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Baggies must move on after defeat

West Brom's FanZoner Tom Harper does not believe too much should be read into the defeat at West Ham but does fear the season could fizzle out.

Last Updated: 31/03/13 at 19:46 Post Comment

Andy Carroll: Scores for West Ham against Albion

Andy Carroll: Scores for West Ham against Albion

Where did it all go wrong against West Ham? That was what the vast majority of the Albion fans leaving Upton Park on Saturday would have been thinking, especially after our recent improved results.

Unfortunately, we were simply beaten by a side who performed better on the day.

We could have gone ahead early on, with Shane Long having a close-range effort rightly disallowed after a foul on Jussi Jaaskelainen at a corner and Romelu Lukaku seeing a deflected free-kick tipped onto the post by the Finnish goalkeeper.

From this stage, though, it was one-way traffic until half-time. Andy Carroll and Gary O'Neil put West Ham in a commanding position at the break, with Carroll adding a third goal for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining.

We grabbed a consolation in the closing stages thanks to a Graham Dorrans penalty, but this flattered us if anything.

A miserable result was compounded deep into injury time when Youssouf Mulumbu received a straight red card and will now serve a three-match ban for kicking the ball at O'Neil after being fouled.

The fact that a few players looked as though they were already on their summer holidays was very concerning and simply unacceptable with 1,500 Albion fans spending a lot of money to travel to London and watch them play.

Poor defending was ultimately our undoing, with all three goals preventable.

For the first goal, Carroll comfortably got up above the normally reliable Jonas Olsson to powerfully head home a corner.

Although the second goal was an excellent finish by O'Neil, Albion's defending once again left a lot to be desired. Liam Ridgewell was the man at fault on this occasion, as he stood off Ricardo Vaz Te, allowing the pacey winger to run at him before playing the ball to O'Neil, who finished from the edge of the area.

The third goal was a shambles defensively. Carroll has rightly received plaudits in the national media for taking it so well on the volley as the ball dropped over his shoulder, but Olsson allowed a long ball to float over his head without even attempting to win it.

Some of our passing was reasonably good, but several good moves broke down in the final third when our attacking players came up against a well-drilled West Ham back four.

On the rare occasions we were able to get efforts on target, Jaaskelainen was equal to them, comfortably keeping out two efforts from Peter Odemwingie and also denying both Billy Jones and Markus Rosenberg in the second half.

The introduction of Odemwingie as a substitute led to the Nigerian striker who has regularly taken to Twitter to criticise the club in recent weeks being round jeered by both home and away supporters.

A whole blog could be written on whether Odemwingie should play for the club again, but my view is that Saturday saw almost every Albion fan turn against him.

Even after his deadline day rant, there were still a significant number of supporters who refused to jeer him and even applauded him in some cases.

His presence in matchday squads is starting to create a division within our fanbase, with there being one or two altercations between supporters towards the end of the game on Saturday.

For a player who openly expressed his wish to be sacked on Twitter to be included in the squad ahead of one of our more talented development squad players (Izzy Brown, for example) seems slightly strange in my opinion, especially when Odemwingie barely passed the ball once after his introduction.

One or two changes are needed to the side for the game against Arsenal next week. I think we need to change both full-backs and play Steven Reid and Goran Popov in their place.

Mulumbu's suspension gives someone else a chance in midfield, although the possible return of James Morrison could see him become an almost like-for-like replacement. It may also be time to give Rosenberg a start after a brief but impressive cameo on Saturday.

On reflection, we just need to write Saturday off. Every club in every league in the world suffers days like it over the course of a long season, and it is up to Steve Clarke and the players to ensure that this season does not just peter out now we have comfortably achieved our initial aim of staying in the Premier League.

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