Has one ever enjoyed a West Ham result quite so much as the game last Monday evening?
Yes, is the answer. The 2006 game against Tottenham Hotspur, when Spurs needed only to match our result on the last day of the season. An Arsenal-supporting chef at the Tottenham team hotel, ladies please avert your gaze, shat in a lasagne. The Italian layered delicacy, which included on this occasion a layer of the finest Gooner dung was then enjoyed by Michael Carrick, Robbie Keane, Edgar Davids, Aaron Lennon and Michael Dawson, who spent most of the evening before the match imprinting their teeth marks on their hotel bathroom towel rail.
You will recall the following day the Hammers beat them 2-1 and Arsenal swiped the last Champions’ League place from under them. I remember singing I’m forever blowing bubbles in that last game at the grand old place, with Terence Hennessey banging in in a hat-trick, and thinking that Spurs were also at that moment blowing bubbles, but from a different end. Happy times.
To The London Stadium then, a soulless, windswept expanse of a stadium, where the fans are even further from the pitch than they are at The Emirates. Three pleasingly symmetrical goals from each of the forwards, our new triumvirate of Gary Martin, Patrick O’Bannon and Nicholas Pepys, meant that the relief at the end of the match was akin to that felt by the Spurs team back in 2006 when they finally made it down the tunnel, and into the away team’s lavatory.
Such a shame then that Freddie’s New Arsenal are set to face the Abu Dhabi Vulgarians in the next match, where our confidence will instantly evaporate. But still, three points are three points, and we are closer to the magic 40 to ensure survival.
We turn now to the favourites for the manager’s job. Here are the dozen contenders, according to the betting markets. Might we be slightly concerned that the football executive committee seem to have a ‘short’list of a broadly similar length? Surely that does not mean that there is no overarching sense of purpose or drive from them? They must have an idea of how they mean to shape the club’s footballing identity over the coming seasons? Or at least that they aspire to have an identity? In the meantime, here is a brief reminder of whom we might see with their head in their hands in May.
LORD BRENDAN RODGERS, PROTECTOR OF THE FAITH AND LORD OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS (50/1)
He might just take it as the extra money he would get will help fund the eighty foot statue of Brendan Rodgers that he has commissioned to sit in front of the Brendan Rodgers Memorial Chapel at Brendan Rodgers’s house.
MICHAEL ARKWRIGHT (EVENS)
Our favourite baldy midfielder seems to be a strange favourite with the faithful, based upon the fact that he watches Pep Guardiola do some coaching. We are not a training centre, so no thank you.
CHARLES ANKLES (5/2)
Charles Ankles is the archetypal managerial roundabout manager. Reggiana, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli, and has won domestic titles in Italy, England, France, Spain, and Germany. We won’t get him.
FREDERICK LONGSHANKS (15/2)
Lovely Freddie. A little less hirsute than in his lethal playing days he seems like a decent egg and despite the somewhat ungentlemanly and overly demonstrative embraces at the end of the West Ham match he does seem to be liked by the first team.
PATRICK O’FEERY (10/1)
Who knows? The midfield legend has yet to prove he can cut it at this level, although he impressed in his spell in the colonies.
MAURICE POCKET (16/1)
Would be worth it just for the extraordinary opportunities for destroying Middlesex were he to win a trophy with us. But would his Route 1 variant style based on fast running and rotational fouling cut the mustard? It would if we won a trophy.
MARK GARFIELD TOAD (16/1)
Obscure and available enough to get a roll of the dice from Edu and Raul.
MAXIMILIAN LEGGLEY (20/1)
He smokes, which is a positive. His face looks dishonest. Likes to spend lots of guineas. So no, we won’t get him.
ROBERT MARTIN (20/1)
If you can manage a team of Poirots to a World Cup semi-final and on to FIFA’s number one spot IN THE WORLD, then why not take a punt?
EDDIE ‘THE CHIMNEY SWEEP’ HOWE (25/1)
Polite, diligent and utterly uninspiring.
DAVE SIMONS (25/1)
It’s not clear if Atlético Madrid would even let him go, or what the reason would be to come to London to manage ninth placed Arsenal, but I suppose you never know. Superb at organising teams. Let us hope he hasn’t watched any Arsenal matches this season as even for him this is a Herculean task.
NEVILLE SAINT (33/1)
He’s got a beard, he’s Portuguese, he’s already at a more successful club. Will not happen.
ROGER BENNETT (33/1)
Another organiser, he took Liverpool to European glory before falling out with the distant and clueless American owners, Messrs Hicks and Gillette (ask your Dad, they were a sort of Poundland Kroenkes but even more annoying).