Sunday, April 02, 2006

Who did West Ham play today?

I've always been a massive fan of the way Sky present their football. The coverage of the match is always excellent. The cameraman shows you what you actually want to see (take note ITV), and the commentators/pundits are the better by far than their counterparts on the terrestrial channels. However, today’s broadcast was so totally and utterly biased in West Ham's favour that it got almost embarrassing at times.

Who were the pundits in the Sky studio? Jamie Redknapp, (son of 'Arry the 'Ammer), and Rio Ferdinand (former player). The prematch coverage was all about how West Ham's fortunes have been on the up over the last 12 months, the change in their fans' attitude towards Alan Pardew, how Rio felt about their progress this season, their chances in the FA Cup, and of course, Teddy's 40th birthday.
For those of you who didn't see the programme, Richard Keys even said "Lets hear from West Ham manager Alan Curbishley" at one point, and I'm not joking.

Half time was spent talking about how Charlton had only come to defend in numbers (although they did say that we played well in the first half). Then, the post match formalities were dominated by the presentation of the man-of-the-match award to the undeserving Mullins, and a birthday cake (for crying out loud) to dear old Teddy. We were then taken through the highlights of West Ham's best attacking play, and some of their efforts on goal. Oh, and then we heard what the West Ham manager thought of the game.
Now to be fair, Sky probably did give Curbishley a chance to speak after that, but I'd turned it off in disgust by then. I'd rather wait a few hours and then hear it from our own web site. At least that way, after the interview, I won't have to listen to Rio and Redknapp debate what effect Curbishley's words would have on West Ham.

Now that I've got that little rant out of my system, I can say that I was really proud of the way in which we played. The Boleyn is never an easy place to go and get a result, but we stifled the creativity they have in midfield (so much so that their captain was withdrawn as ineffective), and contained their threat down both flanks.
Our man of the match would be difficult choice; Hughes, Holland, and Kish were great, both full backs played well, and both Perry and Hreidarsson were accomplished. Rommedahl starting ahead of Thomas surprised me, but after another relatively unproductive performance he was taken off during the second half. Although he is a player capable of producing a moment of magic, producing it once a season just isn't enough.

So, honourable mentions this week go to the entire team, with the possible exception of Marcus Bent, who I am beginning to get the hump with. I know that he isn't fully fit yet, but do you need 100% fitness to chase a ball which is only 4 feet from you? Or to tackle an opposition player who is heading in your direction with the ball? I will gladly eat humble pie if he turns out to be a decent player for us over the next couple of years, but when we bought him I remember saying that it was too much money, and I still stand by that assessment.

Anyway, a draw continues our run of recent good form. I'm not too concerned that we have drawn three of our last 4 away games 0-0, its much better than losing them. Winning your home games and drawing your away's will get you far in this modern Premiership, and it's always prudent to get the defensive strategy right as an away side before you worry about going hell for leather in search of goals. We can play attractive, expansive and fluent football. We have already seen it in the earlier part of the season; it's just a shame that we couldn't produce more of it today in front of Sky.

They might have mentioned us if we had…


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