|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham’s Andy Carroll twists knife into Bob Bradley and Swansea
Stuart James at the Liberty Stadium
Date Published Monday 26 December 2016 17.05 GMT
It was an afternoon when the mood turned ugly in South Wales as Swansea City supporters called for Bob Bradley to be sacked and vented their anger at the members of the board who sold their shares in the summer. “We want Bradley out” and “You greedy bastards get out of our club” were among the chants reverberating around the stadium during another chastening defeat for a team who look resigned to relegation.
The only festive cheer was found in the away end, where the euphoric West Ham fans celebrated a third successive victory that lifted Slaven Bilic’s side up to 11th and piled the misery on to Swansea and their American manager. Bradley put on a brave face and all indications are the Swansea board have no desire to dismiss the man who was appointed in October, yet there is no escaping the level of discontent that was swirling around the Liberty Stadium in the second half.
The atmosphere felt poisonous and it was not only the hardcore support, in the upper tier of the East Stand, who were calling for Bradley to go. At one point near the end that “We want Bradley out” chant swept around the stadium as fans railed at the sight of their club sliding towards the Championship.
Bradley was never a popular choice at the outset and the results since his appointment have done nothing to change opinion. Swansea have picked up only eight points from his 11 games in charge and, most damningly of all, conceded 29 goals. The West Ham defeat was the eighth time under his watch that Swansea have shipped three goals or more in a game.
It is a woeful record, yet Bradley is not solely responsible for the way that Swansea’s season has unravelled. Their recruitment in the summer was desperately poor and it is tempting to wonder how much better any other manager would do with the group of players Bradley inherited when he replaced Francesco Guidolin.
Defensively Swansea are a shambles. Bradley has tried just about every permutation possible with the back and yet nothing seems to get any better. Some of his tactics in other areas make no sense and it was a curious decision on Bradley’s part to leave out Fernando Llorente, who had scored four goals in his previous two home matches. Borja, the £15.5m club-record signing who has scored only once all season, started in place of Llorente and was dragged off at half-time.
By that stage Swansea were a goal down after yet another piece of calamitous defending. André Ayew, returning to the club where he finished as top scorer last season, registered his first goal for West Ham with a simple tap-in. Winston Reid added the second early in the second half and it was at that point that the frustration in the stands started to boil over.
Michail Antonio later added a third and although Llorente pulled one back for Swansea late on, Bilic’s side were not finished. Andy Carroll, volleying home at the far post, twisted the knife with a fourth to re-establish their three-goal advantage.
Swansea face Bournemouth at home on Saturday, and travel to Crystal Palace three days later. Whether Bradley will still be around for both of those games remains to be seen. Whatever the board thinks privately about wanting to give Bradley more time, the manager’s position will become close to untenable if Swansea lose in front of their own fans against Bournemouth. “In terms of trying to win back a bit of belief from the supporters, Bournemouth couldn’t be bigger,” Bradley said.
For West Ham, who have collected 10 points from their past four matches, the world seems a much happier place. They brutally exposed Swansea’s defensive frailties and never looked back from the moment Reid headed in Dimitri Payet’s corner five minutes into the second half.
West Ham’s breakthrough in the first half had owed much to Carroll, who towered above Angel Rangel to head Mark Noble’s diagonal pass back across goal, and also Lukasz Fabianski’s poor goalkeeping. Fabianski carelessly pushed the ball into the path of Ayew, who slotted home from inside the six-yard box.
Although Darren Randolph made a couple of decent saves to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jack Cork, Swansea never threatened to mount a fightback. There is no conviction about their play and it was no surprise when Antonio stabbed home a third, turning in Havard Nordtveit’s wayward shot. Llorente, on for Borja, reduced the deficit when he converted Nathan Dyer’s cross but Carroll put a smile back on Bilic’s face with West Ham’s fourth goal.
Not that the West Ham manager is taking anything for granted. “It would be suicidal to think we are safe now and look only who is above us,” Bilic said. “It is still very tight but we have to use this to gain confidence and continue to improve. Only then we will have a chance to finish good.”
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Swansea (4-3-3): Fabianski 4.5; Rangel 5, Van der Hoorn 5, Mawson 5, Kingsley 5.5; Fulton 5 (Montero 45, 6) (Dyer 70), Britton 6.5, Cork 6; Routledge 6, Borja 4.5 (Llorente 46, 6.5), Sigurdsson 6.5
Subs not used: Fer, Nordfeldt, Naughton, Fernandez.
West Ham (3-4-3): Randolph 7; Kouyate 6.5, Reid 7, Ogbonna 6.5; Antonio 7.5 (Feghouli 84), Noble 7, Nordtveit 6.5, Cresswell 7, Payet 6.5, Carroll 7 (Fletcher 90), Ayew 7 (Fernandez 75, 6).
Subs not used: Adrian, Quina, Pike, Rice.
Referee: Andre Marriner 6.5
MOM: Michail Antonio