Home » EPL, Latest, League Cup » League Cup SF 1st leg: Man City 6 West Ham 0

Manchester City are on their way to Wembley. West Ham United are on their way to mutiny if Sam Allardyce continues. City were undeniably terrific, brimming with exceptional football and with Alvaro Negredo unstoppable, but West Ham’s players were a disgrace to a famous shirt, utterly devoid of belief and direction, seemingly forgetting the basics of their trade like tackling.

The visitors’ only show of defiance came from their keeper, Adrian, who somehow kept the score in single figures, and from their hugely vocal supporters, whose reward for an expensive, 400-mile round trip on a midweek night was an exercise in ineptness unfolding in front of them.

This performance and result bore all the hallmarks of a perfect storm that rips a manager away from his job. Allardyce stood in the technical area, rain and venomous chants falling on him, almost resembling Steve McClaren at Wembley as England succumbed to Croatia in 2007. “F— off, Sam Allardyce,’’ chanted the West Ham supporters. “We want our West Ham back.” For the older fans looking on, a dispiriting evening revived painful memories of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1990 when they lost by a similar scoreline to Oldham Athletic at the same stage of the same competition.

Afterwards, Allardyce sounded remarkably upbeat, given the dross that had just been served up by his team. Again. First the City Ground, now the City ground. Allardyce’s decision to rest players against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last Sunday to keep them fresh for this Capital One Cup semi-final first leg backfired spectacularly. He had explained his team-sheet at Forest to the co-owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, and claimed they understood his decision to play the kids in losing 5-0. He played the supposedly refreshed regulars here and lost 6-0. Try explaining that. He doesn’t have a second leg to stand on.

Due allowance must be made for the scourge of injuries that has debilitated West Ham in certain areas, particularly defensively, but Allardyce was always running the risk of relying on Andy Carroll. At £16.5 million, Negredo cost less than Carroll, who has yet to feature this season. Allardyce’s whole game-plan revolved around Carroll, a dangerous strategy given the striker’s injury record, and their travails have intensified since.

Usually well-known for organising teams well, Allardyce’s side were all over the place. It was difficult to tell whether West Ham deployed a back-three or a back-four. It was certainly at sixes and sevens. Roger Johnson inevitably looked off the pace. Joey O’Brien and Guy Demel were too slow in reacting to City’s surges. The formation was essentially 4-5-1 but the lone striker, Modibo Maiga and then Carlton Cole, was almost in a separate postcode to his team-mates. One expected more fight from an Allardyce side, more effort. West Ham managed only one attempt on target (from three efforts).

City managed 32 shots with 11 on target and six goals. City played some wonderful football, passing through West Ham’s non-existent midfield as they continue to chase their first League Cup since 1976. Imperious in the first half, Negredo and company could have spent the break being measured for their Wembley suits. They ripped West Ham apart, enjoying 76 per cent possession, Negredo embodying their brilliance and also their work rate.

To think West Ham bid for Negredo in the summer. He was outstanding here, deservedly departing with the match ball. Not content with scoring two superb goals after 12 and 26 minutes, the Spaniard also tracked back to make a good tackle in the first half. Yaya Touré also scored, went down seemingly injured after challenging Mohamed Diamé, but insisted on continuing. They are strong on ability and character here.

Touré launched the rout. Picking up the ball in City’s half, his long pass destroyed the visitors’ defence. Negredo caught the ball on the volley, left-footed, sending it low past Adrian. Edin Dzeko then played through the perfect pass for Negredo to make it 2-0 with a strong left-footed strike.

City did not ease up. Five minutes from the break, Touré powered through the middle, his path eased by Negredo’s decoy run. Touré dummied Johnson and stroked the ball home. City could have declared at half-time but continued to pummel the visitors. Four minutes in, and Negredo had the match ball. David Silva’s cross arrived at the receptive feet of Negredo via a ricochet. The Spaniard simply dispatched it unerringly past Adrian. Feed the beast, as they sing in these parts, and he will score, again and again and again.

Pellegrini’s players did not let up. Toure sent a free-kick over. Barring their defiant fans, who briefly started a Poznan, the only sign of life from West Ham came when O’Brien became animated over what he perceived as a dive by Dzeko. The Bosnian responded by scoring, finishing off a magnificent passing move. The ball flowed first from Samir Nasri to Silva, who released Gael Clichy behind West Ham’s defence. Clichy shifted the ball across for the stretching Dzeko to make it 5-0.

Pellegrini rested his stars. The teenager Marcos Lopes came on for Silva. Aleksandar Kolarov replaced Negredo, who immediately went to the bench, shaking hands with all coaching staff and the substitutes, showing his team-minded nature.

Adrian twice saved from Dzeko before City made it 6-0 from another exquisite move. Lopes back-heeled the ball into the path of Kolarov, whose cutback fizzed to Dzeko. City’s No 10 made it six in emphatic style, the ball thumped left-footed from just inside the box to score.

It could have been seven. Nasri went close late on. It probably would have been 10 but for Adrian. It was still a tennis score. It was still a humiliation for Allardyce. At the final whistle, the West Ham manager shook hands with Pellegrini and marched straight down the tunnel. He needs to come up with some new ideas, and somehow lift the spirits of players who look bereft, before the weekend’s relegation scrap with Cardiff City.

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