Manchester United show West Ham the importance of technical ability

PUBLISHED: 17:37 05 April 2011

West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates towards the television camera after scoring his side's first goal from the penalty spot

West Ham United's Mark Noble celebrates towards the television camera after scoring his side's first goal from the penalty spot

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Athleticisim is not enough to beat the Premier League leaders

Arsenal are good at it, Manchester United are masters of it and after Saturday West Ham are the latest victims of it.

The ability to turn hopeless, losing positions into winning ones is a feat only few can achieve, but the sickening feeling inflicted on West Ham by the Premier League leaders is one many can sympathise with.

At 2-0 up, there were not too many around Upton Park confident the points were in the bag for the Hammers and as soon as Wayne Rooney smashed home a 25-yard free kick to halve West Ham’s with 25 minutes left, the alarm bells began to ring pretty loudly.

There was little West Ham could do to repel the onslaught and with creativity and firepower most teams can only dream of, United left east London with all three points, thanks to Rooney’s stunning hat-trick and a Javier Hernandez strike. But how did United fight back on Saturday?

“I thought we played a decent first half and were leading 2-0, but the free-kick goal kicked it off for Manchester United and they put us under great pressure at the end and scored four fantastic goals,” said West Ham defender Lars Jacobsen.

“They scored a free-kick goal and in the first half we had a similar chance that Thomas just missed slightly and I think that was the difference.

“Perhaps you could say that (we defended too deep in the second half), because when you concede goals there are always reasons for it.”

Momentum is always a factor in football and of course West Ham could have defended better, but the Hammers high tempo approach, which had brought them much success over the past few weeks just didn’t work against a technically superior side.

United’s ability to retain possession for long periods tired out the Hammers and in turn created opportunities.

“We were working hard in the first half, but we probably didn’t keep the ball well enough, we began to tire and a few holes opened up and they punished us,” said midfielder Gary O’Neil.

“We struggled after 60 minutes and they started to get more room, the first goal they got was early in the second half and we struggled from there.”

“I think Rooney’s second goal was a superb touch and a superb finish and sometimes you have to acknowledge that they have world-class players and I think that’s why they scored four goals,” added Jacobsen.

Saturday showed how technical ability can triumph over athleticism and although the Hammers’ style of play could prove successful against Bolton next Saturday, they must come up with a different plan to deal with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City over the coming weeks who could hurt the Hammers the same way United did last weekend.

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