A vital cog in the wheel

Last updated : 17 August 2009 By Cockniodicanio

A Spurs supporting friend of mine still tries to rile me even now by telling me that we would have been relegated for sure if Carlos Tevez hadn't "single handedly" kept us up in 2007.

"You were a one-man team and everybody could see it" is the worm he applies to the hook. And to be honest it's hard to blame him for thinking such a thing isn't it ? For a start, the newspapers and the television companies naturally concentrated on the goals he scored for us during the run-in.

Then, subsequent to the Great Escape, we had the shoddy behaviour by Neil Warnock and Kevin McCabe at Sheffield United and Wigan's ever-diplomatic Dave Whelan sticking his oar in for good measure and throwing even more of a spotlight on Tevezgate.

Additionally the learned lawyer Lord Griffiths decided that
Tevez's services were worth at least three points to West Ham over the season and were what made the difference between West Ham remaining in the Premier League and being relegated.

A statement that renders "chaos theory" totally redundant. It's a statement so at odds with the whole basis of a team sport that I have as much trouble coming to terms with it as I do with the theory of relativity and time travel.

At this point you may be asking yourself why I'm revisiting this issue (Tevezgate, not time travel) and wishing the whole thing would just go away…...and I don't blame you.

So let's get back to my friend who supports Spurs.

My first response to his jibes is always "Don't be a c**t all your life, have a day off".

My next retort is that there were at least four or five players who stood up to be counted at the tail end of that season but yes I agree there was one player amongst that four or five who definitely stood out in terms of his commitment, his desire and his willingness to put everything on the line for the team.

So, step forward James Collins.

When we signed Collins and Gabbidon everybody was talking about Gabbidon as being the polished international defender that many Premiership teams had been watching but only West Ham had been prepared to actually put up the money for. James Collins was, supposedly, a make-piece in the deal.

At the time of the deal I ventured onto a few internet message boards and a few comments from the many disgruntled Cardiff fans caught my eye. They were the ones that said they were most disappointed about losing Collins rather than Gabbidon.

I like Danny Gabbidon a lot. When he's fit I think he's a class act. However I think James Collins is a cut above him and when he's fit I honestly believe he's better than Matthew Upson and brings a presence to the team in the same way that John Terry does for Chelsea and England.

I was a guest in my friend's executive box for the League Cup tie against Plymouth and after the game Collins spent 90 minutes on the pitch with a couple of youth team players putting in extra work working on headers, tackles, passing and preventing attackers from turning with the ball. The groundsman had to call in reinforcements to eventually drag him off the pitch I was very impressed (but not surprised) at Collins' attitude.

All through the rumours of Upson being courted by those interminably smug shits at Man City I've been thinking that although it sends out a bad signal if we do sell Upson, if we get £15m for a 29 year old who clearly doesn't want to play for us any longer I'd shrug my shoulders and be able to sleep easily. After all we still have Tomkins, Gabbidon and Collins and a couple of good centre backs coming through from the youth team. Plus with the £15m we could buy another decent defender to add to the squad and give Eidur Gudjohnsen a £5m Golden Handshake to help him make up his mind whether or not to join us. You can stop laughing now.

Today, there have been reports on web sites and in newspapers indicating that we have accepted a £5m offer for James Collins from Stoke City.

I live in hope because the stories I've read have come from The Sun and The Daily Mail and most of the output from those "news" papers is effluence on a par with the Pharoah's Revenge I have just experienced on my holiday in Sharm El Sheik.

However, in my opinion, if those stories are true then it casts a huge shadow over the rest of this season.

In an ideal world I will soon see a statement on the O.S that scotches the rumours as utter rubbish. But then again in an ideal world I would already have seen statements on there telling the truth about Dean Ashton's ankle injury and another one saying that GZ has told Eidur Gudjohnsen to go fu*k himself.