Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Reo-Coker fractured ankle & other bidnet

* A CT scan on Nigel Reo-Coker's ankle has revealed a hairline fracture, which means that the influential midfielder will be on the sidelines for six weeks. It's unclear who Pardew plans to replace the England U21 captain in central midfield, since Mullins, Fletcher, and Dailly all have a similar style of play and West Ham need someone to make late runs into the box. Yossi Benayoun fits that mould, so perhaps the Israeli playmaker could pull the strings from the centre while Shaun Newton fills in on the right.

Or, here's a radical idea. Play Mullins and Fletcher/Dailly as two holding midfielders, with Zamora and Aliadere as very attacking wingers, Yossi in the hole and Harewood up front. Harewood isn't really suited to the lone striker role so he would be receiving the ball to feet from the two wingers and Yossi.

Either way, I reckon the team would benefit from Yossi being in the middle anyway. The only problem so far has been, how do we fit him in with NRC and Mullins, who are (and should be) almost automatic selections? It's a compromise no matter what you do, so it'll be interesting to see what Pardew does now that NRC is out of the picture.

* Another challenge is what Guus Hiddink will do against Uruguay in tonight's WCQ playoff. I think we've established that Australia's back line doesn't have enough pace, but there aren't many options for Hiddink. Tonight is a real acid test for the new manager and I for one will be very interested to see what tactics he employs. The Dutchman is being very coy about his selections but the news sources reckon Bresciano and Cahill will both play, so to me that suggests that Culina and Thompson are making way. I'm guessing it will be something like a 3-1-4-1-1 with Neill as sweeper, Grella in front of the defence, and Dukes on his own up front: Schwartzer, Neill, Vidmar, Thwaite, Grella, Chipperfield, Cahill, Bresciano, Emerton, Kewell (or possibly Thompson) and Viduka. We'll see.

* Back to the United Kingdom where West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon is going from strength to strength, looking right at home in the Premiership and now being tipped for captaincy of the Wales side. "I am not expecting to be named captain, but if it does happen one day I will be delighted and it will be a great honour," said Gabbidon. "I captained Cardiff after Graham Kavanagh left to join Wigan last season and if I do it that will be the biggest achievement of my career so far. I do not think I am a natural leader, it's something I have to work hard at. I am more of a leader through my performance rather than bawling and shouting. That is where I could improve my overall performance. I have never really thought of being Wales captain, but it is certainly something that excites me. It is one of the greatest honours."

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