WEST HAM UNITED 1-0 CHELSEA

By Dave McCrossen
May 4th, 2003

Here we are again, deep in the darkest and most uncivilised part of London. Where the soot hangs thick in the air and all the programme sellers look like Dick Van Dyke. I really do dislike East London, no particular method behind the madness, it is just a grotty place.

To say there was a lot of traffic on the way to the ground is a bit of an understatement, and the A13 seems to be one mass of roadwork’s. On one of the flyovers (they have flyovers to try and get you above all the crap on the streets below) they were doing resurfacing work. Not with Tarmac, oh no, they were cutting up – and laying down – wood. Now I know that people from East London tend not to have motor cars, most still have Horse drawn Hackney Carriages, but surely the Horses will get splinters! They have also chosen to move the away end, which meant we had to walk past the Neanderthals that inhabit the Boleyn Pub not once but twice. Both times I was certain I could hear a bunch of rednecks playing banjo, with perhaps just a small dose of some twat playing the spoons.

Before the game I guess a win was not vital. After all, there was no way the scousers were going to lose at home to Manchester’s real team, so it would winner take all next week. The fact that had we won we would now be looking at a Champions League place really does bug me, and draws me to one inescapable conclusion. Regardless of the outcome of next weeks game, I for one have had enough of Mr. Ranieri and his clueless tactics. I recall him saying that he would win us the title within three years when he took control. Sorry Claudio, your time is now up. At the start of the season he said that we had to aim for a Champions League spot. Well maybe I am alone on this one but with the squad we have, to aim only for fourth spot in the League is not what I would call ambitious. Of course, and however, he is not going anywhere – very much like the team in fact. Clearly our lack of signings in the summer has had a bigger impact than we might at first have imagined.

This was – for the third time in four games – an extremely poor performance. The four strikers used during the game failed to register a single shot on goal, and bearing in mind who was between the sticks that should in itself be a hanging offence. In fact I can only recall two efforts on target, both from Lumpy. The first a header that hit Calamity James legs before being belted clear and the second a shot that was parried well by the keeper. Against a team looking forward to a Nationwide tour that is simply not good enough.

I am not a great fan of Zenden, but how can it be right to start Jody Morris on the right while he is sitting on the bench? Then again, why no Carlton Cole? Both Zola – and in particular Eidur – had poor games today. To be honest this performance was almost as bad as the one at Villa Park a couple of weeks ago. Luckily Carlo was on form (again) and West Ham failed to perform even half as well as Villa did.

The goal, when it came, was a little farcical but totally inevitable. Trevor Sinclair’s cross/shot should have been blocked by Baba, Willie Gallas then had a chance to clear but didn’t, before Mr. Bloody Di Canio belted the ball high into the roof of the net. Cue lots of banjo playing (of course) and another away defeat for us.

In truth West Ham totally deserved this victory, and you have no idea how tough it is to have to say something like that. It not only means that they might avoid the drop, but that 15% of their entire points for the season have come at our expense. Will someone try and explain that one away to me, because at this moment I cannot fathom it out.

Walking back to the car, with them ready to light their gas lamps, was gutting. Surrounded by a bunch of muppets who had done the double over us for the first time in 20 odd years hurt. Let us hope that the players, and more importantly the manager, felt those same feelings as well. If not, we face another early exit from Europe’s second cup competition next season.

Cudicini – Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly, Babayaro – Morris (Zenden 77), Petit, Lampard, Le Saux – Gudjohnsen (Hasselbaink 72), Zola (Cole 72). Subs not used: de Goey, Stanic.

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