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West Ham defiance frustrates Clarke

Monday, 17 December 2012 - 9:30am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Sam Allardyce is counting down the days until the January transfer window as an injury crisis threatens a bleak winter for West Ham United.

Sam Allardyce is counting down the days until the January transfer window as an injury crisis threatens a bleak winter for West Ham United.

Allardyce must feel cursed after the absence of seven first-team players ensured he could name only six substitutes here, and he is in dire need of financial assistance when trading resumes in the new year.

In view of the lack of resources, this was a creditable point built on the foundations of an outstanding defensive display. But with four games in the next 15 days, Allardyce is acutely aware the situation cannot be allowed to continue.

Andy Carroll is not expected to return until the end of February while Mohamed Diame, arguably one of West Ham's most impressive players this season, will be unavailable for 12 weeks.

"You've always got to try [to sign new players]," said Allardyce. "If there's anybody out there who can enhance or better the team then we would like to go for them.

"Whether that's short-term or long-term, it depends when the window opens who is actually available and who we can get to come in. Getting through the holiday period is always a difficult month.

"We want to push on, we don't want to slip down the league and to do that we'll either have to do a bit in the window or certainly get the players who are injured fit.

"Two or three [injuries], that happens, but seven is too many. We coped well today but I'm not sure how long we will cope if we have them out too long. Hopefully we won't have to suffer this sort of injury list again.

"It's a great point for us considering the circumstances. This is a difficult place to play and we've had six first-team players out injured, but this was a really solid professional performance."

While Allardyce was simply relieved to escape the Black Country with only an eighth point away from Upton Park, these are puzzling times for Steve Clarke.

Barely a week after winning November's manager of the month award, Clarke is facing the first test of his career in the front line as he attempts to find the solution to an unexpected blip.

Clarke's surprise package have run into turbulence after a magnificent start to the campaign and while this is far from lurching into crisis territory, four games without a win is a frustrating sequence for Albion's head coach.

Albion are only three points behind Chelsea in sixth place but this was another excruciating afternoon for Clarke as his previously free-scoring team struggled to break down a typically resilient Allardyce side in a forgettable stalemate.

Winston Reid struck his own crossbar before James Morrison also headed against the woodwork as Albion limped to their first draw of the season at home. It is now three games without a goal and perhaps Clarke may review his pledge not to spend any money in January, especially with influential players Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu departing to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Hawthorns has been spoiled for excitement this season, but this was more the 'Snorethorns'.

Odemwingie shot straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen before Shane Long screwed a shot narrowly wide from 10 yards, but it was a scrappy first half in which Albion struggled to dominate a team with a less-than-formidable away record.

But the visitors had the best chance of the opening period when Reid flicked the ball over from six yards out, after James Collins had nodded down Mark Noble's corner. And 10 minutes before half-time Carlton Cole almost took Boaz Myhill's head off with a fierce drive from distance.

Clarke had insisted before the game that he can dish out the hairdryer treatment and Albion's start to the second half suggested he had conducted a fierce, half-time inquest.

Reid sliced an attempted clearance on to his own crossbar before Morrison miscued a volley wide as the home team searched for the breakthrough.

West Ham, and in particular the outstanding Collins, were admirably stubborn at the back, however, and also frequently caused problems for the Albion defence with Gary O'Neil almost finding the top corner from 20 yards.

Albion's frustrations only grew 16 minutes from time when Morrison headed Chris Brunt's corner against the woodwork.

Romelu Lukaku and Markus Rosenberg were introduced in an attempt to swing the game but the home team were left frustrated.

Clarke said: "We said before the game it was important we didn't lose so we are pleased to get a point after three defeats in a row.

"If you look at the season as a whole we have done OK. Sometimes you have to draw games. If you assess the game properly then I think a draw was a fair result. I don't think either ourselves or West Ham played as well as we can."

 


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