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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: West Ham (A)

By Ken Buckley :  29/12/2010 :  Comments (15) :

Striker light

A good two overcoats warmer than the City match but the same cold response in front of goal from a game that failed as a spectacle as much as the manager failed in what can only be described as an experimental line-up.

The Blues started brightly and within 5 mins Distin got clear from a cross at the back of the box but his touch was heavy which took him wider and he was only able to flash a shot across goal and out. We were playing some neat stuff in joined-up mode with Fellaini the orchestrator in chief but our cutting edge in the final third was blunt and that set the tone for the rest of the match.

We were pretty much in control but on the quarter hour mark we failed to clear a corner properly which resulted in a melee in our box and no more than a poke forward from a West Ham player hit the flailing leg of Hibbert and deflected into the net. I felt sorry for Hibbert as he was drafted in to cover for the injured Jags and Heitinga and had made some good strong tackles to that point.

The goal seemed to take a lot of wind out of the Blues sails as the next 20 minutes belonged more to the hosts than us due to the excellent Scott Parker running the show. Slowly but surely, we started to regain some composure, mainly due to the efforts of Fellaini and Pienaar getting the ball down and finding Blue shirts.

Arteta seemed to be still struggling for form and it was hard to see what position he was supposed to be taking up as to often he seemed to drop a little deep and get in the way of Fellaini and Rodwell rather than offer an option darting forward. Still just a few minutes before half time he was in the right space behind the ineffectual Cahill exchanged passes with Pienaar and fed Cahill to the left of goal, Cahill moved the ball from left foot to right foot and delivered a cross that caught the hosts defence tucked in and the ball went across goal to the unmarked Coleman who made no mistake and we all celebrated.

We were then nearly caught cold as the very impressive Parker broke and tried a delicate chip that beat Howard but thankfully found only the top of the net. Half-time and all square and most agreed Cahill up front on his own just wasn?t working and some sort of change was needed as Upson and Tomkins were having a much easier night than they should have been having.

No changes were made but we did start to dominate the half, Coleman seemed to have the measure of his markers but Neville was having an off-night and some of his balls to Coleman were poor. Pienaar was buzzing about and linking with Baines from time to time and Fellaini putting in a good box-to-box job with elements of skilful promptings as well as an assured calm. Distin was holding the back line together with some authority but it was the same old story, everything breaking down in that final third due to lack of incisive movement in the box to allow a killer pass.

On the hour mark changes were made by both teams, first the hosts brought on Carlton Cole and then the Blues took off a rapidly tiring Rodwell who was losing his touch and composure. The only surprise for me was that it was Yak who came on and he hasn?t played for a while but with the form all three of the strikers are in at this time it was probably a tossup.

West Ham then produced the best chance of the half when Sears broke clear down the right after yet another Blues attack had floundered in the final third, catching Baines stranded up field, he picked out a cross to the unmarked Cole but he pulled his effort horribly wide with Howard exposed. The Blues responded to this scare and in the last 10mins Cahill brought Green to his knees to make a save, Fellaini had a goal-bound powerful header which saw England?s calamity keeper make a great save. Cahill had the ball in the net but was ruled offside.

On the 90-min mark, Beckford replaced Pienaar and then, in the third minute of the allotted 5 extra, Bilyaletdinov replaced Arteta. So a point apiece and further disappointment for the travelling hoards.

Overall a poor spectacle of a match between a team desperate to get out of the bottom three and one unable to operate in the final third no matter how much possession and pretty approach play. I thought tonight the Blues allowed the enforced change at the back, coupled with the knowledge not one of our main strikers was deemed in good enough form to even start, affect their mindset and fell between two stools in being a bit overprotective at the back and more than a bit unsure how best to attack.

The manager can take a fair chunk of the blame for our performance tonight but at least he tried by putting his best available players on the park but for me he should have decided after watching for twenty minutes the experiment was not going to work and to get all three points something had to change, Saha for Arteta would have been my shout.

Just a few days to think and then it is off to Stoke and we know what to expect there so I wish the manager the best of luck in the injury department and some sort of magic wand in the striking department.

Happy New Year to you all.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Jeff Magee
1   Posted 29/12/2010 at 15:57:04

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Happy New Year, Ken.

Once again, a balanced thought out summary of the game as opposed to the usual knee jerk reaction to a poor game that it's all Moyesey's fault ? there was one poster who I felt hit the nail on the head when he said that after their goal went in our heads dropped but then went on to somehow blame Moyes because they were scared that he would shout at them at half-time ? WTF!!

I am not saying Moyes is totally blameless as it seemed obvious to me pretty early on that Tim up front on his own was not working but, as you say, at least he was willing to try something ? and the stats in the papers say we had 12 shots to their 9 and 3 on target to their 0. Our stats are in the top 3 or 4 of yesterday's games and so, whilst not as good as we would like, are not as bad as all the doom mongers on TW would have us believe.

Keep up the good work Ken ? still the best thing on TW.

Danny Jones
2   Posted 29/12/2010 at 17:11:00

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Very well said Jeff.

Once again Ken puts in another great report. Balanced, well considered and concise.

Yesterday's game was poor indeed, and to date the season has not gone to plan, however if you look around the league at other clubs, who's season has? With the exception of Utd (who are unbeaten) all clubs have had poor runs of results.

And all have spent a lot more the Everton. It's simple facts like that. We are not part of the elite, have been for a number of years, so we will have our good and rough times. Sacking Moyes will get us what? it's investment for a bigger squad is the only way forward. But that's not on the agenda.

Liam Reilly
3   Posted 29/12/2010 at 17:45:49

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No MotM this time, Ken? I thought Fellaini was a class apart for us last night with a honourable mention for Timmy who I thought put himself about and scrapped for everything, even in an unfamiliar role. Coleman also, huffed and puffed going forward, but overall it was very disappointing.

2nd half was almost a non-event. Very difficult to find any real positives.
Iain Love
4   Posted 29/12/2010 at 18:36:59

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Echo what Jeff said ? your reports are the best thing on TW.
The lack of form of our strikers has been almost done to death so i'll make some points about our midfield.
Pienaar, I've always thought class player but final ball poor and doesn't score enough, if we could as suggested in the press swop him for Kranjar i'd be happy, At least he shoots at goal.
Felliani, another class player who appears to have everything in his locker, inc goals when played further forward or allowed to break.
Cahill, scores goals.
Coleman, can score.
Arteta, totally off form and shown up by Parker last night.
Bily, lazy slow player good feet and tends to score blinders.
Without going through them all there are goals in the team, Moyes just needs to do his job and play to our strengths.
Sam Hoare
5   Posted 29/12/2010 at 20:59:24

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A fair report.

For what its worth i thought we played OK without (as ever the case this season) looking dangerous in the final third.

Whether this is down to Moyes tactics or just having no decent strikers at the club, or a mixture of both is debatable.

I love the fact that everyone is calling for Moyes to mix it up and experiment and when he did last night he gets slated for it!!
John Daley
6   Posted 29/12/2010 at 21:30:40

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"I love the fact that everyone is calling for Moyes to mix it up and experiment and when he did last night he gets slated for it!!"

Err, how the hell did he "mix it up". Same tactics, same formation, same favoured personnel.
Ian Smitham
7   Posted 29/12/2010 at 21:59:23

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Sorry guys but a point of order here. I read the report by Ken about 3 hours ago, and noted the earliest responses.

I have just come back from the pub and unless my eyes deceive me at least one early response, maybe at 2 0r 3 seem to have moved.

Sorry to be pedantic but has anyone else noticed-or is it simply me imagining things.

Great report as always, and i noted the lack of MOTM, not an easy choice but for me Fella edged it.

Hope someone can help or point me in the right direction.
Steve Routh
8   Posted 29/12/2010 at 22:25:34

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No pot to piss in but apparently we can afford to take FOUR strikers and only play one for half an hour and then.. is this some kind of Zen thing ... play Beckford for the last 3 mins. Can someone explain the sense in this?
Bob Parrington
9   Posted 29/12/2010 at 23:08:29

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Different people - different viewpoints. This is a major attraction of this site.

Liam (2) indicated that he thought Tim Cahill had a good game. I'm a big fan of TC but I felt he had a relatively bad game --- mind you, the pass to Coleman was pin point perfect.

Fellaini looks steady and commanding but I felt Distin pipped him for MoM.

I believe Moyes should have started Beckford in this game.

General comment: For much of the game it looked like the team was out for a Sunday training session on Stanley Park.

COYB
Derek Thomas
10   Posted 30/12/2010 at 06:17:26

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IF !

If Arteta had played 1/2 as well as Parker in the 3 sections of the midfield role, on the edge or even in our box, in the middle ( not sideways ) shooting and getting into their box.

We would have pissed it.

If the Yak or maybe even Saha or Beckford had had those 2 1/2 chances Distin had.

We would have pissed it.

If Moyes could see the wood for the trees, Re selection of starting 11, formation of starting 11, Ethos of same.

We would have pissed it.

If you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time ( yes you doddy and all the other IMWT BLIND BASTARDS )

When is the 3rd part of the saying going to kick in..
Andy Codling
11   Posted 30/12/2010 at 07:56:45

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Boring predictable Moyes, he whinges about lack of goals and then... doesn't play any forwards.

I'm sick to death of watching his boring dour shite and really hope he fucks off sometime soon. I don't care who we get as long as they have a bit of passion to go and win games rather than set out for a draw.

Please, Moyes... fuck off you overpaid lacklustre never-won-anything prick.

Nick Entwistle
12   Posted 30/12/2010 at 10:54:49

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Andy, Moyes won the 2nd Division Championship with Preston. Now League One.
Liam Reilly
13   Posted 30/12/2010 at 12:39:05

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Bob #9 ? To clarify my point on TC having a good game:

His game is not suited to being the one up front in this predictable formation; however, I thought he was one of the few who left everything on the field and tried to make things happen, whilst others just went through the motions. He was genuinely disappointed in the failure to win the game and we could do with some more with his mentality.

Chris Jones
14   Posted 30/12/2010 at 12:59:42

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This website will always be worth visiting - if only to read Ken's match reports. Very much appreciated Sir. Long may they continue, and please God things will change on the pitch to allow you to sound more upbeat ;o)
Andy Codling
15   Posted 31/12/2010 at 09:46:12

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Nick, I stand corrected ? what a fucking career he has had!!!!!!!!!!!

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