Two Coles light up Irons

Posted by Peter Thorne

Carl Court/AFP/Getty ImagesWest Ham got the job done vs. Fulham but there's still much to fix.

During Saturday's thumping 3-0 demolition of Fulham at Upton Park, it occurred to me that many West Ham supporters might have cast their memories back to when they were younger.

Of course, not to the glory days of free-flowing football under Ron Greenwood or John Lyall but, just perhaps, back to those days when your Mum used to tell you that 'there are always people worse off than you'. Far from the tight, nervous affair many were expecting, this was a return to the type of displays that West Ham produced so often at home last season, and it was carried out against a team looking far more likely to be struggling come next May.

-Fulham sack Jol
-Delaney: Three things: West Ham vs. Fulham

A buoyant Irons team playing with confidence and displaying a strangely clinical precision up-front was far too much for a lacklustre Fulham side who simply didn't compete on any part of the field or, for the most part, off it either. A day before he was sacked, Fulham manager Martin Jol looked a beleaguered figure on the bench, at one point taunting his own team's fans.

Nobody is pretending that the Hammers don't still have issues, but as our mothers told us, there are some that have bigger things to concern them. In Fulham's case, it was the number of basic mistakes made that West Ham were able to capitalise on, complete with -- and what irony here! -- the desperate fact the Cottagers did not manage one single shot on goal.

Two late goals, from Carlton Cole and Joe Cole, added to the Mo Diame strike just a minute into the second-half, ensured that there was little doubt about who came out the better in the unofficial sack race that the media had been busy promoting during the week, Sam Allardyce ditching the striker-less formation of recent weeks and employing Modibo Maiga up front.

It's fair to say that most supporters had expected -- and certainly preferred -- to see Carlton Cole up front. But Sam's decision produced an unexpected bonus as Maiga had probably his best game for the Hammers, hitting the post, coming close on several occasions, but ultimately just failing to get the goal his general play deserved.

It was difficult not to feel sorry for the Malian when, having been replaced by Carlton Cole after 81 minutes of sterling work, he'd barely taken his place on the bench before Cole tapped in the excellent Stewart Downing's cross to put the game beyond Fulham. It was Carlton Cole's second touch.

Joe Cole then rubbed salt into Fulham's wound by scoring a third goal seven minutes later, curling home a Ravel Morrison pass after excellent work from the ex-Manchester United youngster. The fact JC came on for Matt Jarvis after 68 minutes while Morrison had replaced Kevin Nolan after 77 minutes only served to make the situation worse for Jol, as Allardyce could rightfully point to crucial substitutions at the right time while displaying strength from the bench. It was also nice for Joe Cole who had been hauled off ignominiously when things had gone wrong at the Boleyn against Chelsea just seven days before.

West Ham had sent Fulham on their way early on, dominating proceedings and having a host of chances. While it remained goal-less though, there was always the nagging feeling that the home side's lack of goals may come back to haunt them. But the visitors kindly ended those worries by gifting the claret and blue their opener just after half-time.

Ex-Hammer of the Year Scott Parker was caught in possession and, falling injured, Fulham's Steve Sidwell seemed to hesitate waiting for a foul to be called on his side's captain. The referee rightly saw nothing wrong though, allowing Mo Diame to dispossess the midfielder and drive forward, his shot marginally deflecting off Fernando Amorebieta and wrong-footing Maarten Stekelenburg to put the Hammers up, 1-0.

In a mirror of how West Ham responded against Fulham's west London neighbours Chelsea last week, the visitors' heads dropped, allowing West Ham full reign to attack. Jarvis and Maiga went close before Downing's cross dropped onto the bar and Morrison missed a gift, before the Coles' late strikes.

West Ham's second win at home in the league following the opening-day victory against Cardiff isn't any more an indication of the club's fortunes than being outplayed by a rampant Chelsea team but, the Premier League is a division of small differences and with a game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park coming up next, Allardyce will hope to use this win to give his team a bit of a springboard in some important matches to come.

If the Hammers can go into the transfer window a point or two either side of the halfway mark, then their prospects will undoubtedly look better when -- or should that be if? -- the much-required striker(s) join in January. The club is making no secret of their prospective shopping list and matches like this will encourage everyone from the training ground to the terraces.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.