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, August 08, 2007

West Ham vs Manchester City : 11th August 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. I Prefer Normal Juries To Injuries

Not to state the obvious ("Since when?" yell pairs of H List readers) but I much preferred it when our players were simply getting arrested rather than getting injured at a rate of knots.

2. Let's Begin

And so after a gap of what seems like minutes, we are no longer staring down the barrel of relegation and are instead beginning a new season, buoyed by the arrival of some proven Premier League players.

The summer has come and gone, as has Carlos Tevez, and despite the veritable maelstrom that is our dressing room there is cautious room for optimism. For a start it would be essentially impossible for a team to have as bad a year as we did last year without being Sunderland.

3. The History

Attentive readers ("Hi Dad!") will know that last years fixture against Manchester City was voted by me as the worst of the season. In fact, I'm tempted to declare it the worst game of football ever played anywhere in the cosmos.

If you doubt the veracity of my claims then consider that the UN sent troops to Upton Park at half time on humanitarian grounds. Anyway, we slumped to an atrocious 1-0 defeat and another Christmas passed in a blaze of uselessness. This victory was City's first ever Premiership win at Upton Park. The word you're looking for is "Pfft".

Both teams have subsequently undergone major changes with City following our lead in being acquired by a foreign owner, in this instance former Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Sinawatra who was ousted from power in a military coup (always encouraging). He has also been described as a "humans rights abuser of the worst kind" by a leading Human Rights group.

Naturally then he passed the Premier League's "Fit and Proper Persons" test, proving unequivocally that the only requirement for that particular examination is that the individual must have a face.

4. The Opposition

Manchester City has seen some tumultuous changes over the summer. Stuart Pearce has gone, replaced by Sven Goran Eriksson, who promptly blew the best part of £40m on lots and lots and lots of foreign players. Your familiarity with any of these buys will probably be entirely dependent upon your knowledge of Eastern European footballers but I can safely say the only one I had ever heard of was Martin Petrov, the Bulgarian winger.

Intriguingly, not one of Sven's purchases has been English, in a summer when a number of young English international players have moved clubs (Parker, Nugent, Bent, Hargreaves, Sidwell, Richardson, Baines). That could be a reflection of the ridiculous price of English players these days - £16.5m for Bent, £16m for Hargreaves, actual money for Richardson - but it could also show that not too many young Englishmen feel that playing for the Swede is likely to further their careers.

Either way, prepare not to recognise too many of City's players on Saturday.

5. The New Boys

The summer has seen an influx of players who, all things considered, would have been very welcome last year. The likes of Ljungberg, Bellamy, Parker and Faubert are unquestionably upgrades over their predecessors, although one would have to say that Faubert and Parker are also very much unquestionably injured at the moment.

The departure of Benayoun does leave us without a recognised set piece specialist, however. Alarmingly, Ljungberg took on this duty during the weekend win over Roma and took one corner so bad that it landed in a different time zone.

He did redeem himself with a better effort next time round, as it landed directly on McCartney's head for the equaliser (admittedly the only way it could have been any worse would have been if he had somehow contrived to kill himself in the process).

I shall reserve judgement given that this will be a crucial area for us as we suddenly look like we might be a threat from set pieces, with Ashton and Upson both back and out of their wheelchairs.

6. Blonde Is Beautiful

Just to clarify the heading to this paragraph - blonde hair looks good on certain people - Mrs Shark, Emily Procter, that bloke from Buffy The Vampire Slayer etc... but it really doesn't look good on Dean Ashton. In fact it's a sign of how glad I am to see the return of our burly (or, as they say in T'North - "fat") striker, that I haven't prepared a cutting edge satirical banner on the subject.

Anyway, irrespective of his tonsorial travails, with Ashton go our hopes this year. His 45 minute cameo against Roma was a thing to behold, as he did more than Bobby Zamora within the first 5 minutes of his entrance. His afternoon culminated in a fine winning goal, skipping past the French international Philippe Mexes and rifling a low shot home.

It is worth bearing in mind that Ashton made a very decent Roma backline look vulnerable upon his entrance. I give far more weight to this than if he had done it against, say, Sunderland who are, well, whatever the opposite of decent is ("Birminghamian"?).

7. Call Off The Game

Lucas Neill is injured. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I love him.

8. A Confession

Apologies for the brevity of this preview but I am actually writing this from the sweltering heat of Kolkata, India. And by sweltering I mean "How in the name of Holy Moses do they even go outside in this?"

Anyway, my firm have sent me overseas and did it somewhat inconsiderately to coincide with the begin of the football season.

Naturally, given that I'm thousands of miles from home in possible the most alien culture I've ever been in since I last visited Wolverhampton, I can watch the game live tomorrow.

So if you're going to the game tomorrow let me give you the same advice I would give to anyone attempting to cross a road in India - "Shut your eyes and pray for the best".........


  1. Anonymous10:08 AM


    watch your beloved west ham from afar

  2. Anonymous10:08 AM


    watch your beloved west ham from afar

  3. Anonymous4:09 PM

    see all the goals from the premiership, including bianchi's opener, at www.101greatgoals.com

  4. Hi there

    I have added a link on my site to yours and wondered if you could do likewise? My site is http://www.westhamblog.co.uk would have dropped you a line but could not see any contact details?