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

Monday, February 09, 2009

West Ham 0 - 1 Manchester United (And Other Ramblings)

1. Getting Tickled To Death By A Scorpion

If you had said to me that the chance for us to gain any points from this game would be dependent upon Ryan Giggs' ability to hit a right foot shot past Robert Green from the edge of our box - well, I probably would have taken those odds.

The man has now scored for the 17th consecutive Premier League season which makes me feel old and I'm only 30. Which is pretty young. A-hem.

All the above being true, Ryan Giggs last scored with his right foot when we had a Conservative government. And now my spleen hurts.

2. Department Of Silver Linings

I am much more interested in Premiership points than silver linings, but one tends to try and seek out the latter when the former are elusive.

It is a decent measure of our progress, that there were prevalent feelings of dissatisfaction around the Boleyn at this result. A draw wouldn't have been a terribly unfair outcome, but in the end a narrow, fortuitous victory for the visitors was probably about right.

Truthfully, I was actually a little disappointed with our performance, as we lacked the attacking threat required to trouble a defence as good as this one. Much like our trip to The Emirates, we were defensively impressive, but we lack the cutting edge required to slice open very well organised sides. Di Michele is fine against the likes of Hull and Stoke, but here against Vidic and Rio he looked like a little boy trying to keep up with his big brothers.

Cole was hard working and could have scored in the first half, but it's hard not to be concerned about this being the possible end of his purple patch. Still, Dyer and Ashton are - *thud* (head slams against desk - loses will to type any more).

3. The Statistics

Per the ever trusty ESPN GameCast this was a closely contested match, albeit one where the visitors had a clear edge. According to them we had 47% of the ball, whilst United had 54%, which is impressive both literally and mathematically.

Strangely both sides mustered just three attempts on goal despite having no fewer than 34 goal efforts between them. Somewhat worryingly, our most potent attacking threat was Lucas Neill who displayed surprisingly attacking intent considering that he was supposed to be marking Cristiano Ronaldo at the time. However, such was the excellent double up job done by Behrami and Neill that he wasn't actually required to do all that much defending, and by the end I think you could actually spot a tear trickling down the Portugeezers face.

Elsewhere Dimitar Berbatov had one shot at goal. Man, he is one lazy bastard.

4. This Interruption Is Sponsored By The Department Of Incredulity

So I'm writing this as I watch England's midnight adventures in Seville. When I see this...

Phil Jagielka. Starting for England? Seriously, was there a radio phone competition that I missed? Could I have entered and got myself an England cap? Holy Moly - and people were moaning about Carlton Cole getting a game.

5. The Opposition

It's really not all that earth shattering, but Manchester United are quite good. Even without Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov's cognitive functions they still managed to win this game at a bit of a canter, relying on their awesome defence to prevent anything very much exciting happening in the last third of the pitch.

Nemanja Vidic seems likely to win the Player of the Year award (Fergie has decreed it, so it will definitely happen), which would really be a testimony to his ability to commit hundreds of fouls without punishment. I'm not saying he's not a worthy recipient, but blimey, he does like a body check or seven.

Elsewhere, Carlos Tevez looks like he needs to come home which, considering he is from the slums of Buenos Aires, means Chigwell - obviously.

6. The Referee

Gave them everything. His only blemish was not awarding a penalty to Ronaldo in the closing minutes, quite possibly because it wasn't the box, or maybe even because Ronaldo fell over like he was in anaphylactic shock.

This is not to say that the refereeing had a tangible effect on the outcome of this game, because I refuse to accept that the only difference between us and Manchester United is interpretation of the laws, but I think it a lot easier to win titles when the vast majority of decisions go your way.

There is a counter argument here that says better teams will always get more free kicks because their players are more likely to be fouled due to their superior skill and greater possession. But you won't find that kind of logic on this blog my friend so let's just skip right along.

7. Department Of Incredulity Redux

Phil Jagielka just gave the ball away, before corkscrewing himself in to the ground as David Villa took the mickey out of him for Spain's opening goal.

The only way the lad could be more out of his depth would be if he were wrapped in lead and dumped off Blackfriars Bridge into the Thames.

8. Cole Patrol

I do have a slight bone to pick with Carlton about this match. He had our best, and arguably only, chance when he ran through on to a Noble through ball, and for reasons that escape me decided to try and chip Edwin van der Sar from a fairly acute angle.

Now van der Sar always struck me as a bit of an arrogant schmuck but there is no denying that he is extremely tall. And I mean "bangs his head on chandeliers" tall. The guy is way over six foot, and pretty decent too.

So why would you try and chip him? I appreciate the confidence that Cole has now, and I like the hard work he has clearly done to turn things around, but that wasn't the wisest choice he'll ever make.

9. A Noble View

I am perplexed at the demise of Mark Noble. Two seasons ago he was instrumental in keeping us up, as he displayed the best form of his life alongside Reo-Coker and Tevez. Now, in an advanced position ahead of the continuously excellent Scott Parker he is beginning to look like a lost child.

He is doubtless a very neat and tidy technical player, and his commitment can never be faulted but whilst our midfield has been garnering widespread acclaim, there can be little argument that Noble hasn't been at his best. I'm not sure if it's the positional switch, or impending fatherhood (his girlfriend will be in the "nesting" stage now which is heavy on both the back and the wallet).

There has also been a proportional drop in the number of high fives being thrown around, which probably explains a lot.

Still, it's a bit of a mystery that the player who most closely resembles Zola as a player is the one who appears to be benefitting least from his coaching, whilst the player who is like Zola in the same way that I am like a watering can (Carlton Cole) simply cannot stop improving. Ho hum.

10. Luis Boa Morte Footwear Update

Sadly Luis was kept off the pitch on Sunday, probably by virtue of the Trades Description Act, so instead here is a picture of Lucas Neill in the middle of a sandwich.

Gone on, admit it. There is quite a large part of you wondering just what in the holy hell is going on in this photograph...


  1. Anonymous3:02 PM

    On behalf of the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I would like to express my disappointment at the following comment: "van der Sar always struck me as a bit of an arrogant schmuck".

    I think the man deserves better than that. He is sheer quality and a nice guy. And you are confusing the word "arrogance" with "Dutch" (which in itself is not uncommon).

  2. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Agree with the above, I'm afraid. VDS is one of the nicest people in football andt's not his fault that he looks like a swan. In fact, him, Tevez and Hargreaves are probably the only United players I wouldn't want to give a nice hard slap.

  3. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Agree with the above, I'm afraid. VDS is one of the nicest people in football andt's not his fault that he looks like a swan. In fact, him, Tevez and Hargreaves are probably the only United players I wouldn't want to give a nice hard slap.