Match Report

Reflections on the Aston Villa game

I watched the Aston Villa game on my computer, paying the one-off charge of £9.99. Wasn’t it £7.99 last season? I practiced that I had got the log in details correct a couple of times during the day and sure enough , there I was sat before my computer at 8.00pm, having skipped the hour of the load of bollocks pundits.

There can be no comparison between watching a game on TV or computer and watching it from the stands. I can’t put my finger on it, but it might be the same as watching pornography or engaging in the act yourself.

Also, when watching the game on TV, my mind begins to wander. How do you pronounce Haller? If it’s French, you would definitely drop the H. Then, is it Aller or Allere? I looked up his Wiki entry, which shows you how to pronounce the name but it’s written in Klingon (try it yourself). It took me weeks to learn that you pronounced Payet with a T, because that’s how they pronounced it on Reunion. This is going to keep me up at nights.

What was going on in the game? Wow, it looked like the West Ham side had finally learnt how to pass the ball. Could there be a new found confidence in the side? We beat Norwich, Norwich beat Man City, so that makes us the best team in Europe.

Rice also seemed to have regained his touch. I was getting a bit worried about him. It would seem once a player starts to dream of greener pastures, their game goes downhill. I was beginning to think, if Man U offered £90 million, we should grab it.

OK, back to Heller. I’m going to try and transcribe the phonetic language. The H is definitely not pronounced. The e is pronounced like the e in best. But, the final r is a guttural r , roughly like the ch in loch, or it might be like the r in the french word ‘regarder’, in which case you roll it. So, it’s Allerrrrrrrrr, or Allech. Oh, why couldn’t we buy a player like Wojciech Szczesny, whose name you can pronounce straight off?

Back to the computer. Here we go again with the West Ham speciality, the old one two free kick. It must be absolutely brilliant on the training ground. It’s definitely going to be better against Aston Villa, because Snodgrass isn’t involved. There a saying which goes,’ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ The West Ham version is,’If at first you don’t succeed, try, try , try, try, try, try, try, try, try…………………..

I suffer from Tony Gale syndrome. I was there when he was red carded in 1991 in the seventh minute and essentially, the ref ruined the game. This couldn’t possibly happen with Mike Dean, who has only ever given a few red cards in his career, just over 100. Next down the list is Phil Dowd on 67. But that tackle by Masuaku was brutal, He definitely should have a nine game ban for that offence, which seem to involve touching the opponent’s shirt and spoiling the crease. Or perhaps it’s time to bring Dean’s career to an end and get a new ref who doesn’t need to go to Specsavers.

Wait a minute, this was after I thought Dean was going for new record, red carding an Aston Villas player for head butting his teammate.

So, on we go to the game against Man U. We just have to remember, you can’t win a game if you don’t get a shot on goal.

Talking Point

Fantasy Match Report

Manuel Pellegrini was confined to his bed, so Jack Sullivan took over. He surprised everybody by selecting Ogbonna, Diop and Balbuena to play alongside each other at the back.

It became obvious fairly quickly that Brighton were finding it hard to achieve any level of penetration. The West ham players were quick to close down any move by the opposition.

The back three allowed Fredericks and Masuaku to display their talents, one with speed and the other with speed of foot. They were able to get to the byline and sure enough after fifteen minutes, a Fredericks cross found Haller’s head and West Ham were ahead. Their first goal of the Premiership season and the first for Haller in the Premier league.

The game continued as it had started. Wilshere was especially effective, given that he knew the was solid backup behind him and he found Antoniou who hassled and bustled his way through the defence, but his shot was well wide of the goal and he should probably have gone to Specsavers.

Brighton came out strongly in the second half, but West ham continued to press forward. Lanzini was combining with Haller and this eventually paid off when a beautiful pass found Haller in the penalty area and he slotted home giving the goalkeeper no chance.

Brighton were reduced to long balls into the West Ham area and this finally paid off when Murray ducked and the ball hit Ogbonna on the arm. The referee didn’t award a penalty but the game was stopped for VAR and the decision was reversed. Murray’s penalty found the top corner.

West Ham continued to play some beautiful football. Anderson and Fornals looked particularly dangerous. Finally, Anderson cut in from the right and found the net from just outside the penalty area.

With their new formation, West Ham look a very solid side with plenty of talent and should go far.

Match Report

Pellegrini - Our First World War General

Before the referendum, Boris Johnson wrote two articles, one outlining the benefits of the EU and the other urging us to leave. The rest is history.

I feel the same about the game against Manchester City. I’ll start, therefore ,with the positive. The game against Manchester City should be considered an extension of our series of friendlies, as it will be irrelevant to our run in the Premier league. When the opposition can field a side, where the substitute bench is worth £280 million, it was always highly unlikely we would achieve even a draw.

I thought the outcome(negative) would be determined in the first twenty minutes, but I was wrong. We showed real commitment, hassled them on the ball and made them make several mistakes. We demonstrated, unlike many games last season, we could actually pass the ball, although the final pass in their half was lacking. With a bit of luck, we could have got them rattled.

I liked the look of Haller. He controlled the ball well on several occasions and showed commitment in defence. He could become the replacement for Andy Carroll who doesn’t get injured. Fredericks also demonstrated he was progressing well and Kyle Walker showed him how he could use his speed to devastating effect.

I can’t understand why we don’t make more use of free kicks we get just inside the opposition half. They should be used, as one would use a corner. Instead, we make a short pass and within a few seconds the opposition has the ball. Also, we need to stop that lunatic one two (usually between Snodgrass and Anderson), which may work in practice, but has never worked in real play.

I thought the crowd were excellent until the first goal. They were completely bemused by VAR and the end of the game, one felt one should have watched the game on TV, in order to understanding the VAR decisions. Why can’t the VAR replays be shown on the TV and the decisions explained to the crowd? The VAR decision were correct, especially where Rice encroached on the penalty area and was first to the ball after Fabianski had saved.

The referee definitely favoured Manchester City. Time after time, he refused to yellow card players who were making cynical fouls to stop attacks. The slow motion replays I watched after the game reinforced my view.

That’s about it on the positive side.

After the game, Pellegrini said we had to show more strength in defence. This annoyed me intensely, as under his watch, we played a suicide formation. As our general, he should show more flexibility. Instead , he reminded me of a First World War commander, sending his forces forward and ignoring the devastating results. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to play three at the back and have full backs who can defend.

Cresswell is a disaster. How many comments were there about him pre-season? He has completely lost his ability to defend and most of the time can be seen lurking halfway up the pitch looking lost. Pellegrini, who must be deaf and probably can’t read English, so doesn’t read the criticism, made him captain instead. Why did we not bring in a proper full back during the transfer window?

In our next games, we need to capture the spirit of those first twenty minutes. We need to ensure we don’t give the opposition too much time on the ball. Also, we need to learn a lesson from Man City and speed up our play as we get nearer the opposition goal. Man City are a brilliant side and I hope this debacle is quickly put aside.

Match Report

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

After watching the TV series, I’m rereading Catch 22. It has to be one of the most hilarious novels ever. The main character, Yossarian, a bombardier, asks the doctor why he can’t be grounded as he is crazy. The doctor tells him you’ve got to be crazy to fly bombers and only a sane man would ask to be grounded, so Yossarian can’t be grounded because he must be sane to ask to be grounded.

On many levels , the whole game of football is crazy. The players are crazy, because the amount of money they earn must be the greatest disincentive to playing football. I am sure that Payet and Arnautovic went crazy, or perhaps they were the only sane ones – they took the money and stopped playing to the best of their ability.
Indeed, the amount of money swilling around the game is crazy. Now the craziness has extended to China.

The club owners are definitely crazy. Why would a billionaire waste a lot of his money, so that fans could throw coins at him and he has to hide behind a glass screen when he watches his team? Why is he not content to feed his carp and sit at home on his throne like chairs? Does a pornographer really believe he is going to achieve salvation by running a football team?

The next level of craziness is the amount of money wasted on managers. I am sure most of the fans could do the job. In fact, it would be better to have a computer programme acting as manager. It was once believed that a computer could never beat a Grand Master at chess. That was accomplished many years ago. What could be better that having a computer tracking each player’s performance – the distance they are running, the passes they make, the tackles they make and their positioning. I am sure it would be a great incentive for a player if they knew a computer was constantly analysing their performance. A computer would also analyse game plans and formulate the best plan against a particular team.

The London Stadium is completely crazy. Another £6 million was spent on removing seats over the summer and another £4 million on legal fees to get West Ham to pay more. West Ham only pay £2.5 million per year. However, everybody involved here is really crazy because the stadium is crap.

The pre-season friendlies were completely crazy. We let in an average of 2 goals per game. What is to be learnt here? Only that you’d better take a few happy pills before watching the first game against Man City. Oh, and perhaps also that we are playing the wrong system and need a few real defenders.

The fans. We are all absolutely crazy. We have this tribal like instinct to support our club, when the only factor that counts is the money a club receives for TV rights, which is then spent on mainly foreign players, in the hope they can settle down in the UK, even though they may not speak the language and are far from home. Wasn’t it better when our players came from our local area? Was football less enjoyable when I watched Moore , Hurst and Peters? Why did we not just buy a Prime Minister from abroad, rather than having Boris?

The United Kingdom is crazy. What other country in the world has four football associations and insists on fielding four national sides. When Germany was reunited, they stopped playing as West Germany and East Germany. Instead, we have suffered years of frustration and missed out on the outstanding talents of players like Giggs and Bale.

Now, we are going to suffer a year of VAR craziness. I thought handball had to be deliberate. Now, if an attacker ducks and it hits a defender on the arm, that is a penalty.

COYI, I’m bored with summer. Bring on the craziness.

Talking Point

The West Ham Catch 22

The brain cells are recuperating and preparing themselves for another season of psychological torture. The last three months have been spent watching events such as the Women’s World Cup, the French Open , Wimbledon and the Cricket World Cup. But nothing can compare to the release of dopamine when your football team scores and that makes us a little mad.

If we were sane, we would support teams where we were guaranteed more goals. After all, Premiership football is about a simple transaction. You get a load of cash for the football rights and you dole it out on transfer fees and wages. My ten year old grandson could do that.

I’ve been loving Catch 22 on Channel 4 and will read the book again when I go on holiday. And this is our Catch 22. To transfer your allegiance to a new club you’ve got to be sane , but the trouble is, if you support a club like West Ham, you’ve got to be a bit mad.

After all, it’s a club run by pornographers, doesn’t own a stadium, has a dame trying to screw the owners of the ground for a few thousand pounds when we could save £800,000 by getting rid of her, and thinks that by surrounding the pitch in maroon instead of green, the results will be improved.

But we love it. We can’t get enough of it. We all think it’s going to get better in the future. And, perhaps it will. We’ve splashed out £45 million on Haller and £25 million on Fornals. We’ve got Yarmalenko, Reid, Wilshere and Lanzini coming back from injuries (I won’t include Sanchez). And it doesn’t seem that we have lost Rice or Diop. So, we should all take our hats off to David Sullivan, who has probably calculating that he should take the risk to make the club more valuable when he sells it in the summer of 2021, when he is free from his agreement with the owners of the stadium.

Perhaps we are still short of full backs. And, although not taking too much from friendlies, we have shipped six goals, which is reminiscent of previous beginnings of other seasons. Personally, I would build a team from the back, but we have an attacking manager and we’ll see how that pans out. And let’s hope that now the traitor, Arnautovic, has gone, team spirit will soar.

So, there’s less than a month to go and let’s hope you’re going to get your dopamine in spades this season.

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