Isaac Newton couldn’t have justified Pogba’s goal against us

Brian Williams on life after his season ticket and getting to grips with his TV...

You’ve kept an eye on them ever since they were only minutes away from going out of the league and taken a paternal pleasure in watching them slowly climb the divisions until finally – after overcoming what at times seemed to be insurmountable difficulties – they made it into the Premier League.

Naturally, you would expect your affection for this club to be reciprocated whenever they played West Ham by them doing the decent thing and losing to us home and away without fail.

Alas, Brighton & Hove Albion appear not to have understood the principle on which our relationship is based and, after seven Premier League encounters, the mighty Irons have yet to take three points from any of the fixtures with my home-town team (strictly speaking Brighton & Hove is a city now, but let’s not split hairs). 

In previous seasons this inability to beat the Albion has proved particularly irritating – especially on the journey back to the south coast after a game at Stratford. 

Take it from me: being a deflated Hammer surrounded by a bunch of chirpy Seagulls in a train carriage is not much fun – although it is marginally better than being surrounded by a flock of real seagulls while trying to eat a bag of chips on the seafront.

The unusual circumstances we are all having to endure meant I avoided this minor humiliation following the 2-2 draw shortly after Christmas. Unfortunately, however, the wonders of live television meant I was not spared the horrors of the match itself. 

The first half was particularly miserable – and the second period wasn’t much better. In the post-match inquest fingers were pointed in several directions, with Mark Noble and Sebastien Haller copping most of the flak.

For me, the biggest mistake was the decision was to go with a back three/five with Ben Johnson on the left. I think the lad has a great future and I was delighted with his goal, but he’s no wing-back. 

Not that I’m blaming him personally for the lackluster performance. My point is that we should have started with some more attacking options such as Manuel Lanzini or Said Benrahma and played four at the back. 

Ah well, I suppose a dodgy team selection makes a change from blaming VAR – although if I’m being picky I’d say Stockley Park could have helped us out and chalked off Brighton’s second goal. 

In our first match of December what we needed, rather than a Video Assistant Referee, was a Video Assistant Scientist. 

For Paul Pogba’s Man United equaliser to be legitimate, the hoof that preceded it must have contravened the basic laws of physics. Dean Henderson’s clearance was heading for touch when he leathered it. 

What happened next, we are asked to believe, is that the curve of the ball mysteriously flattened out as it became level with the plane of the touchline, only to swerve again when it encountered the gravitational pull of our half. Explain that, Isaac Newton!

Of course, if we’d converted the hatful of chances we created in the first half the Mancs would have been dead and buried long before Pogba’s screamer. We should have won that game. 

Man United’s three goals that ensured we lost it were every bit as painful for us armchair fans as they would have been for the 2,000 supporters who were in the London Stadium. And they, I understand from a friend who was there, at least got free hot chocolate.

Tomas Soucek – the scorer of our solitary goal in that 3-1 defeat – found the net again in our following game, a 2-1 victory at Elland Road. 

This was after our old friend VAR had nullified Lukasz Fabianski’s early penalty save on the highly debatable grounds that he had shifted one foot marginally off his line. Funny how they can spot that, but fail to notice a ball sail three feet over the touchline before re-entering the field of play.  

Of our other fixtures in December, one was on Sky and two were on Amazon Prime. The less said about the Monday Night Football game against Chelsea the better – that was a deeply frustrating evening and certainly not one Monsieur Haller should look back on with any pride. 

He gets enough stick already without me adding my four penn’th, so let’s just say he might do himself a few favours if he actually looked like playing for West Ham mattered to him.

Amazon broadcast the home game against Palace and the away game at Southampton – both of which ended as draws as you will no doubt recall.

Is it Amazon’s policy to have its commentators bombard viewers with useless statistics to such an extent our brains turn to mush and we forget to cancel the monthly subscription we took out in order to watch the games?

Conor McNamara, who covered the Palace game for Amazon, was particularly guilty of peppering us with facts and figures rather than describing the game itself. 

I felt like I was revising for an exam rather than watching a televised football match. Ian Darke, who did the Southampton fixture, was marginally better, but couldn’t resist telling us that Aaron Cresswell still cleans his own boots. He did, however, forget to mention that West Ham’s No 3 has a magic hat. 

I blame this style of commentary on John Motson, who really was the king of meaningless trivia.

But, irksome though Motty could be, he did at least bring a smile to my face some years back by suggesting that Tottenham supporters would have enjoyed watching their team get beaten 5-3 at home by Man Utd after being 3-0 up at half time. 

When asked for his summary of the game on Radio Five Live he reckoned the visitors had “sprinkled stardust” over north London and any Spurs fan who witnessed the event would have considered themselves lucky to have been there. Hmmm. I’m not sure even Tottenham fans are that dim, John.

While we’re on the subject of misfortune befalling Tottenham Hotspur – an occurrence always dear to my heart – this was the game that spawned news reports of how a Spurs fan was so confident of victory at half time he took that annoying cliché about “putting your mortgage on it” and did just that.

The story goes that the guy was keen to impress a new girlfriend, and was no doubt feeling pretty smug when the team that he had just introduced into her life trooped off at the interval three goals to the good against the reigning champions. 

But rather than trying to press home his advantage with a mug of Bovril and a meat pie as any normal man would do, he got on his mobile – which would have been the size of a house brick back then – and arranged for someone to place a six-figure bet that was equivalent to the value of his home loan on his behalf.

Forty-five minutes and a liberal helping of stardust later, the bloke had no house. History does not record if he had still had a girlfriend.

If you enjoy Brian Williams’ Blowing Bubbles column look out for his two brilliant books, Nearly Reach The Sky and Home From Home.

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