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

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

West Ham vs Watford: 27 January 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. Things I Don't Get Excited About

Celebrity Big Brother, golf, cheese, those free papers they give you after work, FA Cup 4th round ties against Watford, shoes, films starring Julia Roberts.....

2. Our Cup Runneth Over

We have something of a reputation for being brittle in the FA Cup. Interestingly, this isn't really based on any, you know, actual facts.

The last 6 teams to knock us out of the FA Cup: Liverpool, Sheffield United, Fulham, Man Utd, Chelsea, tottenham.

Our last real shock defeat was against Tranmere in 1999, a run during which Tranmere also beat Sunderland and Fulham so it wasn't all that big of a surprise. Indeed, given that our backline contained Neil Ruddock and Scott Minto I'd say that keeping it to 1-0 was a triumph of sorts.

We even managed a couple of shocks of our own on the way, namely the 1-0 win over Man Utd and the victory over Bolton last year. We did beat Wolves when we were in the Championship and they were in the Premiership but the only time I would consider a victory for us over Wolves to be a shock would be if it was a fist fight and they were actual wolves.

In the League Cup, however, we're simply crap.

3. Cole Means Goals

Just a thought. Since Carlton Cole came back against Brighton we have scored 8 goals in 3 games. The fact that we were actually attempting to go past the halfway line may be a related issue but that's just nitpicking.

It will be interesting to see how he fares against a team who are limited technically but will prefer playing against a big lumbering type of centre forward (Carlton) than a more mobile, creative type (Anyone else in our squad).

4. Celebrate?

What the hell is going on with our moody players and their celebrations, or more appropriately, the lack of them?

Case in point - Marlon Harewood on Saturday. Now let's face it, Marlon has not exactly been a free scoring goal machine this season and yet somehow we're being subject to these chest beating displays of insouciance from the likes of himself, Reo-Coker and Zamora.

One would think that somehow their performances up to this point in the season have been acceptable and it's us, the fans, who have been unreasonable in demanding little things like effort and competence from our players.

Well screw you, and screw your little clique. You've been doing your jobs so well this season that in a professional league that ranks national performance you are currently the 3rd worst. And if I was a shareholder in a major financial institution watching that kind of output I think I might be doing more than booing you.

5. This Time Last Year

Our 4th Round match last season was a splendidly entertaining, defensively lacking 4-2 win over Blackburn. This featured a lesser spotted Matthew Etherington goal and also included a strike for our new boy Lucas Neill.

I have no idea whether we actually even want to go on a cup run this time around. On the face of it, that's a ridiculous thing to say - or at least slightly more ridiculous than that which usually appears on this site. However, one side effect of our Cup run last year was the near abandonment of our league form. Any such approach this time and we'll all be marvelling over Delia's pies again next year.

6. The Price Of Something No One Cares About

Everyone in the Premier League will tell you that they don't care about the FA Cup. And yet if you want to buy somebody in the January transfer window invariably it will cost you more if they are not cup tied.

We don't have to look far for examples. Last year Norwich held Dean Ashton out of their 3rd Round game against us in order that he wasn't cup tied when we bought him. Thus he was available to score a few crucial goals on the way to Cardiff.

This year Reo-Coker, Quashie and Lucas Neill were absent from their respective 3rd Round games. Maybe there were genuine reasons for this but I'd have to guess that this was done in order to up the price should any of them be sold.

Given that our current approach to transfers appears to be "Hey, we're loaded - never mind fiscal responsibility, how much do you want for him?" I'm not sure it would have made much difference anyway.

7. New Arrivals

Lucas Neill is here, and he's aghast that anyone is speculating that it's because of the money. And he's right. The notion of a professional footballer being solely motivated by pecuniary reward is pushing the envelope slightly. Shame on you all for thinking it.

No doubt, as a young lad growing up in Wagga Wagga, all Lucas ever wanted to do was emulate Geoff Pike and pull on the claret and blue. And you should remember that when you cast aspersions on him and his 40k a week wages.

(Don't believe the hype that he's on 70k. It's errant nonsense apparently - not that this somehow makes 40k an acceptable wage, but you know what I mean).

8. Department Of Delusion

A scenario for you, indulge me please.

Let's just say I'm a well paid professional who is performing so ineptly that my boss has to go out and hire some other people to help pick up the slack. Because the workplace has become an unattractive option for other professionals due to the poor output of my colleagues and I, my bosses are forced to pay above market rate salary to the new employees.

When I hear about this, I ask my friend what he thinks about it and he suggests that I go to my employer and demand a pay rise. Good idea right? Well, only if my name is Nigel Reo-Coker and I have an agent with marbles for grey matter.

In a move of breathtaking hypocrisy, young Nigel reportedly marched into Upton Park yesterday with his half wit agent, Tony Finnegan, demanding parity of income with the new arrivals. Leaving aside the fact that he has been playing so well this year that his own fans have been booing him, it stuns me that a man with 4 years left on his contract allegedly has the temerity to ask for a salary increase.

There is a full transcript of Tony Finnegan's "speech" at the excellent West Ham blog site "West Ham Till I Die" - http://westham.wordpress.com/

I use the phrase "speech" in it's loosest sense as I'm not sure Finnegan has enough cognitive function to actually form words on his own.

I particularly love the quote "For the next 14 games Nigel will give his 110%, that is what I can guarantee every single West Ham supporter", as though this is somehow a situation so unusual it needs to be announced on national TV. Never one to use both his brain cells at once Tony might also want to think about the fact that it also carries an implicit suggestion that up until now, young Nigel hasn't been giving 110%.

When you're done ruining Nigel's career, Tony, perhaps you can focus on something that will really challenge your vast intellect, like tying your own shoelaces or scratching yourself in two places at once.

Just in case it doesn't quite seep through, I don't greatly respect either Nigel Reo-Coker or his agent. I think I've hidden it well though.

9. The Game

I guess I should say something about Watford and this particular fixture.

I dunno - to be honest, I suspect that they will be so cock a hoop at getting £8 million for a player as average as Ashley Young that they might not even turn up.

If they do, I suggest you tilt your neck back and stare at the stars. Every couple of seconds a Watford player will be whacking it into your sphere of vision. Oh joy.......

Just To Clarify

In my last column I made an offhand remark about going to New Zealand. Thanks, therefore to all those of you who wrote to me saying "I didn't know you were moving to New Zealand. All the best, can I have your season ticket/West Wing DVD's/car/house etc...."

Let me clear it up. I'm going for February only, on holiday.

3 avid readers (or about 50% of my audience) have agreed to write some columns whilst I'm away. Overseas Iron, Dot Cotton and one other who doesn't have an online alter ego yet. Many thanks to you all - I look forward to reading your thoughts.


  1. Dot Cottons Bairy Hiff1:34 PM

    Victories build confidence.

    Losing at home to Watford in the cup will not help our league form. We need to maintain what little momentum we've built up over recent weeks, and that means a good display against Watford and more importantly a win.

    I want to see some confidence flow back into the team, red sky's in the evening and everyone in the world to sing George Harrison's 'Here comes the Sun' in perfect harmony.

    I don't want a lot out of life.

  2. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Mmmm... pecuniary.


  3. This blog is really superb!!! Thank you for you work! Good Luck

  4. Many Thanks Amelia.

    You may well be the first non-blood relation to voluntarily read this blog.