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, October 24, 2007

West Ham 3 - 1 Sunderland (And Other Ramblings)

1. Go Jonny Go

Forget the World Cup Final - this was a great advert for rugby.

2. In The Interests Of Fairness

Let it be said that in the annals of richly deserved 3-1 victories, well, there is no record of this game.

Shameful as it is to admit - we were pretty fortunate to win this match, despite the relative comfort indicated by the scoreline. Indeed, had Luis Boa Morte not reverted to type in the last minute and fluffed a one on one with the keeper, we would have been celebrating the most unjust 4-1 thrashing in history.

Now don't get me wrong, Sunderland are still to free flowing football what Australians are to humility, but irrespective of that, they played reasonably well despite the fact that their style is unpalatable to any football fan with eyes.

3. The Statistics

This game was something of a statistical curiosity. I really don't recall the visitors having lots of gilt edged chances, but I do I recall them having a lot of territory, particularly in the second half. Despite my near flawless memory, none of the statistics back this up. Sunderland outshot us 16 to 12, whilst we had 52% of the ball.

A more accurate split of the possession might well have been : West Ham 14%, Sunderland 12%, East London Airspace 74%.

Kenwyne Jones had 7 shots alone, and performed in a fashion that I can only describe as outstanding. This pains me to write, especially as in the preview for this game I made a special point of mocking his £6 million price tag. I'm still mocking it, of course, but after Sunday I am little more willing to accept that Kenwyne Jones is, at the very least, not a bacterial spore.

4. The Opposition

There is a great quote about ice hockey that could be adapted for our situation here. "I went to a fight once, and a game of ice hockey broke out".

One could equally say "I went to a social gathering of West Ham and Sunderland players, and a game of football broke out".

I think we can all agree that my quote is funnier. Or at least more topical.

Anyway, Sunderland briefly spent a part of this game resembling a professional football team. Both sides were fairly abject in the first period, with only Carlton Cole's nicely taken opener to split the sides. At half time Alan Curbishley decided to get the lads together for an in depth discussion about whether or not Mr Bennett in Heroes is a good or bad guy, whilst Roy Keane did a bit of tactical thinking and decided to throw on some strikers in the hope of disturbing our rock solid defence.

Unsurprisingly, Keane's efforts bore more fruit, as a succession of corners and set pieces down our left flank led to Kenwyne Jones rising like a phoenix on LSD to thump in the equaliser. All the while Matthew Upson was performing experiments on Chinese Fighting Monkeys. Or at least I assume he was, as he assuredly was not doing any actual defending.

It wasn't pretty but it was effective and I suppose that one should compliment Keane for identifying an avenue of success and exploiting it. However, when you spend one half of a Premiership game trying to win throw ins by the corner flag so that you can get your freak of a full back to hurl the ball 35 yards into the box, I'm not going to go so far as to call you good. So there.

5. The Referee

Didn't blow up any buildings! Hurrah. Nothing to see here.

6. If You Didn't Have Bad Luck....

Sunderland fans have been bemoaning their tough luck after Nolberto Solano's somewhat fortuitous debut goal. Of course, when I say "somewhat" I mean "completely".

If you didn't see the incident in question, it involved a decent break from Luis Boa Morte, some truly atrocious defending from Nyron Nosworthy and Nolberto Solano seizing on the loose ball, doing some quick geometry and carefully knocking his shot off the base of the post at precisely the right spot to ensure that it rebounded back, hit the prone Craig Gordon and rolled into the net.

If I was being honest, I'd say it was lucky. If I was being deliberately obtuse I'd say that the ball was going to bounce back to Solano anyway.

Nice start for Solano, either way.

7. Substitute, My Coke For A Gin

Alan Curbishley was widely lauded for the impact of his substitutions. Solano "scored", whilst Boa Morte provided the assist for goals 2 and 3. The latter, in particular, was way less inept than usual, and combined very well with the outstanding George McCartney.

But, and you knew there was a but on the way, I don't quite follow the reasoning that simply because it worked, that it was therefore perfectly timed. Couldn't one equally state that because it worked, that therefore they should have been introduced earlier? I'm being churlish of course, but Curbishley's use of substitutes has long been a source of puzzlement to me.

As an aside, I didn't really agree with the reaction of the crowd to the withdrawal of the clearly knackered Mark Noble. When asked about it later Curbishley simply said "I saw he had pie and mash for lunch, perhaps he had too much" which is quite conceivably the weirdest answer ever given to a question about tactics.

8. Head Upson!

If Matthew Upson cannot cope with Kenwyne Jones, then can someone explain to me exactly what it is that he can cope with? Being a £7m player should not ensure automatic selection, even for a side whose pre season team photo was taken at A&E to save on travel costs.

Surely this is exactly the kind of match which we bought Upson for? At home, to a bruising long ball outfit, who rely on set pieces to create goal threats? I can accept that he's not quick or good enough anymore to cope with Robin van Persie, or Didier Drogba, or Miss Shark Jr, but if he's losing out to Championship players then that should be a concern.

James Collins was unceremoniously dumped in the summer in favour of Upson, and although he was injured for this match (but of course), he can count himself unfortunate to be considered behind Upson at this point. Indeed, on this showing, even the long forgotten Calum Davenport would have been a distinct improvement.

Nice beard though. Tonsorially, I can't fault him.

9. Hell's Bells

For a man who just had his groin sewn up, Craig Bellamy played extremely well culminating in a fine late goal, his first at Upton Park.

Curiously he doesn't get called a goblin on these pages so much as he used to.

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering : The Return

It's been a slow burner but my campaign to get the ineptitude of Big Ol' Useless Mike to a wider audience appears to have worked.

Not only was he roundly criticised for playing like an inebriated wildebeest in tottenham's 3-1 defeat at Newcastle, but Martin Jol even joined in the slagging, realising that he was about to get the sack so he may as well lay the boot in to a chief offender before he left.

Of course, it's entirely possible that they sacked him after reviewing the accounts and realising that Jol had actually paid out £4m for the fungus......


  1. Anonymous5:58 PM

    I have to say, I admire your way of making fun of big mick without resulting to cheap jokes alluding to his namesake in 'Lost'. I kept expecting 'plays exactly like someone going slightly mad on a desert island' analogies sooner or later, but you've been able to keep it fresh without mentioning ladykillin' desperados. Bravo.

  2. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Is Upson really that slow? I recall Wenger once saying that he was the quickest player at Arsenal, even putting Henry to shame. Wonder what happened...

    ~ Beardinho