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Ironside: Why West Ham fans are right to be angered by away form after Aston Villa defeat

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: PA West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: PA

Thursday, February 14, 2013
12:00 PM

Our West Ham blogger explains how conservative tactics are to blame for the Hammers’ wretched away form.

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About our blogger

Name: Chris Wilkerson

Twitter handle: @The_Wilkerson

Regular Attendee

Favourite player: Mark Noble or Winston Reid

Most memorable game: Playoff Final

Predicted finish: 12th

way performances have been a constant disappointment for West Ham United fans this season, with only two wins on the road, combined with two draws and nine defeats.

Against Aston Villa there was a chance to take a shaky team to task and put an almost insurmountable distance between ourselves and them.

Sadly, the result has given them a lift and keeps us on the edge of a relegation battle.

That Swansea win was of incredible importance, especially with difficult home matches against Tottenham and Manchester United coming up. We give teams a completely different match at home, but tougher ties could restrict the points we pick up at the Boleyn.

It was Villa’s obvious weaknesses being so rarely exposed that really disappointed on Sunday.

As a side that has suffered on its travels we can understand why Sam Allardyce might hold back and build a more defensive base to the side.

We had clearly come to Villa Park keen to respect the point. This sounds a safe way to play, but it comes with risk. Never was this more highlighted than when Mark Noble dangled a leg for Charles N’Zogbia to stumble over.

The lack of intent to create chances not only surrenders impetus, it leaves you open to one moment changing the game. It was not just conceding that was a blow, it was the feeling that we deserved to get punished.

It was not that Aston Villa were good, they were one of two very bad Premier League teams on show that day, but rather that we had come far too focused on not losing instead of how we could win.

Then watching Liverpool vs. West Brom on Monday night, the other side of the coin was evident. With much the plan we had at Villa Park, West Brom went to Anfield keen to defend, focus on their strong base.

A smash and grab later, West Brom were 1-0 up. They did not deserve it, they had not forced it, but when you do not concede then you are always in with a chance of stealing a win. Allardyce must have watched that performance and rued the lack of discipline in our own ranks.

The impotent performance at Villa has angered a section of the support. I can understand their feelings, we seemed to ask none of our own questions, just answer Villa’s. Reactive rather than proactive, with Joe Cole the only player offering any invention.

I understand changing the system, but we offered nothing to match our strengths. It felt like accepting failure, rather than trusting we were good enough to match Villa. We all expect to lose games, we support West Ham, but we don’t follow the team to watch them scared to go out and win games.

It was almost baffling. We sat and gave them 45 minutes to score. After they didn’t, we came out with more intent, but found Villa could react, weather the storm and create their own chances. Did we expect them to give us our own 45 minutes to find the net? Granted, before the goal Carroll so nearly scored, but it’s not like we have recent history of only taking a couple chances to score.

The attitude felt uninspiring and rendered completely worthless when you go home with no points. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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