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, February 05, 2010

Burnley vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 06/02/2010

1. Opposition

Our trip to Turf Moor will find Burnley resolute in claiming a draw at the very least, in a match that has become a survival six-pointer.

Last weekend they lost narrowly at home to Chelsea, and Burnley will see us as their best chance to acquire some points in the near future as our visit is followed by trips to Craven Cottage and Villa Park for The Clarets.

Transfer deadline day signings consisted of extending David Nugent’s loan deal until the end of the season, and taking on Chelsea’s England U-21 defensive midfielder, Jack Cork.

Nugent is essentially Redknapp’s latest variation on the Florin Răducioiu model, saddling Portsmouth with an exorbitant wage for an underperforming player, hence Nugent’s prolonged loan to Burnley thereby relieving Pompey of the financial burden.

A master wheeler-dealer, Redknapp paid around £6million for a Preston North End player whose Championship scoring ratio was roughly one in three, stuck him on Titi Camara-esque wages and tried to flog him in the same transfer window.

Fellow striker Steve Fletcher has some ability, as evidenced by his well-taken goal against Chelsea, and Chris Eagles also has his moments, notably against us earlier this season when he set up two identikit goals for Fletcher and scored a third himself.

2. History

We’ve only played Burnley five times in the last thirty years, four of those matches taking place during our most recent dalliance with The Championship.

Those four games resulted in two wins and two draws, whereas The Clarets visit to Upton Park in November saw us try our best to throw away a 5-0 lead, conceding three times in the last 25-minutes.

3. Comings And Goings

After months of speculation, claim and counter-claim, the business of the January transfer window has been concluded.

Firstly, Luis Jiminez left for Parma after an invisible six months at West Ham. Combining his eleven starts and one goal (a penalty) with the misplaced fanfare that accompanied Savio, surely the writing is on the wall for ‘talent scout’ Gianluca Nani. The writing being, ‘Piss Off. You’re Useless.’

Our chronic striker deficiency was addressed with three new signings: Benni McCarthy (on a two-and-a-half year deal for around £2.5million), Ilan Araujo Dall’Igna (on loan from AS St. Etienne until the end of the season), and Ahmed Hossam Hussein Abdelhamid (a.k.a Mido, on the same deal as Ilan, but arriving from Middlesbrough).

After what appeared the genuine prospect of getting Gudjohnsen from Monaco, at first glance it’s all a little underwhelming. Then again, just over two short weeks ago we faced the prospect of having to sell players of a calibre we would have no hope of acquiring now, and being unable to draft in any replacements.

In the frosty glare of reality, the business done on Monday is none too bad and if it results in keeping us in the Premier League, we’ll all be happy.

McCarthy is likely to be Zola’s first choice alongside Cole, with this Little n’Large double act potentially debuting on Saturday. Benni is the only arrival from our originally touted targets, a fact reflected in the one permanent contract offered. However, he does have a habit of starting well at a new club before coasting to pastures new.

Mido is a misfit, having played for seven clubs in the last seven years, which is invariably a bad sign. His appetite has been continually questioned, most recently by Burnley’s manager, Brian Laws.

He is an interesting character in that he has agreed to sign for £1,000-a-week, announcing “I am here to prove a point” - the point being that he can genuinely cut it in top flight English football.

It is encouraging that he has put his money where his mouth is, something oh so rare with the modern footballer, and Mido could also swiftly strike up a relationship with McCarthy if required as the two played together at Celta Vigo back in 2003.

Brazilian, Ilan, is the least known of our new triumvirate, having never played in the Premiership. He has played the bulk of his football in France, impressing for FC Sochaux before being signed by AS St. Etienne.

Ilan’s history at St. Etienne is chequered, initially flourishing but more recently falling down the pecking order. Hopefully he will prove more of a Juninho than a Robinho.

All this attacking intent almost distorts the reality that Julien Faubert will still be at right back at some stage this season. Ilunga’s return at left-back will hopefully see one-man-band Jonathan Spector pushed out to the right.

4. Eye Of The Storm

We are now two games into this vital period and have essentially dropped four points.

An in-form Birmingham are up next, followed by Hull and then Bolton - a team cast from kryptonite, inexplicably impossible for us to beat. Then it’s Chelsea and Arsenal, both away.

While Saturday’s fixture holds all the appeal of Adam Sandler, it is a massive game.

5. Captain Marvel

It turns out that multi-millionaire whore, John Terry, is an adulterous scumbag - as well as being England captain, the charmless seed of a drug-dealer and a thief, and ‘Dad of the Year 2008’.

This week’s revelations that Terry had an affair with the partner of then team-mate, Wayne Bridge, must surely put pay to his stint as captain of England. It’s a real achievement to climb from a childhood fostered on the principles of dope and larceny to the prime post in English football, and should equally provide a significant fall from grace.

I think it’s a disgrace. Do we live in such a Nanny State that a man with a history of affray and the drunken harassment of American tourists days after 9/11 can’t supplement his £160,000-weekly wage by prostituting his lofty position as captain of both club and country?

Can he not get his mate’s girlfriend knocked-up? Not gallantly employ ‘associates’ to arrange an abortion? Can he not make her sign a confidentiality agreement and then seek a court-injunction against a national newspaper to selflessly keep his valiant behaviour private?

The point is, there are plenty of role models for decent, well-adjusted, law-abiding children to revere –Philip Schofield, Kris Akabusi, Batman – but should Terry be ejected, then who will be the model for our nation's chavs? Our dullards? Our knife-wielding benefit cheats?

6. A Sitting Duxbury

Carcinogenic CEO, Scott Duxbury, was jettisoned from the Boardroom last Friday, as was to be expected when confronted with the sight of Gary Mason wedging herself into a leather-lined recliner.

Duxbury’s residence at the helm represents the most turbulent time in our history, the club coming closer than ever before to financial ruin.

To some extent it will be almost impossible for us to ever truly know whether he was instrumental in keeping the circling vultures from picking every last asset from our scrawny carcass, or whether his stewardship of the club was as sure-footed as a drunk on a treadmill.

I confess to being seduced by his malevolent charm on the odd occasion (refusing to sell Bellamy to Spurs, his dedicated temptation of Christ in the desert), but it’s obvious to all that he did a lot better out of us than we out of him.

(I swear to god I haven’t doctored this photo..... Look at those eyes! Makes a bloodthirsty Great White Shark look like the distilled essence of human compassion found in the gaze of Mother Theresa as she offers you a free Caramac)