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The musings of West Ham's r[o|a]ving right-sided maestro Julien Faubert:

"Le dernier titre du club, c'était une Cup en 1980. Entre temps, West Ham a connu une descente avec pourtant une grosse équipe composée de joueurs comme Emile Heskey."

Emile Heskey?? I must have missed that season. And if only we had been relegated just once since 1980...

(pointed out by The Fiver)
undyingking: (Default)
The musings of West Ham's r[o|a]ving right-sided maestro Julien Faubert:

"Le dernier titre du club, c'était une Cup en 1980. Entre temps, West Ham a connu une descente avec pourtant une grosse équipe composée de joueurs comme Emile Heskey."

Emile Heskey?? I must have missed that season. And if only we had been relegated just once since 1980...

(pointed out by The Fiver)
undyingking: (Default)
From the New York Times:

Correction: May 10, 2010

Because of an editing error, the On Soccer column on Thursday, about England’s mixed view of the game in the United States, referred incorrectly in some copies to John Harkes, one of the first Americans to play professional soccer in England, and to one of the teams for which he played. He arrived in England in 1990 to play for Sheffield Wednesday; he did not arrive “in England to play at Sheffield on Wednesday.”


(via The Fiver)
undyingking: (Default)
From the New York Times:

Correction: May 10, 2010

Because of an editing error, the On Soccer column on Thursday, about England’s mixed view of the game in the United States, referred incorrectly in some copies to John Harkes, one of the first Americans to play professional soccer in England, and to one of the teams for which he played. He arrived in England in 1990 to play for Sheffield Wednesday; he did not arrive “in England to play at Sheffield on Wednesday.”


(via The Fiver)
undyingking: (Default)
After the best part of three years in power, which saw his initial honeymoon period dissolve into a rather incoherent mess, culminating in leading his team to the brink of a disastrous wipeout, he's finally got the push. The final straw was the emergence of two new leaders whose eccentric negotiation style and none-too-subtle undermining made his job untenable: but, although many of those who worked under him loved him dearly and remain fiercely loyal, it has to be admitted that he really had lost the confidence of the wider public. I think the most common verdict will be something like: shame it didn't work out, but you really weren't up to the job when it came to the crunch. Goodbye, dear leader.

And in other, unrelated news, Gordon Brown is resigning as Labour leader.
undyingking: (Default)
After the best part of three years in power, which saw his initial honeymoon period dissolve into a rather incoherent mess, culminating in leading his team to the brink of a disastrous wipeout, he's finally got the push. The final straw was the emergence of two new leaders whose eccentric negotiation style and none-too-subtle undermining made his job untenable: but, although many of those who worked under him loved him dearly and remain fiercely loyal, it has to be admitted that he really had lost the confidence of the wider public. I think the most common verdict will be something like: shame it didn't work out, but you really weren't up to the job when it came to the crunch. Goodbye, dear leader.

And in other, unrelated news, Gordon Brown is resigning as Labour leader.
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I think last night's game against Wolves may well have been the worst West Ham performance (in the context) I've ever seen, in all my time supporting. Wolves are really not a very good team, but we made them look like a league above us. Which they may well be before too long -- I would have to say that we don't deserve to stay up. We were shaky and error-prone at the back, frantic and ineffective in midfield, and toothlessly incompetent in attack. Several players actively disgraced themselves, and really only Daprela, Parker and the substitute Franco emerged with any credit at all. The team as a whole was utterly lacking in cohesion, coordination and confidence. Ho hum.

Having performed so badly in that match, it's difficult to see us getting anything at all from the last seven games. Of course, even so we will only be relegated if either Hull or Burnley manage to find 4 points from their own remaining programme -- which might well not happen. But I get the feeling that our new owners, David Sullivan and David Gold might not actually be too sad if we do go down -- it'll give them the opportunity for a good clear-out of expensive staff, and to set the club's finances on a bit more of a secure footing.

A rare chink of good news this morning, though, is that we seem to be close to a deal on moving to the Olympic stadium after 2012. Without a larger ground (the Boleyn holds only 36,000) we will never be able to compete with our bigger rivals. The Olympic stadium will hold at least 60,000 -- similar to the Emirates. It may seem madly optimistic to be talking about that in the same breath as relegation, but it's a couple of years away; we might be back up by then! Anyway, you can see from Newcastle's example that large attendances are possible in the Championship if you have a large and loyal fanbase. And the Olympic stadium is a lot easier to reach for the massive East London diaspora -- Essex is full of West Ham fans, who will be able to walk there from the mainline station at Stratford, rather than the present tortuous journey. So we shall (hopefully) see!
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So, I guess [livejournal.com profile] mooism and [livejournal.com profile] ninthcouncil win that one, as the only ones who foresaw that Capello might not be so keen to hang on to his captain. In my own defence, when I said "unless there's something more that we don't know about", I didn't realize how much more would come out even before he'd met with Capello.

Well, good luck Rio Ferdinand I guess! -- blimey... Bobby Moore won't be rolling in his grave quite yet, but he might be getting ready for a little trial twizzle.
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My guess is that Fabio Capello will retain Terry as captain, unless there's something more that we don't know about. He seems a pretty pragmatic sort of guy, who will not be bothered about the moral issues -- only the practical question of whether it will affect the players' desire to follow Terry's leadership. And, unless it turns out his extra-marital adventures have been more wide-ranging than hitherto exposed, I don't think they will let any feeling of sympathy for England's reserve left-back overcome their loyalty to the captain. Terry has been guilty of other idiotic indiscretions, but nothing so serious as to call his position on the field into question.

Anyway, who else could be appointed captain? The handful of players who are good enough to be guaranteed a place -- surely a requisite of the captaincy -- are far from moral supermen themselves. Gerrard, who beat a guy up for not playing his Phil Collins records? Lampard, who drunkenly taunted American tourists the day after 9/11? Ferdinand, a convicted drunk driver and banned for evading drug tests? Rooney, patron of a prostitute grandmother known as the Auld Slapper? Ashley Cole, whose litany of offences need scarcely be rehearsed?

[Poll #1521097]
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(Also known as, closing some tabs.)
  • Democracy Club -- an organization formed to help make the next UK general election more open and accountable, by crowdsourcing info. Affiliated with mySociety and other such. I've signed up -- recommend you do so too, if you are concerned about our political system and want to do more than just whinge.
  • Emails from Crazy People -- what it says. Some are funnier than others.
  • FlickrPoet -- enter the text of a poem (or any text really), it grabs images form Flickr to illustrate it. Can be quite thought-provoking, or at least mildly distracting. A neat implementation of a simple idea.
  • LJ statistics -- I think only for people with paid-for accounts. A useful set of charts showing people viewing your journal (for real or via their friends' page), comments, RSS readers and so on. Not something I'd hugely missed before, but still nice to have it now.
  • Great Christmas decoration -- on Snopes, so you may have already seen it a squillion times. But I laughed.
  • Drench -- a clever, well-implemented Flash game. Warning: can be quite addictive. The design of the "gameishness" of it is not quite right, but the actual play is very good.
  • Dean Ashton retires -- a couple of weeks ago now, but I'm still brooding on it. Feeling sorry for him, but (selfishly) more so for West Ham, who have been robbed of a player who seemed likely to become a club great. A strong and wily targetman, deadly finisher from close and from medium range, and an extremely good provider / manufacturer of scoring opportunities for his teammates too. All he was lacking really was pace over the ground. I just hope we get sacks full of compensation from the FA, as it was in training for an England game that Shaun Wright-Phillips crocked him.
  • Boozecats -- what if cats were booze, or possibly vice versa? A strange idea, but it turns out to be quite visually appealing.
  • Visualizing and predicting prime numbers -- this is a really great data visualization, via the excellent Infosthetics blog. The idea of using it to predict primes is a bit hokey (compare the Wheel of Primes), but it looks terrific.
  • CYOA -- another one from Infosthetics, it includes a number of very visually appealing ways of diagramming a Chose Your Own Adventure, and a discussion of their structures.
  • Harry Keeler on plotting -- Keeler was a rather interesting mystery author of the mid-C20, responsible for such titles as The Case of the Two-Headed Idiot, I Killed Lincoln at 10:13!, The Crimson Cube and The Man with the Magic Eardrums. This article outlines his particular method of constructing what he called web-work plots, and the diagrams thereto. You can read some of his actual fiction here.
  • Oscar Wilde on The Soul of Man under Socialism -- a thought-provoking essay, reminding one that Wilde wasn't just an entertainer. Some questionable reasoning, but very readable of course.
  • Wordnik -- there are heaps of online dictionaries, but this is something different -- it includes recent tweets and Flickr postings, and lots of usage examples. OK, not really very useful, but great fun to browse.
Lots of fairly random stuff there! -- it'd be interesting to know which (if any) of it you found interesting yourself. Do please comment and say!
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... is not taking place tonight, when England play Croatia in a World Cup qualifier, but tomorrow, when England play Germany in the European Championships final. And it's on BBC2 at 5pm. In case you're wondering why you hadn't heard of such a thing, that's because this is the women's team. Who have, by getting to the final, already achieved something that the men have never once managed.

England are heavy underdogs against the current champions and double World Cup holders, but in a two-horse race1, anything can happen. We have some terrific players who can produce magic when they're all firing properly, and this tournament the team has shown an impressive toughness at the back. If you've never watched top-level women's football, you really should give it a go.


1 Can you have underdogs in a horse race?
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India have just completed victory over Australia in the 4th test by 172 runs, taking the series 2-0. When was the last time Australia were nilled? -- and both victories were heavy, with Australia not really dominating either drawn game either.

Hayden increasingly looks like a man clinging to the memory of class, and Ponting has seemed more weighed down by the burden of leadership than ever before. Hussey, Clarke and Katich have scored in patches without really convincing. Watson you would have to call a failure with the bat, likewise the keeper Haddin. Did they wish Symonds was with them, I wonder? On the bowling side, Krejza's 12 wickets in this game shouldn't cover up the general poor performance and lack of control. No bowleraveraged better than 32. Ponting is a tough customer, so I'm not really expecting him to resign as captain (or Cricket Australia to have his head) -- partly because no obvious successor is in line -- but I wouldn't faint with shock if it were to happen. Maybe Hussey would get the nod? Or Clarke??

India are in a transition phase too, with Kumble retiring last game, Ganguly this, and Tendulkar and Dravid surely with not long to go. But if this means Laxman can at last get a firm place, that's not all bad news -- Gambhir has shown real class this series, with support from Sehwag and Dhoni (who made the very noble gesture, in his first Test as captain and just about to beat Australia, of letting Ganguly captain the side as they took the last few wickets). Bowling-wise they have no weaknesses, with the experienced Harbhajan and Zaheer and the novices Mishra and Sharma all performing really well.

We'll soon see how significant England's good one-day showing at the end of the summer was, when they come up against this powerful Indian outfit. Fingers crossed!

In more depressing news, West Ham managed to dominate their Saturday game for 82 minutes, and then suddenly ship three goals. Zola I think showed naivety by not using substitutions to toughen up once we had the lead. And the lack of Ashton and Cole was sorely felt, with a host of chances begging conversion. Lots of positives again, but very soon we will get fed up of saying that.

One of the positives is the sparkling performance of on-loan Congolese left-back Hérita Ilunga, and I've also found he has a rather charming blog, which I've syndicated to LJ as [livejournal.com profile] herita_ilunga if any of you are interested. "La mauvaise série continue pour West Ham mais comme toute série elle aura une fin..." he wisely says. (Most entries are [very loosely] translated into English too.)
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So apparently the govt is planning to seize the assets of Icelandic companies in the UK, to compensate the various local authorities, charities, etc who stand to lose something like a billion quid. Could make the Cod War look like a skirmish!

Of more immediate interest though: do the assets to be seized include West Ham United? If so, we could become the first nationalized football team. I think West Ham are ideally suited to being the British Leyland of the Premier League -- we already have the ovemanning, featherbed wages and endemic sicknote culture.

Or maybe, as the club has been known for so long as "the academy of football", like an academy school we'll be floated off in some sort of PFI deal whereby secretive and cranky businessfolk put in a token amount of money and exercise arbitrary and whimsical control, with local people providing the bulk of the cash but with no say over how it's run. Oh, hold on, that's actually the way football clubs work already, isn't it? Carry on, nothing more to see here.
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Curbishley out!

I suppose that serves me right for mocking Newcastle yesterday. A shame, he's a very decent guy. Not everyone's idea of a dream West Ham manager when he replaced the popular Alan Pardew, but he probably did as well as anyone could have, given the circs: and good for him for going honourably rather than waiting to be pushed.

Slaven Bilic looks favourite for the job, which would be pretty good I think. Might even improve England's chances against Croatia.

Keegan out!

Sep. 2nd, 2008 06:02 pm
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Good heavens, the latest crisis to engulf Newcastle. Mike Ashley must have let that pint he sunk so swiftly on Saturday do the talking for him.

Probably like most fans (who aren't from Sunderland or Middlesbrough) I have a soft spot for Newcastle as a real footballing club, and want to see them do well. But blimey, just lately they've set new records for chaotic farce even by their own high standards.

Selling Milner! Not selling Barton, when they had a decent offer and he was willing to go! No new contract for Owen! Whatever mysterious thing happened to Arthur Cox! Dennis Wise! (Dennis Wise! I ask you.)
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You may have been idly wondering why I haven't run my usual Premiership prediction game this season. (Or of course you may be relieved, in which case you'll probably want to skip the rest of this post too.)

I think the Premiership race is going to be even more tedious this year than it has for the last few. It looks like Chelsea will get back ahead of Man Utd, and it's seems likely Liverpool will overtake Arsenal. Spurs or maybe Pompey for 5th, with Villa, Blackburn and Everton all falling away. Maybe a surprise strong showing from Sunderland or Newcastle. That's about as exciting as it'll get.

I have to admit though that the reason I'm so unenthused is because of deep sickening trepidation about West Ham's season to come. This is the most pessimistic I've been at season kickoff since the pre-Redknapp days. I fully expect us to be struggling to avoid relegation, and can only hope that there'll be three sides sufficiently worse.

How has this happened, after finishing solidly in the top half last year? Since then we've managed to alienate our best goalkeeper and sell his only decent backup; our only purchase of the summer looked hopelessly outclassed on Sunday; we've sold one of our first-choice centre-halves, despite already being hopelessly short there -- and a whole gang of lesser squad members; we've had to pay something like £6M just to get rid of one particularly disappointing signing; and two of the most expensive players in the club's history are still injured, having played less than a dozen games between them since signing last year. I could go on.

It's clear that the owners have basically fouled up hideously financially; spending far more money than they could afford, and seeking to claw back as much of it as they can, now that the credit crunch has hit their bank. Curbishley didn't help, sloshing that money into notoriously injury-prone players like Bellamy and Dyer. After just two games he's already got that hunted expression we normally assocate with January onwards. I suspect the only thing that may keep him in post is if they can't afford to fire him.

The only bright aspect is that it looks like a West Ham fan may be the next ruler of the soi-disant free world. I son't suppose that'll really help much, but at least it's better than Arsenal's most famous supporter, whose name differs by only one letter.
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... that might have been, and probably the closest we're ever likely to come to such a thing. Probably only of interest to about two of you ) And anyway, as Oscar Wilde might have said -- at the sight of John Terry's miserable face at the end, you'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.
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So another football season rolls to a close. As is by now traditional, back in August various people predicted who were going to be the Premiership top 5, and whom relegated. Who was rightest? -- or leastest wrongestest?

The predictions )

The results )

Reflections )

What are you hoping for from your team before next season?

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