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

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The H List - End Of Year Ramblings (Part 3)

Kyel Reid : Appearances - 0 (2), Goals - 1

I am sure that Kyel Reid is a tremendously nice human being who doesn't staple vagrants to horses, but as far as his football career goes, he is essentially a mollusc.

Perhaps his biggest defect is his inability to cross the ball, which despite afflicting every England left winger since John Barnes, is invariably not a positive attribute.

I can't believe he'll be with us next year, and thus I wish him all the best with his career in the lower leagues, and the countless occasions on which he is going to have to spell his first name out for others.

Rating : 5/10

Best Performance : Macclesfield (h)

Junior Stanislas : Appearances - 7 (2), Goals - 2, Bookings - 1

In the history of Jamaican-Lithuanian footballers I'd say Junior Stanislas is the best we've seen at the Boleyn. Of all the newly blooded youngsters this year it would definitely be young Junior who has made the biggest impact, even in spite of the weird decision to play him wide on the left.

Whether he'll be able to sustain that impact over a full season is debatable, but he's done enough to earn a decent shot at it. I'd still like to see him show a bit more composure in possession, and display the odd trick or two to enable him to get past a defender every now and again, but by Jove he inspires less lactic acid than Etherington or Boa Morte.

Rating : 6/10

Best Performance : Sunderland (h)


Dean Ashton : Appearances - 5, Goals - 2

Once upon a time Dean Ashton was really pretty good. He played in a Cup Final and terrorised Jamie Carragher, despite being (shockingly) half fit. He was then called into the England squad, where he managed to come off second best in a challenge with Shaun Wright Phillips which is impossible unless you are required to live in a plastic bubble or are 9 years old.

He was then operated on by Dr Nick Riviera who accidentally removed all bone from his ankle and replaced it with blancmange. Two years later we are still waiting to see if he's ever going to recover the form that once made him a feared proposition up and down the land.

Dean Ashton's surgeon is confident that he'll be back in action soon.

If Ashton returns then you would have to imagine that Zola would be a good manager for him, given his propensity for ball playing centre forwards, but I'm not going to be holding my breath waiting for it.

Scored more goals than Sears, Boa Morte, Dyer, Parker and Faubert combined, despite playing in only 5 games. Make of that what you will.

Rating : 6/10

Best Performance : Wigan (h)

Craig Bellamy : Appearances - 14 (3), Goals - 5, Bookings - 5

It really does seem like an awfully long time ago, but once upon a time we had Craig Bellamy playing for us. It was a typically brief affair, and ended as acrimoniously as is conceivably possible, but for a while there he was flourishing under Zola.

By the time we got to Portsmouth on Boxing Day, the Welshman was in flying form and duly ripped apart a home team who could scarcely believe their eyes as a West Ham side scored 4 away from home without the appearance of Biblical storms. In fairness to Bellamy his effort on the field can never be questioned, but it was an incredibly artless exit, even by his standards, the feckless idiot.

He'll spend a season at Man City until they buy a fitter, younger, better less Goblinish replacement, at which point he might well look back with a tinge of regret at this move. Unlikely, I'd agree, given the £100k a week wage packet but you never know.

Rating : 6/10

Best Performance : Portsmouth (a)

Carlton Cole : Appearances - 32 (2), Goals - 11, Bookings - 3, Sent Off - 2

If Bellamy's season was totally predictable then Cole's was the very antithesis as he bloomed from bacterial spore to a fully fledged red blood cell, integral to the health of the side.

Cole's resurgence actually began under Curbishley as he flourished in the lone frontman role, but the Zola/Clarke axis have added several new strings to the bow, culminating in Cole being called up for the England squad and generally looking a million miles removed from the player who arrived from Chelsea.

He scored the best goal of the Premier League season at Wigan, although it owed much to the pass from di Michele and therefore some sort of Faustian pact, but it was still ace none the less.

I still wonder if he can actually play with Ashton, but then I also wonder what would happen if you cross bred a raccoon with a shark, and each question has as much validity as the other.

Rating : 8/10

Best Performance : Newcastle (h)

David di Michele : Appearances - 25 (9), Goals - 4, Bookings - 5

Last year I asked a good friend of mine what it was he actually did for a living. His answer involved the International Maritime Organisation, boats, measuring stuff and ballast. I am still no closer to understanding what he does to earn a crust but that's ok, because we're friends and he explained enough about it for me to understand that there is a requirement for someone to do the job, even if I don't actually understand why.

I do not understand what David di Michele's job description is, nor do I understand why he has to do it.

He started brightly enough, with a double at home to Newcastle, although the lustre soon faded from that achievement as the Geordies proceeded to allow half the adult males in the nation to score against them during the rest of the season. Di Michele also turned in one virtuoso performance at home to Hull, but otherwise he was basically Paulo Wanchope without the goals.

Possibly the most frustrating player ever to turn out for us, and the list of people whom I would rather see bearing down on goal for a late one on one includes Dean Ashton, Carlton Cole, Freddie Sears, Dora the Explorer, Queen Elizabeth II and my 18 month old daughter. He is a shockingly, shockingly bad finisher.

So long, farewell, don't sign this guy again.

Rating : 4/10

Best Performance : Hull (h)

Zavon Hines : Appearances - 0 (1), Goals - 1

Came on against Macclesfield and scored. I have literally no other knowledge of Zavon Hines, although I'm willing to bet that if he ever scored a winning Premier League goal for us, it would inspire The Sun to use "He's Zavon A Laugh!" as their headline.

He is touted as a good striking prospect, and he did score a fair few goals this year for the reserves, but then again so did Freddie Sears at that level, and he went on to become an arachnid.

Weird name alright.

Rating : 6/10

Best Performance : Macclesfield (h)

Savio : Appearances - 1 (10), Bookings - 2

It is not every day that West Ham spend £9m so when we do it bears a bit of scrutiny. In actual fact, we probably didn't spend anywhere near that much up front on Savio, but it was certainly a good headline for the club, as the Board was busy trousering a quite substantial sum from the January fire sale.

It's hard to tell much about the German-Ugandan at this point, other than that he is fairly small and will need to bulk up a bit to survive any further trips to Bolton, but in general I am fairly well disposed towards a policy of buying young talent and developing them, rather than splurging millions on middle of the road ageing types a la Curbishley.

As such, I don't intend to expect too much from Savio until a couple of years down the road by which time I will expect him to be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Rating : 5/10

Best Performance : Manchester City (h)

Diego Tristan : Appearances - 8 (9), Goals - 3

Once upon a time, in 2002, David Beckham broke his metatarsal in a match against Deportivo la Coruna, placing his participation at the World Cup in doubt. You may remember this because English people were expecting us to win that World Cup even though our team for the first game included Emile Heskey and (seriously) Darius Vassell.

Anyway, during the aforementioned match, Deportivo featured the most feared striker in Europe at the time. His name was (seriously) Diego Tristan.

Now of course, we were all a bit different in 2002. For instance I had a flat stomach, a functioning pair of knees and savings at that time. However, I look a model of success compared to Diego who has declined so far that he is now considered as a lesser force than (seriously) David di Michele.

I make no judgement on Tristan. We paid nothing for him and in the end he was good for 6 points against Stoke so we could argue that he fulfilled a purpose. I prefer him to di Michele. Mind you, I prefer Diego from Dora the Explorer to di Michele.

Shoot David di Michele.

Rating : 5/10

Best Performance : Stoke (a)

No Easily Discernible Position

Luis Boa Morte : Appearances - 17 (15), Bookings - 8

When I was 5 years old my father decided that the time was right for me to be exposed to the nonsensically over competitive world of Sunday morning football. He took me along to a training session at local club Gidea Park Rangers, and a football career was started. It transpired that playing for GPR was incredibly fortuitous as we went on to become one of the best youth sides in London and Essex, which was and remains the premier source of footballing talent in England(*). Indeed, with time GPR would produce an England captain in Tony Adams, but nobody realised this when I was playing there because Adams was just a drunk in the Arsenal reserves at that point.

Anyway, this is not to say that I was especially talented myself, but I played with a lot of guys who were. By the time we reached the under 14 age group the team had to be disbanded because every one of us had been signed up by a professional team, and consequently were being restricted in the amount we could play. Even the much vaunted Senrab were no match for our side at that time, although my GPR team produced only two professionals and one reality TV star so didn't achieve the same notoriety.

I was signed by Charlton where I played with Lee Bowyer and once marked future Everton "star" Michael Branch out of a game - an achievement that diminished quite a lot once Michael Branch began to be marked out of games by every other centre back in England. Although I was enjoying myself at Charlton, mainly because they gave us a Mars bar and a can of Coke after each session, they eventually dropped me. I signed on with Queens Park Rangers, where there was less Coke before eventually leaving the youth team ranks at the age of 15. I didn't cry - I wasn't good enough nor did I care enough.

I drifted around a bit then, playing a good standard of youth football until I reached 18, at which point I just played for mates teams. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the dressing room, and the opportunity to still convince myself that I could have made it if I only had a slightly different genetic make up, and weighed less. Sadly at 25, I ruptured my right cruciate ligament whilst performing a typically balletic Cruyff turn and missed 2 years of football. I would later return but the knee couldn't hold up, and by this time I had more daughters than a man could rightfully expect to father in a 3 year period. At 29 I retired, and somewhere a bugler played a mournful lament for the end of a heroically moderate career.

Why do I tell you this? Today, right now, with my knackered knee and spare tyre, and the fitness level of asthmatic sloth - I am a better footballer than Luis Boa Morte.

Rating : 4/10

Best Performance : Sunderland (h)

(*) Contrary to the nonsense spouted by Geordies there are very few footballers produced in the North East. The only notable one in recent times is Michael Carrick who came through the West Ham academy and therefore doesn't count anyway.

P.S: Part 4 will focus on the Manager and give you the chance to vote in the never popular H List End of Year Awards. Bet you can't wait ...


  1. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Where's Freddie Sears?

  2. Anonymous6:02 PM

    Absolutely brilliant! Just think. If you'd been born in Portugal you could soon expect a call up!