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 30, 2007

Wigan 0 - 3 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. I Have Seen The Light

Let us not forget folks, that no matter what happens from here on in, we’ll always have Wigan.

2. Let’s Start At The Beginning

I’m sure we’re all agreed that this was The Greatest Game In The World Ever. However, if there has been a worse half hour of football played anywhere in the known Universe this year than the opening thirty minutes of this match, then I’d be amazed.

I’m not going to suggest that Wigan were ‘better’ than us, as this would imply competence, but they were ‘not quite as awful’ as we were. Once Luis Boa Morte opened the scoring they simply gave up, however.

Now that is an entirely reasonable response to allowing Luis Boa Morte to score, but it was probably a bit galling for the home fans.

3. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

I don’t want to go on too much about Lucas Neill, lest Mrs Shark realise that I am secretly in love with him. Let me just say that I reckon he might be better than Tyrone Mears.

They were all great, to be fair. Not so much Luis Boa Morte but then again even he was not quite as useless as normal. He scored our opener, helped hugely by the fact that Wigan keeper John Filan went insane about 5 seconds beforehand. I have no idea what would possess a man to run towards Boa Morte when he’s bearing down on goal, but I’ll happily live with it.

Up to that point Boa Morte had been in direct opposition to Kevin Kilbane on the right side of the pitch, leading to some serious karmic badness. Mercifully, after forty minutes or so, someone (probably the Lord God Almighty himself) decided to end the suffering and switch Kilbane to the left. Cue 25,000 people exhaling and feeling a lot better about their feng-shui.

If I had to quibble - and come in it’s The H List so you knew I was going to - might I suggest that we missed a golden opportunity to ‘improve’ our goal difference from shameful to embarrassing. I mean, come on, Wigan finished the game with Matt Jackson and David Unsworth in the centre of their defence. This is like leaving two bags of charcoal on the edge of your box and hoping for the best.

Amidst all the joy let us not forget that we essentially have only one game left this season.

4. The Statistics

Unusually we dominated this game in every aspect bar possession. We had a 52% share of the ball and used it very wisely indeed, which is a never before typed sequence of words for this column.

According to Match of the Day the home team had 4 shots on target but I must confess that I cannot remember a single one. Certainly there were passages of play where the ball ended up in Robert Green’s hands but to call any of them actual ‘shots’ is an insult to handguns and vodka glasses everywhere.

Nigel Reo Coker picked up his 112th booking of the season. I’m prepared to forgive him on the grounds that he single-handedly took the entire Wigan midfield back to school for the day.

5. The Opposition

Paul Jewell was magnanimous in defeat, which is a direct result of him being Not Neil Warnock. He was less gracious about the result of the Premier League enquiry. Whilst I understand his frustration, it does not change the fact that his team are appalling.

If I was being polite about it I’d suggest that they should get more than 35 points before they start complaining about other teams. (And to that end, stop playing Josep Skoko as well).

But as I have no interest in being polite let me also add that it doesn’t help that Wigan’s chairman is rent a quote gobshite Dave Whelan. A man who makes Jose Mourinho’s outbursts look considered.

6. The Referee

The words ‘Graham Poll’ are often followed by much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Therefore I would be remiss if I didn’t point out he was excellent today. Admittedly it helped that the entire Wigan team seemed to go into anaphylactic shock after allowing Boa Morte to score (fair enough) and therefore stopped tackling, but he did a good job of keeping the game going and not booking anyone three times.

So a big ‘well done’ and a request to come next week as he might be the closest thing we have to a lucky charm.

Anyone else for a spot of Olympic Class Barrel Scraping?

7. The Beautiful Game

For the wonderful twenty minute period(s) on either side of half time it was like stepping back in time and watching last years West Ham. Our football was great and we repeatedly cut Wigan to shreds, culminating in Benayoun's strike. That goal summed up perfectly the gulf in class between the teams and could conceivably be the best goal we will score this year. Which might say as much about how well we've played this year as anything else.

It should be noted that following on from his Arsenal heroics, Lucas Neill (swoon) was once again the architect of our first goal with a carbon copy pass over the top. I'm just going to come right out and admit that he pulls at my heartstrings and I'm virtually stalking him.

Carlos Tevez is, was and always will be a legend at Upton Park. It's not even that he's played that well for us (it's all relative - he's been better than all our other strikers of course), but there is no question that his commitment to the cause has shamed his less vaunted colleagues. I will miss him and his curious hair when he departs.

8. Kudos Corner

In fairness to Alan Curbishley it is not possible to argue with this result. As apocalyptically bad as we were at Sheffield United, we were very good today.

In particular, his faith in George McCartney is being repaid in full as the spindly legged full back continues to confound me with his sterling performances. His run for the second goal was terrific and he did especially well to avoid the black hole of uselessness created in front of him by the awful Boa Morte/Kilbane dichotomy.

9. Oscillate Wildly

Listening to The Smiths on the way up to the game was a good idea. By the time I got there I was simply pleased to be alive, so the result was just a nice little bonus. If we stay up I'll do a H List titled only with songs by The Smiths.

Wait - come back!

Anyway, I should have known this was going to be a weird day. If an earthquake can strike Kent and Charlton can find 6,000 people to participate in "Operation Ewood" (Bless 'em), then I don't suppose there is any reason that we can't score three times away from home.

Naturally, the question you're dying to ask me is "When did we last win 3-0 away from home in the top flight, Shark?". The answer is "During The Boer War".

(OK - it was September 2000 at Coventry, but Jumping Jesophat, that is a long time).

10. It's A Long Way Down

Charlton took 71 coaches with them to Blackburn, and they got to see them lose 4-1. I'm not going to start rubbing it in as we're not exactly swimming away from the Titanic ourselves. I will point out that each of those 71 coaches had a row of spotty oiks on the back seat making somewhat rude gestures at motorists on the M1.

If nothing else I admire their dedication to the cause as doing it must have played havoc with their posture.

Although Charlton would seem to be gone, our fate remains inextricably tied to those around us. Sadly, both Wigan and Fulham get to play against the enormously pointless Middlesbrough before the end of the season which would seem to be their escape route. Of the two I'd say Fulham look more precarious given that they have Liverpool (h) and Boro (a).

All of this means that we must beat Bolton next week to give ourselves a realistic chance. A draw would rely on Wigan losing both games, whilst defeat for us doesn't bear thinking about as it would introduce goal difference into the equation, which just isn't fair as we spent 6 months using an imaginary defence.

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

Great answer from Big 'Ol Useless Mike to an inane question in the london paper last week. When asked who is favourite musician was, Mahogany Mick responded with "I like early Whitney Houston".

Whoah, whoah, whoah. Are you aware of the concept of newspapers, Michael? They are widely read, often by football fans or people you know.

And, and and. You're only 23 years old, man. This means that rather than liking it because you grew up with "early Whitney" you like it because you sought it out and learned to love it. Wow, that blows my mind.

I particularly like the specification that it must be "early Whitney" as it implies that she somehow got worse as her career progressed, or that she had an early golden period.

I too prefer the early Soviet missile programmes by the way.......


  1. Dot Cotton6:00 PM

    The gods seem to be smiling on us. Next game at home to Bolton then suddenly Big Ol Fat Sam resigns. Manure should have the title safe by May 13th which wil hopefully mean that they'll be looking at the Champ League and FA Cup finals so no Rooney, Ronaldo, etc.

    If ever there was a time to play Bolton and Man Utd it's now. Step up to the plate West Ham United.

    Fulham to go with Charlton, and maybe Watford.........

  2. Like the note on Tevez, he really showed true pride in his craft. Note, I'm not especially a Hammers fan, but I do enjoy watching y'all play. But 2 off my primary memories of this football season will be how both Tevez and Beckham won my respect by having every reason to pack it in and quit, but busted their a$$ and played great. Of course everyone should do this, but with the modern athlete, it does stick out.

  3. Overseas Iron8:35 PM

    Despite going against our every natural instinct, I think we would be served better by seeing Chelsea progress to the Champions League Final.
    I have a nagging feeling that should Liverpool make it through, then Fulham could get a result next week as Benitez fills his teamsheet with that paragon of virtue, Grobelaar in goal, a svelte Jan Molby in midfield and an urn containing Emelyn Hughes up front.
    We want Man Utd's and Liverpool's thoughts elsewhere these next two games.

  4. Good points all.

    It's pretty clear what we need. Chelsea must win tonight to knock Liverpool out, thus making Liverpool focus on the league.

    United then need to beat Milan, and win the league before they play us so that on the last day of the season Ferguson plays his youth team and rests his stars ahead of the FA Cup/CL Finals. (This has the added bonus of making Mourinho cry).

    Unfortunately, we also require Middlesboro to display competence in their remaining two games by beating Wigan and Fulham and I don't see that happening. If either of those two get a win anywhere we are down on Goal Difference.

    You know it makes sense.