Tony Cottee Column: Players get just as frustrated as fans when they don’t win
“Plenty of teams will come to Upton Park this season and put 11 men behind the ball.”
I completely understand West Ham fans’ frustrations after seeing the team held to a goalless draw on Tuesday night against a Bristol City side that were bottom of the league at kick-off.
I was at the game and I thought that the Hammers did okay for the first 70 minutes, but you could tell that the desperation started to creep in in the latter stages of the match.
Don’t get me wrong, on the balance of possession and play, West Ham deserved to win the game, but we just couldn’t score that elusive goal.
Had we make the breakthrough, I think that we would have gone on the win the game quite comfortably.
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Some credit must go to Bristol City, though.
Like many teams will do this season, they came to Upton Park and put 11 men behind the ball and encouraged West Ham to try and break them down.
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In the end, the Hammers failed.
The same things happens to Barcelona every week in the Spanish league, and West Ham need to learn how to combat this tactic and penetrate the so-called lesser teams’ defences.
Not only is a performance like Tuesday’s frustrating for the fans and the manager, it is also equally frustrating for the players.
You cannot fault their effort against Bristol City, but the finishing just wasn’t there.
I can tell you now that West Ham will create less chances than they did on Tuesday and come away with 2-0 wins this season, so there is not too much to get downhearted about.
We all want to win 4-0 every week, but the Championship just isn’t like that and the Hammers didn’t lose and they kept a clean sheet, so there are some positives to take from the game.
For me, the first 15 minutes of a game like Tuesday’s are crucial, and I felt that we didn’t get the powerful start that we had against Leicester.
If you don’t get an early goal when you are playing against a side struggling near the bottom of the table at home, then that is when the away side start to grow confidence and feel like they can get something out of the game.
One player I felt had a tough night was young Freddie Sears.
He hit the post and had a couple of chances that were saved, but he was being played out of position on the left wing and he kept wandering in-field.
It was also a disappointing night for Sam Baldock. I am a big fan of his, but Bristol City kept him quiet and he had one of those nights, where he didn’t really get the service and nothing fell his way, which was a shame.
West Ham have been hit hard by injuries and losing Winston Reid is a big blow.
The defender has improved massively under Allardyce and I hope he has a speedy recovery.
Another player the Hammers are missing is Matt Taylor.
He offers natural width to the team and we don’t have another naturally left-footed player that can play out wide.
This weekend West Ham travel to Hull, who have quietly crept up the league table in recent weeks.
Under Nigel Pearson they have a good manager and it will be one of the tougher away games this season.
I am confident that West Ham can go there and draw though and I think most fans would be pleased with a point.
We need the international break to come so that we can get some key players back to fitness, and it would be a massive psychological boost if the Hammers could remain in second spot for the two weeks.
Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John