Parental Advisory - Explicit Language
Article by Ryan Jay
Oh what a ludicrous summer we’ve had. A tasty Euro 2012 saw one of the best teams ever to play the sport claim an unprecedented third major tournament in a row, all the while taking the piss, as they didn’t even bother with a striker for the most part. And then… oh boy. The Olympics. What a treat that two weeks was. “Team GB” cleaned house (in all the sports we bothered giving a toss about) and there was a sweeping sense of national pride as - in spite of these dark times that we find ourselves locked in - we joined hands as a country and basked in the glory that this distinguished sporting event is famous for, paving the way for optimism and confidence.
It’s a shame, then, that I ‘m struggling to replicate this pride and optimism for the forthcoming football season.
Ok, well that’s a bit of a lie. I am excited. Football is back! Eat my goal, back of the net, liquid football and all that. Get back in my life. The only problem is thus: West Ham are back in the Premier League. This, as I’m sure you’re well aware, can only mean one thing: unmitigated carnage. Big Sam with his
psychotic set of giants in defence or not, we normally take it upon ourselves to get comprehensively mullered at least two or three times each Premier League campaign, thereby leading to a dodgy flirtation with relegation which can go either way. I’m not holding my breath for anything different this time round.
I could afford myself a bit of optimism if I wanted. Cast your mind back to August 13th, 2005. West Ham were embarking on their first game back in the Promised Land after an elongated stay in the rumble tumble Championship division. Alan Pardew and his merry men of average Joes decided that
effing about wasn’t an option and promptly dispatched Blackburn Rovers in convincing fashion, securing a 3-1 victory that kick started one of the most enjoyable seasons in my memory as a West Ham fan, a season which of course culminated in glorious defeat at that FA Cup final.
So what’s so different then? On paper, we’ve a better team than the one that rolled out against Blackburn. Our current midfield certainly comes out on top compared to the old lot, and anyone up front is better than Marlon Harewood. And even faced with the situation of our number one being a toss up between
the ageing Jussi Jääskeläinen and the thoroughly unconvincing Stephen Henderson, it still beats Roy Carroll (ah, the days when a Carroll wanted to play for us…), whose calamities could be put together for a highlight reel as part of a series commissioned by You’ve Been Framed.
But still, I’m not convinced. Our defence is worryingly thin, especially at both full back positions. George McCartney doesn’t really cut it anymore at this level, I’m afraid, and Guy Demel seems to drop dead at the faintest change of wind direction, so there’s no telling how long he’s going to last. Obviously
getting a result early doors isn’t the be all and end all, but it can certainly set the tone for the season ahead. Aston Villa are a team with a point to prove this campaign, and Paul Lambert will be wanting to get out of the blocks as quickly as possibly. They’re certainly a team we’re capable of beating, but with a fit again Darren Bent and a few pacey players up top to provide the ammunition, I fear our sluggish back line might get mercilessly exposed.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. We’ve made some solid signings, despite the Andy Carroll circus that was not to be. Mohamed Diame had an excellent season for Wigan last term, and hopefully he’ll continue that fine form under the nurturing of Alou Diarra; another fantastic capture for us. Any trepidations
about the defence are certainly eased knowing that at least one of these two will be sitting in front of them, offering that protection that we’ve lacked since Scott Parker left. Modibo Maïga should hopefully slot in nicely to the ‘three up top’ system that Allardyce seems to favour, providing that his knee doesn’t
unexpectedly shatter into a million pieces (this reeks of Demba Ba, if I may say so). And finally, James Collins might have had his doubters at Villa Park, but I remember him to be the very definition of solid during his first spell for us, so he should add a lot to a shaky and depleted defence.
Hmm, I suppose there isn’t much reason for optimism to be at a low. I mean… I should be thrilled, right? West Ham back in the Premier League. Where we belong? I’d daringly say so. And nothing really beats a fired up Saturday afternoon at the Boleyn during the Premier League season. I can’t wait to savour it for one last season before we completely bastardise the Olympic Legacy and spray our claret and blue love juice all across Stratford.
So fuck it, I’m changing my mind. Football is back, and I couldn’t be happier.