It’s West Ham’s Cup Final on this afternoon as we visit Upton Park for, cup draws and relegation notwithstanding, potentially the second from last time ever. A 12.45am kick off means that the locals’ chances to wash down the breakfast eel pie and mash with copious amounts of wife beater are limited, in the past this was a favoured police move (the early kick off, not the alcohol intake), now it’s the role of TV of course to spoil everyone’s Saturday as they try and convince everyone that lunchtime is the perfect part of the day for football watching despite a century of evidence to the contrary.
This fixture last year featured one of Gareth Bale’s finest moments, his last minute curling thunderbolt winner and run to the embrace of AVB. Ah, happy days; especially if compared to this season’s efforts against the Hamsters – played two, lost two. Ouch. The three second half goals in October that gave West Ham the points at WHL were probably the first nails in the coffin of Villas-Boas that eventually saw him carried out (figuratively speaking) to be replaced by Sherwood. Tim’s first game in charge was the League Cup quarter final at home to the Hammers in December that ended in the same result as the league game albeit with a slightly improved scoreline.
West Ham failed to build on these results however and whilst they’re all but safe from the drop this season, the fans are revolting. An anti-Allardyce banner has appeared at away games (“Fat Sam out”) and there have been angry chants at home games. I personally have every sympathy. What people like Allardyce and Pulis and Beck and Bassett before them have done for football is criminal in my view. The trouble is though, who are they likely to get in charge instead? They face the same problem upstairs. A porn baron is hardly the ideal owner but compared to an Icelandic biscuit factory grandee he must seem like a saviour of sorts. Saviour? Unsavoury? There’s a joke in there somewhere I just can’t quite lay my finger on.
That’s enough about them. The Gods smiled on us last week at the Britannia, we ended up with three points that very easily might not have been ours. Given the likely attitude of the home team this weekend I think we’ll need a bit more than a grin from Billy Nick to get us a result. West Ham rely on balls from the flanks to Carroll, our full backs will need to play a full part or we’ll be in trouble. Dawson and Kaboul should partner again in the middle though Vertonghen did feature for the U21’s earlier in the week. This could be the time for Tim to think about reconsidering his position on Sandro. Paulinho and Chadli will have Sam’s boys in their faces for a lot of the game, having a madcap karate expert (not Hong Kong Phooey) around might come in handy. Lennon will presumably take his place on the right with Eriksen on the left. If Tim does decide that Kane and Adebayor are to continue their partnership up front then he’s a brave man but possibly not a stupid one.
West Ham fans I know have written off this game, Spurs fans I know have also. It should be close and could well be very entertaining. Fatty Dowd is in charge. COYS.
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