“We didn’t play well. They were better than us. Villa played sharp and quick like we planned to do. It was not so good. One thing you see in all my teams before is that they react well to a defeat like this. There is a lot to learn from this game and I am sure the season will look much, much better.”
Sunday, August 15, 2010
A solid pre-season, a string of "astute" signings and an experienced manager in Avram Grant would have filled most Hammers fans with renewed optimism. I was also pleased from reading reports about victories at Monchengladbach and thought that last season's poor showing will be forgotten.
Unfortunately, the same West Ham (bar Winston Reid) lined up against a managerless Villans and were made to look pretty much like what they were last season, utterly hapless. Watching the first-half performance could have made a grown man cry and the Hammers clearly could not settle into any sort of rhythm. Passes were terrible and the one West Ham threat, Carlton Cole was forced to come deep to collect the ball. The big Hammers striker did have one good run towards the Villa goal, outpacing Dunne but forced wide, Cole dragged the shot wide of goal.
Rob Green's inability to handle any kind of crosses or high balls into the box continue to haunt West Ham. It was his preference to punch the ball rather than catch it that allowed the impressive Marc Albrighton to cross-volley the ball which eventually made its way to Stewart Downing to score the first Premier League goal of this new season. Avram Grant should be shopping for a second goalie just in case Green cracks.
Villa were fully deserving of their two-goal lead by halftime. Although Green took some credit for tipping over Ashley Young's lob, the West Ham defence continually struggled to stop the Villan's game plan with Young and Albrighton causing all sorts of problems down the flank. Last season's problems down the flanks were resurfacing.
Perhaps it is not a change of manager West Ham needed but really a change in playing staff.
A very brave Avram Grant said this after the match,
Let's hope he is right, if not, it will be a long hard struggle yet again. Missing Thomas Hitzlsperger and Manuel Da Costa are already looking like key players early on as the Hammers look lacking direction and leadership yet again in their opening match to the new season.
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