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, May 21, 2008

The H List : End Of Season Player Ratings (Part 1)

So I guess this is it folks. It's been another long season, remarkable for it's unremarkability and tedious when viewed in it's entirety. Truthfully, our interest in the campaign finished in January when Man City ended another FA Cup run, quite possibly because Jesus Christ himself couldn't believe that we had allowed Elano to score with a header.

Amidst a spate of injuries that would give the 7th Armoured Division cause for concern, we struggled into 10th place sometime around 1988 and didn't budge thereafter.

Given that The H List is essentially an instrument for me to articulate every whinge I have about West Ham, I shall not revisit my many and varied gripes once again. Suffice to say though, for the club to progress I cannot see how this can possibly be achieved with the stultifying combination of Curbishley's approach and our bizarre desire to buy an entire squad of injured midfielders. I hope for change in the summer but expect none, and thus I shall keep eyeing that season ticket renewal form with great suspicion.

So rather than looking back in anger, let's move on to the ratings. As we have used more men this year than Anna Nicole Smith, I shall have to do this in two parts. We shall begin with the lads who hang around at the back, and orchestrate those 4-0 defeats we all know and love:


Robert Green - Appearances : 40

Before we begin, let me direct you to http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/. It's a miles better website than this one, but should you ever come back you will understand the following statement: "If Chuck Norris took a last minute penalty against Robert Green, he'd miss. Then roundhouse kick him in head and score from the rebound."

In truth, this was a remarkable season for Green built on some splendid early form and a handy knack for an eye catching save. He does still have a vulnerability to crosses into the box, hence him managing the previously impossible task of conceding a goal to Michael Dawson, but aside from this his form was largely impeccable, reaching a peak with that last minute penalty save from Defoe.

The fact that Chris Kirkland, Joe Hart, Scott Carson and a paper boy from Peterborough have all somehow made it into the England squad ahead of Green is simply proof that a long time ago he slept with someone he shouldn't have done.

Hammer of the Year by a hair, and the only member of our squad who can spell Kilimanjaro, let alone climb it.

Rating - 8/10

Best Performance - Portsmouth (a)

Richard Wright - Appearances : 3

Truthfully, what the hell am I going to say about Richard Wright? I've never seen him cheat at pontoon, he doesn't seem like he would catch a squirrel and imprison him in a jar of custard and I don't think he buys the music of KT Tunstall. But other than that, I really can't comment with any authority on his talents.

He played a part in our Carling Cup run, such as it was, and did pretty much everything one might expect of a reserve keeper, which is not to contract West Nile Flu and take his own goal kicks.

Rating - 6/10

Best Performance - Coventry (a)


John Paintsil - Appearances : 5 (12)

Perhaps the unlikeliest terrace hero in the Universe, John Paintsil appears to be the only reason The Boleyn Beluga actually goes to games anymore. Once upon a time I had high hopes for him (Paintsil, not Beluga) but a succession of defensively lacking performances has decreased my optimism somewhat.

I quite like the notion of an attacking full back who can provide an extra offensive threat in the final third, particularly given that any right midfielder in front of him is quite likely to be clinically dead after 50 minutes or so. Even better if said full back likes to do a bit of praying on the pitch before the game.

That being so, John Paintsil is assuredly not the man to fit the bill.

Rating - 6/10

Best Performance -Manchester United (h)

Lucas Neill - Appearances : 40

Somewhere there is a Sliding Doors type scenario where Lucas Neill simply carried on his stellar form of last year and reproduced it again this time round. Sadly, it isn't in this dimension, and thus we have seen a patchy, jaded and at times, just plain bad version of our skipper.

I subscribe to the theory that Neill probably has more value than his simple on field skills show, as he seems like a dominant force in a fractured dressing room, but even so, I'd certainly like him to lose a few pounds, fly to Australia less frequently and get back to his World Cup form. I still wouldn't get rid of him, purely on the grounds that the alternative is listed above.

His season hit a nadir when he was outjumped for the Arsenal winner by no less an aerial force than Robin van Persie. That is not an accidental phrase by the way, as there simply is no lesser aerial force in the cosmos than Robin van Persie.

Seriously, there are ostriches, the Isle of Man air force and then there is Robin van Persie. Christ, Lucas, that was a bad day to turn up stoned.

Rating - 5/10

Best Performance - Manchester City (a)

George McCartney - Appearances : 44 / Goals : 1

Our most consistent outfield player by a country mile, and indeed the only man to feature in every single one of our games this season. Which is an extremely cruel and unusual punishment considering that even murderers get parole.

My runner up in the Hammer of the Year stakes by a tiny margin to Green, and indeed if he had been able to sustain his form into the last ten games then he would have retained his title from last year. Even more impressively he has achieved this level of excellence in spite of having Luis Boa Morte wobbling about in front of him for most of the year.

Made his debut in my fantasy team just in time for our 3 consecutive 4-0 defeats. You reap what you sow.

Rating - 8/10

Best Performance - Blackburn Rovers (a)

Jonathan Spector - Appearances : 13 (15) / Goals : 1

At this point is probably fair to suggest that people named Jack now refer to themselves as a "Jonathan of all trades". Never has a player been used more schizophrenically than poor Spector who appears to be Curbishley's default substitution no matter what the situation.

Although at this point I literally have no idea what his best position is, I can see a certain value in a player who can fill a multitude of spots with equal ineptitude as the normal incumbent. This was most prominent when our entire midfield went down with botulism around Christmas, leaving Spector as our main creative outlet.

It's perhaps a little unfair, but for all his undoubted effort and commitment, the more Spector plays, the less successful it feels like we are.

I have nothing to back this up, but I also suspect that he will vote for Barack Obama.

Rating - 6/10

Best Performance - Derby (a)

James Collins - Appearances : 3 (2)

A terrible season in every respect for the man we imaginatively call "Ginge". At this time last year we were hailing him as one of the main reasons for our survival, and tentatively pondering whether we had uncovered one of the best new defenders in the Premier League. A year on, his knee is in pieces and he has slipped below pretty much every other sentient being in Essex in Curbishley's pecking order.

I would like to see Collins return next season, primarily because he has an impressive physicality about him, and an aerial ability that is unmatched in our current squad. Which isn't hard admittedly, but when you've had the kind of season we've had you see a straw and you clutch at it.

Rating - 5/10

Best Performance - Middlesbrough (h)

Anton Ferdinand - Appearances : 26 (3) / Goals : 2

I wouldn't want to try and understand Anton Ferdinand's mind because I simply don't think there is anything in there that I would recognise. None the less, the fact that he played his best football of the year whilst under criminal investigation for a possible assault is just ludicrous to me.

Ferdinand's strange decline after his November acquittal was especially disappointing as it was his initial partnership with Matt Upson that had provided the basis for our splendid early season defensive solidity.

Might depart in the summer if rumours are to believed, which would fit with Curbishley's policy of getting rid of high maintenance/ceiling players, but I have to admit I'd be sad to see him go. He gets injured too easily for my liking (see: his hamstring strain after 32 seconds at Bolton) but when he is fit he is our best defender.

His goal against Manchester United was probably the second best moment of the season too.

Rating - 5/10

Best Performance - Snaresbrook Crown Court (Nov)

Matthew Upson - Appearances : 33 / Goals : 1

Quite possibly the biggest surprise of the season, as Upson put the horrors of last year behind him to be the pillar upon which our strong early defensive showing was built. He grew an impressive beard around November which really seemed to help things, culminating with a call up to Fabio Capello's England squad.

To be called up to play for one's country is certainly a nice accolade, although one must place it in it's proper context and note that Phil Jagielka was later capped by Capello, which suggests to me that the Italian is simply going through the entire male population of the country in his search for a centre half.

Upson himself puts his revival in fortunes down to a radical medical technique that involved putting bits of the Yellow Pages into his boots in an effort to better balance his body. Incredibly, despite the obvious amateurism of this ploy, this scheme wasn't devised by our medical team.

Finished the season on the injury list, which inspires a three word reaction from me - "But, of course".

Rating - 6/10

Best Performance - Birmingham (a)

Danny Gabbidon - Appearances : 11 (3)

Here is a player so obviously distrusted by Curbishley that it is something of a surprise that he hasn't just gone the whole hog and chucked Gabbidon in stocks and had our strikers practice their shooting. Based on every single warm up I've seen this year, this would not endanger Gabbidon's well being in the slightest. (*Shakes head and pictures the Mighty Ducks*)

Much like his Welsh colleague Collins, Gabbidon has regressed at an alarming rate this year and barely looks a shadow of the player who was so instrumental in the Pardew era. Some of this is likely due to over confidence on his part, and pig headedness on Curbishley's side, but either way it all feels like quite a waste.

Suffered with injuries this year, which will surprise nobody with working optical muscles, but the suspicion remains that he wouldn't be picked anyway.

Rating - 5/10

Best Perfomance - Chelsea (a)

James Tomkins - Appearances : 5 (1)

From some inauspicious beginnings when Tomkins tried to eat Yakubu on his debut at Everton, the youngster grew in confidence until he too is now ready to sign a long term deal and then suffer an even longer term injury.

Even allowing for the additional leeway that goes with Academy graduates, Tomkins looked very comfortable in his first team introduction and certainly seemed comfortable enough against decent strikers such as Agbonlahor and Owen, and especially at ease with non-decent strikers such as Obafemi Martins.

Seems to have cognitive function, which immediately puts him ahead of Anton Ferdinand in any sort of squad comparison.

Rating - 7/10

Best Performance - Aston Villa (h)

To be continued.....

1 comment:

  1. Hello Senor Shark, how about that Ljungberg fiasco eh? Curbishley can't last much longer, maybe time to bring in Steve Coppell or similar...