GOOD FORM: Ricardo Vaz Te
IT TOOK less than a minute to find evidence of why Sam Allardyce pursued the signing of Andy Carroll all summer. The England forward, who made his debut two days after joining on a season long loan from Liverpool, played a part in West Ham’s opening goal and proceeded to give a master class of the skills he brings to any team willing to play to his strengths as West Ham romped to a 3-0 win.
Carroll directed a cushioned header into the path of Ricardo Vaz Te, who spotted Kevin Nolan’s unmarked run and squared for the West Ham captain to claim his second goal of the season.
The England international’s ability to win headers and flicks, combined with his tireless work rate, went down a treat with jubilant West Ham fans and contributed to one of the finest performances of Alladyce’s tenure in east London.
Nolan’s opener was complemented by first-half goals for Winston Reid and Matt Taylor. They served to dispel any fears of trauma from last weekend’s mauling at Swansea and strengthened the notion that Allardyce can keep his charges in the top-flight. Defensively West Ham were as dominant as they were at home to Aston Villa on the opening day and the two goals emanating from set-pieces were standard Allardyce fare.
Carroll and Nolan showed promise that their partnership, which worked so well at Newcastle and contributed to the hype that surrounded Carroll, can be rekindled at Upton Park. There was also an instant synergy between the new signing and Ricardo Vaz Te, who will likely benefit and draw encouragement from lining up against a forward of Carroll’s stature. Moreover, no side is going to relish a visit to Upton Park with the Hammers in this form.
On 29 minutes Winston Reid rose above Mladen Petric to head home Taylor’s corner, before the provider added the third just before the break. Brede Hangeland failed to adequately clear James Collins’ free-kick and Taylor was the grateful recipient and steered a low drive past Mark Schwarzer. It was over as contest before half-time.
Fulham, whose transfer business was as devastating as West Ham’s was invigorating, contributed to their downfall by lax marking that the hosts were happy to exploit. Dimitar Berbatov appeared for the second period but Martin Jol’s side will take time to recover from the losses of Danny Murphy, Moussa Dembele, Clint Dempsey and Pavel Pogrebnyak.
To their credit, the offered increased commitment in the second-half but West Ham still looked the most likely scorers, as Taylor and Vaz Te looked to extend their lead with efforts that lacked the precision of the opening period.
Berbatov flitted around the periphery of the match and was unable to impose himself in the manner of Carrol yet one suspects that better days lay ahead for the Bulgarian forward.
The onus was on Fulham to reduce the arrears yet the struggled against an organised West Ham who were happy to absorb the visitors’ retorts. Hugo Rodellega and Damian Duff came closest for the Cottagers, with the former forcing a fine save from Jussi Jaaskelainen, which the Finn could deflected onto his near post in the closing stages.
Greater anxiety arose five minutes beforehand Carroll left the stage as a precautionary measure following yet another aerial duel. His condition is to be determined but he walked off, which augurs well.
West Ham should have made it four in the 84th minute when Vaz Te burst forward but the Portuguese waited too long before squaring to substitute Robert Hall, whose shot was blocked by Sascha Riether.
The Hammers first-half exploits ensured it did not matter.