Red-faced Redknapp

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The Independent Online
By the end of a forgettable afternoon, even the West Ham supporters had seen enough, dismissing Harry Redknapp's team with a chorus of "What a load of rubbish".

Their feelings were entirely understandable. The London side had fulfilled their objective of securing a point away from home but the long haul up the M1 deserved to be rewarded with something more positive.

Wednesday did what they could, within their limitations, to relieve the tedium, but scoring has not been their strong suit lately. Without David Hirst, injured again, they fielded only one recognisable striker, and a reversal of previous patterns of neat build-up and tame finish never seemed a serious possibility.

The suspicion, meanwhile, that flair is going out of fashion at Upton Park, particularly foreign flair, seemed to be confirmed. West Ham have 11 overseas players on their staff but picked only three yesterday. Hugo Porfirio, the Portuguese forward, is injured as is his compatriot Paulo Futre, whose contract may be cancelled this week because of his persistent knee trouble. But the pounds 2.6m Romanian, Florian Raducioiu, was relegated to the substitutes bench despite a goal in midweek.

Raducioiu had the Australian Stan Lazaridis for company, but not Ilie Dumitrescu, another who may have played his last game for the London club. Redknapp, having previous defended his policy of recruiting abroad, admits now that "some signings are going to work, but some are not".

But for the contentious Fifa-imposed ban on Regi Blinker, Wednesday's foreign contingent would have been represented in equal numbers. Instead, it was left to Benito Carbone and Orlando Trustfull to develop their growing influence on David Pleat's side. The Italian was the best player on show by some distance, although Trustfull did create a number of opportunities. However, Pleat chose to sacrifice the Dutchman with 20 minutes left, hoping the addition of Richie Humphreys would tip the balance.

In the event, it made little difference. Andy Booth hit the bar, and a stinging right-foot shot by Carbone brought a brilliant save from Ludek Miklosko, but that was as close as Wednesday got to a victory.

Michael Hughes hit the bar from 30 yards for West Ham in the first half and brought a save from Kevin Pressman in the second, which seemed enough for Redknapp. "We worked hard and came away with a draw. I don't see how anyone can complain about that," he said.

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