Monday 27 August 2012

Pedantic antics erase Welsh farce

In extraordinary overnight developments, it has emerged that West Ham are poised to appeal the result of Saturday’s unfortunate 3-0 defeat at the hands of Swansea. In the immediate aftermath of the match, the Hammers legal team have identified a litany of administrative irregularities that the FA must now address. Janet Pilkington-Dudsbury-Pilkington, Professor of Pedantics at the University of East London, is said to have identified at least three spelling mistakes and five grammatical errors in referee Martin Atkinson’s match report.
The incompetent officials brought still further scorn and embarrassment for the FA when the referee blew for full time after a mere 77 seconds even though the fourth official signalled for at least 3 minutes of additional time. Not surprisingly, the West Ham management team have complained that these additional 65 seconds could have been crucial to the Hammers' brave fightback and provided an opportunity to at least snatch a draw.

Hammers first team squad arrives at the Liberty Stadium for Saturday's match

The footballing hell that is Bramall lane

The Hammers have become increasingly sensitive to legal issues in the modern game after famously falling foul of jurisprudence during the Tevezgate scandal, when improper documentation around player registration cost them a whopping £25 million in damages (as well as a further £36 million in legal fees). “ At the time we thought that it was just a minor technical infringement but without Carlos we could never have achieved the triumphant 3-0 defeat at Bramall Lane that condemned the Blades to the lower divisions for all eternity”. 
Meanwhile, Big Sam’s squad are said to have embraced a new literary ethos at the club and have formed a poetry appreciation society to complement the longstanding weekly book club that dates back to former Boss Harry Redknapp’s reign. Literacy is top of the football agenda again after the FA announced a crackdown on poor spelling by players. “We will impose severe fines on any players who bring the game into disrepute by using social networking sites to promote lazy grammar or sloppy spelling”.
One of the West Ham team relaxing during Saturday's half time interval

Sunday 26 August 2012

Swansea 3 West Ham 0: Hammers scuppered by schoolboy antics


Hammers practice some defensive moves in training last week
Big Sam’s team sheet for the Swansea match pointed to a pretty simple plan- stop the Swansea juggernaut by frustrating their efforts to pass the ball about and then impose a superior physicality through patient and disciplined football. A precondition for all of this was that we didn’t concede early or easily. Cue our two most experienced defensive players uncharacteristically lapse into schoolboy errors and we are 2-0 down within the blink of an eye. We rallied somewhat either side of half time, Sam made some sensible substitutions and we almost scraped back into it but the moment was lost and Swansea pushed on with a fantastic third goal. The final half hour became a painful spectacle for the Hammers faithful as Swans, now flying sky-high, swaggered and we wilted, horribly.


Michu spills a pint down the front of his shirt
None the less, one probably shouldn't take too much from the mistakes – these things happen from time to time and we just have to get on with it. However, you might argue that we conceded too much by starting with such a defensive formation and that the first two goals were symptomatic of that attitude. However, if anything we were on top before conceding, so its probably a mistake to read too much in to this game. A lot more concerning was our inability to hold onto the ball (only a pitiful 38% of possession) and with such a muscular midfield we should have been able to stamp out the champagne football from Swansea without reverting to fouling – we ended up with 4 yellow cards, most of which were picked up long after the game was obviously lost.

It's still early days back in the Premiership and away results won't come as easily as they did last year. There were also some minor positives, here and there we got a feel for what Matt Jarvis can bring, Maiga got some more game time and Diarra made his debut, but let’s face it, it could have been much more than 3-0!

So it’s back to the Boleyn for Tuesday night’s visit from Crewe Alexandra. Hopefully we can rebuild our confidence with a solid performance and let some of the young players gt some experience in front of the Hammers faithful. We can expect to dominate possession (I think!) and that’ll be a good opportunity to get a closer look at Maiga and Jarvis in action. COYI!


Saturday 25 August 2012

Big Sam fears trip to Swansea

Ahead of the arduous cross-border journey to South Wales for today’s tasty top of the table tester, Sam Allardyce has expressed his concerns as to how his West Ham side might cope. Big Sam, reputed to be the Premiership’s most empathetic manager, is concerned that the trip may be overwhelming for some of his squad. “Joey O’Brien suffers from terrible motion sickness and the 330 km journey may be just too much for him to handle”. Even more concerning, new signing Matt Jarvis’ fear of heights may force the team bus to divert via Cheltenham in order to avoid the Severn bridge. "I’ve asked the rest of the squad to keep quiet about the the Severn Estuary’s propensity for extremely high winds and the fact that the 137M high pillars are in fact hollow" .
Bertie Bus
Hammers eco-friendly team coach

Sam’s holistic tendencies have recently gotten him into hot water with the two-Davids who are unhappy with the cost of installing seaweed bathing facilities at the Hammers health-spa cum training ground at Chadwell heath. Moreover, ace defender Winston Reid has complained that extended team Reiki sessions are leaving little time for ball-skills training. However, coaching experts at the Moby Dick public house in Chadwell Heath have reassured fans that ball skills are unlikely to be needed this season as the Hammers plan to ensure premiership survival through honest graft and endeavour rather than any time-wasting artsy-fartsy poncey ‘creative’ antics.

Some of Sam's hippie mates during the sixties
In addition to Carlton Cole's potentially fatal peanut allergy, the Hammers squad has been beset by a variety of niggling psychological ailments ever since the famous 1-0 annihilation of Arsenal in 2007 when Bobby Zamora’s goal copperfastened the Hammers total domination that day. Experts have postulated that the Hammer’s defence marked Denis Bergcamp so closely that they may have become infected with his phobia for flying.

Bergcamp: sensitive

Meanwhile, with the recent return of Georgie McCartney and James Collins to the Boleyn, sources have speculated that Bobby Zamora may also be on his way back to his beloved Hammers. Similar to both Collins and McCartney, Zamora had no desire to leave when he was foolishly offloaded to Fulham in 2008.

    The ‘Z’ man celebrates sinking the Gooners

However, commentators can see no similar way back for Hammers half-legend Joey Beauchamp. The mesmerically talented Beauchamp, now 43, has apparently been confined to his bedroom for many years since becoming overwhelmed during his extended 58 day career at West Ham. It is alleged that during this time he was forced by then Hammers manager brutish Billy Bonds to drive the whole journey from Oxford without any psychological assistance or stress counselling. “That sort of harsh and insensitive player management is thankfully a thing of the past, I won’t have my players exposed to any of that kind of callous cruelty” observed the uber-sensitive Boleyn Boss.

     The last known sighting of Joey

Thursday 23 August 2012

We are off to Europe!!!

On the eve of West Ham’s first International fixture of the season, a mouth watering top of the table clash with Swansea, renowned sports psychologist Dr Mark Clichedbore has revealed how he sat down with Big Sam at the start of the Summer and hatched out the perfect plan to achieve our goal of premiership survival this season. “It’s deliciously simple stuff - if the Hammers can manage to avoid conceding any goals all season then they only need one opposition team to score a single own goal in order to achieve the 40 points that should guarantee Premiership survival”. Top maths boffins have confirmed that this is in fact totally and absolutely correct. As a consequence, Big Sam has trawled far and wide for supersized-uberflexy players who can obscure entry to our goal and prevent incursions by opposing teams.

 An artist’s impression of how the goal-blocking tactic might work
It’s also been rumoured that Sam is secretly delighted with the few extra pounds that Captain Kevin Nolan has gained over the Summer recess as these will be pretty useful for blocking off some gaps towards the bottom left corner of our goal.
                                                Waif-like Nolan before the Summer recess
Dr Clichedbore emphasised that supporters who want to see a return to the so-called West ham 'way' of free flowing atistic footie are simply being unrealistic – ‘it’s all about putting points on the board, the football can come later’. He also labelled midfield maestro Mark Noble a potential liability due to his creative playmaking activities. “Mark has simply got to grow up and stop flouncing about midfield. First season back it’s all about survival - by any means necessary”.
Noble: milking it, as usual!
He was delighted with the demolition of Aston Villa as this means that with 3 points in the bag from a single game the team can focus on making sure they don’t concede a goal. “Big Sam felt that we could do a job on Villa and the filleting they received on Saturday certainly justified his risky decision to allow some members of the team to attack the Villa goal”. Meanwhile, Villa boss Paul Lambert, speaking through an interpreter, has hit out angrily at suggestions that Darren Bent is employed on an innovative £20,000 per touch of the ball contract. “People are saying that Darren didn’t touch the ball in the second half against West ham but it bounced off his thigh twice and that must surely count for something?”.

                                              The Villa manager shares a joke with his interpreter

Experts expect Swansea to try to close up shop for tomorrow’s clash. Having watched videos of their close neighbours at Cardiff City being eviscerated by the Hammers during their last foreign trip to Wales, manager Brian Laudrup, without the aid of an interpreter, indicated that he plans to adopt a conservative formation in order to try and quell the swashbuckling East Londoners.
                                                            Big Sam prepares for the foreign trip

Meanwhile, travel experts are predicting chaos in the skies as Hammers fans invade International airports trying to find ways to get to the fixture. “I don’t care if I have to go via Ulaan Baatar, I am going to be there” said long-time Hammer, Tony Browntree.

An embarrassment of riches

West Ham’s latest capture Matt Jarvis surely represents our most adventurous signing so far during the transfer window and signals real intent to develop an attacking strategy that can deliver goals. Lest we forget, It’s almost no time since the naturally left-sided player options at the Hammers were reduced to the intermittently available Herita Illunga. Now, Big Sam has options galore with an embarrassment of riches on the left side– from the highly experienced McCartney and Taylor, to the exciting emerging talent of Dan Potts, and now our latest recruit, Matt Jarvis with his pacey penetrating style. Time and again Big Sam has altered the outcome of games with astute substitutions and the Jarvis signing further adds to his capacity to change it about during matches.
Dr Sam: Tactical boffin
Wingers these days tend to be either tasty crossers or pacey runners, with both attributes together a rare combination indeed. Matt Taylor has been fantastic since his arrival –with a decent crossing and strike capacity as well as solid defensively. No doubt he still has a major role to play this season. However, since his departure we have missed those mazey runs of Matthew Etherington  and young Jarvis brings a similar cheeky direct style.
All the same, at £10.75 million, Let’s hope that he doesn’t get injured!
A gentle reminder that the lad can put the ball in the onion sack

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Adios Little Sam - Big Sam likes em...BIG!!!

Unconfirmed rumours around the Boleyn suggest that Big Sam recently despatched a team of undercover scouts to the basketball arena at the Olympics in an effort to capture some new talent for the Hammer’s premier league campaign. This will come as no surprise to fans of Sam Baldock, who, despite looking very sharp in pre-season fixtures, is packing his bags and heading for Bristol City having been deemed surplus to requirements at Upton Park. 
Pugnacious Sam threatens to take John Carew down a notch or two
However, leading Sizemologist, Dr Klaus Underhotter, speaking from his clinic in Zurich suggested that any number of solutions could have saved Sam’s West Ham career. “We have highly effective  stretch therapy machines, as well as a wide selection of stilt-boots that could have transformed his ability to contribute at set pieces”. The medical team at West Ham, however, are said to have arrogantly dismissed the revolutionary interventions as the rantings of just another pseudoscientific charlatan.

A QPR squad member models the platformed boots

In another development, it is rumoured that the West Ham management are planning to invest in a carnival-type mirror system that will make the players seem even taller than they already are – a scary thought given that the starting XI on Saturday’s demolition of Aston Villa were on average  a whopping 6ft 1inches tall! Sadly, these mirrors will arrive too late to save Baldock from the horror of a move to ‘boring' Bristol. It is thought that Big Sam also believes that adding a sense of fairground freakishness could be a useful weapon to intimidate visiting fans – it certainly seems to have worked wonders for Stoke City.

The Stoke subs bench lending support to their team's on-pitch efforts 
Perhaps more worryingly, some observers have suggested that, with the exception of top international male model - dishy James Tompkins, the current squad already look frightening enough without the added distortion of freak-show mirror effects and that it is only a matter of time before they will have to close the family section at the ground to protect vulnerable youngsters.

However, sources close to the Boleyn countered that “any fans who survived the fearsome Tomas Repka and the spine-chilling Iain Dowie should be able to manage a veiwing of Joey O’Brien”.
The spectre of Dowie continues to loom large over West Ham fan’s nocturnal terrors

Other sources have suggested that Big Sam is also concerned at the lack of a significant aerial presence amongst fans at the Bobby Moore end of the ground and wants to bring in a height screening test for season ticket holders. Not surprisingly, some high profile supporters with vertical disadvantage issues have responded angrily and vowed to form an action group. There’s no tolerance of heightism in Hollywood , so why should the premiership be any different – “just like us thespians, those footballers are all just prancing about, pretending to give a shit, acting the part until a better offer comes along” a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Hammers principal sports psychology consultant, Dr Marco Boogers, speaking from a caravan park in Utrecht commented “It’s all gone bonkers at that club again, bloody bonkers”.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Carlos cash brings further joy for the Blades

David Sullivan's comments in the match programme for the Villa game serve to remind us of the immense financial burden that the Hammers continue to shoulder as the Blades keep bleeding them for the compensation award from the Tevez affair. Another 10 million this year for the ever-disgruntled Blades to waste on earnest lower league types so they can grind out results on rainy Tuesday evenings at Hartlepool and Scunthorpe….ZZZZZZ.... No wonder their fans can't let go of the past. 

Carlos helps us to a crucial 3-0 defeat that was the catalyst for the Blades sickening demise

However, the figures revealed seem totally incongruous beside the outrageous monies that were linked to the Andy Carroll deal and leave one wondering what's really going on financially behind the scenes at Fortress Boleyn. There can be no doubting that the two Davids have brought much needed financial shrewdness to the club, but sometimes it’s impossible to make sense of all the speculation about transfer bids etc. Is Andy Carroll really that (£80K a week) good? Can someone who looks like a roadie for Status Quo really help sell that many jerseys?

PARTING OF THE WAYS: Francis Rossi has had his ponytail cut off after 35 years
Andy Carroll's dad, possibly.

On a brighter note, in these worrying times when Man City have seized the premiership title like some sordid business acquisition, the Blades stunning demise since they were awarded the 24 million emphasises that money alone does not guarantee success. Wouldn’t it be delicious to draw them in one of the cup competitions?

A Blades fan celebrating another 0-0 draw with Tevez cash yesterday

Monday 20 August 2012

Luminous lunacy costs Villa dearly

Aston Villa are licking their wounds after a devastating defeat at the hands of premiership newbies West Ham. A shallow attempt by Villa to garner attention by wearing insipid lime green fluorescent jerseys backfired badly during Saturday’s season’s opener at Upton Park. Sources close to match referee, Mike Dean, revealed that he was able to confidently rule the Hammer’s winning goal onside because of the extreme optical insult of Villa’s away kit.

A bemused Stephen Ireland during Saturday's fixture

The controversy is likely to open old wounds for Villa fans who have struggled with away kit problems for years. Even worse, coming against their closest rivals in the home colour kit stakes, this will serve as a reminder that while they continue to seek an away kit that is even barely acceptable, West Ham remain the true kings of claret and blue and can regularly (every second season) turn out in their sartorially magnificent sky blue with double claret lineage away jerseys that are undoubtedly English football’s most desirable attire. It is rumoured that some former players have struggled to get stuck in during away fixtures due to fears of getting the elegant gear dirty. However, no such explanations can possibly hold for Darren Bent’s failure to touch the ball during the second half of Saturday’s fixture.

Unmatched elegance

Even worse for Villa, some disgruntled fans have threatened legal action after exposure to the optical insult that is Villa’s away kit. Rex Harrison from Dagenham is holding the jersey responsible for causing a recurrence of his wife’s migraine, commenting that “ the FA need to get their finger out and put a stop to this sort of nonsense”. Mike Dean has also sounded a word of caution that the ever increasing trend towards practical sports clothing could lead to further sporting mayhem revealing that “at one stage I thought that Villa had twelve players on the pitch but it turned out just to be one of the security personnel who was removing a piece of paper that had blown on to the edge of the playing surface”

Another option from the Brummie club's leisurewear range

A new era begins: let's give the kids a chance

Dr Evil ponders the simplicity of life
So, we are back and despite looking a little bewildered for the first 20 minutes, we kicked off with the perfect confidence boosting result. Solid in defence, competitive around the park and we created the better chances against what looks (on paper at least) to be a decent Villa side. Perfect Big Sam product – we slowly suffocated their creative efforts, scored from a set piece and then bossed them into desperation before finally carving them open for what should have been a second goal. A satisfying feeling indeed, especially when you consider that we are usually on the receiving end of this type of contest – coming away feeling that we had some nice touches around the middle of the park but couldn’t quite translate them into chances up front deblah blah…. It’s a new era that will see us establish our Premiership credentials, move to a bigger venue, get bought by a major investor who wants to be associated with a London club, and on it goes….world domination within 5 years methinks?

Or maybe we will pick up injuries, struggle to win at home, get into a bad run of away form and face another tense final run in. Somehow, however, I don’t think so. I think our new found  organisation and physicality will allow us to capture points on the road where our midfield set up should make us hard to break down and we can dominate set pieces. After repeated rudderless campaigns over the past few years, we finally have a ‘proper’ manager who knows how the game works, including getting results. I’m a little less confident about us getting those important home victories but if we can add a little more attacking flair before the transfer window closes then we might start really dreaming!

et another reason that it would be great to get a solid start to the season is that it can allow us to give useful game time to our emerging youngsters - Dan Potts, Jordan Spence and Rob Hall all looked more than decent in pre-season and surely deserve a chance at the top table. However, even as a supporter of big Sam’s effective football, I must admit that he can be too conservative when it comes to testing new talent. As time passes we may well regret some of the departures of young talent who can rightly complain that they didn’t get a real opportunity to strut their stuff. Baldock, Morrison, Nouble et al can all cite lack of a sustained run in the team as a reason for their lack of success at the Boleyn and their causes were not helped last year by our premature exits from cup competition where emerging talent can be aired. Let’s hope we can avoid any unwanted surprises in the Crewe tie and get a decent run going that will allow Big Sam to give our kids a chance!

Overall, it was a vey pleasing start to the new campaign. A special mention for James Collins, why oh why did we ever let him go? Let’s keep it up and squeeze the joy out of free flowing Swansea next week.Physically we can boss them. Mark Hughes excuses for QPRs thumping at the weekend sounded lame but it’s important not to let them get ahead early on.  Maybe this is the moment to try out a Diame-Diarra partnership in front of the back four….COYI!