Hammers' seasonal generosity

Posted by Peter Thorne

Adnan Januzaj doubles Man United's lead against West Ham.GettyImagesAdnan Januzaj doubles Man United's lead against West Ham.

West Ham gave Manchester United the gift of three points for Christmas, a generosity that Sam Allardyce's side have deemed fit and proper for most opponents during the first half of the season, and something they now seem only to keen to carry on into the New Year.

The 3-1 scoreline in favour of the Old Trafford side gives scant notice of the one-sided nature of the game; the Hammers were barely in it and only had Carlton Cole's solitary clean-through strike in the 81st minute to show for any form of attacking intent at all. It's likely the home fans might even have wished they had popped down the road to the Trafford Centre for a spot of Christmas shopping rather than watch this non-contest, their team barely breaking sweat as they easily swept aside this lacklustre Hammers outfit.

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But this is the season of goodwill -- a time when stony faced hearts are seen to melt in the glow of the Yuletide message -- so it seems only right for the Upton Park faithful to look on the positives from this game and try and take something encouraging into 2014.

So, first up, the Reds had the dominant player in the game in the shape of the impressive Adnan Januzaj and its likely that better sides than West Ham will be find themselves dismantled by the feet of the 18-year-old Belgian. The youngster scored the second goal after 36 minutes with some aplomb and would be happy with the way Hammers defender James Collins stopped to wave his arms in the air for an offside that was never going to be given. Sorry, I said I would be positive, didn't I?

The Hammers didn't lose by a huge margin, probably due to the fact that all clubs are mindful of the number of games coming up over the festive period and Manchester United were happy to just secure the win and take it easy. 2-0 up by half-time after Danny Welbeck had given them the lead, Manchester were on cruise control for the last 45 minutes. West Ham would be concerned by the fact Welbeck's strike sailed easily under the body of league debutant goal-keeper Adrian after 26 minutes but equally heartened by the same man's impressive save from Tom Cleverley in the first minute that stopped the home side going ahead with their first attack.

Javier Hernandez scored a goal that was incorrectly ruled out for offside -- another plus! -- but the Hammers could do little with the ferocious strike from substitute Ashley Young on 72 minutes that sealed the game, while Cole's goal after substitute Alexander Buttner -- a substitute for Patrice Evra -- had played on the Hammer's forward as United pushed up for off-side, was something of a gift itself. Nevertheless, Cole did run on to slot the ball home comfortably -- not something many West Ham players have done this season.

Elsewhere, George McCartney was lucky not to be dismissed for a studs-up tackle, while unsubstantiated rumours that Manchester United might be looking to buy back their former bad boy Ravel Morrison are likely to prove groundless on this showing, the 20 year-old looking lost and indecisive in the Hammers midfield.

Anything else? Well, as I never tire of telling anyone who will listen, the Premier League is a lop-sided competition that features sides at the top with a substitutes bench and a reserve team full of players that would walk into the side of any of those struggling at the bottom. That is certainly the case with West Ham who would be only to happy to have any of the attacking options available to Manchester United from the bench. It's not likely that any of those will find their way onto the payroll at Upton Park when the transfer window opens and it remains to be seen quite how much money is likely to find its way from the coffers in the vault under the Boleyn Ground, however Sam Allardyce has made it quite clear that attacking options are, and have been, approached so it's almost certain that new faces will be in the team by the time these two opponents meet again.

Other than that, all that can be said is that, despite the paucity of goals, the lack of creativity, the usual injury crisis, the creaking defence, the fans discontent and the usual dithering and lack of cash from the boardroom, West Ham go into the Christmas period - not bottom as many expected - but, oddly not even in the bottom three. In fact, it's worth noting that the Hammers have actually managed to avoid the drop zone thus far this campaign and, as far as presents go, that's about as good as it's likely to go unless something of a Christmas miracle occurs at the Boleyn against Arsenal on Boxing Day.

The Hammers major saving grace may be that there are others around them even poorer than they are. It's not much to hang you Santa hat on perhaps, but sometimes you have to take what you can from what's available.

Merry Christmas to all West Ham fans everywhere!



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