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, September 03, 2007

Reading 0 - 3 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. I Knew That Was Going To Happen

As Kevin McCabe has doubtlessly never said - "There's nowt so esoteric as folk".

I cannot even begin to comprehend how a team can play so abjectly when faced with a moderately well organised Wigan side, and then transform into 1950's Honved at the sight of a decent, if no longer surprising, Reading outfit.

My preview for this game wasn't exactly chipper, even by H List standards, but I think there were very few Hammers out there who fancied us for this one.

Playing at a venue with a tendency to turn our players into blancmange, and again missing several new signings it was even easier than usual to be pessimistic about our chances. Inspired, however, by a fantastic performance from Craig Bellamy we chewed up Reading, rolled them around inside our mouth, got some stuck in our braces and spat them out.

And Matthew Etherington scored. Twice!

*Goes for a lie down*

2. An Admission Of Guilt

It is certainly true that on various occasions during the life of this blog I have perhaps been a little bit unkind to Craig Bellamy.

Craig, let's put our petty squabbling behind us and just forget about who may or may not have called the other one a goblin. You just continue playing like a demi-god and I'll keep my literary barbs aimed in other directions.

3. The Statistics

For a three goal drubbing the statistics of this game are somewhat skewed. By that I mean we battered the home side whilst having just 46% of the possession. This in itself isn't an unnecessarily unfair reflection as Reading did have a decent amount of the ball, but were simply anaemic in using it.

In all we had 14 attempts on goal, abandoning our usual blunderbuss approach and getting a hitherto unprecedented 10 (Ten I say!) on target. Reading, by contrast, mustered just three goal bound efforts and found Robert Green in a decidedly "Thou Shalt Not Pass" kind of mood.

4. The Opposition

It's not hard to imagine that Reading might be heading for something of a fall this year. Steve Sidwell has gone off to the Chelsea bench and Nicky Shorey seems destined to join our injury list in January. With no notable improvement in their squad over the summer, and a glaring lack of joie de vivre about their play, it does rather feel that they have stood still in comparison to the rest of the league.

Come the end of the year it is still likely that this result will be seen as a startling one, but in general it's easy to see Reading falling away somewhat this season.

Evidence for the prosecution, Exhibit A:

During the second half Reading's back 4 did a very passable impression of a large expanse of empty grass.

5. The Referee

Howard Webb. Usually performs inconsistently. Did OK. Gave Reading a penalty which was perfectly correct. Okey Dokey.

6. Into The Ether

During a conversation with a friend recently I discovered that the classic novel "The Catcher In The Rye" is about suicide. I have to confess I missed this, thinking as I did that it was about truancy. For you see, rather like the Arctic Ocean I am wide but I am not very deep.

So, when Matthew Etherington attributes his improved play this year to his lack of gambling I rather shrug my shoulders. I'm not disputing that it may be true, but I'm also not going to get all that excited about a player admitting that the reason he was execrable during one of our worst ever seasons was because he was more interested in the 3.10 at Goodwood than he was in practising his free kicks.

As far as I'm concerned Etherington owes us a season and to be fair, he is delivering so far, albeit in a ridiculously small sample size.

I would even go far as to state that a good season for Etherington will equal a good season for West Ham, if only because it will likely mean Less Luis Boa Morte.

Kudos as well on not turning into a newt when faced with a one on one with the keeper. This is a pleasing new development.

7. Away Day Blues?

Are we money away from home or what? We have now won 4 consecutive away games without conceding a goal (Reading, Birmingham, Man Utd, Wigan) and 6 of the last 7 (Arsenal, Blackburn). Our solitary defeat was at Sheffield United, which didn't really affect me in the slightest, and the last man to score against us on our travels was Jon Fucking Stead.

I believe I may have commented on this in the past.

This is a reflection of the way in which Curbishley now has us playing. We simply make up for our lack of ingenuity by running everywhere extremely fast. It was noticeable during this game that we broke with a speed and purpose that Reading were completely incapable of dealing with.

Let's face it, if Carlton Cole comes on and looks dangerous then something somewhere is working.

At home we remain dullards. Life is a many splintered thing.

8. I See Your Ludicrous Miss And I Raise You This Mind Boggling Squander!

In my Birmingham report I referred to the ongoing competition between our players to see who could muster the most ridiculous miss of the game. Kieron Dyer won that particular battle by cleverly impersonating Darius Vassell when the moment arose and royally botching the chance.

This time around it was Lee Bowyer emerging triumphant after a wonderful pass from Bellamy set him free. As he bore down on goal our Lee switched it on to his less favoured left foot and calmly hit an innocent spectator in the crowd.

Ever the chirpy man manager, Curbishley later said : "I could have throttled him", which at the very least shows a decent understanding of how most football fans view Lee Bowyer.

9. That Old Chesnut

Whilst we're on the topic of West Ham away nuances, I was amazed to see that not only did we take the lead in this game but we actually added to it. This is not really the done thing so we did try and redress the balance by conceding a 75th minute penalty, as Robert Green moved so slowly off his line that he managed to allow the glacial Dave Kitson to beat him to the ball.

This was ideal West Ham timing as it would have allowed the supporters a full 15 minutes in which to wear away the lining of our livers as we clung on to our slender lead. Rather heroically Green then redeemed himself by saving both the resultant spot kick from Doyle, and my stomach lining.

This shocked the Reading back four to such an extent that they all spontaneously combusted, allowing Cole and Etherington to combine for our last minute third. Yowzah.

10. Kudos

Our second goal was a thing of beauty. Mullins to Etherington to Bellamy to Etherington to the roof of the net. Sure, the Reading defence at this point consisted mostly of weak legal arguments but I don't care. That was a very nice passage of play.

A word also for our defence who are, whisper it, looking solid. I'm not going any further with that as the last time I praised our back four they allowed Jon Fucking Stead to score against them......

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:21 PM

    Good lord, what on earth is going on?

    Does the apparently fully functional West Ham back line include McCartney and Ferdinand? Whither Gabbidon and Davenport? I can't help but feel an uncharitable desire to see your lot succumb to a woeful drubbing, if only to see young Calum get a chance...still, maybe Coventry 'right footers need not apply' City can welcome him back to the flock next season when they triumphantly return to the Prem-

    Sorry, senses went on leave for a mo.

    ~ Beardinho