What is it with West Ham United? As if winning what was effectively a relegation battle days after their £108 million takeover was not enough, the striker Carlos Tevez walked out of the stadium following his substitution yesterday. The storylines just keep coming even if the East End soap opera is now, with its new ownership, more of an Icelandic saga.
The Argentinian was taken off in the 66th minute, to a rousing ovation, and will be summoned to meet his manager, Alan Pardew, tomorrow. "He has a big explanation to give," Pardew said. "He has not given me a chance to tell him why I subbed him. I'm sure he's just disappointed but it's disrespectful to me, the fans and the other players."
Pardew said he had taken the striker off for tactical reasons once he lost Danny Gabbidon to injury with a strained hamstring which may keep him out for some time. West Ham lacked height, Pardew said, especially against a powerful side such as Sheffield United and so Teddy Sheringham was brought on.
It makes Tevez's future even more uncertain especially as Kia Joorabchian, the man who brought him and Javier Mascherano to Upton Park, has failed to buy West Ham but still controls the players' futures. Both, Pardew said, are frustrated, with Hayden Mullins' fine form denying Mascherano even the chance to impress.
Mullins scored the only goal, heading in from four yards after Anton Ferdinand flicked on a first-half corner. It meant the regime of the new chairman, Eggert Magnusson, enjoyed a winning start although Sheffield United were desperately unlucky to leave with nothing.
They finally did get the ball in the net, in the fourth minute of injury time, as Rob Kozluk swept home. But Derek Geary, all 5ft 6in of him, was penalised for an aerial challenge on the goalkeeper Robert Green. It appeared harsh and the Blades manager, Neil Warnock, felt aggrieved over the performance of the referee, Mike Riley. "I expected a free-kick," he said. "I thought he was quite consistent throughout the game really." He did not need to explain that he meant consistently bad.
Not that the match itself was much better. Indeed, it had the same level of coordination as the cheesy jig that Magnusson did on the pitch as he was presented to the fans before kick-off. It showed his enthusiasm, for sure, but West Ham will hope he is a better businessman than a dancer.
"What you saw was his genuine enthusiasm for football," Pardew said of his new boss. "I'm going to encourage it and tell him to reach for the stars and give me loads of money."
For so much of this season the team have been closer to the gutter but with a third win in five games they are on the up. Nerves again ruled, with Pardew talking about the "hullabaloo" over recent events which had added to the pressure. Sheffield United came close twice in the opening 45 minutes, first with an Alan Quinn shot and then when Paul Konchesky had to clear Claude Davis's unchallenged header off the line.
Tevez appeared sharp. He threaded a couple of fine passes and struck the side-netting with a shot but he is still not quite up to the pace. As he faded so did West Ham and the visitors fashioned chance after chance.
Ferdinand was caught out by Davis's lob forward but recovered to tackle Christian Nade before the substitute reached Keith Gillespie's whipped cross only to fail in directing his shot. He should have scored, as should Nicky Law whoshot wide. At the end Marlon Harewood almost added a second before Kozluk's goal was ruled out.Reuse content