Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hammer blow!

West Ham United 3 Charlton Athletic 1

...And like our dreams, it fades and dies - after about twenty five minutes yesterday, when Howard Webb pulled out the red card, to be precise!

What is it about first games of the season and Charlton players getting sent off? We know that our club likes to do things the hard way, but this is getting stupid. Richard Rufus at Newcastle; Paul Konchesky versus Chelsea; Darren Ambrose last year at the Stadium of Light; and now, Djimi Traore at Upton Park - first game, sent off, automatic ban...

So what good things, if any, came out of yesterdays loss? Debuts for Carson, Traore, Faye, Reid and Hasselbaink, of varying success. Carson made some good saves, and didn't really have much chance with any of the goals, although the second was a very strange and soft affair. Traore was under pressure all match (well, all he played...), and seemed not to be able to cope with the tempo or a resurgent Lee Bowyer. Faye did OK, but the radio commentator took 23 minutes to mention him by name (by which time I'd almost forgotten he was playing) - not really what you want from a defensive midfielder when under apparent constant pressure. Would Kishishev have been so anonymous early on - I doubt it! Jimmy-Floyd tried hard, but didn't have too many chances to shine. One long range shot just over, and a diving header prevented by Gabbidon's outstretched arm were his only real efforts. He'll get better, and it was probably good that he got a rest near the end with a midweek game coming up. Andy Reid came on for the last 25 minutes or so, and would have helped his lacking fitness a little. His free kick near the end could have brought an equaliser from Sorondo, but it wasn't to be.

The other good point (I thought), was that Dowie went for it after we fell 2-1 behind with only ten men. You have to ask if the switch to 3-4-2 would have happened with Alan Curbishley in charge? Usually, Curbs settles for keeping the deficit down in these situations, but Dowie seemed to say a draw or bust by the formation switch. It nearly worked, so let's give plaudits where due.

Curbs was on the radio this morning saying how pleased he was when Darren Bent's penalty gave Charlton the 15th minute lead; and how disappointed he was when Traore got sent off not long after. If there was any doubt, he really does have Charlton close to his heart, even now. What price that he is strongly linked with a return to The Valley after he has been down under to see his sister and had the break he wants (and needs), especially if the team continue to struggle with Dowie in charge and are near the base of the table come October?

So it's one down, thirty-seven to go. We are still lacking in defence, woefully short in midfield, and with a shortage of spirit it seems. Mr Dowie will have a lot to do before Wednesday if we are to prevent another resounding thrashing by Manchester United - with or without Wayen Rooney!

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