I rolled out of my bed at 6AM Vancouver time to go to my friend Jonas’ house and watch our favourite English team, West Ham United, try to claw their way back up into England’s Premier league. A few cups of tea and some tasty muffins later it was West Ham 2, Blackpool 1, and West Ham were back up.
West Ham were the favourites going into the match, with several established veterans of the Premier league in their team, notably Carlton Cole, Robert Green and Kevin Nolan. Blackpool came into the game with a classic Championship side made up of hopeful youngsters and older players who never had the quality to play at the top levels of English football.
West Ham scored first through Cole; Blackpool’s Ince equalized soon after the break. Blackpool made heroic efforts to win the match but did not have the class or composure to finish their many chances. Around the 75th minute they ran out of gas and the bigger and fitter West Ham began to dominate until the inevitable occurred and Cole created a second goal by pressuring a rebound out of the Blackpool keeper. Hammer’s Portugese striker Ricardo Vaz Te knocked the loose ball into the top of the net.
It was vindication and a relief for big Sam Allardyce, West Ham’s manager, whose style of play this season has not suited Hammers fans. Sam’s mixture of high long balls and physical play did not suit the West Ham aesthetic of classy football with the ball played on the ground. But as they say, nothing succeeds like success, and big Sam has saved West Ham from the oblivion of another year in the second tier of English football. Had West Ham stayed down, they would have lost virtually all of their top quality players and would have taken a disastrous financial hit.
I have always felt the Premier League was lacking without West Ham. I look forward to next season! Now if only we could get Leeds United back up…
West Ham United have seen off the imperialist ambitions of its North London neighbour Tottenham Hotspur in the battle for East London’s Olympic Stadium. When the 2012 Olympic games are over, the Hammers will be able to take over the Olympic stadium and play its matches there.
It was crucial for West Ham to preserve its presence in its traditional home of East London. If Tottenham had barged its way onto West Ham’s turf, it would have been a huge blow to West Ham’s standing and status as a club, and may well have been a blow which would consign West Ham to the unglamorous lower divisions of English football for years.
As a West Ham fan, I see this as a huge leap forward for the club, which has the potential to take the team to the next level, a la Manchester City’s move from Maine Road to Eastlands. Playing in the Olympic Stadium with its modern amenities may well attract new fans and investment which might place West Ham United among England’s top clubs.
The detractors say football and athletics running tracks don’t mix. While it is not ideal, I think the Hammers may have some interesting engineering ideas to take the fans close to the pitch in spite of the running track in the Olympic Stadium. Even if they don’t, many great clubs in world football have managed to cope with a running track, including Lazio and Roma, who currently play in Rome’s Olympic stadium, and previously Bayern Munich and Juventus.
This is a great day for West Ham United. Now if they can only keep their status in the top flight of English football this season. I hope that the news that they will inherit the Olympic Stadium will provide a boost in morale and help the team to work together to avoid relegation.
This is a crushing blow for Tottenham. Now they are stuck with White Hart Lane, which needs knocking down and redeveloping in order for the club to grow. In the coming years, with the Olympic Stadium to play in, East London’s Hammers may well leap frog Spurs in status and quality in English football.
Glorious victory for the Hammers, ignominious defeat for the Spurs: I have to say it has not been a bad day at all…
A 3-0 loss to Aston Villas was a sobering beginning for West Ham supporters last Saturday. The Hammers looked great in their new away kit but were a horrible team on the pitch. The Hammer’s new manager Avram Grant started players from last year’s squad with the exception of defender Winston Reid, one of New Zealand’s World Cup heroes.
The Hammers must have set a new world record for the number of corner kicks conceded. Actually, it was 16, and perhaps I exaggerate, but the number of corner kicks illustrates just how pegged back West Ham’s defence was for most of the match. It also illustrates the team is not very fit.
Robert Green picked up where he left off against the yanks in the World Cup, playing absolutely awfully in goal. He was completely lost at sea coming out for crosses, and gifted Villa their second goal through a ridiculously bad attempt to punch the ball. It is clear Green needs to get back to basics because his confidence is absolutely shot. He should be benched until he gets his act together. It won’t help matters that his rival for the England post, (if it can be called a rivalry any more!), Joe Hart played an absolute stunner for Manchester City on the same day.
With last years squad being so disappointing, it was a wonder to me that Grant did not start the Hammer’s new acquisitions from the outset of the match. Barrera and Piquionne should have started; the Hammers looked better after they came on at the half. West Ham’s squad needs shock therapy, and benching fellows from last years squad should be a start.
Topkins was a disaster in central defence, and Matt Upson is looking slow and overweight. Time for the fitness coach to punish the squad with some gruelling training sessions.
Hope springs eternal in the human heart, but West Ham looked like relegation fodder last weekend. Lets hope the Grant effect takes off sometime soon…
I love the World Cup, but more recently the World Cup has lost some of its lustre for me, and it is not the tournament that it once was.
There are a number of reasons why the World Cup is not so special as it once was. For one, there is the decline in the importance of the nation state. Secondly, there is the decline of chauvinistic national identities. Thirdly there is the migration of human populations, meaning Brazilians and Africans are now playing for countries like Germany. Fourth, there is the fact that players are exhausted from their club duties when they show up to the World Cup, meaning the quality of play can be poor because players are not at their best (England’s lack of a winter break showed through in South Africa). Lastly, there is the generic international style of football which means most teams play a brand of football which is essentially the same. While these changes have their positive social aspects outside of football, the effect on football is that the World Cup is not as interesting as it once was in the past, when unique regional styles of football were played by teams that barely knew each other. There was also a political intrigue of east verses west in the World Cup before the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.
Some of these changes above are also effecting football at the club level, but in my view club football is now much more interesting than the World Cup. Club football is played by players who play and train with one another week in and week out. They know each other intimately, resulting in a more intuitive style of football. The players also make their real money in club football.
International football is played by players who do not know each other as intimately because they train together rarely, and simply do not play together that often. While there was some very fine football played in the World Cup, (especially Spain, who played a style which is a carbon copy of FC Barcelona) there is more depth and interest in club football.
I am starting to get excited about the new season in the English Premier League, which is for me, the finest spectacle in world football. There are many things that bother me about the Premiership, especially the vast gulf between the resources of the top teams and the bottom ones, but it still gives me a thrill to watch the games, which are fast paced, physical and played with a pride and effort which is inspiring. Each game in the Premier League means something, whether it is a battle against relegation, a battle for the title itself, or a battle to qualify for the Europa League or the Champions League. Each team has something to fight for, whether they play at the top or the bottom of the league.
Each team has its own rich history and fanatical fan base, which sings songs of praise for their heroes. I can’t wait for it to start.
Come on you Irons!