Friday, October 20, 2006

Big Brother's Little Brother: The Wham Preview

Ah plucky little West Ham, they’re like a naughty little scamp that you can’t help but like – they’re not ever going to do you any harm, and in a funny sort of way you quite like their antics. That’s the sort of view the average Spurs fan has (or had) of West Ham, they play nice football, fairly inoffensive, basically a poor man’s Tottenham Hotspur. They’ve been our feeder club, and we’ve offloaded lots of our tat onto them – a little brother if you will. West Ham fans hate their older brother though, and for them the biggest game of the season, when they’re in the top league, is the game against Spurs. Spurs though are only interested in the lot in N5, so regard the ‘appy ‘ammers as simply 3 points.

That all changed a bit on the last day of last season, when most of the Spurs side were mysteriously taken ill, and subsequently lost a game that had they won, would have enabled them, at the expense of their real rivals, a place in the lucrative Champions League. The gloating, mockery and scorn showed that day by the fans, players and staff at West Ham will live long in the memory for all connected to Spurs, and revenge is very much on the menu this weekend. Even the usually quiet and reserved Ledley King has been issuing some fighting talk:

"I want to keep them silent this time. Last season West Ham were our bogey team. They scored in the last minute at White Hart Lane and beat us on the last day of the season. That defeat still hurts. We are all well aware of what happened last season and are all really hungry to win this game. I was at Upton Park, I travelled with the lads and knew a lot of them were ill. It was horrible sitting in the stands injured, watching what was happening and not being able to do anything about it. This time I want to do something about it. I heard their fans taking the mickey out of us for being ill, but I want to keep them silent this time. It was a disastrous day for us. They haven't got off to the best of starts but we have taken a lot of confidence out of beating Besiktas."

There has been a rumour flying around that the West Ham fans will turn up wearing Chef’s hats in homage to the Gooner Chef that cooked the meal that allegedly made Spurs ill in the hotel Spurs stayed in before the game. Presumably they had plenty of time yesterday to prepare, because they unexpectedly had a free date in the diary after embarrassingly tumbling out of the UEFA Cup in the first round.

In a way you can see why they don’t like Spurs, we go and nick Kanoute, Defoe and Carrick from them, whilst offloading Etherington, Zamora, Rebrov and Taricco, plus lending them Davenport for a few months to toughen up while they were in the second division. Its not our fault though that they secretly revere Spurs so much that they go and get Sheringham and Konchesky off their own backs as well. They just need to put a bid in to Bournemouth for Anderton, sack Pardew and replace him with David Pleat and they will be all set.

In terms of the team Spurs put out it will be a case of picking up the pieces from last night’s heroic victory in Istanbul, and see who is fit and raring to go. With Jermain Defoe sitting on the bench for most of last night, you would expect him to be selected to face his old club over the miss-firing Robbie Keane and likewise Didier Zokora should be ready to start ahead of Tom Huddlestone if he gets over his fever. Aside from that there shouldn’t be any real need to change a winning side, unless there are still knocks or tired limbs come Sunday. Aaron Lennon could start, but Spurs need to be careful about rushing him back too quickly.

West Ham have not been laying well lately, coming into this game on the back of four straight losses, with Pardew under real pressure. He comes across as an arrogant man when interviewed on TV, and you have to wonder what he has to be arrogant about after failing to take West Ham back up in his first season, sneaking through the play-offs in his second, fluking their way to a Cup Final and then losing in his third, before crashing out of Europe at the first attempt and leaving the club lurking in the relegation zone in his forth and more than likely last. To say that Tevez and Mascherano really wanted to join West Ham with a straight face was a bridge too far though, and for that he should be sacked anyway. Those two, undoubtedly world class players, must wonder what they have done to deserve their current fate, and they both must wish they could fast forward the clock to January 1st when they can get out of their nightmare. That said Spurs will need to be wary of Tevez, who is a special talent, and may just turn it on in what will be the biggest game he plays for his current club. Hopefully he and his fellow Argentine will continue to look as disinterested as they have since they found themselves stuck in the East End. “United? Ah yes we would very much like to join them. Hold on this isn’t Old Trafford, where’s Rooney? What’s this jellied fish you expect me to eat?”

Simply a must win game for Tottenham on Sunday. Let’s hope for more of the same from Thursday night.

Come On You Spurs!

The Waddler.