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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hull City vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 21/11/2009

1. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

This article marks something of an epoch for The H List, being published as it is from the southern hemisphere.

In a frankly ridiculous bid for increased market share, Headhammer Shark and I have taken the bewilderingly radical approach of posting one author to Australia and it was I who took one for the team, typing as I am in shorts, t-shirt and 30-degree heat.

I have an equally baffling theory that the resultant time difference gives me a better chance of uploading articles in a quasi-punctual fashion. Not difficult when we currently publish once every Mayan dynasty.

2. Opportunity Knocks

Back in mid-October, had I offered you five points from Arsenal, Sunderland, Villa and Everton would you have taken it?

From the first three games, definitely, despite the frustration of letting a two goal lead slip at The Stadium of Light. A wasteful loss to an under par Everton side, however, contributed to a sense of missed opportunity.

To take eight points from those tricky fixtures would have not only provided us with a tangible buffer to the relegation zone but, more importantly, really given the team what would have been a warranted boost of confidence.

As it is, I feel that any confidence accrued post-Villa took an appreciable knock after the Everton match – the kind of knock which could manifest itself against Hull, when the added momentum from a win against The Toffees would have stood us in fine stead for our trip up North.

3. Opposition

As I am positioned ‘Down Under’ in a land rife with opposites, I can almost persuade myself that Saturday’s visit to Hull City constitutes a top four clash, but of course it doesn’t. It’s a tooth and nail, bare-knuckle fistfight of a fixture.

Occupying two of the bottom four league positions, taking three points from this match is a must for both teams.

Natural Selection and all laws of nature suggest that it is us who should emerge victorious from this squalid affair, but being West Ham we will obviously do everything in our power to subvert the accepted wisdom of Evolution by preaching Creationist dogma from atop the 3-million year old fossilised remnants of Jimmy Bullard’s knees.

Hull City are a bad team. You don’t need me to tell you that, it’s more than apparent each week. Last season’s survival was wholly due to a remarkable early season run, something they have been incapable of this year.

A chronic case of Second Season Syndrome has gripped the KC Stadium and they are ill-equipped to deal with it. The opportunity to bolster in the January transfer window will do them little good if manager Phil Brown is still holding the purse strings, although it may present us with the chance to offload Nigel Quashie for £27million.

A 2-1 home win against Stoke City last time out postponed the Chairman’s axe from slicing into Phil Brown’s bronzed neck. It would be sweet to nudge the self-regarding Brown a step closer to the exit.

4. Picture Book

'Oi, Phil! What's your position on the concept of humility?'

5. History

Last season we managed to escape from Hull with just the 1-0 defeat, coming as it did in the midst of Zola’s early shaky run courtesy of a header from the now £12million-rated defender (UNBELIEVEABLE), Michael Turner.

Cole and Ilunga both missed great chances in the first half and Carlton also rattled the bar at 1-0 down. It was a familiar tale of creating more gilt-edged chances than a lesser team, who inevitably get the winner with their sole attempt.

The match was also notable for the fact that Marlon King took time out from beating women to make an appearance.

This season’s early shaky run may be at an end, although the jury’s still out. Saturday is a crunch test in that regard.

6. Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!

Is your team full of underachieving egomaniacs about to crash out of World Cup qualification? Just use these.

7. Cole-Fired

It came as a surprise to no-one that the absence of Carlton Cole against Everton and for the majority of the Villa game shone a retina-searing light on our dearth of potent attacking options.

Young Zavon Hines did remarkably well against Villa, poaching as he did the injury-time winner. He was however as wasteful as lottery-winning chav in the Everton match, and alongside Guillermo Franco forms a front line with zero physical presence.

Franco looks a more accomplished player than David DiMichele, with a sound touch and composure when in possession. However, at this early stage I may as well have drawn the comparison that Hitler slaughtered slightly less people than Stalin.

Cole’s remarkable early season form has inevitably attracted the attention of some of the big guns, with Liverpool and Manchester United sniffing around our nubian prince. He has emerged as a player that three of the traditional Big Four are craving.

The Club have again insisted that our star performers are not for sale and that our finances are not so precarious that we are unable to resist a £20million+ offer. We all know that to sell Cole constitutes Premiership suicide and any income gained will be swiftly negated by the absence of the TV money guaranteed by survival.

He is a solid incarnation of the shadow of a player he once threatened to be, and while I was always an admirer of his endeavour, the addition of a killer instinct, tenacity, close control and Optimus Prime-esque strength has slowly led me to fall in love with him.

If that assertion doesn’t cause him to move on come January, then we should be able to hang onto him ‘til the summer.

8. Phil Clown

Sometimes people come into our lives at just the right time. Serendipity, kismet, karma... Call it what you will, but very occasionally The Fates conspire to provide us with a tonic when the prognosis looks bleak.

Mercifully, the austere prospect of writing an upbeat preview for a trip to Hull is assuaged by their unequivocal buffoon of a manager.

When he’s not giving halftime teamtalks on the pitch, leading the masses in a televised singsong as if he were Sir Cliff at Wimbledon, or conducting a live TV interview sat in front of a self-portrait big enough to make Chairman Mao blush, Phil Brown is busy taping radio mics to his face.

How can I add anything to make him look anymore stupid?

When invited onto a live Sunday morning chat show, what kind of a man’s thought processes constitute:

‘Right, what to wear.... Blue pinstripes, pink sweater. Risqué? Tell you what, I’ll deflect any abject shame by slinging said jumper casually over the shoulders.’

The most nauseating thing is you know that he was in the mirror for a good hour, bellowing fashion stratagems downstairs to Mrs. Brown as she whisked up the Aunt Bessie’s pudding batter.

Sorry, Phil. You’re not nibbling on a delicate brioche on the Champs Elysees, sipping an espresso and sifting through Le Monde.

You’re in Hull.

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