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, March 26, 2010

West Ham United vs Stoke City: Match Preview - 27/03/2010

1. Dictionary Corner

Despondent: (adj) feeling or showing profound hopelessness, dejection, discouragement or gloom.

This edition is going to be pretty glum, and we all know the reasons for that.

2. I’ll Huff And I’ll Puff And I’ll Blow Your House Down

Not only were we beaten at home by Wolves, not only were we beaten 3-1 at home by Wolves, we were comprehensively outplayed at home by Wolves.

There was nothing there on Tuesday night, many players looking as if they were already looking to next season, concerned only with where else they’ll be playing their football.

Wolves were industrious and composed in midfield, organised in defence and capitalised on poor errors with fine finishing. We couldn’t take advantage of an Essex girl on her third bottle of Lambrini.

Our movement upfront is confused and ineffective and we have achieved the considerable feat of becoming a side lesser than the sum of its parts. We are simply too easy to play against.

Stick two players on Parker, get physical with our ‘attacking midfielders’, and let Kovac, Upson, Tomkins and the full-backs have the ball as much as they want, cos they’ll do nothing with it. Job done.

Our only outside chance at scoring is either from a penalty or on the counter, so if we break, the opposition merely has to foul someone, reassemble their troops and watch us ineffectively try to forge an opening.

None of the players can have any complaints about a backlash. What everyone knew to be a vital game produced a performance as toothless as a jellyfish with gum disease. Few turned up, and those who did played like strangers.

They should’ve been read the riot act after that performance, but are more likely to have got a consoling pat on the back from Zola and a plea for a reaction against Stoke City.

Pardew paid the price of being too matey with what were effectively his employees, and Zola is creeping closer to the same fate.

Every team in the league looks at us as a good chance for three points, home or away. Even a draw on Tuesday would’ve further dejected Burnley and Hull, but now they’ll have renewed belief.

The fans relationship with the team is currently a loveless marriage: passing each other on our way downstairs to the Championship, staying together for the sake of the kids as we cast furtive glances at fans whose teams can string more than two results together.

Stoke, Sunderland, Wigan and Man City at home. It’s all too easy to see defeats coming there, and then we’re doomed.

3. Opposition

This week’s victors are Stoke City – Orcs of the Premier League who bludgeon and batter their way to survival, but they’re six places and nine points ahead of us.

What better tonic for our midweek dirge than seeing us steamrollered by anti-football?

Stoke will shape our season significantly in these last few weeks. After this weekend, they face Hull at home and Wolves away in their following two games. They also play Bolton before the end of the season.

They are not in great form, having picked up two points in their last five matches, but that’s two more than we've managed.

Their main attacking threat is from a throw-in, something they actually celebrate and commercially exploit up in the wastelands of Stoke, and they are largely comprised of big burly men, whippets and assault charges.

They should be beaten. They should be despatched from whence they came with a hiding and a moral crisis, but there’s every chance they’ll get the measure of our ‘better’ players.

The would have taken nothing but confidence from Tuesday night’s abomination and feel that all they have to do is turn up and put themselves about, and we’ll fold.

4. History

Earlier this season we lost 2-1 at The Brittania Stadium, never really getting to grips with the game, the concept of ‘football’, or the falsehood that the home crowd wield the mightiest roar in the land.

Matthew Upson scored from a corner to level things at 1-1, before having his face punched across The Potteries by Robert Huth.

Stoke went on to win, and I can’t even be bothered to finish this sentenfrgjy[pyi[jyet…..

5. Picture Book

A clearly punch-drunk Sugar Ray Leonard wonders ‘how the hell did this happen?’

6. Tale From The Top

Vampiric smut baron, David Sullivan, took the characteristic yet uncommon step this week of issuing a fierce public broadside to his staff.

In an open letter he rightly described Tuesday night as "shambolic" and "pathetic", derided the imbalance of the squad and declared "nobody at the club should delude themselves we are a good team."

Sullivan is obviously hoping to provoke a reaction for the Stoke game similar to that which followed his pay-cut threat prior to the win over Birmingham City.
If the desired response is not forthcoming, he can cite candour and his wish to forge a relationship with the fans.

Combined with a plea for both clemency and renewed support for Saturday, this is a canny move all-round from one half of our chairmanship.

He obviously hopes to stir a reaction as virulent as my aversion to Vegemite, which let me tell you is pretty violent.

7. Upson Downs

Further down the pecking order, club captain, Matthew Upson, has labelled Sullivan’s outburst “irrelevant” and spoken of the obvious need to regain some, any, semblance of teamwork.

Upson’s leadership on Tuesday night was nonexistent. Simple acts like reassuring young James Tomkins after his error for the first goal, were not forthcoming, and he looked as uninterested as any when it is his role to address player apathy.

Upson has confessed of his need to work on leadership, rightly observing that these things take time, but he is a senior player and time is short.

He needs to prove that we did not sell the wrong central defender in January. He needs to prove he has what it takes to be a leader of men. And Junior Stanislas.

Whatever his leadership style may be (vocal, by example, Marxist), he has to show it in spades and quickly.

8. Picture Book

‘I tol’ you, Carlton – you get any jip from-a di fans, you just give them di back-hander. Like-a dis – Eh-MEEHHH!!’


  1. Anonymous4:57 AM

    Shit article gives the boys a break they're doing the best they can we have been unlucky in the last 2 weeks any thing could have changed the results whether it's diamanti's missed penalty or Parker striking the post, it doesn't help the players when there is so much pressure on them especially when the crowd is booing they're every move, granted we have aspects we need to work on, one being that we r to weak up forward and not creating chances because the midfield and our playing so conservative and worried about a counter that there not pushing up to the box so trap the ball in our half and create 1 on 1's for our strikers, also I don't like starting kovac it's too defensive he can't create unless it's handed to him, mark noble is fit and it will b good to see him impose some pressure on the defence, also I don't think starting Bennie and Carlton together is a good idea they look good on the sheet but lack speed to keep up with our attacking midfielders. Wolves was a stepping stone for tomkins he has been very good recently excluding wolves and Bolton and also with Julien faubert were looking dangerous from the defense. We shoudnt b hasty on the sacking of Zola he has the potential to b an excellent manager which I think he will prove next season when we have stable managers a healthy line and exciting prospects for the upcoming premier league season. So easily could the boys dig deep get some favourable results and finish the season on a high. Come on hammers

  2. In the interests of free speech and a personal aversion to full stops, your comment is welcome.

    I can't agree with you on some of your points, particularly Noble 'imposing some pressure on the defence' - unless you meant our own.

    We'll see where we are come the end of the season, but I fear the momentum is elsewhere and we're running out of viable games.

    Plus, I don't agree with some people's opinion that it's the fan's job to provide unwarranted praise and unqualified support. It's a two-way street.

  3. Good God - that comment is a testimony to the wreckage that is the British education system.

    My friend, you are entitled to your opinion, wrong though it may be, but you are also required to use punctuation and proper English when you leave a comment here.

    James Joyce you are not, and by the way, "Are" is really not that difficult a word to spell.

    The Beluga may be gracious enough to acknowledge the concept of free speech, but don't come on here and start your post with the phrase "shit article", before leaving a rambling diatribe that I have now read twice and am no closer to understanding.

  4. This is a high quality exchange which has had me in fits of laughter. I wish 'anonymous' would come back to respond, but I fear HeadHammerShark has blown our friend right out of the water.