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.

No comments:

Post a Comment