West Ham’s spirit a major vindication of manager Sam Allardyce
But new Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees his side drop into bottom three following a vital home defeat to fellow-strugglers
Cardiff City’s new signing Mats Moller who has moved from Molde to the Welsh club. Photo: Pete Thomas/Cardiff City FC/PA
A week ago Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was Cardiff’s messiah and Sam Allardyce a prat after the Norwegian’s first game in charge was a 2-1 “triumph” at Newcastle in the FA Cup, where “Big Sam” turned into “Effing Allardyce” with West Ham’s 5-0 drubbing by Nottingham Forest. Days later Cardiff are in the Premier League’s bottom three for the first time this season and the Hammers are out of it after a 2-0 win against Solskjaer’s new charges.
West Ham’s players’ spirit was immense, overcoming the loss of their right-back Guy Demel with concussion after seven minutes and the dismissal of James Tomkins after 71.
Such was the team’s strength of character and purpose that they scored their second goal with 10 men.
Allardyce has had to deal with a spate of casualties but always maintained that results would improve when his best players were fit.
That was the way of it on Saturday, when Tomkins was back after injury to bolster the defence and Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll were available to share the centre-forward’s duties. To their credit the two Davids who own West Ham, Gold and Sullivan, have been staunch in Allardyce’s support.
For Cardiff, the result was a hammer blow. Down in the relegation places, their next two league fixtures are against Manchester City and Manchester United, both away. Solskjaer talks a good game but had to admit he was “surprised” by his team’s no-show in the first half.
The plan was to go hard at West Ham from the star. It didn’t happen and the new manager said: “We didn’t have any energy or enthusiasm, we never got going. The second half was the way we want to play. Craig Bellamy came on and put everyone on the front foot.”
On a day when the latest accounts revealed Cardiff were €142 million in debt, the chairman, Mehmet Dalman, was keen to offset the bad news and with Solskjaer brought forward their latest signin – Mats Moller Daehli, an 18-year-old Norwegian wunderkind from the manager’s old club, Molde.
Daehli had three years at the Manchester United academy and was their young player of the year in 2012, ahead of Adnan Januzaj. He had the chance to go back to Old Trafford but opted to join Cardiff.
Solskjaer is also interested in signing Wilfried Zaha and Fabio da Silva on loan but said: “They are Manchester United players and I can’t comment on other teams’ players.”