Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Posts Tagged ‘West Ham’

Pavane for a Departed Prince

Posted by hakanrylander on February 1, 2012

Yesterday brought an awful lot of good news. A comfortable win over Stoke City, including a Paul Scholes masterclass and a sensational Paul Pogba PL debut. Darron Gibson scoring a cracker to help Everton beat City. And us snatching a great(?) young defender from our noisy neighbours.

It was almost enough to make me forget Ravel Morrison. Almost.

Ravel is by all accounts one of the most talented footballers of his generation. Top journalist Henry Winter has described him as  “a wonderfully skilful youngster who could grace England’s midfield for years to come” and “better than Jack Wilshere“. Others have called him the new Paul Gascoigne or the new Paul Scholes.

But talent alone is never enough to reach the pinnacles of sport. The long and successful careers of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are certainly based on great talent, but also on dedication, discipline and hard work. Morrison apparently lacked in all three of these departments.

A move to London and a new environment might help, particularly if he can loose his gangster entourage. With some first team opportunities he might just rise quickly to star status at West Ham. I will certainly try to follow his progress (or lack of) at West Ham. Time will tell whether he will be remembered as an England great or a talent sadly gone to waste.

Good luck, Ravel.


Posted in Manchester United, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Level-headed Analysis of the Week

Posted by hakanrylander on November 24, 2010

Former West Ham assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic has quickly moved to shed some light on why he parted company with the club yesterday. In the Sun this morning he is quoted saying:

“The Premier League is a crap league, it is nothing. In truth the level is shocking. Every team has just three good players. If you take those players out of the teams then there are only players left who would not be playing in the bottom team in Holland.”
Interesting analysis coming from the bottom team in the PL. Sort of makes you wonder why West Ham didn’t bring in a number of average players from the Dutch League. Should have been enough to lift them to mid-table security, at the very least.

Posted in Non-United | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Berbatov and Puccini: A Comparative Study

Posted by hakanrylander on April 13, 2010

This might be slightly off topic, but while browsing youtube this morning I came across this wonderful performance. Not quite up there with Berbatov bamboozling Collins, but almost.

Posted in Non-United | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“He who smooths with the hammer spurs on him who strikes the anvil”

Posted by hakanrylander on December 16, 2009

The Guardian’s eminent The Knowledge today takes a look at the crucial question of which football teams appear in the Bible. No mention of United, I’m  afraid.

Posted in Non-United | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Frank Lampard Jr 2.0

Posted by hakanrylander on December 8, 2009

After our successful visit to Upton Park I reminisced about Frank Lampard’s early days at West Ham. He was a good player, but to me he didn’t stand out among West Ham’s talented youngsters. Both Joe Cole and Michael Carrick looked better prospects. I thought Lampard would be a decent PL player, but I certainly didn’t expect him to develop into England’s most complete midfielder.

I sometimes found Lampard unspectacular, hitting simple sideways passes, but the closer he gets to the penalty area the more spectacular he becomes. And this is of course the reason I’ve been thinking about him this week. Until recently “unspectacular” and “decent” was how I regarded Darron Gibson. But his performances this season, emphasized by two good strikes against Spurs and a screamer against West Ham, makes me wonder if he might in fact be the next Frank Lampard.

At 22 it might be unfair to call Gibson a late developer, but he wasn’t a teenage sensation and keeps on improving in a very impressive way.  I interpret this as a sign that, like Lampard, he’s more willing and able than the average player to learn from coaching. His finishing is already on par with Lampard’s and Gibson is also a strong powerful player (though with Lampard some “analysts” mistake this for fat). Add a bit of Lampard’s crisp passing and tactical awareness and you might have a mainstay of our midfield for years to come.

At the moment he’s not very far off a starting role in central midfield. The headline implies a new and improved version of Lampard. This might be pushing it a bit, but it will be very interesting to follow Gibson’s progress during the next couple of seasons.

Posted in Manchester United, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

We have that within which passes show

Posted by hakanrylander on February 9, 2009

On the face of it the game against West Ham yesterday was decided by a piece of individual brilliance by Ryan Giggs, while at the other end Carlton Cole failed to take a couple of chances. But as I was curious to find some underlying factor that made the difference between the teams I crunched the numbers in The Guardian’s excellent chalkboards. For what it’s worth, this is what I came up with:

In general there was very little, if anything, too chose between the sides except for one area; the completion rate of passes. United’s six midfielders and attackers hit 270 passes and missed 13,3% of them, while the West Ham front six hit 261 passes and missed 15,7%. Maybe not a big difference, but even more interesting was that three players stood out. Carrick missed only 3 passes out of 49, Scholes missed only 2 out of 58 and Tevez didn’t mishit a single of his 28 passes. The other United players, as well as all WH players were significantly more wasteful. I was surprised because I thought Scholes had a good game but that both Carrick and Tevez were below par.

So does this numbercrunching has any relevance as an explanation for the outcome of the game? Remember the build-up to the goal. WH loose the ball in midfield to Scholes who finds Giggs in space with a long cross-field pass. A coincidence?

Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Clash of the Titans, II

Posted by hakanrylander on February 3, 2009

It’s time now to start preparing for Sunday’s potential humdinger at Upton Park. No disrespect to Gordon and Rio, but this could be an even more exciting clash. West Ham away is a difficult tie at the best of times, and we lost there in both the previous seasons. In december 2007 late goals from Anton and Upson turned the game around, and a year earlier a goal from Reo-Coker secured a win in what was Alan Curbishley’s first (and best?) game in charge.

This time we face a West Ham side clearly in the ascendency. A few months ago I had the feeling that the WH-players just wanted to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible while their team-mates were hiding, but now they’ve developed a confident passing game under the inspired leadership of Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke (they’ve even convinced Carlton Cole that he can score!!).

During the transfer window they sold Craig Bellamy who was their best player for much of the autumn, but this might not be a big problem for them since the overall improvement lessened the dependence on Bellamy to create chances on his own.

Arsenal only managed two shots on target against WH last Saturday. We should be able to improve on that. I expect Carrick (on his old ground) and Berbatov to unlock the WH defence.

Posted in Previews | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Scolari and Zola aid United’s title challenge

Posted by hakanrylander on January 12, 2009

A good performance, a great result and several impressive individual displays. Gary Neville surprised me the most and it seems that some “experts” have written him off too quickly. Jonny Evans again proved that he plays better the bigger the game, and Patrice Evra and Park Ji-Sung confirmed that they are probably our players of the season so far.

But let’s not forget that one of the afternoon’s heroes was Luiz Felipe Scolari who made a tactical error at half-time by sending on Anelka in place of Deco.  This weakened Chelsea’s midfield and opened up space for Rooney, Ronaldo and Berbatov. This was probably the main reason why United were much more dominant in the second half.

During the weekend I also watched Newcastle – West Ham. This game confirmed that West Ham are on an upward trend simultaneous with Chelsea’s downward slope. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that these two trends have something in common; Steve Clarke. It’s now a few months since Gianfranco Zola coaxed Clarke away from his position as assistant manager at Chelsea, and maybe the effects are beginning to show at both clubs.

Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Preview: United – West Ham

Posted by hakanrylander on October 29, 2008

A lot of United supporters expect a comfortable win tonight but history suggests that it will be a tight game. West Ham have won three of the last four meetings between the clubs! But in two of those games Carlos Tevez was wearing claret and blue, while tonight he will hopefully be in the red starting line-up. Ferguson now has enough quality strikers to rotate them and Tevez has already been out of the side for too long in my opinion. On form Ronaldo deserves to be on the bench but on the other hand he might need to play to regain full match fitness. The central midfielders Giggs and Fletcher were United’s best players against Everton. Even so at least one of them is likely to be rested tonight. I expect Anderson to replace Giggs.

West Ham manager Gorgonzola faces a selection dilemma in attack. In all his previous games in charge he’s used a 4-3-3 system heavily dependent on a strong target player. With Carlton Cole suspended, Dean Ashton injured and Diego Tristan not yet match-fit he now has no such player available and will have to change his strategy somewhat. The most likely alternative is that Craig Bellamy will be the central striker. This might not be to United’s advantage. I can imagine that Vidic would prefer to mark the strong but comparatively immobile Carlton Cole to the speedy Bellamy.

Posted in Previews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Scousers infiltrate world-class performance

Posted by hakanrylander on October 25, 2008

This week I attended a concert by Bryn Terfel, the world’s best baritone and also an avid United supporter. It was a wonderful experience with the highlights probably being his renditions of “Credo in un Dio crudel” from Othello and “Ehi! paggio!…L’onore! Ladri!” from Falstaff. The program, amazingly, ended with “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. But Mr Terfel was careful to point out that “the scousers think this is a song about their football team, but in fact it’s Rodgers and Hammerstein”. He tried to make us sing along, but full marks to the audience who seemed totally unfamiliar with both the tune and the lyrics.

Also present was a representative of leading West Ham-blog Bubbleview. Still Mr Terfel sensibly refrained from a “Forever Blowing Bubbles” encore.

Recommended recording: Cecilia & Bryn (Decca).

Posted in Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »