Tuesday 20 February 2018

Party time for Hammers after 'sweetest week'

West Ham 1 Tottenham 0

Ian Chadband

Stringfellows can wait when you have got Upton Park. Before heading out for his stag do, Russell Brand was to be found gallivanting in the East End, inviting his celebrity chums -- David Baddiel, David Walliams, Noel Gallagher, the usual suspects -- to join him in a kickabout at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday evening, an hour after his beloved Hammers had launched his party there.

Joy appeared unconfined. As the home fans trekked home celebrating the derby win which spirited them off the bottom of the table, co-owner David Sullivan, Scott Parker, assorted players, rock stars and comedians all seemed to have been infected by the feelgood factor as they enjoyed a laugh under the floodlights. Evidently, the old place had really needed a lift like this. "The sweetest win," Sullivan called it.

Even manager Avram Grant was smiling, doing his best to give the impression this had not been a must-win affair for him.

How had he handled the pressure? "I control the pressure and can direct it when I decide. Other people let the pressure control them. For me, it was nothing exceptional," he said.

Fair enough; after Portsmouth and Chelsea, presumably he could cope with anything? "You are close to the truth," mused Grant.

"Not a relegation team," sniffed Sullivan, and who could argue? Manuel da Costa was towering at the back, Parker offered the sleeves-up leadership Spurs seemed to lack and the muscular strike pairing of Victor Obinna and match-winner Freddie Piquionne was a persistent pain for Spurs' makeshift back four.

Then there was the Robert Green makeover. An assured display, topped by one astounding effort to tip Luca Modric's volley on to the bar, was marked afterwards by a defiant gesture to the press box which looked like the public exorcism of Clint Dempsey torment.

Green helped seal Harry Redknapp's wretched week, though, and Spurs' defensive injury woes offer no guarantee that Wednesday's Champions League tie with Twente will see a rapid change of fortune.

William Gallas (torn groin muscle) could be out for a few weeks, Ledley King was "struggling" with groin and knee problems and Younes Kaboul a hamstring strain, so Redknapp may have to rely on Saturday's unconvincing central pairing of Vedran Corluka and Sebastien Bassong.

This was not Harry's day. "Yep, first time I've ever been beaten by the super Hammers," sighed the old super Hammer. Redknapp had to applaud the revival, however, for no one knows better what this afternoon meant to West Ham's exultant faithful. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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