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Love him or hate him – we need him

Filed: Tuesday, 8th November 2005
By: Greg Mansell

If you were survey a thousand West Ham fans and ask which team they dislike most; the strong likelihood would be they consisted and made a top three, in varying degrees of order, of Millwall, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

For proof, next time you leave Upton Park, listen out for the stadium announcer declare one of the three have lost and the cheers that greet the discovery. Those whoops of delight have happened and are sure to continue for many years. What is interesting is that one of the players on the current team sheet is, at some point, likely to have been any one of the defeated line ups of the hated three that we took such glee in hearing. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Teddy Sheringham lists all three clubs on his c.v. and is for that reason why some fans, despite being top scorer in his first full (and our promotion) season, refuse to warm to the player.

For others, his age is more than just a number; it is concrete proof he should have hung up his boots by now and move aside and allow the search for next striker to score West Ham’s goals begin. After all, he turns 40 years of age next April. Life begins at 40, they say, or does it? Or will it just mark the next stage of Teddy’s, Billy Bonds style, defiance of nature as he looks to steal further goals in (what we hope is) another year in the Premiership?

Saturday’s game with West Brom had enough chances to have produced enough goals to have matched the Baggies last visit to Upton Park (3-4, November,
2003) but only one was taken. Only one player on show had the class to finish when it mattered most and with it brought three more vital points. The misses that preceded the goal were those all-too-familiar to that of a post-mortem in a soul crushing defeat. Yossi Benayoun failing to beat the two West Brom defenders on the line. Hayden Mullins blazing high over the bar and into the stand a minute later. Were it not for ying-yang combination of Teddy Sheringham’s clinicalness and Diomansy Kamara’s wastefulness, the points could well have bounced back to the ‘boing-boing’ Baggies.

The case was the same against Middlesbrough two weeks previous. For 60 minutes, Harewood and Zamora ploughed away unsuccessfully against a determined Boro defence. Enter Teddy Sheringham. First touch, a controlled left-foot effort steered into the bottom corner and the lead was deservedly ours; Ralph Bone adds the second and another crucial home victory is ours. On opening day, against Blackburn, Sheringham was, again, the catalyst to our stunning comeback with his strike hauling us level. Suddenly the home crowd’s, and with it the players’, belief rocketed and Mark Hughes’ men were soon smothered.

Our reliance on Sheringham is even more acute when you consider his strike partner’s light-weight contribution. If we discount the hat-trick against a free-falling Aston Villa, Harewood has scored in only one other game, versus Fulham and drawn a blank in nine out of eleven Premiership games which is a worrying statistic. There is a general acceptance among West Ham fans that Harewood’s chances to goals ratio is a fairly high one. In games like Saturday, where perhaps only two came his way, his chances of scoring are therefore minute.

And then there is also Bobby Zamora, to whom we remain ever thankful for, after his crucial goals in the Play Off games against Ipswich and the final against Preston. Following those games, his name is already guaranteed to take its place in West Ham folklore but the harsh reality now is that he will not be the man to score the goals we need. Zamora is one hundred per cent West Ham and therefore equally committed and should be applauded for that fact but those attributes do not win football matches. Too often, the Z-Man’s good work is done with his back to goal, in non-threatening areas. A defender’s dream.

The general consensus after the recent fan’s forum attended by directors Paul Aldridge, Nick Igoe and co is that funds are available for Pardew to spend in January. The primary target is a striker and Aldridge revealed Pardew had been to watch Norwich and invited people to make their own conclusions up as to whether he had been keeping tabs on Dean Ashton. It would also seem clear that the board are prepared to battle with Porto’s barmy President for a second time, in an attempt to prize away Benni McCarthy. Whoever it may be who arrives in January, it would be unfair to rest our expectations for the remainder of the season squarely on the new hitman’s shoulders. This is another reason to add why I will be looking towards Teddy Sheringham for a match winner- regardless of the fact he has played for the hated three and his birth certificate confirms he is only six years his manager’s junior.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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