Sunday, 31 May 2009

Faubert's Future Resolved.

With the news that West Ham United Ladies are looking for experienced players for both their senior and junior sides for next season, it appears that Julian Faubert's future can at last be resolved. Faubert will apparently fit in perfectly as he asks, "Does my bum look big in this?"

The senior first and reserve teams play in FA Tesco Women's Premier League South so when Julian strips off in the changing rooms he will be able to reassure the rest of the gawping team, "Every little helps"! And that's just when he takes his top off!

The moody temperament won't be an issue either - the whole season can be put down to his time of the month!

Gudjohnsen for West Ham

Here we go again! How many times have we been linked with the guy? And for how many years now has he been 3o years old?

Pompey, Tootatthem and ourselves are all apparently chasing Gudjohnsen, but why? I have no Eider! I reckon he would be another Ljungberg, looking for semi-retirement on a nice fat pension scheme.

To my mind, the guy was never much better than average. He is one of those, jack of all trades, master of none sort of players to my mind. Up front? Midfield? In the hole? He does a job but he has never got me sitting on the edge of my seat, I've never seen him as a player with the wow factor.

He might not cost much in transfer fees but his wages will be prohibitive, especially if Green and co all decide they want parity! He is at least 30, going on 34 probably! Let Arry's wife go to Iceland this time, I don't want him!

Two plus two doesn't make ten... unless it is a 10 points deduction!

Let's look at a few of the stories knocking around on News Now for a moment. According to one headline our creditors are about to take over the club. Tribal Lifted From Other Sources claims,

"West Ham United is poised to be taken over by its creditors in coming weeks. The Sunday Times says sources close to the east London football club suggest the huge debts of former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and those of the club itself have all but killed the chances of any rescue. This means it will fall into the hands of Icelandic bank Straumur and a consortium of other financial institutions. Straumur is owed about £100m by Gudmundsson, while the club owes about £45m to a group of banks including RBS. The Icelandic bank is expected to hold on to the club for between two and three years before putting it up for sale."

Now, if that is true, it sounds pretty serious to me. I know people have argued that because it is the owner and not the club that is in receivership, we will not be deducted points; but I'm not so sure. Southampton tried the same line as that and are kicking off the new season with a 10 point deduction aren't they? What is good for the goose and all that...more red and white stripes to come back to haunt us perhaps?

Meanwhile, Robert Green is pressing for parity wages with Neill and co. Now I may be in a funny parallel universe here but aren't businesses that are facing receivership meant to cut wage costs, not increase them? There's no doubt that we have offered Green more, but not enough to keep him happy seemingly. These two stories just don't tally do they?

Then there are the rumours of us being in the market to buy players. How exactly? If we haven't got the money to service our debts, how can we be in a position to increase those debts? I suppose the argument is that the debt remains, it is just that the new company that owns us (our principle creditors) is now responsible for paying the debt back - to themselves apparently! Seems confusing to me!

Now if I was a player with the club, or thinking of joining the club, I would want this situation resolved VERY quickly. If I was the Premier League or the PFA or FA I might be calling soon for on a ban on the signing of players by the club until the financial situation is resolved. As a fan, I am very concerned. I want clarity and at the moment, all I see is a fog. What is REALLY going on?

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Welcome Middleeasternhammer

Did you follow the link I posted for you on the org mate? Good to see you if you're looking in. It is great to have fans supporting the Hammers all around the globe. When do you take up that University place in the States? ; }

I know we get hits from Oz, France, Spain, Ireland and Germany but it would be interesting to know what other countries other people log in from.

That Lampard Is Useless Aint He?

All the morons take a bow! Fat Frank does it again! Lovely pass to Malouda for the first goal, then a wonderful left foot drive for the second. And he should have had a penalty into the bargain. That's 20 goals for the season again and over 100 goals in five years. We are looking for a twenty a season striker, Lampard gets that quota from midfield!

Of course the head in the sand idiots will still tell you that the guy isn't worth a place in the England team. Wake up! After Moore and Peters, he is possibly the best player we have ever produced.

I will leave the comment filter on for now. The Grunts will be angry!

Should We Tell Green To Get Stuffed?

Apparently Green has turned down our latest contract offer. It's not that he wants to leave as such, just that he doesn't think we are offering him enough money. Now, let's be fair to the lad, coming up through the ranks of Norwich City, he probably has a very clear understanding of high finance. Negotiations back then probably took the form of heated debate over fringe benefits: "I want what the rest of the team are getting, a weekly ride on the back of a tractor, a personal sheep and a flavoured condom to chew on as I come out onto the pitch." (Old habits die hard!)

He doesn't strike you as the Flash Harry type does he? Green in an Armani suit and Italian shoes? I reckon dungarees and wellies would suit him better. Green in a Porsche? Surely he would be more at home in the cabin of a vibrating tractor.

So what in God's name would the guy do with the £50,000 a week he is reputably demanding? Surely £35k is enough to keep him in good looking sheep for the rest of his life?

Somebody should have a word in his shell like and point out that the fans face hard times in a recession and the fans pay his wages. £35,000 a week to stand between the sticks and make maybe as many as five saves in a game? Nice work if you can get it if you ask me! He has two years left on his current deal and we are offering a £10k a week pay rise - that is an extra £1m that he would not be entitled to if we said see out your contract. Lucash Neill is on more because, as an outfield player, his playing career will be shorter. Green can expect to play until he is 36 and £35,000 a week for 7 years would set him up very nicely indeed. According to my calculator, that is £127,400,000 before sponsorships. Come on Greenie you can buy a whole farm for that!

Does Anybody Outside of Everton and Chelsea Care?

In case you had forgotten, today is FA Cup Final day. The first one I properly remember was the 1969 Final between Manchester City and Leicester City. The game itself was pretty unremarkable but that Manchester City side were the last team to win the Cup with an all English side - except for West Ham in 1975 of course. I remember buying Shoot magazine on the day and cutting out a poster of David Nish which found its way onto my bedroom wall alongside Moore, Hurst, Peters, Sissons, Redknapp and Boyce. For the first time I was consciously caught up in the build up - all the excitement surrounding the TV coverage, with the journey from the hotel to Wembley, player interviews, the panel of experts and what not. I had stepped into the magical world of the football fan and for decades afterwards, the Cup held me in its spell.

But today? Today feels to me like one big yawn. Chelsea v Everton, it should be a major event, two near Titans of the game in head to head conflict, two clubs associated with gladiatorial approaches to the game, two clubs linked with style and culture through Kendall, Harvey, Ball, Osgood, Hudson and Cooke. But for all the "glamour" of the modern game, for all the big star billing of the Ballacks, Lampards and Drogbas, does anybody really feel any excitement about today, outside of the fan base of both clubs of course. It used to be so different, it used to be that everybody affiliated themselves with one of the two clubs and became a supporter for the day. In 69 I was a Leicester fan, because of the Nish poster and because, after being relegated in the same season, Leicester were the underdogs. Think back to the epic Chelsea v Leeds tussle - everybody in the country wanted the swanky West End individuals to overcome the grinding machine of Bastard United. In 73, the whole nation were wearing red and white stripes as Stokoe's Davids slayed the Revie Goliath. Great days, even though West Ham were not at the party.

But now? Now it is just another game. TV will make a half hearted attempt to pretend it is special but we all know differently. Strangely, even the Champions League Final felt like a side show this year; the FA Cup Final is like a Punch and Judy booth, quaint and irrelevant, tucked away at the end of the pier of a long season. It is a shame but by playing the semifinals at Wembley, by tolerating understrength teams in the earlier rounds, because of saturation TV coverage of football, due to the dominance of the big 4 and because the Cup Winners Cup was abolished, the once great FA Cup has been tarnished to the point where it almost feels embarrassing. Not that old thing Mum? Why do you keep polishing in? Why not put it up in the loft and forget about it eh?

That isn't true for the Everton and Chelsea fans of course - they will enjoy their day out; but I bet even they will yearn for the Twin Towers and the magic of the old days even as they take their seats and await kickoff in the greatest side show the world has ever known!

For the record, I predict a Chelsea victory on penalties after a dour 0-0 or 1-1 game. In consequence, for the first time since 1969, I won't even be watching!

Friday, 29 May 2009

The Games Gone Crazy? You Bet It Has!

Back in January, we were somewhat surprised to learn that Faux Pas was wanted by Real Madrid. Surely somebody had got confused and released the April Fools Day story early? But no, incredibly, it was true, and in fact there was a much funnier joke stored up for All Fools Day, the announcement of Alan Shearer as manager of the carToons! That joke ran and ran all the way through to the last kick of the season - and what a kick it was, into the collective balls of every Messiah worshiping Geordie.

But not even these compare with the Portugal squad announced today! One glance reveals a team of immortals...Bosingwa, Deco, Miguel, Carvalho, Castro, Joao Moutinho, Tiago, Nani, Almeida, Pepe, Christiano Ronaldo and...Luis Boa Morte!

I can't wait for the close up on an unmarked Ronaldo's face when Luis ignores the open goal that a simple pass would create and blazes over from an acute angle instead!

What the...

I've heard it all now. A mother faces 5 years in jail for "fraud" because she tried to get her child into a good school. Tell me, why on earth are we taking a mother to court for trying to do her best for her child? It is Harrow Council that should be taken to court for not providing adequate educational provision for all. Five years in jail for trying your best to get your child into a school where the kids learn rather than abuse the teachers? This is mad!

So, if you are an MP, you can fraudulently claim for a mortgage that you have already paid off, and you are NOT taken to court. But if you are a loving mother scared that your child will end up in a sub standard school if you don't fiddle a bureaucratic form, you face five years in jail!

This is New Labour Britain! This is Animal Farm in the flesh! All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others! Throw the mother into jail, take the child into care and put the brat into a Catholic Children's Home at the cost of the taxpayers...that would make sense wouldn't it?

Seriously, I know this is a football blog but how bloody crazy is that? Get every sitting MP out of Parliament! Make the pledge now, whatever party you support, vote to replace your sitting MP irrespective of your allegiance. Let's have a revolution through the ballot box; let's take back our country from the crooked bastards riding the gravy train whilst we sniff, urchin like, outside the window of privilege.

Balotelli? Sounds like pasta but...

So rumour has it that we are about to extend the West Ham creche by adding Inter striker Super Mario Balotelli to our ranks. Apparently he is well tasty and just as Gianfranco's mamma used to make!

At this rate, we are going to have to get a child minding license and set up classes to take our first team through their GCSEs. Does Zola know that he is no longer in charge of an U21 team I wonder? It's ok Gianfranco, they can play beyond their 22nd birthday! Si! Si!

I just hope Clarke can stop them playing "tig" long enough to work on their ball skills!

Still the kid has something about him on the evidence of this:

Inter assistant boss Giuseppe Baresi has heaped praise on youngster Mario Balotelli and believes he will be a future superstar. “Mario is a great player with great qualities, and he has already shown these in the youth academy,” said Baresi. “He has been with the great professionals in the first team for five months. He’s working well, he’s still young and he still has to rise through the ranks."

Typical - Best Cup Final Goal Ever? Liverpool Cheated!

So how on earth can the best ever Cup Final goal be Gerrard's "win at all cost and to hell with the spirit of the game, hit and hope" effort in the Greatest Sporting Robbery of All Time Final?

OK, we know the stereotype that they will have the wheels off your car if you park up in the dark, but how was Scaloni to know that the Scousers would cheat and break every code in the game as he sportingly played the ball into touch so a wounded Red could receive treatment? For pity's sake, Scaloni is an Argie! Now I have nothing against Argentinians, well apart from the fact that they provided a refuge for Nazis and elected their own Fascist governments, but something pretty horrible seems to happen to them when they pull on a football shirt. Let's face it, you would not look through footage of Argentinian games if you were putting together a programme entitled "Great Sportsmanship Through the Ages" would you? You'd be more likely to find something worthy of inclusion from Nero or Caligula!

But this was it, this was the great exception to the irrefutable rule that all Argies are cheating b******s on a football field (except for Tevez whilst he was at West Ham of course!). Scaloni did the sporting thing, Scaloni played the ball into touch so an opponent could be treated! And how did Liverpool respond, by ramming down the bemused Scaloni's throat his silly misconception that Brits believe in fair play. Step forward Jamie The Cheat & Traitor Carragher to give an instruction NOT to throw the ball behind for a goal kick at the restart but to throw it to Scaloni and press him. Poor guy, suddenly, as the ball arrived at his feet, he remembered the Belgrano! But too late son, too late! The torpedo was already being armed. Scaloni thumped the ball forward, Gerrard swung his boot and...well the rest is history.

Best Cup Final Goal ever? Best example of bad sportsmanship more like. If you want the greatest Cup Final goal ever, what about Brooking's stunning stooping header?

We know you support Spurs Part 2 - Mr Vitout on Downpipe

(The following post has been tendered for submission. I have tidied some of the high frequency spelling errors (their, you're etc) and added capital letters and apostrophes where required, but have left the stylized phonetic spellings and the occasional examples of regional dialect. I have removed the f and c words, using flippin where appropriate and git as a replacement for the c word. I have also substitute Spuds for the Y word. Because the original post was so long, I have broken it into manageable chunks which I will post in stages.)

Part 2

What you said about Davenport is out of order. The boy was huge against Chelsea. He got in so many blocks you moron. We only let in one goal in that game against a top 4 team away from home.

You go on about the goals we let in when Davenport played but there were 10 others on the pitch. I don't see you calling Upson crap because he played against West Brom.

So what we let in 4 against Cardiff. Davenport was young then. Look at who was in defence with him. Brevett, Repka and Mullins. My son's under 10 team could score 4 against those 3. But you put all the blame on Davenport. Twat. You go on about the Tottenham game but Callum was only a sub in that one. Get your facts straight before you spout off you git. Against Charlton the whole team was shit. Charlton were really up for that one. Pardew wanted his own back cos we sacked him. That wasn't Davenport's fault was it you tosser. He wasn't even at the club when Pardew was sacked. Your mate Pardew signed him first remember. But you put all the blame on Curbishley.

You don't talk about how good Davenport is up front do you. What about the goal against Blackburn. We missed that over the last two months of the season. We weren't a threat at corners without Davenport.

You go on about stats but stats don't play matches do they. So what about the past. Just because we let in nearly two goals every time Davenport plays. It doesn't mean we always will. Pillock.

Davenport is getting better. He was at the Spuds and everyone knows the Spuds ruin players. We can make him an England centre half. He would be in the squad now if he was at a top 4 side. Look at Green. England's obvious number one but Capello don't pick him. Look at Upson being dropped to let back that tosser Terry and Rio. Top 4 closed shop. Davenport is much better than that tosser Terry. Cole is only in the squad because there's no English strikers with the top 4 clubs. That and the fact he is ex Chelsea.

It's great if nobody wants Davenport because then we keep him. OK he has to apologise to Zola. He was a git to mouth off about Gianfranco but he got six months in Sunderland for that. You get less for murder.

Get off Davenport's back. The guy broke his neck and we will break yours. You aint a Hammer. If you was a Hammer you would support our players. You're a Spud so called Hammersfan. Neck hurting yet? Reel it in. We have your number.

Lee Vitout

Thursday, 28 May 2009

So I was right, Bruce is getting the Sunderland job!

When I posted on Wednesday that Bruce was getting the Blunderland job, a host of Wearysiders replied that I was a twat, claiming I was wrong. I look forward to the Black Cats logging back on to my site and admitting they were wrong. It appears that, far from knowing F all about Sunderland, I do, in fact, know more than fans of the club!

I will reiterate, therefore, that Quinn humiliated Sbragia after the game on Sunday and that the choice of Bruce as the new manager is laughable. I go back to that fabulous quotation from Steve Bruce:

"I have always been a Newcastle lad and when I was a kid, I crawled under the turnstiles to get in to try and save a bob or whatever it was. They were my team, I went to support them as a boy and being a Geordie it's in-bred in you, you follow the club still the same today."

Downpipe Not Wanted By Sunderland!

Now there's a shock, having had the opportunity to see him in close up, even Blunderland don't want Callum Downpipe. They paid £6m for Linda and £8m for Anton, but it seems that twice bitten, thrice shy is the rule on Wearyside. The man once described by Le Tissier as the worst player EVER to wear a Southampton shirt is on his way back to Upton Park with his neck between his legs.

There are lots of so called EXPERTS on the org who will defend Downpipe and try to tell you how good he is, but his record speaks for itself. Downpipe has started 23 games for West Ham, 10 of which were in the Fizzy Pop, and we only kept clean sheets in two of them - against the mighty Rotherham and Wolves. Callum was in our defence when we shipped 4 goals against Cardiff, Charlton and Spurs, and 3 against Man City and West Brom. We even lost a goal at home to Macclesfield. In total we conceded 38 goals in the matches that featured Callum, meaning we need to score twice to get a point when he is in the side.

What do we do with him now? Zola clearly doesn't want him and Davenport has told the world he won't be at West Ham next season. What a mess! Another cock up we can chalk down to Turds!

New Owner Revealed

I believe I have followed a trail to discover just who the new owner of West Ham is. Firstly, let's go back a stage or two to set the scene. It has been openly discussed in the media that Straumur Burdaras and a consortium of banks that BG borrowed from, have got together in order to acquire West Ham. So how does that work?

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson bought West Ham with loans from the Icelandic investment bank, Straumur Burdaras and then he injected a further £30m borrowed from other banks. Straumur were a well run bank but got into trouble when the Icelandic economy drove over a cliff and many of their investments went bust including the £85m borrowed from them by BG's holding company Hansa, for him to buy West Ham.

Straumur Burdaras are currently in moratorium themselves. The moratorium is not bankruptcy, administration or nationalisation but merely provides for a 'breathing space' during which Straumur's management can restructure its financial position under the supervisory eye of the Financial Supervisory Administration (FSA) in Iceland. The credit crunch saw Straumur lose 700 million Euros last year but they were only very marginally insolvent by around €20m and the big straw that broke their back was the £85m owed by BG's holding company Hansa.

The moratorium process expires on 11 June 2009 and by that date, a newly structured Straumur will be up and running on approval from Iceland's FSA board who will then step down. A completely new, self-financing business plan which includes the asset of West Ham United, instead of the whopping great hole of a bad debt of £85m in their accounts. Two weeks ago Straumur announced that they had sold their shares in eQ Bank in Finland for just over €37 million further improving their liquidity situation.

It seems a strange decision to us in the UK, that a bank should invest in and run businesses. It just doesn't happen here but Straumur Burdaras have a history of acquiring and running businesses very successfully. For example, their ownership of eQ Bank that they just sold. A few months earlier they acquired a retail furniture chain in Denmark. Just this week, it was announced that they financed a management buy-out of London based H&B Foods, a large speciality cheese wholesaler and supplier in the UK with a near £80m turnover. A spokesman for Straumur Burdaras said: “The Cheese Company will be profitable from day one. We agreed to help finance the deal because we believe in the management’s vision for the business and its future prospects. We are delighted that PHA Media are advising us on all aspects of our communications strategy”. What and/or who is PHA Media I hear you say?

Well, Phil Hall was West Ham's Communications Director until he resigned his directorship last year. His problem was that as a successful owner of PHA Media (Phil Hall Associates Media), he had a fear of getting struck off from holding any directorships should problems arise with West Ham's finances. That was one of the things that alerted me to the possibility that BG was up to his old, fraudulent shenanigans. Phil Hall remained as an advisor to West Ham but stopped sitting in on board meetings as a director. Another director resigned at the same time for the same reasons.

Phil Hall's clients includes – West Ham United still, Portsmouth FC, Carlos Tevez, Kia Joorabchian, Manchester City, Paul Gascoigne and Avram Grant! Now there are some names to conjure with. Joorabchian is our transfer consultant? He was also involved in trying to get Kaka to go to Manchester City for £100m in January. Portsmouth have just been sold to an Arabian billionaire who admits to having discussed the possibility of buying West Ham before opting for Portsmouth. A strange set of coincidences that doesn't end there.

At the moment Straumur are being run by an Icelandic government appointed committee but the owners of Straumur are devising the strategy to get them back up and running on a self-financing basis. On June 11 when Straumur comes out of moratorium, the directors of Straumur will return and effectively they will be the ones that are to run West Ham! One of them will almost certainly be our new chairman.

According to the shareholder list from Straumur's website, Samson Global Holding are Straumur's largest shareholders. The main owner of Samson Global Holding is -

Bjorgolfur Thor Björgolfsson - Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's son!

BG also has shares in Samson but the company is mostly owned by Bjorgolfur Thor who was also Straumur's Chairman before the Icelandic government's intervention. Thor does not have a criminal record for fraud like his father has and I have heard that he has become an avid West Ham fan so he cannot be all bad! He is also the Chairman of Actavis, a pharmaceuticals giant involved all around the world so he was a very much richer man than his father was . Whether he is still very rich or not is another matter.

So BG is to no longer be our Chairman but guess what? His son Thor probably will be any time soon!


We know you support Spurs

(The following post has been tendered for submission. I have tidied some of the high frequency spelling errors (their, you're etc) and added capital letters and apostrophes where required, but have left the stylized phonetic spellings and the occasional examples of regional dialect. I have removed the f and c words, using flippin where appropriate and git as a replacement for the c word. I have also substitute Spuds for the Y word. Because the original post was so long, I have broken it into manageable chunks which I will post in stages.)

You call yourself a Hammer, you aint no Hammer and me and the bruvs have your number. You're a flippin secret Spud and this is a Spud site. End of. The sooner News Now kick you on to the Spuds board the better.

I bet you aint even been to the East End. I bet you aint eaten pie and mash or jellied eels. You wont of eaten cockles and winkles cos they aint kosher. I bet you don't have any tats either. I have an ICF tat on my right calf, a Bobby Moore tat on my back, WHTID over my heart and COYI on my right arm. I bet you aint got any. I bet you're scared of the pain. Unless you've got COYS. I bet you're gay. I bet you've never been to the Boleyn and I bet you think we play in Green Lanes not Green Street you Spud git. I sit in the Bobby Moore Lower and I aint never seen you in the ground.

Look what you and Billywanksy who is you anyways have wrote about BG. What a load of bollox. You know jack shit about business. You aint never been a trader. My mate who used to work for a bank in China says what BG has done is normal. He says companies always change their accounting periods and you show yourself a flippin git for not knowing that. My mate says that the main reason would be to put off paying tax on big profits. You said it was cos we was bust well it is the reverse you twat. If you knew anythink you'd know that you don't pay tax before you have to. BG is just doing what any clued up business geezer would do. You write crap about BG being bust but what do you know? You haven't seen his bank statements. You just swallow the crap in the papers but every real Hammer knows that the press have got it in for us. The press is run by Jews what support the Spuds. Everyone knows that. There's no way BG is bust. Do you know how much he had when he took over the club. There's no way all that has gone just two years later you twat. How much did we get for Bellamy - £14m. And Ferdinand - 8m. And McCartney - £6m. And Pants and Z man - £6m. Add that lot together and that's lots of millions. Like I said we have held back the accounts to save paying tax. My mate says so and he was a trader. And anyway BG owns a bank you twat. He can just take more money out of his bank whenever he wants can't he.

Calling Curbishley Turds is well out of order. AC is a West Ham legend. He played for the club you plank. He loves West Ham. He didn't walk out on the club as you claim. The club sold him to Birmingham when we was relegated. That wasn't Curbishley's fault. Players are sold when clubs are relegated. You don't know he wanted to go. You never spoke to him did you. Players don't always want to go when they request transfers. Sometimes it is just a way of showing they want to be in the team. I bet Alan was really upset when we sold him to Birmingham. He was supposed to be a future England player so why would he want to go to Birmingham. Again you prove yourself a twat. He did a great job as our manager. He saved us from relegation. The Great Escape was brilliant. And then the next season he took us to tenth. He always said we was consolidating that season. And we finished above Spurs. He made some brilliant signings. Upson, Parker (player of the year), Neill, Bellamy (£6m profit), Dyer (he will be brilliant when fit). You hate him because you're a Spud. AC is a West Ham fan. End of. And you aint.

You are right out of order with Ashton calling him Beano and saying he is fat and lazy. Just because he said he likes pizza. I like pizza so what. He is the best striker in England no question. The only way we can win the World Cup is if Deano is fit and firing. His injuries aren't his fault. He didn't ask for a broken ankle did he you twat. Next season Deano will be ever present and will score 20 goals. But if you have your way he will do it for the Spuds. That's your game isnt it. Unsettle the squad through this blog. Make Deano think we don't want him so he asks for a transfer and the Spuds sign him. You did it with Bellamy. All that crap about calling him Bellyache. Then in comes a bid from the Spuds. What a surprise. I bet Redknapp is paying you to write this crap isn't he. That's it isn't it. Well the Board wouldn't have it would they. We aint selling to the Spuds any more. We know what you are up to so called Hammersfan. You're an attention seeking whore and we have your number.

Lee Vitout

(To be continued).

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Man Utd Mullered

How refreshing. After the first fifteen minutes the Mancs weren't in the game. Don't get me wrong, as a Brit I started the game cheering them on, but by half time I had accepted the inevitable; Barcelona were much the better team.

It was interesting how rigid Ferguson and the Mancs were in their tactics. Why didn't Rooney and Ronaldo swap positions? Why was Rooney never once moved inside? Barcelona controlled the midfield and Giggs looked past his best. The alternative, Scholes, looked no better. Is this the first crack in the temple? Carrick sprayed a few good passes but he was the only creative hub in the Manc's midfield.

O'Shea? Ordinary and offered nothing going forward. Vidic? Not world class on this showing. Why were Messi and Iniesta allowed so much space in midfield? Is Fletcher THAT important now? Chelsea suffocated Barcelona; Ferguson's tactics gave them the freedom of the park!

Hubris is a killer. Ferguson and the Mancs were too cocky tonight and got their come uppence. Well done Barca! A team in Claret and Blue are Champions of Europe! One day!

A Prison in Dagenham? Outrageous!

What the hell? They are building a prison in Dagenham! What a waste of money! Don't build a prison IN Dagenham, build a bloody great wall AROUND the town!

Bruce is Sunderland's New Big Man!

Well, listening to Niall Quinn as he humiliated Sbragia on Sunday, I had visions of Blunderland appointing a top continental manager or a really clever choice like Jol or Woy Hodgeson. But no, Niall was anxious to elbow Sbragia aside in order to appoint...Steve Bruce!

It suddenly all makes sense doesn't it? Blunderland need a top manager to take them to the next level, a man experienced at spending big transfer budgets and managing top players with huge egos. They need a man who has achieved regular finishes in the top half of the Premiership and a record of winning trophies. So the obvious candidate is clearly...Steve Bruce!

Yes Steve Bruce! You know, the guy who took Birmingham down once and who would have led them to relegation a second time if he hadn't jumped ship to Wigan like the rat that he clearly is! Yes, the same Steve Bruce, whose Wigan's side was in pole position to qualify for Europe at the beginning of February before they fell away pathetically to finish 8 points off seventh place. The same Steve Bruce who cannot manage Zaki and who has had falls outs with other "big name" players over the years. And the same Steve Bruce who supports...Newcastle United!

Perhaps they should put up a welcoming banner at the Stadium of Enlightenment, carrying this delicious quotation from the new Big Man to replace the loyal and devoted Ricky Sbragia:

"I have always been a Newcastle lad and when I was a kid, I crawled under the turnstiles to get in to try and save a bob or whatever it was. They were my team, I went to support them as a boy and being a Geordie it's in-bred in you, you follow the club still the same today."

Blunderful, absolutely Blunderful!

The Way Forward - Teamwork and Organisation is Not Enough

Debate has raged over whether or not Scott Parker was the right choice for Hammer of the Year. Whether you are in the Parker camp or not, most would agree that there were a number of players with claims as good, almost as good, or slightly better. Green has his supporters as do Ilunga, Upson, Neill, Behrami and Cole. That is 7 of the first choice 11. Add in Collison as a nailed on cert for young Hammer and you have 8 of the first team who deserve a Player of the Year Award. Have there ever been so many worthy of the award?

What does this tell us? Well, basically, we were a team without superstars last season, but a star team despite this. Our success was not based on world class ability on the pitch but first class organisation of our playing resources. The genuine stars, Ashton and Dyer, barely made it onto the pitch.

Enormous credit is due here to Steve Clarke. He really has drilled the team superbly, getting them to play as a unit. However, the paucity of goals and the vulnerable under belly of a thin squad (exposed so cruelly by Liverpool and Everton) indicate the dangers of this policy. With confidence high, the team clicked as a unit, but should the fixture schedule give us, for example Man Utd, Liverpool and Tottenham as our first three games of next season, then just as with Pardew's team, our confidence could be holed beneath the waterline by a poor start and, without true match winning stars, we may then lack the inspiration to turn things around.

The truth is, we are a good team which, as a unit, is better than the sum of its parts. Di Michele, Tristan, Kovac and Boa-Morte in the same team? We will hopefully look back in years to come and shake our heads at the thought of it. That subs bench in recent weeks? It is frightening to think too long about it! Yes it is great to have the kids coming through but we are in danger of hurting their long term development by expecting too much of them too early.

Now Nani really does have to earn his corn. He has been praised for his signings but, in truth, only two of them - Behrami and Ilunga - have been proven successes so far. What about Lopez, Lastpickeva, Kovac, Di Michele, Tristan and the kids who seem to be developing at a slower rate than our own home grown talent? If 'Arry had signed that lot, the fans would not be terming it a brilliant transfer policy but an A1 cock up. And, of course, the jury is very much out on young Savio. He may be a wonderkid but did we need a wonderkid in January, or did we need a ready made replacement for Bellyache?

This is going to be a very interesting close season. What will be the strategy? Dare we cash in on either Parker or Upson? What will we do with Ashton? What about maintaining the English contingent in the side? Are we going to muddle through with loan signings of dubious quality again or are we going to invest in the future? This is a pivotal time for us. We finished in mid table again, just one place and two points better off than under Curbishley. We actually scored less goals under Zola than under Turds. Not many of the teams above us will do worse next season - Fulham perhaps - but a few beneath us will be looking to progress - Man City, Sunderland and Blackburn. We urgently need to strengthen to move forward; hoping that Dyer and Ashton will be rebuilt is not a sensible policy.

The teamwork and organisation were great this year but that can only take you so far. There may be no i in team, but there is in Winners and Champions. Now we need inspiration if we are to push to the next level. Who is going to provide it?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

West Ham insolvent as long ago as May 2008? Have the books been cooked?

Today is a day I have been looking forward to for 6 months. Not because it is the end of season but because today is the day our club is due to file its annual accounts for the period to end of May 2008. Yes, that's the year's accounts to end of 2007/8 season which were due to be filed at the end of November 2008!

Our board took a decision to delay that filing for some strange reason and used a little known rule designed to help companies changing their accounting year, to take a 3 months delay. We changed our accounting period by a cynical 3 days from 31st May 2008 to 28th May 2008 which meant the accounts did not have to be filed until 28th February 2009.

For some unknown reason at 28th February 2009 we changed our accounting year again from ending 28th May 2008 to 25th May 2008! Still following this? It meant our revised date allowed us to file another 3 months late on 25th May 2009.

That's why I was looking forward to finding out what had happened with our club's finances during BG's failing business empire's rapid decline. Yes you've guessed it! We have now changed our accounting period a third time and the year ended May 2008 now finishes on 22nd May giving us yet another 3 months delay in filing to 22nd August 2009! That's 1 year and 9 months after the year to May 2008 finished and 9 months overdue.

BG does not want us to see what has happened to the club's finances! Why? There are three possibilities I can think of:-

1) We made a huge profit and BG does not want our creditors to get their hands on it!
2) BG put our club finances in his bank Landsbanki which has failed and is hoping we'll get something back from the Iceland government before the fans find out.
3) BG has taken a lot of money out West Ham to bolster up his failed empire and doesn't fancy being strung up by fans when it comes out.
4) We were technically insolvent at the end of May 2008. By deferring filing our accounts by 9 months it gives the club time to make a profit in the current financial year and get us out of having to go into administration.

Does anyone else have a suggestion why?


Lastpickeva on his way; and so is Kovac!

No tears from me at the news that Jan Lastuvka will return to Shakhtar Donetsk after a year-long loan spell at West Ham. The guy never played in the Premiership, fortunately, but did play a major role in our exit from the League Cup at Watford. Quite why Green needed to be rested from that game, I do not understand, but the decision was costly. Lastpickeva came for a corner, flapped, touched it onto Mullins and the ball rebounded into an empty net. Hopeless! My old mate Old Skool Pete will tell you about the "world class save" Lastuvka made in the first half but, in truth, it was fairly regulation - good height and protecting the near post. I certainly would not quibble at the judgement that £2.6m is too much much the guy, especially as Stech is apparently impressing.

The rumour that we will not meet the valuation for Kovac is more worrying, however. I am not totally convinced about Kovac but he has certainly earned his corn in the recent injury ravaged months. We definitely need an understudy for Parker, given his injury blighted track record, and Kovac has not disgraced himself. Let's see who Nani has up his sleeve.

Unless, of course, the bankers are dictating transfer policy. Hopefully it is down to translation problems but I don't like the sound of Lastuvka's claim that, "Zola said that he would have liked to have me in his squad next season, but the club cannot afford to pay so much for me." Hmmmmmm.

Vote for the Best West Ham Pass of 2008-09

Watching that Cole goal against Boro got me thinking about the best pass played by a West Ham player during the 2008-09 season. Now I have a pretty good memory but it is perfectly possible that I have forgotten a beauty; if so, please let me know and I will add it to the list. For me the leading contenders are:

Scott Parker: A lovely ball slipped into the channel for Bellamy to score against Newcastle. It was beautifully weighted and played through the eye of a needle, setting Bellamy up for a one on one with the keeper - and Period Pains tucked it away beautifully.

Herita Ilunga: Same game, this time for Carlton's sublime finish. I'm not sure how much this was genius and how much speculation but the end result was stunning. Cole looked an England striker for the first time as he stepped up onside then rolled off the Newcastle defenders a fraction of a second after Ilunga delivered the pass from just inside the half way line. Cole was five yards clear of his marker and the ball sat up like a Moore pass to Hurst. The left footed half volley finish from Cole was classic.

Luis Boa-Morte: The first of two Boa entries which makes you stop and think for a moment! The ball played across to Stanislas for the kid's first finish was nothing short of brilliant. Boa is often rightly accused of tunnel vision but this pass was worthy of Cruyff, Maradonna and Zidane. How did he spot Stanislas? How did he thread that pass so accurately? Stunning. Unless it was a shot of course! ; }

Carlton Cole: This was in his come back game against Everton and showed what we have all been missing. Cole collected the ball in the centre circle and, in a flash, delivered a sublime pin pointed pass into the path of the on rushing...Luis Boa Morte. Boa had a clear path to goal but, of course, failed to convert. Should this count against Cole's candidacy? It was a beautiful pass...but then again, should he have seen it was Boa and so not bothered?

Di Michele and others: The goal against Wigan. Di Michele had two touches in the pin ball passing that put Cole through. It was a fantastic goal but does any one of the passes stand up in its own right? Can we have a team nomination?

Boa and Ilunga: Either of these qualify in their own right as the icing on the cake of a sometimes brilliant season. The first goal against Boro had me drooling. Boa held the ball up then delivered a perfect pass inside the full back for Ilunga. Herita then spotted Cole in space and delivered a pin point cross. Stunning goal and a lovely finish from Cole by the way!

Have I forgotten a beauty? Which one would you call as the Pass of the Year?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Sheffield United To Launch New Legal Action

Following their failure to secure promotion to the Premiership via the backdoor of the play offs, Sheffield United are investigating the possibility of new legal actions to compensate for their extended stay in the Championship. The £20m already agreed with West Ham was designed to compensate for the initial demotion and a further season's stay outside of the Premiership; however, with today's failure to secure a return to the land of milk and honey, the Sheffield United board are now pursuing new legal avenues.

A source close to the club said: "West Ham are ultimately responsible for today's defeat. We were stripped of a number of our key players following relegation who would undoubtedly have secured victory for us today. The settlement agreed out of court may be regarded as binding as far as West Ham are concerned but we believe otherwise."

But West Ham are not the only club sweating on a legal ruling. The source continued: "We are seeking to overturn the decision to promote Burnley. It seems self evident that the team promoted should be the one that ends up with the most points over a season. We finished above Burnley and the playoffs are an illogical contrivance. We will be using the precedent of the Premiership to prove our case. Chelsea are not in a play off with Villa for a place in the Champions League are they? Chelsea have qualified based on their league position. What holds for the Premiership should apply to the teams seeking promotion to the Premiership. We are confident of proving this point in a court of law."

The scorer of the winning goal, Wade Elliot, is also in the frame. The source continued: "We are investigating a third party agreement in relation to Mr Elliot. If our information is correct, it appears that Mr Elliot is either married or committed to a member of the female sex. We have a sworn affidavit which states that, in the event of his partner giving birth on the day of a game, Mr Elliot would be deselected from the team. This is clearly a Third Party Agreement in breach of FA rules."

Referee Mike Dean also faces a compensation claim. Controversy centres on the decision to send off Jamie Ward for a "deliberate hand ball" and the failure to award two penalties to Sheffield United. The spokesman said: "Ward was seeking a hypothetical advantage when handling the ball. To exact punishment for a hypothetical is absurd. The failure to award the penalties is clearly a dereliction of duty on the part of Dean. He is a cheating bastard, end of. We will make him pay!"

The final plank in the legal action centres on Burnley's club colours. The spokesman finished by saying: "It has not escaped our attention that Burnley wear claret and blue. Our lawyers have investigated the precedent of the Tollpuddle Martyrs and it is self evident that there is an illegal secret association here. Tevez may not have played for Burnley today but he was there in spirit. We are confident that, not only will we be compensated and promoted to the Premiership, but West Ham will be transported to Australia. Their captain, Lucas Neill, will help them settle somewhere in the Outback."

No Class In Sunderland.

How badly was the sacking of Ricky Sbragia handled by Blunderland? I know they are claiming he resigned but Quinn couldn't stop himself from saying it was by "mutual agreement"; in other words, he was given the loaded gun and told to pull the trigger.

Poor Sbragia was stripped of all dignity as Quinn towered above him and damned him with faint praise in the post match interview. Basically the "job for life" amounts to a glorified scouting role as Quinn seeks a "bigger" man for the manager's job. Sbragia was fighting back the tears as Quinn spouted off and I am not surprised. He had just "saved" the Black Cats from the drop and here was his boss, utterly humiliating him on national TV.

Now I'm not saying Sbragia was the right man for the job but I am saying he deserved a little more respect than he was afforded. Why the rush? Why couldn't the announcement have been made today or tomorrow rather than in the immediate aftermath of the match? That was cruel and heartless and downright shoddy. He didn't create the mess at Sunderland, that was down to Keane, yet Keane was allowed to walk when he wanted and was not humiliated on national TV by Quinn. But then Keane and Quinn were mates weren't they?

Parker was the wrong choice.

Scott Parker has been chosen as the Hammer of the Year but he is the wrong choice and his triumph just illustrates that democracy is a ridiculous way of determining a meritocracy. Why?

Well, to begin, Parker has only started 31 games this season and only completed 21 of those. Now, I suppose, in a season where Giggs gets Player of the Year despite only starting 11 Premiership games, this may be considered by some to be reasonable, but it isn't in my book. Upson has started 41 games, Ilunga 39, Green 43 and Neill 37. Needless to say, none of these four have been withdrawn early anywhere near as often as Parker. So, in terms of minutes on the pitch, Parker is the wrong choice. And making it out there in the first place, and then staying on the pitch for the 90 minutes, is a pre-requisite of being able to influence a game. Parker's 21 completed games in a season of 44 games is not good enough for a nominee, never mind winner, of Hammer of the Year.

Then there is the question of performances. Now I am not denigrating Parker's ability but I have to question whether he was our most EFFECTIVE player this season. One stat that undermines his claims is the return of just one goal all season. Now I accept that he is the "holding" midfield player but that return is not good enough. Our biggest problem this season has been our failure to score enough goals and Parker is a major factor here. Not only has he not scored, he seems to have had an allergic reaction to getting into the box. That puts a much bigger burden of responsibility on the other players to score and their games have suffered as a result. We need Parker to be chipping in with five goals a season - not a huge amount but a par performance for a Premiership midfield player. Parker has been found seriously wanting here.

And I wonder how many "assists" he has too. I bet it's not many you know. I don't have the stats to hand but the goal creators in my mind have been Cole, Bellamy, Di Michele, Noble, Ilunga and Collison. I may be wrong here but I'd have quite a bit of money on Parker having no more than three or four assists all season. If I'm right, that is a pathetic return for a player who is supposed to be England quality. That has been a problem for us this season - our two best midfielders, Parker and Behrami, have offered more defensively than offensively.

Then there is Parker's disciplinary record. He has only completed 21 games but he has still managed to pick up 8 yellow cards and, to be honest, he should have seen red against Wigan. Over a full season, that return would see him picking up two suspensions.

Ilunga, Upson, Green and Cole all had much stronger claims for Hammer of the Year in my book. Democracy? Highly over rated in my opinion. Just ask the people of Iraq!

Thank God for Tottenham, Newcastle, Stoke and Fulham.

So it is all over and as I look back over nine months of action and then look at the Premiership table, one haunting question occurs, "What was the point?" All that effort, all that money spent and the Premiership table is almost exactly as any pundit without a club affiliation would have predicted before the season kicked off.

If I go back to my own predictions, Villa failed to break into the top 4 but that was always hope more than expectation, a desperate desire to see the Arsenal-Chelsea-Liverpool-Man Utd monopoly broken. As it was, they had a pretty good shot at doing it and added some spice to the top of the table for half a season. Yes they faded but that shows the danger of European football with a thin squad - Everton and Fulham beware!

The Mancs were an easy call to win the title, especially after the appointment of Scolari. I said that one would end in tears, predicting he would be sacked before Christmas. Not a bad forecast but you didn't have to be a genius to call it. Liverpool and Arsenal ending up trophy-less were also easy enough to predict.

Down at the bottom, I called relegation to be between the three promoted clubs and Boro. Although I thought Fulham might also struggle.

Look at the rest of the table. Every team outside of the four identified in the title are exactly where you would have expected them to be. Everton in the top 5/6; anybody surprised? West Ham just inside the top 10; just as we expected? Man City in mid table; that was always on the cards, big cash injection or not. And so it goes on.

Fulham have surprised us and so have Stoke, which is why I called Woy and Pullis as leading contenders for Manager of the Season. Newcastle and Tottenham, meanwhile have underperformed. Although I bet on Newcastle to go down at Christmas, I didn't see it coming back in August. And Tottenham? Well, before the sale of Barbietop and Keane, I was expecting them, along with Villa, to push hard for a top 4 slot.

And the point of this post? If the division becomes too predictable, interest will inevitably decline. What's the point of playing a 38 game season if only 4 teams are going to finish in surprising positions?

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Newcastle, Middlesboro, Sunderland, Hull and West Brom ALL RELEGATED!

So, it is scenes of dejection on Tyneside and from deep inside the smog, whilst they dance in the streets of Sunderland and Hull; but let's just get things into perspective. Needing a result to guarantee Premiership survival, THEY ALL LOST on the final day. How pathetic is that?

Newcastle will bemoan their luck and put it all down to a cruel deflection but that is absurd. Second half they didn't threaten; there wasn't a single moment when I thought, hang on, this could get interesting. Not with a bang but a whimper? They didn't even manage a whimper! It was a shameful performance - utterly clueless, gutless, passionless, call it what you will. No spunk? No bleeding testicles more like! I have seen some inept West Ham performances in my time but I have NEVER seen us look so inept and so devoid of passion in such an important game. And yet the carTOON Army were still chanting Shearer's name at the end! Personally, I feel cheated. I expected an afternoon of high drama but in the end I was struggling to stay awake. How bad is this Newcastle team? Or how bad is Shearer as a manager? Will he walk away now? That would probably be for the best for Newcastle but how gutless will he then appear? He arrived Teflon coated; now he is covered in shite whatever his decision!

But how sad is it to see Sunderland and Hull celebrating? How desperate is that? Hull - one win in 22 games! If any club did their best to keep another in the division, it was Hull City. Brown had better keep hold of that microphone - he should be a club singer based on the last 22 matches!

And Sunderland? Never mind today, look at their surrender at Portsmouth. How much did Keane spend to build that team? Ipswich must be off their trolleys to give him the manager's job. He has a screw loose and has as much financial acumen as a director of HBOS.

Hull survive with 35 points. That says it all. Sunderland survive with 37, one less than the recognised safety line. In truth they have all been relegated. They are ALL crap and an embarrassment to the Premiership.

And amazingly, given how inept Hull and Sunderland are, Shearer and Newcastle have still contrived to be relegated and keep their rivals up! Comic book stuff from the carTOON comedians!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Hammer of the Year and Swollen Thumb of the Year

I know the official result will be announced tomorrow but we won't all agree with that. And anyway, they don't present the equivalent of a wooden spoon award: "The Swollen Thumb" goes to the Hammer who missed the mark and provoked the "Oh F***!" reaction most over the season!

I could reveal my choices but it might be interesting to hear the views of others first. So, two nominations please, one for the Hammer of the Year, with justifications, and one for the Swollen Thumb of the Year, without the expletives please!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Anybody else want Millwall to win?

I know we are supposed to hate Millwall, I know the history between the clubs, I know that there is a contemptible element amongst their fan base, I know Green Street The Movie has filled the heads of impressionable idiots with thoughts of urban warfare, but I, for one, will be cheering Millwall on in the playoff final against Scunthorpe.

Why? Well Millwall are a London club for starters. I always favour the London clubs in a head to head against our northern brethren. Then there is the relative status of the two clubs. Millwall are a Championship club, but Scunthorpe, bless them, belong in the old division three. In fact, ask nine out of ten fans where Scunthorpe is and they won't be able to tell you. Have they ever won anything? I doubt it. Ever got close to the top division? Probably not. OK that is a form of football snobbery I suppose but I am a traditionalist. I hate Leeds United but it feels wrong for them to be in the old Division Three. I was so pleased to see Leicester bounce back at the first attempt and I hate the idea of Southampton being down there next season.

For me, Millwall is Derek Possee and Harry Cripps, players I loved before anybody told me that I was supposed to hate them because they played for the hated Millwall. I like Danny Baker and would love to see Millwall win the playoff just for him. Millwall are also Sherringham and Cascerino for me and although I was old enough by then to feel the rivalry, I couldn't help but admire those two as a strike force.

So, I hope Millwall prevail and get back to where they belong, in the second tier of English football. I don't want them climbing any higher of course, the Premiership needs Millwall like Brown needs another bad headline, but let them taste a little bit of glory!

Are we about to see a clear out?

Sears is going out on loan, Widdowson has gone, Di Michele, Neill and Tristan are out of contract, Davenport and Bowyer want out, Ashton may be up for sale, Upson looked less than committed against Everton - are we about to see a summer clear out at Upton Park? And is there money to replace them?

The squad is already too thin as has been illustrated over the last two months and certainly cannot sustain mass defections on the scale that is indicated above. It may be paper talk, of course, but if we really are looking to offload Beano then that is worrying. What sort of price could we expect to command for him at the moment? Surely we would have to sell him as part of the government's "Trade in a banger" deal? How about we advertise him for sale and offer to throw in his wheelchair and recliner chair for nothing? Who in their right minds would risk serious money on a player who has barely kicked a ball for 12 months? Well unless Curbishley gets a job of course!

The Mirror claims that we haven't risked playing Beano for fear of him breaking down yet again and so lowering his price. That must be redtop bullshit I hear you scream, but do you remember Zola saying a few weeks back that he hoped to see Beano playing before the end of the season? I scoffed at the suggestion at the time, saying that the pizza charged one would only play when he was good and ready, but presumably there was a chance of it happening for Zola to say it? I just wonder if Zola and Clark have decided that Ashton's attitude stinks and actually want to offload him.

The possible departure of Upson is a massive concern. He has been the rock of our defence and Tomkins has benefited hugely from playing alongside him. Even Downpipe looked capable alongside Matty. I understand the argument about big money for an aging player with a patchy injury record but Upson's Yellow pages stuffed boots will be hard ones to fill, which is why Wenger is reputed to want him. Should we lose BOTH Upson and Neill, our defence will be stripped of the pragmatism that has stood us in such good stead this season. Neither are brilliant but both have played the percentages well and led by example. Collins is not a replacement for Upson and Spector certainly will not fill Neill's right back berth, never mind his leadership boots.

God knows who is going to play up front with Cole if Ashton moves his BUPA membership to another employer. Zola surely isn't kidding himself that either Di Michele or Tristan can do the job? He has seen through Sears, he must have got Laurel and Hardy's number by now! We can't afford to be in another fine mess next season hoping that either of these two comedians will hit the back of the net more than once a month between them. And don't get me onto Dyer. He will train through the summer and pull up lame a week before the season kicks off won't he?

Now let's assume the worst for a moment - Ashton, Upson, Bowyer, Davenport and Neill all go. What would we get for them? Ashton? £9million would be a very dangerous punt in my view. Upson? Wenger hasn't got a lot to spend. I doubt we would get more than £9m for him either. Bowyer? Probably a free. Neill? Out of contract so nothing. Davenport? Maybe £2million if we are lucky. That's just £20 million and we would need a quality centre-back, a right back, three forwards and another midfield player. Looked at like that, it is bloody worrying!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

No Nails In Newcastle

How nervous must the Toons fans be this week? I well remember the prolonged agony of the Great Escape - the surge of hope that accompanied a victory and the agony of doubt that followed a defeat. Remember the despair after the 3-0 thumping at the Blunted Blades and the 4-1 reverse at home to Chelsea? Remember dreaming of the impossible after that 3-0 romp away to Wigan and the 3-1 home victory over Bolton?

But nothing compared with that final week: the long, protracted stay of execution - the permutations and calculations and the fear of a deal done in a smoke filled room between Wigan and Shafting United. We had scaled an impossible mountain and our fingers were within touching distance of the peak, but the rope was frayed to the point where...well just thinking of the consequences made me feel physically sick, literally.

Like we were, Newcastle are the big boys in the race to avoid the drop. Boro? Hull? Like Sheffield United and Wigan, they are not really Premiership clubs. Their natural place is in the Championship, in the second tier of English football. But Newcastle? Love them or hate them, there's no denying that they belong at the top table.

There will be twists and turns on Sunday, just as there were on that wonderful day in May 2007. It seems very likely that the Mancs will take the lead at Hull, at which point a draw will be enough for the carToons. Hope will surge, the Geordies will find their voices, the players in black and white will sense that they are in the box seat if only they can keep Villa out...if only, if only they can keep Villa out. But as the need for a point becomes an imperative, so those Newcastle players will drop deeper and deeper, inviting Villa on. Owen will get a chance on the break and will probably hit the bar. News will come through, the Mancs have scored again and the Barcodes are safe if they can just hold on for that point. Five minutes remaining and Shearer signals for Owen to come off. Villa surge forward, Newcastle shrink back. Into extra time, and still they have the point, still they have the lifeline. And then... freekick just outside the box. Newcastle players complain, circle the ref, all to no avail. Harper forms his wall, hearts are in mouths, hands on testicles, fans can't watch, the result comes through from Hull, Manchester United have won 2-0, Barry stands over the freekick, so does Young...but standing five yards behind them is former Toon Milner...and it is written in the stars as his foot connects, bends the ball up and over the wall, dipping down and down, just inside the angle of post and bar, bulging the net...

We all know it is going to happen...especially those poor Geordies contemplating the gallows pole as the hours tick down, tick down, tick down, tick...down.

Offering Warnock A Helping Hand? You Cannot Be Serious!

So Freddie Sears may be heading for Crystal Palace! The irony of us entrusting a prized asset to the care of Neil Warnock is irresistible! Is this our way of settling Warnock's compo claim perhaps, gifting Old Big Knob a player who will shoot the Eagles into the Premier League?

Is Warnock really the man to develop Freddie? I can't think of anybody, except for Big Spam, Megson and Curbishley, who is further away from the West Ham and Zola philosophy on the game. Ball on the ground, neat interchanging of passes, a focus on ball retention, developing Neil Warnock really your man? I suppose it is a way of avoiding Sears having his leg broken in a game against Palace but, beyond that, I'm struggling to follow the logic. Maybe it is so he feels at home, playing in claret and blue, or perhaps the primary concern is to keep him in London.

Personally, I'd rather see him entrusted to West Brom where they play the game in the right way, even if it means relegation. Surely, if he is that good, the goal shy Baggies would love him?

West Ham helping out Warnock? It's kind of like the Americans arming Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden. Oh, hang on, that happened didn't it? Funny old world isn't it?

Lending Freddie to Warnock feels like entrusting your teenage son to the Catholic Church to me. Would you be happy for Neil to get his smutty paws on our kid striker?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

What's to be done with Lucash Neill?

Had you asked me that question at this stage of last season, my answer would have been unequivocal. 2007/08 was at best an indifferent season for Lucas. Time and again his lack of pace was exposed as opposition managers targeted the right hand flank of our defence. Neill compounded the problem by regularly going walk about and giving away the ball carelessly. Remember the thumping at Newcastle where Neill lost possession for the first Newcastle goal and was absent without leave when crosses came in from his flank for both the second and third goals? Remember the 2-0 reverse at the Emirates where the same pattern emerged? Remember Arsenal hitting pass after pass down our right flank at Upton Park, as Wenger pinpointed Neill as our weak link? (Ironically the goal came from a cross from the left but Neill failed to jump with Van Persie when he headed home.) Remember Neill diving in on the half way line for Ronaldo's headed goal at UP? (Poor Linda matched Ronaldo stride for stride as he raced into the box but was that vital half a yard short when the big head connected with the ball!)Remember Petrov skinning him alive at Upton Park? Remember the penalty against Birmingham? There were others but these stand out for me. Neill was becoming a liability and a blooming expensive one at that. Get rid I would have said.

But now? Well the judgement on whether or not to offer Lucas a new contract is on the back of him having had an impressive season. He has been a real leader on and off the pitch, standing up to Curbishley in a dressing room coup d'etat which precipitated Baggy Eye's departure as much as the sale of Linda, and standing tall on the pitch as player after player has been carried off to the casualty ward. Right back, centre back and central midfield, Neill has slotted in where he has been needed and acquitted himself well. He hasn't found an extra yard of pace of course, he just seems to be thinking more, that vicious tackle on Cattermole apart.

So what should the club do now? He will only get slower of course and anything longer than a one year contract on his current megabucks would be madness. But if we lose Neill, we lose more than the player: we lose a big man in the dressing room, a fantastic NCO who leads with pride and passion. He came for the money, he will probably leave for the money, but give Neill his due, he plays for the shirt!

Will he fancy an easy life on big money in Greece? Will he prefer less money but European football with Everton? Or can we keep him at Upton Park? I think Zola will need all his charm to pull it off. Money talks loudest for Neill, as was shown when he opted for us over Liverpool so I expect him to see his palms "greeced" in the coming weeks. And then the search for a right back and a captain begins!

So, should we stump up the necessary cash or let Lucas go?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Widdowson, Sears, Who's Next?

So Joe Widdowson has been snapped up by the mighty Grimsby and Freddie Sears is going to be farmed out on loan. Two of our bright young things, it seems, are not destined to lighten up the firmament of the Premiership after all.

Roll back the clock to December and posters were claiming an exciting future with West Ham for both. When I posted about the need for a left back understudy for Ilunga, indignant Hammers pointed out that we had Widdowson in reserve, a player who had acquitted himself superbly, apparently, in a game where we leaked three goals against the Canadian "All Stars". The fact that he was on loan to a team in the bottom division didn't seem to register as significant. Did it not occur to anybody that if he was that promising, he would have found a berth in a Championship squad? Apparently not! Those Claret & Blue specs really do result in myopic vision!

As for Sears, well according to the Bruvs on the Mordant Org, this was the guy to displace that "useless great lump", Carlton Cole. Even when Cole was banging in a goal a game, his detractors still insisted that he wasn't good enough and that Sears was a much better option. Quite what that belief was based upon (apart from blind hope), I have no idea. Yes Sears had exploded onto the scene with that first goal but since then...?

In truth Freddie has looked as potent as Parrot Face Davies. Not only is the kid lightweight, he also lacks basic ball control under pressure. The ball gets away from him far too easily, hitting off him rather than clinging lovingly to him. True quality players, whatever their age, look comfortable with the ball at their feet but Freddie seems more comfortable with it two or three feet away from him. In the Premiership, defenders just say, "Merci" and take the ball away from you; as Sears has repeatedly discovered. In fact, even away to Watford he looked out of his depth. Zola is talking about a loan but my money is on him ending up as a Championship player at best sadly.

Two down, how many others will follow? If Hines was going to make it, he would have had a run by now surely. I mean, it's not as if there has been a lot of competition for places up front is it? The same applies to Kyel Reid. As with Sears, I think both are short of physical presence and lack the special skill needed by a small man to succeed in what is becoming an increasingly physical Premiership. Look at Sears in that game against Boro. Up against Huth and Wheater, he looked like a rabbit in a fighting ring with two Irish Wolf Hounds. And remember, Huth and Wheater are the 'linchpins' in a defence destined to be relegated. What chance of Sears even succeeding in the Fizzy Pop therefore?

Sadly, and more provocatively perhaps, I fear Stanislas may go the same way. Like Sears he arrived with a bang, but have you honestly been impressed in recent weeks? I'm afraid I haven't. He hasn't been helped, of course, by being played on the left when naturally righted footed. That decision, whilst playing the left footed Boa on the right, has looked perverse to me. I await an explanation from Zola of the thinking behind it. I certainly don't think it has helped the lad.

Collison and Tomkins look the real deal and two gems are not to be sniffed at. But West Ham fans are desperate for Academy boys to succeed and, as a result, are perhaps too easily hoodwinked by a penny pinching Board. The sale of Bellamy was swallowed because we had the exciting Sears ready to step in. The failure to strengthen the squad in January, apart from the speculative punt on Savio, was tolerated because we had an exciting crop of kids coming through. But were the fans sold a line? Have we been duped into accepting second best?

Ward of Court

I can't see old West Ham favourite Mark Ward being offered a job by either the FA or the Liverpool Tourist Board anytime soon after his interview with the Independent. Unfortunately he didn't say "I adjusted to prison well because I'm used to taking hard tackles from behind" but he did claim that modern Premiership players mix with the criminal class on a daily basis. Well, I suppose that's true at West Ham given BG's history and Tottenham where the club captain could have a criminal record anytime soon (although 'Arry might be able to give him a few tips on how to stay one step ahead of the law!). And John Terry does have to see his Mum from time to time I suppose!

According to Ward, keeping your nose clean, when earning millions every year for playing the game most of us gladly play for nowt, is a very tricky business. He says, “It will be a rare day that a Premier League player can go from morning to night and not be introduced to or speak to somebody involved in the drugs trade or some other form of criminality."

Wow, that is quite a claim! So if I'm a policeman, I can forget staking out pubs in downtown Deptford and just put a tail on John Terry and company. Crimewatch will be scrapped soon, instead they can double up with Match of the Day and save airtime.

Mind you, the choicest quote relates to Liverpool. Pembleton mate, you should write to your wife's MP and complain because, according to Wardy, “That was true for me, especially growing up in Huyton on Merseyside where you socialise daily with people involved in crime." And there was me thinking it was only a stereotype!

Ever the optimist, Ward is now hoping to return to football in some capacity, but he admitted: “It’s going to take a big, strong man to give me another chance.” I guess he is talking about a gangster hood employed as a centre back for Liverpool FC then?

Arsenal are London's new Selling Club!

I found it very interesting to read that Arsene Wenger says that Arsenal need to sell a player every year to survive! That's amazing and no wonder he's thinking of heading for Real Madrid and the promise of a huge transfer budget! If it's true and I have no reason to believe that it isn't, it is a staggering fact. Today's Daily Mail reports - “Wenger, who reportedly met Perez (Real Madrid's President elect) on Tuesday, is at loggerheads with the Arsenal board over finances and they continue to clash over Danny Fiszman's claims that there is money available to spend on new players. In contrast, Wenger has consistently maintained that the club 'have to sell a player each summer to survive'.” It is an all too familiar tale that all clubs seem to allow their managers to take the wrap for boardroom decisions not to spend on transfers!

How staggering is it that a top 4 team attracting 60,000 gates every game and Champions League football every season for as long as I can remember, is in such a terrible state! Arsenal have apparently pushed themselves into debt over the building of their new stadium and it seems that Arsene is getting fed up with carrying the can for the Arsenal board's mistakes. I well remember all their chairman's assurances that the new stadium would not affect team building. It was clearly just another load of spin worthy of MP's denying their expenses are illegal!

The Arsenal board will no doubt argue that they are being prudent with over £350m in debts that must cost a massive £30+m every year just to pay off the interest! I always thought Wenger did not like signing senior players, preferring young ones he can bring through to play football his way. He was the originator of the “Project” (bringing kids through) and always looked to Europe and South America leaving West Ham scouts to cover the UK. Maybe Arsenal's lack of spending has much deeper roots and the likes of Henry, Viera, Petite, Ljungberg and all the others Arsenal have let go in recent years, were forced on Wenger as cost cutting exercises?

At West Ham our finances have never been any different to what seems to be coming out about Arsenal, only on a different scale and for different reasons. At least our excuse for not spending is we have a bankrupt board. I find it incredible that the Arsenal board has billionaires from Russia and America yet Wenger has to resort to threatening to leave, to try to get a budget that will enable him to compete with the best next season! Like Arsenal we have a good manager but Zola is just starting out in the management game and he clearly has fallen for Duxbury's “Project”. Duxbury has merely re-invented what Wenger and we have always done at West Ham - bring kids through because we do not have the resources to be a buying club.

Wenger on the other hand, has been there and done it and now realises he can no longer compete without major signings but I don't believe we can at West Ham either. Wenger looks around at his competition and sees big spending Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United joined by Manchester City and he has his “Project” and just £13m to spend this summer, to bring in established stars to supplement the kids that have come through. Is it surprising that Fabregas, Adebayor and others are looking towards clubs that can win trophies? Maybe it is for similar reasons why Green, Neill and Upson also have not signed new contracts yet?

Where does that leave West Ham? We are reportedly in debt for around £50m which is fairly manageable. Our owner is now completely bankrupt. We are about to be taken over by a bank that is currently in moratorium from bankruptcy itself but expects to be reformed into a viable going concern once it owns us! Really? We need at least two international calibre players in midfield/forward positions otherwise we will not be competing for a top 7 spot, in the same way that Arsenal will not compete for a top 2 spot if they do not spend money on established stars.

Even if Ashton, Gabbidon, Dyer, Parker and Behrami all return to full fitness next season we still need creativity in midfield and a mobile striker in the Zola mold. If Tristan and Di Michele are re-signed, then I can see some senior players wondering what they are doing in East London next year because that is not top 7 ambition. If Neill, Green and Upson decide to leave, that would be the equivalent of say Fabregas, Adebayor and Toure leaving Arsenal. Where do either club get as good, let alone better, replacements without spending big? We don't is the short answer. Both clubs need major signings to keep the existing managers, players and fans feeling they are progressing.

At least our management team have signed new contracts showing their commitment to our future but we have to wonder at why Arsene Wenger has chosen to go public about his Real Madrid interest at this stage? For us the answer is simple. We need to spend £20+m we haven't got, on a right full back, new creative midfielder and striker at least. Arsenal probably need to spend as much or more to keep Wenger and their big name players happy at The Emirates for another season. If either club do not invest now, no amount of “Project” (bringing youth through), will save either of us from a very uncertain future. I really hope we solve our problems with new owners but it's nice to know that we are not alone in having an uncertain future.


Monday, 18 May 2009

Do you remember Gabbidon and Ashton?

Ever had one of those conversations with an old fella who tells you about things you dimly remember from the past but you were never quite sure if they actually happened? Yes, in the 70s there genuinely were power cuts and we did travel to the other side of town to watch somebody else's TV. Yes they really did used to wrap your chips in newspaper and sometimes you could read words on your chips as the ink from the print soaked into the grease. Yes in the 70s there was no such thing as live football on TV, except for the FA Cup Final and the final stages of the World Cup and European Championships - oh and the England v Scotland fixture. That's why the Cup Final was so special, it was the ONLY live game in some years! And no, they didn't show the League Cup Final live, you had to wait until the next day to see the highlights on The Big Match. Hazy memories I admit, but it's all true, honest.

Well I was chatting to an old fella the other day and he assures me that Dean Ashton and Danny Gabbidon once started a game together for West Ham. Now I know that seems incredible but apparently it happened. In fact, he assures me that Gabbidon once started 31 Premiership games in a single season and a further 7 in the FA Cup, even making an appearance as a substitute into the bargain. In fact, Gabbidon was in the team that made it through to that epic Cup Final and finished the season as Hammer of the Year. Yes, I know, it's incredible isn't it! I'm still pinching myself to see if I dreamt it.

Nothing so dramatic for Ashton of course. In 2007-08, he did rock up for an amazing 20 Premiership starts and came on as a sub in another 11 games. Rumour has it that at some point towards the end of that season he was actually running and making a show of jumping for the ball. 11 goals in the league and another in the League Cup are in the record books as hard proof that this is not some fanciful fantasy!

Now, let's dream. Just imagine if we have these two fit and ready for the start of next season! Some say that Ashton and Cole can't play together but Beano hasn't had the chance to play alongside Carlton Cole Mark Two, a hugely improved player in my opinion. Add Gabbidon into the squad and (moving into the realms of incredible fantasy I accept) Dyer, and suddenly I find myself smiling at our prospects of building on this season. Who knows, Parker might be fit too. Add in Behrami and a fully tuned Collison and the dark thoughts induced by the last two games begin to fade. And if Savio really is worth what we paid for him...

Who knows, one day I might find myself chatting to an old fella who insists that in one season we actually had Tristan and Di Michele starting up front together in the Premiership. I will, no doubt, find that all but impossible to believe. Both were crap, I will say. I can remember them playing but surely not in the same side, surely we were never THAT bad?

In the circumstances, a top half finish is quite an achievement. Just imagine what we might achieve with a strike force that actually knows where the goal is!