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Alan Curbishley's Rating Against Man Utd


John Simkin
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It was a brave decision to drop Ashton and play Cole up front on his own in a home game. Cole is excellent at playing this role and is a good example of the notion that you defend from the front. The strategy of worked like a dream. Not only did Noble, Mullins and Parker control the midfield, they also had the energy to join Cole in attack. As a result, they looked more dangerous than they did against Reading. Last year we scraped victories against Man United. This time we outplayed them: Possession (54.5 - 45.5), Territorial Advantage (54.9 - 45.1), Passing Success (73 – 72.9), Tackles Success (83.3 – 78.9), etc. Even Ferguson had to admit after the match that West Ham was the better team.

Although we have had several disappointing results this year, only Man City in the first game of the season has clearly outplayed us in a game. That is why we have such a good defensive record. Despite (maybe because) all the injuries, Curbishley has built a team of players who seem to know what they are doing. Only Neill gives me a concern. Yesterday he was again found out of position on a couple of occasions. However, overall, Curbishley is doing an excellent job and fully deserves his 10/10.

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Guest Gary Loughran

This game was, tactically, without parallel - whilst Portsmouth and Chelsea were good, this one brought home the bacon. The decision to drop Ashton was correct. Curbishley's intention was to play 4-5-1 when Utd had the ball and 4-2-3-1 when we had it. Ashton is lacking fitness and this would have been telling in what was a high energy tactic. Every ball was fought for and usually won. In possession West Ham were excellent, Ljunberg and Solano providing the guile to the tireless running of Parker, Mullins and Noble. Cole once again bruised and battered the United back 4.

Bringing on Ashton (the only tactical substitution) was also astute. This gave United another 'big man' to mark at set pieces, where West Ham were already dominant. This unsettling affect bore fruit when both Upson and Ferdinand (the one likley to punch rather than roast you) scored from headers.

I was amazed at the possession we had and also how wasteful United were with theirs. It seems that Chelsea had a similar bad day against us. To think that would be to denigrade the ability of the West Ham players, who to a man were outstanding. McCartney continues to impress with his tireless overlapping creating options on the left. I would also agree with John Simkin that Neil's positional sense, if he has any, is problematic. I would say, though, that his tackling and distribution is improving.

In an interview where Ferguson's obvious hangover wasn't helped by the result, I was disappointed by his childish remark that our motivation came from United's visit being the biggest game of our season. A Christmas Cracking 9.5 for AC.

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Bringing on Ashton (the only tactical substitution) was also astute. This gave United another 'big man' to mark at set pieces, where West Ham were already dominant.

Curbishley also pointed out that the bringing on of Ashton gave the team and crowd a psychological boost. The point about the crowd is important. The mood changed after the penalty miss and this was increased with the arrival of Ashton.

What I like about Curbishley is that he is brave enough to take on the West Ham crowd. He refused to be influenced by the way the crowd boed his decision to bring on Carlton Cole as a substitute in those early games of the season. Cole is now so highly respected by the West Ham crowd that they did not complain when he played instead of Ashton on Saturday.

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Guest Gary Loughran

Something I omitted from my report, was the impact AC's tactics had on United. Ferguson quickly withdrew Tevez from a striking role to more of an old fashioned inside left. The intention being to abate our midfield dominance. This only served to leave United a man short on the rare occassion they counter attacked us. All too often Tevez is seen arriving way to late in the box, or struggling at full pelt to get there.

The main reason for bringing this up is Ferguson's self proclaimed 'other teams change to match us' statements in the past. Ferguson likes his teams to impose their play and rhythm on the opposition. Rarely is he forced to adapt.

Ferguson is one of my all time favourite managers and this is the first time I can recall we have played United and deserved the victory. There was little backs against the wall, no Kenny Brown hilarious strikes, no Andy Cole missing sitters, no Miklosko wonder saves etc. etc.

Your point that the team has gelled due to injuries is quite true. In fact, I now fear that integrating fit again players, Faubert, Etherington, Boa Morte, Gabbidon, Collins, Ferdinand, Zamora, Bellamy, Dyer - will be the biggest test of Curbs' management skills. It's a fine balance and at once it is both a managers dream and nightmare. The successful return to fitness and smooth integration of the returning players will also determine how high we finish.

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Your point that the team has gelled due to injuries is quite true. In fact, I now fear that integrating fit again players, Faubert, Etherington, Boa Morte, Gabbidon, Collins, Ferdinand, Zamora, Bellamy, Dyer - will be the biggest test of Curbs' management skills. It's a fine balance and at once it is both a managers dream and nightmare. The successful return to fitness and smooth integration of the returning players will also determine how high we finish.

What team do you think he will play against Arsenal? Will he leave Ashton on the bench? Parker, Ljunberg and Solano are all injured. I expect Ferdinand, Boa Morte and Pansil to come in for them with Ashton coming on for the last 20 minutes.

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Guest Gary Loughran
Your point that the team has gelled due to injuries is quite true. In fact, I now fear that integrating fit again players, Faubert, Etherington, Boa Morte, Gabbidon, Collins, Ferdinand, Zamora, Bellamy, Dyer - will be the biggest test of Curbs' management skills. It's a fine balance and at once it is both a managers dream and nightmare. The successful return to fitness and smooth integration of the returning players will also determine how high we finish.

What team do you think he will play against Arsenal? Will he leave Ashton on the bench? Parker, Ljunberg and Solano are all injured. I expect Ferdinand, Boa Morte and Pansil to come in for them with Ashton coming on for the last 20 minutes.

Truly, I've no idea who'll start given the injuries, or players likely to return. Ljunberg is quoted on Sky Text as looking forward to playing 90 minutes, yet the team news has him injured. :confused:

From right to left - Green, - Neil, Fedinand, Upson, McCartney - Pantsil, Spector, Mullins, Noble, Ljunberg - Cole. If Boa Morte's back he'll play on left and Ljunberg on right. If Ljunberg's injured, it'll be as you say, I'd imagine. Can't start Ashton away at Arsenal - he's no where, even remotely, close to the fitness required for Premiership football. Curbs has complained that he's had to get players fit in the first team - really hard to do. If the energy levels are high in the middle of the park I expect we'll do alright. A fighting, even fotunate, draw is the best I'm expecting. If we're low on energy it could be a Gunners romp.

Edited by Gary Loughran
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