Sunday, December 30, 2007

Faint Praise for West Ham

The Express say West Ham mounted 'a stirring fight-back' to beat Man Utd. If that strikes you as faint praise for West Ham's performance yesterday then you will be shocked by the reactions of most of the other papers.

The Mail as always are begrudging in their praise of West Ham and thought Man Utd were 'below their best'. Although the paper is nice enough to quote Alex Ferguson admitting "We were beaten by the better team."

The Guardian has probably the least flattering account of the match. In fact they obviously saw a different game from everybody else when they claim that Man Utd 'should not have lost this match.' and were 'in control for much of it.' The Guardian must also not have seen any of the statistics from yesterday's game which show West Ham controlled possession, territory and restricted Man Utd to very few shots.

The Guardian ignore West Ham's greater possession, corners and number of shots and say 'West Ham were fighting for scraps and long balls.'

Despite West Ham's poor performance the paper shockingly gives their Man of the Match to Mark Noble. They say he can 'cross a ball and at the end of an afternoon of enervating running between the lines he twice played his centre-backs in for goal.'

The Independent also seem unsure how West Ham won. They felt Curbishley's 4-5-1 formation was 'undermined when a glorious chance was missed early on and the visitors scored instead.' They then seem shocked that Curbishley put on two substitutes before finally bringing on Ashton. I suppose you do have to question a manager's tactics after he beats the league champions and leaders.

The Times however give praise where it is due, saying "West Ham, who played with five in midfield and the excellent Carlton Cole as a lone striker, played the neater and more industrious football." In fact The Times felt that Carlton Cole was the Man of the Match and claim that 'Cole has been a revelation this season.'

The Telegraph are perhaps the most fulsome in their praise of the winning West Ham team. They thought West Ham 'were too good for ... United'. They say West Ham 'could ... have put the game out of United's reach in the first half.' Noting that West Ham have been criticised for their lack of creativity this season they say "there was nothing wrong with their invention yesterday. Their finishing, maybe."

The Telegraph in naming Mark Noble as Man of the Match say he won 100% of his tackles, set up West Ham's two goals and completed 84 per cent of his passes.


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