Scientists insist that Sam Allardyce was not responsible for the creation of the universe, even if the West Ham manager believes himself to be the centre of it. Some 13.75 billion years after the universe was created, a second big bang was audible in North London. The noise was the sound of Allardyce’s pre-match comments backfiring.
Allardyce, once linked (by himself!) to the Real Madrid job, had been in bullish mood ahead of West Ham’s visit to White Hart Lane, predicting Spurs vulnerability and fatigue after Thursday’s excursion to Rome. ‘Big Sam’ was at least partially correct. The celebrations were exhausting.
Andy Carroll and the West Ham caravan rolled into N17 with the third best defence in the league. They rolled out chastened and pointless after Tottenham’s most encouraging home display this season. The old fluency returned after recent patchy performances. Jermain Defoe’s livewire run and finish just before the break sparked an enterprising second half where home goals looked as likely as they have all season.
The maligned Clint Dempsey suddenly came to the fore, rattling the bar before unlocking the West Ham backline with a clever dink that released the rampaging Gareth Bale for a crucial second. Shortly afterwards, the ‘US player of the year’ capitalised on some excellent defensive play by Tom Huddlestone and Sandro to set the scampering Aaron Lennon free before the winger’s unselfish cross brought Defoe his second goal and breathing space for Spurs.
After his heroics in Rome, Hugo Lloris retained his place in goal and showed cat-like awareness in the box, snuffing out rare West Ham attacks and critically denying a breakaway equaliser with a smart interception from a Kevin Nolan cross moments before Spurs took control via Bale and Defoe. A less than stellar clearance by Stephen Caulker denied Tottenham an elusive clean sheet, but Carroll’s pony-tailed nod was scant consolation for West Ham in their 'cup final'.
The last time they won at White Hart Lane was 1999. Back then celebrity Hammer Russell Brand was as high as a kite. He still had more perspective than Big Sam. Bang.
*** Despite previous indiscretions, I made another guest appearance on the excellent Fighting Cock podcast this week. Tune in here.