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Baxter hoping Khune brings the magic

South Africa

Tevez toils as Blues take the spoils

They arrived in the Premiership amid a blaze of publicity normally reserved for the likes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and created a circus that so nearly brought the downfall of West Ham manager Alan Pardew.

Yet Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano have become anonymous white elephants in the less-than-glamorous east London outpost their handles sent them to and unless those shady figures in control of their careers get their hands on the Upton Park keys, the star duo look certain to be heading out of West Ham sooner rather than later.

News that London's 2012 Olympic Stadium will cost in the region of £100m to acquire seems to have put off those who viewed the purchase of West Ham United as a sound property deal, so an annulment of the inconvenient marriage with Argentina's finest imposed on Pardew seems inevitable in January.

Whether anyone would be interested in buying players whose impact on the English game has been viewed as nothing but damaging is open to question, with the Hammers recent upturn in fortunes achieved without the players hailed as greatest signings in the club's history just a few short weeks ago.

The likes of Marlon Harewood and Teddy Sheringham, players brought to the club in a more conventional fashion by Pardew, have kept the West Ham boss in long-term employment, so it was something of a surprise to arrive in the Stamford Bridge press room and see the name of Tevez in the visitors' starting line-up.

Employed in a role wide on the right in support of lone front runner Bobby Zamora, West Ham's portly No.32 must have been pleased to make only his third start in the claret and blue. If nothing else, it was a chance to work on his fitness and Tevez looked eager to impress as he squared up to Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole.

An early burst down the flank offered promise and his willingness to make space and receive the ball suggested the prospect of taking on the reigning Premiership champions had fired the enthusiasm of the 22-year-old forward. Yet early promise was not to develop into tangible success.

Enthusiastic he may have been, but his inability to control the ball on his bursts forward and tendency to lose possession when put under pressure was alarming. Labouring as he tracked back, Tevez's fitness also looked suspect and you wonder whether Pardew's decision to play him was a product of hope rather than expectation.

A little like the outsider no one wanted to pass to at times, Tevez deserves credit for continuing to show ambition, but his lack of end product undid his hard work.

West Ham must have felt unfortunate to go in at the break a goal behind. Geremi's stunning 21st minute free-kick separated the sides, yet Nigel Reo-Coker and Matthew Etherington both went close to pulling the scores level and Pardew's half-time team talk must have been full of positive vibes.

The second half brought more graft and ultimate disappointment for Tevez and West Ham, who failed to break down the rock solid Chelsea defence and could have conceded a handful of goals if the champions were at their clinical best. Frank Lampard, John Terry and Michael Essien were among those who should have done better when presented with chances.

However, the reality that keeper Carlo Cudicini was not forced to make a save of note throughout was evidence that Mourinho's men were in the comfort zone throughout, so it was a surprise that Tevez lasted for the entire 90 minutes. Looking jaded and with his head bowed for much of the second period, he would have been more useful warming the bench, but he won the glowing tribute from his manager Pardew.

'We have been patient with Tevez and I think we saw signs of why he is a renowned talent in this game,' he stated. 'He gave one of the best sides in the world some trouble and while this was not the complete performance, I don't think anyone could fault his work rate.

'He has taken some time to understand what is required in the Premiership and I think we saw today that he is beginning to understand what is required of him within this team. Hopefully we will see him take another step or two forward in our next few games.'

They are words that made this correspondent question whether he had missed a world class display from a genius in disguise, but if Tevez was the master we were promised when he turned up unexpectedly on the last day of August, he would have made a bigger impact than this.

The reality that neither he nor any or his team mates managed a meaningful effort on target all afternoon meant the 'trouble' he apparently caused the Chelsea defence cannot have been too serious.

Pardew's lavish praise of Tevez may have been a ploy to give his confidence a much-needed boost, but he was right to praise the efforts of his hard working side who never gave up against a powerful Chelsea machine.

'We showed in this game that our season may not be quite as long as many suspected a few weeks ago,' stated the West Ham boss. 'We stretched the champions to the absolute maximum and I give my players a lot of credit for their performance.

'If this was a boxing match, the scores would have been very close as we matched them in terms of energy and commitment and only got beaten by a brilliantly directed free-kick.'

Mourinho was in typically jovial mood as he reflected on the goal that secured his side three points. 'I did not expect Geremi to be the man taking the free-kick,' he conceded. 'In fact, I'm amazed Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard allowed him to take it. I will not complain.'

The Chelsea boss is also eying up the possibility of drawing level with Manchester United at the top of the Premiership table next weekend. 'To be three points back ahead of the trip to Old Trafford is a good situation for us,' he claimed. 'We can finish the game next weekend level on points with the leaders and that would be a great result after the problems we had earlier in the season.

'Still, I don't want to think about this next game as anything other than a normal Premiership match. Whether I'm playing Man City or Man United next Sunday I don't care - I just want to get a winning run going.'

In a battle between a Premiership heavyweight and a side akin to a middleweight, there was only ever going to be one winner.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael Essien - Industrious and ambitious throughout, Essien dictated the pace of the midfield and he constantly got himself into decent attacking positions and should have got himself on the score sheet.

MOURINHO'S CHALLENGE: The ever-confrontational Chelsea manager pleaded with the Stamford Bridge faithful to drown out the jeers directed at Frank Lampard from West Ham fans. It was a policy that paid dividends.

PARDEW'S WELCOME: Mourinho was clearly delighted to see the manager who came close to thumping his fiercest foe, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger a couple of weeks back. Their pre-match embrace was over friendly.

FOOD WATCH: The pre-match chicken curry was a delight. Had it been served in a gourmet restaurant, few would have complained. With the well cooked meat falling off the bone, Soccernet's devious reporter was tempted to return for seconds. The obese guy sitting next to me in the press box clearly took up that option.

WEST HAM VERDICT: Even with one of their 'white elephants' on show, the Hammers look something close to the side that performed so well in the Premiership last season. Here's hoping the imminent takeover does not upset their harmony once again.

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