Amalfitano shows why he must start


Match verdict

Football - FA Premier League - West Ham United FC v Liverpool FCIt would be too easy to milk the moans and start an anti-Allardyce tirade based on a first half which was probably as bad as the 90 minutes we were forced to suffer in the same fixture last year.

Actually, the word ‘bad’ doesn’t even get close as the team failed to achieve any rhythm whatsoever and were made to look less than average by a team who in the end were exposed as nothing better than workmanlike themselves.

The manager himself admitted it was to do with the system and that when they went back to the diamond everything started happening again. One question: “When haven’t they?”

He commented: “I had to change the whole system, apart from the back four and the goalie, but I couldn’t do it during the game. I wanted to get through to half-time and make sure we didn’t concede a goal and sort it out from there. In the end, I think that gave us a better opportunity to start attacking Hull.”

Frankly most would surely believe  word “diamond” should be written in tablets of West Ham stone and it’s very hard indeed to work out why we desert a the system that works so well for us.

As the old cliche goes: “If it ain’t broke why fix it.”

However, enough of that and on to the positives and for me, at the top of them, was Morgan Amalfitano showing he surely has to be given a starting berth. With no Cheik Kouyate unavailable, and although he’s a different type of player, his energy, skill and invention makes him an obvious starter.

One or other of Noble or Nolan (my preference) will have to make way surely because the Frenchman showed  everything we need to provide the team with the attacking and fast moving impetus out of midfield. Indeed, he may even challenge Kouyate for a start when the Senegalese international returns.

Blogger Rich Sprent wrote last week: With both of them (Noble and Nolan) together it promotes deeper defending to compensate for their lack of pace and movement. It also promotes longer passing from the defence to relieve the pressure.

It’s hard to disagree with that diagnosis on what we saw in the first 45 minutes.

Amalfitano, however, with three goals this season basically coming on as a sub and showing glimpses of the sort of skill we are crying out for, convinces me that the time has come to be bold.

Up front we are well sorted and thankfully the Carroll/Valencia partnership looked better again today although at the back James Tomkins had a nightmare in the first hand confronted by the skill of Ulako.

At the end of it all 3-0 is a decent victory given we had gone five without one and the second half was a pleasure to watch – the first time I’ve been able to say that in several games.

We move on in good pretty good shape for the FA Cup clash against Bristol City next Sunday followed by a tricky series of games against Liverpool, Manchester United, Southampton, Spurs and Palace.

So Sam, the word you will be hunting for is “diamond.”

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • rads45 says:

    Totally agee with you Hugh,i really like Amalifitano,he is composed & looks a class act on the ball.Not to mention the way he took his goal today.As for ‘The Diamond’,everyone associated with The Irons knows its the way to go for us,especially at home.Really dont understand what goes through Sams head sometimes.Perhaps he likes setting us up wrong originally so he can change during the match & then tell everyone who listens that it was his tactical awareness & changing to a diamond that bought about the win 😉

  • bubs says:

    BFS cannot change his ways rads and we all know it,he got away with it again by changing the system at half time,every week it’s the same start with Nolan at the back leave poor Downing to create by his self Song and Noble to cover Nolan,one big slip and our season will be over, I don’t want to start a Sam out cry but does any body think he will change. I hope his luck last next week because Bristol City are a good side,

  • Dicksyland says:

    TBH Hugh I’m not sure why you balk at raging against Sam. Our summer signings were largely down to Sullivan. Our attacking style was at the order, publicly, of S&G. The only consistent thorn in our side is Allardyce and Nolan, who is either noticeable for small periods of a game or irrelevant throughout. I was an Allardyce advocate until last season and I’m afraid, I don’t believe he is helping our team at all. Frustrated on a daily basis that we didn’t sign Koeman when we had the chance.

  • Roman says:

    I think the term is “no brainer”?Imagine how many points we would have had if the manager had an idea on how to structure his team sheet.

  • PennsylvaniaHammer says:

    I’m actually worried by both Noble and Nolan. Noble to me is looking very average at the moment. It’s hard to see Nolan being dropped on the back of this result though regardless of his own performance (which I didn’t think was too bad today).

  • LAIRON says:

    Agree on all points. For me Noble has reverted to his old habit of turning away from goal and passing backwards, something which was understandable the last few seasons with so few confident, decent players around him but not this season. I really like Morgan A, he always looks forward and has a good footie brain, skill to go with it and can hit the net. Should have started as we finished, glaringly obvious to all that Almafitano is a good player and Downing is wasted on the wing. Nolan should be used as an impact sub.

  • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

    Agree Amalfitano should start most games where we set out as favourites, he was clearly the difference yesterday and to give credit to Sam he realised Noble was having a poor game and substituted him. In the first half there were a few shockers, Tomkins was half asleep. Was good to see Valencia kept on the whole game also, not sure why Poyet wasn’t given a 15 minute run out instead of JOB with the game already safe either… As you mentioned Hugh every time we have played badly and changed to the diamond it has improved things.

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