West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is a good deal or two happier than Fulham's Martin Jol
West Ham 3 Fulham 0
Between them West Ham United and Fulham shipped 37 players in or out during the summer transfer window. When the deadline passed on Friday night, the East End boys looked the happier of the two and the feeling was confirmed by the following day's result and reaction to it.
Sam Allardyce was positively purring, his satisfaction undiluted by the hamstring injury likely to keep his highest-profile signing, Andy Carroll, out of action for three or four weeks. Getting Carroll in on the final day rounded off an excellent couple of months' work. In contrast, Martin Jol not only lost his attacking midfielder Moussa Dembélé but, in falling victim to the last-minute tactics of his old Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, was left with no time to spend the £21m proceeds from selling the gifted Belgian and Clint Dempsey.
Allardyce was initially frustrated at not being allowed to speak directly to Carroll, but was able late in the day to work on convincing him that his international aspirations would be best served by regular football and renewing the old partnership with his great friend Kevin Nolan.
"We never got an agreement with Liverpool until Thursday," the West Ham manager said. "Once I'd got that, then I could go to work on saying this was the best place for him. He didn't want to leave Liverpool. But in the end he had to accept that Brendan [Rodgers] wanted to go down a different route, which every manager's entitled to. Andy had to accept he had to move on to make sure he gets first-team football. It's all right saying he's going to sit on the bench at Liverpool but he'd lose his England place. We're not as big a club as Liverpool, I know, but come and play first-team football in the Premier League and be the big fish in a small pond for a while."
Carroll looked a great white shark of a centre-forward as he had Fulham's defence all at sea, helping set up two of the three first-half goals for Nolan and Matt Taylor and distracting the markers as Winston Reid headed the other one from Taylor's corner. He should have had a penalty, too, for a push by Sascha Riether. If there is a doubt about him it remains his injury record, which tends to be exacerbated by his physical style. Thus it was an awkward landing from one of his many aerial challenges that caused the hamstring strain just before Allardyce was planning to substitute him.
With any combination of Taylor, Matt Jarvis, Ricardo Vaz Te, Nolan, Yossi Benayoun and the full-backs to provide the service, the prospects look bright and Upton Park could easily come to represent something more than a "small pond". Down by the Thames, meanwhile, Jol needs to ensure Craven Cottage does not become a backwater.
On Saturday he was forced to admit: "I felt we'd made a good step forward, but maybe selling Dembélé is a step back again. Dembélé is one of the best players in the Premier League. I think we will get it right, but it's not easy because we don't have that offensive midfield player who could create some damage. We've made money, but the problem is that we've not had enough time to spend it."
The straw Fulham are clutching at goes by the name of Dimitar Berbatov and cannot afford to bend in the wind. In home games at least they should score goals, with Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz (injured on Saturday) to call on, but the away record shows little sign of improvement.
West Ham: JAASKELAINEN 6/10; DEMEL 6; REID 7; COLLINS 6; O’BRIEN 6; VAZTE 8; NOBLE 8; NOLAN 8; DIAME 7; TAYLOR 7; CARROLL 8
Fulham: SCHWA RZER 6; RIISE 5; HANGELAND 5; HUGHES 6; RIETHER 6; RICHARDSON 5; SIDWELL 7; DIARRA 6; DUFF 6; PETRIC 5; RODALLEGA 6
Scorers: West Ham Utd Nolan 1, Reid 29, Taylor 41.
Substitutes: West Ham Tomkins 6 (Collins, 66), Cole 6 (Carroll, 67), Hall (Demel, 77). Fulham Berbatov 6 (Petric, h-t), Kacaniklic 5 (Richardson, 59).
Man of the match Nolan. Match rating 6/10.
Possesion: West Ham 49%. Fulham 51%. Attempts on target: West Ham 12. Fulham 13. Referee A Taylor (Cheshire). Attendance 33,458.
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