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

Monday, February 04, 2008

Wigan 1 - 0 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. Has It Really Come To This?

Really? I mean, come on. Good Lord, I'd like to think I'm a decent enough human being - I rarely, if ever, fire lizards at hobo's, I hardly ever give tourists deliberately incorrect information and I sure as hell do not listen to the music of Robbie Williams.

Ergo - I don't think I deserve to be welcomed back to H List duties where my team is defeated because we could not mark Kevin Kilbane.

I know I've been away, and I'm sorry but this is cruel and unusual punishment.

2. The Pitched Battle

Alan Curbishley described this pitch as an "embarrassment" which is a bit rich for a man who spent £5m on Luis Boa Morte, but he did have a point. Perhaps it is fitting for us to play on a pitch resembling Ypres, as this is the era currently being honoured by our crack medical team, but all told it cannot have been easy to play on this swamp.

All of the above being true doesn't excuse a performance as abject as this, however. Wigan were required to play on the same quagmire, and did a considerably better job of it. Which is fairly shameful.

3. The Statistics

We managed to keep the ball for 55% of the time, but were almost totally useless in what we did with it. I need not remind anyone that we were playing Wigan, and that we mustered a single attempt on goal. Gone red? Me too.

Our only truly decent chance fell to the returning Craig Bellamy who ballooned it somewhere into West Lancashire. Otherwise it was dreary stuff as the home team were less inept than us and deservedly took the points.

The day that Kevin Kilbane and Michael Brown have more shots on target than your entire team is the day to hold up your hands and admit - "Yep, we're all stoned off our nut".

4. The Opposition

I'm not sure that being better than us on this particular day is necessarily a glowing reference. None the less, a team can only beat the dross that is put in front of them and just because your opposition is insipid shouldn't detract from a decent performance.

This win lifted the Latics out of the relegation zone, and as decent a showing as this was it can't disguise some obvious shortcomings. Let's be honest, if you decide to spend £5m on Marlon King then you may as well walk round with "Desperate" on your t-shirt.

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before but they are also owned by Convicted Price Fixer Dave Whelan.

5. The Referee

M Atkinson of Yorkshire. I have no idea why it is commonplace in English football to tell everyone where officials come from. To me that just encourages retaliatory attacks, but what do I know - I can't even find out M Atkinson's first name.

I think it's Martin, but whatever, he didn't do anything to offend me as much as Dean Ashton did on Saturday.

6. Wherefore Art Thou?

Our curious see sawing between 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 continues apace. After our tremendous midweek win over Liverpool was hewn on the back of Carlton Cole's turn as a lone frontman, it was surprising to see Curbishley restore Ashton to the line up and try and batter Wigan with two big strikers.

The problem with this plan is that our policy of flooding the midfield and breaking in numbers has seen off many better teams than Wigan this year, and the stunning fact is that Ashton is currently not even fit to lace Cole's boots. He is but a pale, if significantly larger, shadow of his pre injury self.

The problem is that Ashton is simply not built to play as a lone striker, given his crippling lack of mobility and curious diffidence for the physical side of the game. His real ability is his lovely touch, and gift for bringing others into the game, which work far better when he has a strike partner within a country mile of him.

The fact that he apparently has the raging hump over his meagre, meagre I say, £23,000 weekly pay packet doesn't seem to be helping a great deal. Of course, the fact that I am currently paid less than Luis Boa Morte annoys me so I can only imagine what it must do to the rest of the squad.

7. The Green Effect

Robert Green was left motionless for the Wigan goal, probably out of shock that there is still someone out there willing to pay Kevin Kilbane to play football, but that shouldn't detract away from his outstanding recent form.

Sadly, this wasn't deemed good enough for new England boss Fabio Capello who chose his opposite number, the unremarkable Chris Kirkland, along with the curiously over rated Scott Carson, in his first squad. As with anything there are two ways to view this latest snub. One could assume that it is a positive thing for us given that all West Ham players return from England duty with obliterated legs, or alternatively we could be seriously worried as Green is likely to get fed up and head for pastures new.

I don't know Robert Green (imagine) and I have no idea whether he views this all as intolerably cruel, but it does seem strange that he has been overlooked for so long.

Elsewhere, Capello has at least done one thing right, as he passed my "Alan Smith Test", by not picking the least effective English centre forward in the Western World. Now, picking Curtis Davies seems a bit odd but I'll just go ahead and assume that he was actually just trying to request some Curtis Mayfield for the team bus.

8. Head Upson

In contrast to Green, Matthew Upson was recalled to the squad after someone somewhere realised that picking Michael Dawson for the national team was getting us mocked by our Continental colleagues.

He celebrated by not doing a particularly special job of marking Marlon King, but in the grand scheme of things this was his first down performance for a while and he was hardly alone.

It has to be said that his resurgence has been astounding in every sense, and should he get on at any stage tomorrow it will only serve to reinforce what a tremendous signing he is proving to be.

Which is like, totally wow man.

9. The Consumate West Ham Week

This might actually be our first defeat of the season that has actually caused me to be genuinely annoyed. Certainly, losing at Newcastle is hardly something to be proud of, ditto for Villa and Man City. But it can't be denied that we have done a fairly decent job of taking points from the dregs of the League.

Our great away form has been the bedrock of our season and as a result, losing at Wigan was a shock. However, after years of abject nonsense away from Upton Park I am well able to cope with the odd defeat such as this, but it's probably a decent indication of why exactly we won't be troubling the top six anytime soon.

Sadly you get the odd naive young colt such as The Boleyn Beluga who sees a home win over Liverpool, sees a 3 game run against Wigan, Birmingham and Fulham, and decides that he's going to start booking his Euro Rail tickets for next year's inevitable Champions League assault. Now, hope is the natural enemy of the West Ham fan, and I'd like to see some of this ambition reined back in - it will end in tears. We are going to finish tenth. Get used to it.

10. Yet More Shameless Begging

Last time you heard from me I was trying to get you all to vote for The H List in a couple of awards. One of them featured the worlds most convoluted voting process ever, so much so that I ripped my spleen out half way through trying, simply to improve my mood.

However, unbeknownst to myself or Beluga, someone somewhere nominated us in the Soccerlens awards. We are in the categories of:

"Best EPL Blog" (English Premier League you heathens. We're all speaking American now. Color has no "u" anymore folks) - http://soccerlens.com/the-best-epl-blog-soccerlens-2007-awards/5639/

"Best Blog You've Never Heard Of" - http://soccerlens.com/the-best-blog-youve-never-heard-of-soccerlens-2007-awards/5636/

I can promise you that voting in these awards will not cause you to lose the will to live.

I suppose that we could rely on the natural wit and dazzling prose of The H List to carry us through, but if we did that we'd never win. So all I ask then is a concerted voting effort from all our loyal readers and a token gesture from our disloyal ones. Nothing major, maybe just a few rallies, a TV campaign and some newspaper ads. Perhaps one of our American readers could get on stage at a Super Tuesday event with The H List daubed on their chest.

So, as you can see - nothing too big.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:29 AM

    You're nto exactly troubling the scorers on the "best blog you've never heard of"!