Curbs sails close to the wind
By Uncle Dave
Saturday 19 Apr 2008 21:09:01
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He may have made the inspired substitution to win the game, but Hammers boss Alan Curbishley came far too close to comfort to being hung out to dry by a team looking to become the worst in Premier League history.

Despite dominating for much of the first half, West Ham only managed to come in at half time with a 1-0 lead. The talk before the game was the tale of the fight – who actually had the love of the shirt, and who was merely counting the hours until the end of the season?

Curbishley can chat all he wants about being riddled with injuries, he can conduct all the surveys he wants, but the manager needs to get results on the pitch first and foremost. And having spent £45 million in the summer, one would expect more strength in depth from the squad.

The plus points from the game were:

1 – The formation. The return of Julien Faubert from a calf injury allowed the side to play with two wingers, at times alternating between 4-4-2 and 4-2-4. Freddie Ljungberg on the other side provided the balance that allowed a few crosses, and also allowed him to set up the second goal.

2 – Although stretched at times, Robert Green once again put in some fantastic saves to keep the game level, including saving at the feet of eventual goalscorer Tyrone Mears.

However, the negatives seemed to outstrip them, and it seems a case of who wants tenth place least between Tottenham Hotspur and the Hammers. At least Spurs have won something this year.


1 – The defence went to sleep on more than one occasion, letting Mears run all over them. Granted, they kept the strikeforce pretty quiet, but still, the time and space Derby had on the ball in West Ham’s third was shocking.

2 –Without Ashton, the attacking threat seemed pretty impotent. You could blame injuries once more, but any top side in the Premier League should have at least three top quality strikers, and Freddie Sears did not take his chance to shine today.

3 –The midfield could prove to be a sticky situation, a watered down version of the Gerrard-Lampard debate England will have for the next five years. Mark Noble and Scott Parker seem to be the same player, though the latter did get himself into some good positions, despite wasting them completely.

Although he should be safe this season, if he is not shrewd in the transfer market this year, Curbishley could soon find himself heading the bookmakers list of ‘most likely to be sacked’ pretty soon in the next year.

The boos that rang out around the ground, even when the match had ended and three points were in the bag, were testament to the sadness the fans are feeling at watching their team achieve nothing this year. This might be a welcome respite after the season before, but fans have short memories when it comes to watching a team for an hour and a half each week, and more is needed if the side is to achieve anything next year.

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