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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Lambert Reflects On Loss

Paul Lambert was pleased with our overall game today, but knows we have to improve further and convert our possession into more clear chances as the season progresses.

Speaking to the Official Site after the 1-0 loss, Lambert admitted we lacked a cutting edge.

'I thought we started the game really well and for 30 minutes we were excellent. But you can have all the ball you want but you've got to score. Some of the play, I was really happy with and some, like anything, you're not. But I can't fault the lads for effort. We tried, but there wasn't much in the game. If we can just get a finishing touch on that then we'll be ok.'

Very honest appraisal really, some are saying that Clark got the touch for the offside but the replays I've seen don't show that, so I'll leave that where it is until I see it closer - suffice to say I fail how Dean could make that call from his position when the linesman had a much better view of it. You don't see many overturned like that and that's ultimate what cost us a share of the spoils as West Ham's penalty shout was weaker than Weakly McWeak's strongest finger.

Outside of that we had more possession, we had the greater chances, but we didn't create the clear cut chances that Benty thrives off. He was also left too isolated and double marked for far too long in the game, and without getting into the blame game, we carried N'Zogbia for far too long. Once Weimann was on (and it shouldn't have been for Holman unless his ankle flared up), and we replaced Zoggy, we were far brighter and far more open in attack.

Midfield did well overall, and the defence was not the subject of the pummeling many expected West Ham to achieve.

The biggest single lesson is Bent can't do the lone role unless we give far more backup from midfield, and we need a big man in there or another to take attention away from him so he can find space. Weimann will be an asset this season, but you can't expect him to play every game as he still has a lot to learn himself.

Plenty of positives, especially the way the lads battled on until the end and didn't give up, but equally of importance were the negatives which were highlighted nicely, and in many ways should have confirmed what Lambert already thought.

Anyway back to the penalty.

'I wasn't sure at the time but I've seen it on the tape and it's come off one of our lads so the referee's called it right.'

Maybe, again for me I'll wait for the replay myself, but having seen the distance shot a few times I don't believe we got the first touch and played him on, but I've been wrong before, and I still doubt Dean could've confidently saw that to overrule it especially given his tendency to award so many weak freekicks to them - including the one that led to the goal.

But these things happen, you have to play to the whistle so even if I'm 100% right that it flicked off Clark's head following a touch from the Spammer, and even if it was never a foul by Vlaar (from memory) that led to the freekick, and even if Dean's line of sight wasn't clear meaning he shouldn't have overruled on gut, it was still our own fault for switching off.

Lambert doesn't blame the reactions of the team though in the incident, insisting that for the youngsters it's a lesson they have to learn from, and not repeat.

Maybe, maybe not. Playing to the whistle is something you learn at schoolboy level, but it's difficult to be overly critical because outside of that single incident the defence really cannot be faulted.

Even Baker's slip near the end, he rectified it - which when a mistake is made is all you can ask for in response.

I would like to see a different line up next time, we finished more strongly than we started - that should say a lot. Delph was fantastic defensively, but we need that balance between defensive work and attacking work in midfield, the introduction of Bannan made us far more flowing - and it's just a shame we couldn't have created that single clear chance we deserved following our dominance.

A few tweaks, a few more sensible additions and we'll be fine this season though. Difficult to be too disappointed as there was plenty to be happy about, and as Lambert said earlier, if you are going to lose, then lose with your head's high, working hard until the end, and never giving up and getting back into the game.

We did that, and banished many a memory from last season in the process in my humble. Now work on what we know we are weak on, and we shouldn't have many more days like this.

'I'm not one for the blame culture, if we lose, we lose together. If we win, then we win together.'

That shouldn't get in the way of Lambert making the changes we need.

West Ham Forum Thread.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday August 18 2012

Time: 7:41PM

Your Comments

We are the mighty Aston Villa. When oh when will we ever win a string of football matches?
PiperUK
Sack the manager!
bigolbear1970
I thought he would hav known that Bent up front on is own does not work. As for are wing play n'zogbia waste of time we need a proper winger.
ShaneBlack
I'm assuming he expected better from Zoggy - and that simply didn't happen. Far more fluid with 2 up front and no Zog trying to take on everyone. Shame, if he could back to his old self he'd be dynamite for us, but with every passing game you have to wonder if it's ever going to click for him here.
mike_field
nzogbia is pants full stop. Also think PL got the tactics totally wrong today - why pack the midfield against a side that bypasses it? The midfield passing lacked purpose and it looked alot like a work in progress with no one knowing where to run and misplacing paces leading to zero supply to Bent and zero support for him either. It was fairly insipid to be fair and arguably worse than alot of what was seen last season, I'll give PL time but he needs to get things improving and quickly, the hype and fan fare can stop now I think today showed just how much work needs to be done. We had the better players on the pitch but until they get a shape and purpose they'll be beaten every week by average teams.
AVbornandbred
Yes he got things wrong, and yes he made the changes too late, but nothing about that performance was worse than last season Nath, come on. Look at the performance and the effort and not just the result because people think we should get one over the porn dwarves. They parked the bus, we didn't react quick enough and we were relying on players will far less experience than the players Spam called upon. They didn't embarrass themselves, and a draw was fair, it wasn't perfect, there's work to be done, but to go four horsemen after one game is a bit silly. Spam also aren't average, they are thugs and we need to learn to deal with that, and stiffling Bent's space and carrying Zog certainly didn't help.

You don't boss a game and create more chances unless you are doing some things right...not enough yes, but put the pills away.
mike_field
Jeez wanna see worse than last season take a look at Liverpool and QPR PMSL It'll take time, we showed a lot, we also showed where we need to improve. Question if we don't improve, but I saw more fight, more spirit, more caring and more effort in those 90 odd minutes than probably all of last season outside of the Chelsea pretend corner. Don't expect miracles, expect and demand improvement.
mike_field
Fair do's just seen a slowmo, it did come off Clark. Still not convinced from the angles though Dean could call that without discussion and give the lino the order. He couldn't know from that angle it then didn't hit Collins thus be offside. That's as fair as I can be.
mike_field
Hardly fair, the bloke got it right and you still question how he got it right. Are you suggesting that he should have got it wrong and he was somehow cheating cos he got it right?

If we are hoping to finnish between 14th and 10th then we are going to suffer defeats, especially away. Glad we did better than some haha liverpool - rogers sacked by christmas! UTV
RiF
Yes it is fair. A Referee with a serial habit of favouring home and top 4 sides makes the decision that he couldn't...did it hit a West Ham player after Clark's hit when he was blinded by the Clark? The lino had the better view, yet he didn't discuss, he made the decision instantly. A referee rules on fact and line of sight, he didn't have it, so the very least he does is ask. Not overrule. Seriously Rif mate, you suggesting he's any better at his job than Halsey and that ilk?

Had he talked with the lino instead of waving it away I couldn't fault him, but he didn't. Or is this the benefit of the doubt referee's are supposed to give to attackers to improve the game? And remember I'm talking about a ref who gave them a freekick when Vlaar was elbowed. Gave them a freekick when Vlaar was shirt pulled etc....I don't blame ref's lightly...Dean is a disgrace. Because it wasn't even a freekick, how could Clark move out of his way? Clark's very tackle being shoddy gave the Spam player the opportunity to dunk round him, but he went down like a two dollar whore.
mike_field
Although I will grant you he wasn't nearly as bad as the Albion ref tonight PMSL
mike_field
Honest reflexion from PL. I hope he can put things right PDQ. Bent up front on his own is just like lastseason. It didn't work then, it won't work now. He needs a strike partner to share the burden.
Pride of Lions
The call was wrong. If a player in an offside position gains an advantage from a deflection off a defender from an attacking pass or shot, it is offsides. It doesn't matter if it was a deflection off Clark or a Hammer, it's offsides. For what its worth, I just went through 8 hours of referee instruction today, so its pretty fresh in my mind.
VillerLite
Agreed PoL, leaves him double marked and takes out his best asset UNLESS he has double support from midfield which Ireland can't give because he's a playmaker not a runner, and Zoggy can't give because he runs into people and never sees a pass lol

Lite - Wasn't a deflection, it was a clean header. I stand by how could Dean know it then didn't hit the Spam player, but I can't throw that at him. I'm not sure your reading of the rules there is right even though I wish it was lol
mike_field
Mike, thanks for the excellent recap. I was travelling so missed the game, but this helped fill me in.
Virginia Villan
Plenty disagree Virginia lol
mike_field
Nzo isn't the player we hoped he would be, enough is enough. Apart from that I saw more than enough to keep me positive, learning curve one chalked up, onwards and upwards.
magicmerson
No urgency, No bite, No idea! Thing must improve....FAST! It is imperrative we get a strke partner in for DB9 this week at the very least! Followed rapidly by a qualiity CM who can run into space as back up and make a telling pass. After saying that, Don't panic Captain Mannering..... not yet anyway......
Pride of Lions
Agree Mike - it was a clean header. So it was a goal - albeit a lucky one. My worry is that we had 0 width the entire game. If we actually stretched them down the wings the runs from midfield would come. West ham sat verry narrow and compacted the field. Impossible to make a run from midfield with 10 men literally all within 10 yards...
Astriel
We are a work in progress now, no way can we judge after 1 competitive game against a Sam Allardice team. QPR lost 5-0 at home, Liverpool 3-0 away ...... so everything is topsy turvy for a few games. UTV
astonmilan
I stayed up until 1.30 to watch it and in the most part I was impressed. I think the defense looked good, Delph did well but was sure about el ahmadi got caught in the ball too much, hopefully he'll pick up the pace. Zoggy gets a lot of stick but wasn't happy with Holman or Ireland yesterday. Holman lacks a bit of quality for me and Ireland should pass to people not where he thinks they should be then sulk about it. Can't thought theyre work rate though. Bent I felt sorry for, no support but kept going all game. It's a work in progress but when it clicks (which may not be tho season) good times are ahead
Aussie Villain
Someone else suggested Zaha of Palace and Rhodes of Huddersfield - I AGREE. We can afford both and we should get them. Zaha tore Manure a new aris last season and is one of the most pacey and athletic players I've seen in a long time. Rhodes seems classy and could be a real gem...let's get him in...if MAnure can buy from lower leagues then we can too.
koolbill
Bent will never work. He cannot play with anyone else. If there was another striker, then all he'd be there for is to pass to Bent when he's in the 6 yard box. Regardless that the second striker will need to do all the work and won't have any supply from Bent in return.
Villan444
Your opinion - for a never work striker he seems to score a fair amount. And saying he can't or won't do something is largely unsubstantiated unless rumours are now facts. Nobody slated Lineker or Nistlerooy and they never passed.
koolbill
bill, Nistelrooy would score goals from all around the area and would contribute to the build up. He and Lineker were both taller, quicker, better in the air and much more clinical. Lineker was good 20 years ago. Bent would've been too. Football has moved on and we cannot play one up front on his own if that's all that he can do!!!! In those days the number 9 complimented the number 10 and vice versa. 1 up front requires so much more than doing nothing. You keep going back to he scores loads. He cannot take pressure off his defence or hold up or anything else. He's never been in a successful team as the whole team never scores many goals because they're all working to provide him with chances and that detracts from the team performance. He is a 2 bit striker or he'd be playing for a big team. Unfortunately the sychophantic support that he gets has dragged our club down to his level and this is what Lerner wanted in that we don't expect too much.
Villan444
for the record, I'm not hitting the panic button just yet I was merely being objective and the fact is that yesterday's performance was well below the required standard and PL contributed to it by his choice of tactics. On the up side we played out from back rather than just hoofing it and with a bit more time some of those passes in midfield might actually find their mark and folks will know when and where to run.
AVbornandbred
lol 444, we get it you don't like Bent. Your assertions are somewhat unsubstantiated though, he's regularly played in partnerships throughout his career and been highly successful. The only time he was unsuccessful was at Spurs with Defoe and he still scored plenty despite it not really clicking. Everyone in the team has a job to do and the job of a forward is to score goals, Bent does that when he gets chances better than almost anyone else in the english game.
AVbornandbred
It's not sicophantic. It's stating facts. He scores and that's better than not scoring. I he was so detrimental to others scoring he'd never get bought. He kept us up and that fact along with his goal tally is worth stating - even if I have to stare it all the time. Now, please, give me your vote for link player / other striker / new / old strike force? I'll keep asking! :)
koolbill
Not the start we wanted okay but move on. West Ham isn't a happy hunting ground for us and they are on the up confidence wise where we are still picking things up from the "unsaid". Things will come good but we do need a couple more signings on the strength of that. Possession was good but lacking creativity so if we improve that area we can and will do better. UTV.
holte ender 1969
I managed a all age mens football team this season for the first time ever, we lost the first 4 then drew 3-3 with top spot before winning 11 from the next 14 to take 4th. It takes time in all forms of football especially this top level. We will be ok
AdzVilla11
Did you have any WONGERS though??? :-)
koolbill
I'm telling you a world class WONGER is what every team needs
AdzVilla11
Hear hear. Never underestimate the power of having a top drawer Wonger in your line-up !!
ExpatVillaShirt
We all knew this season was going to be tough we arent spending on real quality obvious with the cost of top players and what we have already has been seriously over rated by some of us. Got to agree that we can not keep waiting for Nzobia to turn up but the squad still looks threadbare still as stated previously PL will need time to get rid of some and bring in new players lets hope he can improve what we have in the meantime.The danger is we keep blaming the manager for poor tactics when the truth is the players arent good enough regardless of the tactics.
Merlin128777
Iím not quite ready to press the panic button after 1 game, but I think there are a few concerns here. Yes, we will lose some games, but itís teams like West Ham we need to be taking points off Ė struggle to see how weíll get anything from the usual top half. To say weíre better than last year should be a given, but actually we look a lot like Houllierís Villa, except he had better players to work with. In trying to give the manager time (which is admirable and absolutely right),we seem to have built up an Emperorís New Clothes syndrome where he canít be criticised. Itís not like he was parachuted in with 5 days to get the team ready, heís been here a couple of month. Not long perhaps, but long enough to see that he doesnít have anybody at the club who can play at left back in the Prem. This should have been an absolute priority. While Clark is having to cover LB (and PL said himself that Clark is a CB, pure and simple), heís not getting time to develop an understanding with Vlaar, something which is bound to take time. Itís all very well to say the window is still open, but we should have had the players we needed in time not just for the season, but also in time to get some game time pre season. Perhaps this is Faulknerís fault and not PLís, perhaps we just havenít got any money to spend, but either way itís not good enough. Once it was clear that things werenít working and ginge was running the show, might have been bringing on Carruthers to run him ragged. As a minimum heíd have been chopped down a few times and weíd have got free kicks in dangerous areas.
onlyteaminthemids
Merlin, i believe in hilighting areas that can be improved as a source of optimism. The tactics employed by PL on saturday would be great against a team who like to play out from the back and play through midfield, the extra bodies will stifle the opposition give us the ball and will create opportunities for runners to get at the back four but against a team who hold a deep back four with two holding midfielders in their own half and simply lump it forward to the other two midfielders and forwards it doesn't work as there's no ball to win in midfield and no space to run into. So I think its entirely fair to hold up the choice of tactics as an error. As said though I love the fact that PL has more than one formation in his vocabulary. Of the players on the pitch on saturday if two of ireland, holman and Nzogba had gone foward and stayed there supporting bent in pressuring the back four and the other two had stayed home we'd have had more success. As for the players, on paper they were at least as good as if not better than the opposition and I can't fault the workrate, it was just the decision making and their understanding that let them down (along with some of the delivery)
AVbornandbred
Dont get me wrong not faulting anyone pointing out the tactics employed didnt work. Just feel we are missing someone who can drive us forward in midfield and cannot see any of the present available midfielders able to do that regardless of who PL picks. Maybe a Charlie Adam would be worth a shout Knows where the goal is can take free kicks and would provide that drive we are missing at 5 mill worth a thought ?. The danger I was addressing AVb&b. was that with the dire tactics employed last seaon we may have missed the fact that many of the players just arent good enough.
Merlin128777
West ham sat back which meant we had to create space of which there was very little. Once the team have more opportunity to understand one another through the middle things will start to happen against teams like WH. WH were set out to draw and lets be honest pinched a result (their tactics in a nutshell this season me thinks). Was pleased to see colins time and time again punt the ball up to Cole, we didn't do that once. A loss for sure but I was happy with the direction we are so obviously being taken in. We just need a early result to gain confidence and momentum.
daveyboyr
 

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