Tuesday 12 December 2017

Hapless Hammers facing mutiny after City mauling

Man City 6 West Ham 0

Alvaro Negredo is congratulated by Vincent Kompany after scoring his second GETTY
Alvaro Negredo is congratulated by Vincent Kompany after scoring his second GETTY
Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo scores the opening goal of the game

Henry Winter

Manchester City are on their way to Wembley. West Ham United are on their way to mutiny if Sam Allardyce continues.

City were terrific, West Ham were a disgrace, devoid of belief and direction. That was the type of result and performance that costs managers their job.

This was an excruciating evening for Allardyce, whose decision to rest players against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup to keep them fresh for this League Cup semi-final first leg backfired spectacularly.

He had explained his team-sheet at the City Ground to the co-owners, David Sullivan and David Gold and claimed they understood his decision to play the kids in losing 5-0. He played the supposedly refreshed regulars here and lost 6-0. Try explaining that.

Loud and defiant throughout, West Ham fans made their feelings known, chanting for Allardyce to leave. It is hard to see how the board can support him after this.

Their season now exists only of a fight against relegation. They now have a hollow second leg still to play when the mood will be mutinous if Allardyce is still in charge.



That game gives Manuel Pellegrini the opportunity to rest players, giving youngsters a run-out, with Marcos Lopes showing some decent touches last night.

Yet West Ham were so poor, forgetting the basics of marking, tackling and tracking. Negredo plundered a hat-trick, Edin Dzeko scored twice and Yaya Toure added another, but it could have been twice that. City played some wonderful football, passing through West Ham's non-existent midfield as they continue to chase their first League Cup since 1976.

City could have spent the break being measured up for their Wembley suits. They ripped West Ham apart in the first half, enjoying 76pc possession, Alvaro Negredo embodying their brilliance and work-rate. At £16.5m, Negredo cost little more than Andy Carroll, who has yet to feature for West Ham this season. Allardyce's whole game plan revolved around Carroll, a dangerous strategy given the striker's injury record, and their travails have intensified since.

To think West Ham had bid for Negredo in the summer. He was outstanding here, departing with the match-ball. Not content with scoring two superb goals after 12 and 26 minutes, the Spaniard also tracked back to make a good tackle.

Touré also scored, went down seemingly injured after challenging Mohamed Diame, but insisted on continuing. They are strong on ability and character here.

Pellegrini, had written in his programme notes of the team's excellent form, barring the FA Cup draw at Blackburn Rovers and his players maintained their recent prolific form here. They were as good as Allardyce's side were poor.

West Ham's suffering began early. Picking up the ball in his own half, Toure's long pass destroyed the visitors' defence.

Negredo caught the ball on the volley, left-footed, sending it low past Adrian. It was a sumptuous strike, although the marking was non-existent.

It was difficult to tell whether West Ham's tactics involved a back three or a back four. It was certainly at sixes and sevens. Roger Johnson looked off the pace. Joey O'Brien and Guy Demel were too slow in reacting to City's attacking surges.

West Ham's goal was now under siege. David Silva and Samir Nasri tested Adrian. He was soon beaten again. Dzeko played through the perfect pass for Negredo to knock the ball into space vacated by West Ham's dishevelled defence, and then finish with a strong left-footed strike past Adrian.

City did not ease up. Five minutes from the break, Toure powered through the middle, dummied Johnson and stroked imperiously past Adrian.

City could have declared at half-time, but continued to pummel the visitors. Four minutes in, and Negredo had the match-ball. Silva's cross arrived at the receptive feet of Negredo via a fortunate ricochet. The Spaniard simply dispatched it unerringly past Adrian.

Feed the beast, as they sing in these parts, and he will score, again and again and again.

Pellegrini's players did not let up. Toure sent a free-kick over. Barring their defiant fans, the only sign of life from West Ham came when O'Brien became animated over what he perceived as a dive by Dzeko. The Bosnian responded by scoring, finishing off a magnificent passing move.

The ball flowed first from Nasri to Silva, who released Gael Clichy behind West Ham's defence. Clichy shifted the ball across for the stretching Dzeko to make it 5-0.

Negredo could have had a fourth but for Johnson's challenge, deflecting the danger for a corner.

Pellegrini began rotating his squad, resting his stars. Teenager Lopes came on for Silva and Aleksandar Kolarov replaced Negredo, who immediately went to the bench, shaking hands with all coaching staff and the substitutes, showing his team-minded nature.

The pain could have been even worse for West Ham. Adrian twice saved from Dzeko.

The anger continued to spill from the away section, with more venomous chants against Allardyce. He stood on the touchline, rain pouring on him, creating images of Steve McClaren at Wembley.

And it did get worse. With a minute left, City conjured up another exquisite mood.

Lopez backheeled the ball into the path of Kolarov, whose cutback fizzed to Dzeko. City's No 10 made it six in emphatic style, the ball thumped in left-footed from just inside the box.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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