There’s a certain irony to the pictures West Brom’s kitman has been posting on Twitter today. Covering a ‘West Ham United’ sign with two Albion towels may seem amusing at the time, but when you’re a team with little left to play for for the rest of the season you have to wonder where it sets players minds.
Perhaps Youssouf Mulumbu, sent off at the end of the match for kicking a ball at West Ham’s O’Neil, saw the towels and thought “I could use them on a beach.” Perhaps Jonas Olsson, twice beat by Andy Carroll, was thinking the same. Perhaps Peter Odemwingie…well, we all know what he’s thinking, and beach towels are probably there somewhere too.
Regardless, to pin all the blame on Albion’s defeat to the kitman, Pat Frost, may be a little bit harsh. Pat Frost isn’t on the pitch, after all, and beach towels or not, the fact is Albion weren’t good enough, and West Ham did what they needed and did it well.
West Ham pull six points clear of the relegation zone with this win, and can now probably start to rest a bit easier. One more win, 39 points on the board, and it should be enough for them. On the basis of this performance, they’ll be fine.
If there’s one thing Sam Allardyce does with his teams, it's make them hard to beat. Never pretty, often dull, but it works. In Andy Carroll, Allardyce has got a striker that fits the mould perfectly for his team and, unfortunately for Albion, he worked again today.
Jonas Olsson has, in recent history, had the better of Andy Carroll but today was not his day. The Swedish giant is rarely beaten in the air, so Carroll did well to out jump him for the first goal. Olsson, to his credit, was always on Carroll, and always in the right position, but Carroll’s timing on the jump was spot on and it was a good goal.
Up to the first goal Albion had produced some decent efforts, not to mention had a goal disallowed, but Jaaskelainen was on top of his game and when the second goal came, a neat curled shot by Gary O’Neil, it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
Since Christmas, form at the Albion has left much to be admired, so to be 2-0 down at half time, and not looking 100% at the races, it doesn’t exactly exude confidence for a positive outcome. That said, form is getting better, as are performances, and this is Albion. Anything can happen.
Second half comes and Lukaku goes close, Billy Jones goes close, but it’s all to no avail. Under Tony Mowbray and under Roberto Di Matteo Albion fans got used to some inconsistent defending. For West Ham’s third, you could be excused for thinking you’d gone back in time.
James Collins’ free kick, lofted high in to the area, watched by Jonas Olsson (a Mowbray signing, coincidentally) as it goes over his head, very nicely volleyed in to the net by the thorn in Olsson’s side, Andy Carroll. The finish was perfect, the defending far from it.
3-0 down at a West Ham v West Brom game doesn’t necessarily mean game over. Albion have come back from it at Upton Park less than 10 years back and won 4-3. West Ham have come back from it at the Hawthorns and drawn 3-3. Today? No such comeback.
Peter Odemwingie, playing for the first time since his latest Twitter rant, had some decent chances but failed to score. Rosenberg is still looking for his first goal and Lukaku and Long, both scorers of some vital goals this season, could not find the net.
Albion’s consolation came from Graham Dorrans, a player that was being followed by West Ham only a couple of seasons ago. A push on Lukaku and a penalty coolly taken by the Albion midfielder before being replaced by Marc-Antoine Fortune.
A frustrating day for Albion was made even more disappointing deep in to stoppage time by a moment of madness from Mulumbu. Tripped by Gary O’Neil, a free kick is given, and Mulumbu, clearly embittered, picks up the ball and volleys it straight at O’Neil. Straight red, no arguments, and straight down the tunnel past an angry looking Steve Clarke.
Frustration is the term that myself and several other Albion fans will probably come to use the most in the coming weeks. The close season is never the most exciting of times for a mid table team, and the thought of a sunny beach in the summer will be tempting to anyone with how the weather has been so far this Spring. I just hope we have a few happier and less frustrating days before the holidays begin.
Hopefully Pat Frost will keep the beach towels hidden for a little while longer.