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, August 25, 2009

West Ham 1 - 2 tottenham hotspur (And Other Ramblings)

1. Scene 1

(Interior, darkly lit): Gianfranco Zola is stood on a stepladder whispering conspiratorially in Carlton Cole's ear:

Zola: "Caroltone...conspiratorially"
Cole: "What?"
Zola: "Nothing, it's just a bad joke between me and HeadHammerShark"

Cole: "That prick"
Zola: "You said it. Now listen - Fabio Capello is here today
Cole: (brightening) "To see me"
Zola: (uncertainly) "Er, sure, he will see you, yes"
Cole: "Excellent. I'm gonna play more brillianter than usual"
Zola: "Your use of language is as esoteric as ever"
Cole: (beaming) "Thanks!"
Zola: "Yes, anyway I suspect he is here to see whether or not you can link up with Defoe. This is important Caroltone, because you could go to the World Cup if you do well this year. Good link play is the key. Got it."
Cole: "Yes, sure"
Zola: "OK, I've got to go. Duxbury is wanting to sort out another fucking barbecue. All I want is a striker and he keeps going on about discussing his bloody project over a nice glass of Beaujolais. I've got Frank Nouble on the bench, who I have literally met twice and needs help with his fucking homework and they've got Crouch. It's a bloody joke...(fades)"
Cole: (aloud, to himself) "Hang on. Defoe plays for them doesn't he? Not us? So how do I link up with Defoe today? Hmm ..."

2. I Did Find This Slightly Funny

3. The Statistics

This always seemed to have the makings of an even enough game, and so it proved as we had 5 efforts on target to the visitors 6, and split possession 47:53 in their favour. To slightly redress this balance it should be pointed out that both sides mustered only 3 efforts at goal from inside the respective penalty areas and tellingly tottenham scored from two.

Once more the offensive load for us fell squarely on the shoulders of Carlton Cole who did a fair impression of a battering ram. He had 6 efforts at goal, scored once and drew 3 fouls which was tied for most in the match. In short, up until he had a brain fade and gifted the undeserved equaliser, he was giving the visitors an extremely tough time.

Another interesting if only slightly apropos number, is £103m. This is the amount of money that tottenham have spent in the last 12 months on their playing staff. Consider that Manchester City operate on another plane altogether, and then realise that no team has spent more than spurs in that time. For comparison Chelsea and Arsenal have spent £69.8m combined in the same period.

This outlay has yielded tottenham an 8th place finish (to follow up 11th the year before). I am not saying this to mock them neccesarily, but to point out that whilst we all crave an injection of cash into our club it is worth pausing to examine what it can look like when done badly. Let's just say that if I was Joe Lewis/ENIC I think I might want a little more bang for my buck.

4. The Opposition

When noted Hammers fan John Cleese finalised his divorce last week he had to agree to a settlement that left his 3rd wife richer than he was. Cleese responded by saying "I got off lightly. Imagine what I would have had to give her if she contributed anything". It's a nice line, and pretty funny and it did feel appropriate this weekend as the tottenham fans sang "2-1 in your Cup Final" whilst celebrating as though they had a won a ... Cup Final.

You see, a lot of us find tottenham fans hard to take for the obvious reasons, but it's the delusions of grandeur that grate the most. However, I would always say to any suffering Hammers - it could be worse. Imagine what they would be like if they were actually successful? Seriously, they spend money like a Champions League team and invariably waste it on players who aren't quite good enough to play at that level and therefore can't progress them to that point. I don't doubt that Harry Redknapp will push them further forward this season, with some good signings like Crouch and Palacios helping, no doubt, but as for whether they can challenge the "Big 4" or even the next tier such as Villa and Man City it's probably too early to tell.

I do wish that Jermain Defoe still played for us though.

5. Scene 2

(Interior, Carlton Cole's head, words cannot accurately describe the setting):
Cole: "Blimey, it's hot"
Cole's Id: "Whatever, Carlton. We're doing alright today. A goal would be good"
Cole: "Yeah, you might be right. I don't think this geezer can contain me"
Cole's Id: "Well he is Sebastien Bassong"
Cole: "Yeah, he is. How much did they pay for him again?"
Cole's Id: "Not relevant Carlton. How about that goal then?"
(Ball arrives in the air. Cole controls and turns on his left foot)
Cole: "It's on my left foot. I'm not so good with my left"
Cole's Id: "Just spank it. Fabio likes stuff like that"
Cole: "Alright, where's Bassong?"
Cole's Id: "On his arse"


(Crowd goes wild. Fades...)

6. The Referee

I'd never claim to be a fan of Mark Clattenburg. In fact, I doubt any football fan anywhere considers themself to be a "fan" of a referee, but he didn't do much to win me over here. That said, I am still not a subscriber to the theory that a referee can be directly responsible for a defeat.

Ho hum, should have sent off Defoe, just for a larf.

7. Scene 3

(Exterior, Upton Park, Centre Circle):

Cole: "I just scored. That's pretty good. Fabio will dig that I reckon. Mind you, there wasn't any link play there. Of course, there isn't anyone for me to actually link with these days. Not since they started that Project where they sell all the players and replace them with Jonathan Spector. I wonder what I should do".

(Ball is suddenly played to Cole by Assou-Ekotto)

Cole: "Blimey. That was a terrible ball. Now for some link up play. Hang on - there's Jermain. Free as a bird. I could slip him in here"

(Plays Puskas-esque through ball)

Cole: "Oh shit - hang on..."

8. Kudos

I enjoyed significant chunks of this performance, largely because it convinced me that this wafer thin squad might yet be able to transcend their own limitations and compete at the sharp(er) end of the league.

Bright spots included Noble and the aforementioned Carlton Cole, who continued to excel in our new 4-3-3 formation. Kieron Dyer sadly but predictably failed to appear having made a whopping 73 minute appearance at Wolves. His replacement Junior Stanislas was also promising as he gave Vedran Corluka a torrid time raiding up our left wing.

Behind him Jonathan Spector coped alright with a tough assignment on his weaker side against Aaron Lennon. Now Lennon is a notionally good player, who sounds a lot better than he actually is. That he scored a goal with his left foot will probably see that part of our penalty area designated as a World Heritage Site, and as such I can't criticise the passage of play beforehand. Spector showed his man in on his weaker foot, and then chose a remarkably inopportune time to fall over. C'est la vie, except that it does seem to happen with alarming frequency against this lot...

9. Department Of The Totally Obvious

We don't have enough strikers. I'm only writing it down just so that I don't look as though I didn't realise this in a few months time.

10. I Still Hate You

Welcome to a new, regular feature of the column ... amusing pictures of Phil Brown. And by amusing, I mean amusing for us rather than for him.

"Phil Brown sings on the pitch at Hull. Yes, you read that right."

11. An Addendum

I have been debating whether or not to write anything about this, but it seems strange not to do so considering that I am a West Ham fan and blogger. Calum Davenport was stabbed in the legs this weekend, and Jack Collison's 46 year old father was killed on the way to watch the game.

I can offer little if anything that is cogent or relevant at a time like this. Neither man will ever read this blog, and I am fortunate enough to not have experienced either event so I'm hardly what you'd call useful. None the less I wish them both well and hope that they can recover in their own way. Sure, it's mawkish and sentimental but some things do transcend football and I think I'd feel worse if I didn't write something here...

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