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Hammer Fan Blog: City loss could be blow West Ham can’t recover from

PUBLISHED: 18:48 27 January 2011

Avram Grant, Manager of West Ham United looks dejected after the Carling Cup Semi Final Second Leg match between Birmingham City and West Ham United at St Andrews.

Avram Grant, Manager of West Ham United looks dejected after the Carling Cup Semi Final Second Leg match between Birmingham City and West Ham United at St Andrews.

2011 Getty Images

It’s perhaps endemic of West Ham’s season that since the last time this column was printed; Hammers have played twice, been excellent for 135 minutes, poor for 75, and yet have only a heartbreaking draw and a soul destroying defeat to show for their efforts.

If the stoppage-time equaliser conceded at Goodison Park on Saturday had broken the players’ spirit, there was little sign of it as they set about their task with great gusto in the first half at St.Andrews. By the end of the second half and in to extra time, the team looked out on their feet physically and mentally, and this defeat might well prove to be a decisive blow from which they cannot recover.

Following a second half turnaround of this nature it’s inevitable that the knives are once again out for Avram Grant, and his post-match comments that he ‘didn’t know what to say’ to his charges at half time have done little to help his cause amongst disgruntled supporters. One suspects (or certainly hopes) that this comment has been misunderstood, but Grant’s failure to address the developing situation on the field undoubtedly adds fuel to the fire of those that would like him removed.

It is the fact that the change in Birmingham’s approach was so eminently predictable, likewise Hammers’ capitulation in the face of this approach, that is most galling for the magnificent travelling support and if Grant’s shortcomings were painfully obvious to see then so too, were those of his players.

Of course, there’s sympathy for the fact that West Ham were cruelly robbed of Freddie Picquionne by an over zealous official and a ludicrous rule - semi-fit Carlton Cole was a spent force after an hour of this match - but so much of what transpired was football at its most basic and footballers, managers and coaches of any note should have the tools to cope better with these situations as they arise.

In truth, there’s little point in commenting further as no new ground will be covered. On show were the exact same failings that have been palpably obvious for the whole of this season, the whole of last season, and there are plenty of supporters that could journey further back through the annals of Hammers’ history to point to the same problems plaguing West Ham sides for decades.

On a positive note, events beyond Hammers own control have gone well this week. The Premier League table has taken on an altogether more promising look as the weekend and midweek fixtures unfolded. The semi-final defeat was the worst possible pre-cursor to the critical fixtures to come in February and following that savage blow to morale, it is now incumbent upon the owners and manager to give the squad the necessary fillip in the final 3 days of the transfer window.

No need for ‘save our season’ matches, events in the next 72 hours could well determine Hammers fate. Stand by your beds.


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