Match Report

Alice in Westhamland

Alice: ‘I have never been to a football game. Can you explain what happens?’

The Mad Hatter: ‘Well, you see all our players. Some of them cost us as much as £35 million pounds.’

Alice: ‘Is it that one who can’t pass the ball to save his life?’

Mad Hatter: ‘Yes, that’s the one. And you see that one. He’s been chosen to play for England, so now he’s playing like he’s playing for England and can’t pass the ball. A few games ago he was brilliant. Also, he had difficulty making up his mind whether he is Irish or English’

Alice:’ And what about that player up front?’

Mad Hatter: ‘Well, that player wants to go to China to win some trophies and earn more money, because he only earns £100,000 a week and he can’t manage on that.’

Alice:’What about that man who is standing on the sidelines?’

Mad Hatter: ’He’s the sort of general. But, he’s getting a bit old, so they only pay him £6 million a year. And he earns his money by shouting ‘Charge! Charge!’ all the time. Nobody has yet realised, he doesn’t really know that there are a number of ways to play football. And he is Chilean, so the only word he knows in English is ‘Charge!’

Alice:’ What about that bald player?’

Mad Hatter: ‘ He’s getting very old as well. In fact, he can’t remember where he should be playing. He’s actually should be a defender, but he keeps getting lost up the other side of the pitch.’

Alice:’ What about that strong looking man?’

Mad Hatter: ‘I heard he learnt his game from a bull in a china shop. They say he should go to Specsavers when he shoots at goal.’

Alice: ‘ This is all a bit like your riddle. Why is a raven like a writing desk?’

Mad Hatter: ‘ No, my riddle today is ‘How can you play like a bottom club against a bottom club and still win.’

Alice: ‘And who is that man up there watching the game through glass?’

Mad Hatter: ‘ He’s the owner. He’s afraid when the fans get excited, they might start to throw coins at him.’

Alice: ‘Doesn’t he want to catch the coins , so he can be a little richer? All this seems a little madder than your tea party.’

Mad Hatter: ‘Look here comes the rabbit. West Ham pulled him out of the hat in extra time.’

Alice: ‘Oh, there’s the Queen of Hearts over there. She keeps shouting ‘Off with his head’.

Mad Hatter : ‘That’s the most sensible thing I have heard someone say today.’


Match Report

The West Ham Version of Lumpy Custard

I like to make my own custard. The secret is when you pour in the milk, take the custard off the heat, otherwise you will get a curdled mess. And keep whisking because you need to get just the right consistency.

So, football is the same. You get all your ingredients, a Brazilian trickster, a Mexican cheat, a Polish wall, an Argentinian playmaker, et al, stir them all together and hope you get consistency. Unfortunately, for the chef, he can’t seem to make progress. And for those tasting the custard, the lumps are still there.

Now, Cardiff is 3 degrees of longitude west of London. So, in real time that’s a time difference of 12 minutes, as one degree of longitude is 4 minutes in time. So, the only conclusion I can come to is that the West Ham side were suffering from jet lag for the first twenty minutes of the game.

I did hear the West Ham coach only arrived an hour before the game. Even if that is not true, there is something wrong with the preparation. Perhaps, they should travel the day before, so they can adjust to the climate.

I think we can say there is something amiss with Arnautovic. It’s actually painful to watch. He should have started, as the combination of him and Lanzini could be lethal. My belief is that the club have agreed he can leave in the next transfer window and have already agreed a fee with the Chinese club for £35 million. This would be a bargain as he is now probably worth about £10 million and probably is a real downer in the dressing room.

I must say, I’m getting bored. The only home game I’ve missed this year was against Fulham. I missed the fact the game was on a Friday night and agreed to a dinner date. Strangely, I realised I wasn’t that bothered. The games now are at such varying times. Soon, we’ll have midnight games to please fans in Bora Bora.

I apologise for my little jibe against Hernandez. But, for a player who prays on the centre line before a game, he has got a strange set of morals. Wasn’t the eleventh commandment ‘I shall not cheat’?There really should be a greater sanction against such players. A fine would be in order.

Looking to next season, we have got some great players as a base – Diop, Balbuena, Rice, Fabianski, Lanzini and Anderson. But we’ll have to spend another £100 million, or £50 million net after selling players. We certainly haven’t got the depth to compete for the Europa cup.We couldn’t even beat AFC Wimbledon with a second string.


Match Report

Defensive Master Class

When I saw the West Ham team against Man City, I had a sort of brain freeze. My eye was drawn to the name Ben Johnson. Was he the winner of that game they play before every home game, where fan has to press as many flashing lights as he/she can do in thirty seconds? Perhaps this was the prize?

No, he is a young nineteen year old, we’ve had on our books since the age of seven. He was about to have the most memorable day of his life and I thought will probably end up suffering from PTSD for the rest of it. I read he used to be a winger and now he was a full back. That reminded me that Masuaku is a full back and should be a winger. Now, he was to face one of the most potent attacking forces in Europe.

Where was Arnautovic? Apparently, the story goes he is ill, but I think he was accompanying Donald Trump to Vietnam to meet Kim Jong Un, who had promised him a job.

OK, we had decided to throw the game. Nothing wrong in that, looking at how our next fixture is in three days. Give the lads a bit of practice. This left me feeling, as a fan, like a tricoteuse. If you remember, they were the women who sat doing the knitting whilst aristocrats were executed during the French Revolution.

I was reminded of the game against AFC Watford, where we fielded what seemed to be our reserves (they were worse than that). If we lost 4-2 that day, then this was going to be minimum 18-0.

And the first ten minutes seem to be going that way. Man City could have been five up. I was feeling like I was watching a coconut shy or as Man City passed it around deftly, a pinball machine.

Then the next ten minutes passed and we still hadn’t conceded a goal. True Andy Carroll, spent his time cutting grass up front, although he did contribute to the defence. And Fredericks seemed to have learnt the offside rule.

Blow me down, we were into thirty minutes and you could sense the frustration taking hold of the Man City team. And remarkably, we seemed to have gained an extra player to help us. Mahrez. He should be awarded the West Ham medal for lifetime achievement. He couldn’t do anything right and was having a nightmare.

Half time came and went. Lanzini replaced Nasri. Then, a moment came which could have been burnt on my brain for the rest of my life. Lanzini made an absolutely terrific pass to Carroll and………….. I stopped knitting and thumped my knee. Now , I’m walking with a limp.

You know those car insurance fraud, where the car in front slows down, so it is backended by the car behind. That was the penalty. Ronaldo was the car in front and Anderson was the car behind.What a shame!

I thought the tap would be turned on after that. But no, we kept our formation and saw out the game.

So, finally this season, a terrific defensive performance. Fredericks was the man of the match, especially for his clearance off the line. Hopefully, he will learn hugely from this performance and don’t we need just that? Lanzini is getting into gear and we all look forward to what is to come from him. You can’t leave out praise for Fabianski, who gives the side confidence at the back.

But the main point is, West Ham played as a team and kept their concentration to the very end. More of that, please.


Book Review

Cheating

In March 2018, the Australian cricket team was involved in a ball tampering scandal. Cameron Bancroft was caught sandpapering one side of the ball to make it swing more. In the subsequent hoo-hah, even the Australian Prime Minister got involved. The bowler, the captain and the vice-captain got lengthy bans after a long and public investigation.

There are famous cheats in many sports. Drug taking is the most offensive. I just have to write ‘hand of god’ and you know what I am referring to. In fencing, Boris Onischenko wired his sword to record false hits and was disqualified from the 1976 Olympics. In marathons, participants often cheat. In one race, a participant had taken a bus. In another, one person rode in a car for eleven miles.

In football, diving is probably the most common form of cheating. Biting the ears of other players seems more like mental derangement than cheating. We also have exaggerating the impact of a foul or feigning injury.

As far as the spectator is concerned, they pay their money to see a fair game. That’s why we have or will have VAR. Or, should we adopt the attitude that everyone else is at it, so why not our side?

So, I come on to discuss Chicharito’s goal against Fulham. He did celebrate the goal by hugging other teammates. But, if you look at replays of the incident, he doesn’t look happy. Normally, when a player scores a goal, he looks ecstatic.

One couldn’t expect Chicharito to show remorse by going up to the referee and telling him he handled the ball. But I do believe there should be some sort of retrospective penalty for his cheat. It could take the form of a match ban or financial penalty. Perhaps, even a goal deduction.

On a more positive note, let’s recall the time when Di Canio won a FIFA fair play award in 1981, when West Ham played Everton. The Everton goalkeeper, Paul Gerrard, had rushed out of his area to make a challenge and fell injured. As a cross came over, Di Canio caught the ball instead of shooting into an empty net and received a standing ovation from the Goodison crowd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSWDDXmO76E


News

Half Full or Half Empty

As we head to the final third of the season, we have time to reflect. The team are on a warm weather training break in Malaga, where the temperature is 16 degrees. Today is a perfect day in London, where it is 14 degrees. Should they have bothered?

So, this is an example of whether we look at the world as a glass which is half full or half empty. The answer is that, of course, they should go, as this is more an exercise in team bonding.

So, continuing the analogy, those who believe our glass is half full will say that we are 10th in the Premier League and that’s a minor miracle given that we lost the first four games. We have ended protests against the Board. We’ve invested in new players and a new manager. Players are starting to return from the injury list. And this is the best that can be hoped for unless one’s team is owned by a country, oligarch or multi- billionaire.

But, we are football fans and most of us usually see our team through a glass which is half empty. So, here goes for all you pessimists. This is your therapy for the day.
We continue to get players on the cheap. We are football’s version of webuyanycar.com. We are interested in players whose best years are behind them. Jack Wilshere is being paid £100,000 per week to sit on his backside, even though it was well documented he is prone to injury. We took the thirty seven year old Patrice Evra and paid £75,000 a week and he played three games. Nasri, Hernadez and Zabaleta fall into this category. Pelegrini is past his prime.

Our games continue to be frustrating. The second half against Crystal Palace was diabolical. I watched the Spurs’ Champions’ League Game, where their second half was fantastic. They went forward (even though Robbie Savage thought they should retreat), whereas we went backwards. Was it a tactical error, or were we knackered?
We’ve had fantastic performances against Arsenal and Manchester United, but were pathetic against Bournemouth and Wolves. The loss to AFC Wimbledon has got to be our worst performance of all time.

So, are we unfit or tired because they’ve trained too much? There was a documentary broadcast about Brian Clough and the most interesting comment was that he believed rest was as good as training. Sean Dyce who was a young player at the time at Nottingham Forest has said,’ Even then, the structure of the week, you’d be off Sunday, off Monday, in Tuesday, off Wednesday, off Thursday, train Friday, play Saturday. Amazingly, it seems madness, but everyone was motivated to play because you went in hungry.’

Also, am I crazy to believe we have more injuries in the modern game than we have ever had in the past? Is it anything to do with the training?

The stadium will never be another Boleyn. Apart from the fact that the crowd are too far from the players, there seems to be something wrong with the acoustics. There seems to be a lack of co-ordination between the chants which emanate from different parts of the stadium. Perhaps it has to do with the speed of sound.
But could we do more to engender crowd participation? Perhaps Karen Brady could devote part of her £17,100 part-time week to this problem.

Weren’t the drums the drums of the Borussia Dortmund fans fantastic (how did they get those into the ground)? Our away fans are fantastic. We need to get this involvement flowing at the London Stadium. Perhaps we should have the sound of hammers hitting a gong. Does anyone remember the Rank Organisation and the Man with a Gong (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uie4YqrhNHQ0 ? I suppose the Hammerettes are a thing of the past.

So, drink up what’s left in the glass. Here’s the thing though. If you’re unhappy with your marriage, you can get a divorce. If you don’t like your job, you can leave. But, I’ve never, ever met a football fan who has stopped supporting his club.


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