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

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

West Ham vs Man City/Reading (And Other Massacres)

1. People Love A Crisis

A curious fact for you. I have received more emails today asking me about where this blog was than I have after any other game this year. My theory is that no matter how hard we try nobody can resist slowing down to look at a car wreck.

2. I Dunno

While sifting through the wreckage of these latest crimes against football I did wonder how on earth I was going to be able to write this column. Not that there is a lack of content but I've somehow got to convey the molten vitriol that has been building up inside of me since about twenty minutes into the Man City game.

And by the way, don't go overlooking that particular cup of coffee. I know it's hard to get past the smouldering ashes of the Reading debacle but that was a spectacularly insipid display aswell.

Right then, into the breach - feel free to set fire to your head at any point. I know I tried on Saturday but I was sadly thwarted by El Nino.

West Ham 0 - 1 Man City

1. My Preview - In Review

Due to my laptop deciding to emulate the West Ham midfield and not working, I wasn't able to post my Man City preview. I only wrote one line due to some excesses at Christmas and a chronic inability to find anything vaguely interesting to post. And here it is in it's entirety - feel free to ask Papa Shark if you think I'm lying:

"I really can't be bothered to write much about this game. It has all the potential to be the dullest game in Premiership history. Prepare to be bored."

2. I Wasn't Wrong

I don't think I can simply point the finger at our cretins alone for this insult to all footballers everywhere. Man City were dire but they did manage to be less useless than us. Which is all that's required I guess but Bejeesus, was this game ever excruciating.

Stuart Pearce's post match assertion that City deserved the points was probably as good an indication as any that everyone involved with football is completely deluded. Like those Bolton fans who still cling to the misguided belief that they are a good footballing side, or the West Ham fans who go to our away games thinking that we might, y'know, score.

Dreamers, one and all.

3. Just One Thing

Short sleeve shirts and gloves - how does that work?

4. The Stats

According to MoTD we had 58% possession and converted that into 3 shots on target with our usual Brazilian style display of slick passing and movement.

This game was such an affront to football that God himself tried to end it by sending down a deluge of Biblical proportions in the second half, presumably to try and kill everybody involved. Interestingly the only man I would absolve from blame is a Christian - Mr Dailly was by some considerable distance the best player on the pitch.

I'd normally make a sarcastic comment here but I don't think I will. Good on you mate - you're just about the only one who didn't make me want to staple my eyelids to my lips on Saturday.

5. The Opposition

Jesus himself said "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone". Admirable sentiments indeed (if a little preachy) but I cannot in good conscience describe Man City as anything other than garbage.

And by far the worst thing about it was the fact that the winning goal was scored by a man named DaMarcus.

6. Analogies

To give you a real idea of the breathtaking awfulness of this display I'm going to try and make a few comparisons for you all:

This was - the music of James Blunt : the film career of Jennifer Lopez : the 'sitcom' Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps : a root canal : a novel by Jordan : the mumps : a holiday in Faliraki : a flat tyre on the M25 : a physics class : the Central Line : those weird furry Ugg boots : Robert Kilroy-Silk : reality TV...................

7. A Puzzle

I found this a curious team selection. Despite looking like the only spark of life on Boxing Day Carlos Tevez was again left on the bench, this time as Teddy Sheringham moved ahead of him in the pecking order. This despite the fact that the latter is now so old he can now barely move after 50 minutes of action and has consistently proved that he is now ideally suited to a 15 minute cameo at the end of games.

Curbishley's team selections are beginning to annoy me. His apparent belief that the foreign players (namely Tevez and Mascherano) are not up to the battle is cause for ire given that the clowns he is picking instead are no more up for it and don't possess any of the skill. I'd also add Mark Noble into the former category aswell.

Bringing on Tevez and wasting him out the left wing was a strange move also, especially as Papa Shark and I had a 5 minute conversation as to whether or not Marlon Hareweood was still playing at that point, so anonymous had he been.

I'm not suggesting that either of the Argentines are the sole answers to our problems, especially given that our defence seems to consist only of verbal incantations at this point, but we have tried the grafters and it's not working. All I'm saying is that having two players in the side who keep hold of the ball is not that bad a proposition, because when we have the ball I am assuming that we cannot, at least, concede.

Although you never can tell.......


1. I Always Knew Reading Was Bad For You

"Happy New Year!" Lots of love, the players and management of West Ham United.

2. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word*

Before I even get on to the disgrace that was the period 3.00pm - 4.45pm on New Years Day please indulge me whilst I make what I feel is a salient point:

Alan, if you ever again send out a team that loses 6-0 and don't somehow manage to incorporate the word "Sorry" into your post match interview then might I respectfully suggest that you won't last all that long in E13.

The hardy 4,000 Hammers who made the trip to Berkshire deserved that much at least.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say they should have got MBE's. And if you think I'm over stating that then consider that they gave one to talent vacuum June Sarpong and then tell me I'm crazy.

*Oh, and Macc, I know that "Sorry...." is a song for some rubbishy boy band or something similar but I'm sure you'll excuse me this once.

3. Right Then

I'm not sure quite where to begin here. I have desperately tried not to make quick fire knee jerk reactions throughout this season but there has to come a point when this shower become fair game.

Conceding 6 goals to anyone is disgusting but doing it against a team that play music when they score a goal is really just rubbing it in. Nouveau football hell at the plastic purgatory.

4. The Stats

Ahem. I know I do tend to put a certain store in statistics but even I can't bring myself to focus on anything other than the one, rather large number shining out from the ruins of this defeat. And that number is 6.

5. The Opposition

Reading have now taken 6 points off us this year, as have Portsmouth and as will several other average Joes before this God forsaken season finishes. Despite my assertion that this is the worst ever Premiership no blame for that can be laid at the door of Reading. They have been a splendid addition this year and whilst it is a tired cliche, it is somewhat true that they are this seasons West Ham.

All of which is very nice but it's also true that they are almost the polar opposite of West Ham circa 2006/07 . Hungry, organised, hard working, spirited and talented.

Their fans are still of the happy clappy, just discovered "soccer" variety though.

6. Department Of Silver Linings

I don't actually know any Reading fans.

7. How To Break Up That Clique

Great idea to drop Mark Noble from the squad and replace him with drugs cheat Shaun Newton. Leaving aside the actual question as to why we are still employing a man who failed a drugs test, it does send a fantastic message to all our young players when we pass them over for a player so committed to the club that he was taking cocaine on the eve of our first semi final in 16 years.

There are a couple of great articles on the problems at the club, clique and all, on the Daily Mail website. Swallow your socialist principles and have a look at these:



8. Hubris Begets Humiliation

One confusing accusation being levelled at our current team everywhere I look on the Web:

On the one hand they are being accused of being "Big Time Charlies" whilst they are also being called out as being gutless and lacking confidence. Something of a contradiction there.

So, are they so arrogant now that they simply believe that the teams fate is now clearly separated from their own, and that irrespective of whether we are relegated they will still be playing in the Premiership next year? Or are they tottering at the other end of the spectrum whereby their confidence is so shot that they are now hiding on the pitch, bereft of the will to compete?

I have no idea, all I know is that I barely recognise half of these guys from last year.

9. Numbers

One aspect of this defeat that hasn't been touched upon is the goal difference factor. At (-21) we are now clearly separated from everyone in the league except for our close pals over at Charlton.

Those of you who recall our relegation year in 2002/03 will know that going into that fateful last day of the season we were well adrift of Bolton in terms of goal difference and meant that we had to win and hope they didn't because had we finished level on points we were gone.

That's why I wasn't so critical of Curbishley's decision to replace a striker with a full back when we were 4-0 down. It could have actually made a difference at the end of the year.

It really is straw clutching of the highest order when you're trying to draw positives from keeping the score down to 6 though.

10. Curb Your Enthusiasm

So what of Curbishley? What interests me about him is that he has been quite succesful in lowering everybody's expectations to the point that if the team all walk out on the pitch wearing the same kit we're viewing it as a great success.

I am also not overly enamoured of his line - "It was like this when I got here". I prefer my managers a bit more stoic than that I must say.

The bottom line is that Curbishley was an uninspired choice as manager and he has presided over a large number of uninspiring teams in his career. Of course we'd all crave a bit of unisnspired doggedness right now in lieu of abject cluelessness but I digress.

It is not Curbishley who allowed Nicky Shorey to waltz up the middle of our defence for the fourth goal, but he must live and die with his players and fair or not he is being judged on these performances.

All of that being said - Pardew left the place in a hell of a mess didn't he?

11. My Theory

You won't like this but I'm going to throw it out there anyway. Go back to 1998/99 and have a look at our league placings and form for each year since then.

My thought is that instead of viewing this year as an anomaly we should be looking at it the other way round. Last year was an amazing year for an average team. We have routinely been a very mediocre side under Redknapp, Roeder and Pardew with the odd exception such as Roeder's first year, and of course last year.

The two seasons in the Championship were dire and we have reverted right back to that form this year.

Could it be then, that Curbishley's unambitious style of management is actually right in line with how this club has performed in recent years?

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

Even I can't manage anything when I'm in this sort of mood.................


  1. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Dear Mr Shark,

    I can confirm that I did play during the Man City game.

  2. You write very well.