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, May 07, 2010

West Ham United vs Manchester City: Match Preview - 09/05/2010

1. Opposition

Manchester City’s season, like ours, is now over and so Sunday will be a procession.

It will at least give us a chance to watch a game of football while keeping our blood pressure below 410bpm, and wonder at what might be if Luis Boa Morte can just stay out of The Priory for more than two weeks.

City will doubtless splash the cash again this summer on a host of big names, determined to mount a creditable and sustained assault on next year’s championship.

While a good side with an array of talent (Tevez, Given, Toure), City aren’t there yet and from some angles resemble a bunch of mercenaries (Adebayour, Bellamy, Lescott).

2. Sweet Dreams

Amid our underachievement, we must be grateful for small mercies. The nightmare scenario has after all been averted.

I would rather chaperone the Taliban on a Hen’s Party through Chelmsford than have been sent down on the final day of the season courtesy of a typically bustling, technically astute performance by Pope Carlos Tevez.

The very thought of it is enough to start me welling up.

3. Onto The Next Crisis!

After a few weeks absence (further illustrating the validity of H List dearth equating to points accrual), we have achieved the distinction of guaranteeing 17th place.

As Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley consider life in The Championship, we can be thankful that but for their crass incompetence go we.

We turned the tide with a creditable draw at Everton and a victory at home to Stoke. We then contrived to put in a performance at Anfield with all the urgency of an H List Review, before sealing the deal against Wigan.

If you consider the nuts and bolts of it, it’s a wonder we survived at all. One away win all season. On opening day. Against newly-promoted Wolves.

In such circumstances, it’s usually solid home form which ensures survival, but we have been as secure in our own home as a Pharaoh’s firstborn at Passover. At times we’ve made beating bad sides look as difficult as pissing through a Polo while keeping your hands dry.

Hugely infrequent spells of competence this season on and off the pitch have been thoroughly eclipsed by everything else.

Were it not for the increasing gulf between poor Premiership sides and top Championship ones, we could have plummeted into the kind of freefall witnessed at Elland Road, St. Mary’s Stadium and The Valley.

4. Through The Looking Glass

I’ve mentioned this before, but continue to marvel at the capricious, haphazard nature of fortune.

Those in doubt of the existence of a parallel universe need look no further than Sunday’s opponent, for not so long ago, they were a northern reflection or ourselves - a seldom achieving, yet ambitious team, well-supported by the local community and committed to living or dying by the pursuit of good football.

Both clubs came into new investment around the same time, and then our paths radically diverged.

Thai despots invested heavily at The Eastlands before selling on to even wealthier counterparts from the most oil-rich Emirate in the Middle East, laying the foundation for quality acquisition and the genuine promise of success.

Inept Icelandic clowns invested money they never had in West Ham, spunked it, went into receivership and relinquished control to a cabal of banks, who then went on to sell a 50% stake to a velour-clad vampire with a dodgy ticker and his retired-pornstar associate, laying the foundation for sober reality, sullied expectation and free Sunday Sport for all.

Somewhere in the cosmos is an economy founded on soft porn, where West Ham are Kings of Europe and tabloids provide insightful, balanced commentary.

5. The One That Got Away

Manchester City are well on their way to a title or two, and are sure to again invest heavily this summer.

Their immediate ambitions, however, have been stymied by a failure to secure the final Champions League spot on Wednesday night.

That honour went to tottenham, who have performed consistently this season with the best squad seen at White Hart Lane for many years.

Now, my hatred for tottenham remains undiminished, and perhaps even enhanced courtesy of their fan’s perceived validation of claims to being ‘a massive club’.

But in the interests of accuracy, strip away the lacquer of hatred, chisel at the plasterboard of abhorrence, score the epoxy of loathing and scrape at the mortar of disgust, and you could make an argument for Spurs having the greater claim of the four clubs vying for Europe’s Promised Land.

6. Scott Parker

Far and away our most effective and influential player deservedly picked up the Hammer of the Year award during the week, the first time it has been won two years in a row since Julian Dicks did the same between 1995 and ’97.

Parker’s performances have been more authoritative than Chairman Mao and as composed as Confucius. It’s fitting that it was his goal which cemented our Premier League status and he is fast becoming the only viable hero in our ranks.

Even casting bias aside, and particularly considering Fabio Capello’s favour of form, I think Parker is a must for the England squad. He’s been on fire this season and easily stands up to comparison with the likes of Gareth Barry.

7. Tony Carr

A massive shout out to Tony Carr who was rightfully lauded at a midweek testimonial on Wednesday night.

The evening saw many ex-players return to honour Carr, a smorgasbord of legends and nobodies alike. Invoking the spirit of December 1915, a cessation of hostilities was observed as John Terry and Frank Lampard enjoyed courteous receptions from the crowd.

Such civilities were of course abandoned when Jermaine Defoe’s absence was announced to a chorus of hearty boos.

As is so often the case with testimonials, the match was a pedestrian affair illumined by the odd sparkle. Paolo DiCanio confirmed his status as King of the Boleyn, and Gianfranco Zola demonstrated how his abilities are so obviously in rude health.

The sight of Stuart Slater sashaying down the wing was a sight to warm the hearts of every West Ham fan, conjuring memories of his swivel-hipped strike against Everton in the Cup back in 1991.

As head of youth policy, Carr is the main reason why we have continually produced top class talent from The Academy.

It is just one of the dichotomies of life as a Hammers fan that the assembly line of quality churning through Chadwell Heath is as much a source of shame as pride.

Had we managed to hold on to just 50% of recent produce, we would have the nucleus of not only a formidable domestic team, but the national one.

Still, Tony Carr can not be held responsible for the mercenary fiscal policy of the Kearns family, Terry Brown or our numerically-illiterate Nordic overlords. He is, and has been for some time, the greatest asset of the club.

8. Déjà vu

As ever, the promise of a new season poses many questions:

After 110-years of managerial stability, will we be onto our third manager in three and a half years?

Who will be offloaded in the summer?

How much will we bid for Graham Dorrans before he signs elsewhere?

How will the embers of hope be rekindled by mid-August?

And how long before they’re thoroughly doused?

The H List will aim to enlighten colleagues and enrage neutrals. At least once every three months.


  1. Hi. Sorry to post this in the comments box but I can't find any contact details on the site.

    Would you ping me a quick email at ian ~AT~ earlybath ~DOT~ co.uk

    Thanks v much.


  2. Hi,
    Just wanted to get in touch and couldn't find a contact address or form anywhere, as Absolute Radio will have live commntary of the West ham vs Aston Villa game this week - it's available on 1215AM and on DAB from 3pm, with the prematch build-up on Absolute Radio from 1.30pm...
    More detaails are at http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk/football