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

Friday, May 18, 2007

The H List : End Of Year Player Ratings (And Other Ramblings)

And so before The H List flutters off into the sunset to ponder the feasibility of signing Carlos Tevez, whether "Canada's Next Top Model" can ever be as good as "America's Next Top Model" and resolving the Iraq issue, I firstly present to you the end of season player ratings and awards. Not content with issuing my own faint praise I have collated the votes of literally seven's of loyal readers and added these in too. So, without further ado:


Robert Green: Games: 26

It's really saying something when you leave Norwich and the defence in front of you gets worse. Sadly for Green he chose to join us in the year that our back four decided to not so much pour fuel on the defensive fire as wander round equipped with flame throwers.

It's hard to judge a keeper in such circumstances and there is certainly no doubt that Green himself was inconsistent for parts of the year. Crucially, when the need arose he was up to the challenge and performed brilliantly at the end of the season, including a miraculous one man show at the Emirates.

Has the added bonus of being Not Roy Carroll.

Mark: 7/10

Best Performance: Arsenal (a)

Roy Carroll: Games: 12 - Bookings: 2

It's always pleasing when your goalkeeper picks up more bookings than three of your centre backs despite spending more time in The Priory than in your goal. Didn't manage a Premier League clean sheet all year and by the end he was pretty much forgotten as Green reminded us all of what a top class goalkeeper could do when sober.

Carroll's season reached a shocking nadir when he was pictured in the london paper at a poker tournament, looking significantly older than companion Teddy Sheringham.

Mark: 3/10

Best Performance: Watford (a)


James Collins: Games: 16 - Bookings: 4

A season of significant progress for Collins as he saw off the challenges from the multitude of centre backs now at the club, and played an instrumental part in the end of season miracle. Physical strength and bravery make up for a lack of pace and some weird positional play, although he has a tendency to be exposed by top class strikers. Not that the latter proliferate in the Premier League.

And by the way, I don't think it would be unfair for at least one of our ten trillion defenders to score a bloody goal now and again.

Collins will start next season in possession of the jersey but may find himself out of favour as more illustrious companions return. Given the history of our medical department, he shouldn't worry too much - he will get another chance.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Man Utd (a)

Christian Dailly: Games: 10 (4) - Bookings: 1

Ah, Christian - the love of my life. Or so the song goes. In fact he did rather well this year considering that he's not really very good at football. A man for inclement weather and horrible games, and sadly we had plenty of both this year. Doubtless he will move on next year and he should leave as a valued servant, and hopefully with a plan to write an autobiography as I'd definitely buy it. Imagine the things he's seen.

Tellingly he managed to play in just one League victory all year, and in just one minute of the game at that.

Never was a man less suited to wearing the number 7 shirt.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Man City (h)

Calum Davenport: Games: 5 (1) - Bookings: 1

Signed in January, possibly accidentally, as Curbishley tried to increase his squad size to match that of the US Army in Iraq. Unfeasibly tall and thin, but with the accompanying aerial strength to match. A Herculean debut at Newcastle was followed by some indifferent form and, naturally, an injury.

Another who didn't play in a victory all year. This in itself doesn't make him useless, it simply makes him a West Ham January signing.

I don't see where he will fit in next year and may not survive the summer cull. I assume we are having a cull aren't we? I mean, sweet Jesus, our laundry bill alone must be equal to the GDP of Gambia.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Newcastle (a)

Anton Ferdinand: Games: 31 - Bookings: 5

Yes, there are a couple of things to cover here.

Possibly the stupidest man in the known Universe. Thinking that his ABH charge was unlikely to win him enough respect with whomever it is that cares about things like this, he was also caught skipping training to jet off to Carolina for a drink, and subsequently had a ruck at Time and Envy thereafter. I have not the words.

(And why in the name of Batman or Robin would you go to Time and Envy after your trip to Faces ended up in a Crown Court trial? Hey Anton! Get both your brain cells and rub them together, see if you can start us a fire in here will you?)

Probably would be sold if it weren't for the fact that the possibility of incarceration can tend to reduce a transfer fee somewhat. A shame as he is an excellent player when he puts his mind to it. Which is not something I ever want to be relying on.

Not sure if I ever mentioned it but he also allowed Jon Fucking Stead to score against him.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Wigan (a)

Daniel Gabbidon: Games: 18 - Bookings: 1

Oft injured and seemingly sorely missed when absent. Which is ironic as he was woeful when he was fit. It probably didn't help that our medical team appear to have tried to treat his injuries using voodoo.

For the period when his groin was intact he looked diffident and hesitant, and failed spectacularly to recapture his form of a year ago. Quite possibly put off by the fact that he allowed Georgios Samaras to score twice against him in September. Yes, that's Samaras who scored 4 League goals all year. Not to mention that it's the same Man City side who scored 10 Home League goals all year.

I'm just off to headbutt the nearest iron pole.

Mark: 5/10

Best Performance: Arsenal (h)

Paul Konchesky: Games: 22 - Bookings: 7 - Sendings Off: 1

Painful. The decline that was so evident at the end of last year simply worsened before Curbishley arrived and promptly fell out with Konchesky again. Displaced by George McCartney, quite possibly as a result of not making a single accurate pass in the entire first half of the season.

Last seen not hacking down Jermain Defoe when needs really did must in the last minute against tottenham.

Mark: 4/10

Best Performance: Aston Villa (h)

George McCartney: Games: 16 (6) - Bookings: 4

The biggest surprise of the season, apart from the chilling moment when I realised Luis Boa Morte was on the pitch at Wigan. Young George proved to be far more consistent than anyone who learnt his trade at Sunderland has a right to be.

His late season form coincided with our defence not looking drunk for the last ten games of the year, and I have actually elevated him to the title of The H List Player Of The Year.

Explanation and inevitable backlash below.

Mark: 8/10

Best Performance: Wigan (a)

Tyrone Mears: Games: 3 (2) - Bookings: 1

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain." Oh and by the way, I also once saw Tyrone Mears appear in a Play Off Semi Final with "Tye" on the back of his shirt. Azkaban beckons.

Utterly, utterly pointless.

Mark : 3/10

Best Performance: Are you having a laugh?

Lucas Neill: Games: 11 - Bookings: 2

Not particularly fast, nor particularly technical but he is particularly Antipodean and therefore manages to get past all of these things and still be brilliant. I love him.

My favourite Australian. Not hard, admittedly, but the fact that he doesn't possess an indecipherable googly helps a great deal. (That's a cricket reference for all you American readers - I haven't started using a foreign language. Obmistop partakgfh)

Joined in a blaze of publicity, mostly around the fact that his wage packet was roughly equivalent to NASA's budget, and got injured within twenty minutes or so. As is tradition. Returned fit and well to lead us to safety and should take over the captaincy next year.

Also lead the team in assists according to the Actim statistics, which says absolutely nothing about the quality of our creative players.

Mark: 12/10

Best Performance: Arsenal (a)

John Paintsil: Games: 3 (2) - Bookings: 1

As a concept, John Paintsil was passable. A member of the really rather excellent Ghana team at the World Cup, his early season showings inspired some optimism, before he began to display all the spatial awareness of a coat hanger.

With hindsight, his signing was pretty strong evidence that Pardew had begun to lose whatever plot he was following at the time. Reached a season low by being out paced by Edgar Davids. Edgar Davids, I ask you? There are tectonic plates that shift faster.

Mark: 4/10

Best Performance: Liverpool (a)

Jonathan Spector: Games: 17 (8) - Bookings: 5

A grower. The footballing equivalent of REM. He's probably not immediately obvious in his usefulness, but eventually you begin to see some good things in there.

I'm not trying to pretend that he's especially talented or even the best of our regiment of right backs, but he's committed and doesn't appear all that intent on taking up drinking as a method of training, which sets him a apart from quite a few of our squad.

Has a tendency to unveil one horrific tackle per match. So long as he keeps aiming at the likes of Robin van Persie, I can live with it.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Arsenal (h)

Matthew Upson: Games: 2

What do you mean, who?

Seems a likeable enough bloke, if only for the fact that he told Steve Bruce where to go when he publicly questioned his loyalty. Yes folks, that was Steve Bruce with the shameless lack of self awareness.

Managed a whole 11 minutes against tottenham during which time he didn't appear to be committing tax fraud. Other than that I am simply not able to comment.

Will either go on to be a very solid signing for us, or will go down as the biggest waste of money in our history. Which is really saying something.

Mark: Can someone get a mark after only 41 minutes? Oh alright then, 5/10.

Best Performance: Aston Villa (a) (A whopping 30 minute period of Not Getting Injured, followed by a whole lot of Getting Injured)


Yossi Benayoun: Games: 25 (4) - Bookings: 4 - Goals: 3

Did a passable impression of a complete tool for most of the season. Innocuous and apparently unimpressed at the notion of having to fight for his place. So much so that at any given opportunity he cried off injured, whilst miraculously being fit for Israel's European Qualifiers.

When fit and motivated, however, he remains our sole source of creativity not ensconced in a Wigan baiting Carlos Tevez sized body. His 2 goal bravura performance against Fulham was a thing to behold and his form in the run in was crucial to our success/staying up (I'm not sure that the latter can ever be the former).

Scored a goal against Wigan that was so good I spontaneously combusted.

Has apparently been persuaded to stay with a(nother) ridiculous wage hike. Because the first one produced such a positive response.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Fulham (h)

Luis Boa Morte: Games: 8 (6) - Bookings: 1 - Goals: 1

I'm not sure if any of you have ever picked up on this but I don't really rate Luis Boa Morte. Shocking I know, but I tend to view him as essentially being cellular waste. You probably didn't notice the subtle nuances in the writing.

Signed for £5.5m and immediately fell over. Probably. I can't deny that I have seen him play well, just never for us. Indeed his performance against Chelsea is probably the worst I have ever seen from a West Ham player. The sort of thing to make you question why exactly it is that we should Just Be Saying No to drugs?

Redeemed himself with a goal at Wigan but highlighted both the Arsenal and Man Utd away victories by missing glorious chances that my 18 month old daughter could have done better with.

Portuguese - so really should be a much better diver.

Mark: 4/10

Best Performance: Bolton (h)

Lee Bowyer: Games: 18 (2) - Bookings: 5

Started brightly, flickered, disappeared for a bit, returned again, looked alright but not that good and then disappeared into the Great Abyss where Curbishley keeps all our under performing midfielders in a giant locker.

Sacrificed, quite possibly literally, after the 3-0 debacle at Sheffield United and has not been seen since. Still hasn't scored for us, which is officially impossible when you consider that our third top scorer this year was Hayden Mullins.

Another to have fallen out with Curbishley, which seems to be some sort of initiation ceremony.

Mark: 5/10

Best Performance: Charlton (h)

Matthew Etherington: Games: 24 (3) - Bookings: 2

Another of the must do better club. Or often in Etherington's case - Must Do Something, Anything, You Lazy Coward.

Had his moments, for sure, notably shrugging of Mathieu Flamini to create our last minute winner against Arsenal. (Note that shrugging off Flamini requires not so much skill as not expiring in the process).

Has indicated that he fancies a move and I doubt anyone will be barring the door. Has struggled with gambling problems, which also appears to be some sort of initiation rite at West Ham.

Mark: 4/10

Best Performance: Arsenal (a)

Javier Mascherano: Games: 3 (2) - Bookings: 1

You might have heard about this. The Argentine World Cup star who joined West Ham and couldn't displace Hayden Mullins or Nigel Quashie, so instead moved on to Liverpool where he displaced Xabi Alonso and will now play in the Champions League final.

Nigel Quashie?! Surely you jest? There are mollusc's who could displace Nigel Quashie from the West Ham team.

Anyway, this was an almost incredible waste of talent, and one of the many reasons why I don't quite buy into the Curbishley for Mayor campaign. I say almost, as this is West Ham and it seems somewhat inevitable that signing a player of this quality would lead to heartache. As opposed to Athens, where it has led Liverpool.

Never played in a game where we either scored or won any points. I kid you not. Can now consider himself as a true West Ham fan at least.

Mark: 4/10

Best Performance: Palermo (h)

Hayden Mullins: Games: 21 (9) - Bookings: 4 - Goals: 2

My Player of the Year at the half way stage, but I think the accolade went to his head as he busied himself playing like a drain for quite a while after. Saw off the challenge of Mascherano only to be unfairly dropped, however, for Nigel Quashie (as is anybody who is dropped for Nigel Quashie) and was reduced to the role of late defensive substitute towards the end. This is the equivalent of repelling the Roman Empire and subsequently being invaded by Andorra.

Will always be remembered for allowing Linvoy Primus (3 career goals at the time) to score twice against him on Boxing Day. This is theoretically possible under the Laws of the Association Football, but completely impossible under the Laws of Nature.

Conceivably on his way in the summer, which is a shame. Could still be a valuable squad member, and if nothing else, I find his hair fascinating.

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Blackburn (h)

Shaun Newton: Games: 0 (3)

The appendix of the squad. Should have been removed even if he wasn't doing anything.

Returned from a drugs ban straight back into the squad. All while Mascherano and Noble played Top Trumps on the sidelines. Curbishley strikes again.

Now at Leicester and could be mauled by a Triceratops whilst taking his kestrel for a stroll, for all I care.

Mark: 0/10

Best Performance: Leaving

Mark Noble: Games: 10 - Bookings: 1 - Goals: 2

If nothing else, Noble single handedly increased the high five frequency in the team from "Occasional" to "After Every Bloody Tackle". I'll admit that I was expecting to see a "Down Below - You're Too Slow" before too long.

Elsewhere his psychotic desire to succeed has endeared him to a fan base deprived of passion for much of the year. Curbishley may have fallen arse backwards into it, but he did happen upon a very solid midfield pairing in Noble and Reo-Coker.

Has a chance to cement a place next year as his erstwhile partner is likely on his way. Will have to work hard as there is no question that we are looking for substantial upgrades in midfield. Maybe a Javier Mascherano type, but that's just wishful thinking.

Mark: 8/10

Best Performance: Arsenal (a)

Nigel Quashie: Games: 7 - Bookings: 2

We beat it! The curse of Quashie was no match for us! A mere four relegations into his career and the Jonah finally survives the drop. Quite possibly as a direct result of his not being anywhere near the team.

As near to a pointless signing as is possible in this day and age. We might as well have signed Joan Rivers for all the good it did us.

Nigelled our midfield up to the max though. His last appearance was against tottenham, when he limped off to leave us with a midfield of Tevez: Noble : Bowyer : Harewood. It's tough to see how we let in two goals in a minute to end that game.

Mark: 3/10

Best Performance: Newcastle (a)

Nigel Reo-Coker: Games: 35 - Bookings: 13 (Thirteen) - Goals: 1

Ah Nigel. We're always making plans for you. A lot of them involved execution, and certainly I'd like to see your agent be sellotaped naked to the Millenium Eye and covered in bird seed. A shocking start and middle to the season, combined with an awful lot of negative publicity.

Nevertheless he came good when we needed him and gave some Titanic displays at the end of the year. That's Titanic in the sense of "being like a Titan" as opposed to starting off well and sinking badly, killing loads of people with Billy Zane running around all over the place.

Seems likely to join tottenham as their supply of average central midfielders is perilously close to dropping below 20. Any deal should start with the phrase "Give us Tom Huddlestone then" and end with "I don't care how good Jermaine Jenas is at karaoke, it's Huddlestone or nothing. And you weren't poisoned you dumbass".

I actually don't want to see Reo-Coker disappear as I still think there is a decent player in there somewhere and I'm sick of seeing our young players blossom elsewhere (or regress to an amoebic like state in the case of Jermain Defoe).

Mark: 6/10

Best Performance: Wigan (a)


Carlton Cole: Games: 5 (12) - Bookings: 2 - Goals: 2

Carlton Cole started only 5 games all year? Christ, it was a long season.

I don't know what we were expecting out of a man who failed at Villa and Charlton, two teams where the sole criteria for being a success is to not keel over in your medical.

Flitted in and out of the squad all year as one Alan or another was enticed by the physicality and potential, only to be immediately put off by the lack of effort and solitary brain cell.

Scored within 12 seconds of coming on. Should have retired there and then.

Mark: 5/10

Best Performance: Newcastle (a)

Marlon Harewood: Games: 19 (13) - Bookings: 5 - Goals: 3

Oh brother where art thou? An abysmal, Ashton Kutcher type season for big Marlon. With the rest of the Premiership having figured him out - he's big, he's fast, he has the cranial capacity of an Aero bar - poor Marlon looked lost all year.

Briefly flickered at Newcastle as he turned Peter Ramage inside out for 20 minutes, but alas I can't give him too much kudos for this as there are washer women in Liberia who could do that.

All the signs are that he will move on, which is a shame as I still have some faith that he could do a job for us. Sadly, that job might well be stewarding at this point. It is a good thing in one respect though, as it will likely add about 5 years to my father's life expectancy.

Mark: 3/10

Best Performance: Newcastle (a)

Kepa: Games: 1 (7) - Goals: 1

Balder than one might expect for a 23 year old, and miles better in the air than one might expect for a West Ham centre forward. Hence he won't be a West Ham centre forward for much longer.

Did well on debut and quickly regressed to the mean as we dragged him down to our level. Truthfully he isn't built for a Premiership relegation battle and his main contribution to the cause might have been inspiring Bobby Zamora to hitherto unseen levels of performance.

Saw him outside the ground once, had a flash car and a very attractive girlfriend. Imagine my surprise.

Mark: 5/10

Best Performance: Liverpool (h)

Teddy Sheringham: Games: 4 (13) - Bookings: 3 - Goals: 2

The season started well enough as he bagged Miss UK, Danielle Lloyd, possibly as he was the only judge who voted for her. On the pitch it can't be argued that he did okay, despite being old enough to worry about his State Pension.

Disappeared from the scene as his girlfriend started burning crosses on Big Brother, and he began to concentrate more on his burgoening poker career.

Apparently got very upset when we denied him a move to Charlton in the transfer window, which makes me think he didn't quite understand that he would have had to have gone and played for them.

Mark: 6/10

Best Peformance: Blackburn (h)

Pope Carlos Tevez I: Games: 19 (7) - Bookings: 4 - Goals: 7

What is left to say about the little man? How about - he's rubbish! He needs to work on his technique! He's a poor man's Malcolm Christie!

I could say all of these things of course, but it wouldn't make them true. It would just make me an idiot, and therefore ideally placed to write about football for a broadsheet newspaper.

Amidst all the hullabaloo has been missed the fact that mere months ago, Tevez was apparently the root of all our problems. 7 goals later and he is The Messiah. The truth probably lies somewhere in between - neither he or Mascherano should ever have been blamed for the varying incompetencies of the Alan's, whilst it does need to pointed out that it took him 19 games to score.

There was no lack of effort or quality, but things simply didn't seem to run his way. Once the all important first goal went in against tottenham, he was off and so were we, culminating in an identikit 1-0 win at Old Trafford and a severe outbreak of Idiot all over North West England.

The tottenham game remains the greatest goal celebration ever at West Ham.

Mark: 8/10

Best Performance: tottenham (h)

Bobby Zamora: Games: 27 (5) - Bookings: 3 - Sendings Off: 1 - Goals: 11

From a series of displays so bad that dogs in surrounding streets were simply laying down and dying, to a series of displays so good that priests were convinced the Second Coming was imminent. Quite the turnaround from Bobby.

With goals hard to come by, and a seemingly revolving door next to Tevez it badly needed someone to grab the mantle and lead the line. A goal that never crossed the line (my favourite type) at Blackburn, and some sumptuous strikes against Everton and Arsenal. Finished as our leading goalscorer and decidedly not killing dogs with his first touch.

Either the start of a long run in the side or a brief flirtation with greatness, preceding a reversion to mediocrity next year. Either way - cheers Bobby.

Mark: 7/10

Best Performance: Everton (h)

The H List End Of Season Awards

(Least Worst) Player Of The Year

The H List: George McCartney (Also receiving consideration: Tevez, Zamora, Noble)

The H List Readers: Carlos Tevez (Also receiving votes: Green)

Perhaps not surprising. You probably think I'm just being difficult and you might be right, but I have taken the term "Of The Year" literally. I'm not trying to argue that McCartney is a better player than Tevez (I am difficult, not insane), but I am arguing that he has been our most consistent player of the year. I'm not sure I can truly say that a centre forward who went 19 games without a goal has been our best performer over the course of a season.

We wouldn't have stayed up without Tevez, clearly, but we wouldn't have done it without our defence either. No doubt you'll all mock me. I am strong, I will survive (and I'm going on holiday to San Diego next week anyway so I'll get over it).

Performance Of The Year (Team)

The H List: Man United (a) (Also receiving consideration: Wigan (a), Arsenal (a), Man Utd (h))

The H List Readers: Wigan (a) (Also receiving votes: Man Utd (a), tottenham (h), Man Utd (h))

Like a paternal teacher, I admire you callow youths. You're young, I doubt you've ever seen us score 3 times away from home so I don't blame you for getting carried away. But listen.

Old Trafford, last game of the season, you have to win to stay in the Premiership. And you do. I don't want to hear any garbage about weakened teams either. They started with 11 internationals, even if one of them was Wes Brown, who is an "International" in the sense that he has a nationality.

Best Perfomance (Individual)

The H List: Robert Green (Arsenal - A) (Also receiving consideration - Tevez, tottenham - H)

The H List Readers: Robert Green (Arsenal - A) (Also receiving votes: None)

About as close as a "Name Your Favourite Person Called Jesus" competition. The only clean sweep as every voter went for Green. Nothing to see here, move along, West Ham keeper does impression of large brick wall.

Best Goal

The H List: Zamora (Everton - H) (Also receiving consideration: Benayoun (Wigan - A), Benayoun (Fulham - H), Tevez (Man Utd - A))

The H List Readers: Zamora (Everton - H) (Also receving votes: Tevez (tottenham - H), Noble (Bolton - H), Tevez (Chelsea - H), Benayoun (Wigan - A))

For a long time it looked rather like we wouldn't score a decent goal all year. One dodgy goal at Blackburn later and off we went. Every week seemingly produced a gem, with Zamora's belter against Everton winning the popular vote. I did consider choosing Boa Morte against Wigan as it seems churlish not to pick an act of God.

Worst Player

The H List: Marlon Harewood (Also receving consideration: Tyrone Mears, Roy Carroll)

The H List Readers: Marlon Harewood (Also receiving votes: Pretty much all of 'em)

Cheer up Marlon, I doubt you'll appear anywhere on this list again.

Worst Team Performance

The H List: Man City (h) (Also receiving consideration: Charlton (a), Wigan (h), Sheff Utd (a))

The H List Readers: Charlton (a) (Also receving votes: Reading (a), Wigan (h), Bolton (a))

Fair enough, I can't argue with the choice of Charlton, but the capitulation at home to a truly, madly, deeply appalling Man City team simply broke my spirit, topped off nicely by watching a man named DaMarcus waltzing through our back 4 to score the winner.

Depressingly, we could have chosen essentially any away game prior to March.

Worst Individual Perfomance

The H List: Luis Boa Morte (Chelsea - H)

The H List Readers: Marlon Harewood (Watford - H)

And Marlon says "Bugger"

Best Opposition

The H List: Chelsea (Also receiving consideration: Palermo, Reading)

The H List Readers: Chelsea (Also receiving votes: Palermo, Reading, Chesterfield, Watford)

Clearly not for entertainment purposes but rather a grudging admiration for efficient football. Rather like the Galactic Empire. Sure they were evil, genocidal maniacs but you can't deny that they all had the right uniforms, and I'll bet they had an impressive dental plan.

Best Opposition Player

The H List: Dimitar Berbatov (tottenham) (Also receiving consideration: Sidwell (Reading), Huddlestone (tottenham), Essien (Chelsea))

The H List Readers: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) (Also receiving votes: Essien (Chelsea), Berbatov (tottenham), Drogba (Chelsea), Scholes (Man Utd))

Considering that we allowed someone of the dubious quality of Mido to score against us this year you'd have to assume that it can't be that hard to look good against us. Even so, Berbatov looked great, probably accentuated by the cesspit of rubbish around him, and Ronaldo was great all year. Except against us, I would say, but what do I know.

Someone did vote for Michael Dawson. Michael Dawson, presumably.

Best Opposition Goal

The H List: Daniel Agger (Liverpool) (Also receiving consideration: Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Tainio (tottenham), Cotterill (Wigan)

The H List Readers: Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea) (Also receiving votes: Agger (Liverpool), Tonge (Sheff Utd), Crouch (Liverpool)

You say potato, I say spud. Given the varying states of disarray that our defence was found in throughout the season before April, I'd say you'd have to have been paraplegic, or Craig Bellamy, not to have scored a blinding goal against us.

Both winners are notable as they feature nothing even closely resembling professional defending.

Worst Opposition

The H List: Middlesborough (Also receiving consideration: Nobody)

The H List Readers: Middlesborough (Also receiving votes: Wigan, Man Utd (!))

Yes! Yes! Boro! Boro! A million times Boro!

Perennial winners of this award. I know what you're thinking - "This is the frst year, what are you talking about?". Well, yes, that may be true, but I reckon they'll win again next year.

Truly, truly, truly, honestly rubbish. Truly.

The Michael Dawson Worst Opposition Player Award

The H List: Michael Dawson! (tottenham) (Also receiving consideration: Don't be silly)

The H List Readers: Frank Lampard (Chelsea) (Also receiving votes: John Terry (Chelsea), Christian Nade (Sheff Utd), Paddy Kenny (Sheff Utd), Peter Ramage (Newcastle), Jon Fucking Stead (Sheff Utd), James Beattie (Everton)

Some awards simply don't require explanation.

And Lastly

And thus ends the first year of The H List. A genuine thank you from me for reading, and an even more genuine thank you to any lawyers reading for not suing. I will update sporadically over the summer so please check back occasionally and keep spreading the word to anyone whom you think might be interested in the site.

Any and all feedback would be appreciated, The H List averages around 85 hits a day, which isn't much compared to some other web sites I can think of, but it's not bad for the inane ramblings of a pessimist.

And just because I am your most favouritest West Ham writer in the Universe:


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Manchester United 0 - 1 West Ham (And Other Events To Make Neil Warnock Cry)

Before We Begin (And Stealing Shamelessly From Spike Milligan)

Rule West Ham! West Ham rule the waves! And sometimes we waive the rules.

1. Oscillate Wildly

It's official - we're only the 6th worst team in the Premier League! Everybody get wasted!

2. Bigmouth Strikes Again

Some time ago I rather foolishly promised to produce a column utilising only song titles by The Smiths. This was stupid in the extreme given that as beautifully elegiac as those boys were, they didn't write music for days like these.

I barely have the words for how happy I am today. This is somewhat problematic when you're writing an article but I'll give it a go. My sister actually thinks I'll struggle with this column as it has a happy ending and she maintains this will rob me of my powers, a la Samson and Delilah. She might be right.

But before we begin, my little treat to you. Go on - you're reading this blog so you're a good person, live a little and enjoy a moment both "courageous and controversial" to quote Martin Tyler. (I assume he's talking about Eggert Magnusson hugging that young girl at the end of the clip instead of his wife....)


Or, should you feel that this version simply doesn't contain enough Argentine commentary ending with an amended version of "Obla-di Obla-da" then you'll probably want to look here:


There is a word for people who don't like the latter style of commentary. That word is "Blades".

3. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

I'd lost the faith. I have to admit it. Relying on us scoring at Old Trafford or otherwise hoping that Paddy Kenny could demonstrate extended competence was too much for me. But never have I been more happy to be proved wrong (and I've had a fair bit of practice).

This was a truly heroic performance. We stand alone together, and all that.

It would not be an understatement to say that everyone in the football world currently hates us. I have been surprised by the constant stream of vitriol directed at the club in recent weeks, and the self righteous aggrandising of neutral fans has led me to multiple uses of The Chinese Burn whilst on my travels.

Not that we didn't commit an offence. That is proven and accepted by the club, but it's this supplementary notion that therefore we should automatically be docked points that grates a little. I won't revisit this all again but suffice to say the team that deserved to go down went down.

If you're going to select a team with Paddy Kenny in it all year, then rather than moaning about being relegated you should be on your knees thanking the Lord that you made it to the last day of the season with a chance to stay up.

4. Panic

We mustered just 2 shots on target all game, a direct result of having the ball only 40% of the time. It felt like it was a closer game than that but there is no denying that Man United dominated the play, particularly when you note that they had 117 shots on target.

Our first effort on goal was from His Holiness Carlos Tevez and it only bloody went in, causing a rather severe outbreak of "Idon'tbelieveit" in East London and an even larger outbreak of "Thosebastards" in Yorkshire.

The goal was also notable as it featured a putrid attempt at tackling from Wes Brown. Surprising in the sense that Wes is a "Premiership Defender", but less surprising in that Wes is also "Appalling".

Our other good chance fell to Luis Boa Morte who really should have scored but succumbed to his innate Boa Morteness and hit the post. I am prepared to forgive and forget given that God himself has intervened on our behalf today.

5. I Know It's Over

Man Utd had other things on their mind and it showed, but they were still more than a match for any Premiership side.

They are the Champions and best team in the League, despite achieving the near impossible feat of having been beaten home and away by us. The ludicrous nature of that achievement is only surpassed by the fact that we did the same thing to Arsenal and conceded a goal in exactly none of those games.

When this season is reviewed by my grandchildren in several years they will simply refuse to believe that we took 15 points off the top 6 teams, and only 12 off the bottom 6.

Remember folks, plastic bottles can be lethal when you repeatedly hit yourself over the head with them.

6. What Difference Does It Make?

Martin Atkinson had been something of a death knell for us previously this year as we had failed to win any of the 4 games he had officiated beforehand. Thank goodness then that he decided Luis Boa Morte had successfully tackled John O'Shea in the second half rather than successfully impaled him.

Quite what Boa Morte was doing there I don't know. And when I say "there" I mean "Old Trafford".

7. You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby

Spare a thought then for poor Sheffield United and in particular their delightful manager, Colin Wanker.

If you need further guidance might I suggest that the thought you should be sparing is "See you later, tosspot!".

Make no mistake, I genuinely feel for the fans at Sheffield United. All true football fans respect the emotional commitment made by fellow supporters and whilst I'm glad it's not me, I don't take pleasure in their demise. They feel wronged and they have a point, but ultimately their team isn't very good and they go down deservedly.

For Colin, I can feel nothing but hate. He went down in the same way as his team play football - painfully and agonisingly. Contrasting the quiet dignity of Paul Jewell with Warnock's ill conceived rants has been illuminating.

Ultimately Sheffield United needed just one point from their last 2 games against Aston Villa and Wigan, whilst we required 4 points from our games against Bolton and Manchester United.

There is an observation to be made here.

8. Sheila Take A Bow

I think we're all aware that I am a convert to the Church of Latter Day Lucas Neills (and apparently a fully paid up member of the Tenuous Titles Society too), but he was immense today. Alongside the Herculean James Collins he stood firm and made Ronaldo think twice about venturing anywhere near him.

In the last 9 games we have kept 5 clean sheets, which is an achievement so Faustian that various plagues of Egypt must surely follow shortly behind. Bravo to our defence, then. It's good to have you back.

We have now won 7 of 9 games and would probably have been victorious at the Eurovision Song Contest if we'd gone in for it. (Although the Serbs would probably have sued us).

9. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

If the Premier League has a sense of humour they would now revisit their ruling on the Mascherano/Tevez situation and rescind the fine and actually dock us points. Of course, this should only be 2 points on account of how that would still relegate Sheffield United and would presumably put an end to the remorseless Northern whinging.

If anybody desires to know what I want for Christmas, it would be to be at Brammall Lane when they get that news.

10. That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

Another day, another piece of wonderful opportunism from Carlos Tevez and another spate of newspaper stories linking him with various clubs around the cosmos.

There is little left to say about the man, other than that I shall miss him and I pray he doesn't end up elsewhere in the Premier League. The prospect of watching him link up with a fully fit Dean Ashton is enticing but so is the idea of Emily Procter coming round for dinner. I shall not spend a great deal of my life contemplating either.

I especially love the fact that he cleverly engineered a situation where the ball was 20 feet up in the air as he ran through on goal, because he didn't think scoring at Old Trafford was quite challenge enough for him.

11. This Charming Man

A word then for Alan Curbishley. You'll no doubt be pleased to hear that my lunch today consisted of a large slice of humble pie and, for those that know me well, a muffin.

He has achieved the unachievable. He's made Gareth Southgate seem chirpy. And kept us in the Premier League.

He started poorly and things didn't really improve until the away game at Newcastle in January. From that point on our form was patchy but improving and the end of season run has been nothing short of amazing, especially given that his Charlton teams used to simply go on holiday from around March onwards.

I had my doubts that he would be an improvement over Pardew, and I'm still not sure that he is the man to take us forward in the long term but he has earned the chance to prove himself, if nothing else.

Next season will see Ashton and Matthew Upson returning to the fold as essentially new signings, whilst one would hope that there will be a huge clear out of the dead wood over the summer.

And Alan, having a goalkeeper on the bench is not frivolous.

12. I Started Something I Couldn't Finish

So this will be the penultimate H List offering for 2006/07. Many thanks to those of you have read the column regularly, and posted links to various other websites. At present the readership extends as far as the US, Canada, Australia, Holland, Iceland, Argentina, Japan, Malaysia and Lambeth. Caed Mile Failte to you all.

Some of you might be dying to know the results of The H List book poll. A respectable 53% said you would buy the book which is probably not enough to entice me into expending any effort pursuing it. I shall, however, hold forever dear to my heart the 25% who cared enough to vote but didn't care enough to vote for anything other than "I'm a visitor and I don't know what you're talking about". Splendid.

I ask only one last favour of you before the season is over. Next week I'll write an end of season summary and present the coveted H List Awards. It would be nice to compare them with those of the H List readers in order that I can point out where you're all wrong. Just stick your votes in the "Comments" section at the bottom of this post and I'll collate them.

The categories are:

Player of the Year (previously the Least Worst Player of the Year award but now renamed)
Performance of the Year (Team)
Performance of the Year (Individual)
Goal of the Year

Worst Player of the Year
Worst Performance of the Year (Team)
Worst Performance of the Year (Individual)

Best Opposition Team
Best Opposition Player
Opposition Goal of the Year
Worst Opposition Team
Worst Opposition Player (The Michael Dawson Award)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Manchester United vs West Ham: 13th May 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. When Faced With An Enemy Twice Your Size


2. The History

It may be true that our position is better than Wigan's, given that we can lose and still survive, but this doesn't make me "confident" so much as "slightly less petrified".

Let's be honest about this. We can talk all we want about how it is in our hands but that implies that we have a decent chance of getting a result. The past does rather scream out against this. Last year we lost 1-0 to a Ruud Van Nistelrooy strike from the era when he was still quite good and Dean Ashton could make a trip to Manchester and come back with both of his ankles.

It also featured an appearance for Man Utd of a person called Gerard Pique who, I shall just go right ahead and assume, was a reality TV show winner.

We have, of course, mustered a couple of famous 1-0 wins. The first was the now legendary Di Canio game when Fabian Barthez Fabian Barthez'd us our goal, and Overseas Iron was unable to drink to the victory as he'd eaten too much at a celebratory lunch.

The second involved us winning due to a Jermain Defoe header. Presumably whilst the Man Utd defence were being savaged by wild hyenas. Well have you got a better explanation?

In the reverse fixture at Upton Park we won courtesy of a late Nigel Reo-Coker goal. This was followed by a lack of courtesy from Nigel Reo-Coker but we won't go there.

Positivity, people.

3. Comfort? I Think I've Got A Few Crumbs Out The Back

According to a report in the Press today there is one area where we simply dominate the Red Devils. The average West Ham fan thinks about the team 79 times a day against 71 for Man Utd supporters. Now given that I sincerely doubt I have 79 distinct thoughts a day of any nature I do have some questions over this but none the less, let's claim victories where we can.

Incidentally, the leaders were Sheffield United whose fans do this 115 times a day. This does lead me to question the accuracy of the data, for if this were true suicide rates in Sheffield would be at epidemic proportions.

4. Danger Here

Feasibly, if bubonic plague were to break out and Alan Curbishley were to decide that Premiership football was overrated tosh, we could see a battle of the Christians on Sunday.

Portugese winker Christiano Ronaldo on side and the curly haired football genius Christian Dailly on the other. I doubt it will happen, it would probably contravene lots of employment laws that don't allow you to humiliate your staff.

Let's just say that Ronaldo is good, and Dailly is a good bloke.

By the way, Ronaldo has become a favourite of mine. He still falls over like a sniper victim and wears his socks in a truly ridiculous fashion, but he also used the word "polemic" in an interview recently and this endeared him to me greatly. I suppose that Lee Bowyer could use it to, but I rather suspect he might have a stroke in doing so.

5. Second String 'Em Along

Just a thought.

Does anyone think it would be a right laugh if we were to play a weakened side against Man Utd? We could say that we are holding back players for the start of next year. That way if we lose we can save Dave Whelan the trouble and sue ourselves. This in turn might confuse the Wigan gobshite so much that he then investigates whether he actually paid 5.5m genuine English pounds for Emile Heskey.

And while we're on the subject. For the first time ever in my life I find myself wishing that this away game was against Liverpool. Not because we have ever had any kind of success at Anfield but more because there is a reasonable chance that Rafa Benitez will field a team consisting solely of his own family members, some travelling Cypriot midgets and Craig Bellamy. And that's a team we could draw against.

6. The Statistics

The Red Devils are fairly strong at home. Sort of like the Roman Catholic church are "quite popular" in Italy. In the Premiership this season, only 3 teams have avoided defeat. Arsenal (Seems quite strange now, but it was early in the year, and it's not like there isn't precedent), Chelsea (OK, logical enough) and Middlesbrough (Now just wait a cotton pickin' minute).

Sometimes football results just confuse you. Finding out that Boro have drawn at Old Trafford in the same year that they lost 4-0 at home to Portsmouth is enough to addle a fellow's mind.

A bit like when I went to a restaurant with a Chinese Elvis impersonator for a work meal. "Jailhouse Wok" indeed.

Our away form has improved in recent weeks from "Fetid" to "I'm Not Quite So Ashamed Now". Our travels recently have seen us pick up 3 wins out of 4, although the defeat was a performance at Sheffield United that was so bad it widened the hole in the ozone layer.

*Flashback - Jon Fucking Stead.*

Just to prove that I am not completely without faith - have a look at the Current Form - http://stats.football365.com/dom/ENG/PR/oform.html

That table is a victory for selective statistical sampling.

7. He's Still Whelan Blue

Dave Whelan is not about to let this go is he? He's written an open letter (does he write any other kind?) to the Premier League demanding to see concrete evidence that Tevez was eligible to play for us against Wigan.

This is tremendous. Not only is Whelan the only man left with any integrity* in football, but he is now the sole arbiter of any and all cases that come before the Premier League.

Except of course, he's not. He's desperate and would rather like it if someone could make this pesky relegation thing go away.

The problem for Dave, of course, is that when he joined the Premier League he agreed to abide by the disciplinary processes of the League, and he also subsequently approved the panel put together to hear the West Ham case. As the PL is not a legal body, but a governing body of a sport, I do not see how he has any recourse to legal action against them, or us. Let's face it, if his grapes were any more sour he would be 100% vinegar.

Essentially what the "Gang of Four" are saying is that they are determined to uphold the laws and integrity of the Premier League - by trampling all over the laws and integrity of the Premier League. Marvellous.

For the last time then. Tevez was legally registered. If anybody says otherwise to you, consider my permission granted to send them a scorpion in the mail. The issue, as I have extrapolated from the billions of column inches, is around the third party ownership and the non declaration of this fact and associated documents. When Magnusson took over he and his team realised this and declared it to the Premier League, leading to this hearing.

There also appears to be some sort of legal obligation for one of the "Gang of Four" to run bleating to the press about it every single day, too. I rather imagine that their eventual writ will be submitted written in crayon with chocolate fingerprints all over it.

*And when I say "integrity" I am of course ignoring the £8.3m fine levied on his company, JJB Sports in 2003 by the Office of Fair Trading for price fixing. And so should you. *

8. It's Not Exactly The Miners But....

I have decided that the Shark family shall therefore be boycotting JJB Sports from here on in. A quick canvassing of the household returned the following answers:

Mrs Shark: "I'd never shop there anyway, it's a load of old tat. And anyway, why are you writing that bloody blog and not doing dinner?"

Miss Shark Junior: "Cat!".

We are standing firm. Join us.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

West Ham 3 - 1 Bolton (And Other Ramblings)

1. Before We Begin

So, it's Saturday night and I'm settling down to re-live this joyous occasion on Match of the Day. Cue the following discussion with Mrs Shark:

Sammy Lee appears on screen:

Mrs Shark: "Who's that man?"
Me: "Sammy Lee"
Mrs Shark: "What does he do?"
Me: "Not much, don't worry about him, he's pointless"


Mrs Shark: "There's that man again, what's his name?"
Me: (turning up the volume) "Sammy Lee"
Mrs Shark: "What does he do"
Me: "He's Bolton's new manager"
Mrs Shark: (exasperated) "Well, why didn't you say that?"
Me: "Well, why do you care?"
Mrs Shark: "I thought he was a bouncer"
Me: (turning down the volume) "Alright then, talk me through it"
Mrs Shark: "Well he's got that stupid earpiece and a black suit on"
Me: "But where exactly did you think he was a bouncer for?"
Mrs Shark: (with the topic clearly exhausted) "Do you think I have funny toes?"

Aye Carumba.

2. Alriiiiight!

Given that I thought this season was over quite some time ago, I consider it a feat of alchemy for Alan Curbishley to have us out of the relegation zone with one game of the season to go. Whilst that may be true, it should also be acknowledged that there has been a simultaneous display of continued abject incompetence at Wigan to allow this to happen, but let's not pick holes.

Curbishley has belatedly done a fantastic job and irrespective of what transpires next week he deserves a lot of credit for that.

This game was fantastic too. Not just "The Spice Girls have split up" or "Leeds have been relegated again" fantastic, but truly blissful in a "It's snowed all night and school is closed for the day" kind of way.

Would it be wrong of me to make rude gestures to Dave Whelan right now? I thought not.

3. The Statistics

There are no statistics available for the first half of this game. All computer systems simply provide the analysis "One Sided Massacre".

We were 3-0 up in less time than it takes me to get dressed in the morning. Carlos Tevez swept in a lovely free kick to get things moving, and then combined beautifully with Luis Boa Morte for the second.

(At this point I'd usually insert a smart arsed jibe about Luis Boa Morte but I am above that now. Not that far above it, mind, so stay sharp)

Finally, bored with doing it all himself, Tevez set up Mark Noble for a ballistic missile of a volley that left several hundred fans thanking God for the invention of goal nets.

There was a second half comeback of sorts from the visitors, but they never realistically looked like getting back into the game. Overall, we had 53% of the possession and 8 shots on target. Bolton, by contrast mustered just 2 shots on goal and were possibly distracted by Robert Green's immaculately gelled new hairstyle.

4. The Opposition

Rubbish. Not a typical performance from them and how grateful we are. Surprisingly we were able to out battle them and made them pay for it with three strikes of quality.

Gary Speed did pop up with a second half consolation goal, but ultimately it made no diff - whoah, hang on, back up there - Gary Speed? 63 year old Gary Speed? Gets his heating paid by the Government, Gary Speed? The confluence of events required to allow this man to run unimpeded through the middle of our defence is mind boggling. Firstly, there had to be electoral fraud in Djibouti, some druid wars in Wales, a global lima bean shortage and lastly Nigel Reo-Coker had to lose the ability to move his legs.


5. The Referee

Mike Riley remains a mystery to me. He's incompetent and has legs so thin that he can hide behind straw. He didn't do too badly today though. He protected Tevez pretty well in the face of a Bolton back 4 the size of Mount Rushmore, and he also didn't allow Kevin Davies to pile drive anyone. Which was nice.

6. There's Only Juan Carlos Tevez

Oh man. This was gravy. The fact that his very appearance on the team sheet annoyed Dave Whelan and several other suddenly principled chairmen was simply the icing on a sumptuous cake. Put succinctly, he was marvellous.

His opening goal was a thing of beauty. I cannot remember the last time that we had a player who was a threat to score from a free kick, so for him to score from two in a season is uncharted territory.

I actually wouldn't have given my Hammer of the Year vote to Tevez as I felt he was too peripheral for too long this year, but there is no denying that he has been the driving force behind our recent turnaround. Should I never get the chance to see him play again then I can at least say that I had the privilege to watch him this year. Duff registration or not, he is a wonderful footballer.

Sister Shark is apparently toying with the idea of getting an Argentine shirt if he stays, whilst Papa Shark is thinking of getting an Argentine passport. Suffice to say, the Shark family has taken little Carlos to our hearts. (Although we'd also take him to the barbers if we had the chance).

7. And You Thought We'd Taught Him Nothing

Good to see that Tevez has learnt something from playing with Bobby Zamora and Nigel Reo-Coker. After his second goal he ran to the crowd and cupped his ear.

I don't think it was quite as malignant a thought process as with the other two, but probably evidence that he thought this was simply how we celebrate goals at West Ham.

8. Permutations

The most tense part of this game was the wait for the Wigan result. Mercifully they lost (through not reacting as quickly as Mark Viduka - yowzer) meaning that we now have our future in our own hands. But of course, we actually don't have it in our hands because we are playing the champions away from home. No matter how well we've done recently I can't see us getting a result at Old Trafford.

With the Champions League no longer a factor I don't expect Ferguson to tinker too much with his team. Also, he will come under a fair bit of pressure this week to play a strong side given the stakes. I sincerely doubt Ferguson will give two hoots about that but he's not Rafa Benitez and as such I'd say we can expect to see Rooney and Ronaldo for a while at least next week.

With Charlton having played very Charltonly against tottenham tonight the situation is now much clearer. A draw for us would be enough irrespective of what Wigan do - and if Wigan don't win it doesn't matter what we do. Should we lose and Wigan win we'll go on goal difference, which really makes those 4-0 and 3-0 losses at Charlton and Sheffield United hard to bear.

So essentially, we're relying on Sheffield United to avoid defeat for us to stay up. I've just stabbed myself with dried pasta.

9. So Long, Farewell

Just a thought, but I wonder how many of Saturday's team will ever play at Upton Park again in a West Ham shirt? It's hard to imagine Tevez will be back, even if my father is successful in his campaign to have him made Pope.

Lucas Neill is otherworldly in his brilliance and will doubtless be looking for a top level club if we go down. Reo-Coker, Benayoun and Ferdinand are reputedly going irrespective of what happens and it's tough to imagine the fans being too disappointed by that.

That leaves a whole lot of maybe's. The difference between now and our last foray into uselessness is that we have some financial clout these days meaning we don't have to answer any transfer request with the words "We're desperate to sell, how much are you offering?". (See "Carrick, Michael")

Token Michael Dawson Slaughtering

He played. He played Dawsonly. He didn't kill anyone, he didn't concede any penalties, although not for the want of trying, he kept a clean sheet and he remains forever, indisputably, Michael Dawson.

But the thing is - tottenham have kept fewer clean sheets than us. I had to italicise that because it defies belief. We are awful. We spent 6 months of the season using the theories of Aristotle as a defence rather than actual live humans. (Sure, we've also kept more clean sheets than Newcastle and Fulham, but come on, we're not totally hopeless).

And this man plays for England? With Paul Robinson? And Ledley King?

Euro 2008? We'll skate home.

Friday, May 04, 2007

West Ham vs Bolton : 5th May 2007 (Match Preview And Other Ramblings)

1. Love Will Tear Us Apart

I had a conversation recently with a friend as to whether this column was irreverent or irrelevant. I did a quick straw poll of the family and we settled on the latter although I would like to point out to Mama Shark that "bloody tedious" wasn't one of the available options.

On the other hand, we are playing Bolton this week.

2. Don't Play It Again Sam

So farewell Sam Allardyce. It won't be quite the same to see Bolton ruining the Beautiful Game without Fat Sam on the sidelines wearing his latest crime against fashion, chewing his gum in a very stern fashion and yelling orders into his Madonna style headset (but without the Vogue era moves, sadly).

Doubtless he will reappear at a "big club" soon, Newcastle are favourite in this respect, weirdly as they are "big" in a Scrabble sense, but not in an actual, real life kind of way.

The real question is whether or not the Bolton team decide that they want to win this one for the Gaffer, or if they want to get this one over with so they can go on holiday.

3. The History

We don't have a marvellous record against Bolton in recent times, in much the same way that humans don't have a great time of it against Great White Sharks. Rest assured, if there is a "y" in the day then you can be assured that Bolton will beat us.

They are going for their 5th straight League win against us with only our extra time 2-1 FA Cup replay win last year breaking the cycle. In the corresponding fixture last season we lost 2-1 and allowed Ivan Campo to score, which is marginally more difficult than finding a wild panda in Norfolk.

Earlier this season we lost 4-0 at The Reebok, causing Eggertsson to fire Alan Pardew and quite probably declare war on a small archipelago in the Pacific.

Let's just say it was a bad performance. Think Don Cheadle's cockney accent in Ocean's 11, think the life and work of David Hasselhoff, think Karl Rove rapping. You get the drift.

4. The Statistics

We have conceded the opening goal on a mere 24 occasions this season.

I. Can't. Go. On.

I mean, come on....24 times? Including 2 (two, Two, TWO, II, deux, duo, more than once - less than thrice) times against Watford? In the name of Katie Price herself, what is going on here?

I am well aware that God isn't a huge fan of mine, given that he has condemned me to a lifetime of West Ham and the England cricket team, but for crying out loud - I give to charity, I don't kill animals or baste homeless people, and rarely, if ever, do I indulge in nuclear proliferation. I deserve a break.

Our leading scorer against Bolton is Teddy Sheringham with 2 in the last two years. C'est naturellement, he is now playing poker for a living, or off in search of Atlantis, or dead or something.

Hope springs eternal though. Our last Premiership home win over this mob came in 2002 when we won 2-1, courtesy of Steve Lomas and Ian Pearce strikes either side of a Youri Djorkaeff goal, which is as unholy a footballing sandwich as you're ever likely to see.

I also saw us beat them 3-0 in 1997 when Gerry Taggart played for the visitors and managed the impressive feat of making John Hartson look svelte.

5. Mr Nice Guy

West Ham fans are one of the myriad groups in society who have been spat at by El Hadji Diouf.

Is it wrong to wish plane delays, tax audits and parking wardens upon someone? You bet it ain't.

6. Sorry To Burst Your Bubble

If ever a moment summed up a football club it came during Bolton's 3-1 home defeat against Reading . As Kevin Doyle lined up a penalty in the dying minutes, Bolton winger Stelios Giannakopopopopopolos stood behind with a balloon.

No, really.

As Doyle ran up to take the kick, Stelios simultaneously burst the balloon in an attempt to put him off.

On one hand you have to admire a side so devious that they're willing to sink to the level of American high school movies to try and gain an advantage. On the other hand there is such an inherent level of nastiness about this that it conjures up images of Kevin Davies shaking out little Mark Noble, stealing his lunch money and leaving him hanging on a peg.

I would really, really, really, really like to beat them. Really.

7. Just How Many Defining Moments Can A Team Have?

It is possible to play The Most Important Game Ever, every week? Yes, it is.

Lose tomorrow and it's sayonara folks. Defeat would leave us adrift of Wigan on Goal Difference with only a trip to Old Trafford remaining. Given that United were as bad as is humanly, and non humanly, possible against Milan on Wednesday I would say that our chances of avoiding defeat there next week are negligible.

A draw would provide flickering hope, but requires that Wigan lose both remaining games. This is optimistic at best because as awful as they were against us, they are only playing Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, which is not cause for fear if you are a Wigan fan. Although it is cause for a sickie if you're a journalist allocated to cover those games.

8. They're On Fire!

Hammers with hot boots include Bobby Zamora (5 goals in 8 games), Carlos Tevez (4 goals in 8 games) and Luis Boa Morte (A goal, a goal! I saw it, it went in! There were angels singing and God himself laughed and let us score two more!)

9. They're Not On Fire!

Hammers with ice cold boots include Marlon Harewood (3 goals in 30 games), Anton Ferdinand (0 tabloid stories this week) and Kepa Blanco (quoted this week as saying "I want to go back to Seville, I hate it here")

10. Wigan Are Free Whelan

Interesting approach from Wigan and Sheffield United this week to the news that we have received a paltry £5.5m fine for fielding Carlos Tevez when he was actually under contract to Joes Bakery at the time.

Both have instructed their lawyers to investigate the finding with a view to suing West Ham, the Premier League or anyone else who happened to be in the general vicinity of East London at the time.

(When I think of Dave Whelan's lawyers it just makes me think of that Alan Partridge saying "'Appen I bet 'e thinks I'm a right indecisive twat")

Intriguingly both Neil Warnock and Whelan have both publicly stated that they hope we get points docked and "go down". And therein lies the rub.

The punishment for our crime is not relegation (it cannot be a points deduction either according to the Premier League's own rules but let's gloss over that). Therefore, what these two are bleating on about is that they are unhappy we are now making a fist of staying up. Notice how nobody above the bottom 6 cares one way or the other about our fine? Of course they don't - nobody in their right mind would want to open the Pandora's Box that is Premiership transfers.

Wigan and Sheffield United want us to be docked points so that they can stay up - not because they are interested in the rules of the game or the integrity of the League. It's obvious but very few newspapers are pointing this out.

And with that in mind I will be very interested to see if they pursue us through the High Court should we finish in the bottom three anyway, and even more interested to see what would be the outcome if a draw at Brammall Lane on the last day would keep both teams in the Premiership.

Expect Italian style shenanigans - just without the flair, hairbands or grossly overblown hyperbole.


That odd sound you've been hearing all week? It's the sound of a billion football fans around the globe laughing at Leeds United. Could it have happened to a nicer group of people? Dennis Wise, Ken Bates, David Healy and Leeds fans in one fell swoop? There is a God.......