Saturday 24 March 2018

Fans call for Di Canio after Hammers' dismal display

Liverpool 3 West Ham 0

The only act of mercy for West Ham's suffering supporters at Anfield came from the PA announcer, who kindly read out the last train time to London Euston. What they really want, as was made volubly clear during this convincing stroll for Liverpool, is the dismissal of Avram Grant as manager. They may not have long to wait on this evidence.

There is a vast difference between beaten and humiliated but it was the latter that Grant, David Sullivan and David Gold, the owners who will determine the Israeli's fate, endured here.

The away section chanted the name of Paolo Di Canio long and loud at Anfield, as the league's bottom club delivered a truly abject display, and you know there are problems when a man with no managerial experience is being championed as a saviour.

Glen Johnson's inclusion after missing seven of Liverpool's past eight games through injury came as a surprise, not least because of his dreadful form beforehand. The England international was publicly rebuked by his manager last week and responded in kind, with criticism of Hodgson's "boring football", and the episode gave credence to rumours of a January exit for the defender. Johnson's goal, and indeed his performance, was not that of a disillusioned player, however.

The tone was set in the opening seconds. Liverpool began with an energy and purpose the visitors never matched. At no point did it seem Liverpool would rue some early misses and, on 18 minutes, Johnson not only beat Herita Ilunga in the air to take the ball on his chest, he then had acres of space to drive the second ball low under Robert Green.

Eight minutes later, Torres twisted his way into the West Ham area only for Danny Gabbidon to flick the ball away with his hand. There was no dispute from the visitors and Dirk Kuyt, who spread the play from midfield unopposed all game, drilled the penalty home.

That was as much as even West Ham's stoical travelling support could take. "You're getting sacked in the morning" and chants for their former Italian idol soon reverberated from one corner of the Anfield Road end. Davids Gold and Sullivan shifted uncomfortably in the directors box.

As Hodgson would no doubt confirm following his own turbulent start at Liverpool, judgment is passed rapidly in the Premier League these days. But it is also unavoidable following performances such as this from West Ham.

They were appalling, lacking in movement, adventure and any passion whatsoever. The away end called vociferously for the players to show some pride, producing their club's only impressive contribution of a miserable evening.

A butterfly possesses stronger wings than West Ham's left flank of Obinna and Ilunga although Liverpool's third arrived from the equally porous right. The industrious Rodriguez released Torres inside the area and though Green denied the Spaniard, former West Ham man Paul Konchesky returned the loose ball for the Argentinean to apply an equally polished header.

Obinna produced West Ham's first shot of note in first-half stoppage time. The only net it found was that hanging off the stand. Neither the ball nor the Nigerian would be seen again.

West Ham showed some professional pride and defensive resilience after the interval, with Green saving superbly from Torres and Poulsen in quick succession, but that did not stem the tide of vitriol towards the manager.

There may be little left to ponder after this.


Sunday Independent

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