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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

West Ham 2 - 1 Blackburn Rovers (And Other Ramblings)

1. Carlsberg Don't Do Debuts

Wow, I'll bet it feels good to be Freddie Sears right now. Except for the obvious issue he might have with Alan Curbishley selecting Henri Camara ahead of him all year, but that's probably been offset rather nicely by his rather splendid debut.

I can only imagine what it must be like to come on at Upton Park for your first game as an 18 year old, and notch the winner. In fact, that's pretty much all I spent the first 17 years of my life imagining, so it's fair to say I'm somewhat envious.

So I guess it would also be reasonable to say that West Ham fans feel more positive about Freddie Sears than we do about, oh I don't know, let's pick a name at random, er................ Luis Boa Morte.

2. No Country For Old Men

I can't deny that it was something of a relief just to score a goal in this game, given our recent travails. It's tough to imagine that were going to lose 4-0 at home to Blackburn, but given that we managed to concede three goals to Newcastle I can't say we should be looking down our noses at anybody.

Of course, given our pitiful decline in recent weeks, I might go so far as to say that the rest of this season is really just about preparing for next term. To that end the introduction of Sears was welcome, even before he went all Michael Owen on their asses, and hopefully he will be followed soon enough by Jack Collison and James Tompkins.

It strikes me that by this point we are well aware of what Carlton Cole can do (not a lot, but he tries hard), or Jonathan Spector (not much either but he has nice hair) or Luis Boa Morte (Christ knows, 12 press ups maybe). With all of that in mind, and absolutely nothing left to play for it would be worthwhile to see what we have in our latest crop of youngsters.

I would also very much like to see midfielder Junior Stanislas get a run out, if only so that we can finally hone in on the lucrative untapped West Indian-Polish market.

3. The Statistics

As one might expect, the statistics for this game suggested a fairly even affair. This is simply because it was, perhaps unsurprisingly given the relative proximity of the teams in the Premier League. We mustered 6 shots on target to 5 from the visitors, with Blackburn shading the possession at 51%.

Dean Ashton had no less than 6 efforts at goal, including a splendidly taken goal, which one might dare to hope signals a return to form for the big man. Now admittedly, he was being marked by Christophe Samba who is arguably the only man this side of Johnny Vegas who could make Dean Ashton look svelte, but either way it was an encouraging display.

Elsewhere, we were caught offside just twice, which is a decent indicator that Bobby Zamora is not yet completely back in the swing of things. Or that someone has finally decided to tattoo the rules of the game on to the inside of his eyelids.

4. The Opposition

I have no idea why we are so dominant over Blackburn. I can think of three players - Santa Cruz, Bentley and Pedersen - who would wander straight into our side, and I am sure that Rovers fans could argue eloquently for a few others. All of this is irrelevant of course, as we have not so much the Indian Eye over Blackburn as the entire Asian Continent and most of Africa too.

Today was very strong evidence that there is very little to choose between the teams. Rovers scored a tremendous opener on the counter attack, with a fine finish from Roque Santa Cruz whilst our back 4 did a creditable impression of 4 men doing anything other than professional defending.

Pedersen should have given the visitors a late win, when presented with a very decent opportunity, but he instead ballooned his shot over Tower Bridge somewhere. This in itself wasn't his most telling contribution, as Freddie Sears would later come on and make him look rather ponderous in blitzing past him on the way to his late winner. I sincerely hope that he won't be the last defender to be getting a good look at the soles of Sears boots.

5. The Referee

Martin Atkinson took charge once more, and for my money didn't do a great deal wrong. Truthfully you'd have had to have been Mike Riley to make any kind of controversy out of this fixture. Two sides playing with absolutely no genuine ambitions of progressing much further in the League this year, and nary a tackle in anger.

Ho hum, nobody died. Let's move on.

6. Kudos

On a day such as this, when the entire stadium was salivating at the prospect of a new wunderkind, it would be easy to overlook a few of the better performances. Lucas Neill may have been consistently below par this year, but in recent weeks he has shown signs of life, or at the very least NotbeingascrapasTyroneMears.

Robert Green again proved his worth with a fine late save from Jason Roberts. Certainly Roberts isn't much of a finisher, in fact he's not much of anything really, but it was a tremendous stop nonetheless.

Best of all was the aforementioned return to form of Dean Ashton. Not only did he score a marvellously well taken goal, but he also had a big part to play in the winning goal as he held up a lovely Neill pass and flicked it into the path of the onrushing Sears who briefly impersonated Carlton Cole and whacked it straight at Friedel before recovering to head the winner. Bonzer!

7. Attack, Attack, Attack!

Special kudos to Alan Curbishley who shelved his previous slavish addiction to Italian offensive tactics, as he blew everybody's mind by finishing this game with no less than 3 strikers. I would never have considered that Curbishley had the guts to play 4-3-3, especially in a game that we weren't losing, but in fairness he showed a hitherto unseen attacking tilt in the second half.

It certainly felt as though he had realised that this was no time to be Boltonian given recent events, and credit to him.

There is still absolutely no excuse for ever picking Luis Boa Morte again - let us hope that Curbishley has noticed the following......

Less Luis - Less Losing

You know it makes sense.

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