Yossi most certainly lit up The Boleyn Ground, but the whole team were heroes! It says much for the character of Samuel Allardyce, that Yossi played at all. After being hauled off at half time against Wigan, I, like many others, had been expecting to see Benayoun on the bench, at best.
So often in football, you see a manager haul a player off then cast the player into the wilderness for no apparent reason. On many occasions, not even bothering to speak to the player again. But here was Allardyce, saying to Yossi: "Listen Yossi, your performance against Wigan simply was not nearly good enough! I know what you're all about, so get back on the park and do it!"
Players' respect honesty in managers, more than anything else. Something Allardyce most certainly does. The excellent team spirit at the club is testimony of this. It's no surprise then that Yossi Benayoun rewarded his manager's faith in him with a brilliant performance against The Premier League Champions.
Notwithstanding his volley, that Joe Hart turned onto the bar. Benayoun was here, there and everywhere. He was dropping back to help out the defence, at one stage making a double tackle! The next minute, twisting and turning, then slipping through a clever pass. It doesn't matter who is around him, Yossi has the skill and technical ability to keep possession of the ball.When you are under the cosh, like we were against Manchester City during the last twenty five minute...Yossi Benayoun was a VITAL outlet for the defence in relieving pressure.
When I saw the team sheet and I saw Joey O'Brien at right back and James Collins at centre back, I feared the worst and thought to myself , "Christ, Tevez and Balotteli are going to think it's Christmas!" How wrong was I? The defensive heroics of the entire defence ,reminded me of my Dad's account of the great fight between Muhammad Ali against George Foreman - In the 'Rumble in Jungle' as the fight was termed. The bout took place in Kinshasa, Zaire, way back in 1974. George Foreman was an ABSOLUTE monster, and invincible at the time. So much so, that Ali's cornerman feared for his life! Angelo Dundee, Ali's legendary trainer years later said the dressing room resembled a morgue before the fight.
For eight rounds, Foreman battered Ali against the ropes and towards the end of the eighth round, Ali got Foreman against the ropes and sneered "Is that all you've got in your locker? You bum!" Before unleashing a barrage of blows, to knock Foreman out. In doing so, not only causing one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, but regaining the Heavyweight crown in the process.
I think if I had asked some of the older West Ham fans before the match, who faced the greater odds - Ali or a makeshift West Ham defence, facing the likes of Tevez, Balotelli and Nasri...they would have said Ali had the EASIER task. The whole defence, were ABSOLUTELY heroic against Manchester City! People say that we defended too deep. It's all very well saying we should have defended higher up.But with players like Nasri, Balotelli and Tevez in the team, they would of got in behind us and torn us to pieces.
For ninety-three minutes, the defence took everything City's superstars could throw at them, stuck out their tongues and said "is that all you've got in your locker, YOU BUMS?!" I could not single out a weak link in defence. Where the likes of George McCartney and Joey O'Brien found the energy to bomb forward, God only knows! Winston Reid was his usual rock like self.
But my man of the match ..above Yossi, has to be James Collins. The GREATEST comeback since Lazarus! Collins was ABSOLUTELY IMMENSE! If not heading the ball away, he was THROWING his body in the line of fire for West Ham's cause! To do this for 93 minutes against the likes of Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko, Nasri and Aguero! and be able to stick your tongue out at them at the end, was a SUPER human effort in anyone's language!
Mark Noble had yet another excellent match. Noble worked his socks off, always on hand to help out the defence or to carry the ball forward. He was also switching play, by spraying lovely passes out to either Matthew Jarvis or Yossi Benayoun. Jarvis didn't have a bad game, considering he was up against Toure, who is one of the best in the business.
Indeed, Jarvis did provide a few decent crosses, but they need to have more pace on them...balls that Andy Carroll can ATTACK! What of Andy Carroll? He is still a bit short, match fitness wise, but he definetly causes defenders problems. In many ways he reminds me a lot of Carlos Tevez when he first joined the club. Tevez was playing well, but couldn't buy a goal. But when he DID score, he started scoring freely. When Andy Carroll scores his first goal, he will score a hatful afterwards.
However, for the match day sponsors to make Andy Carroll man of the match for the second or third game running? Above Collins or Yossi? What's that all about? Were they at the bar during the match? Because they definitely saw a different match to the rest of us!Yes I know, the club hope to sell a lot of Andy Carroll shirts. But that's taking the p*ss!
It's difficult to find any negative points after the performance against City, but apart from his shot at goal, Momo Diame was once again poor. He took the wrong option and got dispossessed on more than one occasion. Either Yossi or Jarvis would be in space, but Diame either tried to be too clever or didn't see them. However, let's not be too harsh on super Momo Diame. I'm sure he will be back to his best soon.
It must be tempting though, for Allardyce to put Diame on the bench against Newcastle, which will enable him to move Yossi inside; giving the manager the option to start Maiga out wide against The Magpies. Granted, it's going to be tough at St James Park next week with whatever team we put out. Can we get a result against Newcastle United? Why not.
The key thing is to make sure we carry the form we showed against Manchester City into the Newcastle game. Newcastle have been inconsistent this season. With the excellent Fabricio Colloccini missing in defence, as well as Tiote not featuring, we have a golden opportunity to get something from this game.
This game will not be short of 'afters,' and we will need to keep a cool head, otherwise things could boil over. You've got Demba Ba, who turned his back on West Ham, doing a runner as soon as the club got relegated. This is after the club gave him a chance, when nobody else would because of his dodgy knee.
Then you've got Kevin Nolan, who was discarded by Newcastle as soon as the Magpies got promoted. This is despite Nolan playing a pivotal role, and being a driving force in Newcastle's promotion campaign, the previous season. Of course, we have one of Newcastle's favourite son, Andy Carroll, donning the Claret and blue this Sunday.
How ironic would it be if he should break his duck at St James Park, of ALL places! With the season we are having, I wouldn't bet against it! Last but not least, we have the respective managers - Samuel Allardyce and Alan Pardew, who have spent time in the opposition dugout. Both being victims of takeovers.
Allardyce, who was a Freddie Shepperd appointment, barely had time to get his arse on the St James Park hotseat, before the new owner Mike Ashley decided he wanted his own man in, and the next minute, Samuel was picking up his p45. Ironically, exactly the same fate befell Alan Pardew at The Boleyn Ground.
One minute we are watching Sky and the next minute Sky informs us they are going to pop over to The Boleyn Ground, as Terry Brown had cashed in big style, and West Ham had new owners. WTF?! A black cab stops, out steps a creature from Star Wars, carrying a beaming smile and a West Ham scarf around his neck.
Eggy let us know straight away, if results didn't improve, he would 'cut' the managers 'throat.' .He was as good as his word. Although to be fair, Pardew had lost the dressing room long before then. Stories had emerged on the internet, saying that good old Pards was a huge fan of footballers 'wives'..NOT the Telly show.
The game that clinched Pardews exit at The Boleyn? Without a shadow of a doubt was a 4-0 hammering against Bolton Wanderers at The Reebok Stadium. It could of been eight or nine to be fair. The Bolton fans took the p*ss singing "It's just like watching Brazil." Pardew never had a clue how to change things. Oh he tried, but the Bolton manager always seemed one step ahead of him tactically. Long before the end, Pardew was a forlorn figure - just standing there as the rain poured down. Eggy, a few rows behind him, with a face like thunder. The Bolton manager that cold and wet night? One Samuel Allardyce. Same again Sir..same again please. We are more than a football club, we're a way of life! COYI'S!!