1. You Bet Your Ass I Wish To Proceed
The differences between the H List styles of HeadHammer Shark and myself were recently brought to my attention. An obese friend of mine said that while this blog’s creator has a thoughtful approach, mine is more blood and thunder. As my friend succinctly stated between fistfuls of porkpie, “he’s the thoughtful drama to your action movie”.
In light of this, all headlines in today’s edition shall be quotes from great action films, including the above. See if you can guess them all. There will be a prize for the winner.
2. Shhh! Quiet! Mustn’t Wake Them!
It must be the absence of headlines, sackings or arrests, but these last seven days have seemed very quiet in comparison to the tumultuous happenings of recent weeks. Nary a word has left the Upton Park PR Department
Hang on, it seems I have tempted fate like a rogue can of Top Deck at an AA meeting – whilst writing this section I’ve just come across one of the more bizarre entries on WHUFC.com
It’s all a little embarrassing and reads as if every use of the word ‘are’ should be in insistent italics. Whilst we are obviously more concerned with on-field goings on, it gets tiresome watching your club run by suits whose primary concern is bad PR. Who really needs an update on shirt sponsor negotiations? The fact that The Bobby Moore Fund is apparently not in the running is as much as we need to know.
This release reads like something Scott Duxbury’s scribbled together whilst sitting outside the Headmaster’s office, coming across as an impassioned plea that ‘OK, so it looks like we don’t know what we’re doing, but everything’s all right really!’
But what do I know – it’s that post-modern approach that won George W Bush two terms in The White House. Thankfully, we’re not all ultra-patriotic neo-con Republicans.
(Apologies to any Republican-voting readers. Actually, forget it. Obama’s an established Hammers fan – I’ve seen him quaffing sausage rolls in the Bobby Moore Lower.)
3. Bunch Of Slack Jawed Faggots Around Here
During the course of my “research”, I braved the barren wasteland and listless plains of Bolton’s official website. Hoping to acquire some understanding into the expectations of their visit to the Boleyn, I was met with a telling insight into this bare void of a football club.
The banner headline on the home page, the forbidden fruit with which they entice you in, reads thusly:
‘Head Groundsman Richard Norton Takes Us On A 20-Minute Tour Of The Reebok Playing Surface.’
Enthralling. Just the 20-minutes? I’m surprised the website hasn’t crumbled under the sheer volume of hits.
Now I’m sure Richard is a lovely fella, faithful to the Mrs, strictly adherent to the Highway Code, but I’d struggle to stay awake with Keira Knightly taking me on a tour of the weekend’s Premiership Passchendaele (abundant craters, grown men staggering around in a complete daze watched over by traumatised weeping young boys).
This sums up Bolton better than I ever could have hoped to highlight with statistics or insightful commentary and it gets better, their website is a goldmine. A quote from disagreeable Chairman Phil Gartside from an article entitled ‘Making Progress’:
“On the subject of match atmosphere, we’ve tried the new idea of a singing stand and it didn’t really get going.”
A dedicated singing stand.
Here is one of the main reasons why Bolton should be banished from the Premier League. One could conceivably sympathise with the fans given the comatose brand of ‘football’ they are made to watch each week, but we haven’t been blessed in that department recently and had to sit through Plymouth Argyle in the Carling Cup last year, naturally finding song as the only entertainment available.
Plus, these are Bolton fans and I don’t know about you, but I thought they were all conspicuous by their absence in both the Nuremberg trials and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
4. He’s Like A Piece Of Iron
With Ashton being newly crippled, it has emerged that Diego Tristan has been at the club on trial this week after news that Digestive Dunkin’ Dean may well be out ‘til the New Year.
Having left Italian side Livorno in the summer, Tristan is on the lookout for a move to the Premiership and the 32-year old Spaniard has been training with West Ham this week hoping to clinch a deal come the weekend. Whilst on the wrong side of 30, di Michele has shown how that need not be a prohibitive factor for a player on loan.
A former Deportivo La Coruna forward, Tristan was once one of the more formidable strikers in Europe, courted by football’s royalty and regularly breaching Champions League defences in the early part of the decade.
His form of late can be accurately described as less prolific, managing only a single goal in his last 34 starts for Mallorca (13) and Livorno (21). Tristan also has a reputation for not being the most ardent model of professional fitness, so he should fit right in.
He was released by both Deportivo and Mallorca over concerns regarding physical condition and form, but with Zola’s main gripe with the current squad being fitness levels, we shouldn’t worry that Lucas Neill will have any competition in the scramble for his post-training cupcakes.
Meanwhile, Stephen Appiah looks to have priced himself out of the market with wage demands of £60,000-per week. Whilst this was the sort of money we were giving away free with every official Advent Calendar a couple of years ago, the Board will be more reluctant to splash out such figures now. Although at 27, Appiah is arguably worth that sort of money for what should be his best years.
5. Well Ya Know, For Me, The Action Is The Juice
Last season’s corresponding fixture was the most frustratingly predictable affair since Britney’s second marriage lasted all of six months and she went mental.
Having gone 1-0 up thanks to George McCartney’s acrobatic volley, our failure to consolidate always left the door open for Bolton to score and sure enough, come the 94th minute, along came Kevin Nolan’s equaliser.
Our propensity to not only concede agonising late goals, but to see them coming a good half hour before they happen may just be a part of our genetic make-up as opposed to something in the control of any one man, or group of eleven men.
What’s needed against teams like Bolton is not only to score early, but to score more than once, make them venture outside their own 18-yard box enabling us to exploit their abundant shortcomings.
They are bound to come to Upton Park, sit back and try to nick goal. If they score first, they’ll never leave their half so I think it’s imperative for us to take the lead and preferably within the first 20-minutes.
Bolton’s sole strength remains their threat from set-pieces, something at which we are not particularly adept at defending. Whilst playing Faubert at right-back has not back-fired as yet and given us more threat going forward, with Bolton’s physical presence, this would be a good game to blood genuine defender Wally Lopez in the back four.
Lopez would then have a chance to find his first team feet against lesser opposition over the next two games before the challenge of Arsenal at home in three weeks, when one would hope Faubert is nowhere near our defence.
Either that or a more established centre-half would be available by then (James Collins featured for 70mins in a reserve game alongside Lopez in midweek, Tomkins is back in training) to join Upson in rolling Lucas Neill back out to his customary right-back position.
A win against Bolton and a victorious trip to Hull City(?) next week would see us off to a flyer and lay a great foundation for a successful season, but we all know that these are exactly the kind of games where we tend to come unstuck.
6. I Always Tell The Truth, Even When I Lie.
Yep, Dave Whelan.
I was hoping to leave the whole Tevezgate thing this week as HeadHammer Shark seems to have it all covered, then my arch nemesis pipes up again (I’m sure he must purposely time these outbursts for The H List Previews):
“I spoke to Kevin McCabe only this week to congratulate him on his success and I want him to get any amount of money he feels they've lost… We're not having clubs telling us lies, I'm sorry it can't be done and they can't brush it under the carpet, which I think has been the policy… If it's points deducted, if it's a fine or whatever they've got to do, they must let democracy rule here."
The Daily Telegraph, August 2003:
“JJB Sports, the country's biggest retailer of replica shirts, were among 10 businesses fined a total of £18.6 million yesterday for price fixing. Founder Dave Whelan attacked what he called a "politically motivated" decision and said he would be appealing against the fine.”
Office of Fair Trading (OFT), October 2004:
“Of the 10 parties that were found to have engaged in price-fixing agreements on replica football kit, only JJB and Allsports appealed against the finding. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has upheld the OFT's decision that they broke competition law.”
The Independent, October 2004:
“In making their judgement, CAT revealed that the JJB chairman David Whelan was at a meeting at the house of the Allsports chief executive David Hughes in June 2000 to agree a price for Manchester United kits. The meeting was also attended by Mike Ashley of Sports Soccer, who later acted as the whistleblower triggering the OFT investigation.”
Telling lies? Democracy? Shut it, Whelan.
It’s also interesting to note the history between Whelan and Mike Ashley in light of The Convicted Price Fixer’s recent criticism of the Newcastle owner. That he purports to be a champion of justice and defender of the wronged reads as hollow as Dean Ashton’s biscuit tin.
7. I Want Him DEAD, I Want His Family DEAD, I Want His House Burnt To The GROUND
They must be breeding these repellent, blabber-mouthed Chairmen up North. Bolton supremo Phil Gartside has now decided to jump on the bandwagon seeing as his team are up against us this weekend:
"There is an argument to say we can claim three points from West Ham. We went down there and lost 3-1, Tevez scored two and it cost us £700,000 because that was one place in the league. If Sheffield United are successful and get a claim, then why shouldn't we?”
Fair point, Phil. Why don’t we pay, say half a million to every team we beat that season?
And herein lies the genesis of a parasitic pollutant spawned by the séance held at the ‘Independent’ FA Tribunal. When will the madness end?
8. Gonna Have Me Some Fun!
So another preview comes and goes with hardly 30% of the content devoted to our actual team. Whose fault is that, you ask? Not mine. Still, I hope to have kept you partially interested with the headline competition, the answers to which are:
1 - Die Hard
2 - Lord Of The Rings (ok, not out and out action, but I was struggling)
3 – Predator
4 – Rocky IV
5 – Heat
6 – Scarface
7 – The Untouchables
8 – Predator.
The winner gets to leave a complimentary post in the comments section.