Now that restraining order you had taken out against me has been lifted, I thought it was about time we got back to exchanging a bit of good natured banter. Sorry about that last email, I didn’t realise there was such a fine line between constructive criticism and threatening behaviour. Still, no hard feelings, eh?
I’m can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to Saturday. To be honest, I’m surprised the ticket prices haven’t been doubled for this one. Spain may have its Il Classico, but how’s that ever going to compare with West Ham v Crystal Palace? Goals, glamour, glory — my mouth is watering at the prospect. Messi and Ronaldo? Forget ‘em. Who needs a bunch of one-trick ponies like that when you can go to Upton Park and marvel at the silky skills of one of the world’s all-time greats.
I’ve got to hand it to you mate, you are one shrewd old fox! You certainly knew what you were doing when you signed Stewart Downing. And for the knock-down price of just £6m! You must have needed a big stick to fight off the competition for his moniker. That boy really is a special talent. Trouble is, those around him just aren’t on the same wavelength.
There’s poor old Stew, flogging his guts out trying to supply a constant stream of crosses, and no one seems to be able to get anywhere near them. That’s the trouble with genius — the people around you never seem to understand what you’re all about. Downing is clearly attempting to put the ball into the sort of areas that the opposition aren’t expecting.
Trouble is, our lads clearly aren’t expecting it either. You’ve got to sort this out in training, Sam. Any idiot can pass the ball directly to a team-mate, but opponents can see that coming. That’s why Stew tries to put it 10 yards behind (or 10 yards in front, or 10 yards over their head); no defender can live with that. Just let our boys in on the secret of where he’s going to pass it next, and the goals will flow like honey off a warm spoon.
I particularly like the way you’ve taken the weight off his shoulders by freeing him of the worry of scoring goals himself. That was a real masterstroke. I can imagine the conversation in your office at the beginning of the season: “Don’t you worry about bursting the onion bag, Stewart my old son — you stick to what you’re best at and leave that to the others.â€ And hasn’t he followed those instructions to the letter? Not a single goal all season!
Now there’s a team player for you. I have to tell Sam, me old china plate, that lad is different gravy. It’s going to be a real old tactical tussle when you and Tony Pulis go head to head on Saturday — I’ve been licking my lips in anticipation of that for weeks. What have you got up your sleeve? Honest, you can let me in on the secret — I won’t tell a soul. My brother-in-law reckons you’re going for a diamond, but my money’s on a flat back nine with Mark Noble holding in midfield.
I do hope you’re not planning on throwing caution to the wind now we’re clear of the relegation places. You can’t underestimate a team like Palace — with the sort of talent they possess they can hurt you from all over the pitch. That Jason Punchdrunk is a goal machine and his mate Jeremy Cameron is a bit tasty as well (my brother-inlaw reckons he’s related to the prime minister; is that right?)
I always enjoy a visit from the Palace boys — not that it happens all that often! The last time they were in the top flight my mate who supports them reckoned they’d be in the Prem for three seasons. He was right, too. They stayed up for autumn, winter and spring. You always get a good singsong with Palace, though. What with their Glad All Over and our Twist and Shout, it’s like being back in the Sixties again. They were good times, eh Sam?
I can just picture you on Brighton seafront on a bank holiday Monday with your Parka and Lambretta, whistling a bit of Who and looking for the local Wimpy Bar. We might even have bumped into one another! Of course, if we had, I’d have probably wrapped a bicycle chain round your earhole cos I was a Rocker and I hated you Mods. But, as I said at the beginning, no hard feelings.
Oh, while I think of it, the next we all start booing, I’d just ignore it if I were you. You shouldn’t take these things too personally. And I’d advise against cupping your ear in our direction again; we once had a useless little prat called Nigel who tried a stunt like that — and it didn’t win him any friends in E13, I can tell you. Just laugh it off and think about your retirement plans for 2016. We certainly are. Go get ‘em tiger! Your mate behind the goal