1. Proof That Shameless Begging Doesn't Work
The voting for the http://www.soccerlens.com/ awards have now finished, and we have performed about as well as the Ronnie the Rhino Party did at the last general election. As West Ham fans we are more than capable of coping with the emotion of humiliation tinged with abject failure, so you needn't worry about our ability to get on with things.
We'd like to thank the 12 of you who voted for us, though. (3%! My God - Ross Perot got more than that. My head is currently hanging in shame).
2. An Admission Of Guilt
This game took place a very very long time ago. I can barely remember it to be truthful. This is not a bad thing. In fact, if anything, I remember way too much about it. It may well be the case that an awful lot of this review is made up. I feel this will improve things.
3. Where Do We Go From Here?
Let's be honest about this. Last year was an appalling, fantastic, dire but ultimately thrilling ride. None of us ever wanted to go through it all again, and we dreamed of days like this, when we could draw 1-1 with Birmingham in a game so dull it would cause God himself to cry, and it wouldn't matter one iota.
Well, here it is. Be careful what you wish for.
On a weekend when the Premiership clubs proved exactly how much they care about you and the sanctity of the English game by proposing to play games in Beijing, here was an example of everything that is wrong about top flight football in this country. Two teams almost totally devoid of flair, battling valiantly but serving up a game of football that could almost entice a man to turn to golf.
You know things are bad when you find yourself wondering when Bobby Zamora is going to be fit.
4. I've Got The Blues
If they send dross like this over to Miami then we might end up alienating the entire Continent quicker than you can say "Communism Rocks!".
Both myself and Beluga have been relentlessly highlighting the near catatonic state of our attacking play, and there was no visible improvement today. Faced with a determined, but very limited, Birmingham team we huffed and puffed, and ultimately blew ourselves out long before this torture was mercifully ended.
Trying to watch us at home this season has been a long and painful task. Our season has been littered with results like this, and even though we don't lose very often at home, we also don't win that much either, and we do it providing the sort of entertainment a man can usually only get at the orthodontist.
5. The Opposition
It is not exactly my place to be pointing fingers at teams like Birmingham and tutting. Sure, playing for a draw and doing it with all the excitement of the latest Amy Winehouse story is hardly a recipe for getting the rest of the world to love you, but desperate times and all that. Alex McLeish has done a splendid job since taking over and has his team playing to the best of their extremely limited abilities, evidenced by some excellent results at tottenham and Arsenal before this.
However, if Abraham Lincoln was to have commented on this game he would have described it thus: "People who like this kind of thing, will find this the kind of thing they like".
Now not a lot of people know that Big Abe was quite in to his footy as a kid until he took his GCSE's and his mum told him to concentrate on either the whole slavery thing or writing about the Beautiful Game. But basically, what he was saying was "If you like dull, turgid, lifeless games of football then you'll love this". (As the rest of the footballing world looks squarely at Middlesbrough fans).
6. The Referee
Referee Mark Clattenburg only really had two significant decisions in this game and didn't over impress anyone in making them. He firstly gave James McFadden a fairly soft penalty after a criminally poor piece of defending by Lucas Neill. Our demi God full back allowed McFadden to roll him before he stuck out his hands, probably in shame, and gave the Scot a tug on his shirt which apparently caused him to lose all use of his legs.
With the match dwindling to a merciful end, Clattenburg then somehow chose to extend the agony by sending off Lee Bowyer. I can understand the decision - it was a strange tackle and maybe looked worse than it was, although I was more surprised that Hayden Mullins went unpunished for his equally late challenge just moments before.
Of course, Clattenburg later rescinded the card, which at least shows that he has functioning eyeballs.
7. Swede Dreams
Curiously, this game started somewhat brightly. After just 7 minutes, Freddie Ljungberg showed the world that if the ball is bouncing around 4 yards from goal with the opposition defence off on a hiking trip in the Andes, then he has no peer in global football.
Quite aside from that, Ljungberg was excellent. His return to form has coincided with his muscles beginning to function like those of ordinary human being, and it is probably not too garish a suggestion that this is his best run of form for a couple of years. I have upgraded my valuation of him from "a large bag of spanners" to "actual legal tender".
Of course, he will never be the force he was at Arsenal. For a start his pace has declined to the point that could be best described as "Ashtonian", whilst the fall off in his goalscoring is the really telling aspect. All of the above being true, one cannot overlook the fact that he is now having his darting runs picked out by Hayden Mullins rather than Tomas Rosicky.
8. My Kingdom For A Horse
The most disappointed man in the ground on Saturday must have been Dean Ashton. With Fabio Capello in attendance, presumably to check out the great swathes of Englishmen on display, Ashton spent 90 minutes doing a very passable impression of a less talented man than Darren Bent.
It is all very well moaning about the lack of salary (that'll be just the £25,000 a week), or the lack of first team opportunities but if you are going to spend 90 minutes being outplayed by Liam Ridgewell then there are mirrors somewhere out there which can provide you with the opportunity for the required good, long look.
I would urge time and a bit of nurturing for Ashton. He seems to be the next in line for the Upton Park boo boys which strikes me as extraordinary when Luis Boa Morte is still on the payroll, but logic has never sat comfortably in the Bobby Moore Lower. Here is a guy returning from a career threatening injury into team devoid of attacking flair, playing a 4-5-1 system that may as well have been designed to stop him being effective, such is his inability to fit in.
It has been a long and painful road to get to this juncture. I cannot see things easing until next year....