Manchester United Powerless As Fergie Underestimates the Hammers
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West Ham United: 4; Manchester United: 0.
Yes, the most shocking result of the season so far has many football fans wondering how on earth it happened?
United weren’t just beaten, they were humiliated (unless your Jose Mourinho), by a team languishing at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League. Fans were screaming for the dismissal of manager Avram Grant. What a difference a week makes.
After defeating Wigan 3-1 on Saturday and inflicting this embarrassing defeat on United, cries of “Avram Out” disappeared from the Upton Park faithful as United wilted in the London snow.
As United pathetically succumbed to their heaviest defeat in nine years, disbelief was flooding the football world. Little West Ham, bottom of the league with only two wins all season, ripped United; proudly sitting top with confident ease.
So why were United so poor? It is hard to put an honest answer to that question, however Sir Alex Ferguson has to take some enormous criticism. Maybe he underestimated the Hammers, but the fact is his midfield last night boasted the talents of Anderson, Fletcher and Giggs with little Hernandez up front. So surely they should have been too tough for the Hammers to beat.
United’s defence last night was the sole reason they lost; a back four that have only played together in training included the likes of Fabio de Silva and his brother Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and John O’Shea.
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West Ham, who attacked from the start, went in 2-0 up at the half time interval thanks to Jonathan Spector’s first league goals in English football, and how he must of enjoyed scoring against his former employers.
His first goal was thanks to a clever cross by the outstanding Nigerian Victor Obinna, who had a helping hand in all four goals. His cross sailed over the United defence where the American Spector was on hand to head it into the corner of the net pest a despairing Thomas Kuszczak.
West Ham were winning most of the individual battles and went two-up just before half time. Spector, playing the game of his life, passed to Obinna before carrying on his run and when the Nigerian was challenged the ball fell to the grateful Spector who fired home to put the Hammers in dreamland.
The excellent Obinna then crossed for Carlton Cole to score the third goal before the same pairing combined for number four, sealing a memorable victory over the Red Devils.
Sir Alex said that he was shocked at the manner of the defeat, stating: “I didn’t expect that, that’s for sure. If you analyse the goals we gave away were absolutely too soft.”
Ferguson was speechless at his side’s inability to keep a side bottom of the table at bay as United’s 29-match unbeaten run was spectacularly ended. “They were terrible goals for us. You can’t just give goals away at this level. The first goal was a break for them. We were in control in the early part, played some good football. But goals change games.”
He is spot on. They most certainly do, however his team sheet begs numerous questions. How can you leave a player in Dimitar Berbatov out of the squad after hitting five goals at the weekend?
Why would you throw a defence together that have never played a competitive game before? Why did you rest Wayne Rooney when he is clearly lacking first team football? These are the questions United fans will be asking this morning, as a great opportunity at winning silverware early in the season is lost.
True, the Carling Cup may not be at the top of their priority list, however winning the first piece of silverware on offer in February gives teams a fantastic lift going into the final stages of a season. And with the likes of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham, Ipswich and West Brom left in the competition, surely this was a fantastic chance for them to do just that.
Manager Avram Grant insisted after the game that the only thing that shocked him was not the win, but the manor of it as his side tore United to shreds.
“Today we played fantastic and also scored and we kept a clean sheet. So I’m very happy. I thought we could win but not by that score. It’s very special. To perform like this against the best team today in the country and score four goals, what more can I ask?”
So as West Ham look forward to their first League Cup semifinal in 20 years, United can only look back and ask themselves: “What if?”
And surely Ferguson has to take the majority of the blame for this appalling defeat, as he clearly underestimated the strength of the Hammers in what was their best performance in a long, long time.
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