Written by AFCB_Liam
The Cherries ushered in a new decade with a performance which was, pound-for-pound, as abject as anything seen in the whole of the previous one, as Eddie had clearly forgotten to buy Moyes a Christmas present (like those relatives who show up from nowhere), and decided 3 points would have to do.
After Saturday’s horror show at Brighton, I went to the game with a feeling of what can only be described as dread. King and Stacey, the 2 who disgraced themselves least at Brighton, were revealed as now being out for 6 weeks to add to our ongoing injury woes. Franno, Lerma and Wilson came into the team, to replace those 2 plus Billing.
We actually started ok (the bar is low), and kept the ball well, with a couple of promising moves out wide. Predictably though, these came to nothing once we got within 30 yards, as our outright fear of shooting or playing direct football stopped us from bothering the shots on target stats column again.
Our passing then got increasingly erratic, more panicked and more sideways, inviting West Ham to press us which they duly obliged to do. And inevitably, their first proper attack led to a goal as we left space on the edge of the box for NOBLE to hit a shot which wrong-footed Ramsdale and crept into the opposite corner.
Cue more diabolical passing and control from the Cherries.
Whilst on Saturday we had some hope for an hour or so, all hope was extinguished after 25 minutes in the London Stadium, as HALLER flicked a glorious bicycle kick into the far corner after Rico was easily beaten on the left-wing.
Cue more diabolical passing and control from the Cherries.
And the massacre continued just 10 minutes later. Noble, being made to look like a cockney Messi, got goal side of Rico and then seemed to trip himself up (I was sat in row 2) before the referee pointed to the spot. VAR seemed to concur it was a foul (I haven’t watched any highlights), but it seemed absolutely farcical from my vantage point. NOBLE stroked home the penalty. Even VAR wouldn’t save us this time.
But then, something glorious. Maybe I dreamt it, but the ball went wide to Rico, who it seemed to me did this thing with his foot where he aimed it towards the goal and forwards. And not back towards his own goal but towards THEIR actual goal. People around me gasped. One guy said he thought this thing was called a “shot”, but he wasn’t sure as it had been so long. Their keeper even had to get his gloves dirty. Eddie and JT looked bemused.
With the glow of this mystical “shot” plus an extremely watery hot chocolate keeping me going, the 2nd half kicked off. Rico had been substituted, potentially for not sticking to the script and daring to attempt one of these shot thingys.
We did pick things up marginally for 10 minutes, with a nice spell of possession which almost threatened to become attacks or even shots. But alas, it got worse after 65mins, when surprise- surprise, Anderson vs Franno didn’t turn out to be much of a contest for pace. ANDERSON collected a pass from 40 yards out, got goal side of Franno and tucked it past Ramsdale.
The next 20 minutes was painful. Slow build-up, reluctance to shoot and West Ham constantly threatening to make it 5 on the break. When we did manage to create a chance, Solanke managed to head against the post from a yard and it fell back into Fabianski’s arms.
The only other moment of note was a lunge from Cresswell on Fraser which saw the referee go straight for the red card. But of course, VAR had to poke its nose in and decide that a studs-up lunge is fine and that clearly and obviously isn’t serious foul play, despite looking like a serious foul to everybody in the ground (there were minimal complaints first time around).
A Cherries fan exodus ensued (I do not blame a single one of them) and we fizzled out to another embarrassment. West Ham’s biggest PL win in over 10 years. You’re welcome, David.
The players came over at the end looking like lost lambs. I and many others just could not bring myself to applaud that, but some did.
Ramsdale – 5 – Couple of good saves. Couldn’t do anything about the goals. Looked like he cared.
Francis – 3 – Tried but is suicide playing him at right-back. Didn’t have any options with a back 4 though.
Cook – 3 – Very poor again. Passing all over the place and looked a bit shell-shocked.
Mepham – 4 – Passing was wayward but tried and did make a couple of good interceptions.
Rico – 3 – Started ok but faded badly and the first 3 goals all came from our left-hand side. Way too open defensively. Had a shot at least.
L Cook – 4 – Ran around a bit and tried to make something happen in the 2nd half but nowhere near enough accuracy in passing.
Lerma – 4 – Worst I’ve seen him play, lost the ball a lot despite a strong start.
H Wilson – 3 – Offered very little and even he didn’t shoot today.
Gosling – 4 – Looked tired and struggled to impact the game.
C Wilson – 2 – My word. Terrified to shoot, always looking to turn back, didn’t jump for headers, held nothing up. Where is the old Callum?!
Solanke – 2 – Ran a bit. Did a couple of nice turns. Other than that another woeful attacking display. So easy to win the ball from him.
Fraser – 4 – Decent work rate and a couple of good crosses. I think that’s the bar for a 4 these days.
Stanislas – 4 – Tried to make something happen at least. Obviously not by shooting though.
One of those 90-minute experiences where you wonder why we do this to ourselves. Very hard to think of a single positive to take from it. We made a poor team look like Barcelona. Worse is that we aren’t just losing to those around us now, we’re letting them play themselves into confidence. Jahanbaksh hadn’t scored in over a year. Anderson hadn’t scored in over 20 games. No worries, have one on us.
The injuries are clearly killing us, but the lack of effort, basic ball control or any kind of plan today was a disgrace. Once again, I truly believe that our championship team would have given them a much better game today, even at their current age.
We gave up our bank holidays to come and watch that, the least the players could do is to make it look like they give a s***. We look completely out of ideas and worryingly, Eddie looks lost. Our style of play is turgid; pass around aimlessly at the back then ping it up to Wilson or Dom to lose it. When we do get within 30 yards it’s back out wide and then backwards.
I still believe we have to give Eddie the chance to turn it around, and that even in the Championship having him here would be our best chance of not hitting freefall, but SOMETHING has to change. A new style of play, give the youngsters some chances, drop Solanke, rocket to the players, loan signings, go full Burnley….whatever. But try something and don’t just blame injuries and luck. We are the poorest team in the league right now, and nothing we do would make us a lot worse than we were today.
We need to gamble and at least go down fighting. We are sleep-walking into relegation feeling sorry for ourselves, but sympathy never earned anyone any points. To go down playing this brand of non-football would be a travesty.
Think worth adding that typical of way things going that the three-goal half time margin was the result of a lucky deflection, ridiculous penalty award and superb skill from someone who couldn’t do much right for several weeks. Even Anderson played with some effort. Would have been good to have seen us take on Pellegrini’s struggling side to see how we looked.
No doubt tired bodies out there for the cherries but the worry is mentally the team are a beaten side at present. – Join the conversation, click here.