Friday, February 13, 2009

Zola, clean sheets & Recaro seats

On Sunday evening I settled down to watch the West Ham v Man Utd highlights on MOTD2. I like MOTD2, it's less pompous than it's elder sibling and usually has a pundit with something interesting to say about the games. Gianfranco Zola is the sort of person it's difficult not to like. He was a footballing genius (even if he did play for the wrong team in the borough) and rarely appears without a big beaming smile. He's also managed to get West Ham playing a free flowing and entertaining style of football. When West Ham beat us at the Cottage (a result I'm still grumpy about) they looked neat but ineffective. We undid ourselves that day but the Hammers had enough quality even then to take advantage. It seems Zola's now got them playing without fear and an amazing string of results has taken their confidence and their ability to new levels. It took a wonder goal from Giggs to defeat them and they must be eyeing European qualification. If nothing else the higher up the league they finish the easier it will be for them when the man from Sheffield United calls to collect their dough.

The game also took Edwin van der Sar a step nearer a World Record for clean sheets in league football. He'll break it if he manages to last 64 minutes without conceding against us next Wednesday. Of all the teams in the Premier League you'd probably fancy your chances of keeping a clean sheet against us than any other. We've managed a paltry three goals away from home all season, half the total of West Brom who are the next worst. Of course it would be typically Fulhamish of us to go and score, probably in the 63rd minute.

Another piece of trivia I noticed was that West Ham now have Recaro seats in their dugout. This is a growing fad amongst those teams that want to be seen as the best; Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, both Manchester's and Reading have all succumbed. Personally I think they look a bit naff, they are, after all, just car seats in club colours but each to their own. I'm glad to say Fulham have yet to be taken in and remain with Arsenal and Liverpool bastions of the plastic seat (though I'd actually be even happier if we still had a wooden bench).

One final word before my digression from things Fulham is complete. The Dean Windass story is an interesting one with twists and turns aplenty. From becoming the only player to be sent off three times in the same game to scoring the goal that won Hull City promotion to the top division for the first time in their history. Paul Fletcher's blog for the BBC summed this up quite well and looked at his hopes for the rest of the season with Oldham Athletic where he's currently on loan. However, even Fletcher couldn't have expected that what Windass would do next would be to take over in goal, survive a penalty and keep a clean sheet for 40 minutes to help Oldham to an away point at high flying Leicester. It's things like this that make Football great.

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