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

Sunday, March 02, 2008

West Ham 0 - 4 Chelsea (And Other Ramblings)

1. Well, That Was Fun

The only thing that has been missing from this maddeningly inconsistent season has been a real hammering. You may consider that omission rectified.

It would be un-WestHamian in the extreme for us not to suffer at least one shameful defeat a season, so there was something inevitable about this whole debacle from the moment that Nicolas Anelka had a goal wrongly ruled out after just one minutes play.

Prior to this point, our biggest defeat of the season had been 3-1 against Newcastle - a result I still consider to be waaaaay more embarrassing than this - but this was an absolute shellacking. As far as robust defences go, ours today was on a par with the time King Canute sat on the beach and ordered the waves to stop rolling in.

It's nonsense like this that cost us a bloody empire.

2. Joy To Odious

Outside of the US cabinet, it is tough to imagine where one might find a more disagreeable group of people than the current Chelsea squad. It almost as though they require their players to be utter tools before they will even contemplate signing them.

Of course if you are going to have John Terry as your captain, and employ Peter Kenyon in any capacity at all, then it's really not going to be a surprise when you are despised in all four corners of the globe.

Watching Chelsea play is a curiously joyless experience. Sure, they are filled with fine players and their third goal today, by Michael Ballack, was sublime, but it is all rather functional and clinical. The joie de vivre of Arsenal or Manchester United is absent, and whilst they are undeniably good at what they do, they will never win any hearts or minds with this particular set of employees. A bit like Starbucks, I suppose.

3. The Statistics

Games like this are a perfect illustration of why statistics are only useful when framed in some sort of context. We dominated possession of this game to the tune of 58%. This is, of course, utterly pointless when all you are doing is simply passing the ball from one centre back to the other and hoping that the referee is going to end the game soon.

The visitors were far more incisive, converting their lesser possession into 7 attempts on target, versus 6 for us. Needless to say they were ever so slightly better than us at converting them.

The truly splendid statistic from this game is that we once more played 4-5-1 at home. After the previous successes against Man Utd and Liverpool I suppose that it would have been odd to abandon the formation, but there is a prevailing feeling that this particular result has been a long time coming.

There is a rumour circulating that Alan Curbishley has been quoted as saying "Except for the goals it was a fairly even game". Which is akin to the French saying "We did alright in the war except for all those pesky invasions". I can't find the quote but I sincerely hope we are setting the bar a little higher than that. You know, like maybe trying to win the fucking game occasionally.

4. The Opposition

I've touched on the content of Chelsea's squad above, but it has to be said that they gave us a sporting chance by leaving their two best players - Drogba and Essien - on the bench. They are filled to the brim with excellent players operating in a restricted, methodical but unquestionably productive system. If that sounds like damning them with faint praise then that is probably true, but it is no reflection on their dominant performance today.

The opening twenty minute salvo was as impressive a display as we have seen at Upton Park all year. Cole and Ballack scored excellent goals, and we barely threatened the opposition penalty area. If it wasn't for Lampards thoroughly entertaining red card then this game could have ended up as a ludicrous battering.

Chelsea's ability to win games is built upon their formidable defence, with Petr Cech an imposing last line, even if you are able to get past the flying elbows of Chelsea's centre halves. Elsewhere, Joe Cole was sublime, showing us exactly what could have been had we employed a professional football manager rather than Glenn Roeder, back in 2001.

It was also lovely to see Ashley Cole get the fourth goal, as that just capped off the list of quality human beings that we allowed to score against us rather nicely. Yet another Chelsea player making me proud to be English.

4a. The Opposition Captain

I am considering running for public office solely so that I may propose a law change banning anyone from favourably comparing John Terry with Bobby Moore. Sure, they both hail from Barking and they also both have legs but there endeth the similarities.

Terry is a fine Premier League defender, there is no argument about that. He is committed, good in the air, makes spectacular clearances off the line, points and shouts a lot and hasn't yet met a referee that didn't require his help in making every single decision during the game.

The problem is that being good in the air is of no use when you meet opposition teams who simply expose your lack of mobility by playing the ball around you, and your ability to clear the ball off the line is rendered moot if the reason you are having to do it is because of your own mistake to begin with.

Against teams like us, who have no ambition and no guile, then John Terry is well able to look competent. This does not make a good defender.

And the fact that he is somehow the captain of my country just highlights the Stone Age that our national football association has been operating in for the last two years.

5. The Referee

If you believe the press, and let's face it, there is no Godly reason to - then you'd think that Peter Walton had a terrible game. As it goes, I felt he only got one major decision wrong which was not punishing Claude Makelele for his gentle ankle high attempt at re-arranging Julien Faubert's bone structure.

The sending off dominated the headlines, of course, but given that he was only acting on the advice of the assistant referee then Walton really had no choice. Had Lampard not reacted so Lampardly to Boa Morte having the temerity to fall on him then there would not have been an incident to consider and of course, had the likes of Terry and Carvalho not rushed to get involved in what was only a very minor incident then there would barely have been a decision to be made at all. And by the way, it's a sad day when an opposition player getting sent off is the highlight of the game.

Elsewhere, the penalty was so clear cut that they probably should have got two.

6. Let's Be Frank

The Lampard story gained another chapter on Saturday, as he scored from a poorly struck penalty and then was sent off. In all honesty, at this point I just find the whole situation a little sad. He comes from a West Ham family, and it should be a disappointment to all West Ham fans that he had to leave the club to progress this far. It is especially galling that Chelsea turned out to be the place where his career really took off given their non existent record for developing young players of their own.

Certainly he has made several ill judged and stupid comments about the club, but then again he is a footballer and not a normal intelligent human being.

I am not saying that I didn't laugh and holler like everyone else on Saturday, particularly as the sending off looked harsh to me, but I certainly prefer the receptions that Joe Cole gets.

Of course, Lampard doesn't help himself much either. He celebrated his goal with a world record 9 badge kisses, and some aggravating fist pumps. My personal complaint is that I don't have a great deal of respect for a man who celebrates his goals by kissing his wedding ring and pointing to the sky in honour of his daughter, when he has twice been exposed by the News of the World for cheating on them.

So, Frank Lampard - world class badge kisser, fine footballer and low class man. Can't we all just get along?

7. A Little About Us

Now I think about it, maybe I should write a word or two about us. Absolutely dire.

There you go.

8. Attack! Attack! Attack!

I can't stand any more of this. I do not pay my money to watch us cling grimly on for dear life. We are sat firmly in mid table, with no chance of going down, nor of getting into Europe, so why not have a go? What's the worst that could happen - a shocking 4-0 defeat? Imagine!

Given that we are nursing Dean Ashton back from injury, shouldn't we now be starting him in games like this to try and find out exactly what level of performance he is capable of recapturing? Carlton Cole has battled manfully all year, but he cannot finish for toffee, fudge, chocolate or any other kind of dessert. With the return of Bobby Zamora, one can only hope that we can revert to something approaching an attacking formation.

Seriously, we are currently making Bolton look like the epitome of adventure.


  1. Just a note to say that West Ham were absolutely RUBBISH. I am still pissed off about it to be honest. We were crap on opening day against City, but this was far worse. An embarrassment.

  2. Dot Cotton10:39 AM

    How long are we expect to persevere with Ashton? He doesn't look any closer to fitness than he did two months ago. Any West Ham fan who still rates this tub of lard based on recent showings can't have been to the games.

  3. Anonymous10:43 AM

    In addition. You're right, our season is effectively over therefore I'd like to see some of the kids getting a run in the side, Collison, Tomkins, Sears.

    Otherwise who will Chelsea sign in years to come........