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, January 13, 2009

Newcastle United 2 - 2 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. Never A Truer Word Was Spoken

"It ain't the disappointment that kills you, it's the hope" - John Cleese (Sort of)

I have often thought it was probably being a West Ham supporter that drove him to say that.

2. Adventures In Cyber Space

Last time I posted a review of a West Ham vs Newcastle match we received the greatest H List comment of all time. (Scroll down when you click the link, it's well worth it).

To the anonymous author, please get in touch and let us know your thoughts on this game. I'd be especially interested in your views on Steven Taylor's ongoing quest to prove himself the worst defender in Christendom. He seems to be doing awfully well.

3. The Statistics

The ESPN Gamecast tells a story all of it's own for this game. Newcastle mustered an impressive 24 attempts at goal, of which a significantly less impressive 3 were on target. And bear in mind, this was the side without Carlton Cole.

As for us, we had 15 efforts and 9 on target, most of which were of a pretty decent nature although we ran into the overly familiar sight of Shay Given doing an impersonation of a one man defence.

Possession was split 53%/47% in favour of the home side, although the game itself seemed to be more even than that. This latter point is probably skewed slightly by the fact that we tended to create the better chances, giving a false sense of superiority perhaps.

It is also probably worth mentioning that Craig Bellamy was caught offside 6 times in this game, which is 5 times more than the other 21 players combined. I'm not sure if this says more about Bellamy or the ineptness of the linesman who wrongly flagged him offside 3 times in the first ten minutes. It's frustrating though, because if only one had gone our way we could have been talking about a whole different outcome.

4. The Opposition

Is it still humane to mock Newcastle? How do you spend this much money and look this bad without being Jordan? Jeez, if it wasn't for the insufferable fans, the sycophantic media approach and Dennis Wise one could almost feel sorry for them.

In truth, this wasn't a bad performance by the Barcodes, and they did have a number of first team players absent. Of course, whether you consider the absence of Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi to be a negative is another matter altogether.

They were boosted by their lively young striker Andy Carroll, who decided that the occasion of his first team debut was the perfect time to unveil a corn row style haircut usually favoured by American rappers and, well, women. Now, I am not here to pass judgement, but Michael Owen stated "It was a shocker. I almost refused to play with him". And Michael would know, as he wouldn't be seen dead playing for Newcastle with a ridiculous haircut, or indeed a decent centre forward partner.

In the end, Owen notched his 12th goal in 14 appearances against us which now means that he has scored 20% of all his Newcastle goals against West Ham. I think I just threw up my femur.

Ultimately, Newcastle resemble nothing so closely as ourselves. A disastrous takeover, a misguided belief in the power of reckless spending, a weird infatuation with Kieron Dyer and a season of trepidation peering at the lower half of the table and the trapdoor below.

The spectre of the soon to be departing Owen and Given loom large over the club, and I still think they would be wise to employ some living, breathing defenders, but truthfully they are likely to stay up on the same grounds as us. There are three worse teams out there.

5. The Referee

It's always a bit of a crapshoot with refereeing performances, and Alan Wiley did not disappoint with a puzzling display. Crucially for us he denied Craig Bellamy a penalty for this challenge by Sebastien Bassong:

It certainly looks like a foul.

6. The Case For The Defence

Our back four continue to raise the pulse. Fittingly it was here, at the High Temple of Shit Defending, that Lucas Neill proceeded to score the best own goal of the season by slicing a left volley past a perplexed Robert Green. The goal was disallowed as a result of Steven Taylor having needlessly shoved Collins in the back immediately prior to Neill's brain aneurysm.

Elsewhere, Herita Ilunga created Cole's goal, and we were indebted to Matthew Upson for a brilliant last ditch tackle in added time to prevent Jonas Gutierrez from doing whatever Jonas Gutierrez does when he is 5 yards from goal.

I have to admit - my immediate thought as I watched this performance was not "We should really sell Calum Davenport".

7. Because Snoop Dogg Looks So Good...

"James Collins attempts to boot Andy Carroll in the head. Probably because of the haircut."

8. Striker Light?

Our recent resurgence can be linked to the improved form of Bellamy and Cole. The latter has hit the hitherto uncharted territory of 4 goals in 4 games, which doesn't exactly make him Gerd Muller, but it doesn't exactly make him David di Michele either.

Cole's goal was beautifully taken, which it needed to be with Given in such good form. Shortly before this, Given had pulled off a near miraculous save from Jack Collison, but he was groping thin air as Cole unusually swung his left foot without causing 30,000 West Ham fans to groan in despair.

Bellamy undertook a match long exercise in pissing off the opposition, which worked tremendously well. His goal was also nicely created and taken, leaving me with the horrible vision of him departing for Manchester City on January 29th and us replacing him with an unknown Italian from Brescia, and wondering at exactly what this would do to my fathers pulmonary artery.

There seems to be an inevitability about his departure that pervades all, but in truth if the club can get £15m and replace him with a viable Premier League striker then I could probably shrug my shoulders and get on with it. Someone like Kevin Doyle would presumably be affordable and capable, but there seems little point in postulating theories when the club haven't exactly got a glowing track record in this area anyway.

I'll confess to this though, although I think the club are doing a nice job of getting rid of fringe players, it should be noted that those same players had roles to play in the squad. I struggle with this notion that we are somehow better off in a footballing sense by having less options to choose from.

9. Luis Boa Morte Footwear Update

This is a solemn day. We may never get to see this section again, as Luis ties up a switch to Hull City which will apparently involve actual legal tender coming our way.

So farewell, Luis. I don't think anyone ever put in more effort to get less reward since that Greek fellow who spent his time pushing the rock up a hill.

On paper, Boa Morte should have been a decent signing, but £5m for him now looks like one of Curbishley's most expensive mistakes, which is really something from the man who paid £3m for Freddie Ljungberg.

So although I am sort of sad to see him go, I am also sort of willing to rev up my motor and drive him up there.

Oh, and he wore these in his last appearance for us...

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