x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

West Ham woe shows no sign of letting up

The Hammers are held to a draw by Blackpool with the home team's supporters turning up against their own team.

West Ham’s Scott Parker, right, attempts to block a clearance by Blackpool’s DJ Campbell.
West Ham’s Scott Parker, right, attempts to block a clearance by Blackpool’s DJ Campbell.

West Ham 0 Blackpool 0

LONDON // Striker Marlon Harewood was cheered on to the pitch as a second-half substitute for Blackpool, then cheered off it at the final whistle - and that was by the West Ham United fans.

In contrast, the home supporters ruthlessly booed Luis Boa Morte when he was taken off and offered resigned groans towards their own team. Many called for manager Avram Grant's head at the end.

Bizarre? Not really. It merely summed up how bad things have become for the Hammers when the frustrated natives preferred to proffer more regard and adulation for one of their former players then a current member of the team.

Harewood remains a totem of happier times for the Hammers while Boa Morte has become a symbol of the current team's parlous state.

Back in 2006 it was Harewood's winning goal that took West Ham to an FA Cup final they agonisingly lost on penalties to Liverpool.

Since then it has been pretty much downhill for the club, and now things would seem to be hurtling out of control. Despite this point, they remain bottom of the league and relegation is a realistic outcome to this season.

The fact the Hammers gained even a draw was because a couple of minutes after Harewood had come on for DJ Campbell in the 67th minute he had a tap in goal ruled out for a very marginal offside decision.

Then, five minutes from the end, Harewood produced one of the misses of the season when he somehow side-footed wide from five yards out.

So maybe some of the applause from the supporters at the end was out of sheer relief that he had not made things worse, as much as respect for his past efforts.

There was no doubt about why Boa Morte was on the receiving end of West Ham jeers.

He was one of a wave of players who were brought in at vast expense by the club's previous regime at the sacrifice of hardworking performers such as Harewood.

Boa Morte was once more a pitiful performer and when he did get the chance to make an impression, when beautifully set up by Scott Parker who again was West Ham's outstanding player, the Portuguese winger dragged his shot woefully wide.

Mind you he was not the only one to spurn some great openings for Grant's side, most notably in the 80th minute when Carlton Cole, the second-half substitute, somehow managed to hit the post from close range when it seemed easier to score. Then again Blackpool squandered chances too.

As Ian Holloway, their manager, pointed out: " I think it was one of the best and most open nil-nil [draws] I have seen."

In the wake of the midweek's furore over the weakened team he had selected at Aston Villa it was a satisfying outcome for Holloway, who made 11 changes to the side that lost to Villa and now knows he really has genuine competition for places.

Yesterday Blackpool looked a team up for the long fight ahead. West Ham looked a shambles.

Grant has run out of excuses apart from moaning over not getting penalty shouts. They sounded the cries of desperate man.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, is ready to make a cut-price raid on his former club West Ham in the January transfer window.

Centre-half Matthew Upson and forward Carlton Cole would be the targets and given West Ham's poor financial situation, it is unlikely that owners David Gold and David Sullivan would be able to turn dow a serious bid.

Manchester City 0 Birmingham City 0

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, has defended his tactics after a second scoreless home draw in four days. “Which pressure? For what?” the Italian said. “You continue to say I am under pressure. Which pressure? Because some fans say I did not put two strikers on, or journalists say I am too defensive? I am not under pressure. We are in fourth position. We have some problems. Since the start of the season it has been the case that if Carlos Tevez doesn’t score, no one does.”

Stoke 2 Liverpool 0

Stoke - Fuller 56’, Jones 90+1’
Red card - Leiva (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s stuttering mini-revival petered out in dismal fashion as they lost 2-0 to Stoke City. A six-match unbeaten run came to end as they were out-fought, out-played and out-manoeuvred by Tony Pulis’s side. Ricardo Fuller opened the scoring just after half time and Kenwyne Jones completed a comprehensive victory in the final minute before Lucas Leiva was sent off for a second booking.

Wigan Athletic 1 West Bromwich 0

Wigan Moses 70’
Roberto Martinez praised Victor Moses after he stepped off the bench to score the winner against West Bromwich Albion. It was a first league goal this season for Moses, 19, who moved from Crystal Palace in January and Martinez, the Wigan manager, said: “We wanted to stretch the game and that is why I sent on Moses. He has the ability and is in a great moment. He is still adapting to the Premier League. He is a raw talent.”

Wolves 2 Bolton Wanderers 3

Wolves - Foley 69’, Fletcher 77’
Bolton - Stearman (og) 1’, Elmander 62’, Holden 67’
Owen Coyle insisted he is comfortable with Johan Elmander’s contract situation after seeing the striker further boost his reputation with a fine strike in Bolton’s 3-2 win at Wolves. “He is in the last year of his contract,” Coyle said. “But I speak to him every day and we have a very good relationship. I’m comfortable with the situation and he keeps giving me everything he’s got.”

Newcastle United 0 Fulham 0

Andy Carroll earned the praise of both managers after he came closest to breaking the deadlock at St James’ Park. Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer denied Carroll his eighth goal of the season with a superb save which ensured honours remained even. “He couldn’t have done any more this season to stake a claim [for an England] call up,” said Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton. “He’s a difficult player to deal with. He’s a real threat,” added Fulham’s Mark Hughes.

sports@thenational.ae