It was a bit of surprise to see Diomansy Kamara starting alongside Andy Johnson at West Ham yesterday. Not because I didn’t think that Roy would consider making a change but because I thought he’d give Bobby Zamora a couple more games up front.
Kamara’s strengths are obvious. He’s got some pace and can unsettle defenders, as he obviously discomforted Matthew Upson all afternoon. He’s also tremendously unpredictable, which makes you wonder how a defender would play against him as he’s less likely to know what Joe’s going to do than the man himself. Kamara’s something of a mercurial talent and the concern has always been that, in footballing parlance, he’s always been too much of a headless chicken rather than someone who is able to fit Roy’s strict system.
There were signs on Sunday that he’d started to overcome this affliction. While partnered with Johnson – who didn’t reappear for the second half – I lost count of the number of times that he tracked back to hassle one of West Ham’s three central midfielders or pressed the ba;ll from the front. When he was a lone frontman, he was more than willing to do the defensive work Roy demands of a forward but he also looked a real threat every time he had the opportunity to run at a defender. Sometimes, he’d try and take one man too many, but he was certainly very lively.
The question is – has he done enough to keep his place? For now, I’d say so. It was a storming performance that shows just what he’s capable off. He’s not afraid to have a crack from distance, something you just couldn’t see Zamora managing when he was so devoid of confidence. A spell on the bench might do Bobby the world of good as he’d be able to make an impact as a substitute, like he did when turning that game against Middlesbrough around last December.
The one thing you lack with a Johnson-Kamara partnership is height and physical presence. It might be necessary for trips to places like Blackburn, Bolton, Stoke and Hull – where the opposition play a more direct style and stopping the ball coming straight back at you becomes very important – to include Zamora. For the moment, though, Kamara deserves a run in the side. You get the feeling that if he doesn’t get some regular first-team football soon, he could be on his way – and we don’t want that.