Monday, October 02, 2006

PARD LUCK West Ham 0-1 Reading

Hell hath no fury like a football club scorned. It is now almost an unwritten rule of football that ex-Reading managers are doomed to fail miserably when they come up against their former club; Mark McGhee had a wretched record against us, Alan Pardew has come away from the MadStad on both of his return visits thus far with egg all over his face and he could probably see yesterday's defeat for his out of form team coming. Reading have no such concerns and consolidate their top half place with this latest victory.

Whilst we will never totally forget, it becomes much easier to forgive the betrayal of former managers - McGhee and Pardew both owe RFC a great deal for it was Mr Madejski who twice took a punt on untried ex-players with no managerial experience - when their current circumstances are so hilariously dire. Mr McGhee has plenty of time to do the DIY at home these days having been sacked by League One nonentities Brighton last month whilst Pardew might find himself with an ideal opportunity to attend to his backyard which presumably has gone uncared for since put on gardening leave by Reading a little over three years ago when Pards made clear his intentions to breach his contract and move to West Ham.

Quite why the West Ham job was seen by Pardew as a bigger deal is anyone's guess. A club who have always been also rans in terms of the top flight of english football without a trophy to their name in over a quarter of a century, playing in an unlovely, tight ground in a horrible part of London doesn't sound overly appealing. Add to this all the abuse Mr Pardew has taken from the loyal Hammers followers when things were not going as well as expected; as jobs go it sounds about as appealing as being Wolfgang Priklopil's housekeeper. With a new owner waiting in the wings, a pair of misfiring Argentinians struggling to fit in and five defeats on the spin after this latest loss perhaps Pards might reflect that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

The electrical storm over East London before kick off was perhaps an apt metaphor for this latest thunderous chapter in Pardew's career. Along with almost 3,000 other vocal Royals fans, Floyd on Football took a pre match soaking en route to Upton Park but within barely 90 seconds of kick off we were all shaking ourselves dry again, leaping around with delight as Convey's short freekick was received by SEOL who danced through the puddles like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain before unleashing a twenty five yard pearler past the helpless Carroll. Pardew must have felt like a right drip, his reign further undermined in the rain.

West Ham were a shambles in the first half and Reading eased through the opening forty five with Sonko at his imperious best at centre half throwing himself across a sodden pitch to block Konchesky's purposeful run and Hahnemann dealing relatively comfortably with long range efforts which slipped through the mud in front of him. Going forward West Ham seemed laboured; toothless Tevez could only test us from distance and one or two of his efforts came closer to landing in Essex than Hahnemann's net. Pardew's familiar liking for immobile lumps up front can be the only explanation for the inclusion of the quite dreadful Carlton Cole and only the probings of Benayoun and substitute Sheringham really came close to unsettling Reading in the second half.

This was by no means a complete Reading performance; Doyle and Lita seemed to get washed away in the rain and the longer the game went on the more we gave the ball away as regularly as a tax-dodging student handing out flyers. Sheer guts got us through, never more in evidence when Steve Sidwell threw himself at Benayoun's lob to get his ginger nut to the ball with Hahnemann beaten. The ball ended on top of the net rather than nestling inside it and a roar of relief went up from the travelling army who taunted and teased the hapless Pards throughout. The vocal away support also included famous Reading boy Chris Tarrant. Perhaps he could have offered Pardew a lifeline - Pards would probably choose to phone a friend, his good pal Mr Coppell, to ask how one manages to maintain a winning team.

Reading: Hahnemann, De La Cruz, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Seol (Hunt, 80), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Gunnarsson, 77), Doyle, Lita (Long, 66). Subs not used: Stack, Bikey.

Floyd's Favourite: Sidwell. Sodden conditions could not extinguish ginger flame.


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