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Sir Alex Ferguson told Alan Curbishley to “go for it” when asked whether he should take the vacant West Ham manager’s position. After Nigel Reo-Coker got a second half winner during the former Charlton manager's first match in charge at Upton Park, the Reds boss will have been all too aware of the irony of his friendly advice.
After Chelsea fought out a 3-2 victory at Goodison Park – twice coming from behind – the gap is now down to just two points, when, due to the quirks of the fixture list, it had stood at an commanding nine points just a week ago.If attemps on goal were of any merit, United would have walked this match. But a combination of fine goalkeeping, resolute defending and opportunism handed West Ham all three points.As expected, it was a feisty start, West Ham’s fans fired up under as Curbishley brought renewed hope about the club’s future, while the Reds, who started brightly, sought to silence the Hammers’ renewed enthusiasm.
After barely a minute, United worked an opening for Wayne Rooney, but his shot sailed over the bar. But the remaining 89 minutes would offer similar such frustration.
Willed on by a vociferous home crowd, West Ham set about making it difficult for the Reds to settle into any kind of rhythm. Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick, the pace-setters of United’s play, were given very little space to work in, while Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Gabriel Heinze were all forced into early brave clearances.
The Hammers looked dangerous when they attacked, Marlon Harewood sending a powerful strike just over the bar on 17 minutes, although Edwin van der Sar appeared to have it covered.
United’s attacking verve is difficult to contain. Two minutes later, Louis Saha spliced open West Ham’s defence with a jinking, twisting run and a low, left-footed shot which forced a fine save out of IN ENGLISH