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, 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........."

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