Saturday, 10 February 2018

Watford Game Crucial to Relegation Battle

In midweek David Moyes made the totally not-shocking revelation that 40 points is our target for Premiership safety. A quick glance at our remaining dozen games reveals that today's clash with Watford is therefore pretty crucial. With seven home games to come, we need another four wins (a simple logic dictates that if you get ten wins, the draws will sort themselves out!) but with five of our games against top six sides, we need to look to win four of the other seven games. With that in mind, Watford today is a massive game, If we win, we keep them in the relegation battle and take the pressure off ourselves. If we lose, we are right back into the mess as one of nine clubs that could realistically go down.

The good news is that our injury crisis is settling. Reid, Antonio and Arnautovic are all on the verge of returning and may all get to feature in some way today. Meanwhile, Joao Mario will continue with the Lanzini role while new recruit Patrice Evra looks likely to also join the bench. While many commentators (myself included) think Evra is past it, one observer made the interesting point that Stuart Pierce was 37 when he joined us and made Hammer of the year! Time will tell.

Up front, Chicharito is looking sharp again while we can throw on Jordan Hugill if we need a bit more physical presence. The Premiership is a big step up for the former Preston ace, but fingers crossed he could be another Dean Ashton in the making. Watford, meanwhile, are looking reasonably healthy and will be buoyant after thrashing Chelsea at the beginning of the week! Interestingly, they are not really a momentum side and have struggled to piece together any back to back wins all season.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of considerable fan unrest which is increasingly channelled through the Real West Ham Supporters Club. These are interesting times at the club as our efforts to deliver upon the dream of top six status in return for moving to the OS have stalled. Fans want the stadium to be made more football-friendly and also want a more effective transfer management policy. David Sullivan has moved to calm things with an interview on the club's website today but with a march planned for March 10th ahead of the Burnley game - another key fixture in our battle to ensure Premiership survival. Realistically, the board are unlikely to stand down but it would be good if these developments could be channelled into improving the club's fortunes. Time will tell.

We reckon we might just shade it today, 2-1. Paul Merson agrees, while Mystic Mark reckons it'll be a draw which would be a better result for the Hornets than us.

Predicted Starting XI: Adrian, Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Mario, Hernandez.

Arnie and Antonio to come off the bench as we push for a late winner...

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Time to Bring Back Carlton Cole

At 37 years young, Patrice Evra is hardly anything other than a stop gap for West Ham in their growing battle against relegation but the big question has to be why David Moyes is bringing in another left back???

The loss of Arthur Masuaku after the foolish spitting incident at Wigan was a blow but he has already served two of his six game ban and will be ready to return probably just as Evra reaches something like match fitness! Evra has been relatively idle since being sacked by Marseille for assaulting a fan!

Perhaps more importantly, although Arthur has been very naughty, he has also been one of the best players for us all season and should be welcomed back - where will that leave old man Evra?

The January transfer window really is no place to go looking for major solutions to squad issues as it is almost invariably a place where clubs squander cash on damaged goods in panic purchases. It's really hard to see what Evra will bring other than a distraction for the increasingly discontent fanbase.

More importantly, rather than a left back we need an attacking midfielder and a striker. With our flanks 'protected by Evra and Zabaleta we surely have the oldest defence in the Premiership?

Just a thought but 'long past it' Carlton Cole is actually 3 years younger than Evra! Similarly, Ex-Hammer and Sideshow-Bob lookalike, Alessandro Diamanti, is also a free agent and a mere 34 years old.

Hmmm. We really seem to be going backwards...

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Antonio Debacle Reveals A Stubborn Side of Moyes That May Cost West Ham Dearly

So here we are, fighting for Premiership survival just four points above the drop zone, with a severely depleted squad and no transfer window to bring in any further help. Amazingly, in the middle of this mess our manager (who you'd have to say has done a great job to date) gets embroiled in a needless spat with one of our key players over the (minor) issue of timekeeping. While many observers have applauded Moyes insistence upon a certain level of discipline, it's hard not to wonder whether he could have picked the timing a bit better.


Many fans were relatively satisfied with a point against Palace on Tuesday but for others you'd have to wonder if a win was what was really required? With very little up front we looked toothless and a draw was probably the best we might have hoped for. Antonio would have offered something extra and was surely missed. Although Moyes and Antonio have made up, Antonio is only on the bench as we look to new signing Joao Mario to provide an attacking spark - his record (17 goals in 156 games) suggests that his main strength is not in offence however!


Any seasoned observer knows that it takes ten wins per season to stay up. We currently have six, which raises the question as to where the other four will emerge from. With 13 games left, there are five against top six sides against whom the odds are against a win, we thus need to looking to win 50% of the other games. The home games against Burnley, Watford, Stoke and Southampton will be crucial. With a squad so thin that we have Zabaleta playing in midfield, we may struggle to get those results.  A time for flexibility and using the available resources to the best of their ability.

Brighton are without a win in six, while we are unbeaten in the league this year. My money is on Antonio to come off the bench and make a big difference against Brighton today!

Starting XI:  Adrian; Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Noble, Kouyate; Mario, Hernandez.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Revealed: What Inter Fans Think About Mario's Departure


So at long last the Hammers have managed to get some extra help into their squad with the arrival of Joao Mario from Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season. The signing is being hailed as a major boost in David Moyes' efforts to stabilise the club as a Premiership outfit and, all going well, Mario may stay thereafter as we hopefully look towards becoming a major force in the League.

Mario is an experienced Portuguese international and has a winners medal from their 2016 triumph at the Euros. In the aftermath of that, he moved from our old mates Sporting Lisbon to Inter for E40 million. He had a decent first season at Inter making 33 appearances with three goals and eight assists. However, this season he has struggled and has been in and out of the team, spending much time as a substitute. Indeed, his 14 appearances this season include 9 as a substitute. The arrival of Rafinha from Barcelona has persuaded him to move to where he can get first team action as it is a World Cup year.

So what does Moyes see in him? He sounds VERY like Pedro Obiang, which means he is probably going to push young Declan Rice further down the rankings for game time. In fact, although we typically think of swashbuckling surges forward when we picture Cheik Kouyate, this season the Senegalese has been much more conservative in his role and, in many respects, has provided a defensive midfield role.

Mario is technically gifted and can hold onto the ball - qualities that a team that frequently concedes 65% plus of the possession will benefit from. He has almost 90% pass accuracy but he is otherwise quite conservative - energetic but not especially pacey or creative (no goals and just 3 assists all season). The Hammers really need another creative and attack-minded midfielder. Hmmm.

We linked in with Italian contacts who follow to Inter to check out their feelings on his move - the responses were lukewarm and included "not sure that he is a top player. May be that in a less demanding team he would perform better" and "Speed is not his primary characteristic, but I think he will compensate with organization and geometry".

Hmmm. It seems they are a little underwhelmed. In reality, any player who is looking to move in January will have similar baggage with them. Let's hope he finds the Premiership to his liking and maybe will free up Cheik Kouyate to recover his old swashbuckling swagger!

Maybe we will get a viewing against Palace on Tuesday?

 

Strap yourselves in, this is going to get a bit bumpy!

So it's still all quiet on the West Ham front in terms of new signings. Hmmm. Let's hope it's the calm before a storm of activity that brings in a top quality midfielder and a forward who can score goals without limping off every time they collide with something or simply break into a gallop (Yes, Andy C running does look like a gallop!).
 
With a whopping nine first team squaddies out injured, we are in poor shape facing into a key part of our season. With Premiership games against Palace at home next Tuesday and away at Brighton on Saturday week, the trip to Wigan for Round 4 of the Cup will be a sweaty affair and undoubtedly  impacted upon by our slim resources right now.

Stuart Pearce has intimated that the kids will dominate the side as we really need to keep whatever we've got back for Palace, so we can expect Joe Hart to be minding for Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Toni Martinez, Sam Byram and probably Declan Rice - although the latter may find himself key to Tuesday night's game and managed for Saturday's trip.

We really need to be careful pushing the likes of Collins and Noble too far as at their age they can only put in so many miles within short time periods and, in all honesty, Zabaleta has been remarkable all season with his consistency, but again we need to be careful about overstretching the 'mature' body.

Meanwhile Wigan are top of League One and full of it! Of course, they have good recent history having won the competition in 2013 - but at a terrible cost as their current League one status shows. Personally, I've never really warmed to them, partly due to their former Chairman's unhelpful interventions during Tevezgate, but they will fancy another premiership scalp for sure. having gone toe to toe with Bournemouth before thumping them 3-0 in the replay, they are riding high. At 7-4 they are a decent bet for the win!

A draw might be a good result in footballing terms, but we could do without the extra game. Imagine if we actually were in Europe with this squad!!! Just a marker of how far short we are right now of being the club we aspire towards.

Kick off is at 3PM. It's not on telly. It'll be a proper test for the kids - it's a long time since we produced a first team player through our youth system but the Reece's, Cullen and especially Rice are looking to buck that trend. Now is the time!  




 

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Totally Tired...Farewell Mr Smith....true genius

Mark Edward Smith
1957 – 2018


We expected you to go on forever, but in the end you'd given it your all. Who else can honestly say that they have never compromised, ever!

Can you ever forget him reading the footie results: "West Ham United 1H"

Or when he accused Shearer, Owen and Mr Crisp ('the shirt brigade') of shopping together, like a bunch of policemen 😅😂🤣

A proper funny man, always perfectly out of tune.

RIP.

If Masuaku Leaves i Wont be Responsible for What I Might Do to Myself

Ok, before you send around the community mental health outreach team (or maybe the fire brigade), I don't actually plan to engage in self-immolation, but with many Hammers fans responding to news about Marko's dodgy hamstring with tweets saying 'we're doomed' and even 'please kill me', it does seem that hyperbole is the fashion of the hour at West Hamstrung United!

Having said that, rumours that Monaco, Roma and Man United are all trying to steal our Congolese Champion are a step too far and represent the final straw in what has been a vicious January transfer window, seething with scurrilous fake news - especially designed to destabilise West Ham! 

The Masuaku rumours are particularly disturbing because, although Arnautovic and Lanzini have taken most of the plaudits for our recent upturn in fortunes, all season Arthur has been top value entertainment - cheeky, crafty and totally unpredictable. My bets are that if you held a fastest feet competition, that he would win hands down!

While I know we all have a soft spot for Cresswell, who is undoubtedly a better defender and returning to his best form, Arthur's new role in a back five is really working well. For sure, as a standard left back your heart was in your mouth every time the opposition invited a clumsy tackle in the box (and God knows if we are honest he's actually given away 4-5 times more penalties than some lenient refs have awarded), but coming forward Arthur is the Dogs Bollix.

Masuaku is skillful and intelligent but most importantly, he is fun to watch! His recent skill against Spurs was the funniest moment delivered by a West Ham player since Payet's audacious free kick against Man U a few seasons back. For a week afterwards I chuckled every time I thought of it....Ok, OK here it is again: https://www.instagram.com/p/BdiyqPGBSnP/




Thankfully Arthur has moved quickly to quash these scandalous and distressing rumours, and most likely saved countless lives of impulsive Hammers fans who, like me, are at the end of their tatty tethers and simply cannot hack losing our best player to Roma or Monaco.......are they really bigger than us???.


His tweet, albeit from last November, puts an end to the nonsense and emphasises his absolute and total commitment to the cause. He's clearly enjoying his football right now and needs to be let get on with being brilliant!

Go away merchants of fake media, Masuaku is going nowhere!!!

COYI!!!