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 03, 2007

West Ham vs Bolton Wanderers: 4th November, 2007 - Match Preview

1. 100 not out

HeadHammer Shark's tedious prodding and poking of the ball up 'til now have seen this blog limp to 99 unanswered posts. It is left to I, The Boleyn Beluga, to become the inaugural H List centurion courtesy of a fearsome cover drive, splitting the field through the onside to rapturous applause. A quick nod of acknowledgment to the Grandstand and it's on with the show...

2. Mutiny over a Bounty

So HeadHammer Shark has desserted (get it?) his faithful. His increasing readership (pantry) has so inflated his already bloated ego (waistline), that he now only deigns to write to his public once a week - so you're left with me for the previews henceforth. That should halve the audience.... Can you halve 5 people?

3. Plight Of The Living Dead

And so our injury woes continue. Three more additions to the disabled list came as a result of our mesmeric victory over sleeping giants Coventry City in this week's thrilling Carling Cup tie: Anton Ferdinand tweaking his hamstring followed by the departure of both Mark Noble (groin) and Hayden Mullins (knee).

These latter two injuries are the more worrisome as we are currently bountiful in centre backs but suffering from a real paucity of central midfielders .This was highlighted by the fact that two of our most consistent performers so far this season were replaced on Tuesday night by John Pantsil (is his Visa still valid?) and Jonathan Spector (can we get his revoked?)

Still, at least we remain a potent threat upfront with it only taking us 71 minutes to score with what was our first shot of the game... which deflected in.

4. Send In The Clowns

Sunday afternoon sees us 'entertain' Bolton Wanderers at Upton Park in what is sure to be another ding-dong feast of football. Bolton must surely rank among the most unlikeable teams in the Premiership, thanks largely to their tedious brand of play and abhorrent Chairman Phil Gartside.

One could argue that Bolton deserve an element of grudging respect from neutrals for their achievement in having established themselves as a Premiership outfit during the last 6 years. One could also argue that Josef Stalin exhibited a real 'have a go' attitude, combined with some admirable and selfless plans for rapid economic development... skirting over the purges and genocide.

Bolton would better serve the beautiful game by being forced to play in a kiln with their collective ashes blasted into space at halftime.

5. Managerial Merry-Go-Round

Having lost the services of Sam 'I'm one of the greatest managers in the country but have actually won nothing' Allardyce and sacked Sammy 'can we pick up Setanta if I point my face due north?' Lee, Bolton really set their sights high with the appointment of Gary 'you want relegation? I'm your man' Megson. A baffling decision for most outside and in the Reebok Stadium.

Unambitious measures masquerading as steps forward in managerial appointments then. Sound familiar?

6. The Pretenders

Having been away to Bolton during a classic 0-0 affair a few years back, I can testify unreservedly that their support is woeful. At the time they were anchored in midtable obscurity (quite an acheivement with Henrik Pedersen upfront) and being hailed as part of the new blood helping to make the Premiership such a huge success. Strange then to see at least 1/3 of their sterile stadium empty.

Apart from a few hundred loyal supporters, they have nothing - a view emphasised by a pitiful 18,000 turning out to watch Villa last week - and yet are still considered by some to be a part of this mythical 'hotbed of football', along with Middlesbrough and Wigan. A myth no doubt perpetuated by the likes of Gartside and Dave The Convicted Price-Fixer Whelan.

7. Lancashire Hot-Shot

Last year's corresponding fixture saw us claim a 3-1 victory in our penultimate game of the season courtesy of a swift Tevez brace, before the Argentinian master set up a crashing volley for Mark Noble, and all in the first half hour. Now bereft of anything half as creative as Pope Carlos, the most dangerous player on the field could well come from the Lancastrians. Unthinkable 3 or 4 years ago.

Nicolas Anelka must be the epitome of the nomadic football mercenary. As loyal as Judas Iscariot and more ruthless than a camera-wielding Frenchman in a Parisian underpass, one can't help but feel that he has failed to fulfil the glittering promise of his early career.

Leaving the tutelage of Arsene Wenger at such a young age did him no favours - just ask Luis Boa Morte (when he's not on mind-bending drugs) - and his abundant petulance contributed no end in his steady decline from the Bernabeu to Bolton. Still, he's dangerous with both feet and in the air and he'll need watching.

8. Cole-fired

Our own attacking prospects lie solely in the precarious grip of Carlton Cole. To be fair, the boy Cole has hit a bit of form recently and despite his apparent mediocrity, you rarely get the impression he can't be arsed. Just that he's rubbish.

Still, the fact that he's not currently hooked up to an IV and that he can move under his own steam all help push him to the front of our firing line. A couple of goals on Sunday could see him push on and provide some competent support for Bellamy and Ashton this season, as well as good competition for Zamora.

9. An Aside

Is it just me or does Curbs appear to be the least supportive manager in the League?

When questioned about the marvellous Robert Green's England credentials recently, instead of talking up his Number 1 and pushing for his inclusion in the squad, Curbs decided at merely declaring England "know who he is".

I know who Keith Chegwin is, doesn't mean I'm going to vote for him in the next election.

Mark Noble's fatiguing efforts of the last few weeks resulted in a recent substiution which was greeted with the encouraging "maybe he ate too much pie and mash", instead of an A+ for effort.

God help anyone who has to call upon Alan as a character witness.


  1. Anonymous8:42 AM

    I had the 'privilege' of watching the Cov-Hammers game with Shark in a local hostelry and, my word, I never thought I'd witness such wonders. Spector and Paintsil in midfield, Cole the saviour... and Kevin Kyle.

    Kevin. Kyle.

    I almost have no words. Within thirty seconds of coming on, he'd deflected Boa Morte's optimistic shot into the net (with a little help from our left back). Another thirty seconds and he'd missed the easiest of chances thanks to awesome use of the shin. The WRONG shin. By the end of the game he'd completed no passes, won nothing in the air, committed several stupid fouls when we had scoring opportunities, generally wandered round looking lost and bewildered and even elbowed Ferdinand in the face (ok, so it wasn't all bad).

    I don't know who you have in the next round, but you'd better hope they have a Kevin Kyle or you're in trouble.

    ~ Beardinho

  2. Anonymous7:38 AM

    Hardly an auspicious start, Beluga.
    A cover drive splitting the onside field? Thick inside edge, I reckon...

    Uncle Albert

  3. To be fair - if you'd ever seen him bat.....