Cyber space is clogged with disenchanted Liverpool fans. Hodgson’s pressers (and his match tactics) have progressed from modest to nervous and now to outright absurdity. It is natural for any ardent fan of Liverpool to get in a fatalistic mode. I am no different. To vent my frustrations, I have switched to another mode of fanhood. A different perspective. I start today with happenings that affect Liverpool and should be concerned with-outside the core of LFC.
In no recent memory have I been concerned with what a bottom club will do on a match-day just 2 months into start of season. But situations change, I have to adapt however depressing it is.Thus I begin with West Ham’s home game against Newcastle.
First impressions are always the most lasting if not the best. And the match gave me what I have been missing past weeks by watching our dear old club. Passion, commitment and a will to win. West Ham and Newcastle were showing these in abundance. It was the fabled frenzied English football with almost no holds barred.
10 minutes into the game and Piquionne was pick of the lot of attacking prowess of Hammers. The attacking trident of him, Obinna and Cole were joining for the first time and it was causing havoc among Magpies backline. If it was not for Cole’s lethargy, West Ham would have been ahead as early as 6th minute when Piquionne headed on a ball to his feet inside penalty area. He delayed his shot and lost his options. But soon Hammers were rewarded for their all-guns blazing play when a truly inspirational longball from center by Mark Noble found Piquionne who broke the offside trap (I wonder if there was one) and let fly a delightful cross which even a drought-ridden Cole could not miss to score from. Noble’s initial pass and play in general portrayed what Liverpool had been missing- clever distribution and incisiveness.
Newcastle was almost asleep for the major part of 1st half. Noble and Parker were pressing well in their half and intercepting Barton and Guitterez’s forays-they being the most effective among Toons. But there were serious doubts raised of ‘the English goalkeeping style’ when Green failed to deal with a right wing cross but was reprieved by ref’s decision to penalise Carrol for a soft foul. Green should have punched when he tried to catch a ball jumping up with a powerful striker like Carrol (Pepe, please stick to your abilities.)
He paid the price, this time for poor positioning and no will to take charge within 6-yard box when a delightful Barton cross from the right was headed on to the ground by Andy Carrol and Kevin Nolan lashed it into the far corner with his less favorable left foot. Magpies were turning up the gas now. But Hammers were persisted and could well have been ahead again following an attack Obinna spearheaded twisting and turning. His pass across the goal deflected fortunately off Coloccini instead of the stretching Cole.
The half ended even on scoreline and on all counts but with very opposite styles of play. Hammers lithe and agile whereas Newcastle powering their way using the considerably higher physical strength of their players.
Th second half paid dividents to Newcastle style of play. There is only so much flair alone can do and fatigue seemed to have pressed on to Hammers attack very early. Obinna and Piquionne was almost absent from the onset. Parker was finding it difficult to co-rdinate with Tiote nullifying him in central midfield. LFC must take note of him. He could cause serious trouble to our already toothless midfield.
Relentlessness of Newcastle and mediocrity of West Ham defending combined to one of the easiest goals that Andy Carrol would ever score. Barton’s cross was again on the money and Da Costa laughably ran away from Carrol AND the ball when it came in for him to effortlessly head it in. It capped a powerful performance by him-a statement to add to his growing reputation. Upson’s injury leading to Gabbidon being brought in might have caused insecurity at the back, but no excuse for abysmal defending. Hammers never regained from there and Newcastle looked eager to extend lead. Ameobi, least impressive among those with Black-and-White stripes found more and more freedom upfront with Hammers midfield and defence tiring. Jonas and Jose were crucial on the right to provide and Behrami was having an unusually poor night.
The match ended 2-1 with the most significant thing happening for West Ham after the goal being Benny Mccarthy’s substitution. However, I was wondering at full time that if he did really come on.
Newcastle showed true fighting quality and proved this was not the side that went down so pitifully two seasons ago.The Hammers were spirited to start with.But physically not good enough to last a game.This is a worrying sign for Avram Grant.Unless a miracle happens, I will be surprised if they stay up. Well, unfortunately, does the same go for Liverpool?