Sunday, January 07, 2007

West Ham take note: true grit doesn't always mean true Brit

As West Ham rounded off a thrilling first season back at the top level with a desperately narrow defeat in the FA Cup final, much was made of their Britishness. And not without reason, for Alan Pardew had gathered an unusually indigenous group. Of the 14 who did duty against Liverpool in the Millennium Stadium, only Yossi Benayoun and Lionel Scaloni were foreigners. Of the 12 Britons in the squad (to narrow it further), only Danny Gabbidon and Christian Dailly came from outside England. And (to narrow it even further than that) no fewer than eight of Pardew's unlucky heroes were London-born. So what a substantial number of critics were saying, basically, is that here were a bunch of close-knit lads who knew what English football was about — come to think of it, Pardew kept saying it as well — and could be relied upon to stand shoulder to shoulder when the going got tough.

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