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, February 01, 2008

Wigan Athletic vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 02/02/2008

1. City Of The Damned

In preparation for this post I have been forced to do some research on the nuclear-testing-site-in-waiting that is Wigan, lest these previews degenerate into mindless abuse (I'd love them to, but that tyrant HeadHammer Shark (remember him?) forbids it).

Having scoured the internet for about 10 minutes, I found two notes of interest - baked beans originate from Wigan, as does Sir Ian McKellen. That's yer lot.

I was also forced to log-on to the Wigan FC website where I was disgusted to see a translucent image of Dave Whelan lurking in the background of every page, like some sort of nefarious price-fixing spectre - no doubt included at his own behest.

I am sickened to the very core by this soulless charade of a football club.

2. Excellent News

Before we get started, a word on yesterday's transfer window deadline. We made no signings, which comes as little surprise whereas Wigan have signed 32-year old Norwegian defender, Erik Hagen - the kind of man who wouldn't look out of place on the door at a private members club for Nazis.

What thoroughly cheered me this morning was the news that Jermaine Defoe has signed for Portsmouth. This of course means that we all get another chance to welcome him back to Upton Park and sing our new favourite song, when he visits with Pompey on 5th April.

3. The Devil's Duopoly

Hitler and Himmler. Fred and Rose West. Hoddle and Waddle singing 'Diamond Lights'.

History is littered with malevolent couples that have brought devastation and suffering to humanity. I would wager a bet that, years from now, the world will remember the new Wigan pairing of Dave Whelan and Steve Bruce as among the most sinful.

It's hard to imagine a more distasteful Chairman-Manager axis without referring directly to human rights abuses - and one could argue that Wigan's brand of football is exactly that.

The Price Fixer and The Ginger Whinger only serve to compound Wigan's deserved reputation as the worst football club in the Premiership. From the self-righteous Board, to the uninspired team, to their pathetic fanbase, they exhibit as much passion and verve as a sexually repressed Englishman ironing his socks.

Unfortunately, you can be sure of seeing a lot more of Steve Bruce in the future. The recent return of Ski Sunday to the BBC of course means that his zig-zagging, slalom course of a nose will feature heavily in the TV schedules.

4. The History

Last year's corresponding fixture was possibly our most assured and complete performance of the season. In what was a must-win game, we dominated from start to finish and produced some devastating counter-attacking football to win 3-0. This game was however more remarkable for one astounding statistic.

Luis Boa Morte scored.

(Once you've wiped the tears from your eyes brought on by the smelling salts, I'll continue with some more sobering analysis)

Whilst it's true that Luis scored on this occasion, it was his first goal for the club and he hasn't managed another. Boa Morte has been with us for over a year now, making 37 appearances with 13 as sub.

A return of one goal in 37 for an attacking midfielder who occasionally plays upfront, is woeful. How he missed those two six-yard sitters against Liverpool in midweek, I'll never know. Jeremy Beadle could've banged those in from his deathbed.

Our general record against Wigan is the epitome of average - in our last eight we've won three, lost three and drawn two, though we remain undefeated at that insipid shell of a football ground, the JJB Stadium. The Latics have managed a few decent results in the last few weeks with wins over Blackburn and Newcastle and managed to hold Liverpool to a draw at Anfield.

But they're Wigan and I hate them. We really have to back ourselves to win this one and show a bit of ruthlessness if we are to capitalise on Wednesday's invaluable three points.

5. If The Capello Fits

Italian Mafia Don, Fabio Capello announced his first England squad yesterday with much interest surrounding his choices.

There had been talk of a few West Ham players garnering England ambitions and the clean slate heralded by Capello lead to fresh optimism. However, Matthew Upson was the only player to make the 30-man selection and it remains to be seen whether he will still be around come Saturday, when Capello is set to cut a further seven names.

The notable omission, not just from West Ham fans, would be the continued absence of Robert Green. Just how Green can regularly be overlooked for Scott Carson is a mystery to most, and now it seems as if Wigan's beanpole Chris Kirkland has leap-frogged our Number 1.

The selection of Jermaine Jenas is startling. Italians are famed the world over for their sense of style, and yet our new footballing overlord has chosen to select someone who's baffling hair makes him look like a disheveled, lost and bewildered Arthur Fonzarelli.

6. Putting People's Noses Out Of Joint

Steve Bruce is the Nicolas Anelka of the managerial world, professing passion and love of whoever is employing him at the time, but always ready to walk out on them for a better offer at the drop of a hat.

He started out his managerial career at Sheffield United in 1998, moving to Huddersfield Town just a year later after some trademark whinging about 'broken promises' led to his resignation. Sacked by Huddersfield after 12 months, he moved to Wigan and pledged his allegiance for a full seven weeks before jumping ship and heading to Crystal Palace.

Bruce soon quashed any doubts over his loyalty by remaining with Palace for four whole months, by which time he risked the wrath of the swashbuckling Simon Jordan and decided to leave for Birmingham. More recently, Bruce's move to Wigan cost his new employers £3million in compensation to Birmingham City.

Some have accused Wigan of paying through the nose for an average-at-best manager. But considering that this is Steve Bruce's nose we're talking about, of much greater concern must be the safety of the deal brokers who are still lost in there somewhere among the catacombs, cul-de-sacs and blind corners of Bruce's angular hooter.

7. The Injury List

I really can't bring myself to make any guesses as to who will start or be on the bench this weekend as it's all I ever seem to do. Perhaps if Curbishley elected to not wrap returning 'athletes' in cotton wool and bubble wrap for months on end, we might have more of an idea.

It's easier to guess who won't be there - Collins is out for the rest of the season and Parker is a long-term lay off. Solano is doubtful and I've forgotten what Kieron Dyer looks like.

8. The Bigger Picture

Things are looking pretty rosy for us at the moment and I suppose much of the credit for that must go to Alan Curbishley, even if a lot of us would like to see a bit more attacking dynamism on the pitch.

Our 10th spot League position is solid and, inspiringly, there are more points between us and 11th-placed tottenham (8) than us and Champions League Football (7). We also have the benefit of having a game in hand over all but one of the teams above us and all of those below.

With our remaining fixtures being an equal mix of big guns, goal fodder and comparable teams, and with us having more away games left than home, it is not inconceivable for us to harbour realistic hopes of European football next season.

We still have to play Blackburn (h), Everton (a), Portsmouth (h) and Villa (h) who all find themselves in a similar position. So, whilst we are out of both Cup competitions, there could still be something to play for come the last few weeks of the season if we can combine consistency with the smooth amalgamation of returning first team players.

9. In Summary

I can see tomorrow's game going one of two ways:

Either we put in an accomplished performance and despatch the opposition in a manner which gives us all hope that we have genuinely kicked-on from last year, or it will resemble the footballing equivalent of a car crash.

No bad thing for Steve Bruce, as his crumpled car bonnet of a nose may then go unnoticed.

1 comment:

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