At a New Year’s Eve party a few months ago, I was introduced to someone who rather gleefully made it known that he was a West Ham fan. The Hammers haven’t had a lot to smile about this season, so I didn’t begrudge him his moment of crowing as he relived West Ham’s recent victories over Spurs.
He told me that he didn’t care if the side got relegated as long as they beat Tottenham three times in a season. I could see the logic in his thought process and told him that the hat-trick of victories was more guaranteed than their demotion.
Yet even though it was inevitable that Spurs would lose on Saturday, this team still managed to confound expectations. Never did I imagine that they could be quite so useless and gutless in defeat, as they proved with their abject performance.
It was a couple of minutes midway through the first half that confirmed that West Ham would complete a treble over Tottenham. A long ball was played into Spurs’ half and with Danny Rose hopelessly out of position, Stewart Downing found himself in space.
Downing took the opportunity to run unchallenged towards goal and was recklessly chopped down by Younes Kaboul just outside the area. Kaboul has lost his pace since his injury problems and this was exposed, along with his poor judgement. It was Kaboul’s fourth sending off in a Spurs shirt.
Hugo Lloris made a good save from the free kick but West Ham were not long denied, as the resulting corner found Andy Carroll. The England striker had the measure of Tottenham’s defence all game and his powerful header deflected off the head of Harry Kane and into the net.
All in all it was a shambolic goal to concede, but Spurs once again proved that things can always get worse. A poor pass from Danny Rose saw Tottenham lose possession and this time it was Michael Dawson that committed a foul on the edge of the area.
Downing took the free-kick and aimed it harmlessly towards the wall. Harmlessly that is, if the wall does their job, which is quite simply to just stand there and let the ball hit them.
Unfortunately, Paulinho and Emmanuel Adebayor were not prepared to be hurt by the nasty big ball and contrived to turn away, allowing it to slip through the wall and into the goal. It was 2-0 and game over, due to basic errors and an act of cowardice.
That should be it for Paulinho and Adebayor at Tottenham. The former is far more interested in the forthcoming World Cup than making an impact at the club who pay his wages, while the latter has proved why Andre Villas-Boas decided to freeze him out. He’s a good player but eventually he’ll let you down.
The only man who didn’t let the team down was Hugo Lloris. He made a string of fine saves and if it wasn’t for the goalkeeper then the scoreline would have been as embarrassing as the performance.
Fans often criticise players that decide they want to leave a club but only the most blinkered supporter could blame Lloris if he wanted out. He’s a top class player and must look around at his colleagues’ performances and wonder what he’s doing with his career.
Lloris is the fortunate one. He might be able to walk away from Spurs but the fans can’t.
Next week they will be expected to watch the team in the last game of the season at White Hart Lane. Tradition states that the team will do a lap of honour, to give the fans a chance to thank them for their efforts this season.
I wouldn’t expect much in the way of platitudes. It would be far more appropriate if rotten fruit rained down from the terraces than applause.
That game is only a week away but this season just can’t finish quick enough, with big changes needed in the summer.
The owners need to think about the mess they’ve made of this season and appoint a new manager that they’re willing to support. That manager needs to have a long look at this squad in order to decide who is worthy to wear the shirt. When he’s making that decision, today’s match will make pretty damning evidence.