Really not sure about this whole business of enmity with West Ham. I’m supposed to loathe that lot, but it just seemed like too much effort to scream abuse at them until my face turned purple, or go wandering the High Road afterwards armed with a deranged stare and a machete, or whatever the kids are using these days.I don’t want to sound disloyal, and their fans certainly become rather excitable – but I just don’t care about them enough to hate them.
They’re not based particularly close to us. Their manager is quite likeable. They will end up selling the best of their players to us anyway (before we in turn sell them on to Man Utd). I only know one Hammers fan and he’s a decent fella. I guess what it boils down to is that they just aren’t any real threat to us. Even if they finish above us they’re no real threat to us – in terms of history, fan-base, financial backing or long-term prospects.
With this in mind I didn’t bother antagonising them when previewing the game (they nevertheless bit anyway). And now I can’t be bothered to gloat about victory. West Ham are no ?ber-villain to me; they’re just another faceless henchman to be despatched, en route to a bigger showdown. Another game ticked off, another three points in the bag. That’s as much vitriol as I can muster I’m afraid.
And so to some things that caught the eye on Saturday.
I only really began to notice how many times per day I pivot on my ankle once I’d sprained it. Admittedly this has little to do with Saturday’s game, but as it’s been my Thought Of The Day for a record seven consecutive days I figured I’d mention it.
2. Too many of our midfielders require Palacios alongside them to look good
The Hudd continues to polarise opinion. Did he play well or not? To be honest, judgements on this were probably made prior to kick-off. The Hoddle-Reincarnated camp point to his catalogue of gorgeous passes; the Fat-And-Lazy camp point to his general lack of mobility and life-depends-on-it energy. Mind you, the thought of unleashing a Hudd-Palacios midfield combo against Newcastle next week does rather set the pulse racing.
(Some have naughtily suggested that Hudd’s inclusion on Saturday was just a means of advertising him to potential summer suitors. Honestly, as if our glorious leader would be so cynical. Tsk tsk.)
Zokora’s performance reinforced my opinion that if we really are to mount a serious challenge to the Top Four next season we’ll need to bring in a better understudy for Palacios.
3. Top Dollar Can Buy Top Class
By contrast our Pav cost £14 mil and has shown he can cut it on the international stage. He had his back to goal and was offering no obvious threat, but put on his dancing shoes, turned his man and scored a peach of a goal. Out of nothing. Reminded me of his goal vs Burnley at home – just a little flash of class, which separates men from boys. It’s the bit of quality you can get when you pay top dollar (or, bearing in mind that Bent cost more than Pav, when you spend top dollar wisely). He still cuts a frustrating figure a lot of the time, but those moments remind that form is temporary, but class is permanent.
4. Modric – So Good He’s Biblical
So a happy Easter. A win against West Ham, but it might as well have been West Brom for all I cared. Anything less than three points vs Newcastle next week would be pretty shoddy. Thereafter things could get tricky, but we’re definitely safe from the drop, and Europe is still possible. Bring on the next of the faceless henchmen.