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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

West Ham 3 - 1 Newcastle United (And Other Ramblings)

1. A Good Walk Spoiled

Not that I would ever consider golf to be a sport, but I quite enjoyed replacing my weekly boo with Boo Weekley for a while this weekend.

That said, I'd like the chance to boo Boo Weekley weekly. What a tool.

2. Forza Hammers!

Who knew? There we all were, wondering how "our" West Ham under Pardew had been so turgidly deconstructed and replaced by Alan Curbishley's wonderful world of tedium. And yet, just a week into the job, Gianfranco Zola has us playing one touch football, has released the full backs, transformed Carlton Cole into Alan Shearer and still preserved our constitutional requirement to concede poxy late goals.

Before we go all US Ryder Cup fan on the back of one result, it is worth tempering our joy somewhat. Let us not forget that beating Newcastle United is a feat that could reasonably be expected of just about any collection of 11 adults in the western world.

3. The Statistics

Interestingly, for a game that felt like a comprehensive victory, the numbers are surprisingly even. Both sides mustered 17 shots with just 5 on target, and with possession split evenly at 50% each. The visitors actually forced 10 corners to our 2, although this might be taken as a positive for us given that it suggests we have finally done a better job of stopping crosses coming in from the wings - a problem that has plagued us in recent matches.

Digging a little deeper, however, the ESPN gamecast shows that at least 8 of those Newcastle attempts were from outside the box, and 9 of them came after we scored our 3rd goal. So in short - too little too late.

Elsewhere, Michael Owen scored his 54th goal against us in 12 career performances(*), despite Lucas Neill's heroic attempt to prevent this by eating him.

(*) This statistic may or may not be true. I'll say this though, he has never had any trouble scoring against us.

4. The Opposition

Let us not beat around this bush people, Newcastle were, are and remain absolutely dire. If you thought we had the market cornered on abject defending then you had all forgotten about the unique ability of Steven Taylor to look suspiciously like a large potted plant when faced with real life Premiership strikers.

From the outset of this match the visitors seemed totally flummoxed by the deployment of three forwards, and spent much of the first half looking stunned at the presence of Matthew Etherington more than 10 yards from the wing.

Their curious decision to play Michael Owen as a second striker didn't seem like a sensible use of their only major talent, but I won't complain as it removed the only goalscoring threat 40 yards from our goal.

Of course, by the time this game came around, Newcastle were in disarray with all of the shenanigans off the pitch, and the departure of their beloved Messiah, Kevin Keegan. And boy did it show.

(It should be noted that lots of other football fans would like to see Keegan stay in charge at St James's Park, but perhaps for slightly different reasons than the (Car)Toon Army.)

Help is at hand, however, in the brilliantly left field emergence of a a group of Nigerian millionaires. These chaps have approached Mike Ashley with a view to buying him out at a price of approximately £400m. They have emailed Ashley and as soon as he sends back details of his bank account the money will be transferred.

Good times are ahead.

P.S: Nicky Butt is made entirely of balsa wood.

5. The Referee

Surprisingly for a game that saw one side playing a quickly paced passing game, and the other drowning in a sea of frustration, there were only two bookings. Lucas Neill and Steven Taylor went in the book for hefty challenges on Owen and Cole respectively.

Newcastle fans might wonder exactly why the latter didn't happen a whole lot earlier in the piece.

Phil Dowd saw fit not to book Luis Boa Morte for either of his two late misses. This vexes me.

6. Right Back Atcha

Gianfranco Zola's first action as our manager was to shift Neill into the middle of defence, accomplishing the previously impossible feat of making our central pairing slower, and introducing Julien Faubert at right back.

Ordinarily the prospect of Faubert being our last line of defence would make me queasy, but against a team with no actual attacking threat then I guess it's a logical enough move. In fact, there is something to be said for having your best crosser of the ball in a position where he can take advantage of that skill. Unlike say, as our winger, where up until this point he will have simply developed a crick in his neck.

It should be noted here that he was in direct opposition to Damien Duff, a man who was a good player once upon a time. Then he moved to Newcastle.

So what I'm saying then is that I can cope with this line up against crappy teams, but if I see that back four against Arsenal I am liable to have an aneurysm.

7. Kudos

It's quite hard to simply pick one player from a team who were collectively so good. In spite of eye catching turns from Parker, Noble and Neill, however, I would have to pick out Carlton Cole as the man around whom this was all built.

I don't know if he was energised by the presence of familiar faces from his past, or simply the Christmas present that is the ongoing Laurel and Hardy homage currently masquerading as Newcastle's back 4, but the man was inspired. Indeed his turn and pass to set up our third goal as the best piece of forward play I have seen from a West Ham striker for quite some time, even allowing for the arboreal nature of Steven Taylor's defending.

Elsewhere, new boys Herita Illunga and David di Michele showed plenty of promise, although they also displayed enough foibles to suggest that they will spend quite a lot of this season in the drawer marked "maddening".

There they will find long term occupant Matthew Etherington who managed to pick himself up from last weeks minor £800k gambling debt and popped up with our third goal. He also availed himself of Zola's newly installed maze of underground tunnels to turn up in locales as exotic as our right wing, and at one point I swear I even saw him in our half.

Whilst we're on the subject, Etherington's goal was set up by either: a) the best pass seen at West Ham since Di Canio or b) the worst shot seen at West Ham since erm... Boa Morte. I personally don't care, but it's been a subject of great debate on t'web.

Scott Parker showed me enough to suggest that we shouldn't sell off his body parts for cash just yet.

8. I Am Ready

.....for Craig Bellamy to be resurrected.

9. Luis Boa Morte Footwear Report

This feature has been missing for a while now, primarily because Boa Morte hasn't featured much recently - a fact applauded by my stomach lining.

Here, however, he made an unforgettable cameo here as he contributed two of the most egregious misses seen at Upton Park since his last one.

The first of these featured a technique for striking a football not seen since Diana Ross lit up the USA '94 opening ceremony (http://kr.youtube.com/watch?v=WXjCKwBtG0I).

The second was one of those curious moments where all else seemed to stand still as Boa Morte raced through on Given's goal, filled out his tax return, fired off a couple of memo's to the Labour Party conference, changed his pants before calmly placing the ball 5 feet wide of the goal.

Only then did I realise that instead of normal football boots, Boa Morte was instead wearing cricket pads and spikes. Ho-hum, at least he isn't owned by a third party.

10. Watford

Welcome, Gianfranco. You're a true West Ham manager now.

I can say no more on this topic. We've got our West Ham back.

11. Sheffield United

Another subject upon which I cannot speak - primarily as it tends to leave me foaming at the mouth, apoplectic with rage.

For a reasonably balanced view try reading Mick Dennis of, God help us, the Daily Express ("The Best Newspaper in the World" - seriously?) at http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/62970/Football-loses-in-sorry-saga.

For a less balanced but at least not avidly pro Sheffield piece, try Martin Samuels of The Times at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/martin_samuel/article4812559.ece.

For a chance to send your blood pressure through the roof, read Henry Winter of The Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/3069183/A-star-performer-like-Carlos-Tevez-made-all-the-difference-to-West-Ham---Football.html

Incredibly, Winter was called as an "expert" witness at the arbitration, where he testified that Tevez was a significant part of our survival and agreed that this value could be quantified as a distinct number of Premier League points (which coincidentally happens to be 3 - enough to keep Sheffield United safe). Brilliantly, the crux of the above article is that Tevez was a one man band during our 1-0 win at Man Utd on the last day of the season, heroically forgetting that a draw would have kept us up anyway, and that Winter himself gave Rob Green his man of the match award.

Quite how any panel can claim to be able to accurately forecast games is beyond me, and shame on The Telegraph for printing this bilge, and even more shame on Winter for jumping into bed with men of avarice who would make our national game a John Grisham sub plot.

My disgust knows no bounds for these people., and I include Duxbury and Joorabchian in that statement. But the day that nonsense like this is allowed to pass is the day that British football dies. To Lausanne, good people.......


  1. Why don't more people leave comments on this blog? You have a load of hits on it, and it must be the best written WHU blog out there. I wish it was updated more frequently as it's always a pleasure to read, but I understand people do work and have a life! I think this also gives you a great amount of retrospect, and you don't quite see the knee jerk reaction that you get on other sites - instead your points are well constructed and well thought out.

    Keep up the good work lads!

    WHUFC84 from http://theironscurtain.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks for your kind words.

    I suspect the reason that nobody comments much is because you are the only reader we have who is not a blood relation, so we hear a lot of the stuff over dinner anyway.

    I take the point about regularity of the posting but it can be quite hard to find the time to write columns this long and still try to keep our criticisms of Boa Morte original.

    Beluga would update every day if I let him, but we can't afford the legal fees.

  3. Haha, it certainly can take some time to put such long posts together.

    My personal take on LBM is that I refuse to rate him in positive points and instead use a negative scale; -1 for not terribly Boa Morte-esque bad, and -10 for catestrophic. I think his best performance is a -4 so far!

    Well again, keep up the good work, and tell Beluga we'll have a whip around if he finds himself in any foreseeable trouble.

  4. Anonymous5:21 AM


    This blog post, entitled “West Ham 3 - 1 Newcastle United (And Other Ramblings) “,is one of the worst match reports and club blogs that I have ever read. The anonymous writer has no credibility, because of his anonymity, and he also makes a very poor argument to prove his points. To top that all off he also criticizes Newcastle United a lot, although the tone of his argument suggests that he is extremely surprised and astonished that his team (West Ham) won. He mentions that Newcastle has underperforming strikers and defenders, but this is clearly not the case. His argument contains multiple fallacies, metaphors, similes, ‘loaded’ words and virtually no evidence to support his claims.
    First of all, the writer likes to repeat a lot of ‘loaded’ words as well as including different ones which are just as worse. He used “best” in his argument approximately 4 times and this made his argument even weaker than it actually was. This is because “best” has over 20 meanings ranging from ‘of highest quality’ to ‘most capable’. Therefore when he mentions “best”, it is hard for the reader to tell which definition he is referring to. Among other words, he also uses “good”, “impossible” and “different”, each of which also has over 10 different meanings (with good having over 50!). Therefore I don’t think that the reader of the blog would want to have www.dictionary.com opened with this blog to look up every ‘loaded’ word in the passage!
    The number of metaphors, similes and ironies that this writer uses is the most that, I think, I have ever seen in an argument. Until now, I have counted more than 10 different phrases. For example he says, “ability of Steven Taylor to look suspiciously like a large potted plant”, “Nicky Butt is made entirely of balsa wood” and “Lucas Neill's heroic attempt to prevent this by eating him”. It is understandable to use 5 or 6, but not fill your whole argument with metaphors and similes! The increased use of these metaphors and similes may decrease your readers’ interest to continue on reading because the writer might mislead his readers towards something else other than what he originally intended to write about.
    The writer’s evidence is so hard to find because there is only one source, and it is briefly mentioned. In the second paragraph of the ‘Statistics’ section, he mentions ESPN Gamecast which is a reputable source so I praise him there, however why doesn’t he use other sources or quote other articles? Where is the evidence to suggest that the statistics in the first paragraph are from a reliable source? Surely, if you include statistics or data, they aren’t your own measurements. In fact, the real number of corner kicks by the visitors was not 10, it was 6. In addition, in the third paragraph about Owen’s 54th goal, it says at the end that the statistic may or may not be true. This might imply that since this statistic is fake then the other ones included before are also fake. Finally, what is the authority of the writer to talk about this subject? For all I know he could be a 9 year old child who loves West Ham and understands football. To increase the reliability of his argument, he should include more sources and state his real name and profession.
    Besides that, the writer’s argument contains multiple different fallacies including, hasty generalizations, name-calling, rationalization and false analogies. “His turn and pass to set up our third goal was the best piece of forward play I have seen from a West Ham striker” and “either: a) the best pass seen at West Ham since Di Canio or b) the worst shot seen at West Ham” are both hasty generalizations because they are both suggesting that the situation was the ‘best’ or the ‘worst’ and this claim cannot be true if it is based on one occurrence in one match. A hasty generalization is a broad claim made on the basis of a few occurrences so these statements have that. Furthermore, the second quote is also an either-or fallacy simply because it has either and or, signifying that these are the only two choices for that situation, but this is not the case here. The writer also used a generalization and a straw man fallacy when he mentioned that Newcastle United could be beaten by any 11 adults in the world. This is because the writer made this conclusion based on one occurrence against West Ham. However this doesn’t take into account past occurrences and it is setting up a position which can easily be rejected so it is a straw man. Above all, the statement is also a rationalization because the writer is indicating that his team won because Newcastle United could be beaten by anyone. Although, this is a statement against West Ham because it is suggesting that the only reason his team beat Newcastle is because anyone can, it is a weak excuse that avoids the actual cause of the win, luck!
    If a person, who doesn’t know the two teams, reads this blog then he would think that West Ham were playing like Brazil, Carlton Cole like Pele, and that Newcastle were playing high school level football. However this wasn’t the case. If the writer watched the match and the goals, he would have found that the possession was even and that Newcastle was very unlucky during the match. West Ham started strong but then Newcastle’s luck turned when Di Michele’s shot deflected off Steven Taylor and went into the net. Then Di Michele scored a decent second goal by also getting past Taylor. After half time, Newcastle started to get serious. They had plenty of chances in the first 20 minutes and they should have got a penalty when Xisco shot clearly rebounded off Valon Behrami’s hand but the referee didn’t see it. To make matters worse for us Mathew Etherington scored at the other end to make it 3-0. However Newcastle never gave up and Michael Owen scored a consolation goal in the 67th minute to make it 3-1. Newcastle then had more chances but couldn’t score another. In the end the match ended 3-1 and Newcastle and West Ham had equal possession and equal shots, but Newcastle had 4 more corner kicks, 2 more offsides and Robert Green had to save 3 more shots than what Shay Given saved. Even when all the statistics clearly showed that Newcastle was the better team throughout, they still lost and the team’s morale got worse. "The first goal summed up our luck at the moment”, said Chris Hughton, Newcastle’s caretaker, further implying that it was luck that made West Ham win and not skill. However, I think the team lost because at that time, they had no manager, their club was for sale and the fans barely supported them. Therefore, every player was confused and so they couldn’t perform on the pitch.
    Furthermore, the writer makes many untrue claims that weaken his argument. For example, Carlton Cole cannot be Man of the Match by missing a lot of chances and not scoring any goals. If anyone should be Man of the Match it should be David di Michele because it was his two goals and one assist that contributed to the 3-1 win. Then the writer claims that “David di Michele showed plenty of promise, although he also displayed enough foibles to suggest that he will spend quite a lot of this season in the drawer marked "maddening"”. This makes no sense because according to the match reports on the listed websites, David di Michele had a great game and almost scored a hat-trick on his debut! Finally the writer said, “Etherington's goal was set up by either: a) the best pass seen at West Ham since Di Canio or b) the worst shot seen at West Ham since erm... Boa Morte.” suggesting that di Michele’s pass to Etherington was by fluke or an unbelievable pass. I think that it was neither; it was just a regular pass.
    Wrapping up my argument, I would say that the anonymous writer of this blog made a very poor argument with no evidence and a lot of fallacies. Some of his facts were false further encouraging the argument that his blog was poorly written, and also it was very obvious that the writer really liked Carlton Cole and Mathew Etherington but hated di Michele and Boa Morte, although di Michele was, I think, Man of the Match.

  5. Dear Mr Anonymous

    Thank you for your rather brilliant Kerouacian post. Hey, I agree - paragraphs are for losers!

    All comments are welcome, be they good, bad or Steven Taylor (do you see what I did there?), so thanks for the feedback.

    Please post again.

    HeadHammerShark (aged 29 3/4)

  6. I see someone on Tyneside has been reading books on writing techniques - actually it's more likely he/she is in the States due to the massive amount of Zs in the piece - either that or he/she hasn't figured out how to change the language setting in MS Word.

    Just one question, did you take up "supporting" Newcastle after mistaking them for Juventus? I can't imagine anyone outside of Tyneside doing that voluntarily.

    I must say that it's a shame you didn't get to the chapters on sarcasm, hyperbole, irony, source citation (since you brought it up and then broke your own ruling), you may have found the piece more enjoyable if you had gotten that far. Keep reading though, you may learn something!