Monday 28 February 2022

It's all cuddles in the bubbles!

Amid the terrible situation currently unfolding in the Ukraine there was an island of positivity at the London Stadium yesterday. 

West ham have been rocked by the awful scenes with Andriy Yarmolenko's compatriots very much in our thoughts before during and after the game yesterday.

Solidarity with Ukraine was emblazoned around the stadium with pictures of Andriy and his national colours as team captain of the Ukraine national team. Declan Rice held his jersey aloft during the pre-match routine and later dedicated the vital 1-0 win to our brother.

Meanwhile, Tomas Soucek dedicated his winning goal to his grandfather who had travelled to watch him play for the first time since COVID restrictions were lifted - pointing up to him in the stands during his goal celebrations.

And Pablo Fornals underlined the family-friendly atmosphere that characterises the ground by bringing hsi newborn on a stadium tour before the match, all the while singing "Come on you Irons"!

These are difficult times but if we stick together for what is decent we can see it through.

Classy stuff from all concerned!


Sunday 27 February 2022

Rice, Yarmolenko, Chelsea and the Ukrainian Situation

As always, Captain Declan Rice handled the upheaval around the Ukrainian crisis with aplomb yesterday. The day began with him holding up our #7's shirt as a show of solidarity and after a hard fought gutsy win he tweeted "that was for you brother".


But the Ukrainian crisis may also have deeper ramifications for Rice's future as the vultures circle seeking a Summer transfer raid. In reality, there are probably only four suitors of note who mighy be able to offer better prospects than West Ham, with Chelsea and Man Utd the two that have been most widely mentioned.

The smart money recognises that Man Utd are a creaking mess, shored up by two ageing strikers and with a bad atmosphere at the club highlighted bt their best emerging talent being on gardening leave, while the Jesse Lingard farce has sent out a clear message to any potential arrivees that the club does not look after it's players.

And now Chelsea have entered a similar period or turmoil as Russian Oligarchy funds look to be paralysed and nobody wants to take over the reigns. Any ambitious player would have to think twice and then some before making such a move.

So it's over to Liverpool and Man City but do they want Rice enough to pay the ever increasing price? A strong run in could bump the Hammers to the next level that Rice seeks, and as the Kretinsky cash arrives we could be in a position to really push on to the next level.

Meanwhile, let's keep the people of Ukraine in our thoughts. 


Moyes Comes Clean About Hammers Hopes

Success breeds expectation and at West ham that is palpably the case. Fans have been frustrated by a recent mild dip in form where the Hammers have had to settle for draws when a win was needed to maintain our top four ambitions.

And fans have been critical of the team and Moyes tactics, perhaps unfairly as all teams go through periods of misfiring. The lack of new blood through the January transfer window has been cited as key factor in the loss of form but injury wise Moyes men have been lucky so far.

However, with FA cup action in midweek, a visit to Anfield next weekend to take on a scarily in-form Liverpool who will be seeking revenge for West Ham's 3-2 victory before Christmas, and the next phase of the Europa League approaching, its a pretty intense time ahead for the lads.

With all that in mind, David Moyes did not mince his words when asked about where he sees the club right now during today's post-match press conference - 

"I want us to be a team that can be a top four club but we are nowhere near that yet. So the job we have to do is a period of time to grow, We have made massive strides in two years to be in this position and we need to find ways of keeping us near the top and building again and having another period of growth and giving us the chance to become an even better team and club"

Right, that's that clarified then! However, many feel that the failure to bring in new players in January will be the crucial difference in whether we make top four or six this season and by extension whether we can keep Rice and Bowen in the Summer. If not, Antonio and Fabianski are well into their thirties so between that and the potential loss of Dec and Jarrod we will have a major rebuild on our hands.

The next 12 games really are crucial to our future.



Bobby Bubbles Player Ratings: West ham 1-0 Wolves

It was a crucial win for David Moyes' men today both in terms of taking all three points but also in delivering our best performance for a number of weeks. The dream of a fourth place finish is starting to fade but if the Hammers can keep up today's form, with a little luck we can get back into the race.

Here's Bobby Bubbles player ratings for today:

Fabianski: looked sharp and had to stay focused as Wolves finished both halves strongly. He was commanding in the air and showed good distribution today. 8/10

Johnson: Had a good day in defence but a little sloppy with his crossing when in attack. 7/10

Cresswell: Looked like his true self today. Assured in defence and repeatedly got down the wing. Close with a first half free kick. 8/10

Zouma: Probably our best player today. The events in the Ukraine put his recent misdemeanours in perspective. Excellent in the air and some timely tackles. One error when he flipped the ball of Antonio's toe just as Mickey was about to score. 9/10

Dawson: Solid performance. He looks more comfortable when the opposition don't focus a high press. 7/10.

Rice: His usual massive presence. Unlucky with a screamer in the first half. Multiple key challenges and he is so hard to dispossess these days! 8.5/10

Soucek: As always, he glides around breaking things up and pushing the team forwards. Grabbed the only goal of the game with a typical run into the box. Has 4 goals this season but has been so unlucky not to have twice as many! 8.5/10

Lanzini: He is playing really well again, buzzing about and oiling our wheels as we move from midfield to attack. 8/10

Bowen: Should have netted towards the end. His usual abrasive self and always smiling. Decent corners today. 8/10

Fornals: His best performance for a while as he created a number of chances with his skilful passes around the box. 8/10

Antonio: Led the line well and didn't drift out to the wing as much as he has in recent games. Deserved a goal but ended up with an assist. 8.5/10

Subs: Vlasic and Diop were introduced too late to impact, which seems to be a strange Moyesian strategy. Mikey looked well tired at the 80 minute mark and fumbled s few decent countersttacking opportunities due to fatigue. Why we didn't sub him earlier is beyond me!

Half time report: frustration for dominant Hammers

The good news is that Moyes men are looking much more on song than we've seen for some time and are dominating a tricky Wolves side.

The Hammers are doing a decent high press with good effect and have created a series of half chances. The closest they have come has been a Decky Rice belter that slapped off the post.

Lanzini looks lively and Antonio looks sharp. Things are looking good for a break through in the second half but on a less positive note, Wolves are imposing their style on the game.

West ham need to keep up the pace to stay on top.


Let's do it for Yarmo!

It's a top six six-pointer at the London stadium today as Wolves come in search of points that will be crucial at the end of the season. The Hammers are stuck in draw mode and need to kick start their campaign if they are to keep Man Utd and Arsenal in sight.

David Moyes has gone with Lanzini instead of Benrahma and Ben Johnson comes in for Vlad Coufal. Otherwise the starting XI is as one might expect.

West Ham XI: Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice (c), Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio. Subs: Areola, Diop, Alese, Noble, Kral, Vlasic, Benrahma, Oko-Flex, Perkins

Let's Let Yarmo Know We Care

The ever-increasingly politicisation of football is something that purists frown upon as it distracts from the real business at hand - footy!

As Bill Shankly allegedly said - some people think football is a matter of life and death but its more important than that. It's well recognised that his remarks were made in jest.

The awful situation unfolding in the Ukraine at present casts a shadow over everything else and reminds us that ultimately football is a sport to entertain us while we get on with the real business of life.

It was hard not to feel that the best scenes in the Everton vs Man City game yesterday where the displays of solidarity with Ukraine that preceded the match.

Let's do something similar for our man Andriy Yarmolenko today. He's one of the big personalities in World football and Captain of the Ukrainian national team. 

This assault is on all of us, our democratic way of life and our value of freedom and dignity.


Monday 14 February 2022

Zoumagate: what is the right punishment?

As the media tsunami continues about Kurt Zouma's sickening abuse of his pet cat, you have to wonder where it will all end up.

With a quarter of a million fine, confiscation of his two cats, loss of sponsorship and widespread ridicule, its fair to presume that Zouma must be feeling truly sorry for his actions.

But it seems that there can be no ceiling to the demands for even greater punishments as the righteous indignation continues unabated with calls for a season-long ban etc.

It seems whatever West Ham do that it will not be enough. Zouma has already faced the ire of fans - both home and opposition having persistently booed his every touch against Watford.

And at Leicester yesterday it all seemed to get too much for him as he was withdrawn at the last minute due to feeling unwell.  

Some might say its best to let him face the music and work his way through the disapproval. He is going to have to do that at some point.

Unless, of course, some commentators want to end his career and livelihood altogether - a response which seems excessive and frankly unkind. 

There can be no defending Zouma's actions - a rarity in modern life where even heavy duty criminals frequently cite childhood adversity as an excuse for the most heinous crimes.

The very fact that Zouma seems to have failed at the time to recognise how unacceptable the behaviour was suggests that education has to be part of the response. 

There is always something to learn from any situation - in Zouma's case it focusses upon what is the correct response and whether forgiveness is something that can ultimately occur. 

Perhaps its time to get off the condemnation bandwagon and examine what can usefully be done to address this type of behaviour. 

In the end, scorn and indignation is never enough on its own - lest we forget "the quality of mercy is not strained"


Sunday 13 February 2022

Three Big Positives From the Leicester Game

The Hammers endured a difficult day up at Leicester but managed to salvage a point in the dying moments and maintained decent momentum in their challenge for a top four place as Spurs faltered, losing to Wolves.

Not the best of days as the Hammers were outplayed for much of the second half but there were plenty of positives to take from the game.

1. Jarrod Bowen has matured into a truly top class player. His poise for the opening goal, includibg a sublime first touch, provided yet another reminder for Gareth Southgate that he is England quality.

2. Issa Diop had his best game in over a year. Called in under difficult circumstances to replace the 'unwell' Kurt Zouma he hardly put a foot wrong all day and provided the ammunition for Bowen's opener. He's still only 24 years old so maybe he can find that elusive consistency he needs to perform at the too level. Today was a good start.

3. This team has tons of character. Leicester were all fired up and really put it up to us but ultimately created few chances and as it turned out would have floundered only for the awful Cressy penalty. Dawson's late strike showed how determined we are - a long way from the Hammers sides of the past who all too frequently conceded late goals to lose points rather than vica versa.

Next up we host Newcastle and then Wolves. Both going through a resurgence but definite opportunities to pick up points. 

We stay in fourth and very much in the mix.


Tuesday 8 February 2022

Anyone feeling ashamed?

As a veteran Hammer i can say that the supporters journey brings many different emotions - joy, annoyance, frustration even sometimes embarrassment. 

But rarely shame. 

Today bucks that trend.

For once, i am truly lost for words.