Tag Archives: Chelkhou Kouyate

A Memorable Afternoon at the London Stadium

The London Stadium

The London Stadium

Having thought that I had timed my arrival at the pre-match pub perfectly for opening time at 12, I found a queue outside which, fortunately, included a couple of friendly faces.  Thankfully the doors were soon open and we were comfortably sat with a pint and ready to catch up after our international break.  Having been warned about the walk from Stratford station to the stadium, we left plenty of time for the journey.  It was very pleasant to board a nice, quiet, pretty empty train.  Then, just before it was due to depart, a large group of lads boarded and treated the carriage to some Watford chants.  In a lull in the singing one of our party started a rendition of Molly Malone.  They didn’t join in, but a section of their group did add the song to their repertoire before we finished the seven minute journey.  As we were walking along the platform to leave the station, a can of beer flew over our heads and two groups of lads squared up to each other.  Sadly that wasn’t the last time that we saw trouble on the day.

 

Bubbles greet the entrance of the teams

Bubbles greet the entrance of the teams

I was lucky enough to attend a couple of events at the Olympic Stadium during the Summer of 2012.  Having seen it as a venue for athletics, I found it hard to believe that it would function as a football stadium.  I was very sad when the Hammers left Upton Park as it was a cracking place to watch football with the stands so close to the pitch and an incredible atmosphere.  On arrival all went well.  The entry to the Stadium went very smoothly and, in marked contrast to Upton Park, there was no queue at the food stands and plenty of room to stand in the concourse to have a drink or eat your pie.  As we entered the seating area of the stadium I spotted Don Fraser, so had a chance to critique the disabled section.  I must admit that I was impressed.  He was sitting just behind the goal at a decent elevation and, if the evidence of the blokes standing in the area in front of him before kick-off was anything to go by, wheelchair users would have no trouble seeing past those in the stand in front of them even if they stood for the whole game.  I then bumped into another friend who told me that he had a good feeling about the game.  I have to say that, always the pessimist, he was feeling a lot more positive than I was.  On taking our seats, I was happy that, even though we were only 8 rows up, we were behind the goal with a very decent view and were sheltered from the rain that we could see was falling on the pitch.

Waiting for an attacking corner

Waiting for an attacking corner

Team news for the Hammers was the rather disturbing (for Watford fans) return of Payet and a debut for Zaza.  For the Hornets, Mazzari made four changes with Cathcart, Britos, Janmaat and Pereyra in for Kabasele, Prödl, Amrabat and Guedioura.  So the starting line-up was Gomes; Cathcart, Kaboul, Britos; Janmaat, Capoue, Pereyra, Behrami, Holebas; Deeney and Ighalo.  As the teams emerged for kick off, “Bubbles” rang out and the bubble machines were going although I suspect that they made little impression on those that were not sitting right behind them.  It has to be said that any concerns about there being no atmosphere in the new ground disappeared on hearing the wall of noise coming from the stands.

The game started impressively for the home side as Antonio and Payet both had first minute shots saved by Gomes.  Ighalo provided a nice distraction with a shot into the side netting, but the Hammers took the lead in the fifth minute as Antonio met a Payet corner with a header that flew past Gomes.  At this point Dave’s good feeling was looking rather misguided.  Janmaat almost had a nightmare start to his full debut as he turned a cross from Antonio against the post.

Deeney and Ighalo celebrating the equalizer

Deeney and Ighalo celebrating the equalizer

Watford should have drawn level as Pereyra found Ighalo in a good position, but his shot was deflected wide.  Pereyra and Ighalo combined again, this time the Nigerian’s shot was saved on the line by Adrian and Behrami’s follow-up flew over the bar.  The Hammers had a couple of chances to increase their lead as, first, Antonio shot just over the bar and then Lanzini put a shot just wide of the post.  West Ham’s second goal came in the 32nd minute.  Payet played an audacious cross, Antonio ghosted past Cathcart and planted another header past Gomes.  As the West Ham fans jeered “You might as well go home,” I heard a young voice behind me sigh, “Only another hour to go.”  I knew exactly how she felt.  While we had had some chances in the first half hour, West Ham just looked quicker and better than we did and our defence looked as though they had just met.  Imagine our surprise when the next action of note, in the 41st minute, was a lovely ball from Capoue to Ighalo who cut inside before taking a shot which beat Adrian following a deflection off Collins.  Unbelievably we were level just before half time after a mix up between Collins and Adrian allowed the ball to fall to Deeney.  As we were watching from low down at the other end of the ground it wasn’t until I got home that I appreciated quite how good Deeney’s strike was, but we celebrated massively all the same.

Capoue celebrates striking the third goal

Capoue celebrates striking the third goal

At half time every one that I spoke to had a similar reaction.  A shake of the head, a rueful smile and “How are we still in this game?”  The trek to the concourse at half time was ‘interesting’.  Looking to my left I saw a crowd of West Ham fans on the other side of a barrier facing a group of Watford fans on our side so I had the pitiful sight of a bunch of middle aged blokes offering each other out.

As the players emerged for the second half, I had no idea where this game was going.  What followed was quite remarkable.  If a reaction from West Ham was expected, it didn’t materialize and Watford took the lead in the 52nd minute as Capoue chested down a cross from Pereyra before volleying the ball in off the post.  This goal brought an extra special smile to my niece’s face.  She is a huge fan of Capoue and had missed his two previous goals this season, so was delighted finally to see him score and there were hugs all round.

Great joy at scoring a fourth goal

Great joy at scoring a fourth goal

Just after the hour, Ighalo crossed for Janmaat whose shot was blocked, the clearance came back to Ighalo who cut back to Holebas who powered in from just outside the area.  The celebration for this goal was a mixture of ecstasy and disbelief.  But, at this stage of the game, the lead was thoroughly deserved and it was the Watford fans chanting “You might as well go home.”  At this point my gaze was drawn to the upper tier where it seemed to be kicking off.  Earlier in the game, there had been a scuffle among the home fans in the lower tier of the stand to our right.  On this occasion, it appeared that West Ham fans were trying to get to the Watford fans sitting near them in the top tier.  I could see nothing in place to enforce the segregation with only a flight of stairs and a handful of stewards between the two sets of fans, which was no deterrent for anyone who wanted to cause trouble.  It looked chaotic up there and, even though extra stewards were drafted in, it was some considerable time before they were augmented by officers from the Met.  Back to matters on the field, Ighalo was rewarded for his goal and assist by being given a bit of a rest as Success came on to replace him.  The youngster almost made an immediate impact as he went on a lovely run before taking a shot that was blocked by Adrian.

Holebas takes a corner

Holebas takes a corner

The home side had a rare second half chance as a free kick dropped to Payet who appeared to have a sitter to hit, but his shot was blocked and his blushes spared as the flag was raised for offside.  Mazzari’s second change was also to the forward line as Okaka came on to make his debut in place of Deeney.  If Deeney has been looking a bit stocky this season, Okaka completely dwarfs him.  His physique is positively Shittu-esque.  There was a touch of class from Pereyra who went on a lovely mazy run through the box, sadly his shot was blocked as that would have been a very special goal indeed.  Okaka then found the net following a Capoue corner, but our celebrations were cut short as the offside flag went up.  I know I wasn’t the only one thinking that I would have preferred to be going in to the last 10 minutes with a three goal cushion.  I needn’t have worried.  Watford’s final substitution saw Prödl replace Kaboul in defence and the exchange was seamless.  New boy Okaka had an eventful end to the game.  First he received a pass from Success and unleashed a shot that was saved.  Next he was booked for dissent.  Finally, and most regrettably, he appeared to pull a hamstring and had to leave the field meaning that Watford played the time added on with ten men.  But West Ham were a spent force at this point and Watford ran out 4-2 winners, a score that I am still looking at in disbelief even though I saw the game.

The final score!

The final score!

We had to keep our joy in check as we left the ground, so as not to rub it in when we met my lovely Hammer-supporting brother-in-law.  But I was soon back in the pub for post-match reflections with the Watford crew and the smiles could not be suppressed.

The last hour of this game featured one of the best performances that I have seen from a Watford team.  For the first half hour we looked second best and the defence struggled.  Then, suddenly, it all clicked into place.  The defence were organized and stood up to everything that West Ham tried.  The midfield were excellent.  Janmaat had looked like a liability early on, but finished superbly so Amrabat wasn’t missed.  Holebas had another good game, capping his performance with a great strike.  Behrami was in beast mode stopping anyone who came his way.  Capoue continues to enjoy the freedom to get forward immensely and Pereyra is certainly living up to the hype.  Then there was the front two.  Much concern has been expressed about both Deeney and Ighalo’s start to the season.  To see them both on the scoresheet with the added delight of an assist from Ighalo made me very happy indeed and their performances were assured.  Not only that, but the men who were brought on to replace them late in the game both appeared to be very worthy substitutes indeed, which was very reassuring.  From front to back we were excellent so I couldn’t help speculating how good this team is going to be when they actually get to know each other.

At this stage in the season we have four more points than I expected and the omens are good.  Unlike last season, the new players that arrived to a fanfare are living up to that billing.  We finally have strength in depth in all positions.  The team is playing lovely football and sharing goals among themselves.  This has the makings of a season to relish.

Our Last Visit to the Boleyn

Cathcart and Prodl bonding before kick off

Cathcart and Prodl bonding before kick off

Due to being busy at work and my niece having a driving lesson, there was no time to join the pre-match gathering with the City ‘Orns, so it was straight to Upton Park.  Leaving the station you have the walk down Green Street, which has a great character and is a lot less terrifying than it was in the 80s.  One drawback of an evening kick-off is that you miss the market experience.  I considered getting a beverage inside the ground but the crush in the concourse persuaded me to go straight to my seat.  My friend, Boyd, attending his last game before returning to the US, was already in his seat and showed me his photos of the statues outside, which made me regret walking straight to the away end.

When the team news came through, it was unsurprising to hear that Flores had made seven changes from the West Brom game.  I thought that the team selection would give us a good idea of who would play in the semi-final, so the fact that he had included Gomes suggested that Pantilimon would start at Wembley.  But I find it hard to believe that Cathcart won’t make the cut.  The starting XI was Gomes, Holebas, Cathcart, Prödl, Paredes, Behrami, Suárez, Abdi, Jurado, Guedioura and Amrabat.  The major question among fans about the team was where were the strikers.  The answer ‘Amrabat’ was not accepted by many.  Once the pre match bubbles, both physical and in song form, were dealt with, it was time to kick off.

Suarez on the ball

Suarez on the ball

The home side took the lead in the 11th minute with the first shot of the game as Carroll floated balletically into the area to connect with a cross from Payet and poke the ball past Gomes.  From our perspective behind the goal it looked like a poor goal to give away.  When the replay was shown on the big screen from the side on perspective, there was a glimpse of someone in an offside position before the image went blank and they decided to show it from behind the striker instead.  I must admit that I thought at this stage that we could be on the end of a rout.  The next action did nothing to quell this fear as Payet’s shot was blocked and Gomes had to save the follow-up from Sakho, although the flag was up for offside.  Watford’s first shot came in the 17th minute when Jurado went on a run and Adrian had to push his shot clear.   Watford were involved in another good move which finished with a cross from Guedioura that was headed clear before it reached Jurado.  Jurado went on another run before cutting along the byline and pulling ball back for Abdi who couldn’t finish.  The first booking was earned by Prödl for a foul on Sakho.  Payet took the resulting free kick, hitting his shot through the wall but Gomes caught it comfortably.

Guedioura's free kick position marked

Guedioura’s free kick position marked

A promising move by the visitors broke down when Behrami lost the ball on the edge of the box, West Ham launched a counter attack which ended with a shot from Payet that flew over the target.  At the other end Adrian saved after a turn and shot by Amrabat.  West Ham really should have increased their lead when Payet broke into the box and curled a shot just over the bar.  On 38 minutes, a picture of Dylan Tombides was shown on the big screen and Watford fans joined the home crowd in a minute’s applause in memory of this young Hammer who died of testicular cancer two years ago (check ‘em lads!)  It was rather nice to see Sakho joining in the applause.  A Watford attack came to nothing when Guedioura’s cross met the head of a defender before Abdi could connect.  West Ham had a great chance to increase their lead as Carroll played the ball back to Sakho whose shot was tipped around the post by Gomes.  But they got their second goal just before half time when Holebas jumped into a challenge and flattened Kouyate prompting the referee to point to the spot.  It was a stupid penalty to concede.  Gomes was not to continue his penalty-saving heroics as Noble sent him the wrong way.  The Hammers should have scored a third goal in time added on after Lanzini got into the box but, thankfully, he hit his shot wide.

Challenging in the West Ham box

Challenging in the West Ham box

So we reached the interval two goals down, which was a bit harsh as it had been a decent performance from the Hornets but we were lacking a goal threat.  At the interval all that is wrong with modern football was encapsulated in the sight of a tourist in a half and half scarf taking photos with a selfie stick.  I can’t believe that made me nostalgic for the days when a trip to the Boleyn meant a police escort with horses taking us back to the tube station to catch an away fans’ tube straight back to Euston Square.

West Ham had a chance in the first minute of the second half as Sakho ghosted in but he put his shot wide.  At the other end a cross from Paredes was just too high for the leap of Abdi.  Jurado went on a great run before playing a square ball just in front of Abdi who was stretching to reach it so directed his shot over the bar.  On 52 minutes West Ham were awarded another penalty, this time for a trip by Abdi on Antonio on the edge of the box.  Again Noble stepped up and this time he hit the penalty down the middle over the diving Gomes.  Flores made a double substitution soon after bringing Berghuis and Anya on for Jurado and Guedioura.  Most of the singing in the Watford end to that point had been repetitious renditions of the Behrami song to the tune of La Bamba.

Berghuis taking a free kick

Berghuis taking a free kick

Since it is a relatively new/little used ditty, it seemed as if the crowd were indulging in some singing practice.  So it was good to have a bit of variety introduced with the appearance of the young Dutchman prompting a few choruses of “Berg-huis in the middle of our street.”  Catchy and easy to learn, it brought a smile to my face.  As did the performance of young Steven who was involved in Watford’s goal as his free kick was volleyed home by Prödl.  There was no celebration by the Watford players, they just headed back to the centre circle.  West Ham looked to regain their three goal lead as a corner was headed back by Carroll to Reid but the shot was deflected wide.  Berghuis had a great chance to cut the deficit further as he appeared in the West Ham box, but his shot hit the side netting.  Watford picked up a couple of bookings as both Suárez and Amrabat were cautioned for fouls.  Flores made his final substitution with 14 minutes to go, and it was a surprise to see Deeney coming on to replace Abdi.  I can’t have been the only Watford fan horrified at the thought that our captain and talisman may get an injury and miss the semi-final.  Bilic also made a change bringing Moses on for Sakho.  Watford could have pulled another goal back as Berghuis played a lovely through ball for Anya, but Adrian reached it first.  Berghuis played provider again playing the ball out to Anya, who should have tried an early shot but took the ball too far wide and his cross went begging.

Deeney looking relaxed before the penalty

Deeney looking relaxed before the penalty

As I was distracted by a steward dealing with a beach ball on the pitch, Gomes was busy saving a shot from Moses.  Gomes was in action again coming out to unnerve Lanzini and ensure that his shot missed the target.  West Ham’s second substitution saw Andy Carroll making way for Emenike.  On 90 minutes, Anya got to the by line and shot goalwards, but Adrian was equal to it.  Watford won a late penalty as Ogbonna fouled Prödl in the box.  Deeney looked confident as he stepped up, but I jinxed it by getting my camera out and Adrian made the save.  In time added on Amrabat was sent off for a second yellow after tripping Reid.  A silly thing to do with the opportunity to play at Wembley on the horizon.  The final whistle went to sighs of relief that none of our key players had picked up injuries and comments that we had won the double header on away goals.  I felt that 3-1 was a bit harsh on us as we had played some nice football while West Ham had not gone for it as I would have expected.

I was rather sad to leave the Boleyn ground for the last time.  It is a city centre ground (my cousins grew up in the street that continues on from Green Street and went to school next door) and the structure inside ensures that the crowd is close to the pitch which usually means a good atmosphere.  So I was disappointed that at this game it was all rather muted.  Very odd given that they still have a European place to play for.  I fear that the Olympic Park will be another in the pantheon of soulless bowls and not a fun place to visit at all.

Despite the defeat, we finished the evening in 12th position with an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to.  This game had been a distraction and an irritation as both the players and fans prepared themselves for the big one on Sunday.  Troy has talked in the build-up of the chance to make themselves Watford legends.  I would argue that he is already there, but leading the team out for an FA Cup final would cement that for him.  I do hope he gets that chance.

Quique, Quique, Give us a Hug

Gathering for a corner

Gathering for a corner

After a tremendous win and a rather lovely day out in Stoke, we were back home for the visit of West Ham.  I didn’t hold out much hope of getting anything out of this game as the visitors were flying high in the table and came in to the game unbeaten in their last 7 Premier League matches.  My one ray of hope was that their results against teams that they were ‘supposed’ to beat had not been impressive.

The pre-match gathering at the West Herts was joined by Al Gick who, for a number of years, was our Football Intelligence Officer, so a familiar face at away games looking out for us.  It was great to be able to buy him a pint at last.  As we enjoyed our drinks, we were entertained by the lunchtime match on the TV.  Each Liverpool goal was loudly cheered, not because we have any love for Liverpool (I still haven’t forgiven Rush for that dive), but because it ensured that Chelsea would remain below us in the table for another week.

Flores named an unchanged team, so the starting line up was Gomes, Aké, Britos, Cathcart, Nyom, Watson, Capoue, Anya, Deeney, Abdi and Ighalo.

Watson takes a corner

Watson takes a corner

West Ham had the first chance of the game as Payet hit a shot that Gomes dropped to gather.  The Rookery was, as always since the foundation of the 1881, in good voice and there was an early rendition of the Flores song.  During the week, Quique had said that when he heard that song he wanted to “jump into the stand and hug every fan one by one.”  I sung my heart out, so was a tad disappointed when he remained on the touchline.  Still there was plenty to enjoy on the pitch.  An impressive period of Watford play finished with a Watson corner which Deeney flicked on to Ighalo who tried an overhead kick which was easy for the West Ham keeper, Adrian, to deal with.  Watford had a strong shout for a penalty on 10 minutes as a corner from Watson was headed goalwards by Aké, the keeper saved and the ball dropped to Deeney whose shot was handled by Carroll, but the referee waved the appeals away.  Adrian almost came to regret trying to dribble in his own box as Ighalo challenged, but he just managed the clearance in time.  Watford then had a long spell of pressure without creating any chance worthy of the name and I feared we might live to regret that as Moses broke down the right but he dragged his shot well wide of the far post.  Watford immediately had the ball down the other end, Ighalo broke into the box and won a corner which reached Deeney who shot over the target.  Soon after, a Watson free-kick was met with a header from Britos which flew over the bar.

Celebrating the first goal

Celebrating the first goal

A ball over the top from Deeney seemed to have released Anya, but his first touch was heavy and Adrian was able to put the ball out for a corner.  Watford continued to threaten the West Ham goal as shots from Abdi and Ighalo were blocked in quick succession.  Ighalo was looking determined to continue his goal and assist record as he beat three players to get into the box before finding Abdi who was tackled before he could get a shot in.  Much as I was loving the performance, I was beginning to get a bit nervous that we were not finishing our chances.  My nerves were calmed in the 38th minute as a free-kick reached Aké, who appeared to have lost the ball to Carroll, but the West Ham man inexplicably decided to play it on the byline, instead of wellying it to safety which gave Aké the opportunity to rob him and cross for Ighalo who turned the ball in from close range.  There were some suggestions that the last touch had gone to an opposition player, but it looked like Ighalo’s goal from the middle of the Rookery.  The visitors had a chance to equalize as a free kick from Payet was headed goalwards by Kouyaté, but Gomes caught easily.  The final chance of the half went to the home side as a corner reached Abdi, but the shot was blocked.

We were very happy Hornets at half time.  Not only were we a goal ahead, but it had been a very impressive performance indeed.

Congratulating Ighalo on his second goal

Congratulating Ighalo on his second goal

Bilic made two changes at half time bringing on Valencia and Zarate for Lanzini and Moses.  But it was Watford who made the brighter start to the half and, within two minutes of the restart, Ighalo grabbed his second as he received a cross from Anya, and switched feet before hitting a gorgeous shot into the top corner.  Ighalo had a chance for the hat trick soon after as Deeney headed the ball down to him, but his shot was blocked.  Capoue then did well to beat a defender and square the ball for Deeney whose shot was high and wide.  Capoue and Anya were involved in the next attack, taking it in turns to pass to each other and then have a shot that was blocked.  Ighalo turned provider, finding Aké in space, but the youngster’s shot was well wide of the target.  A ball over the top from Abdi found Deeney who couldn’t control and it ran through to the keeper.  A rare attack from the visitors ended with a cross from Payet that went begging as Valencia’s leap failed to meet it.  Back at the other end, Deeney found Abdi who shot over the bar.  On the hour, the visitors had a great opportunity to reduce the deficit as Carroll connected with a ball into the box from Payet, but his volley was woeful and flew wide of the near post.  Soon after, Valencia fell in the box after a challenge by Britos, there was some handbags with Capoue, but no action was taken by the referee.  The first booking of the game went to Nyom who took Valencia down to stop a West Ham break.  The resulting free kick was dreadful, flying straight into the arms of Gomes.

Gomes celebrating the second goal

Gomes celebrating the second goal

Watford’s first substitution came on 67 minutes as Paredes replaced Anya.  Watford very nearly pushed the self-destruct button soon after as Cathcart, who has been a rock in defence this season, played a dreadful back pass to Gomes which was intercepted by Valencia, so there was relief when the shot came back off the post.  The ball reached Carroll who fell in the box, but the penalty appeals were, again, waved away.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the Rookery who felt like we got away with that one.  Watford resumed their attack as Capoue had a shot blocked and the follow up from Paredes flew just wide of the near post.  But it wasn’t all Watford as a dangerous cross from Jenkinson was met with a terrific header from Cathcart to direct the ball over the bar.  Collins met the resultant corner with a header that was caught by Gomes.  With 15 minutes to go, Abdi was replaced by Behrami.  Almen had put in another great performance, it is such a joy to see him play at this level, and went off to the sound of the crowd loudly singing his name.  But Behrami is a formidable replacement, and it was lovely to see the West Ham fans applauding their former player on to the pitch.  At the same time West Ham’s captain, Noble, was replaced by Jelavic.  Whenever I see Noble, I recall a comment from Ray Winstone that he loved players like Noble who took their boots off after a game and walked back to their aunt’s house.  I know that Noble is West Ham through and through but, in the 80s, I was also able to walk from the Boleyn ground to my aunt and uncle’s house, so it is no guarantee.

Ake takes a throw in

Ake takes a throw in

Another cross from Payet was met by a header from Carroll that didn’t trouble Gomes.  The second Watford player to go into the referee’s book was Aké who was booked for what looked like a soft foul on Valencia.  The visitors’ frustration was manifested as Collins went through the back of Ighalo.  It was a nasty challenge, so the referee brandished the red card and the visitors finished the game with 10 men.  Odion was down receiving treatment for a while, but managed to limp off and was available for post match interviews, so I hope those are good signs.  His replacement was Guedioura.  There were a couple of late chances for the home side.  First Paredes broke into the box, but Adrian was out to save at his feet.  Then, in time added on, Paredes crossed for Deeney to head the ball goalwards, but a defender was on hand to head clear.

On the final whistle, there was rapture in the home stands.  This win was particularly sweet for our party as my niece is the product of a mixed marriage so was very happy to be able to return home to her Hammer father with her head held high.  As usual, Troy was the last man in the post match lap of honour.  When he reached the Rookery he threw his boots into the stands.  The first was launched into the 1881, the other came flying towards me and, after a bit of a scramble, ended up in the hands of the lovely man who sits next to me.  A nice souvenir of a wonderful game.

Anya on the ball

Anya on the ball

When we gathered back at the West Herts the usual pleasure at a win was magnified by joy at the sheer quality of the performance.  We had bettered West Ham in every area of the field and were thoroughly deserving of the win, which could have been more convincing.  What is even better is that this team is constantly improving.  The caution of the early season play has been replaced with a greater willingness to attack, while still keeping the defence tight.  There was one incident in the game when the visitors launched a counter attack and we looked stretched, but the defence was soon marshalled again and the West Ham players were frustrated.  The success is down to the fact that the players are working as a team.  While Deeney and Ighalo’s names are on everyone’s lips, there are no stars out there, everyone is doing their jobs and the fact that the likes of Cathcart and Watson are getting a lot of plaudits from the regulars for quietly going about their unfashionable jobs says it all.  Watson has been taking set pieces for the past couple of games and we are finally getting some decent balls into the box adding to our attacking threat.  We have a couple of difficult games coming up, but recent performances have given us hope that we could get something from these matches.  It is also reassuring that we have a points cushion that means that a couple of bad results won’t put us in the relegation zone.  That is a great position to be in at this point of the season.

There is an At Your Place event, coming up on Wednesday, which is likely to be a very happy occasion.  Post match, it was suggested that we don’t ask any questions at all, but just sing the Flores song for three hours.  This sounds like a very good idea.  It’ll certainly give him plenty of time to hug us all.