FIVE things we learnt about the Hammers against Palace


Jack Sullivan Marouane ChamakhAfter yet another inadequate display, this time against the Premier League’s bottom side (that was until the end of last nights match), the enigma that is West Ham United continue to infuriate and disappoint in equal measure.

Hammers supporters really should be on some sort of bonus scheme for enduring performances like this week after week. The relief that flooded the Boleyn after last week’s decent effort against an awful Fulham side has given way to a mix of despair and frustration…laced with just about every other form of negative emotion known to mankind.

Lets be honest, as West Ham fans we should be well and truly used to this relationship with the team. We love ‘em to death and they continue to let us down. It has been this way since the 1960’s and I’m beginning to think it will always be so.

So what did we learn after last nights disappointing performance? Five things sprang to mind.

Kevin Nolan.

Captain or not, Kevin Nolan’s performances, or lack of them has now reached epic, legendary status, and to be awarded a starting position week after week defies both belief and logic.

When a striker (??) offers no goals, no assists, no appreciable skill or technique (last nights missed volley said it all), no 90 minute work rate, and certainly no on-field leadership (does moaning and badgering referees count…probably not), then I suggest it really is time for a place on the subs-bench or preferably on the coaching-staff.

Nolan’s stupid cross field misplaced pass lead to the corner and goal against, and he was last seen swinging wildly at the header from Marouane Chamakh before falling over in a heap. Sam Allardyce is now making himself look an ass by continually picking his old mate from Bolton, and he is letting the team, the supporters, and the club down big style.

Slow build up play allows teams to defend in numbers.

Whilst we all love a bit of slick inter-passing at West Ham, we now seem to be knocking the ball around for its own sake and the statistics show a more than healthy possession rate that is simply not matched by any form of end product.

The lack of striking options is showing, as midfielders look forward and see very little available to them. Rightly, on the basis that keeping possession is an important part of the game, the ball is played sideways or backward, and the whole build-up passage of play starts again. We must get a quicker forward tempo to the game to give opposition defences something to think about. Teams find it far too easy to get men behind the ball and crowd the defensive third, and as we have seen in works football, even the best teams find it hard to get behind a massed defence

Young Morrision is still learning the ropes

For large periods of the game last night Ravel Morrision looked lost and was anonymous, and its matches like this where he doesn’t run the show, that makes you remember his age and relative lack of experience.

A very gifted player, he was on the periphery of things last night and was bullied several times off of the ball by some hefty Crystal Palace challenges. When games are tight like this was, it’s up to the likes of young Morrision to take the game by the scruff and work some magic, and for me that magic needs to be shown in and around the box, not in deep lying areas.

Players like Morrision need to be given some leeway to do the unexpected in dangerous parts of opposition territory, and I suspect Big Sam has given him fairly strict orders, which may well be hampering his natural and raw talent. Let him off the lead Sam!

Lack of creative talent a major problem.

Ravel Morrision does it in spurts, and Joe Cole has probably one more trick or two in his ageing locker, but that aside, where is all the creativity that every teams needs to test the opposition?

Sam has filled his team with big units, all capable of getting in a challenge and putting their head on the ball, but an imbalance of power over skill and creativity is apparent to me based on last nights performance and more importantly, end result.

As soon as we got into that final third, there was a total lack of options for the man on the ball, and whilst whipping balls into the box is desirable and all very well, it gives the defenders a better than evens opportunity of clearing to safety, and Palace defenders did that well and too easily last night.

We see so little short to feet passes in and around the box, where clever balls are slipped through for runners, and this lack of creative style has resulted in the Plan A only approach that is so easy to counteract.

Its no good playing well and returning empty handed!

Yet again, Sam bemoaned the fact that despite hogging the ball and looking the better team (and having a perfectly decent goal disallowed – agreed) West Ham finished the match with…nothing. Sound familiar folks? Norwich City away, Hull City away.

Despite looking the team most likely to, no points was the familiar ending, and this is a worrying trend that needs addressing and soon. With no forward power, the defence was our saving grace, but once that began to go pear shaped (missing Winston Reid ?) then it was always going to be difficult to actually win matches.

Last night showed that a solitary goal will always be enough to take the spoils against a toothless Hammers side, and this likelihood puts a huge strain on a defence which knows it just cannot afford to concede.

The striking issue has come back to haunt us greatly, and unless Andy Carroll returns soon to fire on all cylinders (who knows ??) or we get it right this time in the January window, then I can only see a long hard road to the end of the season where not conceding will be the main priority.

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Plaistow born Spencer is a lifelong Hammer and having spent half-a century plus, enduring this lifelong obsession, along with every other West Ham supporter, knows exactly what it takes and what it means to wrap that Claret & Blue scarf round your neck every other Saturday and head off for the Boleyn !

A Chartered Surveyor by profession, Spencer, now 58, has played, coached and managed at semi-pro level within Essex for a number of clubs, and, simply unable to give up playing, currently turns out for the Iron Maiden Over 35’s side when he is not watching the Hammers, playing guitar in his Classic Rock covers band Gunrunner, or more probably, injured yet again!

  • beckton Geoff says:

    Well said SP

  • beckton Geoff says:

    Well said SP

  • Dave says:

    Spot on, the total arrogance at the start of the season when all at West Ham were predicting another top ten finish. All the teams in the Premier League did better buisness in the close season transfer window, resulting in this debacle that we are now going through. Hope Janurary is not to late.

  • mark says:

    All fair and good point All the eggs in one basket spring to mind from the start of the season, putting faith in a single striker prone to injury is just another reason we are where we are.

  • beckton Geoff says:

    The only way i know to voice my anger is to email the ticket office and inform them that myself and my 6 friends that usually purchase away tickets will no longer be doing so, until such time as the current manger has either resigned or has been sacked , we are all season ticket holders and feel sad we have had to take this stance but feel that we must , please could you forward this email to the two chairmen and the hopefully EX !! Manger off our West Ham United.

  • Badger Brock says:

    it breaks my heart to see my team that has produced so many good players (too many to mention) becoming an embarrassment. What has happened to the type of football we were noted for. Please take note Mr Sullivan & Mr Gold its time for Sam to go, I know Paolo might be a bit of a character but he does like to play the game on the grass. Also look at Sams buys,wasted money. Before its too late thankyou Sam but its time for you to go

  • belhus says:

    you summed it up perfectly why cant Big Sam see it.
    Although most of the players let him down against Palace I was hoping C.Cole played but he never won a single ball in the air. I am afraid Morrison was very quite and begrudgingly I must give Nolan 9 for effort he tried his upmost but he is not the answer at the moment and Sam needs to see this before it is too late
    We all know that we will be totally defensive against Liverpool playing into their hands

  • RonBoy29 says:

    SP says it all and the sad fact for me is that we long-suffering supporters can do nothing to effect a much needed change. Boycotting away matches is a token protest at best but will the men at the top be persuaded that there is now a growing tide of anger and frustration that we are in a danger zone and action is required sooner than later. In my 80 years as a die-hard supporter I have seen better Hammers teams than this go down! Kevin Nolan has been a great footballer but he must realise that at current form he isnot worth his place and to continue under-performing is seriously damaging his standing and reputation. He would make a first class coach and he needs to show his character now and make the right decision for both himself and the club.

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