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, November 10, 2007

Derby County 0 - 5 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. Billy Davies And My Part In His Downfall

The seeds for this defeat (*) were sown some years ago, and can be traced directly back to me.

It was 2004 and Papa Shark and I were wandering around the Millenium Stadium several millenia before the Play Off Final against Preston due to my father's insistence on leaving for the game nine hours in advance of kick off ("You can never be too careful" - "But Dad, I'll have to take Annual Leave for that" - "Do it").

So there we were at the gates, having a simple conversation about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, when the Preston coach approached to the cheers of their fans. As they passed, Billy was giving it the big 'un to all and sundry, so I quickly gave him the universally acknowledged symbol for "diver", to highlight the fact that his Preston team were the biggest load of cheats ever assembled (I can be so cruel at times).

We exchanged a look, one gladiator to another, and I realised that I had struck the first psychological blow for the Hammers. This one cut deep and you could see the fear spreading out amongst the Preston team, and they duly played like a group of stoned gorillas, allowing Bobby Zamora to notch the winner and generally looking pretty damn inept.

Billy has never recovered, and I accept your humble thanks.

2. Correction

This was not a defeat - it was a complete and utter marmalising.

3. The Statistics

If you somehow saw this result and thought to yourself "Hmmm, I bet that game wasn't as one sided as it looks", well, you would be completely and utterly insane, and in fact you should probably lock away any sharp objects right now and wait for someone with marbles to come and pick you up.

Per the ESPN Gamecast (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report?id=219681&cc=5739) we had 64% of the ball and converted it into 18 shots at goal, of which a remarkable 11 were on target, which excludes the two efforts that hit the bar. So far, so blimey, but consider that Derby managed two shots on target all day and tell me that this wasn't the footballing equivalent of the Roman Empire invading Sark.

Everyone's favourite scapegoat, Carlton Cole, popped up with two assists and Lee Bowyer continued to wind back the clock with two goals, helped greatly by the Derby midfield's splendid impression of four corpses.

I know you're dying to know the last time we managed a win of this magnitude away from home. Well, we last triumphed by 5 goals in 1962 when we won 6-1 at Manchester City, and we last scored 5 goals on our travels in 1992 during a 5-1 win at Bristol City.

From all this I have extrapolated that Derby County are fucking terrible.

4. The Opposition

Hmm, yes, not all that impressive. Hidden in the above statistics are the bare faced facts that after 70 minutes of this game we were 5-0 up and had hit the bar twice. It's easy enough to mock Derby, so I'm going to go ahead and do it, but it shouldn't be disguised that this was as impressive an away performance as has been seen in The Premiership for some time.

Derby are to be admired in one sense at least - they were promoted almost by accident, and have decided not to spend outside their means in a vain attempt to keep their top flight status. They have seen the inexorable slide of teams like Bradford and Wimbledon and decided that having a club in a few years is preferable to, you know, not.

That being true doesn't actually change the fact that their current team is patently not good enough for this level of football, and truth be told will probably struggle to beat Sunderland's record low points tally of 15 for the season. Their combination of lower league journeymen and youngsters wasn't even good enough to hang to the coat tails of what was essentially our second team. Adios fellows.

5. The Referee

You would have to be exceptionally churlish to find fault with a referee after you've won 5-0. Of course, if you've lost 5-0 I suppose that it might be somewhat different (he says - as if the concept of West Ham losing 5-0 is utterly inconceivable).

Mark Clattenburg didn't spot a handball from Lee Bowyer, who was in the process of scoring our opening goal at the time, so one might consider this fairly "crucial". Upon reflection, one dodgy goal out of 5 isn't really much to shout about, but as it was the first I can imagine a few gripes would be in order from the home fans.

Still, if I was a Derby fan I'd be focusing rather less on that than I would on the fact that Tyrone Mears appears to have gotten worse, since leaving West Ham. Yikes.

6. Cole Patrol

Cole set up his 5th and 6th goals of the year, to move even further clear as our most creative player. He worked exceptionally hard again today, and showed that the difference between Premiership reserve and Championship first teamer is still a fairly wide gulf, in the main.

He'll still get booed, no doubt, if he fails to make Michael Dawson look silly next Sunday, and by God, who hasn't lately, but I'm still showing a bit of faith in the lad. At the very least his ankles aren't made from paper mache.

7. Take A Bow

The rebirth of Lee Bowyer continues apace. Actually, that might be overstating things a little as scoring goals against Middlesbrough, Wigan and Derby does not a Premiership star make (see "Bent, Darren").

However, there is no denying that his resurgence has been a big factor in our increased profitability in our travels. Already his 4 goals are more than any one midfielder managed last year, whilst the total number of midfield goals this season (10), already exceeds the same number from last term (9).

Maybe this can be put down the fact that the useless Yossi Benyaoun has been replaced by the new Michel Platini, Jonathan Spector, but I suspect it's rather more down to the fact that all our strikers are clinically dead, so if anyone is going to score it rather has to be a midfielder.

7. I Once Saw Crystal Palace Score 4 Goals Away From Home

Anyone familiar with the legendary "I, Ludicrous" song "Preposterous Tales" will know what I mean when I say - "I once saw West Ham score direct from a free kick".

You know it's a seismic day when all of the West Ham midfield score a goal, one of which is a free kick. And to give Nolberto Solano his due, it was an absolute belter as well.

For the first time since Julian Dicks was with us, it might not be a good idea for the opposition to repeatedly concede free kicks on the edge of the box against us.

8. The Case For The Defence

And the side with the best goal difference on the road is......West Ham United. Ah, but of course.

Now scoring 8 unanswered goals against Derby and Reading will always help the cause, and it is true that we have only played one good side away from home (Portsmouth) whilst the rest of our opponents could charitably be described as "effluent" (Birmingham, Reading, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Derby).

Be that as it may, the truth is that the Premiership is full of teams who are not very good. This is by design, and cannot possibly be a surprise to anyone who regularly watches football in this country. The whole ethos of the Premier League and UEFA is that the same four teams should always qualify for the Champions League. This ensures that TV companies and sponsors are kept happy, your ticket prices are kept in excess of £50, and that your Wednesday nights shall forever be filled with games like Arsenal vs Slavia Prague, which Sky will be telling you is the pinnacle of club football on this planet.

I have digressed a little, but there is a thought in here somewhere. The point of the Premier League is that the big clubs shall prosper and everyone else should like their lot and be pleased with the odd UEFA Cup run. This mediocrity is fairly uniform and actually means that winning away from home becomes a lot easier. Removing the Champions League teams from the Premiership would actually leave a thoroughly entertaining and wide open table where teams should be capable of winning all over the place.

So, in summary, Rob Green is the best keeper in the League, and our back 4 are great. Obviously.

9. There May Be Trouble Ahead

For the first time this season we enter a period of prolonged difficulty in the fixtures. Games against tottenham and Chelsea look pretty tricky to me, particularly with our current injury list, whilst subsequent clashes with Blackburn and Everton should be a truer test of our mettle than anything we've encountered lately.

So this wasn't the best time for George McCartney to throw his lot in with the other larrikins in the physio room. Additionally, Bowyer will now be out for a couple of weeks, joining the rest of our midfield (Parker, Faubert, Mullins, Noble, Dyer, Quashie (!)) on the sick list. Mercifully the international break may give a few of our bigger names the chance to recover, and with a bit of luck, ensure that Paul Robinson is definitely fit to face us.

10. Whoah - Back Up A Minute

Jonathan Spector scored?

OK - all bets are off. Ladies and gentlemen, you can forget your Linvoy Primuses, your Robin van Persie headers, and your Craig Gardner free kicks. This is the most ridiculous goal ever scored.......


  1. No mention of the extra-special own goal from Derby? I know it wasn't given as an own goal, but come on... It was truly the worst moment for the worst team on one of their worst days.

    Ho ho.

  2. Mr. Lowther's quivering love ferret9:33 AM

    A great result on the one hand, but considering the Victims of Landmines 2nd XI would give us a sterner test we really should be looking to put multiple goals past this band of amateurs.

    Still, a good way to sign off before probably my biggest game of the season - Spurs at home. I've already planned to commence alcoholic consumption within 30 minutes of waking up, such is my intention of being a drunken, foul-mouthed "host" for our North London rivals.

    Solano to score the winner and Defoe to die.