Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mullins Marks Magnusson's Arrival

Icelandic businessman, Eggert Magnusson, enjoyed his first home game since taking over West Ham United, as their new chairman, by seeing the Hammers edge past Sheffield United, with a valuable 1-0 victory over the Blades, in an important bottom of the table clash. The deadlock was broken on thirty five minutes, as Matthew Etherington’s right wing corner was headed on by Anton Ferdinand and Hayden Mullins followed up to the nod the ball into the roof of the net. But it was backs to the wall for the irons throughout the second half, as the Hammers protected their slender lead, and escaped a few close scares, as Christian Nade skidded the ball wide of an open target in the sixty third minute, and then Nicholas Law had an effort deflected inches wide of Robert Green’s right hand post, as Sheffield United increased the pressure, a minute later. Claude Davis then saw a headed effort clawed away by Green in the sixty seventh minute, as the Blades kept up the threat on the Hammers goal. Another chance went begging, when Colin Kazim Richards curled the ball around Green’s right hand post in the eighty eighth minute. But against the run of play, Mullins was unable to crown his first half goal, as he squeezed his effort into Kenny’s body on the stroke of full time. But it was West Ham, that breathed a huge sigh of relief, deep into stoppage time, as Mikele Leigertwood had a disallowed goal, for an infringement on Green.

“Its hard to take, I thought we had great opportunities second half. I thought we could win the game at half time, let a lone get a point. I was disappointed that we weren’t more on top, and I still believe we could have won the game and should have won the game,” said a disappointed Blades boss, Neil Warnock.

“I just think it was one of them days where you see why we are down at the bottom of the league, we don’t take our chances and we commit suicide with probably the only opportunity, I think they had really,” added Warnock.

The only sour note for West Ham manager, Alan Pardew, was the loss of Danny Gabbidon with a strained hamstring, which required Carlos Tevez being substituted for Teddy Sheringham, to defend at set plays. But it was Tevez’s actions afterwards, which upset Pardew, who commented:

“He’s gone straight home today, after the game and I’m very disappointed about that, it hasn’t given me a chance to explain why I subbed him. It’s only happened to me once before and I’m disappointed in that.”

But in a results business, the goal by Mullins, put a smile back on the manager’s face, as he said:

“It was a well worked set play and we scored obviously like that against Blackburn, almost the identical goal so it was good timing and an important goal for us at that time because we started to look a little bit nervous and under pressure but the result was everything today, and if someone had said to me 1-0 with a clean sheet but you wouldn’t play particularly well, would you take it – all day, all day long.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Geremi’s Gem Crowns Chelsea Victory

The Blues sealed victory over West Ham United, in stunning fashion in the twenty second minute, following an infringement when Danny Gabbidon pulled down Didier Drogba, and from the resulting free kick, Geremi curled his shot into the top right hand corner, past the despairing dive of Robert Green. Chelsea could have increased their lead on seventy two minutes, as Michael Essien’s long range strike, hit the foot of the right hand post. Drogba also had an effort ruled offside in the eighty third minute, as the goal shy Hammers were made to pay the price for Chelsea’s attacking options.

“I thought at half time we were desperately unlucky to come in at one nil down. Commitment of the players, the awareness of how were trying to hurt Chelsea was very good. Our left side was beginning to dominate at times. Against the Champions today, we’ve give a performance that suggests that the season might not be as long as some people are thinking,” consoled West Ham manager, Alan Pardew.

“When you play against the Champions, you know that you’ve going to have to match their pace and power that they have and this is a very good side and we did that today, I thought it was a boxing encounter, you would say it was pretty close.”

“Sometimes you have to say that you are up against not just world class flair players but against world class defenders, I can think of about four blocks that we had great opportunities and that's why their world class defenders, they put themselves in the way.”

Although the foul which lead to Geremi’s goal, was the one sour note for Pardew.

“I think Gabby just used his body, and I’m not sure but it looked like they leaned on our wall as well for it to create that opportunity, and if that’s case then there is a small argument for an infringement there but it was a great finish and he couldn’t have put it in a better place.”

Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, felt his side deserved their narrow victory, as he commented:

“I think we deserved the points but at the same time, I think West Ham gave us a game. Normally with the production of our football we should score a second goal and kill the emotion of the game but we didn’t.”

“I think it would be very unfair if they scored in the last period of the game and they go home with a point because I think we were the best team, we had enough chances to win the game and I think it was a good game because both teams played with a good attitude.”

Plus a match winning free kick by Geremi, that suited Mourinho’s strategic planning, as he added:

“Planned was these three players on the ball and planned was the movement they have to do. The decision about who takes the free kick is between them, the distance to the ball, the distance to wall, the position of the keeper, the feeling is between them, so it was their decision.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

Faldo Formula at Seve Trophy

Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo regards his first experience of team captaincy at next year’s Seve Trophy contest in Ireland as the ideal preparation for his Ryder Cup challenge against Paul Azinger’s American team in Kentucky a year later.

Like the European Ryder Cup team in 2008, the Great Britain & Ireland team to take on Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy at The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort next September (27-30) will be looking for its fourth consecutive win.

“I couldn’t ask for a better way to cut my teeth on team captaincy than to match up against Seve Ballesteros and his Continental Europe team in the Seve Trophy and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Faldo, who praised the initiative shown by the legendary Spanish golfer in creating the event six years ago.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Europe has remained undefeated in Ryder Cup matches since the Seve Trophy began in 2000. In fact, Europe has gone on to dominate them in a way that we never believed possible some years ago. Seve’s creation of the Seve Trophy has clearly helped to develop our top players into formidable match play competitors and I hope to benefit from that twice over,” added Faldo.

In launching the Seve Trophy 2007 event at The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort at Killenard, Co. Laois today, Nick praised the special atmosphere generated by golf fans in Ireland. “I loved the whole experience at the last Ryder Cup and know that the Irish will put on another great event for us next year,” he said.

The Seve Trophy will give Faldo his first taste of making two captain’s picks, as well as leading a team composed of many of Europe’s finest players. “Choosing two players to join the team is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the captaincy job,” said Faldo. “But the event will also give me the chance to see close up how the best European golfers perform under pressure and as potential future fourball and foursomes partners."

Nick expects a very competitive contest next September - on a course Seve helped to design. “Any team led by Seve is going to be tough to beat, especially on a course that he knows inside out,” he said. “The other point to make is that the guys who qualify or are selected for both teams will be doing all they can to win and also put down personal markers for the next Ryder Cup match at the same time. So the level of commitment and passion will be very high.”

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chelsea Feel At Home Again

Chelsea extended their unbeaten home run in the Premier League to fifty matches with a convincing 4-0 demolition of Watford at Stamford Bridge. The Blues took the lead on twenty seven minutes, as Ricardo Carvalho rode the Hornets tackles to supply a pass to Geremi, whose low right wing cross was missed by Andriy Shevchenko, but Didier Drogba picked up the loose ball, and from close range poked his shot past Ben Foster, in the Watford goal. Drogba struck again in the thirty sixth minute, as he slid the ball past Foster into the left hand corner of the net, after latching onto a through ball by Shevchenko. A brave block by Chelsea goalkeeper, Carlo Cudicini, kept Dan Shittu, at bay, as the Golden Boys created their first chance at goal, in the fortieth minute. In the fifty third minute, a long goal kick by Cudicini, found Drogba unmarked, and his carefully measured pass was chested down by Shevchenko, who rounded Watford goalkeeper Foster, and eased his shot into the back of the net. Drogba gained his first league hat trick of the new season, after Arjen Robben laid the ball off to Geremi, whose low right wing cross, was comfortably stroked home by the Ivory Coast international, as his shot nestled inside the right hand post, on sixty nine minutes. Two minutes later, Blues left back, Ashley Cole’s neat shot and turn, brought a full length save by Foster, as the Hornets goalkeeper tipped the ball away from his left hand post, as the Champions gave the new boys a tough lesson on life in top flight football.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pardew’s pardon for Wenger’s outburst

An eighty ninth minute goal by Marlon Harewood took the roof off Upton Park on the day of fireworks night, but amongst the celebrations of West Ham United sealing a 1-0 victory over Arsenal, and moving out of the relegation zone, the delight of Hammers manager, Alan Pardew, was short lived, as he leapt from the bench, only to receive an a shove from an angry Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, who exchanged words with Pardew, and gave him an unfriendly eye ball.

“Lets just say this, if I was over zealous in my celebrations which I’m sure I was, Ludo nearly killed me by the way ! I apologise fully to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal Football Club. Three minutes from the end, we’ve had a tough old season here, and maybe that come out at that time. He was annoyed with that and maybe quite rightly so, but I hope that I can iron that out before he goes home, and see him and be big enough to shake hands, and look each other in the eye. On my part, I’ve great respect for him, as I said in the programme notes, and that won’t change, even after today, I have great respect for what a great manager he’s been.”

In the heat of the moment, Pardew was adamant that he did not say anything he regretted, as the Hammers manager continued to try and clear the air, despite Wenger denoting a still tongue over the whole situation.

“I did say that I was just celebrating the goal and don’t begrudge me that. There was two or three moments prior to that, the penalty (that wasn’t given) and perhaps he thought it was a foul by Matty (Etherington) before he put the cross in (for the goal), that raised the levels. On my part, in all honesty, I didn’t say anything, I just celebrated the goal, and as I say, perhaps I was over zealous and I apologise for that.”

Although the situation was not resolved and both managers could face the wrath of a F.A. disciplinary committee, Pardew was keen to keep focus on the job in hand.

“As far as I’m concerned, I want to put it behind us, concentrate on what is important to me and that’s West Ham, its been a great day for us and I said in the dressing room to the players, this is our day, let’s not spoil it by anything, let’s take on board all the hard work we’ve put in, when we were losing cause this game has a great gift of rewarding you, when you least expect it and we beat the Arsenal, we lost to them in under 16 and under 18 level, so that will give the academy a boost, as well, and it’s a good day for us.”

Another sour note, was the throwing of a coin from the crowd, that hit Arsenal player, Robin Van Persie, during the first half, and Pardew was the first to condone the actions of the guilty party.

“I asked the bench did something happen there because I wasn’t sure if he was injured. West Ham fans have been absolutely brilliant this season, we’ve had the odd incident like most clubs, and it’s a shame if that spoils what is our day. So that one fan should be ashamed and hope we can see him on CC Tv, and never let him come back to the ground again. “