West Ham musings by Pete May, author of Hammers in the Heart, West Ham:Irons in the Soul and Flying So High:West Ham's Cup Finals.
Tuesday, August 17
A mountain to climb…
Aston Villa 3 West Ham 0
You’d think you could escape the misery of being a West Ham fan on top of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at 3247 feet. It’s not as if you can even get mobile phone access in most of the Lake District.
But no, as our family nurses sore calves and takes in a stupendous panorama of mountains and sea views across to the Isle of Mann, there's a group of lads who have discovered that there's mobile reception on top of Scafell Pike. And there’s one of them in a Chelsea shirt reading out the half-time score of “Aston Villa 2 West Ham 0”.
What should have been a triumphant return past Scafell Crag and down Brown Tongue to Wasdale Head is marred by the thought of impending defeat. And after a welcome pint of Ennerdale Blonde, the TV confirms we’ve lost 3-0.
Match of the Day proves we were abysmal. Admittedly Hitzlsperger and Behrami are injured, but a midfield containing Boa Morte, Kovac and Faubert looks weak from the start, and we’re playing Cole alone up front. And what’s the point of signing Piquionne and Barrera and not playing them?
Early on James Tomkins is apparently dreaming of a host of golden daffodils, loses the ball to Carew and then prods the ball against his own post. It gets worse. Green punches clear — Alan Hansen thinks he should have caught the ball — but makes a good save only for Downing to score from the rebound. Poor Robert is bereft of defensive help and looks as lonely in his penalty area as Alfred Wainwright on one of his solitary fell walks. On 40 minutes Petrov beats Faubert in the air to score with a fine header.
At half time Grant brings on Frederic Piquionne and Barrera. Boa Morte has a shot on target saved and Freddie sets up Gustave Faubert only for the French novelist to shoot wide in the manner of Madam Bovary.
That’s about it from WHU. Poor Tomkins is skinned by debutant Albrighton who tees up Milner to score a farewell goal. Tomkins is subbed off for Diamanti and there’s time for Green to scramble across the goal as Villa hit both posts.
We’ve lost 3-0 to a team without a manager that’s about to sell its best player to Man City.
Monday’s Guardian comments: “If West Ham play like this for the rest of the season they will be relegated.”
It’s all very worrying. Does Grant know his best side? Will Tomkins ever fulfil his undoubted potential or is he a Championship player?
For the Bolton game we should give Winston Reid or Da Costa a chance at centre back and buy a proper right-back. We should play Barrera out wide as he cost £4 million and play Piquionne alongside Cole. And hope that Behrami, Hitzlsperger and Collison eventually return to reinforce the midfield.
Still as Nigel texted on Monday night: “If the Red Scum win 4-0 we’re out of the bottom three.” Which, of course, meant than Man United won 3-0 and we’re in the drop zone already.