These days, games against Newcastle United are a bit special for Sam Allardyce. After being unceremoniously sacked by the Barcodes and leaving a big stain on his CV, you can be sure that getting one over on his old club gives the big man an extra little bit of satisfaction. He must have been disappointed, therefore, that Andy Carroll was still not fit enough to make the first team, and instead, Modibo Maiga was given another chance to prove his worth.
In all honesty, it was not a game that will live long in the memory, and Big Sam will feel satisfied with a point. But I’m sure he will feel that all three points were there for the taking, and West Ham’s failure to do so is indicative of a lack of ruthlessness that West Ham need if they harbour any notions of a top six finish.
In the first half Newcastle were poor, and their chances were limited to long range efforts that were closer to the floodlights that the goal. They were nervy and West Ham were comfortable without being very threatening. Noble and Diame bossed the midfield, Collins, Reid and O’Brien were resolute in defence, and Downing and Jarvis played ok. But it just wasn’t happening in the final third. Maiga was irritatingly slow at getting back from offside positions again, and Nolan had a bit of an off day.
The second half saw Newcastle come into it a bit more, but the Hammers were still coping well. Downing started putting in some better crosses for the visitors before being hauled off to be replaced by Joe Cole, but there was still a lack or urgency around the box. Maybe it was the torrential rain that ensued in the second half, but it looked like the Hammers were always going to be happy with a point. In fact it could have zero points as Newcastle hit the post near the end, by which time Big Sam was probably anxious for the final whistle. Today showed us that we still need a new striker in my opinion. Maiga does ok, but is not enough competition for Carroll. Let’s see what the last embers of the transfer window bring.
Ravel Morrison came on as sub today sporting a pair of gloves and “Ravel” on the back of his shirt. He showed some nice touches without having the time to really get in to the game, and as far as I’m concerned he can wear what he likes as long as he does the business on the pitch. After all, this is the guy that would only drink West Ham branded bottled water in his first stint at West Ham. He has had a lamentable start to his career (and life) it would seem, but by all accounts his has grown up in the last year. This could be a big year for him, if he can keep on the straight and narrow, and by implication a big year for the Hammers too. Let’s hope so.