The Cherhill, Wiltshire, Village Competition: Three Parsnips (no foliage) (we’re visiting my dad this weekend)
We have been losing at West Ham forever. We have been bad away from home for ages. Had we held onto Dembele and restored Dempsey and kept Murphy and signed some exciting half-Lithuanian playmakers we’d still have been perfectly capable of playing like that.
Things just didn’t go well. You go down in the first minute away from home then, generally, the match will not end with points being won. That this goal was a dreadful mess does not help supporters’ moods, either, but again, there are few concessions where we’re happy, are there? In this case Andy Carroll won a header, the ball was moved on and Kevin Nolan arrived in the vacant inside left channel to slam – slam! – home. Oh dear.
They got another with a direct header from a corner, which doesn’t happen often, does it? Winston Reid outjumped Diarra and larruped a header into the empty net, empty because Schwarzer had gone all De Gea on us and ended up neither fish nor fowl in mid air.
Then again, Matthew Taylor scorching in from the edge of the area to make it three. Game, set, match.
The second half was better but they always are when you’re behind, aren’t they? West Ham sat on the lead, Fulham grew a bit, and possibilities emerged. The great Dimitar Berbatov made his Fulham debut and showed some fantastic touches, and suggested that he might have that splendid gift of making others around him better. Hugo Rodallega went from anonymous apology to incisive build-up contributor. He and Berbatov seemed to have half an idea of how to play with one another and on another day they’d have made a goal or two.
Also relevant was Alex Kacaniklic, whose lively approach work was encouraging. He did well and deserves a season to get to grips with the league. Give him that and he might be a star.
In other news, Kieron Richardson had a good debut I thought. I liked how he moved, the way he looked to use the ball and the pockets of space he found. Again, with a bit more time with his teammates he should be more than useful, and that left foot is sure to make some good things happen sooner rather than later. As it was he had the only meaningful Fulham shot of note in the first half.
So if you look past the 3-0 scoreline and forget that our attacking play was more often than not dire, and that our defence was uncharacteristically terrible, there’s some room for hope. This team has lost two of its better players, but there are several good ones left and we’re a long way from being in danger.