Overly long writings about West Ham United FC. This is the kind of thing you might like, if you like this kind of thing.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Newcastle 2 - 2 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. When In Greece

Have you ever wondered what people from Greece people say in lieu of the phrase "That is something of a Greek tragedy"?

Well, let me tell you - they say "Cor blimey, that was a bit of a West Ham away game wasn't it?".

2. Uriah Heap's On The Pain

I know it's ridiculous to blame a referee for the outcome of a game. And with you being a West Ham fan and therefore well educated, suave and probably quite good looking, you know it too. But I walked away from this game a with a flaming sense of injustice.

Alright, so it wasn't Uriah Rennie who gave away Newcastle's penalty or missed a last minute sitter but given that he was Newcastle's most influential player on the day I do blame him just a little bit.

Rational thinking and being a football fan don't wander along hand in hand very easily, so I hope you'll extend me a little leeway here.

3. Luis, Luis

Rarely have I seen a footballer spend so much of the game lying down as Luis Boa Morte did on Saturday. I'm all in favour of conserving energy wherever possible but this was ridiculous. I'd have to imagine that after the game he had to use that old Grandpa Simpson quote "On one of my frequent trips to the ground....".

Somewhat unfortunately, on one of these slips, Luis inexplicably gave away the penalty that needlessly gave Newcastle much needed momentum early in the second half. The real shame of it being that up until that point the home side had barely mustered an attack worth the name.

So Luis, let's not set the bar too high. From here on in, not so much "must do better" as "must stand up more".

4. The Statistics

It's churlish to say this but I felt to a degree that our own negativity encumbered us on Saturday. The fact that Newcastle enjoyed more possession (55%) is somewhat irrelevant in so much as they looked absolutely clueless when they had it.

Our dominant first half performance was the West Ham I have been waiting quite a while to see. Full of pace and purpose and outworking an ordinary opposition. If we could have grabbed the third goal that our play deserved then the fact that Rennie had placed his life savings on a 2-2 draw would have been irrelevant.

Our 7 shots on target is roughly equivalent to our entire attacking output since August, as well.

5. The Opposition

Newcastle have been beset by injuries. I have finished wiping my eyes for them though seeing as how they continue to urinate their money up the wall on average players (£9m on Albert Luque - how many homeless people could have been housed for that?).

They played well in the second half, unquestionably, but it is equally true that without their nonsensical first goal they would have had no momentum going in to the second half. And with Roeder's motivational skills that was a banker win for us.

6. The Referee

In case any of you didn't see it, the first goal scored by the home side involved a cross shot from James Milner that Scott Parker jumped over as it went in. Parker was several miles offside but Uriah Rennie saw fit to overrule the flagging linesman.

He later disallowed Calum Davenport's headed winner which was probably a reasonable decision, but by then his continued incompetence had long since exhausted any possible sympathy.

It has been our grave misfortune to encounter two referees, in consecutive weeks, such as Graham Poll and Rennie who are given to overblown displays of pomposity.

7. The Turning Point

30 minutes: Peter Ramage (injured) replaced by David Edgar.

Up until this point Marlon Harewood and Carlton Cole were running riot through the 4 mannequins comprising the Newcastle defence. Having replaced Ramage with a better option (i.e: a human being with motor skills) we didn't get quite so much joy.

8. How Not To Finish

Matthew Etherington ran clean through on goal with just 5 minutes left. At no stage did I think that he was going to score. He's just not that sort of player, and he's not having that kind of season.

In fact, I would honestly have preferred to have seen Roy Carroll in that situation - at the very least Roy might have had a bet on a 3-2 win to inspire him.

9. Our Calumni

Calum Davenport was outstanding on his debut. He set up our first and had a late goal disallowed. He also demonstrated a marvellous new technique for levitating himself off the ground using just the power of his own feet.

I believe that this is known within the trade as "jumping".

10. Bloody Nigel's

Nigel Quashie sustained a very nasty looking cut on his head during the first half. Kudos to him for playing on with the wound but I'd have liked to have seen him get it bandaged up. Teams who have those players never lose.

Elsewhere, the other half of our Nigelic midfield was immense. In fact I'd go so far as to say that this was Reo-Coker's best performance of the season. It was interesting to see how pedestrian he made Parker look, particularly in the first half.

11. Onwards

The upturn in performances since the introduction of the new signings has been encouraging, especially with the possible addition of Lucas Neill before our next league game. This has been counter balanced by the failure to pick up the 6 points that would have turned our season around.

Thankfully Wigan appear determined to try and make Sheffield United look like a real life Premiership side and have joined the relegation fight.

I still feel we are a bit doomed given that Lady Luck has not so much deserted us as taken up with the next door neighbour and is spending the entire day chucking stuff at us from across the garden fence. That said, we are still very much in with a shout as we play Sheffield United, Charlton and Wigan before the end of the season.

Regrettably, we don't have a great track record in games we have to win.

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

Just the one penalty conceded this weekend. Veritable success for Big 'Ol Useless Mike.

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