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, March 02, 2009

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

Apologies for the delay in the arrival of this weeks report. This was caused by a delay on the reports previous journey. Hey, if it's alright for National Rail then why not me?

1. Join My Club

The common phrase around Manchester City is "Blimey, aren't they crap considering they've spent all that money?".

Well, who wants to join me in just getting rid of those last 6 words?

2. Welcome Back!

Not sure if you noticed, but Craig Bellamy returned to just about the most tepid booing ever at Upton Park. Syd King will be turning his grave. Paul Ince and Frank Lampard hear worse when they get up in the morning.

The truth is that I really don't think people cared all that much about Bellamy. Why bother getting any kind of emotional attachment to a player who is so frequently injured, and tremendously likely to be leaving you very soon anyway? Seriously, is there a human being anywhere in the cosmos who was surprised that Bellamy acted as he did? If so, can I interest you in a friend of mine who is a Nigerian prince and wants to stick £30m in your bank account for a couple of days - I just need your account details.

It helped quite a lot that Bellamy was so peripheral, with only one moment of danger when he created a chance for Robinho that was squandered with all the alacrity of Iain Dowie in his pomp (I'm fairly certain that this is the first recorded instance of a writer comparing those two players).

I also liked the way that he positioned himself 8 inches from the touchline when he was substituted, in order to minimise the levels of vitriol coming his way. Nice - it takes a total pro to do that, and all those years of being booed at every ground in the country proved invaluable there.

3. The Statistics

This was a strange affair, and one that highlights the dangers of using statistics as anything more than a loose guide. Despite their dire performance City still dominated possession to the tune of 56%, but converted that into a solitary shot at goal.

I must confess to being slightly stunned that the visitors had so much of the ball considering that it rather felt as though they coughed it up regularly enough. I suppose that by the end they were hammering away pretty heavily, but even so it was fairly inept stuff. We managed 12 goal attempts to their 14 but 6 of ours were on target, and precisely none were taken by the Dowie clone, Robinho.

4. The Opposition

I must confess that I was quite looking forward to seeing the new shiny Man City in the flesh. For all the innate evils of the Premier League it is undeniably true that you get to see some marvellous players through the season. As such Robinho was a nice addition to the list, but the overall impression was less than favourable. As far as circus sideshows go, he was mildly diverting, but for a £30m footballer he made a pretty good clown.

Mark Hughes, a man staring down the barrel of a very large gun, was nowhere close to magnanimous in his post match interview, stating that we were defensive in our approach and blah blah blah. One, ONE, 1! shot on goal in 90 minutes? And you've got the cheek to label us as lucky?

I'm going to let him off - it can't be easy when you know you're getting sacked at seasons end, and all the while having to say nice things about your boss.

5. The Referee

I refuse to believe that football is bent. Sure, the game is morally bankrupt and those who run the professional game are self serving leeches, whose only interest is the fattening of their own wallets and those of the odious G14 who pull their strings. But all that being true, I don't think that English top flight football is rigged - why bother, in fact, when the system is already so skewed in favour of the big clubs.

All of the above being true, however, Mike Dean was woeful in this game. Not because he was paid to be, or because of a grand conspiracy against us, but because he is not a very good referee. We all have to live with it from time to time, and his incompetence was evenly spread across both teams.

There were a series of first half decisions that I believe were made using a horoscope and a coin toss. Scott Parker was booked for his first tackle, whilst Vincent Kompany was allowed to kick everything that moved for 70 minutes before finally seeing yellow.

It wasn't all one way, as there were a series of mind warping decisions that went our way in the first half too, but all in all this was a game that was officiated in an utterly strange way.

6. Cole Patrol

Our goal, when it eventually arrived, owed much to a lovely pass from Carlton Cole. The move was started by Savio, who carried on with his run, surged on to Cole's pass and struck a decent effort which Given could only parry to the onrushing Collison who finished very adroitly, all things considered.

Up against the muscular duo of Dunne and Onuha, Cole toiled manfully, even staying on at the end when he was clearly carrying an injury. A quick stint in the West Ham witch doctors tent should see him right, but it's a sign of the times that Cole's fitness now seems directly interlinked to the success of the team.

7. Green Fingers

Robert Green, buoyed by being the least worst goalkeeper on display when he turned out for England last month, continues to make some excellent saves when the need arises. As mentioned above the need arose just the once in this game, as Manchester City's free flowing revolutionary samba football didn't actually extend to anything so grand as getting any shots on target, but he did all that was required.

It will be interesting to see if he keeps his England squad place or if Capello follows his usual method of giving it to a reserve keeper at a bigger club (Ben Foster - I'm looking at you).

8. Nice To See You

Craig Bellamy signs autographs after the game. Who knew he could write?

No comments:

Post a Comment