1. When Faced With An Enemy Twice Your Size
2. The History
It may be true that our position is better than Wigan's, given that we can lose and still survive, but this doesn't make me "confident" so much as "slightly less petrified".
Let's be honest about this. We can talk all we want about how it is in our hands but that implies that we have a decent chance of getting a result. The past does rather scream out against this. Last year we lost 1-0 to a Ruud Van Nistelrooy strike from the era when he was still quite good and Dean Ashton could make a trip to Manchester and come back with both of his ankles.
It also featured an appearance for Man Utd of a person called Gerard Pique who, I shall just go right ahead and assume, was a reality TV show winner.
We have, of course, mustered a couple of famous 1-0 wins. The first was the now legendary Di Canio game when Fabian Barthez Fabian Barthez'd us our goal, and Overseas Iron was unable to drink to the victory as he'd eaten too much at a celebratory lunch.
The second involved us winning due to a Jermain Defoe header. Presumably whilst the Man Utd defence were being savaged by wild hyenas. Well have you got a better explanation?
In the reverse fixture at Upton Park we won courtesy of a late Nigel Reo-Coker goal. This was followed by a lack of courtesy from Nigel Reo-Coker but we won't go there.
3. Comfort? I Think I've Got A Few Crumbs Out The Back
According to a report in the Press today there is one area where we simply dominate the Red Devils. The average West Ham fan thinks about the team 79 times a day against 71 for Man Utd supporters. Now given that I sincerely doubt I have 79 distinct thoughts a day of any nature I do have some questions over this but none the less, let's claim victories where we can.
Incidentally, the leaders were Sheffield United whose fans do this 115 times a day. This does lead me to question the accuracy of the data, for if this were true suicide rates in Sheffield would be at epidemic proportions.
4. Danger Here
Feasibly, if bubonic plague were to break out and Alan Curbishley were to decide that Premiership football was overrated tosh, we could see a battle of the Christians on Sunday.
Portugese winker Christiano Ronaldo on side and the curly haired football genius Christian Dailly on the other. I doubt it will happen, it would probably contravene lots of employment laws that don't allow you to humiliate your staff.
Let's just say that Ronaldo is good, and Dailly is a good bloke.
By the way, Ronaldo has become a favourite of mine. He still falls over like a sniper victim and wears his socks in a truly ridiculous fashion, but he also used the word "polemic" in an interview recently and this endeared him to me greatly. I suppose that Lee Bowyer could use it to, but I rather suspect he might have a stroke in doing so.
5. Second String 'Em Along
Just a thought.
Does anyone think it would be a right laugh if we were to play a weakened side against Man Utd? We could say that we are holding back players for the start of next year. That way if we lose we can save Dave Whelan the trouble and sue ourselves. This in turn might confuse the Wigan gobshite so much that he then investigates whether he actually paid 5.5m genuine English pounds for Emile Heskey.
And while we're on the subject. For the first time ever in my life I find myself wishing that this away game was against Liverpool. Not because we have ever had any kind of success at Anfield but more because there is a reasonable chance that Rafa Benitez will field a team consisting solely of his own family members, some travelling Cypriot midgets and Craig Bellamy. And that's a team we could draw against.
6. The Statistics
The Red Devils are fairly strong at home. Sort of like the Roman Catholic church are "quite popular" in Italy. In the Premiership this season, only 3 teams have avoided defeat. Arsenal (Seems quite strange now, but it was early in the year, and it's not like there isn't precedent), Chelsea (OK, logical enough) and Middlesbrough (Now just wait a cotton pickin' minute).
Sometimes football results just confuse you. Finding out that Boro have drawn at Old Trafford in the same year that they lost 4-0 at home to Portsmouth is enough to addle a fellow's mind.
A bit like when I went to a restaurant with a Chinese Elvis impersonator for a work meal. "Jailhouse Wok" indeed.
Our away form has improved in recent weeks from "Fetid" to "I'm Not Quite So Ashamed Now". Our travels recently have seen us pick up 3 wins out of 4, although the defeat was a performance at Sheffield United that was so bad it widened the hole in the ozone layer.
*Flashback - Jon Fucking Stead.*
Just to prove that I am not completely without faith - have a look at the Current Form - http://stats.football365.com/dom/ENG/PR/oform.html
That table is a victory for selective statistical sampling.
7. He's Still Whelan Blue
Dave Whelan is not about to let this go is he? He's written an open letter (does he write any other kind?) to the Premier League demanding to see concrete evidence that Tevez was eligible to play for us against Wigan.
This is tremendous. Not only is Whelan the only man left with any integrity* in football, but he is now the sole arbiter of any and all cases that come before the Premier League.
Except of course, he's not. He's desperate and would rather like it if someone could make this pesky relegation thing go away.
The problem for Dave, of course, is that when he joined the Premier League he agreed to abide by the disciplinary processes of the League, and he also subsequently approved the panel put together to hear the West Ham case. As the PL is not a legal body, but a governing body of a sport, I do not see how he has any recourse to legal action against them, or us. Let's face it, if his grapes were any more sour he would be 100% vinegar.
Essentially what the "Gang of Four" are saying is that they are determined to uphold the laws and integrity of the Premier League - by trampling all over the laws and integrity of the Premier League. Marvellous.
For the last time then. Tevez was legally registered. If anybody says otherwise to you, consider my permission granted to send them a scorpion in the mail. The issue, as I have extrapolated from the billions of column inches, is around the third party ownership and the non declaration of this fact and associated documents. When Magnusson took over he and his team realised this and declared it to the Premier League, leading to this hearing.
There also appears to be some sort of legal obligation for one of the "Gang of Four" to run bleating to the press about it every single day, too. I rather imagine that their eventual writ will be submitted written in crayon with chocolate fingerprints all over it.
*And when I say "integrity" I am of course ignoring the £8.3m fine levied on his company, JJB Sports in 2003 by the Office of Fair Trading for price fixing. And so should you. *
8. It's Not Exactly The Miners But....
I have decided that the Shark family shall therefore be boycotting JJB Sports from here on in. A quick canvassing of the household returned the following answers:
Mrs Shark: "I'd never shop there anyway, it's a load of old tat. And anyway, why are you writing that bloody blog and not doing dinner?"
Miss Shark Junior: "Cat!".
We are standing firm. Join us.