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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fulham 1 - 2 West Ham (And Some More Tevezgate)

This weeks column will be a little different. No, it won't be well written or funny, but it will have a pre match comment, a first half and then a distinct second half. This is really in order to let me write a report on the Fulham game whilst launching into some Tevezian areas of debate.

Pre Match Warm Up

1. Get This

As a matter of interest, if we had managed the not wildly implausible feat of beating West Brom, we would now be top of the league.

Currently, we sit 2 points behind Chelsea and Liverpool, level with Arsenal, 4 points clear of Man Utd and 10 points clear of tottenham. Naturally, our nearest challengers for the UEFA Cup spot that we currently occupy are Hull City.

We are the most free scoring team in the top 6.

Statistics are brilliant.

The First Half

2. Get Them

Two post match quotes from the managers:

Roy Hodgson: "If you look at the possession statistics and that of the chances created it would be in our favour"

Gianfranco Zola: "I think it wasn't luck, I think we played a good match. There was only one team that deserved to win and I'm pleased that it was West Ham".

To get two more conflicting statements than that you would need to ask Sarah Palin and my two year old daughter a question about foreign policy (my daughter has had her passport for two years you see), and yet strangely both Zola and Hodgson are wrong.

The statistics do not in any way support the assertion that Fulham dominated this match, but having said that, it wasn't exactly as one sided an affair as Zola seems to think. I can't agree that Fulham deserved to win this game, but there is a reasonable argument somewhere that they deserved something from the game.

I suppose I am concluding that all in all this was a strange game. Let's leave it at that.

3. The Statistics

As mentioned above, it would be hard to contest that Fulham were especially dominant in this match. They mustered a surprising 20 shots to our 17, but only 2 were on target against 7 from us. Given that they scored with one of those shots, this actually meant that Robert Green made just one save all match. Ho hum.

Possession was split with a 53% share in our favour, although even that doesn't really tell us much. Incredibly, Jimmy Bullard attempted 8 shots all on his own, all from free kicks, and 7 of which were directed straight at our wall. It's hard to believe he doesn't still play for us with accuracy like that.

Craig Bellamy had a couple of efforts when he came on. I think now would be a good time to move on.

4. The Opposition

For a long time I have to admit that I found Fulham to be fairly pointless. Under Tigana they played nice football, had an attacking outlook and were quite entertaining. Then they spent £11m on Steve Marlet which precipitated the current global banking crisis, and I lost some respect for them.

Under Coleman and Sanchez they were simply there, never going down but never really contributing. Sort of like the Belgians.

It should be noted, however, that under Roy Hodgson they have gained a new lease of life. Their survival last year was impressive, and they have begun to pick up a few players that don't make my eyes glaze over and my eyelids heavy. The midfield quartet of Gera, Davies, Bullard and Murphy is quite tasty and Zamora and Johnson seems like a functional pairing up front.

I shall not go overboard - we did beat them after all - but there are lots more reasons to hope Fulham stay up than previously. Unlike, say, Middlesbrough who are currently setting a world record in pointlessness and should probably just be closed down to save us all a lot of hassle.

5. The Referee

Mr A Marriner took charge of this match and had a somewhat eventful time. In between penalising Scott Parker for pretty much every challenge he made, he sent off Andy Johnson for a couple of nasty tackles. Although I am the model of impartiality, given that he was lucky not go for the first one on Illunga I have limited sympathy for the cheating little gobshite.

With West Ham cruising at 2-0 up and Fulham struggling, for reasons best known to himself and an opiate farmer in Afghanistan, Lucas Neill decided to handle an innocuous ball into the box. It wasn't immediately obvious but it looked close enough and Marriner gave it. Pretty hard to blame the referee for that.

6. The Flourishing Left

I can't say for sure that I completely understand our new formation, or even whether it's having any impact. That may sound somewhat silly given results, but I'm not quite ready to salute the revolution simply on the back of beating Newcastle and Fulham.

So yes, this may be the Emperor's New Clothes, but it certainly seems to have perked up Matthew Etherington either way. Having waited 11 months for a goal, he now has two in a week and seems liberated by the new system. His finish here was a splendid effort, although there was something poignantly familiar about watching a winger sprint clear of Konchesky and Paintsil to score.

He is being helped enormously by the presence of Herita Illunga behind him, whose early performances are enough to suggest that George McCartney isn't going to be quite as sorely missed as we feared. Illunga has a neatness about his play that appeals, and his willingness to advance deep into opposition territory is welcome, even if it leaves the terrifying prospect of Neill and Upson on their own against quick forwards, slow forwards or indeed any sentient beings with the gift of mobility.

7. The Return Of Our Midfield

Having spent quite some time mocking our midfielders for their uniform lack of creativity it behooves me to eat some humble pie and acknowledge that since the arrival of Zola, Mark Noble has set up two goals in as many games, Etherington has scored twice and Valon Behrami has yet to actually stop moving.

In Noble's case I'm not going to break out the champagne just yet as Newcastle and Fulham aren't exactly Arsenal circa 1989, but it's a start.

Scott Parker is quite possibly not made of balsa wood.

8. Cole Patrol

Got nicked. Ran the Fulham defence ragged. Scored. Made some post match comments that looked like they used English. Job done.

2nd Half

OK, now I know for a fact that some legal types read this blog, mostly because they all offer their services immediately after The Boleyn Beluga posts anything.

I'd like to hear from you all. I appreciate that maybe you're not all experts in the area of sports law, or even the arcane rules apparently being operated by the FA, but even so let's hear your thoughts.

You see, I have a question and it maybe entirely obvious, but it interests me none the less. Before I get to my question, let me recap a few things just in case anyone has been living in the state of Alaska for the last week and has had no exposure to the rest of the Universe. Last week an Independent FA Tribunal decided that Sheffield United were indeed entitled to claim compensation from West Ham as a result of the shenanigans around Carlos Tevez.

We ended up in this position after Sheffield United had failed with two original appeals of the original Premier League verdict and a further challenge in the High Court. As I understand it these were mainly rejected because those courts could only rule on the legality of the original decision rather than whether the outcome was "sensible".

Having successfully tried the case through the media, Sheffield United were finally able to find a kangaroo court to their liking when they spoke to the FA, who by pure coincidence are a body at war with the Premier League. Under the rules of the FA, governing all member clubs, both West Ham and Sheffield United were bound to attend the tribunal and yield all right to an appeal of the decision.

Here, things got hairy as Sheffield United were able to bring to bear a great deal of media outrage and hyperbole, calling witnesses as varied as Graham Taylor, Alan Shearer and Henry Winter (Chief Dickhead for The Daily Telegraph) to make the argument that without Tevez we would have been relegated.

Shockingly at the culmination of the hearing the panel agreed, stating that they were certain West Ham would have accrued three less points without the Argentine, and describing Tevez as "infinitely more talented than any other player in the side". Sheffield United are now claiming £30m and given the ludicrous nature of the initial decision it doesn't seem like the craziest notion in the world that they might get it.

And so to return to the question I mentioned when I first started writing this brief recap sometime back in the late 90's - "If the commission decide that we should pay Sheffield United £30m........ why don't we just refuse to pay? "Hear me now, your judgement is flawed and if you want my money I shall see you in the High Court where your argument about parallel universes will have no weight"

Now, that may appear nonsensical but hear me out.

The FA is a private organisation, which is the reason that we were forced to attend the hearing in the first place. If we disregard their rules presumably we'll be chucked out of the FA which would have a whole heap of other problems but I don't see any legal mechanism by which we can be forced to pay the bloody money, right?

Of course Sheffield United could take us to the High Court, but presumably this would be advantageous to us because no judge in the cosmos would agree with a ruling that is basically one step removed from saying "Well my tarot cards indicate..."?

Clearly I am to the law what Victoria Beckham is to neuroscience but is any of this plausible or simply the ramblings of an idiot raging against the dying of the light? It wouldn't be the first time..

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:29 PM

    cracking stuff....but no mention of the homecoming of the great man himself ??

    ok so he didn't play, but surely the spirit of LBM was there in the shape of Zamora who made a couple of cracking misses

    Despite this serious flaw,keep up the good work !!