Eight things we learned watching West Ham play Doncaster
1. While other teams seem to be able to “bank” good performances and keep their confidence high, West Ham don’t. And especially not when the players walk out at Upton Park. Doncaster used the spur of a good midweek result against Burnley yet our brilliant performance against Cardiff has been long forgotten. This I believe, is the legacy of the three years of crap we’ve seen at Upton Park. The crowd seem permanently on the edge of hostility while players look nervous.
2. After Ricardo Vaz Te limped off with a hamstring injury we lost attacking threat. Worse, we lost the ability to hold the ball in midfield.
3. I’ve no idea why Sam Allarcdyce replaced Vaz Te with Sam Baldock. Maybe he was looking for “Sammy” to cut in from the left and shoot with the right foot as they do in Italy. Maybe the manager was concerned at the thought of a right flank comprising Baldock and George McCartney. But based on the experience of his efforts on the right it seemed a slim hope he’d profit on the left. And so it proved with Baldock not only anonymous on the wing but more tellingly when we reverted to 4-4-2.
4. El Hadji Diouf was the best player on the pitch. I’d argue those who campaigned against his signing don’t have a right to criticise the result yesterday. Equally all the boos each time he received the ball were pathetic – like being at a pantomime with six-year-olds. Plus it obviously fired him up.
5. Robert Green may have saved us a point with a “worldy” from Diouf but Andy D’Urso cost us two. The same referee was terrible when we beat Blackpool 4-0 but didn’t affect the result. Yesterday he probably denied us a goal in the opening minute (I thought there was a push by Vaz Te prior to the finish but my mate working Final Score for the BBC said not – and he had the benefit of replays) and certainly denied us a clear-cut penalty at 1-0.
6. Whatever the question is, the answer’s not Ravel Morrison. Elevated to skipper of the Development Squad midweek and the bench yesterday it appears Allardyce is having to follow the same carrot and stick road Sir Alex Ferguson trod as strong rumours of Morrison missing several training sessions abound.
7. Losing all three right-backs in the squad hurt us. McCartney was forced into swapping flanks and looked uncomfortable – I don’t think he put in a right foot cross all game – while Matt Taylor looked less than effective at left-back. Allardyce relies on crosses into the box to score goals yet with Baldock and Jack Collison charged with that duty we lost all attacking threat.
8. We are unbeaten in seven and have won three of our last four away games. So long as we continue winning away we can afford draws at home. So long…