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

Saturday, May 05, 2007

West Ham 3 - 1 Bolton (And Other Ramblings)

1. Before We Begin

So, it's Saturday night and I'm settling down to re-live this joyous occasion on Match of the Day. Cue the following discussion with Mrs Shark:

Sammy Lee appears on screen:

Mrs Shark: "Who's that man?"
Me: "Sammy Lee"
Mrs Shark: "What does he do?"
Me: "Not much, don't worry about him, he's pointless"


Mrs Shark: "There's that man again, what's his name?"
Me: (turning up the volume) "Sammy Lee"
Mrs Shark: "What does he do"
Me: "He's Bolton's new manager"
Mrs Shark: (exasperated) "Well, why didn't you say that?"
Me: "Well, why do you care?"
Mrs Shark: "I thought he was a bouncer"
Me: (turning down the volume) "Alright then, talk me through it"
Mrs Shark: "Well he's got that stupid earpiece and a black suit on"
Me: "But where exactly did you think he was a bouncer for?"
Mrs Shark: (with the topic clearly exhausted) "Do you think I have funny toes?"

Aye Carumba.

2. Alriiiiight!

Given that I thought this season was over quite some time ago, I consider it a feat of alchemy for Alan Curbishley to have us out of the relegation zone with one game of the season to go. Whilst that may be true, it should also be acknowledged that there has been a simultaneous display of continued abject incompetence at Wigan to allow this to happen, but let's not pick holes.

Curbishley has belatedly done a fantastic job and irrespective of what transpires next week he deserves a lot of credit for that.

This game was fantastic too. Not just "The Spice Girls have split up" or "Leeds have been relegated again" fantastic, but truly blissful in a "It's snowed all night and school is closed for the day" kind of way.

Would it be wrong of me to make rude gestures to Dave Whelan right now? I thought not.

3. The Statistics

There are no statistics available for the first half of this game. All computer systems simply provide the analysis "One Sided Massacre".

We were 3-0 up in less time than it takes me to get dressed in the morning. Carlos Tevez swept in a lovely free kick to get things moving, and then combined beautifully with Luis Boa Morte for the second.

(At this point I'd usually insert a smart arsed jibe about Luis Boa Morte but I am above that now. Not that far above it, mind, so stay sharp)

Finally, bored with doing it all himself, Tevez set up Mark Noble for a ballistic missile of a volley that left several hundred fans thanking God for the invention of goal nets.

There was a second half comeback of sorts from the visitors, but they never realistically looked like getting back into the game. Overall, we had 53% of the possession and 8 shots on target. Bolton, by contrast mustered just 2 shots on goal and were possibly distracted by Robert Green's immaculately gelled new hairstyle.

4. The Opposition

Rubbish. Not a typical performance from them and how grateful we are. Surprisingly we were able to out battle them and made them pay for it with three strikes of quality.

Gary Speed did pop up with a second half consolation goal, but ultimately it made no diff - whoah, hang on, back up there - Gary Speed? 63 year old Gary Speed? Gets his heating paid by the Government, Gary Speed? The confluence of events required to allow this man to run unimpeded through the middle of our defence is mind boggling. Firstly, there had to be electoral fraud in Djibouti, some druid wars in Wales, a global lima bean shortage and lastly Nigel Reo-Coker had to lose the ability to move his legs.


5. The Referee

Mike Riley remains a mystery to me. He's incompetent and has legs so thin that he can hide behind straw. He didn't do too badly today though. He protected Tevez pretty well in the face of a Bolton back 4 the size of Mount Rushmore, and he also didn't allow Kevin Davies to pile drive anyone. Which was nice.

6. There's Only Juan Carlos Tevez

Oh man. This was gravy. The fact that his very appearance on the team sheet annoyed Dave Whelan and several other suddenly principled chairmen was simply the icing on a sumptuous cake. Put succinctly, he was marvellous.

His opening goal was a thing of beauty. I cannot remember the last time that we had a player who was a threat to score from a free kick, so for him to score from two in a season is uncharted territory.

I actually wouldn't have given my Hammer of the Year vote to Tevez as I felt he was too peripheral for too long this year, but there is no denying that he has been the driving force behind our recent turnaround. Should I never get the chance to see him play again then I can at least say that I had the privilege to watch him this year. Duff registration or not, he is a wonderful footballer.

Sister Shark is apparently toying with the idea of getting an Argentine shirt if he stays, whilst Papa Shark is thinking of getting an Argentine passport. Suffice to say, the Shark family has taken little Carlos to our hearts. (Although we'd also take him to the barbers if we had the chance).

7. And You Thought We'd Taught Him Nothing

Good to see that Tevez has learnt something from playing with Bobby Zamora and Nigel Reo-Coker. After his second goal he ran to the crowd and cupped his ear.

I don't think it was quite as malignant a thought process as with the other two, but probably evidence that he thought this was simply how we celebrate goals at West Ham.

8. Permutations

The most tense part of this game was the wait for the Wigan result. Mercifully they lost (through not reacting as quickly as Mark Viduka - yowzer) meaning that we now have our future in our own hands. But of course, we actually don't have it in our hands because we are playing the champions away from home. No matter how well we've done recently I can't see us getting a result at Old Trafford.

With the Champions League no longer a factor I don't expect Ferguson to tinker too much with his team. Also, he will come under a fair bit of pressure this week to play a strong side given the stakes. I sincerely doubt Ferguson will give two hoots about that but he's not Rafa Benitez and as such I'd say we can expect to see Rooney and Ronaldo for a while at least next week.

With Charlton having played very Charltonly against tottenham tonight the situation is now much clearer. A draw for us would be enough irrespective of what Wigan do - and if Wigan don't win it doesn't matter what we do. Should we lose and Wigan win we'll go on goal difference, which really makes those 4-0 and 3-0 losses at Charlton and Sheffield United hard to bear.

So essentially, we're relying on Sheffield United to avoid defeat for us to stay up. I've just stabbed myself with dried pasta.

9. So Long, Farewell

Just a thought, but I wonder how many of Saturday's team will ever play at Upton Park again in a West Ham shirt? It's hard to imagine Tevez will be back, even if my father is successful in his campaign to have him made Pope.

Lucas Neill is otherworldly in his brilliance and will doubtless be looking for a top level club if we go down. Reo-Coker, Benayoun and Ferdinand are reputedly going irrespective of what happens and it's tough to imagine the fans being too disappointed by that.

That leaves a whole lot of maybe's. The difference between now and our last foray into uselessness is that we have some financial clout these days meaning we don't have to answer any transfer request with the words "We're desperate to sell, how much are you offering?". (See "Carrick, Michael")

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

He played. He played Dawsonly. He didn't kill anyone, he didn't concede any penalties, although not for the want of trying, he kept a clean sheet and he remains forever, indisputably, Michael Dawson.

But the thing is - tottenham have kept fewer clean sheets than us. I had to italicise that because it defies belief. We are awful. We spent 6 months of the season using the theories of Aristotle as a defence rather than actual live humans. (Sure, we've also kept more clean sheets than Newcastle and Fulham, but come on, we're not totally hopeless).

And this man plays for England? With Paul Robinson? And Ledley King?

Euro 2008? We'll skate home.


  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Now that both Tevez and Mascherano have shown what they're capable of (albeit only one of them at the Hammers), it'll be interesting to see what next season has in store for them.

    And I have a solution for your left-wing woes: I'm sure Gillingham will happily engage in an exchange of Matthews Jarvis and Etherington.

  2. Dot Cotton12:33 PM

    When word leaks through to Bramell Lane that West Ham are 1 or 2 down, then Sheff Utd will let Wigan score. They can't take the risk until they know for sure we're doomed on goal difference but it will happen.

    We really do need to take a point from Man Utd or I fear we're down.

  3. I reckon you just might do it, for Ronaldo, Giggsy and Scholes seems a bit out of shape after a long season and their centrebacks have currently got two working legs between them. If Tevez can work a little more magic and Ferdinand is given a condition not dissimilar from his brother's in training.

  4. As much as I love a conspiracy theory I don't believe any football team would throw a game deliberately, in a situation where it could conceivably result in their relegation.

    For instance, if we go 1 down at Old Trafford (not beyond the realms of possibility), and Sheffield United concede 2 to Wigan (slightly wackier but desperate times etc..). If we then equalised in the last minute (fantasy land, but stick with me) then Sheff Utd would go down.

    Now, Warnock may be a bag of vinegar but he's not stupid.

    As for Ferdinand's condition - are you talking abuot a lobotomy?

  5. Anonymous2:22 PM

    You know how nervy these occasions get, I can see the Sheffield match being goalless in 1st half then more & more cagey play as news leaks thru from O.T.

    So if the Mancs are leading by then Wigan cld get the encouragement they need to go on and nick a winner...

    On a purely footballing front I hope West Ham stay up - we won't go into the matter of docked points.


  6. Ideally I'd like Sheffield United to go down. But beggars CANNOT be choosers...and we are assuredly begging this week

  7. Dot Cotton4:19 PM

    Ideally both Wigan and Sheff Utd would've gone. Warnock should keep his mouth shut and take a long hard look at himself before he starts to comment on the West Ham/Tevez situation.

    Gary Megson claimed that Warnock tried to void a match in 2002 by reducing his team to six players.

    Dubbed the 'Battle of Bramall Lane', United were reduced to 8 players after 3 players were sent off. Two injuries then saw United fielding only 6 players, and the match was abandoned with West Brom leading 3-0. The FA eventually decided to let the result stand after much criticism was leveled at Warnock's handling of the situation and fined United £10,000.

    Don't get me started on that pie eating gobshite Whelen.