Where to even begin? Well, everyone has already said their bit about the incidents surrounding White Hart Lane on Sunday, so I will just briefly say this:
I seriously doubt that anyone who reads this will have been one of those responsible for the vile chanting that took place. But for those that did chant such ridiculously barbaric stuff: Fuck you.
You live in a first world country and are supposed to support a club with a great tradition and history, not drag the club’s reputation through the mud. I am a proud West Ham supporter and I know plenty of fellow fans who aren’t racist in any way, so for you all (the idiots that chanted such moronic things) to disgrace the club in such a way shows that you aren’t fans at all, just little shit heads looking to cause trouble, regardless of what was happening on the pitch. I know you weren’t raised right, that you’re of extremely low IQ, and I feel sorry for you.
But I also loathe you for making a club that I’m proud to support look like shit. I hope the club acts quickly and bans you all, that you fuck off to Serbia, and that’s the last we all hear of it. What was chanted at White Hart Lane has no business in life, much less football.
NOW… about the match, we didn’t really turn up, did we? We saw very little of the ball, and when we did get on it, we looked very ponderous and unsure of ourselves. When Tottenham got on the ball, they would simply run at us through Bale, Lennon, Defoe, and Dempsey, and we looked absolutely shocked that they would employ two of the purest wingers in the game in such a manner. the first two goals were a result of giving the ball away in midfield and then simply lackluster defending and a reluctance to close the man with the ball down.
The third goal was due to us chasing the game, the defense being caught out, and again the midfield losing the ball. I’m not trying to take anything away from Tottenham, I think that was their best performance of the season apart from when they played away at Manchester United. It was also one of our worst performances, much like when we played away at Wigan.
The point that was really driven home was that our wide play is absolutely vital, and we look a much different team without Yossi Benayoun and Matt Jarvis or Matty Taylor on the flanks. We started with Maiga and O’Neil out wide, and it should be said that I don’t think either of them are natural wide players, but we just seemed to lack impetus and creativity out wide. Maiga looks lost out wide, and O’Neil is, while solid, a bit inhibited by a lack of pace. That said, I fully expect O’Neil to deputize for the suspended Mark Noble at Old Trafford (side note: Noble had a pass completion of 90% against Spurs, sadly only 4 attempts were in the attacking third, a reflection of our poor team performance). O’Neil is a very competent central midfielder.
Anyhow, to wrap up this rambling, it’s not all bad news! The giant of a man that is Andy Carroll scored a very nice header for our consolation goal. While celebrations were muted, I do believe it will have done wonders for his confidence. Also, we are still 8th in the table. Have faith, my fellow Hammers!
Now, as for the match against Manchester United, I expect them to play either a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. The battle that we can win in either case is the one in midfield, as they will probably line up with Carrick, Anderson, and Cleverley in a three man midfield or just Carrick and Anderson in a two-man midfield. The one thing our midfield trio (though sadly without Mark Noble) will have is plenty of energy and muscle, and we will have to outwork the Manchester United middle. We will probably deploy in a 4-5-1 with O’Neil and Diame laying deep in the middle with Nolan only slightly ahead.
On the flanks I expect us to start both Jarvis and Taylor, as I think the Maiga-out-wide experiment has been deemed a failure by even Big Sam. That should give us some pace and crossing ability. We don’t have to contend with Valencia, who is out this week, which is a huge plus for us. I think if we stay tight, don’t give the ball away needlessly in midfield, and don’t score, we have a slim chance of walking out of Old Trafford with a well earned point following a 0-0 draw. That really is the key, not scoring. Every time Manchester United gets scored on, they suddenly flick on and annihilate opponents with three goals in eight minutes.
We should simply try to boss the midfield and cut-off the supply to Van Persie, and wait until the eighth minute of Fergie time to try and steal a winner. If our midfield plays the exact opposite way they did at Spurs, and then play the way they did the last five minutes at Spurs, then we have got the slimmest of chances, and those are chances I’ll take. I do expect Manchester United to start lethargically, and if we lull them into thinking that we aren’t going to score, we may just outfox them and get a terrific point before hosting Chelsea at the weekend.
Don’t call me delusional.