Well, that was easy, but then perhaps we should have known that Spurs
would win 4-0, as West Ham had lost their previous two matches by that
exact score. It was perhaps the absolute nature of their
capitulation that was unexpected and the lack of fight associated with
some of the toughest names in football was shocking.
For the likes of Ferdinand, Neill, Parker
and Ashton, it looked like they were going through the motions as
Curbishley got the chant of "You're going to be sacked in morning" from
his won fans. Contrast their attitude with that later in the day
of Bristol Rovers fans, who were 1-5 down and were singing "We're Going
To Win 6-5" as opposed to the Irons supporters, who, at 0-2 down, were
telling their team that they were "Going To Lose 4-0" !! The
famous "Bubbles" anthem had long popped off with most of their fans by
the end, whereas "Goodnight Irene" was being sung lustily until the end
by the Gasheads.
But then, West Ham had nothing to play
for. Safe from relegation and with 40 points, in a much preferable
position to last season, maybe those accusations about Curbishley having
a "Charlton mentality" of staying up had been adopted by his players.
Indeed, apart from the first five minutes
and a short spell in the second half, when they had a go at the Spurs
goal, they rarely threatened to break their duck. With four
minutes of the game gone, Freddie Ljungberg cut inside from the right
wing to hit a shot at Paul Robinson, who seemed to take his eye off it.
The ball squirmed from his grasp and dropped in front of him and in
front of goal. Ashton followed up, but a combination of Dawson and
the recovering Robbo blocked his effort and then Robinson came out at
Zamora's feet to deny him, with the ex-Spurs striker shot flying off Boa
Morte, but the referee made his first mistake of the day by giving a
corner. Luckily for Spurs it came to nothing.
And all of a sudden, it was 1-0 to Spurs.
Spector clattered Berbatov from behind (whatever Curbishley says about
him going down easily) and Huddlestone stepped up to play a firmly
struck free-kick into the area from a wide area on the right found
Berbatov rise, although not having to jump that high, to head the ball
down and past Green for the opening goal. He was helped by the
fact that Ferdinand ducked as the ball arrived and made Dimi's job
It was the same again, when Malbranque
was felled by Ljungberg and Hud once more swung the ball across for
Berbatov to meet it with his head before anyone near to him could get to
it. Once more, Ferdinand was at fault and Neill was also at fault,
failing to cut it out at the near post. So 11 minutes gone and 2-0
ahead !! It was the start that Spurs could only have dreamed of
and it all came after they had played slowly for the first five minutes,
but then stepped up the pace.
The deficit was too much for some West
Ham players to bear and Boa Morte, as the main culprit took his
frustration out on the Spurs players, with Hutton being first to receive
a kick after the ball had gone. When Aaron Lennon was presented
with the ball by George McCartney's slip on halfway, the winger raced
forward and chipped a cross to Tom Huddlestone on the penalty spot, but
his early jump saw the ball headed over the bar, with the goal at his
mercy. In the 22nd minute, Boa Morte's succession of fouls caught
up with him and Foy put his name in the book.
With a two goal lead, the confidence ran
through the Tottenham side and Steed Malbranque cut in from the left
wing to hit shot wide, while Huddlestone played a corner that dropped
for Berbatov to volley at goal, but straight at Green. As half
time approached, Lennon went on another run down the line. With
the ref having played on a few minutes previously, when Boa Morte had
fouled a Spurs man, his crude attempt to tackle Lennon was this time
noted by the match official and he pulled out a yellow card and then a
red to dismiss the ex-Gooner.
With no changes during the half-time
break, which saw Martin Peters take to the field to make a raffle draw
for an Opus (will they be giving them away with programmes soon ?), the
teams lined up with Spurs one man and two goals up.
It was almost three goals to the good a
few minutes in, when Hud smacked a fierce left footer just over the top
from outside the area, but Dean Ashton managed to get around Dawson to
fire a rising shot across the goal and Robinson that just flew past the
far post. Spurs were playing exhibition football and passed the
ball around using the space they had. One spell of passes saw the
back four manoeuvre the ball between them, with Ashton running from one
to another to try and get it ... unsuccessfully.
Keane almost got a decent volley to
Huddlestone's neat clip over the defence and then there was a short
period of panic at the Spurs end, with Zokora getting in the way of
Ljungberg's drive, before our keeper saved Neill's 25 yard shot and held
on well with Zamora lurking. Lennon could have added to the lead,
during a spell when the next goal was going to be crucial to the outcome
of the match. However, his effort was hacked away from beyond
Green by Ferdinand.
Ramos started to make changes to rest
players for Wednesday's UEFA Cup tie and Gilberto came on for Steed and
had a poor passage of play, when he gave the ball away too cheaply.
There was also a scare when Alan Hutton got his face trodden on by
Zamora and he had the magic sponge before returning to the action.
Keane went off to be replaced by Darren bent and it was not a bad idea
to give the striker a run out, as he has not played that often recently.
Gooner Ljungberg got booked before
leaving the action with Pantsil replacing him, as Curbishley went two up
top. Not that it made a big difference, as the ball kept coming
back down the West Ham end, even after the poor Scott Parker left the
field for Mark Noble to come on. Woodgate rampaged forward after
Noble slipped and when he crossed from the right wing, he began to limp
and not taking any chances, he was substituted by Tainio, with Zokora
moving into the centre of defence, with Tainio going into midfield.
As our free-kicks direct on goal have
been a bit rubbish lately and with Berbatov on two goals, when one was
awarded centrally with little time remaining, Dimitar claimed it and
struck it over the wall, but over the bar too. Shame Konchesky
wasn't on the line to give him something to aim at !!
With five minutes left, Chimbonda played
a low ball in and Lennon stepped over it for the Brazilian to take it on
the left hand side of the goal, turn and strike a low shot past Green
and in for his first goal for the club. The whole team were over
to congratulate him in a show of strength to take away the memory of his
mistake on Thursday and it shows the camaraderie at the club under
Two minutes from time, it looked like
Lennon had set up Darren bent for the 100th goal of his career, but
Ferdinand did just enough to block it and then Aaron once more raced
down the right, to pull the ball back for Alan Hutton to shoot.
The Scot pulled back his right foot, but got under it and that reduced
the power in his effort, but it was still too much for Green to handle
safely and as it dropped, Berbatov raced in and almost got it down, but
the difficult bounce allowed him only to hit the side netting.
Two minutes of added time saw Tottenham
on the attack once more and they made West Ham's misery complete and
continued their 0-4 losing streak, as Hutton broke away on the right and
his pacy cross into the area saw Bent time his run to get to the ball
first in front of Spector and head it down into the ground and past
Green for the goal he has been waiting for since November.
It was as convincing a performance as you
could ask for from Tottenham, who will gather a lot of confidence ahead
of their trip to Eindhoven in the week. PSV will be a different
kettle of fish, but something is starting to smell very fishy down E6