Pretty dour night at Upton Park last night. West Ham seem to be striving for continual improvement in the ‘worst ever performance’ stakes. We could argue about whether we were worse against Boro in the cup or West Brom last night until the cows came home but the fact remains, a team of those cows would probably have stuffed us last night.
I like to maintain general optimism and certainly am not one to consign us to relegation on the back of one (or two, or three) bad performances, but nor am I blindly faithful enough to pretend that just because we’re in the top half, we must be playing well.
We’ve got no cutting edge and only one method of scoring goals; walking it into the net with a thousand intricate passes. I’m a football purist and would rather that than relying on long-ball tactics but sometimes I can’t help but wonder whether we’ve really got the class to make it work. Arsenal have persevered with it for a decade and, whilst they’ve had success, they’ve also had personnel more suited to the task. And even now they regularly fail to break down the weaker teams. If Wenger’s Philharmonic Orchestra cannot make sweet passing music, what hope do our bunch of X-Factor rejects have?
It’s painful to watch our attempts to stroke the ball around; we link fifty passes in order to put Ilunga in a hole his nightmarish first touch can’t get him out of. Scott Parker twists and turns often enough to drill a hole in the pitch while looking for options, too often the only escape he finds is behind him. Robbie Green might be one of our most skilful players on the ball, but surely that doesn’t mean threading the ball through to him is the way forward when we’re in desperate need of a goal. David Di Michele should be commended for achieving the seemingly impossible task of making Diego Tristan look a viable alternative.
The biggest cheer of the evening was the ironic one that greeted Boa Morte’s introduction, closely followed by that which met his first touch of the evening, a delightful 50p header straight into the night sky. Seeing fans leave 15 minutes before the end is never good to watch but, frankly, who can blame them? Long before that it was obvious we could have played for a month without breaking the deadlock
I’m still delighted to have Franco and Steve Clarke at the helm, we look reasonably solid and hopefully all off-field wranglings will be resolved in time for us to strengthen this summer. With a few exciting players we could genuinely contend for Europe next year. Although second-class Europe is regarded about as highly as the Paint Trophy nowadays. The Europa league or whatever it is next year will never match the glory and prestige of that famous Intertoto cup win over Metz.
I’m currently pondering whether I care more about qualifying for Europe or finishing above Spurs. The latter is definitely winning.