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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Manchester City 3 - 0 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. Slight Return

Sweet Jesus, I go away for a while and when I get back this is what they serve up?

2. Early Substitution

This section initially contained a very long, very rambling rant. However, it ruined what little 'flow' there is to the article so I moved it down to the bottom.

Thus, this section is little more than a colossal waste of space. Which considering that this is a West Ham blog, seems remarkably apt.

3. The Statistics

Holy Hell, if this wasn't the worst away performance I've ever seen then it must be pretty close. Now I'm aware that this is a huge statement given the fact that our record on the road is roughly equivalent to that of the Australian cycling team, but I am serious here. Have any of you ever seen a more insipid, abject, disgraceful and asinine excuse for an away performance than this? Seriously, post a comment if you have - let's all have a good wallow.

Sure, the Beluga and I suffered through the 6-0 defeat at Man Utd, I was at Notts County for the 3-0 loss that inspired a mass sit down on the terraces and I haven't forgotten that we once contrived to lose 5-0 to Sheffield Wednesday (!) on my birthday, but come on - this was dire.

Forget the sending off, as we weren't in the game even before that. We managed a whole 3 shots at goal during the game, all of which were in the last 3 minutes and none of which were worth bothering about. Our 45% possession seems flattering, as my recollection of this game, despite desperately trying to drink myself into a stupor, is that we spent an awful lot of it looking hopeless.

Manchester City had 16 shots on goal. Sixteen! Manchester. City.

Ye Gods, Elano outshot us 4-3 on his own. Needless to say, he did a better job of it given that he actually managed to, you know, get them on target and score.

4. The Opposition

It would be hard to mock Manchester City given that they absolutely creamed us here, but as the alternative is to write further analysis of our performance I guess I might as well give it a go.

City do not look overly impressive to me. Yes they were miles better than us and should have won by 5 or 6, but given that we were in the process of producing the worst performance in the history of Association Football that is hardly surprising. Daniel Sturridge capped a mediocre performance with a fine goal, which he then celebrated by dancing like a twat. The Sky pundits were drooling over his performance which would suggest to me that my assessment is correct, and he has no future in the game.

Vincent Kompany made his debut and looked pretty decent, although it helps a lot if the midfield facing you is undergoing a tremendous exercise in invisibility.

At some point Manchester City will face a proper Premier League team and get battered. Oh no, wait, that already happened.

We're going down.

5. The Referee

Ususally, anytime people want to criticise Howard Webb, I can see my way to joining in. However, if you think that he was incorrect to send off Mark Noble on Sunday then there is a reasonable chance that you are Mark Noble's mother.

Not that we were looking especially competent before Noble channelled the spirit of John Moncur, but all hope was lost as soon as he crunched Stephen Johnson's ankle with a "tackle" that Alan Smith would have winced at.

There isn't really a lot else to say about Webb, in truth. We spent a lot of time chasing after a mediocre team, without a lot of tackling or blocking or wastefully energetic things like that. He had his pants on the right way round. Well alright then.

6. The Link Between Scott Parker And The Capulets

It is an oft posited theory that should you leave monkeys in a room with a typewriter for long enough, they will eventually produce Shakespeare (in written word - not the actual man himself).

Clearly subscribing to this notion is Alan Curbishley, who continues to pick a central midfield duo of Noble and Scott Parker on the grounds that someday one of them will produce a defence splitting pass. Look, I know it's hardly revolutionary to point out that our midfield is guileless and pedestrian but I'd have to consider it a fairly pertinent point when a player as wholeheartedly average as Stephen Ireland plays them off the pitch.

Sure, I like the high fives, I like the tough tackling, and I certainly can handle the running about, but I'll be damned if every now and again I also quite like it when someone in our team orchestrates an attacking move of some description. I am a simple man and I don't ask for much. Could we do something other than play for a 0-0 draw against a team who will definitely, certainly, assuredly finish in the middle part of the table? Seriously - it's Man City - they're like a Greek tragedy! They play Darius Vassell up front and keep a straight face! Have a go a beating them fer cryin' out loud.

7. Things To Make Me Wince

I was genuinely all set to heap some praise on Lucas Neill there for a while. Clearly he has all the speed of a ponderous law change but I actually thought he did okay for a bit there in the first half. Then he got turned inside out for two goals and I began to question myself a little.

Of course, he's not a left back, but there is beginning to be a question as to whether he's a right back either. That said, I'm not entirely convinced as to the £5m worth of Behrami either. Nice hair, not so nice defensive positioning.

Luis Boa Morte appeared. He didn't set fire to anything. I consider myself reasonably contented.

8. An Explanation

So having tried to dissect this abomination of a performance, I shall endeavour to explain away the summer. I am sure that none of you noticed, but the H List disappeared off into the ether for a while. I promised to post the second half of the end of year ratings, but I am afraid that work trips, holidays and, most of all, ennui simply got the better of me. They are written and I will put them up here when I can bear to spend 5 minutes thinking about last season again.

Yes, for the first time in my life I seriously considered whether I would renew my season ticket in July. The global recession doesn't help, but far more worrying is that we are having to face up to the fact that being a West Ham fan is simply, well ........... dull. Folks, I'm afraid that this is what it has been like to support Aston Villa or Fulham for the last few years.

We can paint a rosy picture and tell ourselves that we play good football, and we have injuries, and things will all get better when our billionaire owner finds his wallet but you and I and the rest of the world know that this is all nonsense. We have a crap squad. Consider that we went down with a team containing James, Cole, Carrick, Di Canio, Kanoute, Sinclair and Defoe and ask yourself how many of those players would waltz straight into this current side. Things are dire, and I see nothing on the horizon that suggests they will improve any time soon.

From discussions with other fans it seems I am not alone in feeling this way. As a West Ham fan I am readily acquainted with the fact that we will never, ever, ever, ever win anything, so when I attend games I am looking for something else to stir the emotions. Most supporters seem to be prepared to overlook the dross we were served up last year simply because we finished above tottenham. Well that's great, but they then went out and spent £30m sorting out their squad so perhaps we need to move on from celebrating that particular "achievement".

Worse still was the summers adventure in transfer activity. Whilst the world watched on in awe as Holland, Spain and Russia played the kind of football to make you drool, we sat with our hands stuffed in our pockets and took comfort in the imminent return from injury of Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy. All of which is alarmingly reminiscent of 2002, when Glenn Roeder guided us to a suprising 7th place, didn't strengthen the squad and entered the following season with just 3 strikers in advance of a horrific relegation season.

Then, as now, I cannot believe that it was the manager who decided not to spend money, but the board. Sadly, it has become apparent that club is not in a great shape financially and we are once again in our familiar selling mode. In truth, it's hardly surprising. I believe I am right in saying that Gudmunsson has a lot of his assets tied up in Landsbanski, which would explain some belt tightening, in addition to the fact that the first time he gave money to Curbishley, he immediately spent £5m of it on Luis Boa Morte. So I wouldn't give him anything either.

So, where does all of the above leave us? Well, Mrs Shark maintains that I am an unrepentant pessimist, and never have faith in anyone. So it probably won't surprise you to know that I think we will go down this year. I cannot possibly see how we will score enough goals to stay up once Ashton gets injured. And I sure as hell don't think we will be playing any good football while we do it.

Don't be fooled kids, the Club will be more than happy if we finish 14th this season. Be still my beating heart, I think I hear Ron Greenwood spinning in his grave......

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