Anyway, more to the point, I'd just be pissed were I a Liverpool supporter. That was a ton of cash and right after taking Chelsea to the cleaners over Torres. Not sure spending this past Summer would inspire confidence either, but I wouldn't be in a position to comment. Anyway, got my own problems with some of Barça's transfer dealings. Had we signed Carroll he'd be on loan until his contract expires and leave on a free.
This summer, the jury's still out on, but if the owners have any intent a lot of money has to be made available soon. We have chopped an enormous amount of wages over the last two summers and increased commercial revenue by a lot. The bright side is that at least something can be salvaged out of Carroll due to his Englishness.
I don't know what kind of model or outlook we were using to buy players in the year 2011 but it was absolutely horrible. I would get pissed but that doesn't put the money back, what's done is done. I think we have a lot of good parts with a glaring lack of defensive midfield backup and a striker. We just have to wait for players like Suso and Sterling to mature and not be short-sighted in making unnecessary purchases. They definitely have the potential we need.
Quality over quantity has to be the order of the day. Identify spots in need of fixing and put big fees into getting match-winning targets.
Back to the posh seats for this game, which afforded a study in the ageing process of footballers. On the way into Milburn reception, I passed Lord Beardsley. Recently given the Hatem Ben Arfa seal of approval, only a little extra flesh on his face indicated that he is past fifty. To the lift (elevator if you’re reading in the colonies), where my companions were a bunch of scousers and...Nikos Dabizas. Would he mistime his exit, necessitating a last-ditch, head-first dive through the door? Alas not. Aside from a beard, he cut a splendidly trim figure. Lastly, after half time, I spied Paul Gascoigne. If he looks drawn, at least he wasn’t quite the haggard wraith of the mid-to-late noughties. Nonetheless, the contrast between the 45 year old and the chubby lad that exploded out of Dunston is poignant.
Your eagle-eyed correspondent also perceived two middle aged men who were waving energetically as West Ham warmed up. One was slight, his pink-faced companion...not. At last, K. Nolan waved back at them, Andy Carroll joining in following a word from his mate. One hoped it would be a sorry day for these gentlemen, but everyone understood that Nolan would score. The question was whether the ex-captain's presence might inspire his old colleagues to a bit of urgency along the way.
Six seconds in and a crude hoof sent the ball whistling through the air, which was as good a way as any to announce that a Sam Allardyce team was visiting. The gargantuan fraud himself wasn't ruminating by the touchline as normal, one noticed. Then, one found oneself wondering if the high priest of anti-football had nodded off in his seat; West Ham were playing properly!
It wasn't football as would have made a purist pur, but it was competent enough to cause Newcastle problems. The crossfield, aerial diagonal to Carroll's head was not abandoned altogether and Nolan almost met one flick-on, yet we weren't witnessing a cavalcade of cynical dross such as Allardyce's Blackburn perpetrated here two years before.
Nor was the home team's start without encouragement. Ben Arfa had the beating of everyone, although a loose pass sent Ba wide after a break from the edge of the NUFC box following a corner. Ba himself had sinned beforehand in delaying rather than play in Cisse. The opening went; mind you, Cisse mindlessly wasted a fine chance when he found himself up against the last man and merely swung at the ball first time with his left. It was one stupid decision among many from the number nine; he and Ba seem more incompatible with every game. Either they drifted too far apart to link effectively or stood on each other's toes. The contrast with Carroll and Nolan's understanding was stark.
4-4-2, it should be said, was Newcastle's formation, or prison. Gutierrez played an uneasy central midfield role while Shane Ferguson started wide left. The opportunity exposed Ferguson's limitations. He has pace, he can whip in a cross, but he evinced a certain lack of positional intelligence that meant too often he either ran beyond the play or was stuck too square to provide a useful outlet. Cutting in off the flanks was an art beyond him. For now, he is a one-dimensional player, best suited to employment as a shock sub.
Fifteen minutes or so in and Newcastle were out of ideas. Williamson and Taylor began to hit more long balls than their counterparts. The full backs were scarcely a factor going forwards. West Ham weren't terrifying, but they looked comfortable, despite losing Matt Jarvis. Carroll was winning some, losing some and looked inhibited but Noble and Diame utterly controlled the midfield. Noble stayed deep, passed short and simple, covering for his defenders, a very disciplined performance. When Newcastle had possession, two banks of four stringently closed off passing routes and a lack of movement offered Cabaye and Jonas little help. Jonas limped off and one wondered if Anita's arrival might prove a benign accident, but he seemed not to know what to do with himself, tiptoeing forward without much drive, passing with no wit. Ben Arfa never hid, but sometimes tried to carry the fight too much on his own.
In the midst of this, Diame emerged as the game's salient player. If he was built like a removal man, his control rarely failed him, in contrast with some leaden touches by home players. Nothing about his play disclosed imagination or flair, but he was sound in defence, methodical in his passing and he seized every opportunity to lope forwards; a prosaic danger, but a danger nevertheless. When such a player takes centre stage, you know his opponents are all at sea.
Up to this point, Kevin Nolan's contribution was now and then to chug heavily into the near vicinity of the ball. That he was so utterly marginalised meant nothing, it is his way; he proved as much when Santon didn't clear properly and O' Brien reacted to the loose ball faster than Ferguson. Whether O' Brien intended a shot or cross I can't say, but Nolan was typically alive to the low, hard drive with its outswinging course. The two middle-aged blokes celebrated discreetly and Nolan saluted them running back.
Right at the end of the half, Newcastle built up a modest head of steam. A Hammers defender threw himself to block a shot. Williamson put himself about in the box, but as usual missed one cross and headed another straight at the keeper. Ferguson had a shot charged down. Cabaye was taking more or less every set piece, but rarely well.
The second half brought Shola, but before I'd regained my seat, Ba had gone close. Thereafter, his two best chances came from dropping deep and advancing with the ball, an indictment in itself of his colleagues. He hit two low, long shots; one just wide, one saved well by Jaaskelainen. Overall, the service he received was dire and he combined little better with Shola than with Cisse. Newcastle looked bankrupt.
West Ham, however, could not kill the game. O' Neil, on as a sub, had a free header despite two home men standing close by. Diame rumbled through a weak defence but his chance disappeared in a desperate scramble. Carroll was kept out by Krul; the keeper did well, the striker looked unconvincing. One hoped the miss would prove costly, but there was no rally. Newcastle weren't in command of the situation by any means. The centre of midfield remained West Ham's and that did not change.
Not that Pardew's final substitution helped. Ben Arfa had screamed past McCartney and forced a sharp, low near post save. From the resultant corner, he tried to score directly and stretched Jaaskelainen. Off went McCartney to get his blood untwisted, which meant Hatem had a new mark to traumatise. But when Obertan arrived, Ben Arfa was shoved out to the left and his threat was compromised. He and Obertan were both guilty of pulling the ball back through the air when a low effort would have been better but surely it would have been preferable to have had the wide men on opposite flanks, with scope to cut inside. To expect to undo an Allardyce team through the air struck me as optimistic, but when a team misfires, bizarre wishful thinking often grips a manager.
When the final whistle went, it was impossible to complain about the result. West Ham have limitations, but play within them and they have worked out how to accommodate their match winner. That’s how I’d have described Newcastle last season, but now there is only incoherence and it seems to be here to stay.
Fox sports plays this premier league review each week highlighting all the games. It's really a great way to keep up since I'm not able to watch a lot of games obviously. Definitely recommend it if it airs in your area and you don't get to see many games