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, March 17, 2009

West Ham 0 - 0 West Bromwich Albion (And Other Ramblings)

1. Nicely Put

I asked Mrs Shark how she enjoyed this game. She replied:

"Well it was hardly a great advertisement for the Beautiful Game was it? I was bored out of my tree".


In fact I would say that as far as football games go, this was a splendid advertisement for anyothersporteverexceptformotorracingwhichisn'treallyasportanyway.

2. A Diversion

So dull was this game that this review will be littered with references to the ludicrous Sheffield United settlement over the "Carlos Tevez affair", forced by the marvellous ability of Henry Winter and Lord Griffiths to peer into alternate realities. If only to try and keep life interesting for us all.

First of the ambulance chasers is Neil Warnock, the man who ordered his players to break opponents legs when the mood took him, and memorably tried to get a game abandoned by having his Sheffield United players feign injury after 3 had already been dismissed. Warnock is quoted today as saying "As far as I'm concerned, I should still be a Premier League manager. And I think the players have a case, too."

Number of Premiership managerial vacancies since Sheffield United's relegation: 18
Number of vacancies offered to Neil Warnock: 0

Amount Neil Warnock knows about the law: Fuck all

3. The Statistics

Meanwhile, back at the worst game in Premiership history, it behooves us to look more closely at the statistics for this game. Between them the two sides shared 20 goal attempts with just a single effort on target for each team.

This wounds me grievously because West Brom were fielding none other than Scott Carson in goal, which pretty much equates to shoving a bag of charcoal bricks between the sticks and hoping for the best.

In fact, I know what you're thinking. You're wondering just how hard it is not to score when you're playing West Brom at home. Well, we are now in a pretty select group containing just Bolton, Middlesbrough and ourselves. And anytime you're in a group with those two teams, someone somewhere is failing at their job. Dismally.

3a. Whoa, Whoa, Whoa

Seriously. We couldn't score past this guy?

4. The Opposition

I have found much to admire about West Brom over the course of this season. Not their ability or results, obviously, but more their adherence to a policy of trying to play good football and not resorting to Allardycian methods purely for the sake of survival.

There wasn't any actual "good football" on display here, as they found themselves sucked into the all encompassing black hole of shittiness that we were creating, but at the very least they showed more adventure than Stoke City did. Of course, you could put 11 llamas on the pitch and they would play better football than Stoke but that's irrelevant. West Brom aren't cloggers - good for them.

In fact, the only decent chance of the game came when James Morrison (quite possibly the crappy singer - I'm still unsure) went unencumbered through our midfield and into the box, only to be thwarted by Rob Green. Yup - in 90 minutes that was the best anyone managed. Netherlands/Czech Republic '04 this was not.

West Brom did hit the bar, but as it came as a direct result of one of their players assaulting our goalkeeper I shall choose to ignore it.

5. A Diversion Again

Even better than Warnock's assertion that he should "still" (*) be a Premiership manager is the notion that Sheffield United players should now be compensated for their loss of earnings. Quite apart from the fact that our settlement with Sheffield should mean that they direct their claims at them rather than us, it does also ignore the pertinent fact that only two of that squad are currently plying their trade in the Premiership (**).

Surely if you are good enough to play Premiership football then you will be playing Premiership football. Good footballers are too hard to find to simply allow them to wallow in the Championship, and there are more Premiership squad roles than there are good footballers in England, as is evidenced by the fact that Michael Dawson has a job playing professional football.

I remain astonished at the level of avarice on display in this case. Perhaps the most incredible of all is Matthew Kilgallon (ex Hammer, ironically) who is keen to ensure that he receives his bonus for keeping the Blades in the Premiership.

Number of Sheffield Utd's 38 league games started by Matt Kilgallon: 7
Number of these to result in a win: 1

Yessir - give that man a bonus.

(*) You know, this is the logic that says if I live in a stable then I am a horse.
(**) Well, one plays in the Premiership and the other isn't good enough to play for Stoke. Make of that what you will.

6. The Young Ones

It was nice to see Junior Stanislas finally getting the chance to perform the role of the traditional number 46. Which is to say wide on the left and taking appalling corners.

All stupidity aside, this was an encouraging debut from the youngster, even he was curiously deployed in a left wing role when he is so obviously right footed. I remain unconvinced as to the validity of a squad system that appears to view unproven youngsters as adequate replacements for first team players, but given the emergence of Collison and Tomkins over this season then I guess I cannot be too critical.

Elsewhere, Freddie Sears was probably as effective as I've seen him since our trip to Middlesbrough last year. Sadly, this still didn't equate to a huge deal of effectiveness in the grand scheme of things, although it has to be said that having di Michele alongside didn't help much.

I am slightly bemused that Sears hasn't been sent on loan to a lower league side to better determine exactly what we have with him. Our history is littered with the likes of Danny Shipp and Gary Alexander who scored shedloads of goals for the reserves and ended up never playing a game of note for the first team. I can't really say that I think Sears is the next Jermain Defoe, but I would like to see him spend a couple of months getting kicked about in Scunthorpe to make a decision one way or the other.

7. Splutter

My favourite Neil Warnock quote ever. When asked if he had a vendetta against West Ham:

"Not at all. I'd love the chance to manage them one day"

If you managed to read that without blaspheming then you are a better person than me.

8. Au Revoir

Seriously, this game is not worthy of further analysis. Against an opponent with even a modicum of ambition then we would have lost. Be gone from my memory...


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