Commando. Truly, one of the great films of the ‘80s, quite the celluloid embodiment of the all-action-no-plot mentality. From start to finish it is held together by the very wispiest of fragile plots, whilst also punctuated by numerous illustrations of the linguistic difficulties that Arnold Schwarzenegger never quite mastered (“All that matters to me now is Chenny”). As the number of blood-spattered bodies littering the screen gradually increase, it approaches its quite marvellous denouement, in which Arnie, armed to the teeth with guns, grenades, sticks, stone and catapults, strides through an entire army, killing the lot of them. For their part they line up one by one and fire everything they have at him, for about ten minutes flat, but simply cannot hit him, and all get wiped out.That climactic scene, in which one soldier after another lines up, shoots and misses, was faithfully recreated yesterday at the Lane, by our heroes in lilywhite. A 90-minute homage to one of Schwarzenegger’s finest moments, Defoe and chums pinged shots left, right, off the post, off the line, off the ‘keeper – anywhere but the target, leaving West Ham to rescue Chenny and scarper off back to the Olympic stadium.
If anyone ever wanted to see the complete opposite of the 9-1 Wigan victory this was possibly it. Where once Defoe scored chance after chance after chance, this time he missed them all; where once a late free-kick hit woodwork and ‘keeper and then bounced in, this time it bounced out via the same combination. Nil-nil, after over 20 shots on goal. Crivens.
In terms of ‘Arry’s role in proceedings, I’m not sure there was much more he might have done. Swapping VDV for Pav made sense (and might have been done earlier) for ‘twas not an afternoon for a five-man midfield, while the lonely Defoe was repeatedly swarmed upon by what seemed to be dozens of claret shirts lined up across their area. There may have been a case for withdrawing BAE, and switching Bale to left-back, in order to give him a running start on Bridge, a move that would also have introduced Kranjcar. In the final analysis however, the problem was burying the chances, not creating them.
Which leads I suppose to young Defoe. The haters will probably be stomping around incandescently, but I’m inclined just to leave him be, and wait for him to start scoring again. He has done it enough times in the past to suggest he’s not the complete malcoordinated buffoon of yesterday’s two-yard misses.
Lovely Sunny Day
On the bright side, what a lovely spring afternoon. Modders and Sandro looked sprightly in midfield; Daws suddenly popped up with a pretty impressive VDV impression; and there were none of those mental meltdowns from Gomes. Admittedly he only had one or two saves to make, but nevertheless, the longer he can go without charging off his line and launching himself at the feet of a striker, the happier we all become. Apparently it takes 21 days for a practice to become habit, so let this be a start. Mercifully, with Man Citeh and Chelski hurling their money-bags at each other for 90 minutes this afternoon, someone will have dropped points by supper-time, but as everyone ambles into the final straight it is becoming increasingly evident that on our submission form for qualification into next year’s Champions League, we have applied to do it the hard way. Again.