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

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fulham vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 27/09/2008

1. Why Are We Here Again?

Not an existentialist query, just a plea for confirmation.

Jesus, what a couple of weeks.

Managers being sacked, speculation swirling around Upton Park, well-dressed Italians consolidating their influence, the mutated offspring of once-dead court cases rising from the grave, West Ham scoring freely at home with good football and the US Government stalling over a $700billion package to move Wall St in it's entirity to Jerusalem where Paul McCartney plans to symbolically batter it down with his ex-wife's prosthetic leg whilst singing 'Give Peace A Chance'.

Just once this year it would be nice to write a preview centred on sporting matters.

2. The King And I

The most telling aspect of this Saturday's trip to Craven Cottage is of course that West Ham fans will be reunited with the majestic sight of a marauding John Pantsil running around any part of the pitch he sees fit and hurling himself acrobatically through the air for little or no reason, albeit in a white shirt.

Regardless of who he plays for (bar the obvious), King Pantsil will always be a hero to me and as such he shall be commemorated in these pages with The H List's first pictures. Et voila...

See here how brave KP tries vehemently to kick Brian McBride's head off - a figurehead of the common man taking on the world's superpower. What a biting social commentator.

3. Happy Hunting Ground
Craven Cottage has proven fertile ground for us during the Premiership years and it must be the only place in the land where we remain unbeaten. I would hazard a guess that the boys have even contrived to lose to the local school kids at our Chadwell Heath training ground on occasion.
For some considerable time we have always managed to come away from Fulham with either a win by a single goal or a scoreless draw, so it seems as good a place as any to get our stuttering away campaign out of the blocks.

4. The Opposition

Woy Hodgson has done a great job since taking over at Fulham (as was so insightfully predicted on these very pages), pulling off an improbable relegation escape akin to our own and strengthening his squad in the summer, wisely resisting the temptation to overstretch and lose sight of Fulham's place in the natural order of things.

We are all aware that the strengthening of Fulham came at a cost to our own squad, with Bobby Zamora and King Pantsil making the switch across the capital in the summer months. With the Board's insistence of a cut in the wage bill, Zamora's position was always precarious after a return of just one goal last season and a goal that came against the porous Derby County.

Bobby seems to have flourished at Fulham, turning in some top class frontman displays and scoring a lovely goal against Bolton. He, like many others, is a player who needs regular football to show his best form and I don't think any of us would begrudge him a successful spell at Craven Cottage.

Another former West Ham player, Jimmy Bullard, is the lynchpin of the Fulham side. A Newham lad and Hammers fan, Bullard's work ethic was forged from working his way up to top flight football via a host of clubs. Having started out in non-League football, Bullard came to West Ham via Gravesend & Northfleet but failed to break into the team. Spells at Peterborough and Wigan followed before Chris Coleman brought him to Fulham where he has successfully returned from serious injury to become the fulcrum of the side.

Bullard is Fulham's main creative outlet and forms a competent central midfield partnership with Danny Murphy. That these two are of much the same style and calibre as our own central pairing of Scott Parker and Mark Noble, should make for an interesting contest.

Andy 'Kojak' Johnson was Fulham's main transfer indulgence, but the slaphead with the most annoying goal celebration in world football still flatters to deceive and I'm perplexed as to how he can boast even a handful of England caps. He reminds me of Kevin Phillips in that one swallow does not make a summer.

Woy has Fulham playing some decent football and Saturday's encounter has all the ingredients of a decent game. Fulham's impressive early home form coupled with our lamentable away displays could see a turning of the tides, but the Zola-effect should still have some way to run and it's a match where a positive result is certainly achievable.

5. Picture Book

Upon reflection, I think it's fair to say that we've all wanted to kick Harry Kewell in the face at some stage in our lives. And to whom do you think that errant boot belongs? That's right - our very own King Pantsil, selflessly living the dream on behalf of his people.

6. Sheffield Appeal Works

For those of you who haven't got round to reading HeadHammer Shark's Newcastle review below, he makes some very salient points regarding the neverending Tevezgate in his final entry (I'd skip the rest).

It appears that our torrid affair with controversy is ceaseless. This morning it has been reported that more than a few Sheffield United players plan on suing West Ham for loss of earnings in light of their relegation from the Premier League 4,000 years ago.

These fine pillars of men are riled that their pay packets have sunk below the 20,000-per-week mark and that they have been made to pay a financial cost for their own incompetence and distinct lack of class on and off the pitch.

What is the world coming to when an employee is judged on personal performance and rewarded accordingly? The Yorkshire industrialists of years gone by must be spinning in their stainless steel graves.

Surely there must be a court in the land, or indeed the continent, that can see this whole case for the folly it is. We at The H List receive two or three summonses a week for innocuous investigative journalism into Heather Mills’ alleged funding of Hezbollah.

Naturally, not every neutral will agree with us, but I’d guess that in spite of their personal opinion, they can see that this case has mutated into so much more than West Ham United vs Sheffield United.
I personally have no time for Scott Duxbury and think he is an unsightly stain on our once fine reputation. He has a bit too much of the Peter Kenyons about him and his corporate smugness has no place in our club, but the ruling as it stands would be every bit as momentous as the Bosman, in a wholly negative way.

To not nip these dangerous precedents in the bud is to risk the very essence of the national game, to move the theatre of contest from the pitch to the law courts.

McCabe, Colin, Sean Bean and all that lot may think they have struck a blow for justice, but they risk irrevocably undermining the game they purport to love and becoming the real villains of the piece. History will judge them harshly should they succeed and football’s once sacrosanct and last enduring appeal would be lost.

7. Cole Parole

Just when you thought we had found a competent striker who could play more than three successive games or wasn’t an embarrassment to the shirt, Carlton Cole goes and gets himself nicked for drink-driving.

Getting pulled over at 4-30am on the morning before a game you will miss because of ‘injury’ is a fine way to endear yourself to your new manager. The Little Big Man has fined Cole the standard two weeks wages and given him a right ticking off, which must have looked something like The Borrowers meets Shaft.

I always thought of Cole as a grafter who largely kept his head down and got on with the job (relatively speaking, these are professional footballers) and I was disappointed to hear of his transgression.

Come on, Carlton, pull your socks up – you’re no John Hartson.

8. Struck Down Striker

Dean Ashton’s shortbread lapse of last week has seen him directed to the operating theatre for exploratory surgery on his ankle, which will keep him out for at least a month. Our brittle strike force has been further hampered by doubts over comparative ever-present Carlton Cole, who has a raging hangover and with every week that he doesn’t play, Craig Bellamy threatens to fade from existence much like Marty McFly in Back To The Future.

David di Michele has surely done enough to warrant a place in the starting line-up this weekend regardless of who else is available. He looked a handful at West Brom and an accomplished threat against Newcastle.

Don’t be surprised if Freddie Sears gets the nod to start on Saturday. Sears was the recipient of some encouraging praise from the manager after our familiar, comedic capitulation at Watford in midweek and he could be our best available option alongside di Michele.
An hour for Sears and a run out for Bellamy if you’re interested, Gianfranco… Gianfranco?

9. Baptism Of Pantsil

In our final photo of the article, we see how this young Moroccan Number 17 is about to get the rude awakening of his life. Look at him, all wet behind the ears, blissfully unaware of his imminent demise - he has absolutely no idea of KP’s aptitude for aerial gymnastics.


  1. Fantastic again. "Borrowers meet Shaft." Gold!

  2. Cheers, mate - encouraging to get some positive feedback.

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