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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

West Ham 3 - 0 Middlesbrough (And Other Ramblings)

1. I Am So Excited At Writing About Middlesbrough....

Apropos of nothing very much at all: Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans. Should you ever decide you would like to try and make friends with or, heaven forbid, marry one of the buggers, then here's some advice - don't be English.

Thanks then to the various English sporting teams who have contrived to lose 117 consecutive encounters with representatives from those nations.

I'm just saying. Right then, let's get on with it.

2. Our Friends In The North

Not that I think Boro fans are a higher species or anything, but there is something admirable about coming to a game where your chances of winning are ludicrously remote. Lest we not forget, they have scored just once here this Millennium.

I suspect that Liverpool fans might take a similarly sympathetic view of us.

Still, they played better than last year (impossible not to), and achieved a worse result.

3. The Statistics

This was a curious game in every sense. Middlesbrough achieved an atrocious result whilst performing less atrociously than usual. They were still rubbish but, none the less, 3-0 flattered us somewhat.

The possession count favoured us with a 57% majority, although we converted this to less shots on target (7) than Boro (12). It's worth bearing in mind, however, that half of those shots were taken by Mido, Jeremie Aliadiere and Tuncay, which is about as unholy a triumvirate as you will find anywhere.

Lucas Neill also somehow managed to get himself caught offside. Jet lag is a funny thing.

4. The Opposition

Regular readers of this column will know that Boro are one of my least favourite teams. There is nothing redeeming about their style of play, and I'm afraid that the default position for watching them is "Tedium".

All of the above withstanding, they weren't as risible as usual this time out. The early part of the first half saw us in the ascendancy, and Dean Ashton was correctly ruled offside before netting a neat goal. Thereafter things evened up somewhat and Aliadiere hit the post when he really should have done better. Both he and Bellamy then went off injured, with Tuncay and Carlton Cole proving to be impact substitutes in every sense.

Tuncay in particular was incessant in his uselessness, missing no less than 3 clear one on one chances. I'm afraid that hitting the woodwork is not unlucky if you do it in a situation when a mannequin would manage better.

5. The Role Of Cole

If you had asked me to describe Carlton Cole just two short weeks ago, I would have said that he was a player unrivalled in his ability to make nothing out of something.

Since then we have scored 6 goals, of which Cole has provided the assist for 3. Any way you cut it, that is a hell of the contribution. (True - one of those assists required Luke Young to misplace his cerebrum, but let us not be churlish).

Odd then, that Cole received some stick at the beginning of this game. I must confess I don't really go in for booing players anyway - the physical act of yelling the word "Boo" at another grown man doesn't strike me as something I should be doing - but I'm fairly ambivalent about everyone else doing it.

Cole has unquestionably failed to deliver in his time with us, but he is what he is. A lumbering, slow centre forward who will occasionally deliver Premiership standard performances. I can live with that provided that he is our fourth choice striker. Sure, our forwards are currently dropping like it's Ypres 1916 but hey-ho, such is life with a transfer window.

6. Into The Ether (Again)

Post match analysis of this game has seen Matthew Etherington receive some support in the media for a place in the next England squad.

Now before we progress that any further let me assert for the record that Etherington is nowhere near good enough to be playing for England. However, neither are (conservatively) half of the current squad so his consideration isn't entirely frivolous.

The reason for this is probably because his opposite number on Saturday, Stewart Downing, is the current incumbent of the back up left winger spot, or the "Oh Christ, Joe Cole's injured" position, as it's better known. Now Downing is a terrible player, but he is a Steve McClaren protege and unlikely to be replaced by Etherington, particularly when this could just be a flash in the pan anyway.

Besides, and we've covered this, no good can come of our players being involved with England.

7. Some History

Winning back to back league games by scores of 3-0 is fairly rare for us. We last managed it in 1947 by my reckoning, with victories over Newport and Swansea. It's always nice when your club records date back to the time of the ration book.

And the last time we scored 3 in back to back games? May 2007. Move along.

8. Death By Transfer

It's truly spiffing this lark of paying several million pounds for new players to then sit in our treatment room for months. After an impressive beginning Craig Bellamy is now going to be out for an unspecified amount of time with "West Ham Groin". Craig we hardly knew ye.

Per our website, Scott Parker has "(1 week)" next to his name. I don't know if this is when he is expected back or how long he has to live.

Somewhere Rob Jenkins (the former West Ham physio who tried to treat Stewart Robson's damaged groin by having him wear a hot potato down his shorts) is looking on fondly.

9. The Link Between Oscar Wilde And Gary Lineker

After a summer spent avoiding newspapers filled with poorly researched, half baked theories on Tevez-gate, I am reminded of a suitable Lord Henry Wotton quote.

"There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about".

We have just won back to back Premier League games 3-0 against respectable mid table opposition, and the Match of The Day analysis has been as follows:

"And congratulations to West Ham" (Reading)

"And the Hammers must be happy as they move up to fifth" (Boro)

Now, moaning about MoTD coverage is really spitting into the hurricane. All broadcasters in this country are obsessed with the self styled "Big 4" and the rest of us must simply grin and bear it and feast on the scraps. Of course, had Lee Bowyer's goal been scored by Steven Gerrard, the reaction would have been orgiastic in the MoTD studios, but c'est la vie. It probably didn't help that Bowyer celebrated by getting so angry that his scapula exploded either.

All things being equal, however, did we as a nation really deserve fifteen minutes of analysis on Liverpool and Chelsea, when they both played in dull as ditch water goalless draws?

Someone think of the children.

10. When Sideways Is Upwards

So Eggert Magnusson is no longer the front man of the new Upton Park revolution.

Depending on who you believe, he has been shunted aside after a disastrous summer in the transfer market, or promoted to concentrate on strategic planning. People who know more about business than I (think of a human - there you go, they qualify) have suggested that this is not an uncommon move for City firms to make, but in the footballing world it has been perceived as a sidelining.

If it means that we might buy players from somewhere other than Newcastle I can probably live with it.....

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