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

Monday, April 02, 2007

West Ham 2 - 0 Middlesbrough (And Other Ramblings)

1. The Vagaries Of Chance

The same circumstances that prevented me from writing a preview for this game also stopped me from attending it. These circumstances were unpleasant and not something I wish to repeat. To fully emphasis that fact let me assure you that I would rather have been watching Middlesbrough play than been where I was.

I'll let that gestate for a moment as it's an unusual thing for me to say. Sort of like when someone says "Damn, I wish I was at the dentists now!"

2. Fear Not

Now there might be some of you out there who think this column might thus be less informed than usual (and several of you who are currently thinking "What, it could be less informed?") but don't worry, I listened to the game on the radio and watched it after on Football First.

Of course, trying to follow a game on the radio is like eating 60 cheeseburgers in an hour - pointless and liable to lead to heart failure - but we work with what we're given.

Bizarrely we were the main game on Football First which meant I later got to watch the match. Being a cable subscriber this rarely happens because should I happen to inadvertently press the red button it tends to cause my set top box to start smoking and therefore I never get to choose the game I'm watching. It also means that I am missing out on the ephemeral delights of 24 and Lost, but that at least gives me more time to look up words like "ephemeral".

It was cruel and unusual punishment to have Gordon McQueen summarising the game though.

3. The Statistics

Middlesbrough managed one attempt on target in this game. Now given the general somnambulance of their play I have no doubt their fans view this as high excitement but the rest of us treat it as life stoppingly dull. Rather like Gareth Southgate.

Interestingly Middlesbrough did once win 3-0 at Arsenal whilst only managing one shot on goal so poor Gareth is probably wondering what went wrong.

I'm also going to go way out on a limb and suggest that Mark Viduka enjoys the finer things in life - a lovely bottle of Chardonnay, a roaring fire, the works of William Wordsworth and chocolate sauce on absolutely everything he eats.

4. The Opposition

Middlesborough don't actually appear to have anything resembling tactics. Rather they seem to prefer prodding the ball around in relentlessly mind numbing fashion in the hope that the opposition either lose the will to live or simply fall asleep.

It would not have surprised me in the least to have looked over to the sideline and seen Southgate gently strumming a harp and singing a lullaby.

5. The Referee

Gave us everything!

Hurrah for Mark Halsey then, whose myopia was timely enough, although in the event not really required given Boro's unstoppable uselessness. Where were you, Halsey, when we really needed you? (i.e: Newcastle, when Uriah Rennie killed off our season with a decision that could only have been justified if he had no eyes).

6. Brazil, Nuts

Brazilians must be mad. What kind of lunatics allow Fabio Rochemback to leave the country as a representative of theirs but wouldn't send Ronnie Biggs back?

7. The Kids Aren't Alright

Much was made of the game last year when Boro fielded an entirely home grown team. Verbal garlands were strewn around Steve Maclarens neck and the club were held up as an example to English clubs everywhere.

Unfortunately those same enthusiasts rather overlooked the fact that none of the players were actually any good. The one international graduate, Stewart Downing, has performed so well for England that he is roundly booed every time he touches the ball and the only decent Middlesborough born player in the team is Jonathan Woodgate, a product of the Leeds academy and a Real Madrid player.

This is rather borne out by the fact that of their starting eleven on Saturday only two were products of the club - exactly the same as ours. Except that ours were Mark Noble and Anton Ferdinand who are quite good (if likely to be 50% incarcerated soon enough) - whilst theirs were Stewart Downing and Andrew Taylor who are, well, not.

8. Deflecting Attention

That Tevez is fantastic. In particular, the pass for the first goal was exceptional, casually knocking it off two Boro defenders right into Zamora's path. Bobby was unusually active on Saturday, running everywhere and whacking in his goal with rather more conviction than he managed at Blackburn, in spite of an early knock.

The fact that our two strikers have both scored 3 in 3 games is a hitherto unlikely piece of good form. I can now look forward to Saturday's defeat at Arsenal with a little more confidence.

Marlon Harewood now exists only in a museum where people come and look at this unusual combination of professional footballer, graphic designer and beluga whale.

9. The Foreboding

I can't decide whether to get my hopes up or not. We've actually played quite well in the last three games. Of course the natural pessimism coursing through my veins is being tempered by the onrushing ruling over the Rule U18 infringement and the fact that we never win vital games like Sheffield United away.

My wife tries to pep me up by saying things like - "Come on, you never know". But, of course, I do know. And so do you.

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