personifies the word tenacious and has a bundle of skill as well. He was everywhere today. Jack Collison had a superb first half. Although he played on the left, he too was everywhere. He also showed several delightful moments of Joe Cole-like trickery, which was a side to his game which was new to me. Although Cole had a quiet start to the match, in the second half he was almost unplayable. He won the penalty and his goal was sublime. He had another two spectacular efforts. Amazing what a bit of confidence can do, isn’t it? That makes it 5 goals and 5 assists in 5 matches. We shouldn’t forget that he has scored more goals this season than Craig Bellamy, and has 9 goals in 21 appearances – a respectable ratio by any striker’s standards.
Defensively, I would say this was one of our surest performances of the season. I can’t remember any moments of real danger even in the two spells when Fulham looked as if they were about to control the game. Collins was powerful in the air again and while Upson was quiet, that was purely because he didn’t have a lot to do. Both Ilunga and Neill were getting forward quite a bit and Ilunga in particular had an excellent game down the left. It was Neill’s cross which led to the Di Michele goal.
In midfield the two wide players, as I have said, were superb. In the centre both Noble and Parker were buzzing. Noble found it more difficult to get into the game initially but played very well in the second half. He took the penalty well, although I reckon if Schwarzer had gone the other way he would have saved it. He also won the ball and played it through to Di Michele who set Cole up with the third.
I was disappointed that Zola picked Di Michele to start in preference to Sears or Tristan, but within 7 minutes I was eating my words. He put in a good performance. His final ball was sometimes disappointing but that was more due to lack of match practice than anything. You can’t ask for much more than one goal and one assist from a player. Craig who?
It was good to see the crowd give warm welcomes to Konchesky and Pantsil. When Zamora was subbed he got a tremendous ovation and a round of the Zamora song. But I have to say his performance was dire. He looks to have put on quite a bot of weight and seemed quite immobile. Konchesky’s goal was a fantastic strike. We weren’t at fault defensively as there was no way of knowing he would shoot from 35 yards. It was his first goal since the Cup Final. Typical! John Pantsil was subdued and was at fault for our first goal. He was also booked.
One question I ask myself is this. Was Craig Bellamy even watching? I suspect not. If he was, he will have heard the sporadic chanting of “Who needs Craig Bellamy” or “**** off Craig Bellamy”. While we missed his pace to a degree, we now know that we can perform very well without him. Just as well.
Di Michele 8
A final word about Phil Dowd, the referee. Dire. Konchesky should have been sent off for the penalty.