Sunday 31 March 2019

Julien's Faux Pas #13: Rice for Partridge?

While the footy world continues the Ronaldo vs Messi debate, comedy has the Gervais vs Coogan tussle to consider. 2019 has seen these comedy heavyweights go toe to toe as Gervais has released the stunning 'Afterlife' while Coogan is back with Alan Partridge in 'This Time'. 

Almost certainly the most outrageous scene to date in This Time is where Partridge lookalike, Sligoman Martin Brennan seizes his opportunity to break into some traditional Irish Rebel songs - the rather catchy 'Come out ye Black n tans' and 'Men behind the wire' featuring amongst his repertoire! 

It's a measure of the times we are in that this is seen as a source of shared amusement by Brits and Paddies alike. Thankfully for Declan Rice, his ill considered tweet from 2015 wherein his Irish blood got the better of him with an 'Up the Ra' outpouring has also been recognised as harmless banter. 

However, you do have to wonder if he had declared for Ireland instead of England whether the media would have been quite so ready to let it go?

Perfect material for Julien's Faux Pas #13! 



Everybody's Favourite Second Team? Perhaps Not!!!

Totally Lovabubble!!!

In the good ole days everybody loved West Ham. The academy, a classy home and (especially) away kit and the World Cup three. The fact that we generously gave away our best players to bigger clubs and were usually a good bet for 3 points when your club was on a losing streak also helped, no doubt.

But somewhere along the way 'little'West ham have irritated fans of opposition sides and are now the 4th most hated club in the Premiership!!! The Daily Mirrir conducted a fans poll and found that behind Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool, West ham ranked as the next most disliked club!

But its not all bad as the fall in popularity is more than matched by a swelling support for the club in its East London and Essex hinterland. Moreover, the 'hatred' almost certainly reflects the fact that West ham are now the 16th richest club in the world and hace the sweetest ever stadium deal that can only point towards greatrr and greater success as virtually all of our income is available for investment in the team!

Either way, here is the list. Millwall, of course, dont figure in a Premiership ranking but would surely give Chelsea a run for their money!

Most Hated Premiership Clubs (% of fans expressing hatred towards the club)

Chelsea: 68.7%
Man Utd: 68.1%
Liverpool: 52.8%
West Ham: 47.6%
Arsenal: 46.2%
Tottenham: 43.5%
Man City: 38.7%
Cardiff: 36.5%
Crystal Palace: 29.7%
Everton: 27.0%
Watford: 24.0%
Newcastle: 23.5%
Wolves: 20.1%
Leicester: 18.9%
Southampton: 16.3%
Brighton: 16.2%
Fulham: 15.0%
Burnley: 13.3%
Bournemouth: 10.2%
Huddersfield: 9.7%

At Least Yesterday Brought One Positive for Hammers Fans

While West Ham bombed out yesterday against Everton, there was one pleasing development for West ham fans yesterday as BT Sport aired an interview between Owen Hargreaves and Declan Rice where the Hammers star made his thoughts on his future at West ham very clear.

Asked about the interest from other clubs he replied "I have a special connection with the fans. I love every minute of being at West Ham. I'm playing week in week out. Being compared to players, being linked to other teams, I don’t really take any of it in to be honest. If you think about it too much you get caught up in it. I’m just focused on playing for West Ham and playing with a smile on my face and enjoying it.”

With a contract that runs until 2024, West Ham will want to build their team around the classy youngster as they push for a place amongst the top sides in the Premiership.

Although this season has had many positives, yesterday demonstrated that the club will need to invest heavily in the Summer if they are to give Rice the standard of teammates that such a jump will require. At least yesterday's interview indicates that Rice is happy to be patient as he builds his career.


Julien's Faux Pas #12: Pelle Submits to the West Ham Way

In all fairness there isn't much worth saying about yesterday's debacle - we have a poor record against Everton over the years but one which had gotten better of late - until yesterday's thumping. Amazingly, perhaps the best measure of just how abysmal West Ham were - at only 2-0 down some fans were leaving with 20 minutes plus injury time still to go! Typical Hammers - just when our fortunes seemed to be on the rise we throw in our worst performance of the season!!!

As a result, our attentions have switched to the violent surrealism that is Julien's Faux Pas - nombre 12.


Bobby Bubbles gives his verdict on a day of disappointment: player ratings

Pellegrini: He has a real job on his hands if he is to rid the club of our traditional inconsistency. Once again when we looked set to push into seventh we totally blew it
 We look disorganised in defence and although we enjoyed a thriller against Huddersfield, defensively we were a shambles. The team horribly underperformed yesterday but the formation didn't help. Strange starting selection highlights how short we are on a decent striker with Arnie totally off form. Pelle looks out of ideas as to how to manage the moody Austrian. Also, if Noble was fit enough for the bench why didn't he come in at half time as we were totalky over-run in midfield in the first half? 4/10.

Fabianski: Is it any wonder he has the highest shot stopping statistic in the league. A busy day with little thanks but he saved us from an embaerrassing scoreline. Its a bad sign when the keeper is your MOTM! 8/10.

Zabaletta: As always, he gave it everything but struggled with Everton's pace throughout. D8d try to kick off some attacking response but couldn't connect with anybody on a day that we played like strangers. 5/10.

Ogbonna: Its hard to know which of our CBs should give way for Balbuena but both looked ill focussed and struggled to maintain a coherent line. 4/10.

Diop: See above. My guess is that Pelle will bring Balbuena back in to partner Issa next week. Hopefully that will spark a return to his early season form. 4/10.

Cresswell: Victim of a poor formation that left him repeatedly isolated against Coleman and mates down the left. Offered little going forward in what was a blunt offensive performance. 4/10.

Rice: The one player who can take something positive from his performance but all too often its becoming the Rice show in the engine room. He was hopelessly outnumbered on a frustrating day. 6/10.

Obiang: With reduced game time his performances have dwindled. Simply not a big enough presence for a defensive midfielder and off the pace. Hopefully Noble will be fully fit for next week. 2/10.

Snodgrass: Huffed and puffed but couldn't make an impact. 4/10.

Lanzini: Still not back to his pre-injury level but with more game time we can hope he will step up again. Missed a creative partner in midfield with Anderson and Nasri absent. 4/10.

Perez: Errr....a strange selection to say the least. Maybe he is playing well in training but its hard to see why Pelle keeps giving him a chance. 1/10.

Arnautovic: Another pedestrian shift. He looks short on confidence. Had two decent chances in the first half but totally fluffed both of them. The boos as he was subbed said it all. 4/10.


Antonio: Tried to add energy but lacked the necessary guile to turn around an abysmal day. 4/10.

Chicharito:  Strikets need service. He didn't get any. 3/10.

Diangana: Guilty of trying too hard but at least he gave it a go. 4/10.

Saturday 30 March 2019

Pelle Springs Another Surprise as Hammers Push for Seventh

Manuel Pellegrini is certainly a manager who likes to keep his squad on their toes and is never shy of shaking things up in terms of team selection. With Everton visiting the London Stadium this evening Hammers fans will be hoping that they can push up to seventh place as results elsewhere (defeats for both Wolves and Watford) have created an opening for West Ham to grab their highest position of the season - its a long time since their abysmal opening 5 games!
However, with both Felipe Anderson and Samir Nasri unavailable, the Hammers really need Marko Arnautovic to rediscover the form that prompted all the interest over the January window. In truth, the Austrian has not looked the same player since signing a new contract and all the publicity seems to have affected his confidence as he has lacked his usual swagger.
With Manuel Lanzini slowly regaining match fitness, and Robert Snodgrass adding invention to the midfield, the Hammers will hope that will bring enough invention to open up the Everton defence. Pedro Obiang and Lucas Perez get rare opportunities to impress from the start.
With Diangana, Antonio and Hernandez on the bench, Pellegrini has options if things are not going the Hammers way, while Captain Claret is available to come on and shore things up if West Ham get ahead.
West Ham: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Cresswell, Rice, Obiang, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Perez, Arnautovic

Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Balbuena, Noble, Diangana, Antonio, Hernandez, 

Sunday 17 March 2019

Irish Eyes Still Smiling As Cullen Steps Up!

Happy St Paddy's Day all you Hammers folk! On the day we get to drink green Guinness and celebrate all things Irish let's consider how a the greatest Irish Hammers XI might look.

Goalkeeper: One of the more disappoibting departures of recent years was the exit of Darren Randolph as he had pushed past Adrian as the Hammers first choice keeper before a sloppy spell and then the arrival of the outstanding Mr Fabianski. For Ireland its probably just as well that Dazzler departed as he would probably of been consigned to Cup campaigns as the Polish netminder has been so impressive. Despite his relegation to Championship status,  'Randy' still gets the nod ahead of the likes of Gerry Peyton, Roy Carroll, Stephen Henderson and, dare I mention him....... Allen McNightmare!

On the defensive front the situation is less impressive. Unbalanced and not endowed with aerial presence. There would undoubtedly be much sweating at set pieces. For some reason West ham does not attract decent Irish defenders!

As full backs Joey 'the Lips' O'Brien and Georgie 'Linda' McCartney are solid if a little uninspiring in attack, but Centre back is a real patch up and forced us to bring Georgie more centrally alongside Gary Breen, with Noel Cantwell taking the left back spot.

Just to remind you that Stuttgart wasn't the first!

Midfield is by far our strongest zone. Steve Lomas as enforcer and water carrier and a nice partner for Chippy Brady. Although Brady is primarily a Gooner, we got two very decent seasons out of him that included some cracking moments, and a delightful strike against the Gooners!.

Wee Michael Hughes was a great seizure from Wimbledon - gamey, if lacking in physicality, and with a useful habit of scoring at key moments. Both Frank O’Farrell and Tommy Moroney were key contributors in the early fifties but Tommy Moroney gets the final nod, mostly based upon his presence on the glorious Ireland team that was the first foreign team to beat the old enemy on their own turf at Goodison Park in 1949.

We havent mentioned Mr R as the wounds are still open but last weeks first call up to the senior Ireland squad for Josh Cullen gives cause for hope that Irish Hamme4s will have something to feel 0roud about. Whether ha can make the transiton back to the London stadium from Charlton remains to be seen.

Up front, David Kelly underachieved – too light for top-level English football. David Connolly was too, well, David Connolly (i.e. perfectly average). Jimmy Quinn was a decent contributor in the late 80s while Robbie Keane came and went in the blink of an eye, with most of that time spent on the injury room table, but on the basis of what might have been he gets the nod, just!

And finally, Iain Dowie – a true Hammer who was not prolific by any means but always gave 100% and created opportunity for those around him. A real servant who had two determined spells at the club and is one of the more refreshing TV pundits about. Loyalty – a rare thing amongst our footballing folk these times.

So, a team that would by no means be worldbeaters, but we might expect plenty of effort and any team with Liam Brady could always find a moment of magic, while Michael Hughes would be sure to spoil a few Man United celebrations and Robbie could always find cause for a party!

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday 12 March 2019

The Statistic That Really Matters About West Ham This Season

The arrival of Manuel Pellegrini was heralded as the dawn of a new era at West Ham. Expectations were high that after enduring dour football under Allardyce and Moyes, Hammers fans might see a bit of flair and even a return to the much fabled 'West Ham Way'.

But in reality nobody really expected West Ham to break into the top six in one season. More astute observers noted that (Leicester apart) there are virtually no examples of teams managing that feat in the past decade. Realistically, transitioning from the chasing pack to top six is a 2-3 year process that requires patience and commitment - something few managers can achieve in the modern game.

However, at West Ham we have a board that do a lot of talking but are actually conservative at heart and who are astute business people. No doubt they will be delighted at a table that has been released showing the percentage change in performance for each club since last year - West Ham are the most improved side in the Premiership with 30% more points than this time last year!

The tame defeat to Cardiff last weekend may have left many fans feeling that little has changed, but in reality the club is possibly the fastest growing in the World right now with a huge new stadium, top class manager and a rapidly improving squad who (some of the time!) play attractive attack-minded football. Add in the healthy stream of youngsters that are getting valuable playing time and you have a very happy house indeed!

If West Ham are to become a top six club, this is the only realistic journey that can deliver  sustainable change. With a few more astute signings to join the definite top six quality of Rice, Diop, Anderson, Lanzini and Fabianski, West Ham can really make a charge next season!


Sunday 10 March 2019

The West Ham Way, Part IV

Manuel Pellegrini's troops gave a masterclass in the least likeable aspect of the much-fabled 'West Ham Way' yesterday as after a few good performances where we looked to be realising our potential, we tamely conceded to a 2-0 defeat at Cardiff City.
Just as many Hammers fans were starting to dream of a late run to snatch a Europa League spot, they were brought back down to Earth with a bang as despite enjoying more than 70% of The Possession our expensive front line created very little. In comparison, Cardiff's hard-working forwards created a host of chances and thoroughly deserved their win.

There was very little to feel positive about in the game from a Westham prospective. Even after conceding two relatively soft goals the Hammers struggled to create any real pressure. Ultimately our best chance came as a result of Declan Rice decided to take matters into his own hands and forcing his way through Cardiff defence before firing a sizzling shot which came back of the inside of the post. That should have been the cue for a rampaging comeback but alas, we stuttered through to the end.

Ultimately, the game fizzled out leaving the undeniable sense that despite the improvements under Manuel Pellegrini West Ham still lack the sort of consistency that is required if we are to break through to the next level.

Next up will be Huddersfield who come to the London Stadium desperately in need of points. After today's showing, Hammers fans will be worried that Huddersfield's hungermMay make all the difference.

As for yesterday, in all honesty if you're going to give points to any club in the Premiership right now that would probably be Cardiff given their recent misfortunes 9and even with Colonel Whingepants as manager!).


Saturday 2 March 2019

Pellegrini Shuffles the Pack: But can West Ham accomodate two Magicians in midfield?

After a decent performance but an irritating result in midweek as the Gods of Football deemed to award a hapless Man City a soft soft penalty to scuttle home 1-0, Pelle is looking for justice today and has a strong starting XI with the first trial of a combined Lanzini-Anderson attacking midfield presence. If we can get enough possession we will create chances! With Chicharito up front these will need to be on the floor but Arnie is back and ready to spring from the bench if we don't unlock Newcastle's defence. The magpies are on a decent run so it'll be a lively encounter!
The Billy Bonds Stand will be unveiled in a ceremony before kick-off - a much deserved recognition of a true legend.
Rory Nostradamus predicts a 3-1 home win.
West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble (c), Rice, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Anderson, Chicharito
Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Obiang, Nasri, Antonio, Arnautovic, Perez