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Hammer Fan Blog: Mike Jones’ performance at Stoke v West Ham was atrocious

PUBLISHED: 17:27 15 March 2011 | UPDATED: 17:49 15 March 2011

Stoke City's Glenn Whelan (left) and Ryan Shawcross (right) protest to match referee Mike Jones (centre) after West Ham United's opening goal.

Stoke City's Glenn Whelan (left) and Ryan Shawcross (right) protest to match referee Mike Jones (centre) after West Ham United's opening goal.

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“Grant’s comments were absolutely on the money and if anything, following a shambolic performance from the utterly inept Mike Jones, were a little too restrained.”

It has emerged that Avram Grant’s comments in the wake of West Ham’s FA Cup Quarter Final defeat at the Britannia Stadium are to be investigated by the FA.

Investigated for what, exactly? Telling the truth? Make no mistake, Grant’s comments were absolutely on the money and if anything, following a shambolic performance from the utterly inept Mike Jones, were a little too restrained.

First things first, it was a bad day at the office for the Hammers, and it would be unfair to say that the referee and Tony Pulis’ influence on him were the only contributing factors to this heartbreaking defeat.

Too many players did not perform to the level they had in previous weeks, and the absence of Demba Ba was crucial. Without his ability to split defenders and run in behind them, West Ham looked short of ideas and one dimensional; no sooner had the ball gone forward than it came back, providing precious little relief for the defence and the excellent Robert Green.

Nonetheless, Hammers could and probably should have left the Potteries with a draw, and might well have done so were it not for the performance of an official considered to be so poor his superiors that he is likely to be dropped from the Premier League roster at the end of the season. Jones - infamous for last season’s ‘beach ball’ goal at Sunderland - was incompetent throughout and got every major decision wrong.

If the FA are so keen to launch investigations; perhaps they should look at why the Premier League’s worst official was placed in charge of a quarter final that was always going to be played in a white-hot atmosphere and look more closely at the decisions in question:

1) Stoke’s opening goal Jon Walters clearly blocked Matthew Upson. An obvious foul. Not given.

2) West Ham’s equaliser - handball by Frederic Picquionne. Not given.

3) Stoke penalty - a clear dive. Penalty awarded.

4) Stoke winning goal - Robert Huth clearly pulls Thomas Hitzlsperger out of the West Ham wall. An obvious foul. Not given.

5) West Ham penalty claim - Walters rugby tackles James Tomkins in Stoke penalty area. Free kick awarded to Stoke.

None of the above were difficult decisions and there were more examples of Jones’ ineptitude, including a ludicrous booking for Victor Obinna, but the fact that it is Grant - not Jones and Pulis - that is under investigation says everything about how the game’s governing body in this country operate and why they continue to be a laughing stock.

That an under-performing West Ham side might have come away with a replay says everything about what a limited side Stoke City are.

Utterly awful to watch, it’s no surprise that they failed to sell out their own stadium for an FA Cup quarter-Final, and whilst their ‘support’ may crow about their impending visit to Wembley, Hammers fans will at least be content that they aren’t subjected to Stoke’s style of play every week.

Stoke bombarded West Ham’s penalty box with their set pieces. Hammers, and Rob Green in particular, are entitled to feel aggrieved that they were only able to score when infringements had occurred, and that’s to say nothing of Matthew Etherington’s dive to win a penalty – a newly acquired skill of his that served to highlight that there is no area of the dark arts that Stoke have failed to master.

In spite of all this, Grant and his troops will know that they didn’t perform well on Sunday, and that improvement is required before Saturday’s fixture with Tottenham.

The Israeli enjoys an excellent record against Harry Redknapp and will hope for this to continue as Hammers bid to do the double (treble if you include the Olympic Stadium) over their North London rivals. If they are to do this, the return of Ba and Gary O’Neil to form the same starting XI that were so impressive against Liverpool will be key.

It’s a sign of the times that Hammers fans will be looking forward to the trip to White Hart Lane after two weeks of watching Stoke, and the sense of injustice at the events of last weekend should prove a useful motivational tool for Grant and his side between now and the end of the season.

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