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 24, 2009

The H List - End Of Year Ramblings (Part 4)

I forgot Freddie Sears! Which is easily done.

Freddie Sears : Appearances - 7 (15)


Rating : 4/10

Best Performance : Middlesbrough (a)

The Manager

In our brave, new, post Curbishley world it is fair to say that most were fairly underwhelmed by the prospect of an untried, untested Italian at the helm. I never personally cared that he was ex-Chelsea, as the policy of employing former West Ham men had yielded nothing worth shouting about for some time, but that was also widely held against Gianfranco Zola as he began his tenure at Upton Park.

After an early spark, however, the fears seemed to be well founded. The team were looking good, admittedly, but the results were seemingly based on those of the Labour Party. We mustered just 1 win in 12 between October 5th and Boxing Day, and sat forlornly in the bottom 4 with only tottenham's enduring shittiness for comfort.

The thing that most sticks out in my memory from this period is of Zola consistently hailing the players for playing in the right manner, with the right approach and with the necessary desire. At the time I questioned this, thinking that if the players were doing all of these things and still not winning then that might be telling you something about the quality of the players. As it transpired, Zola agreed - out went Mullins and Faubert and in came Collison and Noble. A tremendous draw at Chelsea was the turning point as we went on a run of just 1 loss in 10 games with the newer set up.

As the season stuttered to a halt, we were beset by injuries. This culminated in Zola deploying Lucas Neill in a central midfield role, which is an idea never before conceived of in either Heaven or Earth. And yet still we continued to pick up points.

By year end we had stumbled out of the Europa League, which is no great hardship, but crucially had the opportunity to further blood the likes of Stanislas and Tomkins whilst perhaps confirming that the likes of di Michele and Tristan are not going to be workable medium term solutions for us.

In summary, I cannot praise Zola enough for the work he has done this season. There has been a visible transformation in the way we play, whereby I am no longer stultifyingly bored after an hour of our games. He has injected confidence into the likes of Cole, Collison and Parker and established a sensible, well thought out framework for the way we wish to play. Certainly he has benefited from having Steve Clarke alongside him, but given that he was being solely blamed for our dismal October form, then so he should be feted at the end of a (relatively) triumphant season.

I still query the nature of our transfer policy, and worry greatly about the apparent disinterest in buying British players but those are issues for another time. For the moment, let us pay tribute to a manager who has reinvigorated the club in his first Premiership season. Let's hope he doesn't go the same way as the last bloke to do that...

Rating : 8/10

Best Performance : Chelsea (a)

The H List End of Year Awards

A slightly different format this year in so much as I'll just put my winners and losers up here and you can "all" vote in the comments section if you feel motivated to do so.

Player of the Year

Winner : Herita Ilunga

Also considered: Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson

This one wasn't even particularly close to my mind, and marks the third straight year of me giving it to the incumbent left back, which is, well...weird.

Ilunga was consistent, strong in attack and defence and managed a nice line in getting away with rather obvious handballs. Does look to have the potential to do a Sebastien Schemmel on us, but this award is about the season just gone and not the future. I am slightly mystified as to why Scott Parker won the official award given his rather hefty stints on the sidelines, but either way he doesn't get a look in here. He'll be devastated.

Performance of the Year (Team)

Winner: Chelsea (a)
Also considered: Portsmouth (a), Liverpool (a), Hull (h)

Perhaps not the most glamorous result, but a fine one none the less. We took the lead through Bellamy, coughed it up to Salomon Kalou of all people, and should have won it when Cole was clean through in the last minute.

This game also signalled the arrival of Collison and the death knell for the Faubert/Mullins/Bowyer types who had been trundling along at the bottom of the league.

Performance of the Year (Individual)

: Matthew Upson (Liverpool, a)
Also considered : Carlton Cole (Newcastle, h), Craig Bellamy (Portsmouth, a), Lucas Neill (Stoke, a)

A slightly left field choice perhaps, as it came in the midst of a splendid team performance but Upson was imperious at Anfield and found the sub Torresian Liverpool attack to be fairly inept. It was this rich vein of form that coincided with his elevation to the full England team and indeed may yet see him move on. I'm not actually sure it was better than Bellamy at Portsmouth, but I don't know if I can find it within myself to give awards to Bellamy, especially one this prestigious.

Best Goal

Winner: Carlton Cole (Wigan, a)
Also considered : Mark Noble (Blackburn, a), Jack Collison (Everton, h), Radoslav Kovac (Everton, a)

A fairly easy decision this, as Cole scored not only the best West Ham goal, but the best Premier League goal of the season. A deft one touch passing move involving 5 players saw him free just inside the box and his instinctive finish was one of a man in supreme form. He duly got himself sent off 8 minutes later, just to remind us all that we do still support West Ham after all.

Worst Player

Winner : David di Michele
Also considered : Freddie Sears, Luis Boa Morte, Julien Faubert

I am slightly torn about even having this category as my review of Boa Morte's season in Part 3 earned me some t'internet opprobrium. However, persist I have, and di Michele just snatches it away from Faubert by virtue of the fact that he played in many more games and therefore impacted upon our (mis)fortunes to a greater degree.

I will say this though. Compared to previous seasons, this category was not especially hotly contested.

Worst Team Performance

Winner : tottenham (h)
Also considered : Man City (a), West Brom (h), Hull (a)

Another category that has really cooled off in recent years. Under Redknapp and Roeder you were absolutely guaranteed a 5 goal whupping somewhere on the road, whereas nowadays we have to make do with the annual abject shitfest that is our home game with tottenham.

This year we managed to concede a goal to Ledley King, which is ridiculous, and one to Jamie O'Hara, which is impossible, whilst simultaneously making Huerelho Gomes look Not Appalling. I am very much ready for us to beat them now, Gianfranco.

Worst Individual Performance

Winner : Robert Green (Bolton, h)
Also considered : David di Michele (Liverpool, h), Julien Faubert (Liverpool, a)

It happens. A "3" on the Robinson-Gomes scale of appalling goalkeeping, crowned off by allowing Matthew Taylor to score from somewhere in Plaistow. Arguably no worse than either of the other two mentioned, but it was exacerbated by the fact that it cost us the game.

Best Opposition (Team)

Winner : Liverpool (h)

Also considered: Man Utd (a), Watford (a)

I was slightly perturbed to see that over the course of the season, and just judging performances against us, that this was not an easy award to make. In the end, Liverpool's uber comfortable 3-0 win at Upton Park was the best 90 minutes I saw this year, which may say more about our own improvement than anything else.

In theory Everton deserved greater consideration for their results, but if it's possible to unluckily lose 3-1 twice, then that's exactly what we did.

Best Opposition (Player)

Winner : Kevin Davies (Bolton, h)
Also considered: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd, a), Vincent Kompany (Man City, a), Brad Friedel (Aston Villa, h)

Laugh, sure. Who wouldn't. But in terms of influencing games against us it's hard to ignore Davies and his magic elbows. I can't think of a player in the League who gets more out of less than Kevin Cyril Davies. I still strongly advocate buying him purely so he can never play against us.

Best Opposition Goal

Winner : Paul Konchesky (Fulham, h)
Also considered : Matthew Taylor (Bolton, h), Matthew Taylor (Bolton, a), Ryan Giggs (Man Utd, h)

Wallop. Never did it for us. Except once. Accidentally. In a Cup Final.

Worst Opposition Team (sponsored by Middlesbrough FC)

Winner : Stoke City
Also considered : Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Newcastle United

A real shame for the Boro as not only do they get relegated, but they summarily fail to cling on to their H List title. Despite a valiant effort on the last day of the season they simply could not top the whining, snarling, hoofing, abject dross that was Stoke City. So bad they started to beat each other up in the centre circle after we equalised.

A terrible, terrible football team.

The Michael Dawson Award for Worst Opposing Player

Winner : Michael Dawson (tottenham)
Also considered : Craig Gordon (Sunderland), Steven Taylor (Newcastle), Caicedo (Man City)

A truly sterling victory for Mike as he didn't even manage a game against us and still held on to his title, the useless lanky twat.

Elsewhere we have been linked with two of my other potential nominees. Marvellous.

Don't forget to leave your own votes below. I'll tally them up and post them at a later date when you will have no recollection of the events in question...


  1. CordonZola6:07 PM

    Player of the Year: Carlton Cole

    Performance of the Year (Team): Liverpool (away, obviously)

    Performance of the Year (Individual): Diego Tristan, Stoke (H). Simply because it gave an inkling of hope that Stoke might go down.

    Goal of the season: Di Michele, Newcastle (2-0). I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day (or once a season, in this particular case). What a touch.

    Worst Player: Kieron Dyer. As odious as he is useless.

    Worst performance (team): West Brom (h). Not beating an Arsenal tribute band was a bit embarassing, because I distinctly remember us beating the real thing at some point.

    Worst Individual Performance: Green, Bolton. Fair enough, letting Kevin Davies into a position where it is impossible even for him to miss is inexcusable. Special mention for Faubert in the same game.

    Best Opposition (Team): Liverpool (h). Can't argue here either. If only they got their act together before facing Stoke.

    Best Opposition (Player): Gerrard, Liverpool (h).

    Best Opposition Goal. Konchesky, Fulham (h). Good on the lad.

    Worst Opposition Team (sponsored by Middlesbrough FC): Sunderland. Was praying for them to go down, as they're so much more tedious than the happily insane Newcastle will ever be.

    The Michael Dawson Award for Worst Opposing Player: Pantsil, Fulham (h). Appeared to be on LSD that day.