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

Monday, August 23, 2010

West Ham United vs Oxford United: Match Preview - 24/08/2010

1. The Weird And Wonderful World Of Avram Grant

Other than our woeful defending, one thing has struck me thus far about the recent exploits of Mossad’s finest: his mysterious take on reality.

I have not determined whether Grant is yet to fully master the English language, or if his flabby jowls generate sufficient turbulence to distort his view of the world.

Consider his assessment of the Bolton game:

‘I am happy with how the players responded. The defence was good…(?!) On the football side everything went well. We played like a team at the top.’

And how about Villa:

‘We were on top of Villa in the second half before they scored their third.’

This last statement is particularly amusing, essentially translating as: ‘At 2-0 down we controlled the game. Until we went 3-0 down.’

Grant has undoubtedly had a rude-awakening, realising something we’ve all known for years: no matter how good many players look on paper, how respected their reputation, stick them in a West Ham shirt and they become as erratic as an autistic child left out in the sun.

2. Opposition

Oxford United visit this evening for our opening foray into the Carling Cup, a competition we regularly laud as an opportunity for Europe, but rarely progress beyond the 3rd round.

Oxford have recently returned to the Football League proper following their 3-1 victory over York City in the Conference Play-Off Final back in May.

They currently sit in the lower half of League Two, with two draws and a loss from their opening three games.

3. Six Degrees Of Separation

After tonight’s Cup distraction, we face one of the toughest stretches of the season: Man United (a), Chelsea (h), Stoke (a) and tottenham (h).

On current form, it’s far from inconceivable that we will lose all those fixtures, making six losses from our opening six games.

Grant took over at Portsmouth last year after it had taken Pompey eight games to register a point, a deficit they were unable to overcome.

Optimists will say we’re far from that at this early stage, but it is depressing to consider that just two games into the season, it looks increasingly likely that all we can realistically look forward to is another relegation scrap.

4. Picture Book

‘Pssst – Dave. I’ve got three Ann Summers dildos up my arse. And a writ for The H List.’

5. Backwards In Going Forwards

Rumours abound that Alessandro Diamanti is on his way to Brescia, a confounding move.

Diamanti is no DiCanio or Tevez, but he is the only player we have capable of the unexpected.

Despite his occasional wastefulness, I see no reason why he should be sold off and can only presume it is purely a financial decision, but there are plenty of players I’d offload before him.

A midfield of Diamanti, Parker, Hitzlsperger and Barrera would be one of the more promising we have fielded for some time. To jettison a genuine attacking threat is bemusing – it’s not as if we’re ruthless finishers upfront.

6. The Milk Of Human Kindness

Nothing can be said to excuse, explain or improve upon our opening two games this season, so I’m just going to pretend they didn’t happen, but when the present is unsure and scary, it’s always comforting to engage in a little nostalgia.

For no reason I can fathom, I have a particularly sharp recollection of Oxford United winning what was then the Milk Cup Final with a 3-0 victory over QPR back in 1986, later cruelly denied their place in Europe under the Heysel ban.

This star-spangled memory, combined with West Ham’s current malaise has resulted in no small part of me wanting to see Oxford progress this evening.

A win will mean an awful lot more to them than it would to us, and a defeat might just give us the kick up the arse we need before Man United on Saturday.

The mid-80’s era were simpler times: footballers were on a wage akin to that of the working man, West Ham had a title-contending team, to qualify as a ‘celebrity’ you had to display talent, football shirts were plain and functional, moustaches commonplace, and an iPad was something you stuck on your face.

Today’s fast-paced, information-saturated world seems cynically twisted by comparison, prostituted by media giants hell-bent on hyping over-stylised national pastimes to such an extent that they feel entitled to charge us for the spectacle as it’s ‘the best we’ve ever had’.

When the bewildering circus of modern football becomes too much, there is comfort to be had in the wistful remembrance of youth: Battle Of The Planets on a Saturday morning, Routemaster buses, Keith Houchen diving to meet Dave Bennett’s cross, and the brooding sexual menace of Michael Knight.

Such reflection becomes skewed over time, rose-tinted and largely pointless, but this harmless indulgence is an awful lot sweeter than the sour reality of the here and now.

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