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

Thursday, April 17, 2008

West Ham United vs Derby County: Match Preview - 19/04/2008

1. A.W.O.L

Firstly, apologies to you all for having gone missing these last few weeks. I've got a lot on my plate at the moment and it's hard to see the PC monitor over all these Wagon Wheels. Especially when they're teetering precariously on a bed of chicken nuggets.

In my defence, I'm sure you can empathise with the near impossible task of trying to gee everyone up for our few remaining fixtures.

Review writing I'm sure is a much easier task, although it is to HeadHammer Shark's credit that his last few articles are the one thing to have spurred me into action this week. So you've got him to thank.

2. Refuge Of The Damned

A few weeks back it was my intention to write a piece about our upcoming games against a host of relegation candidates. Since then, Newcastle have turned the corner, both Sunderland and Bolton have beaten us (thereby diluting my H List mojo) and Derby must be odds on to cause an "upset" this weekend.

Our proud history of negating any recent poor opposition form and our regular provision of statistical anomalies all point towards a result of some sort for Derby this weekend. What's particularly worrying is that Derby manager Paul Jewell has been saying for weeks now how the players owe their fans a result before the end of the season.

Lost 14 games on the spin? Come and play West Ham. Crawled your way through a 6-month goal drought? Come and play West Ham. The signing of football superstars has done nothing to enhance the reputation or quality of your domestic league? Announce West Ham as the opposition in your All-Star showpiece.

Forget about Derby County's 11 points from 34 games, their goal difference of minus 58, our 5-0 away victory back in November - it all means nothing come 3 o'clock Saturday. I think no-one would be overly surprised were they to nick a draw at the weekend.

Surely we are capable of comprehensively beating a team at home who are so clearly out of their depth at Premiership level? Surely we can really go for the jugular and mercilessly have the game sewn up after an hour?

Surely Luis Boa Morte should be nowhere near the first team?????

3. History

It's not so long ago that we played Derby County at Upton Park, courtesy of our two year stint in the Championship. The last time was in January 2005 and resulted in a 2-1 defeat. Prior to that, a meeting in April 2004 ended in a 0-0 draw. Inspiring stuff.

The 2-1 defeat is particularly surprising as we had Marlon Harewood and Luke Chadwick upfront that day - the ugliest strike force in the history of football. Pardew's tactics were obviously to force the Derby defence to turn their heads in disgust and allow our forwards to hobble past as the defenders threw up all over the pitch.

"OK, lads - give the ball to Marlon and Luke, let them run at the defence and remember - cover your eyes. Kevin, unlock the dungeon and lead those freaks to their bucket of nutritious pre-match fish heads."

Our record over the last 10 years is more palatable with seven wins, six draws and just the single loss.

Perhaps a positive omen for us is that we have scored 23 goals against Derby in our last 12 encounters, including 5-0, 4-0 and 5-1 victories.

4. Go In Peace To Love And Serve The Lord

John Pantsil played more or less the full game at the weekend and on the face of it, did nothing to command a first team start for the remainder of this term.

Or did he?

King Pantsil was able to get Kevin Davies booked which saw the Bolton forward incur a 10th yellow card of the season, meaning he misses two of Bolton's remaining four games.

Whilst it has been established on this blog that Davies is a distinctly average "striker" (when not playing us), he is far and away Bolton's most potent attacking threat in the absence of Nicolas Anelka. Yes, this is like saying 'Wyclef Jean is easily the best black guitarist since Hendrix', but Davies' absence could prove a decisive nail in Bolton's Premiership coffin.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

5. Dear Alan...

"Repetition impresses the subconscious and we are then master of the situation."

Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte Drop Luis Boa Morte

Anyone interested in who came up with the little pearl of wisdom above (the top one), it was Jane Fonda. For the more highbrow among you, here's one from Mahatma Gandhi:

"Each repetition has a new meaning, carrying you nearer and nearer to God."

This also works to our benefit if one draws the logical conclusion that 'nearer and nearer to God' means that LBM will be sat next to John Pantsil on the bench.

6. Jewell In The Crown

Paul Jewell is a manager with a proven track record of keeping below average teams in top flight football. He kept Bradford City up on the last day of the '99/2000 season and achieved the same with Wigan last year.

I have a lot of time for Paul Jewell, I admire his straight-talking and candour but was quite surprised when he took the Derby post as I thought he may hold out in order to take the step up to a more established midtable outfit. He certainly took on the impossible job in regard to this season.

With his new American overlords promising summer funds (Jewell's predecessor Billy Davies had the foresight to spend their relegation parachute money before November), perhaps Jewell knows something we don't.

Although I can't see how. He must have been lured with the Street Hawk DVD boxset and a cast-iron guarantee from the board that Derby will never sign Luis Boa Morte.

7. Injuries

Bobby Moore is long dead, Alan Devonshire and Geoff Pike retired some time ago and Mark Ward is in the midst of an 8-stretch for drug dealing.

That's about as cheery as it will get before we all shake our heads and swear under our breath when the line-up is announced come Saturday afternoon.

8. The Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Men

Details have emerged this week of the latest meeting between the West Ham fans forum and the men in charge. A few interesting particulars transpired, clearing up some of the paper talk and indeed some of the opinions seeping from within the club itself.

It was heartening to hear that the return rate of our injured masses is a concern for those in power and not just the befuddled fanbase. Roehampton University have been drafted in to take a look at the Druids and cave-dwelling Shamen in charge of our medical set-up, the aim being to create a specialised medical team independent of managers and coaches.

They have done similar work with Chelsea and Adidas elite athletes, and among their stated objectives are to remove both voodoo and ritualistic Tahitian dance from the club's medical code of practice.

The playing squad is currently deemed too large and will be reduced from the current 29 to around 24. With more arrivals anticipated this summer, this would mean that a fair few faces are shown the door. You would've thought these would include Nigel Quashie and Calum Davenport.

Hopefully every effort will be made to clone Luis Boa Morte over the summer just so we can get rid of him 8 or 9 times.

Alan Curbishley recently made the assertion that his side have not given up on this season, his reasoning being that their bonuses are all linked to a top 10 finish. This didn't so much reaffirm our belief in their desire to provide us long-suffering fans with something to cheer, as confirm that their main focus is to swell their already over-inflated pay packets.

However, it has come to light that a top 10 finish will bear little fruit and that the bonus system was mainly geared towards a top 6 placement. No chance of that, so the lads will have to do the weekly shop in Lidl over the summer to get the best value out of their tens of thousands a week.

Thankfully, the Board are also unhappy with our current position and more importantly, the entertainment value. This didn't stop them pledging support for Curbs however, as they hold the belief that everything will improve once he can play his first team regularly and free of injury.

It looks as though Curbishley will be given 'til at least Christmas to prove his worth before he is offloaded and we start this whole sorry regeneration business again.

9. Steve Bruce Update

Steve Bruce recently stepped through the whirring time portal at the end of his nose to visit one of his myriad former clubs, Birmingham City.

The acrimonious nature of Bruce's departure from St Andrews is well documented and the petulant whinging about the whole situation from the current Wigan boss came as no surprise.

What was a surprise, however was the final sticking point, the whole reason Bruce's departure from Birmingham became so protracted. It was the issue of image rights. (Yes, you read that right.)

Now, I would've thought that Steve Bruce and his Angular Hooter (TM) would have been keen to offload the aforementioned rights - eager to distance themselves from his status as pin-up boy for weather-beaten chimney stack enthusiasts everywhere - but no.

Steve has also been praised this week for introducing Antoine Sibierski and Jason Koumas to proceedings when Wigan were 1-0 down at Stamford Bridge, the suggestion being that most managers would be happy to keep it tight and 'save face' when in the same position.

Obviously not a consideration for a man whose facial contours confound cartographers the world over.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bolton Wanderers 1 - 0 West Ham (And Other Wakes I Have Attended Recently)

1. It's Like A Funeral (*)

I should have realised that this was going to be an ill fated trip, when I somehow managed to confuse our 12 year old mascot with Freddie Sears during the warm up. This lead to a brief outburst of optimism amongst my row which would not be repeated for the rest of the day.

This was easily the worst game of football I have seen since, oh I don't know, Tuesday.

(*) Today's H List headers are brought to you by the Upton Park Community Choir - Travelling Section

2. Are We Charlton In Disguise?

To describe this performance as listless and insipid would simply not do it justice. This was the footballing equivalent of being slapped around the head with a large bag of apples.

Of course, being Curbishley-era West Ham it was caked in that extra layer of shit to really make the whole thing utterly unpalatable. I'm not sure how many more times I can object to performances like this before you all switch your allegiance to another West Ham blog in protest at my constant negativity.

My biggest complaint about this day is that the players weren't outside the ground handing out money back to the 3,000 fans who wasted a day going to watch this crap when we could have been doing something more rewarding like shoving cement up our noses.

3. You Don't Know What You're Doing

There was a wonderful testament to the current regime after a mere 60 seconds of the match. Anton Ferdinand warmed up for this game so thoroughly that he managed to pull a hamstring the first time that he was actually required to move.

The fact that Curbishley then had the gall to list this injury as one of the reasons for our lethargy simply shows how out of touch he appears to be with the feelings of the supporters.

I for one, couldn't care less about our injury list when it gets bolstered in this sort of fashion - because either the player or the coaching staff are simply not professional enough.

Perhaps even more telling was Curbishley's response to the injury. With John Paintsil and James Tomkins on the bench and a central defender injured, he chose to send on Paintsil and shift Spector in to the middle. Objectively, I can understand this ploy given that the replacement would have been up against Kevin Davies who is never more than 30 seconds away from kicking his opponent, and Tomkins is a willowy 19 year old.

But, and it's a large one, we already know what we have in Spector (tries hard, also tries my patience) and Paintsil (cult hero, mostly due to his ineptitude). This is an unprecedented chance to trial youngsters in the heat of the Premiership without regard for the results. Certainly, I don't want to see us lose to Bolton, but I can suffer it if there is any sort of investment in the future of the team.

Sadly, Tomkins was left on the bench, Spector made the mistake that allowed Davies to score, and Paintsil helped to improve Lucas Neill's reputation. And we are no closer to knowing what the future might hold.

4. We're Shit But We're Staying Up

It's hard to know which is a more damning indictment of modern football. That this appalling Bolton side had a decent UEFA Cup run earlier this season, or that this appalling West Ham team has comfortably stayed in the top half of the Premier League all year.

I have little sympathy for Bolton's plight. The type of football that they play is about as aesthetically pleasing as a Heather Mills press interview, and I will certainly not mourn the absence of the Reebok stadium from our away trips. That said, they were significantly better than us today. Sure, it was all long balls and elbows but they're Bolton fer Chrissakes, not the re-incarnation of Brazil '84.

Our distaste for any kind of physical battle was obvious as early as the first Bolton attack which required Spector to make a nifty clearance from under his own bar as the rest of his colleagues stood around comparing their mudless knees.

I'd tell you more, but truthfully, what would be the point? The players have been on holiday since we reached 40 points, as evidenced by the fact that we have scored just 5 goals in our last 9 games, of which one was deflected and another required Nolberto Solano to boot Antti Niemi in the head. At this point I think I'd have more respect for Curbishley if he simply came out and admitted that he can't be bothered, and he's booked a trip to the Seychelles that he is really quite looking forward to.

5. We Want A Second Striker

Trying to determine what on earth was happening with our tactics in this game would take a far more intelligent being than I, like say Stephen Hawking or Deep Blue.

Encouragingly we began this game with two strikers, but rather less encouragingly still began the game with 5 men playing in midfield. For some brain-warping reason, the very left footed Bobby Zamora was deployed on the very right hand side of our team, which rather awesomely nullified both at once. If you ever attempted to send this particular formation out to play on a PC Football Manager type game the system simply wouldn't let you as it is too ludicrous to even consider.

Things then took a turn for the mental as we made our first substitution - replacing debutant midfielder Jack Collison with striker Carlton Cole. So far, so splendid you might imagine. Except that right footed centre forward Cole was stranded out on the left, Zamora was still bemused on the right, and Luis Boa Morte was inexplicably moved into the middle in ersatz support of the very lonely Dean Ashton.

So, just to recap, that's 5 in midfield, comprised of 2 midfielders (Parker & Mullins), 2 centre forwards playing wide (Zamora & Cole) and Boa Morte who barely qualifies as a homosapien at this point.

Our last change was to replace the tiring Zamora with Freddie Sears. Cole was switched over to the right to ensure that we were still wasting at least one of our strikers, and Sears was employed alongside Ashton. There was an immediate upturn in our fortunes as the youngster appeared to cotton on to the fact that Bolton are a fucking terrible defensive team.

Naturally, we didn't score.

6. Too Fucking Negative

Just in case you missed that last point, please let me re-iterate. We failed to score against a defence containing Andy O'Brien, a man who wasn't a good enough defender.........for Newcastle.

7. Sign Him Up

Kevin Davies has now scored a whopping four goals this year to really enforce the notion that any description of him as a "striker" must always come with inverted comma's. One little addendum to that fact, however, is a real pearler. In his last 37 games against all teams in the Universe other than West Ham, Davies has scored 3 goals. In his last 5 games against us he has scored 5 times.

At this point may I suggest that we buy him, simply so that he will never play against us again.

8. We Are West Hams Claret And Blue Army

It's tough to know exactly where we go from here. Next week we face a Derby team who appear to have been sent from God in order to prevent Premiership teams from having bad runs, and consequently it would seem logical to assume that we will get back to winning ways soon. But that would simply be papering over the cracks. I will re-iterate my call for Curbishley to go in the summer once again, because I love a futile gesture, but there is a deeper malaise here.

I cannot really understand how our owners could look favourably at Curbishley's consistent record of achieving mid table safety, before sliding into the dead mans land of 12th-14th. I'm sure there are psychoanalysts out there who might better be able to explain this pattern, but my uneducated view would be that such a huge emphasis has been placed on achieving safety, that the emotional high of doing so has now led to this hopeless slide into abject crappiness.

Either way, after 15 years of repeating this trend, Curbishley seems no closer to resolving the problem. I'd like to think he is aware of this, but if he is then it's not translating into anything different on the pitch. Except, maybe, for Hayden Mullins taking our set pieces. Which should stop. Now.

9. Boo!

Another deluxe performance from Luis Boa Morte this week. Somewhat controversially he eschewed traditional football gear once more, and this time proceeded with a pair of moon boots. Not the popular fashion accessory, mind, but the actual lead based NASA designed line as worn by Armstrong, Aldrin et al.

Many Hammers fans like to mock Boa Morte and claim that his second touch is always a tackle. To me this isn't true. I dream of the day that his first touch keeps the ball close enough to him that he could make a tackle. Usually it bounces off him into another postal district. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a human being with abilities less suited to being a professional footballer than this man.

Consider this. Just before Dean Ashton rattled the Bolton crossbar in our only decent move of the week, Boa Morte had the ball drop to him, on his favoured left foot, seven yards from goal with only a man on the line to beat.

Unsurprisingly he shot straight at the defender and the chance was lost. This, however, wasn't the worst of it - the shot wasn't blocked off the line, it was kicked off the line. Just consider how bad your technique has to be to strike a ball so lamely from 7 yards out that the opposition player has time to weigh it up, adjust his body and swing at the ball.

There are arachnids out there who are more talented than this man. Enough is enough is enough....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

West Ham 0 - 1 Portsmouth (And Other Ramblings)

1. Pens At The Ready

Anyone out there fancy a game of "Alan Curbishley Late Season Bingo"?

"Boredom?" - Check, "Mid Table Mediocrity Followed By Inevitable Slide Down The Table?" - You Betcha, "Already Wishing It Was Next Year?" - Yep, "Keep Expecting To Look Over And See Roeder On The Touchline?" - Right On, "Curbishley Promising Not To Let The Season Fizzle Out?" - Yessir, "Worst Home Performance Since The Battle Of Hastings?" - HOUSE!

2. Let's Cuddle In A Huddle

The start of both halves of this game were delayed for 15 minutes by the longest ever known recorded session of high fives and manly hugs from Portsmouth.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a new man. I moisturise sporadically, I make charitable contributions and allow Mrs Shark to vote occasionally, but this was unbelievable. Boy, were these fellows determined to truly emphasise that they were in this together or what?

NB: Watching Papa Dioup hug David James is like seeing two redwood trees falling into one another.

3. The Statistics

Trying to analyse this game in any great depth is challenging given the fact that this requires me to remember elements of it. This is especially vexing given the cruel and unusual punishment that was watching the game in the first place.

Despite having the bulk of possession with 52%, we converted this into nary a decent chance at all. Bobby Zamora did briefly threaten competence at one point but quickly reverted to Boa Mortian levels of performance and blew all his chances.

Both sides managed 17 shots on target between them, which just highlights the relative lack of merit of statistics because neither keeper had a difficult shot to save right up until Portsmouth scored.

Bear in mind also, that the visitors won this game comfortably despite doing absolutely nothing of merit in the first 35 minutes of the match.

4. The Opposition

I note from looking at my notes of some previous games that I once said the following about Everton - "Everton are enormous. It is quite possible that their corner routines can be seen from outer space".

Well let me now add that Everton look up to Portsmouth. They wonder what the air is like up where Portsmouth are. Portsmouth hang Everton on their coat hook and steal their lunch money. Sweet Jesus, they are huge. I would describe Papa Diop as Herculean, but for the fact that it simply isn't a butch enough verb.

All of that being true shouldn't detract from the fact that Portsmouth were significantly better than us, in much the same way that eating a fish is significantly better than being eaten by a fish. Even without Defoe, Utaka, Baros and Diarra they were much more effective in going forward, so much so that Niko Krancjar's splendid winning goal was utterly predictable. We -

5. This Interruption Is Sponsored By Englishmen Everywhere

Hang on a minute. I thought that sometime last November we had decided, as a nation, that giving Niko Krancjar the ball on the edge of our box and allowing him to shoot was a stunningly ill conceived idea? Certainly no dumber than allowing Steve MacLaren or Scott Carson anywhere near our national side, but a ridiculous ploy none the less.

Interestingly, Krancjar appears perfectly capable of playing on the left hand side of midfield despite being predominantly right footed. I note this because this skill seems to have eluded the entire male population of England, with the honourable exception of Joe Cole - who can also do it, and Stewart Downing - who is neither left or right footed.

6. Meanwhile, Back At The Article

The notion of a Harry Redknapp side that is well organised and defensively sound is basically insane if you spent any time watching his West Ham sides. Credit for this presumably resides with Tony Adams, who despite being the most boring TV analyst in the Universe, is clearly a man who knows his way around an offside trap.

It should also be noted that whilst attack may very well be the best form of defence, it could be argued that the next best option is to let Bobby Zamora have the ball (More on that later).

7. The Referee

Considering that this was one of the dullest games of association football ever played, it would have taken a fairly incompetent referee to make anything of it. Lee Probert did a reasonable job, letting play continue on the numerous occasions that Papa Boupa Diop fell to the floor writhing in pseudo agony.

Tellingly there was not even a single yellow card, despite the presence of Hermann Hreidarsson on the pitch, a man who views the headlock as a valid defensive tactic.

8. Formation Blues

We finished this game with a midfield of John Paintsil, Scott Parker, Luis Boa Morte and Carlton Cole. This is a combination so utterly incomprehensible to me that it can only have been arrived at using the unholy combination of a bottle of Peach Schnapps: a blindfold: a pin and our squad photograph.

9. Bobby Prize

Let me be clear that it is good to see Bobby Zamora back in action. For all his faults, he brings a mix of liveliness and mobility to our forward line that has been largely absent this year. Clearly he is short of match practice and will need some more time before he is back in the swing of things, but Great Holy Moly exactly how did he miss that chance on the first half?

I'll admit that it was nice to see him wander round David James, even if it relied more on luck than judgement, but Bobby then somehow contrived to strike the ball at the only possible angle which would have resulted in anything other than a goal.

Professional strikers will miss open goals from time to time due to statistical probability, but in a tense (or more accurately, interminably dull) 0-0 draw, it is unwise to spurn chances that present themselves wrapped in a bright shiny bow.

10. Luis Boa Morte Footwear Update

Luis braved the elements and appeared for this game wearing some brand spanking new roller blades. These came in very handy when he nimbly turned Glen Johnson early in the first half before shooting lamely at David James.

This so impressed Alan Curbishley that he decided to play him in central midfield. As The Stone Roses would say far better than I can - "There are no words, to describe the way I feel........."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sunderland 2 - 1 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. A Preview To A Kill

If I had known that Sunderland had not won back to back Premier League matches during a run stretching over their last 126 games, then I would not even have bothered worrying about this game. West Ham exist almost solely to break records like this.

If only there was a website somewhere that provided previews of our matches where I could find out interesting titbits such as this, that would be a genius idea.

In any event, we duly obliged with some suitably porous defending in the last minute and here we are, me writing about, and you reading about a game so lamentably pointless that it's a wonder it wasn't shown on Channel 5.

And on the subject of previews - is John Paintsil really Nigerian?

2. In Case You're Wondering

I'm sure some of you are thinking - "Hmm, 126 games. Where have I heard that figure before?". To put you out of your misery, this is exactly the number of matches missed by Craig Bellamy as a result of his ongoing "minor" stomach problem.

Apparently the decision by our crack medical team to resolve this problem using an industrial saw, a jar of aniseed and a shot of whiskey appears to have backfired spectacularly.

3. The Statistics

For a game that was settled in it's dying moments, the statistics show a markedly different set of circumstances. We mustered just ten shots on goal all day, whilst human fungus Daryl Murphy managed EIGHT on his own for Sunderland. Daryl Murphy! My appendix is more useful than this man fer cryin' out loud.

In all, the home side managed 22 shots at goal, with 12 on target in addition to forcing 13 corners. All of this despite having the ball for 49% of the time. This isn't all that surprising given that when Sunderland get the ball they don't waste any time with fancy dan nonsense like passing and moving and instead launch it as far into the stratosphere as they can.

Weirdly, the game itself was more even than these figures might reflect, essentially because Daryl Murphy was doing a lot of the shooting. There you go, they had a lot of pressure and in the end it told. I'm not going to pretend that losing to Sunderland is especially palatable but I've spent more than enough time watching West Ham to realise that things like this happen. A lot.

4. The Opposition

I have no respect for Sunderland. I'm not going to lie, for I don't imagine that they have a great deal of love for me either. But here's the thing. I will grudgingly admit that they have extracted a lot from very little. It seems inconceivable to me that a team with Nyron Nosworthy in their back four could ever possibly stay in the division but hey, the Swiss won the Americas Cup I guess.

Anyway, their rickety defence aside, the Black Cats did enough to win this game, largely through random acts of violence and aerial superiority. A sort of North East "Operation Desert Storm" if you will.

I am convinced they will remain in the division and contribute absolutely nothing to English football once again next year. Which is a shame as Derby at the very least are good for comedy defending and managerial sex scandals.

5. The Referee

Given that Sunderland employ a "kick first/operate later" policy it would be fair to say that this game should have been fairly bloody. As it turned out that wasn't especially true, despite the odd industrial tackle from the home side.

True, we did finish the game with ten men due to injuries, but that can be attributed as much to our own policy of employing men with no hamstrings, as to anything done by the home side. Just in case any one from the club is reading this - I am just about ready for our players to stop re-enacting Ypres every Saturday, and equally ready for the club's medical staff to use some 21st century medical techniques.

6. In Defence Of The Defence

We don't seem to be doing clean sheets any more. I can't say for certain why that is exactly, but the absence of Matthew Upson's beard would have to be a factor. So too would Not Marking Kenwyne Jones when he was standing approximately 2 feet from our goal line. I am not quite sure why our centre halves pursued this course of action, but they did and it was soon 1-1.

On the subject of Jones, he looks a splendid player. Against us.

He has now scored 6 goals this season, which is positively Kuytian for a Premier League striker. Sadly he has now scored one third of those goals against us, and frankly could have had loads more based on our clearly defined policy of not venturing anywhere near him.

If I appear to be blaming our defence for this defeat then let me quash that notion now. Any side that cannot score more than twice against a defence like this (See: Nosworthy, Nyron - paragraph 4) should be ashamed, but it would certainly help our cause if we did a bit of professional defending occasionally.

7. And On That Subject

Imagine you are Anton Ferdinand. This is tough for most humans, who may as well imagine they are a wildebeest for all the frame of reference they would have. But try anyway.

You are drawing 1-1 in an inconsequential away game at Sunderland with nary 30 seconds to go. The ball is lofted in to the box, which doesn't surprise you, and you have two choices.

a) Head the ball in to the vast expanse of grass outside your area
b) Head the ball straight to a small, chubby man standing 5 feet away

Now I'm not disputing that Andy Reid is a semi talented footballer but he resembles an athlete in the same way that I look like a lingerie model. He could stand to lose a few pounds is all.

Anyway, Anton chose option b) for some reason, and Reid chose not to eat the ball and instead volleyed it home rather neatly.

In the grand scheme of life, losing to a late goal is galling but simply one of those things. It was unfortunate that the ball landed at the feet of a man, who despite being so tubby he appears to be permanently in the midst of falling of a horse, does possess a sweet left foot.

I would not, however, have objected if Anton had wanted to use his neck muscles there.

8. Attack Atack Attack. And Then Stop.

I suppose I shouldn't paint too negative a picture of this game, given that we dominated all of the early play, culminating in Ljungberg's deflected but deserved opening goal. Dean Ashton then followed up with a splendid effort that crashed back off the post, before Carlton Cole was denied by a stunning save from Craig Gordon(*).

(*) Stunning in the sense that I had no idea Carlton Cole could hit a curling shot into the top corner from twenty yards, and I sure as hell had no idea that Craig Gordon had the ability to stop anything.

Thereafter, we simply reverted to pure tedium and waited for injuries to take their toll. Sure enough with ten minutes to go and all the substitutes on, Freddie Ljungberg's hamstring decided to break for freedom and detach itself from the rest of his body, and suddenly we were down to ten men.

Injuries of course are a necessary evil, but my point here is that when we are playing meaningless games away from home with no pressure on us I would rather lose the game through over committing ourselves to attacking, than lose the game through trying to cling on to a fairly worthless point.

9. Freddie Sears - West Ham Legend

Want proof that Freddie Sears has what it takes to become part of West Ham folklore? He's played 55 minutes, and missed this game through injury.

I can see Craig Bellamy nodding in approval.

10. Luis Boa Morte Footwear Update

I'm afraid that I cannot say for certain what Luis was sporting on his feet this week given that he was restricted to the bench, after Alan Curbishley surprisingly left him out. Perhaps Boa Morte has given his kids back.

Anyway, rumours are that he was wearing a pair of wellington boots.

11. Get Real!

I mulled over whether to include this last item or not, but I thought "Why not, it's my blog and you're not paying anything to read it you ungrateful bastards".

Reality TV, as we all know, is garbage, with the honourable exception of America's Next Top Model which is not so much Reality TV as a biting socio-economic commentary on Bush era America. However, I wanted to direct you to another show currently on the air.

This is only a West Ham story by default really, but I wanted to mention BBC1's brilliant new series of The Apprentice, which is currently on our screens. Aside from being the best television show ever made there is an added bonus this year in the shape of West Ham fan, Simon Smith, who is competing.

If, like me, you waste substantial parts of your life on the various West Ham forums then you will doubtless know of Simon. I do not claim to be a friend, or even an acquaintance, but from everything I know he is a genuine Hammer and deserves our support (Not that we can give him any as it's a bloody television show that was filmed last year, but I thought I'd mention it anyway).

He deserves your affection, if only for not being a certified loon like most of them - witness him not trying to charge someone £5,000 to do some laundry this week.