Sportsthoughts (65) – Undone by Bale: West Ham 2 Tottenham 3

Oh West Ham what are you doing?

2-1 up against a very good Spurs team with 14 minutes to go, and blew it. Great chance to go 3-1 up spurned by Matt Taylor. It would have been so good!

A sense of the inevitable as Spurs’ possession ratcheted up the pressure. Goalmouth scramble made it 2-2 and then what we all expected. A magnificent strike by Gareth Bale. 3-2 to Spurs and no way back for a West Ham team on their last legs.

Is Gareth Bale the best player in the Premier League at the moment? I would say so. He’s got everything: pace, energy, strength and an ability to pass and cross at speed and shoot from just about anywhere. Only Robin van Persie gets close to him at the moment.

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He wasn’t the sole reason for Spurs’ victory tonight, but in the end he made the difference.

The evening began with a tribute to Bobby Moore, the great England and West Ham centre back, who died twenty years ago.  I paid tribute to him before in my Sportsthoughts 28. If only we had a defender like him now.

Spurs’ first – another excellent Bale strike – was down to the inability of two or three defenders to get close enough to the man. A degree of panic I think.  But overall West Ham played well in the first half and deserved their equaliser, a penalty from Andy Carroll after he’d been brought down by ex-Hammer Scott Parker. Carroll had a decent game, putting himself about. But I despair really to see the Hammers – the Academy of Football  (once upon a time) – playing such basic stuff. Up to the Big Man at every opportunity.

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And I must criticise those West Ham fans who booed Scott Parker’s every touch. He was absolutely magnificent when he played for us. In the relegation season, two years ago, he was unstinting in his efforts in a poor team. So good was he that he won the Sportswriters’ Footballer of the Year award. Even to get noticed in a relegated team would be something – he was considered the best. I think most of us understood that he had to stay in the Premier League to ensure his England career, with the European Championships coming up. He’d done his bit for the Irons. But I guess some people just can’t see beyond the tribal enmities, and Spurs are the team many West Ham fans love to hate.

The second half was mostly Spurs. The West Ham keeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, had a fantastic game. So many breathtaking saves. Certainly the Hammers’ man of the match. But it was West Ham who went 2-1 up. A nice through ball to Joe Cole, who controlled it brilliantly and stroked it home from a difficult angle. Cole played pretty well, showed some nice touches, but in a framework that doesn’t really make the best of his skills. Frustrating!

Then there was that Taylor miss, and the wait for the inevitable.

2-2 ……… 2-3.

I don’t think we West Ham fans can complain. Spurs were the better team. We almost sneaked it, but Bale did for us in the end. It’s going to be a grim struggle for the rest of the season, although we probably only really need a couple of home wins and a couple of draws to ensure safety.

And then what? Another season of booting it up to the Big Man? What’s the point? May as well support Stoke.

No, it has to happen. Sorry Big Sam. One of our past greats is waiting in the wings.

The man from Rome, via Swindon…..

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Paolo di Canio!

(Photos from Google Images)

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love outside work: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. And anything else that I happen to think is worth writing about!
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4 Responses to Sportsthoughts (65) – Undone by Bale: West Ham 2 Tottenham 3

  1. So, when it comes down to final games, and if West Ham is not part of it, will you support another team?

    • John S says:

      Will always support West Ham first in football. Been following them since 1966! They don’t tend to be in the frame for any of the big prizes like the Premier League title, so there I’ll normally root for Arsenal. They aren’t doing that well either, at the moment. So I’m pretty indifferent to who wins.

  2. dc says:

    Di Canio is being lined up as Italian prime minister so you can forget him. Anyway you’re very harsh on big sam- he’s doing ok in a tough league and like stoke will play prettier football given time and resources to build a decent team. West ham should stay up- qpr are stuffed, villa look woeful and reading or wigan should make up the 3….
    then again i said france would win the 6 nations.
    d

    • John S says:

      I respect what Big Sam has done for the Irons, but there’s little that excites. Why do we watch football? For some, I know, it will be my football club, right or wrong, and not much else. For me it’s a bit more than that. It’s for the the exceptional moments, the passion, the beauty, or even the brilliance of the tactics. Something that inspires. I don’t think that will ever happen with Sam. He’s the ultimate pragmatist.

      Hope you’re right about the teams below us. But six points is not a comfortable margin. Strange things happen towards the end of the season.

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