Sunday, April 20

Daily WHUFC News - 20th April 2014

Hammers pay tribute to Dylan
West Ham United paid their respects to Dylan Tombides on Saturday afternoon

West Ham United paid their respects to Dylan Tombides before the Barclays
Premier League match against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon. The
20-year-old lost his battle with testicular cancer on Friday, which led to
an emotionally-charged afternoon at the Boleyn Ground. The Club announced
before kick-off that the No38 shirt would be retired in Dylan's honour and
then, during an moving minute's applause, his father Jim and brother Taylor
carried out his shirt to lay it on the centre circle. Flags were also flown
at half-mast around the stadium. Hammers' fans also paid their own tributes
by placing an array of cards, flowers and shirts, emblazoned with his name,
on the gates leading into the Boleyn Ground. The Claret and Blue army also
partook in a rousing minute of applause with 38 minutes on the clock - the
squad number which the Australian wore during his time with the Club.

Hammers unable to stop Palace march
Crystal Palace won for the fifth game in a row when Mile Jedinak's penalty
defeated the Hammers

West Ham United 0-1 Crystal Palace
Barclays Premier League

West Ham United were unable to prevent Crystal Palace from registering a
fifth straight victory as Mile Jedinak's second half penalty earned his side
the points at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. Jedinak coverted emphatically
from the spot after Pablo Armero clipped Cameron Jerome inside the box and
West Ham could not find a way back. Despite creating chances before the
break, the home side struggled to break down the resolute Eagles in the
second half. It means West Ham remain on 37 points, still seven clear of the
bottom three. Following an emotional tribute to Dylan Tombides, as the Club
retired his No38 shirt during a minute's applause, the Hammers created the
first opening of the game when Andy Carroll rose well at the far post, but
headed Kevin Nolan's cross over the top. Palace went close themselves with a
header on 15 minutes when Kagisho Dikgacoi nodded Yannick Bolasie's corner
towards goal, but Carroll was in position to block on the line.

West Ham's threat grew as the half went on and Mo Diame brought the best out
of Julian Speroni in the Palace goal with a rasping shot from the edge of
the box which needed tipping over. With 35 minutes on the clock Speroni
denied Diame again, blocking down low to his right at the near post, and as
the Hammers recycled possession Carroll thundered a header goalwards that
Speroni saved on instinct. Carroll was in the thick of the action at the
start of the second period, getting on the end of a Stewart Downing cross on
51 minutes, but scuffing his shot wide of the near post. Then, five minutes
later, another ball broke to the big No9 in the box, but Damien Delaney
threw himself in front of the shot to block. His intervention gained even
greater value shortly afterwards as Palace took the lead. Cameron Jerome's
run took Winston Reid out of the game, then as he entered the area he was
clipped by Pablo Armero and went down to the turf.
Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot, and Jedinak did the rest,
burying his penalty in the top left hand corner of the goal. The goal
seemed to knock the wind out of West Ham's sails as Palace pressed on for
another. It nearly arrived on 66 minutes when a scramble in the Hammers box
ended with Jason Puncheon having a shot blocked behind. Joe Cole came off
the bench and drilled a shot wide of the mark with time running out, but a
Hammers equaliser would not come on a frustrating afternoon.

West Ham United: Adrian; McCartney, Tomkins, Reid, Armero; Nolan (Nocerino ,
Noble, Diame; Downing (J.Cole 78), Carroll, Jarvis (C.Cole 70)
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Taylor, O'Brien, Johnson
Booked: McCartney

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Digkacoi, Jedinak;
Puncheon (Gabbidon 87), Ledley, Bolasie (Parr 90); Jerome (Murray 82)
Subs: Hennessey, ince, Gayle, Guedioura
Goal: Jedinak pen 59
Booked: Murray

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 34,977

Big Sam on Crystal Palace defeat
Sam Allardyce was not happy following West Ham United's 1-0 home defeat by
Crystal Palace

Sam Allardyce was far from happy after seeing his West Ham United side fall
to a 1-0 home Barclays Premier League defeat by Crystal Palace. The Hammers
controlled possession and territory for much of the first half, but could
not turn their domination into goals. Instead, both clubs came close twice
to opening the scoring - West Ham when Speroni saved well from Mohamed Diame
and Andy Carroll and Palace when Carroll and Adrian kept out efforts from
Kagisho Dikcagoi. The second half was hugely disappointing from the home
side, who saw the game slip away despite again spending the majority of
their time inside the Palace half. The match was settled in frustrating
fashion as Cameron Jerome spun Winston Reid on halfway and ran down the
right flank. Despite having little support, Jerome was brought down by Pablo
Armero just inside the penalty area and Mile Jedinak rifled the spot-kick
high past Adrian. Big Sam made three changes in an attempt to get his side
back in the game, but Speroni's goal remained intact as Tony Pulis's
well-drilled side held firm with relative comfort.
"This is Crystal Palace and how they play, with the effectiveness of the way
that they protect their own goal which has been the basis of what they have
achieved in their last five games and beyond," said the manager. "To lose to
another penalty, having lost to Liverpool on two penalties is just
heart-wrenching for us. I have to be fair - it was a silly penalty and Pablo
didn't need to do it, and it's cost us dear again. "In front of goal, we
failed. Chances weren't going to be easy to come by against this
well-organised team that drop eleven men back into their own half and shut
the spaces down, so we had to be clinically good, but unfortunately we
weren't. "In the end, we've had a very disappointing 1-0 defeat to another
penalty. When you look that we've only had two penalties all season, it just
hasn't panned out for us that way. "It was really disappointing and I was a
bit frustrated that the players didn't continue what they were doing very
well at before they lost the goal - they lost their rhythm by allowing their
passing to go astray too much and became a little bit panicky, I feel. They
tried their best to get us back in the game and get us a result, but it
wasn't to be."

West Ham continually threatened before the Palace goal, getting in behind
down the flanks and occasionally through the middle, most notably when Diame
twice worked Speroni with shots before half-time. After Jedinak's spot-kick,
however, the confidence clearly flowed from West Ham and into the visitors.
"The players tried to force it too much after Palace's goal. They had got
what they wanted and were defensively resilient anyway, but would just sit
there after the goal. They weren'y going to venture too quickly forward,
unless they had an open attacking area when we've over-committed going
forward. "We got in final third so many times that we should have produced
something that we usually produce to get at least one goal, but
unfortunately we didn't do that."

While a home defeat was naturally disappointing for all concerned, Big Sam
put things into perspective when talking about Dylan Tombides, who passed
away on Friday aged just 20 following a long battle with cancer. The manager
who gave the striker his first-team debut in a Capital One Cup tie in
September 2012 was full of praise for the Australian for his attitude,
resilience and talent. "It has been a difficult day and my thoughts are
obviously with Dylan's family, who have supported him from the very
beginning of this horrible disease. When I first got here, he was just
starting, they thought, to get well following his initial operation, then
all of a sudden another problem arose in another area and he tried to fight
that particular area for so long. "Dylan's fight inside him and desire to
overcome this disease and play football again were just unbelievable. The
way he came in after long bouts of really hard, strenuous treatment that
made him very ill indeed, was amazing. He kept bouncing back because
football was the only thing he wanted to do. He wanted to play again. "He
recovered from so many treatments, we thought that one would work for him in
the end, but unfortunately it hasn't."

A minute's applause before the game accompanied the moving sight of Dylan's
father Jim and brother Taylor carrying his No38 shirt to the centre circle,
with the number being retired in the forward's honour. For Big Sam, who
monitored Dylan's progress closely, the sadness is magnified by the fact we
never got to see him play the regular first-team football his ability would
surely have granted him. "Wally Downes told me as soon as I got here that
the best player in the Academy, without a doubt, is going to be Dylan
Tombides, but because of this horrible disease we could never get him in the
first-team squad as often as we'd have liked. "I'm disappointed we lost a
game of football, but on a day like this football doesn't mean an awful lot
after what happened to Dylan this week."

West Ham 0 Crystal Palace 1
19 April 2014
Last updated at 17:53
By Mike Henson
BBC Sport

Crystal Palace secured Premier League survival and a club-record equalling
fifth straight top-flight win as a Mile Jedinak penalty saw off West Ham.
The Eagles had a penalty appeal turned down after the ball hit Kevin Nolan's
shoulder, but almost fell behind to Andy Carroll's header before the break.
Carroll fluffed a good chance and West Ham paid the price when Pablo Armero
tripped Cameron Jerome in the box. Jedinak converted and Joe Cole shot wide
as a poor West Ham came up short. At the final whistle the Palace players
and the noisy travelling fans celebrated a result that matches their record
of five successive top-flight wins in the 1992-93 campaign and ensures they
will continue in the Premier League for another season at least. West Ham,
by contrast, departed to jeers after their direct approach failed to unlock
Palace's committed defence. With seven points and six places separating West
Ham from the drop, manager Sam Allardyce seems to have done enough to avoid
relegation but is still far from winning over the home crowd. Both sets of
fans were united before kick-off as they paid tribute to Hammers' striker
Dylan Tombides, who died earlier this week at the age of 20, with a minute's
applause. The Australian's father Jim and brother Taylor laid his number 38
shirt on the centre spot during the commemorations. The number will be
retired in his memory making him only the second player - after the
legendary Bobby Moore - to be remembered in such a way by the club.
Crystal Palace last run of five top-flight began on 5 December 1992 with a
2-0 home win over Sheffield United and finished with a 1-0 away victory over
Middlesbrough. Their run of good form could not save them from the drop.
They finished 20th in the 22-team top-flight in the final relegation
position. Clear-cut chances were rare once the action got under way with
Carroll clearing Kagisho Dikgacoi's header before the visitors' appeals for
a penalty were turned down despite Nolan appeared to lean a shoulder into
Adrian Mariappa's shot. Scott Dann and Damien Delaney had initially
marshalled Carroll well at the other end but West Ham's barrage of crosses
almost produced a goal as the striker's muscular header brought a good save
from Julian Speroni. That demonstrated the threat that Carroll carries
against even the best-organised defence, but his fluffed near-post finish
after the break will not have helped his chances of making England's World
Cup squad.

Shortly after that Armero needlessly fouled Jerome and Jedinak responded to
goalkeeper Adrian's attempts to distract him by rifling the spot kick into
the top left-hand corner. Allardyce's decision to bring on Carlton Cole for
Matt Jarvis as West Ham struggled to force their way back into the game
prompted chants of "you don't know what you're doing" from sections of the
home support. The change made little impression beyond a hopeful and
unsuccessful late penalty appeal from Cole and the action played out with
Palace's fans singing the praises of boss Tony Pulis as the Hammers joined
Chelsea and Everton as victims of their latest run.

Crystal Palace edge out West Ham to claim fifth successive win
Last Updated: 19/04/14 7:39pm

Crystal Palace made it five wins in a row as Mile Jedinak converted from the
penalty spot to secure a 1-0 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park. The
Eagles are now guaranteed to be playing Premier League football next season,
with a 43-point haul leaving them knocking on the door of the top half.

Best of the match

Man of the match: Yannick Bolasie. Ran George McCartney ragged and was a
constant thorn in the Hammers' side.
Effort of the match: Mile Jedinak produced power and precision as he crashed
his second-half penalty into the back of the net.
Save of the match: Julian Speroni produced a smart double stop to block a
Mohamed Diame shot with his legs and bounce back up to claw away an Andy
Carroll header one-handed.
Moment of the match: Pablo Armero had no need to dangle out a leg as he
closed Cameron Jerome on the by-line, but he did and the Palace striker had
every right to tumble over it.
Talking point: What do West Ham need to change after suffering three
straight defeats? Can Palace secure a top-half finish:?

Andy Carroll was involved in the only incidents of note during a
keenly-contested opening 45 minutes between two capital rivals, as he
cleared a Kagisho Dikgacoi effort off the line and saw a powerful header of
his own beaten away by Julian Speroni at the opposite end of the field. The
England international also had a couple of penalty appeals waved away by
referee Martin Atkinson, with Palace skipper Jedinak a touch fortunate to
get away with one clear block inside his own area. It was to be the
Australian's lucky day as he was then offered the opportunity to break the
deadlock from the spot on 59 minutes, after Cameron Jerome had been tripped
by a clumsy challenge from Pablo Armero. Jedinak made no mistake, drilling
high into the top corner to give Adrian no chance, despite the Hammers
goalkeeper guessing the right way.


Upton Park rose to its feet for a minute's applause before kick-off in
memory of former West Ham forward Dylan Tombides, who died of cancer aged 20
on Friday. With the match under way, the hosts shaded an uneventful opening
10 minutes in which Carroll enjoyed the best chance, heading over Kevin
Nolan's cross after a sloppy clearance from Joe Ledley. After a tentative
opening, Palace gradually settled into the contest and almost broke the
deadlock when Dikgacoi headed towards the net, but Carroll was well-placed
to clear off the line. Palace were gathering momentum as Yannick Bolasie
turned George McCartney inside-out down the left before delivering a deep
cross to Scott Dann, who headed narrowly over under pressure. The Eagles
took the resulting corner quickly and Adrian Mariappa's driven shot was
blocked by the diving Nolan, who was fortunate the ball narrowly avoided his
arm. In the 33rd minute, the home side were aggrieved not to be awarded a
penalty, and with some justification, as Jedinak appeared to deliberately
nudge Carroll over to prevent the forward reaching Matt Jarvis' cross. West
Ham finished the first half the stronger as Mohamed Diame's drilled shot
from close range was denied by Speroni and seconds later, the Palace
goalkeeper did brilliantly to fend away Carroll's powerful header from six
yards out. The second period began brightly and Carroll should have done
better when Stewart Downing's ball reached him at the back post, but the
striker hesitated before dragging his shot wide.


Palace could have been given a penalty when Jason Puncheon, who endured a
quiet afternoon, was brought down by Armero but referee Martin Atkinson was
unmoved. Only three minutes later, the Hammers left-back was again at fault
in the box as he clipped the legs of Jerome. This time Armero was less
fortunate as Atkinson pointed to the spot and Jedinak whipped the ball past
Adrian. Pulis' side could have doubled their advantage in the 67th minute
when some frantic defending twice presented Puncheon with chances in the
box, but the winger was unable to convert. Bolasie's cross then just eluded
Jerome as Palace began to dictate possession and enjoy the simmering
atmosphere at Upton Park. The home supporters mocked Sam Allardyce when the
West Ham boss replaced Jarvis with Carlton Cole in the 70th minute and some
jeered Downing when he was brought off for Joe Cole soon after. Joe Cole's
introduction did at least produce some attacking spark for the Hammers as
the midfielder first shot wide from the edge of the area before volleying
over with four minutes to play, to leave West Ham still seven points clear
of the drop zone and looking over their shoulder.

Sam Allardyce disappointed to see West Ham beaten by Crystal Palace
Last Updated: 19/04/14 6:51pm

Sam Allardyce saw penalty troubles come back to haunt West Ham United as
they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace. A clumsy challenge
from Pablo Armero on Cameron Jerome just before the hour mark presented Mile
Jedinak with an opportunity to crash home from the spot in Saturday's
Premier League clash at Upton Park. Allardyce admits that gifting the
in-form visitors an advantage was always going to make life difficult for
his side, with fortune not favouring the Hammers at present. On the back of
a third straight defeat, he told Sky Sports: "It's a stupid penalty, isn't
it? The last two games, three penalties we have conceded - two were
justified, one wasn't. Of course we haven't won a game here because of three
penalties that we have given away. The fact of the matter is that however
you set out your plans, you can't judge for things like that as a manager.
He didn't need to really make the tackle in the position he was in, so it
was a mistake. "The fact of the matter is that however you set out your
plans, you can't judge for things like that as a manager. He didn't need to
really make the tackle in the position he was in, so it was a mistake."

"You know the way that Crystal Palace set their team out, they are waiting
for something like that, they are waiting to capitalise on whatever errors
you might make. They took full advantage of that. "It was always going to be
difficult to break them down because they are the best team defensively, I
think, in the Premier League based on how they shape up and close the ball.
"Because they are in such good form as well in terms of results, beating
teams like Everton and Chelsea, the game was going to be difficult in
breaking them down. "We gave it every effort we possibly could but we
couldn't put the ball in the back of the net when we had the chance and the
opportunity to do so. "I still think Andy Carroll's is a penalty when he
gets blocked off (by Jedinak in the first half) with no attempt to play the
ball, so one goes for you and one goes against you and you end up with a
disappointing 1-0 defeat."

Another setback leaves West Ham seven points above the relegation zone with
three games to play and Allardyce has called on his side to ensure that they
end the campaign as positively as possible and do not allow themselves to be
dragged back into a basement battle. He added: "What we want to do is, we
don't want to lose any more football matches. "We have a tough run-in with
West Brom away, Tottenham at home and Manchester City away. "We have got to
try and get as many points as we can out of the next three games and try to
finish the season with as many as we can get, which is more than 37. That is
the object of the exercise of the next three games."

By Iain Dale 19 Apr 2014 at 21:02
West Ham Till I Die

The last home game I went to was our win against Southampton. I didn't go
today, partly because I was in Norfolk, but mainly because I couldn't work
up any enthusiasm to go. You see, I am falling out of love with going to
games. Call me fickle, a fair weather fan, call me what you will, but I just
can't get excited about watching the kind of bilge Sam Allardyce has served
up this season.

Even when we win I don't feel that surge of excitement I used to. If I watch
a game on television I don't leap out of my chair and scream with delight
like I used to (and frighten the dogs). I barely crack a smile. This is what
that man has done to me. I can hardly believe I am writing this but I am
seriously considering not renewing my season ticket, and shutting down this

I'm sure that in the end I won't do either (at least I think I am sure), but
that's the way I feel at the moment. I want my love for West Ham to survive
this awful period in our history, but I reckon it's got some time to go.
It's only in the last few weeks that I have realised I really want Allardyce
to leave West Ham at the end of the season. Yes, he has kept us up, but at
what cost? Realistically, I know that he won't be sacked. It would be too
risky and cost too much. The owners will stick with him for fear of being
relegated before we move to the Olympic Stadium. It is the only business
decision they can make. I understand and respect that. I suspect in their
shoes I'd do the same. Stick with nurse for fear of worse. Isn't that the
saying? But from a fans' point of view, it doesn't get a lot worse than what
we have had to endure so far.

It's all very well Allardyce saying that it's all very well playing pretty
football and losing, and that's not what he's about. And it's true, he has
put some much needed steel into the side, But at what cost to our traditions
and our flair? I've had enough.

Am I alone in feeling this way?

Dylan Tombides honoured by moving tributes at West Ham
Father and brother of Australian who died aged 20 place his shirt in the
middle of the field before Premier League match, Sunday 20 April 2014 03.31 BST

West Ham paid tribute to Dylan Tombides on a day when Premier League defeat
paled into insignificance. Promising youth international Tombides died aged
20 in London on Friday, following a three-year battle with testicular
cancer, and was honoured by his club before Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to
Crystal Palace.
In moving scenes at Upton Park, Tombides's father Jim and brother Taylor
carried his shirt into the middle of the ground as the stadium united for a
minute's applause. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, who gave the striker his
first-team debut in a League Cup tie in September, said it had been a
"difficult day".
"I'm disappointed we lost a game of football, but on a day like this
football doesn't mean an awful lot after what happened to Dylan this week,"
Allardyce said.
The club announced it would retire Tombides's shirt number, 38, an honour
bestowed to only one other player in the club's history. Perth-born Tombides
was considered one of Australian football's brightest prospects and he was
regarded just as highly internally at West Ham. While his diagnosis in 2011
halted his progress through the ranks, he battled back to earn a first-team
call up last season before falling ill again. "Dylan's fight inside him and
desire to overcome this disease and play football again were just
unbelievable," said Allardyce, who joined the club in 2011. "The way he came
in after long bouts of really hard, strenuous treatment that made him very
ill indeed, was amazing. "[Former West Ham first team coach] Wally Downes
told me as soon as I got here that the best player in the academy, without a
doubt, is going to be Dylan Tombides. "But because of this horrible disease
we could never get him in the first-team squad as often as we'd have liked."

Football officials, players and fans mourned Tombides's death and tribute
signs, flowers and Australian flags were on display at the stadium on
After carrying his brother's shirt on to the ground, raising it to the sky
and placing it on the ground, Taylor Tombides -a West Ham youth player
-later tweeted: "That's for you Dylan we miss you so much i love you".
Australian Mile Jedinak, the Crystal Palace captain, scored the only goal of
the game, his first Premier League goal, but his celebration was notably

Hammers looking to bring Premier League duo to Upton Park
Date: 20th April 2014 at 2:53 am
Written by: Irons Maiden |

It sounds like West Ham's summer transfer plans are in full swing with the
Times' Gary Jacob writing: "West Ham United hope to take advantage of
Sunderland's likely relegation with a move for Lee Cattermole. West Ham also
hope to persuade Micah Richards, the Manchester City defender who has one
year left on his contract to move to London."

The rumours regarding Manchester City's Micah Richards have been around for
a few months and, although he would be an improvement on Guy Demel*, I
question whether he'd actually join us?

Sunderland's Lee Cattermole has more legs - the rumour does, not the player
- and is someone that Sam Allardyce has wanted for a while. The Black Cats
midfielder is a better footballer than he is given credit for but that
doesn't stop him being a bit, erm, physical in the middle of the park -
Cattermole has scored one Premier League goal for every 66.8 fouls he has

West Ham 0 - Crystal Palace 1: Mile sparks Sam unrest
By: Jon West
Published: Sun, April 20, 2014

RIGHTLY or wrongly, Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce have long been viewed as
managers who love the long ball far too much. Right now, however, their
popularity ratings could hardly be more contrasting. Pulis's Palace, thanks
to a penalty from Mile Jedinak are now safe from the drop and have won five
in a row. Meanwhile, Allardyce was subjected to catcalls from the home fans
even though the Hammers are not in any real danger themselves. "You don't
know what you're doing!" was the cry when winger Matt Jarvis was taken off
so Carlton Cole could join Andy Carroll up front in the search for an
equaliser. Predictably, the final whistle was greeted with boos from most
sections of Upton Park. Not from the away end though.

Not since 1992 have Palace won five top-flight fixtures on the bounce and
previously they have always been relegated after a single season in the
Premier League. That looked likely when Pulis, jettisoned by Stoke last
summer, succeeded Ian Holloway in November but now the Welshman is in the
running for the Manager of the Season gong. Allardyce, on the other hand,
faces an uncertain summer despite having enjoyed unwavering support from
owners David Sullivan and David Gold when his side were in the bottom three.
"We've played some really good football and we could have scored two or
three goals," Pulis said. "Don't take away what we have got - this is a
different team to Stoke, with different strengths. We have great pace on the
break." Before kick-off, there was a reminder that whatever the home
supporters think about Allardyce, it is only a game of football. A minute's
applause in memory of West Ham player Dylan Tombides, who died of cancer
aged 20 in the run-up to the game, was an emotional scene of a different
kind. Dad Jim and younger brother Taylor, who is also on the club's books,
carried a shirt with number 38 to the centre circle. This number will now be
retired as a mark of respect. "Football doesn't mean too much to me today
after the news about Dylan passing away," Allardyce said. "My thoughts are
with his family." Had it affected the players? "Not really," Allardyce
added. "The players played how they should have done to break down Crystal
Palace's effective unit. We just didn't score."

West Ham shaded the first half, with Carroll heading a couple of good
chances wide and being denied by an excellent save by Julian Speroni, the
Palace goalkeeper, seconds after he had kept out a low drive by Mohamed
Diame. It was also a half of penalty shouts that referee Martin Atkinson
ignored. The official probably didn't see Adrian Mariappa's late challenge
on Matt Jarvis. But Kevin Nolan's use of an arm to block a Mariappa shot at
the other end was far more obvious.

MAN OF MATCH: MILE JEDINAK - not only slotted away the match-winning penalty
but also bossed the midfield.


WEST HAM: Adrian; McCartney, Tomkins, Reid, Armero; Noble, Diame; Jarvis (C
Cole 70), Nolan (Nocerino 85), Downing (J Cole 72); Carroll.

PALACE: Speroni; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Dikcagoi, Jedinak; Bolasie
(Parr 90), Ledley, Puncheon (Gabbidon 87); Jerome (Murray 82).

Ref: M Atkinson

Att: 34,977

Where is West Ham's fight?
Date: 19th April 2014 at 9:37 pm
Written by: Emily Pulham |

The teams swirling around the relegation zone are starting to put in some
incredible performances- everyone except us, that is. Sunderland put in an
outstanding performance against Manchester City, and through some form of
witchcraft, managed to bring Chelsea to their knees. Even Fulham
beat.someone, and if Norwich City beat Liverpool, I will lose my tiny mind.
Having said that, no team has put in more work to survive than the team that
just beat a truly uninspiring West Ham, Crystal Palace.

Palace came to Upton Park knowing they were safe, even if they failed to get
a result. Their supporters had a reason to be cheerful, and they never
stopped singing. Crystal Palace's support was arguably the best away support
we've seen this season. They joined in with the Dylan Tombides tribute, for
which we are grateful, and then they blew up their beach balls and got ready
to party- and party they should.

Crystal Palace have done the enviable- they've beaten the drop, and they've
done it with a bang. This same squad looked doomed when Tony Pulis pulled
into town, and yet they've demonstrated a tremendous amount of strength to
stay up.

We shouldn't be so different from Palace. I would argue that, on paper, we
have a much stronger team- but what separates us from them, the safe from
the barely hanging on, is that they have some fight in them- and we don't.

We are so sorely lacking in fight and spirit. We head into games without
self-belief, and why would we win when we already believe we won't? The
second a team scores against us, we shut down, and the sense of disbelief on
the field is visibly noticeable from the stands.

Even today, on a day when an incredibly brave youth player had to carry his
deceased brother's shirt onto the pitch, we couldn't find a fight. It should
have been there.

I envied those Crystal Palace supporters today. We could have and should
have been able to celebrate staying up today too, but too many players wear
their negativity as a heavy weight on their shoulders and don't believe in
themselves and the team- or, worse, they don't care.

It's just not good enough. It hasn't been good enough all season, and it is
nothing short of a mathematical miracle that we are still twelfth- and we
will not be there long if the Sunderlands and Crystal Palaces of the Premier
League have anything to say about it.

Today, we got an education. Today, we saw a master class in how to avoid
relegation. It's just a shame we were on the receiving end of it


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