Monday, 16 July 2018

The Major Upside of West Ham's injury crisis

In typical fashion, just as it looked like West Ham might be ready to push on having put our annus horribilis behind us, our talisman gets seriously injured on World Cup duty and then we lose our principal centre back and striker. Hmmm.

However, it has become apparent that Manuel Pellegrini is not at West Ham just for the money - his transfer dealings this Summer have demonstrated that he has a point to prove and West ham are benefitting from his knowledge of the international transfer market with players arriving from all sorts of sources including leagues in Brazil, Germany, France and Italy.

With 7 in, no majir departures and every sense that more good news is to follow, this is a truly remarkable time at West Ham. Moreover, the recent injurues may also have a positive - Carroll's injury almost certainly means that we will hold on to Michail Antonio, Reid's issues will prolong Ogbonna's Hammers career, while the continued interest in creative midfield talents (e.g. Bernard) is almost certainly a function of Lanzini's absence.

Many seasoned observers will be pleased to see Antonio and Ogbonna remain. Both are proven Premiership performers and deserve the opportunity to prove that they can contribute to the Pellegrini revolution.
That said, imagine tge squad we will have for the run in next year - if we can get close to the top six our squad depth should mean that we don't fade in the final furlong like we did under SuperSlav 2 seasons ago.


Sunday, 15 July 2018

World Cup Signals Simple Solution to Long Running West Ham Dispute

England had an excellent World Cup campaign, reaching the semi finals and bringing a sense of pride back to the shirt. However, Mr Grumpy himself, Roy Keane, brought everybody back to reality when he observed that most of the England players had not won anything and that it was a pretty unlikely scenario for your first trophy to be the World Cup!

Losing for a second time to Belgium in the 3rd and 4th place play off game highlighted that whatever about being unlucky against Croatia, the are clearly better sides out there. As such, a second World Cup seems a long way off and may never happen!

As such, England should cherish their one success. In recent times there has been an ongoing debate about whether the World Cup statue should move to the new stadium. In a recent poll fans were split 50:50 on the matter! While a spot has been identified at the Olympic Stadium, Newham council have changed their minds on letting the statue go.

All of which seems ridiculous - many Hammers fans see the statue as the best reminder of where our home was and as Green street continues to change that looks likely to become even more so over time. The statue cost £730,000 when it was erected in 2003. Putting It in perspective, thats a few weeks wages for Andy Carroll!

If we can afford to pay £10million for Jordan Hugill and then never even give him a chance to show us what he is capable of, surely we can afford a second and separate statue for the new stadium?


P.S. When you host the best league in the world it is inevitable that you will eventually assemble a squad that is good enough to mount a serious challenge for the World Cup, but the statue should stay regardless.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Yarmolenko, Anderson, Wilshere...Back to the Future?

West ham have had a remarkably busy transfer period so far this Summer, with 7 major recruits. While you might debate the extent to which supporter unrest has contributed to the Pellegrini cashsplashing revolution, having a 60,000 stadium at very attractive rent does create a cash rich wealth that is needed to progress up the Premiership rankings.

However, its not all about money! In the Summer of 2007 Alan Curbishley was allowed to blitz the transger market and signed a host of desirable players including Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer, Freddie Ljungberg and Julien Faubert. Sadly, only the first two on the list delivered on their billing with Ljungberg and Dyer especially costly mistakes.

Was Curbishley to blame? Interestingly, he had an excellent managerial record prior to that but clearly somebody lost the run of themselves. Soon after West ham were in serious trouble as the Icelandic consortium were bankrupted and the club endured its closest ever brush with a humiliating demise.

Thankfully, the ship was steadied and soon after the Davids rolled into town bringing a much smarter financial philosophy that has pushed West ham into the top 20 richest clubs on the planet.

Hopefully this season is tge one when tge club can push on. Let's hope its not another false dawn like that of 2007!


West Ham Rediscover that Lions feeling - but at a cost!

We all know that West ham won the World Cup in 1966 with the three Lions of Hurst, Moore and Peters leading the charge. However, since then its been hit and miss for West Ham players getting into the England side.

Our beloved neighbours over at Tottenham tried to bridge the gap but came up short against a modest Croatian side who look set to be mauled by France in tomorrow night's final. Put simply, an England side without a healthy dose of Hammers cannot expect to win anything significant!

With the current squad as international as West Ham have ever been, there are few players likely to break into the England set up - with the most likely in Michail Antonio possibly on the move out of the club!

As a consequence, if the Lions don't invite you to join them maybe its best to create your own and thats what West ham have done with their new sponsor, Bassett and Gold will bring a Lion logo to the claret n blue.

Frankly, its awfully Villa-like and along with the Burnley-esque home jersey not in keeping with our tradition.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

How Unlucky England Could Have Done With Hammers Ace! close for an unfancied England side in the World Cup. A little more composure in the second half and they surely would have skipped home. But, alas, they stopped passing the ball and let Croatia back into a game that could have been all but done at half time.

On reflection, it was in the early exchanges of the second half that a youthful English side lost composure and started to look for 'safer' long ball options. That was the moment that they needed a real leader in the middle of the park to talk the centre backs into keeping their composure and maintaining a link with a forward line that was until then keeping Croatie guessing.

For my money Jack Wilshere could have provided that link. Instead, Eric Dier was brought on in an effort to get a misfiring England ticking over again but struggled as England gave up possession and stumbled home.

Having said all of that, the England side deserve much praise, surprising many with their effectiveness in a tournament that has been fantastic. Well done Mr Southgate - calm, assured and tactically astute. All said and done, the regret will be that a young side didn't beat a Croatia side that really looked there for the taking.

So its back to all things West Ham and we have every right to be optimistic for the season ahead. The influx of ball players will surely bolster our capacity to use the space of the new stadium. The performances of Premier league players also enhances our belief in the league that we watch each week.

A final thought - who would have thought Spurs could have performed so well on the biggest stage? A big push and West Ham can be up there with the best!


Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Wilshere Can Succeed Mark Noble as Captain Claret

There can be no doubting that it's been an interesting transfer widow for West Ham so far and apparently with even more new blood to arrive. However, the most exciting signing to date is Jack Wilshere from Arsenal - undoubtedly talented, his injury issues have stymied a career that looked soar.

With a bit more luck he would have made the England squad for Russia and come tomorrow night if Modric and Rakitic are bossing midfield Gareth Southgate may well wish he had brought Wilshere along!

Whatever about that, Wilshere is a proper Hammer and at just 26 should have his best years ahead of him. While we all love Mark Noble, we are having to get our heads around the reality that he can't keep putting in those amazing Duracell performances that keep our midfield ticking over (for a potent example check out Leicester last season!).

So who will step into those massive Noble shoes? Arnautovic could be an interesting possibility but he isn't historically a Hammer. Winston Reid is a big player but maybe not quite the force he was previously (let's hope he can recover with an injury-free run next season), Declan Rice is still too young but may well take on the role at some point as he is a ringer for Billy what about Wilshere - a leader, intelligent and a proper Hammer!

It's going to be interesting to see how Pellegrini lines up his midfield talents - especially when Lanzini returns in January 2019 (all going well). 

Even more intriguing is how West Ham will line out against Liverpool and then Bournemouth...Will Wilshere and Noble both get a starting place? Surely that would lack pace…Will he rotate the two to keep Noble fesh and Wilshere injury-free?  How will he use Rice, Kouyate and Obiang?


Does Yarmolenko Arrival Signal the End for Antonio?

Michail Antonio is one of the few Hammers players that brings a sense of being able to change the pattern of games - having been our most potent attacking force during his first two seasons at the club (and receiving Hammer of the year in 2016/7), last season was blighted by a recurring hamstring problem and his playing time and goal tally dipped accordingly. 

That said, most observers would expect any incoming manager to include Antonio in their plans as he is a proven Premiership scoring talent. In addition to his impressive strike rate, he brings a formidable physicality that often causes chaos amongst opposition defence and, for a wide player, he is very strong in the air and can also play in a more central role if needed.

One of the biggest disappointments last season was that we really did not get to see the Lanzini-Arnautovic-Antonio-Hernandez combination that we had dreamed of at the start of the season!

However, with growing rumours that he may be Palace-bound, and the imminent arrival of Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko - a right sided attacking player, it looks like Antonio may be about to leave the club.

From where this observer is looking - this is surely Pellegrini's first big mistake at the club? Let’s hope that we can hold onto Michail as it would leave very exciting options up front!



Saturday, 7 July 2018

Hammers Look to Portia for Stunning Major Summer Signing!

Well, who would ever have imagined that West Ham would be faced with the dilemma of having to choose whether to allow Dimitri Payet to return to the club? Although you would have to be sceptical, reports suggest that the temperamental talent is considering a return to the Premiership, and even more unexpectedly, to West Ham United!!!

It's 18 months later and Payet is now 31 years old but his recent record at Marseille (15 goals in  46 games) has been as good as that during his time at West Ham (15 goals in 48 games) and in reality Payet's major asset is his close control and passing accuracy rather than his speed. Since his departure, Manny Lanzini has stepped up as the creative force in the hammers midfield but, with Lanzini likely to be out for most of next season, Payet would be the perfect footballing replacement! Marseille have apparently gotten into financial trouble again and selling Payet has been identified as a possible solution.

However, Hammers fans were united in their ire at the manner of Payet's departure that included the Frenchman refusing to play and forcing a cut price return to Marseille. Dubbed 'Le Snake' Payet joined a list of players deemed as traitors by the fans (Ince, Lampard, Defoe) but reports suggest that the Hammers are genuinely examing the possibility of re-signing Payet who was previously contracted until 2021. 

Whether fans can show the mercy that Portia pleaded for in the Merchant of Venice ('the quality of Mercy is not strained etc) remains to be seen but consider this: Apart from Paolo Di Canio, how many genuinely world class players have we had at the club in the last 25 years? Payet is out of the France squad due to injury but if fit would surely be a major attribute for the squad that is amongst the favourites to emerge victorious from the tournament. 

Let's test his commitment by signing him on a one year loan with a view to making that more permanent if we are happy that the relationship can work for both parties?


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Hammers New Kit Falls Well Wide of the Mark

After all the strife of last season where the fading identity of West Ham United was called into question, all eyes are on a happier time next year with a new start and a chance for the board to reassure fans that we are moving forward.

With all the distractions of the World Cup many fans have been distracted from what is usually an exciting moment when our new kit is revealed. However a quick glance reveals that our new strip is possibly the least West Ham-like kit we have had in living memory! Where's all the sky blue gone? The home kit looks considerably more like a Burnley strip than a Hammers one!

Ironically, club legend Billy Bonds is one of our kit models but a quick look back to Bonzo's time demonstrates that in comparison to 1974, it looks more like something Leighton James and the lads up in Burnley would've been wearing!

The independent fans group voiced a variety of concerns last year but maybe one that was missing is where is our greatest ever kit disappeared to? The double claret stripe on sky blue is surely the most aesthetically pleasing kit of all time yet we seem to have discarded our bland dark blue away kit for 2018/9 shows.

We are not impressed! The identity of a club is closely aligned to its colours - something that seems to be fading in 2018/9. Whatever fan forum exists for next season might raise this issue with our club management?

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Key Date Announced for Hammers fans

One of the frustrating aspects of being a paid up footie supporter these days is the grip that television companies have on the fixture list. For fans who need to make travel arrangements (and keep loved ones happy with their soccer obsession) the tendency for key games to be switched to accomodate tv is a real drag. With a cracking start scheduled for next season there is a strong likelihood that a host of Hammers games will be rescheduled and today Sky revealed that they will clarify their television plans on July 6th.

In the VERYWESTHAM camp, next season will see our first outing as fully fledged season ticket holders - something that despite all the unrest around the club since our move to the London Stadium is a positive that can be attributed to the Davids reign. However, trying to work attendance around the uncertainties of television (and Stansted airport) is a real challenge!

In September the home games against Chelsea (22nd) and Man Utd (29th) look likely to get bounced to different slots. At least come July 6th we'll have an idea about actual dates and times. They are games where the Pellegrini era can kick on. Returning to the Premiership from the riches of China can only be for footballing reasons and, in all honesty, so far the board seem to be finally delivering on resources. Keeping Arnie (and Antonio), sorting out Rice and giving Hernandez a system to believe in will be key tests ahead. With Manu out for the season we need creativity in midfield but there's a whole Summer ahead to sort that out.

Next season we can finally start to live the new dream!


Revealed: The Readymade Striker who can Propel West Ham into the Top Six Next Season

Look, he's behind you!!!

As West ham up their pursuit of top attacking talent to spearhead the Pellegrini era, its worth noting the in Javier Hernandez the club already has one of the World's top strikers on their books. 

With a modest 8 goals in 28 appearances last season, Chicharito's return to the Premier League was somewhat underwhelming, with a strike rate well below his career average of approximately 0.5 goals per game. However, it must be remembered that his minutes-per-goal ratio during his time with Manchester United is among the most prolific in the history of the Premiership!

Despite that, Hernandez fell out of favour under the Moyes regime at Old Trafford as his lack of physicality did not fit in with Moyes' preferred set up of a single striker. With Moyes departing for the more offensively minded Pellegrini Hernandez' second campaign looks likely to be an improvement - an observation that is underlined by his World Cup performances to date where he has contributed 2 important goals towards Mexico's push into the last 16.

With two years to run on his contract, West ham are spared all the frustrating wheeling and dealing that capturing top talent entails these days. Consider this: if Hernandez had been at Leverkusen last year and waz only arriving at the London Stadium just now, imagine how excitex Hammers fans would be? Under Pellegrini we can finally get to see the real Chicharito in action and in a more attack minded set up my money is on him returning to his previous prolific strike rate.


Monday, 25 June 2018

Surely the Image of the World Cup so far?

The weekend witnessed the world cup finally kicking into gear. For those of us attracted by the prospect of an early German exit, Tony Kroos' last gasp strike reminded us to never write off the Germans!

Meanwhile Engerland battered poor little Panama as Harry Kane grabbed surely the softest hat trick of all time with 2 penalties and a bizarre deflected goal. That Gareth Southgate's troops couldn't maintain a six goal spread to make a draw with Belgium enough to top the group served to emphasize the limitations of the side. Belgium will be a real test!

From a Hammers petspective, Chicarito reminded us how good he can be in a better system by claiming the crucial goal to send Mexico into the last 16 while Cheik Kouyate put in a decent shift as Senegal shared the spoils in a 2-2 thriller with Japan.

But undoubtedly the most uplifting image of the tournament to date was that of former Columbian players Rene 'scorpion kick' Higuita with Carlos Valderrama rejoicing in Colombia's sensational performance against Poland.

There's a lot of good footie to come!

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Felipe Anderson: Arnautovic or Feghouli?

As the Summer transfer period trundles along in the background of the World cup, the biggest target in West Ham's sight is Lazio's Brazilian talent, Felipe Anderson.

Lazio and West ham are locked in a game of wits regarding a transfer fee with personal terms of 80k per week agreed with Anderson himself. Lazio are holding out for an alleged E40k while the Hammers have offered 30k.

However, a deal seems likely as Anderson is mainly employed in a substitute role by Lazio and although a real attacking force when on form, he is prone to inconsistency. Therein lies the principal factor that has limited his game time at Lazio and that explains his absence from what looks a pretty modest Brazilian World Cup squad.

40 million for a player who doesnt make the World Cup and more often than not fails to make the starting XI at a club that finished a modest 5th in Serie A last season? You can see why the Davids sometimes take a cautious approach to the transfer market where its easy to waste hard earned resources!

That said, Anderson is now 25 years old and ready to push on. His ability in terms of skill is not in doubt as he has earned a host of accolades as the best dribbler in Serie A (!) And has in impressive assist and goalscoring record in what is a defensive league. His speed, ball control and positional versatility make him an ideal player to fit into the attacking berth created by Manny Lanzini's injury, while he is equally capable as a winger.

So, Arnautovic or Feghouli? The Lazio coaching team have commented on how Anderson is a confidence player who needs game time. With Mario gone and Lanzini out of action, it looks like the Brazilian may get a decent opportunity to strut his stuff at West ham.

If the clubs can agree a fee it looks like a good deal for all concerned!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Tantalising Pre-season Schedule awaits in July

With all eyes fixed upon goings on at the World Cup, its hard to think that the Premiership kick off is just seven weeks away! Between now and August 11th there will be much excitement in Russia but also the prospect of seeing Pellegrini's side take shape in a series of Pre-season friendlies. 
Already with some top signings already in the bag in Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop and Lukasz Fabianski, and with a host of tantalising rumours about additional signings, this years preseason could be the most interesting since the Curbishley-Icelandic era! Add to that the desire to see how we line out tactically under Pellegrini, many fans will want to take an early look at the latest iteration.
The Pre-season training starts in earnest with an 11 day trip to Austria during which the club have so far confirmed a single fixture against FC Winterthur, (Venue unconfirmed) on Sunday 8 July at 3pm (CEST). Other Austrian games seem likely but are not yet confirmed.
The Hammers first game back in the UK will be against Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park on Saturday 14 July at 3pm. 
A week later they travel up to Deepdale to face Preston North End on Saturday 21 July at 3pm giving Jordan Hugill a chance to play against his old club while ex-Hammer Sean Maguire will have the chance to remind us again of the talent that we let go.
Four days later we take on Aston Villa at Walsall's  Bescot Stadium on Wednesday 25 July at 7.45pm. Who knows what Robert Snodgrass' circumstances will be by then!
Three days later the Hammers trip up to Portman road to take on Ipswich Town on Saturday 28 July at 3pm
One suspects that there are likely to be further games between then and the 11th August when the Premiership kicks off against Liverpool at Anfield. 

Monday, 18 June 2018

Lanzini Injury has a regrettable upside

The football world has been out in sympathy with West Ham's ace midfielder manuel Lanzini after his heart breaking injury sustained in training prior to a World Cup that many had predicted he would be a major success at. Unfortunately, the worst fears have been realised as it has emerged that he has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and thus faces 6-9 months on the sidelines. Despite the significant advances in surgical technique of recent years, many ACS injuries are career changing but with the very best of care and a careful unhurried rehabilitation journey, Manu will be back to his best for the second half of next season's campaign. Currently recouperating in Barcelona where the surgery was done, Lanzini is reported as upbeat.

For West Ham the injury is an obvious setback but many had feared that the club would be unable to hold on to their little Argentinian after the World Cup with a host of clubs apparently interested. Having developed such a potent relationship with Marko Arnautovic, fans really want to see the pair spearhead Pellegrini's side next year. perhaps Lanzini's injury will be a factor in that being possible, but the momentum behind a possible Arnautovic exit seems to be gathering pace. Fortunately, Austria did not make the finals and as such Arnie will be out of the shop window and one might expect that attentions will be diverted elsewhere once the action really gets going over the coming weeks.  

Either way, we wish Manu a full recovery! 



Saturday, 5 May 2018

Still Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

So here we are, at the business end of the season and in a relegation battle that could very easily end in tears. On the face of it we look unlikely to go down and the bookies have us at 14-1 against taking a drop. However, does anybody think its impossible that we might lose all three remaining games? If so, you would have to worry that Southampton, who have a much better goal difference, might win one of their remaining games and suddenly we would have the biggest (not best!) stadium in the championship. Everybody knows that you need to win 10 games to be sure to stay up and we currently have managed a mere 8 victories. A stat that says it all really about a season that has been truly disappointing.

As a consequence, today's visit to Leicester really is a massive game for us. Thankfully, the Foxes home form has been patchy and with their season essentially over they may not be 100% focused on today's clash. Rumour has it that they are struggling with injuries and may field a weakened side. All good then, but what about us? Many fans have started getting itchy with one penning an open letter to David Moyes pleading for an attacking strategy today. The colder eye would feel this is unlikely to be Mr Moyes' approach as Leicester are a side that is set up to counter attack. Lest we forget, Vardy and Mahrez are still at the club, so perhaps a patient approach seems more prudent.

All of which raises the question - can we defend well enough to rely on keeping it tight? sadly not - we are officially the leakiest defence in the league (a whopping 67 goals so far!), so perhaps we should go for an open game? Whatever else, we definitely need to be aggressive and drive the intensity of the game to test Leicester's desire. On a negative note, you'd have to say that this is the type of game that we have been losing all season, but we are due a bit of good fortune against the Foxes after their dodgy late penalty courtesy of referee Moss scuppered our top six aspirations this time two seasons ago. Back then we mistakenly thought we were about to make the great leap forwards!

With Man U and an in form Allardyce-led Everton waiting, we really need something from this game. My head says you'd be happy with a point but that depends on Swansea and Southampton's results. A bad day at the office could see us in massive trouble this evening and slash those relegation odds.

It's definitely not boring! 


Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Wit and Wisdom of Margaret Thatcher?

After yesterday's results (especially Southampton's win) it is pretty clear that West Ham need another result before the season's end if they are to be sure of Premiership football next year. With recently crowned champions Manchester City visiting the Olympic Stadium today it would be nice to think that they might be easing off and thinking about the Summer and the World Cup, but alas that's not likely under Pep Guardiola's leadership in a squad where the competition for starting places is cut throat. In trying to compose a list of reasons why we might get a result today I was plagued by the recurring image of that comedy vinyl classic 'The wit and wisdom of Margaret Thatcher' which is comprised of two completely silent sides! Hmmm.

It's really hard to see how an injury ravaged Hammers side can even get a point with the bookies offering odds of 10-1 against a Hammers win, with the draw at 5-1. Depressing or what? This really is a day for the fans to get behind the team and try to spur them on. With the likes of Kevin De Bruyne able to score from distance, David de Silva's capacity to prise open a gap in the tightest of spaces and Raheem Sterling's ability to con referees into giving him a penalty every time he runs straight at defenders, there is little point in sitting back. Equally, if we push up City will thrive in the wide open spaces of our stadium.

Still, with Manny Lanzini possibly on from the start, Arnie up front with Andy Carroll available to arrive at some point, maybe if we keep it tight we can snatch something. The 4-1 score at Arsenal last week definitely did not reflect our efforts where we deserved a point and looked all set to take one with ten minutes to play. Moreover, City have lost 3 of their last 5 matches, albeit to Liverpool (twice) and Manchester United. No doubt David Moyes will have studied how Liverpool managed their victories but, Arnautovic aside, we lack the counterattacking power of the Reds current crop.  

If not today, next week away to Leicester looks like a promising opportunity to get some points as they fell apart against Palace yesterday and look disinterested. Man United is always a fun fixture and perhaps the ideal one to finally seal survival, especially as a final day visit from an improved Everton looks like the perfect opportunity for Big Sam to remind his former bosses that Premiership survival should always be the primary aim for all clubs outside of the top six. You'd have to think that he might enjoy making us sweat!

Rory Nostradamus says that at 5-1 the draw is a decent punt. Anybody for 1-1?


Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Perfect Time to Storm the Bastille

As Arsenal begin the end of the Wenger era the air is stagnant with nostalgia as the Gooners reminisce on the glory days of the so-called 'Invincibles'. In truth, the current Arsenal side has nothing like the capacity of Henry-Viera-Pires to instill a sense of dread into any would be opposition.

However, that said, West ham fans will be glad to move on from Wenger's era during which we have enjoyed very little success against our neighbours from North London. Perhaps that's why a steely Moyes-led Hammers side are 11-2 against for a win even though Arsenal have little to play for while the Hammers are desperate for the points that would ensure our Premiership safety.

Moyes has fielded an unchanged starting XI but both Lanzini and Carroll can be expected to appear before the end. Its uplifting to witness the growth of Declan Rice, who starts again, and along with Arnie has lit up an otherwise difficult season. Mr Rice really looks like a future captain of the Hammers a la Bonzo style.

I am in Paris and will miss the second half. It's currently 0-0 and with a strong bench maybe, just maybe, we can grab something and start a new era of results against the Gooners?

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Threadbare Hammers Look to Pull off Double

David Moyes will be hoping to build on the Hammers first win under his reign when they overcame Chelsea at the OS in December. However, he was downbeat at the prematch briefing, perhaps understandably given the absence of so many key players. West ham,s injury problems are emphasised by the bench which includes unfamiliar names like Pask and Diangana. Given other results this weekend, a point would be a great result but Chelsea will be looking to bounce back after their 3-1 loss to Spurs last week. 

The bookies are clear in their position with Chelsea at 3/10 on whilst Moyes' men are 12/1 against for the win. 

With the sudden loss of club icon Ray Butch Wilkins earlier in the week, passions will be high at Stamford bridge. 

Hart, Cresswell, Rice, Ogbonna, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Masuaku, Fernandes, Joao Mario, Arnautovic.
Subs: Adrian, Hugill, Hernandez, Evra, Cullen, Pask, Diangana. 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

In Yer Face! This is a big big game in so many ways...

With all the off field activity in recent times West ham have quietly slipped into a real relegation dog fight. We are likely to require at least two more wins and another couple of results in order to stay up. Given a tough run in, where home 'advantage' will be in uncertain supply, we look in big big trouble.

Undoubtedly the games against Stoke and today's visitors, Southampton, will be critical to the outcome of a difficult season. It's an understatement to suggest that the atmosphere will be tense today and that the first goal will be crucial. We need leaders today - this is a game made for Mark Noble but the uncertainty regarding James Collins' availabilty is deeply concerning, as well as the Lanzini injury.

On the plus side, Masuaku is back and we have to hope that Mr Moyes gives him the opportunity to continue his potent partnership with Marko Arnautovic. Similarly, Declan Rice keeps getting better and better having been labelled Ireland's best player after his recent international debut vs Turkey. Right now he looks like a better option than the ineffective Joao Mario - just the latest player to demonstrate the need to do transfer business in the Summer as January only seems to bring other club's left overs.

Southampton bring the Hughes-Arnie and Austin-Sullivan factors just to add extra spice to what is a fascinating encounter.

We can do this.

Rory Nostradamus says 3-1 home win.


P.S. the pic is of punk legends Peter and the test tube babies relaxing after Thursday might's excellent Dublin gig. Thanks lads! Their new album is classy and called 'In Yer Face' - hopefully our lot will take heed and really go at it today.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Five changes that can save West Ham from relegation

After three onfield batterings on the trot, Moyes and his army find themselves in deep deep relegation doh-dah! While the off field problems are undoubtedly an unwelcome distraction, central to our recent difficulties has been the loss of a functioning formation that can deliver goals while keeping it tight at the back.

Here are five changes that can get the team back on track and save Moyes' men from relegation disaster:

1. Bring Masuaku straight back into the side. After serving a harshly prolonged six week ban, Arthur has served his punishment and will be chomping at the bit. Its hard not to notice hoe Arnie has lost his form since Arthur went missing.

2. Drop Joao Mario. We might dream of he and Lanzini pairing up as the Mario brothers but in reality we dont have room for two defensively lightweight players in midfield.

3. Its time to promote Declan Rice to a regular starting berth in midfield. I am a big fan of Kouyate but he is horribly out of form and our midfield lacks a bite that Rice's energy can bring.

4. Use Chico more. We would really benefit from some of the cheaper goals that a predator like Hernandez brings. With some tense and likely close encounters looming against Southampton and Stoke, he can be the difference.

5. Bring back Payet. Just kidding! We need players with true grit, warriors who will put bodies on the line etc etc...thank God Ginge is back at centre back. We'll be needing him.

Its incredibly tight in the bottom half this year. The smalkest of things might tilt things in the right or wrong direction. Whatever your thought on all the off field goings on, we need to heed Sir Trev and shelve the issue until we are safe. Let's all get right in behind the team and give them that boost that might make all the difference.

That's what 'real' fans do.


Monday, 12 March 2018

And finally....some good news for a change!

WOW! West Ham really are in a total and complete mess right now. With fan unrest bringing all manner of bad media upon the club while on the pitch our defence has lost its way totally, Hammers faithful really need some good news right now.

Given our atrocious away record this season, the home games against Southampton and Stoke will be crucial. The return of Arthur Masuaku - after a severe six game ban for spitting - can kick start a team that needs a boost both in defence and in attack. Masuaku can bring both and will be desperate to prove his worth. With Patrice Evra filling in with modest success, David Moyes must be tempted to bring Masuaku straight back into the side.

Otherwise, the team will benefit from a break and take the opportunity to rebuilt confidence. Whatever about what is going on off the field, the club need to get behind our underperforming team if we want to avoid dropping back to the dreaded Chumpionship! 



Monday, 5 March 2018

Cheer up: at least its not boring!

Towards the end of the Allardyce era things had reached a very dull plateau at West Ham with lower-midtable obscurity a pretty sure bet the longer it went on. Then we had the nearly period with SuperSlav where with a bit of luck we could have broken into Europe before the wheels came off and we lost faith.

Now its David Moyes and what a frantic period for the club! With fans seriously unsettled with the board and divided into marchers and non-marchers, coupled with the realisation that we are in a thrilling (?) Relegation battle that will likely keep us on the edge of our seats until the last kick of the season! Is it really all that bad?

Oh, and Andy Carroll has been snapped having a few beers in his local, no doubt unwinding after a week of heavy fitness training in an effort to get back before the season ends...

Chaos, madness,, comedy, as usual then i guess! Did anybody else feel a bit miffed at a group of fans hijacking the notion of being 'real'...does that make everybody else not real if they don't agree with every sentiment or action of the group? Respectfully (and the real group did start a campaign that is energising fans to have more say in our club and how it develops) but calling anything 'real' can only end in division.

Interesting times - real fans will see them through and focus on getting behind a team that really needs our support right now.


Friday, 2 March 2018

Judean Popular Peoples Front Consider Their Position

However divided West Ham seemed as a club a few weeks ago, the unilateral decision by the 'Real' supporters group to cancel the planned March has left supporters in a state of disunited disarray. With so many different groups involved, perhaps such a split was inevitable but its worth revisiting why the movement gathered momentum so quickly - and that was primarily because of a lack of confidence in the board delivering on a raft of promises. At present, for many fans looking on there is no real reason to believe that anything has actually changed - apart from a few more promises!

Let's hope that we don't descend into chaos and recriminations - early signs amongst the West Ham media are that this is likely as there are already a series of articles expressing a thinly veiled sense of annoyance with the march cancellation occuring in this way.

As a first step it will be good to hear more clearly what was so positive about the meetings with Lady Brady that has placated the march organisers? Given the background to this movement - where words like 'betrayal' have been bandied about, its hard to see how things have suddenly all reached a happy resolution.

For example, does anybody really believe that David Sullivan will relinquish ultimate control over transfers? We may well install a director of transfer activity but they will undoubtedly be answerable to the board. It also seems a big ask that such an opinionated force keep his thoughts out of the media. Leopard and spots comes to mind!

At this point it would be better to focus upon visibly achievable changes. The stated demands of the march were always a bit vague. One thing that is truly tangible is that the stadium design needs rethinking to make it more football-friendly.

Also, the club need to stop urging folk to join the hopelessly long season ticket waiting list - either its 20,000+ long or not. If it is, really what is the point of joining it apart from making a donation to West Ham Inc?

It seems unlikely that this story is over just yet! Let's stick together, whatever else this episode has created a sense of unity and purpose. The challenge is to keep that positivity focused where it needs to be on the bigger picture of making fans connected with and proud of our club. 

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.


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:

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!!!


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A Five Point Plan to Prevent the Annual Injury Crisis at West Ham

Here's a thing - every year around December and January we get to use the bubonic plague sketch to describe West Ham's injury situation. Every year. Right now we are second in the league in terms of injuries with a whopping first team squad players out through injury.

Having china dolls like Andy Sicknote and Diafra Sakho on the payroll is certainly part of the problem – with a total of 12 Premiership goals between them in the last two seasons (Carroll =9; Sakho =3) it’s simply not good enough! In all honesty, at this stage we really need to take the hit and free up space for players who will be available for selection at least 50% of the season.  

However, our most recent issues relate to Manny Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic. The optimist in me hopes that the Arnautovic injury scare is to end the tiresome media focus on the non-transfer of Marko to Chelsea. First it was Antonio, then Carroll and now Arnautovic - all fake news and it makes you wonder if there aren't some serious West Ham haters out there desperately trying to destabilise our club with these unhelpful rumours. 

However, in Lanzini's case you have to link his hamstring injury to the Shrewsbury saga. It's great to give the kids game time opportunities, and the replay certainly did that, but did our midfield talisman really need to be out there for 120 minutes in midweek with another (more important) game on Saturday? 

We have tried moving training facilities to reduce our injury count but with no benefit. Maybe it's time to make a coherent plan to reduce our injury count for the future. How about this: 

1. Offload long term chronic sicknoters - Carroll and Sakho. They are taking up space and wages that could be used better.

2. Include a detailed analysis of injury history in all new signings.

3. Restrict new signings to players who have not yet passed their prime - Jose Fonte is 34 years old - it's much harder to manage the speed of the game once you are over 30, and recovery time from injuries is greatly prolonged in the 'more mature' player.

4. Treat the FA cup and league cup the way the top clubs do - kids only. No Lanzini's out there against have a go types like Shrewsbury!

5. Invest in a big enough squad to allow for more player rotation - it's cost effective to have more players because it leads to less Lanzini-type overuse injuries.