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, January 31, 2007

West Ham 1 - 2 Liverpool (And Other Ramblings)

1. Dictionary Corner

Well, I think we've pretty much exhausted the lexicon for descriptions of our various capitulations this year. In which case I think I'll just go back to the start : appalling, abysmal, atrocious, asinine, Roederian - sorry that was just habit.

2. Atmospheric Pressure

I don't usually comment on the crowd, primarily because I'm usually too busy thinking of ways to fake my own death in order that I never have to come back, and so don't notice.

However, during the opening stages of last night there was as good an atmosphere as I've heard for a while at Upton Park. It probably helps that Liverpool fans aren't mannequins (see "Hotspur, Tottenham"(n)) and can contribute a song or two themselves.

I wasn't overly surprised to hear the chants of "There's only one Alan Pardew" later in the evening, however. It's sad , and a bit pointless although I can strongly identify with the feeling. By the end of the game it reminded me not just of our relegation season in 2002-03, but also of the ceaseless agony of watching us under Billy Bonds. The same listless performances on the pitch, more in hope than expectation and sorely lacking the gusto required to out manouevre a team like Liverpool, who stayed firmly in second gear throughout this game.

3. The Statistics

Not surprisingly Liverpool outstripped us in possession, having the ball for 53% of the time. Given that our sole tactic appeared to have been whacking it aimlessly towards Carlton Cole's head it puzzling that we managed 14 shots at goal, hitting the target with 6 of them.

I have no recollection of us having that many forays into Liverpools half, let alone that many shots at goal. I think they might be counting Carlton's flick ons.

Tellingly, George McCartney had more shots on target than Cole and Harewood combined. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

4. The Opposition

Not bad, not great. Our strict policy of not allowing Goblins to score against us was enforced again as Craig Bellamy went goalless.

Our even stricter policy of letting Liverpool score from outside the box continued as well. That's 3 of their 4 goals against us this year coming from at least 20 yards out. Kuyt's goal, especially was remarkable as he has all the technical ability of a rocking horse.

5. The Referee

Mark Atkinson was his name. Good for him. Could have given us a penalty for a push on Marlon. Presumably didn't on the grounds that he assumed no one would bother to foul Harewood in the box. Which is reasonable.

6. Less Luis, More Matty

I'm struggling to come to terms with the general concept of Luis Boa Morte. I have no idea what he's supposed to be doing but he's currently busy proving the theory that anything bought from Mohammed Al-Fayed is over priced tat.

I think he's a true Blairite. He's supposed to be a left winger but he spends most of his time wandering aimlessly around the middle, pissing everybody off.

So in short, something is ailing my left side Doc, and the prescription should be less Luis Boa Morte.

7. He's Not Firing Blancs

You can tell Kepa Blanco is good. He only has "Kepa" on his shirt.

He also has a very high, rapidly receding hairline. Stick him up front with Dean Ashton and we'll have the best, baldest strike force in the Premiership.

I pity poor Marlon though. Off he goes and within 60 seconds there goes Kepa with his new fangled, Spanish ideas about running into the box and scoring. It's enough to drive a man-child wild.

8. Let's Go Buy A Kuyt

Just to elaborate on my earlier comment about Dirk Kuyt. I have great admiration for him, I just don't think he's very good. He is nowhere near as technically gifted as Crouch or Bellamy, say, but he has that fantastic arrogance that footballers need to be successful. The innate belief that he is a terrific player, despite all evidence to the contrary.

No matter how many chances he spurns he'll always come back for more. Check out the Holland vs Portugal game in the World Cup as Exhibit A for the prosecution.

Contrast that with Harewood who spent large parts of last nights game searching for the elusive exit route from Sammi Hyypia's back pocket.

I'm hoping Kepa shows a bit more gumption.

9. The Long Goodbye

And so I depart. Thanks to Overseas Iron, Ralph and Dot Cotton who will be writing The H List whilst I'm gone. If Michael Dawson doesn't get a good slagging while I'm away then heads will roll.

Those of you on the email list will have to bookmark the site as I won't be able to send the regular notification.

A crumb of comfort for those of you who are going to struggle for a whole month without your usual updates - the last time I left the country is the last time we won a league game. And I'm going to be gone for a month. Think positive people. Me being on the beach for a month is a good thing for us all....

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

There were a couple of great moments last night when Jamie Carragher got into nosebleed territory. One in the first half when Steven Gerrard inexplicably decided to square a free kick to Carragher. With the casual elegance that one would expect he shifted it on to his weaker left foot and calmly placed it into the Bobby Moore Stand Upper Tier.

Two minutes later Carra burst unsuspectingly into a reasonably advanced position. After a quick, but minor, heart attack he promptly unveiled an honest to God, bona fide toe punt. Awesome.

And by any kind of mathematical factor you can think of, he is still better than Michael Dawson....

Monday, January 29, 2007

West Ham vs Liverpool : 30 January 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. Where Do We Begin?

I've got to confess. It's been a hell of a struggle to write a preview for this game. Just what on earth is left to say about this miserable, train wreck, Robbie Williams double album of a season?

Can you stop letting in the first goal, lads? Any chance of someone showing some flair? Can you run around a bit more?

I don't think I could have picked a better time to leave the country and head as far away as is humanly possible on this planet.

2. Department Of The Insane

One of my pet hates is when people use the phrase "With my luck". You know, in the context of "It's raining outside, with my luck, all the trains will be delayed". As though somehow it's unlucky to be a middle class Englishman as opposed to, say those lucky bastards born in the Sudan or Soweto. Anyway, I digress.

In the same vein I get irked when people use the phrase, "Only at West Ham". As in "Only at West Ham could a team this good go down". Hello chaps, have you checked out where Leeds are these days?

With all of that said, only at West Ham could the brains trust get together and decide that the way to lift ailing spirits in the stands is to have Bonnie Tyler come on and sing at half time.

You know, like it isn't painful enough anyway?

3. Are You Javiering A Laugh

So long then Javier Mascherano, we hardly knew ye. That heady day in August when I wandered into work and was bombarded with text messages asking if it was true that we had signed Mascherano and Tevez, seems like something from my dim and distant childhood, right there alongside Thundercats and nappies.

I'm not going to retread old ground as it's pretty painful for all of us. We had one of 'those' players and we let him go. I'm guessing there is a book of some substance to be written about the arrival of these guys but for now I'm going to mourn his departure on solely footballing grounds.

How ironic that he should end up at Liverpool, where he'll doubtless have no trouble getting into a team featuring not one Nigel in midfield.

And I know that right now you're all thinking - "Thundercats was great".

4. Scouse About That

Last year's home game with Liverpool was one of those eminently forgettable affairs. Djibril Cisse defied his own genetics and played pretty well, whilst Nigel Reo-Coker and Bobby Zamora basically did the same for us.

Hayden Mullins and Luis Garcia got themselves sent off for being a bit childish and missed the best Cup Final ever as a result. Bet that smarted.

5. Casualty, E13

Our injury list is no laughing matter.

Lucas Neill has joined the legions of wounded men currently not doing their jobs for us. No doubt he's getting to know Dean Ashton, Carlos Tevez, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon et al over a Chai Tea Latte and a good book, but is anybody else ever so slightly concerned that our physios seem to be sending half fit players out to do the job of men who are not lame.

I'll tell you what is a laughing matter. At a pub quiz during the week a good friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, somehow mistook Pele for Mark Walters in the picture round.

Now Rich is a Liverpool fan so lap it up - it's really the only chance we're going to get.

6. Stopping The G Force

I hope Steven Gerrard plays. I know it's bad for us but let's face it, the chances for us to see players like him are dwindling fast.

I have no idea how to stop him. Maybe tackling him would work. Maybe a tactical air strike. I dunno, no doubt Curbishley will blame it on the weather or something if it doesn't work.

7. Our Green Policy

It would seem to me that if Robert Green doesn't get back in the side for this game he never will. Roy Carroll hasn't really looked secure for several months, indeed if I were being cruel I'd say he hasn't looked secure since he was sober.

Saturday's was a bad mistake heightened by the varying degrees of ineptitude in front of him. But this isn't Sunday morning football. I don't care if Roy is the man who organises the whist drive on the way to away games, and gets the hooky DVD's in for the lads, he isn't the best goalkeeper at West Ham and my mind is quite boggled enough by the frankly maniacal team selections being made at the moment without wondering how on earth we are ever going to keep a clean sheet again.

8. We Need To Be More Athletic

We have reportedly today had bids turned down for Darren Bent and Hermann Hreidarsson. Because the current team that Curbishley has been sending out isn't quite dull and uninspiring enough, so we need to recreate his old Charlton team completely.

Be still my beating heart......

Saturday, January 27, 2007

West Ham 0 - 1 Watford (And Other Ramblings)

1. Our Nadir

I'm pretty sure that Alan Curbishley doesn't get the boys together before each game and demand they play so poorly that it convinces all the children watching in the crowd to take up chess - but, I reckon we might have a few Grandmasters on our hands soon enough.

2. The Case For The Defence

When the court case finally comes to trial and Sky are finally asked to prove that the Premiership is the best in the world, rather than just incessantly blathering on about it each week, the existence of Watford as a Premier League side will be Exhibit A for the prosecution.

Now I'm well aware of the breathtaking hypocrisy inherent in that statement, but seriously, it's fairly mind boggling that a team with this little skill and playing football this dour could hold us to a draw and then beat us here.

Regardless of the fact that this was a Cup game, it is performances like this that highlight why we are going down. Good Premiership teams just don't lose to Watford.

3. The Statistics

Despite playing with all the urgency of 11 men walking to the hangman's noose we still fashioned 9 shots on target. Watford showed all the attacking instincts of Ghandi, mustered one shot on target and scored from it. Ah, but of course.

Possession was fairly even, although given the ball spent approximately 90% of the time up in the air I suppose that's all relative.

Interestingly, despite some challenges worthy of the WWE not one Watford player was shown a yellow card. We didn't really go in for tackling as such but still contrived to get 2 players booked. Carlton Cole was one of the culprits having chucked himself down theatrically, and embarrassingly in the box.

And the day you get booked for diving against Watford is the day that desperation has set in.

4. The Opposition

Bolton-lite, or perhaps "The Team That Entertainment Forgot".

When I die and go to the next world there will be an easy test for me to determine whether I'm in Heaven or Hell. Paradise will be France vs Brazil in the Mexico '86 World Cup. Damnation will be Bolton vs Watford.

Not to say that they didn't deserve their victory. They took their solitary chance and defended grimly. I have no qualms with that, indeed I quite admire a team who are are so much more than the sum of their parts. That said, I would say that playing them is the footballing equivalent of stubbing your toe.

It happens to everyone from time to time, it's fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things but it is invariably very painful.

5. The Referee

At one point this season I described Howard Webb as a "plankton". I'm not exactly reneging on that opinion but he was better this time round. He was a bit laissez-faire with some of Watford's more rough house stuff, but I'd be a hypocrite if I said I wouldn't have minded kicking Luis Boa Morte myself on Saturday, so I can't complain.

6. Which Brings Me Nicely To...

........our new boys.

Lucas Neill lasted all of 48 minutes, looked a bit overweight and slow before hobbling off as our current injury treatment policy of "running until the pain goes or the player dies" paid off again.

Sherlock Holmes once said "You should rule out all possibilities and whatever is left is the truth".

With that in mind I have deduced that Luis Boa Morte must have woken up on Saturday and found that his legs had been surgically removed and replaced with large bars of Toblerone. I've thought this through at length and it's the only logical explanation, because I cannot believe a man who cost us £5m is this bad without having triangular legs made of nougat.

Needless to say, I think Sherlock would have agree, the opium addled smackhead.

Nigel Quashie. When I look at the young Nige I can't help thinking of that scene in Master and Commander where the ship gets caught in an extended period of lifeless seas (The Doldrums for you trivia fans) and decides to chuck himself off the side to save the rest of them. He was known as a Jonah amongst the crew.

You see, Quashie runs around, and shouts and points a lot. Now that's great but then so do madmen. I know I'm banging a forlorn drum here but has ANYONE seen Javier Mascherano recently? If you need a description he looks suspiciously like a world class midfielder last seen looking tasty at the World Cup. And not like a 12 times relegated Jonah....

7. My Moptop Prince

Oh Christian Dailly, you are the love of my life
Oh Christian Dailly, I'd let you shag my wife
Oh Christian Dailly, I want curly hair too-oooooooh

(As heard on Saturday to the tune of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Andy Williams)

Our best player again. Only marred slightly by having Roy Carroll mysteriously try and mount him in the build up to the Watford goal.

I've got to admit, Christian has won me round. I've always secretly loved him ever since he picked up his teeth out of the ground at Rotherham and carried on playing, and it was cemented during the disgraceful booing he suffered against Gillingham later that year.

I feel I can out myself now though. In this era where it is so hard to identify with those men who wear the claret and blue, Dailly is the man. He's the kid who gets picked last and runs all day, even when he is clearly playing against better players. If he had Nigel Reo-Coker's skills he would be playing for England. Which would be weird and possibly illegal, because he's Scottish, but I think you get my drift.

8. Our Loss Of Nobility

Another repeat point but if I don't emphasise these things you'll never learn.

Why does Mark Noble not get in the squad ahead of Shaun Newton? I know it's easy to be highly principled when the guilty party is as useful as a lift operator but that's not my fault - Newton should not be anywhere near our first team. He used drugs and he should have paid a heavier price.

Instead he gets to keep our promising youngster out of the first team squad and miss one on one chances to score our opening goal against Watford. And just because we're loitering on the subject - where's his neck?

9. How Soon Is Now?

When are we going to show something? When are we going to do something?

Does anyone else get the impression that Curbishley has given up? I only chuck it out there because he seems so devoid of passion or even, dare I say it, intent, on the sideline.

Call me old fashioned but I like to see a manager do what I do when the opposition score. Kick a chair, scream at Roy Caroll (even if he's not playing) or simply weep. Do whatever you like Alan but at the very least would you mind trying to create the impression that you give a damn?

This team selection was a two fingered salute to anyone harbouring hopes of going to Cardiff again. This was unimaginative dross and an awful reminder of our Roederian past.

It seems crazy to be saying it but I wonder how long Curbishley has to turn this round. He was an unpopular choice as manager replacing a popular, if flawed, predecessor. It's seems churlish to criticise his stolid, dull brand of football when the players he has to choose from are so stolid and dull themselves but that is life. One has to work with the tools one is given and Martin O'Neill has shown that labourers can become artisans from time to time.

It's time to stop blaming everyone else Alan. How soon is now mate?

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

A tottenham fan told me that statistically Dawson had been the best player for tottenham this year. I have no idea what that means (Is he the most punctual?) but it put me in mind of a great West Wing quote:

President: They have 100% literacy in Sweden, Leo. 100%! How do they do that?
Leo: I don't know, Sir. Maybe they don't and they can't add up...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

West Ham vs Watford: 27 January 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. Things I Don't Get Excited About

Celebrity Big Brother, golf, cheese, those free papers they give you after work, FA Cup 4th round ties against Watford, shoes, films starring Julia Roberts.....

2. Our Cup Runneth Over

We have something of a reputation for being brittle in the FA Cup. Interestingly, this isn't really based on any, you know, actual facts.

The last 6 teams to knock us out of the FA Cup: Liverpool, Sheffield United, Fulham, Man Utd, Chelsea, tottenham.

Our last real shock defeat was against Tranmere in 1999, a run during which Tranmere also beat Sunderland and Fulham so it wasn't all that big of a surprise. Indeed, given that our backline contained Neil Ruddock and Scott Minto I'd say that keeping it to 1-0 was a triumph of sorts.

We even managed a couple of shocks of our own on the way, namely the 1-0 win over Man Utd and the victory over Bolton last year. We did beat Wolves when we were in the Championship and they were in the Premiership but the only time I would consider a victory for us over Wolves to be a shock would be if it was a fist fight and they were actual wolves.

In the League Cup, however, we're simply crap.

3. Cole Means Goals

Just a thought. Since Carlton Cole came back against Brighton we have scored 8 goals in 3 games. The fact that we were actually attempting to go past the halfway line may be a related issue but that's just nitpicking.

It will be interesting to see how he fares against a team who are limited technically but will prefer playing against a big lumbering type of centre forward (Carlton) than a more mobile, creative type (Anyone else in our squad).

4. Celebrate?

What the hell is going on with our moody players and their celebrations, or more appropriately, the lack of them?

Case in point - Marlon Harewood on Saturday. Now let's face it, Marlon has not exactly been a free scoring goal machine this season and yet somehow we're being subject to these chest beating displays of insouciance from the likes of himself, Reo-Coker and Zamora.

One would think that somehow their performances up to this point in the season have been acceptable and it's us, the fans, who have been unreasonable in demanding little things like effort and competence from our players.

Well screw you, and screw your little clique. You've been doing your jobs so well this season that in a professional league that ranks national performance you are currently the 3rd worst. And if I was a shareholder in a major financial institution watching that kind of output I think I might be doing more than booing you.

5. This Time Last Year

Our 4th Round match last season was a splendidly entertaining, defensively lacking 4-2 win over Blackburn. This featured a lesser spotted Matthew Etherington goal and also included a strike for our new boy Lucas Neill.

I have no idea whether we actually even want to go on a cup run this time around. On the face of it, that's a ridiculous thing to say - or at least slightly more ridiculous than that which usually appears on this site. However, one side effect of our Cup run last year was the near abandonment of our league form. Any such approach this time and we'll all be marvelling over Delia's pies again next year.

6. The Price Of Something No One Cares About

Everyone in the Premier League will tell you that they don't care about the FA Cup. And yet if you want to buy somebody in the January transfer window invariably it will cost you more if they are not cup tied.

We don't have to look far for examples. Last year Norwich held Dean Ashton out of their 3rd Round game against us in order that he wasn't cup tied when we bought him. Thus he was available to score a few crucial goals on the way to Cardiff.

This year Reo-Coker, Quashie and Lucas Neill were absent from their respective 3rd Round games. Maybe there were genuine reasons for this but I'd have to guess that this was done in order to up the price should any of them be sold.

Given that our current approach to transfers appears to be "Hey, we're loaded - never mind fiscal responsibility, how much do you want for him?" I'm not sure it would have made much difference anyway.

7. New Arrivals

Lucas Neill is here, and he's aghast that anyone is speculating that it's because of the money. And he's right. The notion of a professional footballer being solely motivated by pecuniary reward is pushing the envelope slightly. Shame on you all for thinking it.

No doubt, as a young lad growing up in Wagga Wagga, all Lucas ever wanted to do was emulate Geoff Pike and pull on the claret and blue. And you should remember that when you cast aspersions on him and his 40k a week wages.

(Don't believe the hype that he's on 70k. It's errant nonsense apparently - not that this somehow makes 40k an acceptable wage, but you know what I mean).

8. Department Of Delusion

A scenario for you, indulge me please.

Let's just say I'm a well paid professional who is performing so ineptly that my boss has to go out and hire some other people to help pick up the slack. Because the workplace has become an unattractive option for other professionals due to the poor output of my colleagues and I, my bosses are forced to pay above market rate salary to the new employees.

When I hear about this, I ask my friend what he thinks about it and he suggests that I go to my employer and demand a pay rise. Good idea right? Well, only if my name is Nigel Reo-Coker and I have an agent with marbles for grey matter.

In a move of breathtaking hypocrisy, young Nigel reportedly marched into Upton Park yesterday with his half wit agent, Tony Finnegan, demanding parity of income with the new arrivals. Leaving aside the fact that he has been playing so well this year that his own fans have been booing him, it stuns me that a man with 4 years left on his contract allegedly has the temerity to ask for a salary increase.

There is a full transcript of Tony Finnegan's "speech" at the excellent West Ham blog site "West Ham Till I Die" - http://westham.wordpress.com/

I use the phrase "speech" in it's loosest sense as I'm not sure Finnegan has enough cognitive function to actually form words on his own.

I particularly love the quote "For the next 14 games Nigel will give his 110%, that is what I can guarantee every single West Ham supporter", as though this is somehow a situation so unusual it needs to be announced on national TV. Never one to use both his brain cells at once Tony might also want to think about the fact that it also carries an implicit suggestion that up until now, young Nigel hasn't been giving 110%.

When you're done ruining Nigel's career, Tony, perhaps you can focus on something that will really challenge your vast intellect, like tying your own shoelaces or scratching yourself in two places at once.

Just in case it doesn't quite seep through, I don't greatly respect either Nigel Reo-Coker or his agent. I think I've hidden it well though.

9. The Game

I guess I should say something about Watford and this particular fixture.

I dunno - to be honest, I suspect that they will be so cock a hoop at getting £8 million for a player as average as Ashley Young that they might not even turn up.

If they do, I suggest you tilt your neck back and stare at the stars. Every couple of seconds a Watford player will be whacking it into your sphere of vision. Oh joy.......

Just To Clarify

In my last column I made an offhand remark about going to New Zealand. Thanks, therefore to all those of you who wrote to me saying "I didn't know you were moving to New Zealand. All the best, can I have your season ticket/West Wing DVD's/car/house etc...."

Let me clear it up. I'm going for February only, on holiday.

3 avid readers (or about 50% of my audience) have agreed to write some columns whilst I'm away. Overseas Iron, Dot Cotton and one other who doesn't have an online alter ego yet. Many thanks to you all - I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Newcastle 2 - 2 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. When In Greece

Have you ever wondered what people from Greece people say in lieu of the phrase "That is something of a Greek tragedy"?

Well, let me tell you - they say "Cor blimey, that was a bit of a West Ham away game wasn't it?".

2. Uriah Heap's On The Pain

I know it's ridiculous to blame a referee for the outcome of a game. And with you being a West Ham fan and therefore well educated, suave and probably quite good looking, you know it too. But I walked away from this game a with a flaming sense of injustice.

Alright, so it wasn't Uriah Rennie who gave away Newcastle's penalty or missed a last minute sitter but given that he was Newcastle's most influential player on the day I do blame him just a little bit.

Rational thinking and being a football fan don't wander along hand in hand very easily, so I hope you'll extend me a little leeway here.

3. Luis, Luis

Rarely have I seen a footballer spend so much of the game lying down as Luis Boa Morte did on Saturday. I'm all in favour of conserving energy wherever possible but this was ridiculous. I'd have to imagine that after the game he had to use that old Grandpa Simpson quote "On one of my frequent trips to the ground....".

Somewhat unfortunately, on one of these slips, Luis inexplicably gave away the penalty that needlessly gave Newcastle much needed momentum early in the second half. The real shame of it being that up until that point the home side had barely mustered an attack worth the name.

So Luis, let's not set the bar too high. From here on in, not so much "must do better" as "must stand up more".

4. The Statistics

It's churlish to say this but I felt to a degree that our own negativity encumbered us on Saturday. The fact that Newcastle enjoyed more possession (55%) is somewhat irrelevant in so much as they looked absolutely clueless when they had it.

Our dominant first half performance was the West Ham I have been waiting quite a while to see. Full of pace and purpose and outworking an ordinary opposition. If we could have grabbed the third goal that our play deserved then the fact that Rennie had placed his life savings on a 2-2 draw would have been irrelevant.

Our 7 shots on target is roughly equivalent to our entire attacking output since August, as well.

5. The Opposition

Newcastle have been beset by injuries. I have finished wiping my eyes for them though seeing as how they continue to urinate their money up the wall on average players (£9m on Albert Luque - how many homeless people could have been housed for that?).

They played well in the second half, unquestionably, but it is equally true that without their nonsensical first goal they would have had no momentum going in to the second half. And with Roeder's motivational skills that was a banker win for us.

6. The Referee

In case any of you didn't see it, the first goal scored by the home side involved a cross shot from James Milner that Scott Parker jumped over as it went in. Parker was several miles offside but Uriah Rennie saw fit to overrule the flagging linesman.

He later disallowed Calum Davenport's headed winner which was probably a reasonable decision, but by then his continued incompetence had long since exhausted any possible sympathy.

It has been our grave misfortune to encounter two referees, in consecutive weeks, such as Graham Poll and Rennie who are given to overblown displays of pomposity.

7. The Turning Point

30 minutes: Peter Ramage (injured) replaced by David Edgar.

Up until this point Marlon Harewood and Carlton Cole were running riot through the 4 mannequins comprising the Newcastle defence. Having replaced Ramage with a better option (i.e: a human being with motor skills) we didn't get quite so much joy.

8. How Not To Finish

Matthew Etherington ran clean through on goal with just 5 minutes left. At no stage did I think that he was going to score. He's just not that sort of player, and he's not having that kind of season.

In fact, I would honestly have preferred to have seen Roy Carroll in that situation - at the very least Roy might have had a bet on a 3-2 win to inspire him.

9. Our Calumni

Calum Davenport was outstanding on his debut. He set up our first and had a late goal disallowed. He also demonstrated a marvellous new technique for levitating himself off the ground using just the power of his own feet.

I believe that this is known within the trade as "jumping".

10. Bloody Nigel's

Nigel Quashie sustained a very nasty looking cut on his head during the first half. Kudos to him for playing on with the wound but I'd have liked to have seen him get it bandaged up. Teams who have those players never lose.

Elsewhere, the other half of our Nigelic midfield was immense. In fact I'd go so far as to say that this was Reo-Coker's best performance of the season. It was interesting to see how pedestrian he made Parker look, particularly in the first half.

11. Onwards

The upturn in performances since the introduction of the new signings has been encouraging, especially with the possible addition of Lucas Neill before our next league game. This has been counter balanced by the failure to pick up the 6 points that would have turned our season around.

Thankfully Wigan appear determined to try and make Sheffield United look like a real life Premiership side and have joined the relegation fight.

I still feel we are a bit doomed given that Lady Luck has not so much deserted us as taken up with the next door neighbour and is spending the entire day chucking stuff at us from across the garden fence. That said, we are still very much in with a shout as we play Sheffield United, Charlton and Wigan before the end of the season.

Regrettably, we don't have a great track record in games we have to win.

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

Just the one penalty conceded this weekend. Veritable success for Big 'Ol Useless Mike.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Newcastle vs West Ham : 20 January 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. 39p

If this was an article in The Sun it would have a comparison of the price of a pint of milk the last time West Ham scored a goal away from home and the price today. And probably have things written in CAPITAL letters just to emphasise how truly appalling our away record is.

We have scored away from Upton Park a paltry three times this year - one of which was against Chesterfield and the other two were accidental. As Richard Madeley would say - "Wow!".

I would therefore say that a defence containing Peter Ramage would be the ideal opponent for us if it wasn't for the fact that we have already been kept out once by them this year.

Oh the shame.

2. Bringing Back Some Memories

Watching Newcastle's truly Roederian 5-1 capitulation at home to Birmingham on Wednesday night was a pleasurable experience.

That said - you never want to play a team just after they have been spanked.

Except for Glenn Roeder's West Ham. You might remember that in 2001/02 that we lost 5-0 at Everton and returned the following week fired up and determined to show the footballing world that we were made of sterner stuff. The result: Blackburn 7 -1 West Ham.

So, hope springs eternal. Keep working your magic Glenn.

3. A Bit Of Previous

Our last win at Newcastle was in 1998 when we had Ian Wright and Trevor Sinclair on the scoresheet. We also had Neil Ruddock at the back, a man so immobile he made weather change seem rapid.

I am hoping that his spiritual cousin Titus Bramble is going to be playing on Saturday.

Last year we earned a creditable 0-0 draw, particularly after Paul Konchesky received his annual incorrect red card.

Let us not forget that Newcastle are a mind numbingly average football team at present, but if I go any further down that road we're going to have a major pot/kettle incident on our hands.

4. New Arrivals

As I type this we have signed Calum Davenport from tottenham and appear to be closing in on Blackburn's Lucas Neill, after weeks of being rejected like Victoria Beckham at a karaoke contest.

Dealing with them in order then, I can't let Davenport's signing pass without commenting that he was Michael Dawson's understudy at tottenham. Of course, because I am a football fan I have immediately rationalized this by comforting myself with the fact that tottenham do tend to ruin as many players as they develop. He was pretty decent when he was with us before and he apparently has strong enough neck muscles to head the ball so I'm ok with it.

Let us not forget that this season a West Ham goalkeeper calling for a cross has been less a statement of intent as it has been a tentative subject for discussion.

Quite why Lucas Neill would turn down Champions League football at Liverpool and plump for us is a bit of a mystery. I could be frivolous and suggest that as he's Australian maybe it's because there is a far greater availibility of bar work in London, but you and I both know that it's solely down to the massive wonga we're offering.

Truthfully I don't care. I long ago ceased to care about footballers wages. Of course it's completely obscene to pay a slightly above average Australian full back £50,000 a week but if it helps to keep us up then I think I'll be able to get over it.

5. Those Loveable Geordies

Here's an interesting stat for you.

The number of players in England's 2006 World Cup squad born in the North East of England : 2

The number of players in England 2006 World Cup squad born in Essex/East London : 5

Even more interestingly, an additional 3 players learned their football at West Ham, including one of those Geordies, Michael Carrick.

But the North East of England is the hotbed of English football. I know this because I read it in every newspaper story about Newcastle, ever. They're very passionate. Apparently.

If that means that they all wear their shirts when they're on holiday then I guess I can't disagree.

6. The Roeder Nowhere

I know that I've used that title before but I love it. And I believe in recycling.

Anyway - I, for one, haven't forgotten the fact that Glenn Roeder conducted himself with so much dignity upon his return to Upton Park that he was escorted from the pitch by the police.

I'd love to think that our players haven't forgotten it either, but as they appear to have forgotten how to defend I'm not banking on it.

7. Our Drawing Power

I've just seen that Ashley Young is looking likely to go to Aston Villa. Just to re-iterate, that's Aston Villa - a football team so dull that their own fans go home and watch paint dry to liven up their days.

I doubt that Villa are offering any more money than us considering that someone at West Ham has found Magnusson's pot of gold, so I have to ask whether any one out there is coming to West Ham as a result of being enticed by our manager.

Say what you like about Pardew but new players always strongly expressed a desire to play for him.

8. Just What The Doctor Ordered

No matter what we all might think about Newcastle and their lack of merit relative to, well, a good football team you can't dispute that they must be licking their lips at the prospect of our little circus rolling in to town.

If you ever wanted to get your home form back on track surely you'd want to play West Ham.

9. Striker Light

With Zamora suspended, Tevez and Cole possibly injured and Ashton suffering from Dutch Elm Disease or something, we are quite probably going to be playing Sheringham and Harewood up front.

Neither of whom made it into last weeks squad. Erm...

10. My Pet Hate

I'll bet Shaun Newton's fit though.


I haven't exactly been deluged with offers to write The H List whilst I'm away for February. So you should look forward to updates sent through from rural New Zealand based solely on the BBC website reports.

Which still makes me more qualified to comment on professional football than Ian Wright so don't despair........

Friday, January 12, 2007

West Ham 3 - 3 Fulham (And Other Ramblings)

1. The Department Of Blind Optimism

Home wins are just sooooo last year.

That's 2 games unbeaten! 3 goals for the second consecutive match - we're a lean mean goal machine! And it's been a good couple of weeks since we let in 6.

Everything is coming up roses, people.

2. The Department Of Actual Facts

Number of games played against Reading, Portsmouth, Man City, Newcastle, Fulham, Middlesboro, Watford - 11

Points won - 3

Those numbers would tend to indicate that mediocrity rules. I have aspirations that we too can be mediocre one day.

3. The Statistics

As is customary these days, we enjoyed more possession to the tune of 58% but for all our bluster, vim and vigour we don't really have the incisiveness that was so evident last season.

Incredibly, Luis Boa Morte was the victim of no less than 10 fouls on Saturday. I'm guessing that when he left Fulham he cut the ends off all their socks because that it is by some distance the worst battering that any of our players have taken this season.

Naturally, that nasty little gobshite Michael Brown committed the most fouls of anybody on the pitch with 5. You can take the boy out of Sheffield United....

4. The Opposition

Chris Coleman thought that it would have been a 'travesty' if Fulham hadn't got anything from this game. I think if they'd got cholera then that would have been ok but for them to get a point was robbery.

Leaving aside the ridiculous lack of action from the referee over the consistent cynical fouling, anytime you accidentally score your first goal then you can scarcely claim you 'deserve' something out of the game.

5. The Referee

I'm not really in favour of blaming referees for poor results. It's like blaming Virgin Megastore for the musical output of James Blunt.

Of course, when you've got one who's running round with his pools coupon sticking out of his top pocket with the West Ham v Fulham fixture clearly marked as a draw it is cause for concern.

The gripe about the decision not to award a foul for the challenge on Dailly in the lead up to Christanval's goal was legitimate, although Reo Coker was probably fortunate to still be on the pitch at that point. Not as lucky as Christanval though who should have gone for his foul on Tevez.

Bobby Zamora's red card was rather stupid. Quite why he felt the need to make that tackle is beyond me, particularly when Poll was refereeing as he was. Craply.

6. Alan's A Bit Tense

Has anybody else noticed that Alan Curbishley can't quite decide if he should be using 'they', 'us', 'we', 'them' or 'that shower of Pardew's' when he refers to West Ham?

Alright, Alan, I think we've got the message - you haven't been here long and it's all Pardew's fault. Is there any chance you might be able to fit a quick session in on defending set pieces though? I know the lads are busy with their court appearances and car purchasing sprees but see what you can do.

7. Let's Go Old School

I have a suggestion for next week. Play 2-3-5 like they did back in the old days when footballers earned £3 a week and weren't all complete tosspots.

See the thing is that we have no fit central defenders for our trip to Newcastle so we may as well see if we can't get all 5 of our strikers in the team. Given that Newcastle play Peter Ramage and Stephen Taylor in their back 4 they are essentially only playing 2 defenders themselves so it should even itself out.

8. Curbing Everybody's Enthusiasm

What on earth is going on when Javier Mascherano, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Konchesky and Mark Noble cannot get into our squad of 16 but Shaun Newton, fresh from failing a drugs test and not playing a match in 7 months is guaranteed a spot?

I'm all for Nigelling up in the middle of the park if it means we get our foot in a bit more often but come on, why is this guy still getting paid?

9. We're Consistent At One Thing

Our continued ability to let the detritus of the Premiership score against us. Not content with letting Mido do it, we upped (or lowered depending on how you view it) the bar by letting DaMarcus Beasley and Kevin Davies notch before finally settling on the excess waste material that is Tomas Radzinski. Of course, he did score his goal inadvertantly but apparently they all count.

10. Yossi!

Great to have you back mate. Absolutely no idea where you've been all season but it's a pleasure to have someone on the pitch who looks able to create something for himself.

And boy doesn't he just love a chip against this lot?

11. You Show 'Em Bob

It's de rigeur these days at those moments of Halley's Comet-like frequency when England take a wicket, for the guys involved to roll the ball back to the umpire to enable both hands to be free for some high five action. At West Ham there seems to be a different approach.

Good call from Zamora then to cup his ear to the crowd a la Reo Coker after scoring. As though one goal since September is how you ram the taunts of disgruntled fans back down their throats. And they wonder why footballers are viewed with all the love and affection of solicitors and traffic wardens.

12. Back To The Future

I'm sorry to say this but this season has all the hallmarks of our Roederian relegation. An unisipiring manager, injuries at key positions and a chronic lack of belief on the pitch. What is different is that we have a huge warchest to spend - it's just that no one wants any of it. We're being turned down like a Robbie Williams CD at my wedding. Frequently, quickly and with much abuse. Any time someone decides that they're not leaving Watford to come to you, it is a bad day.

My own preferences would be for another striker - David Nugent would be my target, and a centre back - at this point, anyone with an intact groin would suit me.

Of course, deep down I believe that our current squad are good enough to escape relegation this year but they have played like it so rarely my faith has been sorely tested.

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

Some people would describe this website as a 'low paid, anarchic mess'.

Which is, of course, an anagram of 'Michael Dawson is crap'. Now I don't want you to think I'm a 'callously shadowless anti-semite' when I say that. Which is of course an anagram of 'Michael Dawson is totally useless'......

Something To Ponder

Those of you who know me well will know that Mrs Shark and Ms Shark Junior are now in New Zealand pending my arrival in a couple of weeks.

Aside from the very real fear that I may have scurvy by the time I get there, I will also not really be able to update The H List during the month of February.

Therefore, if there is any one out there who fancies writing it for a few games then please, let me know. The pay ain't great and the hours are shocking but you do get to coat Michael Dawson so it does have it's perks.......

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

West Ham 3 - 0 Brighton (And Other Ramblings)

1. Trades Description Act - Possible Lawsuit

Here's my match report. We won. Tree - and I mean a large redwood - mendous.

Now, with the match thoroughly dealt with, how about moving on to something more interesting?

As we teeter ever more dangerously on the precipice I thought I might take a look back over our glorious travails to this point. Be warned this is an 18 rated article:

(Marks range from 1 - 10, 1 being Ashton Kutcher and 10 being Dean Ashton. Have a guess how many 10's there are.......)


Robert Green - Apps: 14

It is fairly unusual for a keeper who has conceded as many goals as Green has to still be so universally popular but that probably shows that most fans are well aware of the fact that our daring decision to play this season without a back 4 has left him ever so slightly exposed.

Clean sheets against Man Utd and Arsenal augur well for better days ahead, although the 10 goals conceded at Bolton and Reading must have made him long for Norwich and the days when he only used to let in 3 away from home in the Premiership.

Finding a West Ham keeper who can actually kick is a rarity though. Sort of like a Spice Girl who can sing. Almost mythical.

Best Performance : Man Utd (h)

Mark : 6/10

Roy Carroll - Apps: 8

Pertinently, nobody is going to look back on Roy's season and remember the football. It will always be the season that he made the front page of The Sun as he underwent treatment for gambling and alcohol addiction.

Thankfully he didn't let a little thing like that get in the way of attending the team Christmas party at Stringfellows where he still managed to let his hair down with the lads.

Has been displaced by Green and won't be back soon, barring injury. His decline was evidenced by the fact that he last kept a clean sheet when Queen Victoria was on the throne.

Best Performance : Watford (a)

Mark : 4/10


John Paintsil - Apps : 3 (2)

I knew this bloke was going to be trouble when he somehow forced the Ghanaian FA to comment on the Middle Eastern troubles by exuberantly waving an Israeli flag around at the World Cup. In fairness, I suspect that the Ghanaian FA might well do a better job of managing the Middle East peace crisis but that's not really the point.

When he arrived in the UK there was a problem with his contract as we had spelt his name wrong, although it must be said that this was only because his passport had the incorrect name on it to begin with. Nothing dubious there then.

All of that aside, he has proved to be Tomas Repka in reverse. Great going forward and appalling defensively, hitting a nadir when being outpaced by Edgar Davids at tottenham.

Best Performance: Liverpool (a)

Mark : 5/10

Tyrone Mears - Apps : 3 (2)

Arrived from Olympic diving champions Preston North End and spent much of his early West Ham career lying down, looking perplexed. At this point my main concern is whether I should be calling him Ty or Tyrone. I'm a simple man and I need to know these things.

Likely to be sold for £365,000 to Stoke on July 27th 2007. I wish I could be more precise for you, I really do.

Best Performance : Aston Villa (h)

Mark : 3/10

Jonathan Spector - Apps: 14 (1)

Has been the least usless of our myriad right backs. Was AWOL for much of the season before coming in against Palermo and not looking totally inept. Also got away with an awful knee high tackle on Robin van Persie which endeared him to me greatly.

Best hair on the team, sightly negated by the fact that being an American he doubtless refers to the game as "soccer".

Best Performance : Arsenal (h)

Mark : 5/10

Christian Dailly - Apps : 6 (3)

Ah Christian. If all our players were as committed as you we'd be sitting pretty in 13th place mistakenly thinking that a UEFA Cup spot was there for the taking. If all our players were as talented as you we'd be Millwall.

The fact that Dailly has featured at all this year is testament to his own enduring longevity and the total lack of fight from the rest of them, so evident during some of our more hideous defeats.

Single handedly destroyed my vision of Man City's Stephen Jordan as a good player by flitting past him effortlessly during the recent home defeat.

If ever a man was destined to play in wet, muddy conditions and look good doing it, then it's our Christian. What a haircut.

Best Performance : Man City (h)

Mark : 6/10

James Collins - Apps : 6

I lead the clarion call for his inclusion earlier in the year when we just couldn't seem to find it within ourselves not to concede before I'd even sat down. He came in a few times and did nothing to justify my faith in him. So he should consider himself off my Christmas card list. That'll learn him.

Has been mostly injured, and frankly if he can't get into this back 4 then something is a bit amiss.

I saw him in Romford one day after training and I can confirm he is extremely tall.

Best Perfomance : Man Utd (h)

Mark : 4/10

Anton Ferdinand - Apps : 19

He drives a Baby Bentley apparently.

Another of the 'must do better' club. Reputedly a leading member of the clique and certainly a prime culprit in a season that has been derailed by off the field garbage. There is precious little excuse for being caught on CCTV going in to Faces nightclub at all, let alone alledgedly being caught doing a bit of GBH right outside.

A shame because his footballing progress since I first saw him as a callow youth at Preston on the first day of the 2003/04 season has been remarkable.

Caught 'dancing' on that bloody Reo-Coker video too.

Best Performance : Man Utd (h)

Mark : 5/10

Danny Gabbidon - Apps : 17

I'm not sure I've ever seen a footballer regress so quickly from one year to the next. Impeccable last season, he has been dire for much of this year. No doubt he has been affected by the fact that he was injured through pre-season but he gave away a penalty on the opening day and hasn't looked forward since.

Has somehow escaped being dropped, so possibly in possesion of some incriminating photographs.


Best Performance : Arsenal (h)

Mark : 4/10

Paul Konchesky - Apps : 20

Ol' Blue Eyes. Where art thou? Give me back my languid, always looks knackered, sweet swinging full back and take back this imposter you've left me with. I can trace his demise back precisely to the moment that he got into the England squad. It seems that one week with Eriksson and Maclaren has decimated his confidence completely and he has subsequently declined and fallen like a Roman Empire.

Passes with all the accuracy one might expect of a man supplanted in the Charlton side by 64 year old Chris Powell.

Best Performance : Aston Villa (h)

Mark : 5/10

George McCartney - Apps : 2 (6)

Prime member of the "I'm not as bad as you think I am" club. Admittedly that is a club with a very select membership these days at Upton Park. Has overcome the double whammy of being Northern Irish and learning his football at Sunderland to forge a useful role in the squad for us. That in itself should tell you all you need to know about our season so far.

Makes Victoria Beckham look beefy.

Best Performance : Arsenal (h)

Mark : 6/10


Nigel Reo-Coker - Apps: 21

It probably seemed like a reasonable purchase. Maybe £40, stick it on for a night out and not worry about it. Unfortunately then a film crew came round and got some footage of you 'dancing' like an epilepsy sufferer whilst wearing it and now you've been universally villified.

Bet that Nige regrets buying that "Billionaire Boys Club" t-shirt now.

A fall from grace of epic proportions, mostly brought about by a stinking attitude and an agent with ice for brains. The tigerish little chap of last year has been replaced by an ego the size of Roseanne Barr and he's showing about as much ability.

A move might do him good. Then again it might not (think Shaun Wright Phillips). He just needs to forget about leaving and try and remember how hard he had to work to get out from where he was just two season ago. (And if you can't remember Nigel it was on the bench behind Steve Lomas and Carl Fletcher).

Now that we have signed Quashie we have by some distance the most amount of Nigel's in the Premiership.

Best Perfomance : Arsenal (h)

Mark : 4/10

Hayden Mullins - Apps : 20 (2)

A somewhat controversial choice perhaps but my Player of the Season so far. Now that's a bit like being voted Britain's Most Honourable Politician but, there you go, someone has to win it.

Responded well to being dropped earlier in the season and has been steady if unspectacular since then. Has played poorly at times but the sad fact is that no one in our squad has even approached consistency this year.

Tellingly, he is our second top goal scorer with 3.

Best Performance : Blackburn (h)

Mark : 7/10

Matthew Etherington - Apps : 16 (1)

An excrutiating season so far for our bambi legged lefty. Has performed so badly at times that he actually managed to make Andy van der Meyde look competent in our away game at Everton. Seems likely to move on now that we have acquired Luis Boa Morte and could actually end up replacing him at Fulham where his fluffy brand of football should fit right in.

Despite all of the above a large proportion of our goals do tend to start on our left hand side.

About as good defensively as the French Army.

Best Perfomance : Arsenal (h)

Mark : 4/10

Yossi Benayoun - Apps : 14 (4)

Yet another who has fallen off more rapidly than a drunken jockey. Rewarded for a patchily impressive first season with a ridiculous wage hike and has played like a man with his mind on other things. Looks lightweight, out of form, disinterested and yet frustratingly, remains our sole source of creativity in midfield.

Described our display at Reading as "...playing like drunks.." which is somewhat disingenous because when drunk people are being humiliated they usually show a bit of fight.

Best Performance : Charlton (h)

Mark : 3/10

Lee Bowyer - Apps : 13 (2)

Started brilliantly and then faded like jeans in the sun. It's scarcely credible that this player was once one of Europe's most feared attacking midfielders given that he has still yet to score for us in his two stints.

Hit the post at Liverpool when he really should have scored and it's tempting to think that had that gone in both his and our season's would have been very different. Still likes a scrap and does work hard but something is missing from his game.

The woman who sits in front of me steadfastly refuses to clap him and instead turns round and folds her arms when his name is read out. I admire her dedication if nothing else.

Best Perfomance : Charlton (h)

Mark : 5/10

Javier Mascherano - Apps : 3 (2)

Remember that heady day in September when we signed two Argentinian World Cup stars? "We're going to win the UEFA Cup" I thought, "In fact, we'll probably win the Boat Race too".

So quickly can wild expectations turn to dust. He looked great in his first game and subsequently looked mystified at having to play against people like Jermain Jenas. I have been calling for him to be given a chance. mostly on the basis that he can hardly do any worse than our current midfield but first Pardew and latterly Curbishley have studiously ignored him.

Is now likely to be squeezed out by the arrival of Nigel Quashie, which is a sentence I never thought I'd write. There are lots of rumours surrounding him, the most credible of which being that in order for him to leave he needs to be able to demonstrate to FIFA that his career is being harmed by staying at West Ham, something that can best be proved by us not picking him. And you thought it was a something stupid.

Likely to go down as the biggest waste of talent in our history. Which is truly saying something.

Best Performance : Palermo (h)

Mark : 4/10


Bobby Zamora - Apps : 17 (1)

There are those who sing that he is better than Jermain. These people are on drugs. Unless they're meaning Germaine Greer - I don't really know.

Has put in some performances so bad that dogs in the surrounding streets have simply laid down and died. Bobby's first touch can have that effect on you.

Is our leading scorer despite not finding the net since the Aqe of Aquarius. In fact, if you get a minute go on to You Tube and look up his goals this season. How many do you think were confidently and deliberately struck into the net? I'm not complaining but you'll see what I mean.

Best Performance : Charlton (h)

Mark : 5/10

Teddy Sheringham - Apps : 4 (13)

It is a scathing comment on the rest of this shower that a 40 year old who has started just 4 league games all season came quite close to winning the Player of the Year. Teddy remains the player with the best technique and finishing skill at the club, even if he appears to be relying on alchemy to continue turning out at his age at all.

Proved that those dimples have lost none of their potent charm by dating the winner of the Miss UK competition. Purely coincidentally, Teddy was a judge in that same competition. What a guy. (What are the qualifiations for judging one of those things by the way?)

Best Perfomance : Blackburn (h)

Mark : 7/10

Marlon Harewood - Apps : 14 (8)

Just one league goal all season, but what a goal it was. Has otherwise looked a pale shadow of the 14 goal player we saw last year. Incredibly it turns out that Marlon was destined for the World Cup before getting injured in the FA Cup Final. Sometimes life is just a little too weird for me.

Noticeably lacking in confidence and seems to have been guilty of resting on his laurels after an impressive first year. Has been linked with a move to Charlton as part of a swap deal for Darren Bent. If that does materialise I imagine you'll see Alan Pardew walking round with his arm in a sling after we bite his hand off.

Best Performance : A Question of Sport (Sept 2006)

Mark : 4/10

Carlton Cole - Apps 1 (10)

Scored within 30 seconds of his debut and it's been all downhill since. Conceivably could have played more, but then he actually could have turned up to training a bit more aswell.

I've struggled to see what all the fuss was about with Carlton though. He's certainly physically imposing but he's not particularly mobile and he's not exactly been putting it about up there.

It will be interesting to see how much he plays under Curbishley as they apparently had a bit of a falling out during his time at Charlton, although that's a story you hear about pretty much everyone who played over there. Which is something to look forward to.

Best Performance : Reading (h)

Mark : 4/10

Carlos Tevez - Apps : 7 (6)

The man who would be king. Our pint sized saviour who tries harder than anyone who has his kind of reputation usually does. The harsh fact remains that he has yet to score, although it's not for the want of trying.

Would be in my side every week as it's difficult to believe that he won't come good at some point, and in this side "coming good" constitutes scoring twice.

Have a look at his hair in the photos flashed up on the big screen before games. Awesome.

Best Performance : Everton (a)

Mark : 6/10

And Finally

I haven't rated Shaun Newton on the grounds that I don't even think he should be in our employ, let alone on the pitch. Mark Noble is a miniature hero of mine so he can have 9/10. Jimmy Walker gets 8/10 for saving that Lampard penalty two years ago and Kyel Reid gets a 10/6 on the grounds that he must be dyslexic.

Welcome to Nigel Quashie, a modern day Jonah, and "Hola" to Luis Boa Morte who came for love of the club and a boatload of cash. God Bless You both.

We have been linked with pretty much every other footballer in possession of all their limbs so I won't comment too much, except to say that we have not one underwear model in our current squad to my knowledge so let's do everything we can to get Freddie Ljungberg.

Oh, and if Jeremy Nicholas plays "The Great Escape" at any point we've had it......

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

West Ham vs Man City/Reading (And Other Massacres)

1. People Love A Crisis

A curious fact for you. I have received more emails today asking me about where this blog was than I have after any other game this year. My theory is that no matter how hard we try nobody can resist slowing down to look at a car wreck.

2. I Dunno

While sifting through the wreckage of these latest crimes against football I did wonder how on earth I was going to be able to write this column. Not that there is a lack of content but I've somehow got to convey the molten vitriol that has been building up inside of me since about twenty minutes into the Man City game.

And by the way, don't go overlooking that particular cup of coffee. I know it's hard to get past the smouldering ashes of the Reading debacle but that was a spectacularly insipid display aswell.

Right then, into the breach - feel free to set fire to your head at any point. I know I tried on Saturday but I was sadly thwarted by El Nino.

West Ham 0 - 1 Man City

1. My Preview - In Review

Due to my laptop deciding to emulate the West Ham midfield and not working, I wasn't able to post my Man City preview. I only wrote one line due to some excesses at Christmas and a chronic inability to find anything vaguely interesting to post. And here it is in it's entirety - feel free to ask Papa Shark if you think I'm lying:

"I really can't be bothered to write much about this game. It has all the potential to be the dullest game in Premiership history. Prepare to be bored."

2. I Wasn't Wrong

I don't think I can simply point the finger at our cretins alone for this insult to all footballers everywhere. Man City were dire but they did manage to be less useless than us. Which is all that's required I guess but Bejeesus, was this game ever excruciating.

Stuart Pearce's post match assertion that City deserved the points was probably as good an indication as any that everyone involved with football is completely deluded. Like those Bolton fans who still cling to the misguided belief that they are a good footballing side, or the West Ham fans who go to our away games thinking that we might, y'know, score.

Dreamers, one and all.

3. Just One Thing

Short sleeve shirts and gloves - how does that work?

4. The Stats

According to MoTD we had 58% possession and converted that into 3 shots on target with our usual Brazilian style display of slick passing and movement.

This game was such an affront to football that God himself tried to end it by sending down a deluge of Biblical proportions in the second half, presumably to try and kill everybody involved. Interestingly the only man I would absolve from blame is a Christian - Mr Dailly was by some considerable distance the best player on the pitch.

I'd normally make a sarcastic comment here but I don't think I will. Good on you mate - you're just about the only one who didn't make me want to staple my eyelids to my lips on Saturday.

5. The Opposition

Jesus himself said "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone". Admirable sentiments indeed (if a little preachy) but I cannot in good conscience describe Man City as anything other than garbage.

And by far the worst thing about it was the fact that the winning goal was scored by a man named DaMarcus.

6. Analogies

To give you a real idea of the breathtaking awfulness of this display I'm going to try and make a few comparisons for you all:

This was - the music of James Blunt : the film career of Jennifer Lopez : the 'sitcom' Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps : a root canal : a novel by Jordan : the mumps : a holiday in Faliraki : a flat tyre on the M25 : a physics class : the Central Line : those weird furry Ugg boots : Robert Kilroy-Silk : reality TV...................

7. A Puzzle

I found this a curious team selection. Despite looking like the only spark of life on Boxing Day Carlos Tevez was again left on the bench, this time as Teddy Sheringham moved ahead of him in the pecking order. This despite the fact that the latter is now so old he can now barely move after 50 minutes of action and has consistently proved that he is now ideally suited to a 15 minute cameo at the end of games.

Curbishley's team selections are beginning to annoy me. His apparent belief that the foreign players (namely Tevez and Mascherano) are not up to the battle is cause for ire given that the clowns he is picking instead are no more up for it and don't possess any of the skill. I'd also add Mark Noble into the former category aswell.

Bringing on Tevez and wasting him out the left wing was a strange move also, especially as Papa Shark and I had a 5 minute conversation as to whether or not Marlon Hareweood was still playing at that point, so anonymous had he been.

I'm not suggesting that either of the Argentines are the sole answers to our problems, especially given that our defence seems to consist only of verbal incantations at this point, but we have tried the grafters and it's not working. All I'm saying is that having two players in the side who keep hold of the ball is not that bad a proposition, because when we have the ball I am assuming that we cannot, at least, concede.

Although you never can tell.......


1. I Always Knew Reading Was Bad For You

"Happy New Year!" Lots of love, the players and management of West Ham United.

2. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word*

Before I even get on to the disgrace that was the period 3.00pm - 4.45pm on New Years Day please indulge me whilst I make what I feel is a salient point:

Alan, if you ever again send out a team that loses 6-0 and don't somehow manage to incorporate the word "Sorry" into your post match interview then might I respectfully suggest that you won't last all that long in E13.

The hardy 4,000 Hammers who made the trip to Berkshire deserved that much at least.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say they should have got MBE's. And if you think I'm over stating that then consider that they gave one to talent vacuum June Sarpong and then tell me I'm crazy.

*Oh, and Macc, I know that "Sorry...." is a song for some rubbishy boy band or something similar but I'm sure you'll excuse me this once.

3. Right Then

I'm not sure quite where to begin here. I have desperately tried not to make quick fire knee jerk reactions throughout this season but there has to come a point when this shower become fair game.

Conceding 6 goals to anyone is disgusting but doing it against a team that play music when they score a goal is really just rubbing it in. Nouveau football hell at the plastic purgatory.

4. The Stats

Ahem. I know I do tend to put a certain store in statistics but even I can't bring myself to focus on anything other than the one, rather large number shining out from the ruins of this defeat. And that number is 6.

5. The Opposition

Reading have now taken 6 points off us this year, as have Portsmouth and as will several other average Joes before this God forsaken season finishes. Despite my assertion that this is the worst ever Premiership no blame for that can be laid at the door of Reading. They have been a splendid addition this year and whilst it is a tired cliche, it is somewhat true that they are this seasons West Ham.

All of which is very nice but it's also true that they are almost the polar opposite of West Ham circa 2006/07 . Hungry, organised, hard working, spirited and talented.

Their fans are still of the happy clappy, just discovered "soccer" variety though.

6. Department Of Silver Linings

I don't actually know any Reading fans.

7. How To Break Up That Clique

Great idea to drop Mark Noble from the squad and replace him with drugs cheat Shaun Newton. Leaving aside the actual question as to why we are still employing a man who failed a drugs test, it does send a fantastic message to all our young players when we pass them over for a player so committed to the club that he was taking cocaine on the eve of our first semi final in 16 years.

There are a couple of great articles on the problems at the club, clique and all, on the Daily Mail website. Swallow your socialist principles and have a look at these:



8. Hubris Begets Humiliation

One confusing accusation being levelled at our current team everywhere I look on the Web:

On the one hand they are being accused of being "Big Time Charlies" whilst they are also being called out as being gutless and lacking confidence. Something of a contradiction there.

So, are they so arrogant now that they simply believe that the teams fate is now clearly separated from their own, and that irrespective of whether we are relegated they will still be playing in the Premiership next year? Or are they tottering at the other end of the spectrum whereby their confidence is so shot that they are now hiding on the pitch, bereft of the will to compete?

I have no idea, all I know is that I barely recognise half of these guys from last year.

9. Numbers

One aspect of this defeat that hasn't been touched upon is the goal difference factor. At (-21) we are now clearly separated from everyone in the league except for our close pals over at Charlton.

Those of you who recall our relegation year in 2002/03 will know that going into that fateful last day of the season we were well adrift of Bolton in terms of goal difference and meant that we had to win and hope they didn't because had we finished level on points we were gone.

That's why I wasn't so critical of Curbishley's decision to replace a striker with a full back when we were 4-0 down. It could have actually made a difference at the end of the year.

It really is straw clutching of the highest order when you're trying to draw positives from keeping the score down to 6 though.

10. Curb Your Enthusiasm

So what of Curbishley? What interests me about him is that he has been quite succesful in lowering everybody's expectations to the point that if the team all walk out on the pitch wearing the same kit we're viewing it as a great success.

I am also not overly enamoured of his line - "It was like this when I got here". I prefer my managers a bit more stoic than that I must say.

The bottom line is that Curbishley was an uninspired choice as manager and he has presided over a large number of uninspiring teams in his career. Of course we'd all crave a bit of unisnspired doggedness right now in lieu of abject cluelessness but I digress.

It is not Curbishley who allowed Nicky Shorey to waltz up the middle of our defence for the fourth goal, but he must live and die with his players and fair or not he is being judged on these performances.

All of that being said - Pardew left the place in a hell of a mess didn't he?

11. My Theory

You won't like this but I'm going to throw it out there anyway. Go back to 1998/99 and have a look at our league placings and form for each year since then.

My thought is that instead of viewing this year as an anomaly we should be looking at it the other way round. Last year was an amazing year for an average team. We have routinely been a very mediocre side under Redknapp, Roeder and Pardew with the odd exception such as Roeder's first year, and of course last year.

The two seasons in the Championship were dire and we have reverted right back to that form this year.

Could it be then, that Curbishley's unambitious style of management is actually right in line with how this club has performed in recent years?

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

Even I can't manage anything when I'm in this sort of mood.................

Monday, January 01, 2007

With Apologies

1. New Year - Old Feelings

So my PC died over the holiday period. I don't quite know what I'm going to do about it as I've tried turning it off and then on again. I'm all out of ideas.

Anyway - it does mean that my posts are going to dry up for a while as I try and get it sorted out. So apologies for that.

At least as I write this we aren't 4-0 down at half time versus a promoted side.

Don't worry though - Shaun Newton's back from his drug suspension. No need for Javier Mascherano any more. For God's sake - give me strength.

I'll try and post again after our inevitable 5 goal comeback.

Happy New Year.