Thursday, 31 December 2009

West Ham Close In On Guy

With Toni inexplicably deciding to ply his trade at Roma rather than in the East End of London, West Ham will simply have to look elsewhere for a striker. No Toni, then let's have a look at Guy! Well, we've been linked with every other guy the press can think of!

The Return Of The Albatross?

First Sears, then Spence, now we have refused the MK Dons permission to play Quashie in the Cup because we don't want him cup tied! Now I'm not sure if this is the definition of desperation or supreme optimism! Presumably we don't intend picking him for the Arsenal game so who at the club actually fancies us to progress to the next round? No Franco, no Cole, no Parker, no Ilunga, no Hines...Behrami and Noble doubtful, Upson probably rested...and the little matter of Arsenal to overcome.

How must Quashie feel about this? Zola has treated him disgracefully and now he blocks the opportunity for the guy to be involved in a possible Cup giant killing. Meanwhile, the return of the Albatross could be the final nail in our Premiership coffin. How many teams has Quashie helped to relegation so far?

Tottenham Shopping? Read The Signals In 'Arry's Smokescreen

So ' Arry reckons he is not going to get involved in the January sales. He was his Wii and he's 'appy playing with that apparently. Upson? Who needs him when you have two fit centre backs and two crocked ones? James? What, when you have the mighty Gomes between your sticks? No mention of Parker, of course, nor of Cole but 'Arry can't be after either of those because he isn't going shopping...full stop...end of. Like Pav isn't going anywhere...unless somebody offers to buy him. And Robbie is staying...despite the Dublin jaunt and his not really fitting in to the shape of the team.

Does anybody believe him? Of course!...In the same way as the Inland Revenue believe his tax returns!

Not Good Enough For The Fizzy Pop But...

Hot on the heels of the recall of Freddie Sears, we have now announced, "Come in Spence, your time is up", recalling the 19 year old from Scunthorpe where he has not started a game since October. Am I alone in being worried about this? I know Spence is supposed to have a bright future ahead of him, but if he can't cut it at a rusty version of the Irons, what makes us think he can do a job in the Premiership?

Sears can't score in the Fizzy Pop, Spence can't even start in the lower division, but upon these babes we pin our hopes! Collins are about to rewrite the definition of the word "desperation" for their 2010 edition!

We Should Be In 10th Place

I know every season has its "ifs, buts and maybes" but in all my years of supporting West Ham, I can't remember one where we have led against 10 men twice (Fulham at home, Sunderland away) and failed to go on and win the game, and where we have also been two goals to the good against a side in the bottom 3, only to need an equaliser to secure a result after they too had seen a player get his marching orders. That wasn't six points lost, that was six points surrendered!

Had we banked those six points, we would currently be in 10th place, just two points behind Fulham and so with 9th place very much in our sights. People were talking yesterday of the "thin margin" between success and failure in the Prem after Megson was sacked and there is a certain irony that he went after Bolton surrendered a two goal lead against 11 man Hull! Some might put our plight down to injuries but injuries happen to all teams over the course of a season; what shouldn't happen is surrendering out on the pitch and we have done it 3 times this season now. If we go down, those games will haunt us for a very long time!

IF only we had capitalised on a half time lead when playing 10 man Fulham, BUT that wasn't as bad as losing a two goal lead against 10 man Sunderland although MAYBE failing to win against 10 man Hull, after leading 2-0 inside 20 minutes, was the most damaging result of all!

As 2009 disappears down the plug hole, 6 easy points disappear with it!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Perfect Results!

Well done to the Mancs and Arsenal, that's just what we needed. Pompey must have that sinking feeling now. Even a win will leave them in bottom place. Only 14 points and more than half way through the season spells huge problems. It is not impossible for them to survive but it is very unlikely, even without the financial quagmire they apparently find themselves in.

Wigan meanwhile are now deep in trouble with a goal difference which could prove a killer come the end of the season. Courtesy of those around us, that 2-0 defeat at Spurs is looking like a good result!

Intermarket Group - The Road to Nowhere

Interesting to see that the Senior Partner of Intermarket Analysis Ltd is one David Byrne. Now, how did that song go?...


We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

Feelin' okay this mornin'
And you know,
We're on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

We're on a ride to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

Maybe you wonder where you are
I don't care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there...take you there

We're on a road to nowhere
We're on a road to nowhere
We're on a road to nowhere

There's a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
and it's all right, baby, it's all right

And it's very far away
But it's growing day by day
And it's all right, baby, it's all right

Would you like to come along
and you could help me sing this song?
And it's all right, baby, it's all right

They can tell you what to do
But they'll make a fool of you
And it's all right, baby, it's all right

We're on a road to nowhere

Great tune, shite lyrics, prophetic of a dodgy deal?

Hostage Released

News is breaking on Sky and the BBC of a dramatic hostage release. After being held captive by a ranting fanatic, it appears that Freddie Sears may indeed be on his way home.

Speaking on the BBC, former hostage Terry Waite spoke of the help Sears will need as he recovers from his ordeal: "In many ways, release is the most difficult time for a long term hostage", Waite explained. "The young man will have suffered terribly, with all sorts of sensory deprivation and extended exposure to uncontrolled fanatical ranting. It will not be easy to put this episode behind him. He will need lots of support in the coming weeks."

It is hoped that Sears will suffer no lasting damage however. Waite explained, "He has youth on his side and the young can be resilient. The biggest danger is that he may have been indoctrinated by Warnock's crude philosophies. If found muttering 'kick and run' or 'lump it up there' or 'Compensation is due to the Warnocks for the Tevez affair', help should be sought immediately. For the time being, nobody should expect too much of the boy. He needs time to recover fully."

Portsmouth Winding Up Order

Your friend and mine, the taxman, has applied for a winding up order for Portsmouth on the back of unpaid taxes. Now, whilst this may appear like good news for us, you have to wonder at the hypocrisy involved here. Where were the winding up orders for RBS, Barclays and the Halifax exactly?

Pompey will pay the taxes and avoid administration but that is not the point. Portsmouth is a naval town and many Pompey supporters will have "done their duty" for this country, risking their lives in the process. It feels like a cheap and unseamly move to me. I want Pompey to go down, but I don't want them destroyed!

Back The Crop Of Kids, Don't Knock Them

As a season ticket holder for the past 10 years, I have seen both crops of youngsters emerge. Yes, the previous crop was much better, but to put down the current crop is just insane.

Marek Stech is undoubtedly Petr Cech's understudy. Jack Collison is a different breed of Michael Carrick, one which does not rely on his passing, but his composure and skill. If he can develop passing and shooting, he will be a far better player than Carrick.

Nouble plays very much like Carlton Cole, with his back to goal, and with Cole, Zola and Clarke's help, he will become a quality player within 3 years (when he would have just turned 21).

Stanislas can play on the left OR right. Shows how much you know about football. Most of his goals have come from cutting in on the left and shooting. You don't need a left foot for that. He is also very handy at taking set pieces, has blistering pace, a good first touch, desire and work ethic. And as for defending. WHAT ARE YOU ON ABOUT. He is a winger. Do you see Ashley Young being celebrated for his defensive displays? NO. With his pace, he can track back well enough to annoy the opposition threat.

Hines is a player that never impressed me, until the season began. He has been sensational. Given that the only reason he is starting is because of injuries. He's not ready for a starting berth yet, which is why he doesn't look so good when he starts, because he is not experienced enough to know when to conserve energy, run for a ball etc. Of course, his stamina is not quite there for a full 90mins. He has two good, quick feet, pace, good awareness and when he improves his strength, finishing and movement (which come with age), he will be a force. By the time he is 26, he will be a far better player than Carlton Cole is at 26, and everyone knows how good Cole is right now.

Tomkins didnt impress me last year, but that was also because he was thrown in too soon. His neck muscles were weak, didn't have two feet, had bad positional sense and didn't have the aggression required. This year, he looks a class apart from his former self. Yes, he still lacks aggression (which I hope he does somehow develop because it's not the kind of attribute that magically appears). But now he has two good feet, more awareness, better positioning, a good header and the ability to block and tackle. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes to the next World Cup (when he will then be 24). Maybe not as a starter, but then again, apart from Cahill, there are not many young English centre backs coming through with astonishing promise.

Who else should I mention. Daprella? Ferrari? Terry Dixon (who everyone knows was a phenomenal talent at Spurs, and this is intelligence I have from various Spurs fans and season ticket holders).

Add to that list Jordan Spence, who has captained England at every age, we have a strong academy. Not the weak one you suggest.

Freddie Sears I do not rate at all. Having him back on loan though will be good for us. It just means we can rest an important striker like Cole or Franco for meaningless games like Arsenal in the Cup.

(Contributed by Anonymous!)

Would Mark Hughes Join Bolton?

Would Mark Hughes really exchange the Porsche salesroom for the second hand car lot that is Bolton Wanderers? Armani for Primark at the stroke of a pen? Haute cuisine for pie and chips? I think Hughes would be making a very serious mistake indeed if he jumped from the cruise liner to the rusty tug so quickly - he is too good for Bolton Wanderers!

As a West Ham fan, I would love to see Bolton go for Darren Ferguson. Dad can't let him have any quality players on loan because the Mancs squad is low on quality at the moment and Ferguson junior lacks the experience and gravitas necessary to pull a Premiership club out of a relegation struggle. The Fizzy Pop was a big enough challenge for Darren so why, exactly, will he cut it in the Prem? It is a tough fixture list in January, not the best time to be taking over!

Bolton Hit the Panic Button

Megson has gone and that seems daft to me. I didn't fancy Bolton to drop because Megson is a street fighter and doesn't worry about little matters like "style" and "entertainment". He is in the Curbishley and Allardyce mould, and that type rarely suffer relegation. Who looked the better manager when we met Bolton a couple of weeks back? It wasn't Zola!

The fans hated him and the Board have bowed to the fans. Who will they bring in to replace him? Alan Curbishley perhaps? I would love it, just love it, if Turds came in and Bolton went down!

The Great Academy Ruse

Anybody remember 'Arry upsetting our fans last season when he said the current Academy crop were not a match for the kids he brought through at Upton Park? Quite why his views were considered so controversial I'm not sure, given his crop included Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Jermaine Defoe, Glenn Johnson and Michael Carrick. Now, apart from the Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Neville and Beckham generation, you would have to go back a lot of years to find that level of quality coming through to the first team from a club's academy over such a short span of time. Who exactly in our current squad matches up to that bunch?

Collison looks classy. He is not a Joe Cole but he may be a new Carrick. I love his attitude and his confidence and he has quick feet and great control. Only stamina appears to be an issue. He could have played for England, but stupidly he opted for Wales. How many GCSEs has the lad got I wonder?

Noble has flattered to deceive and will never be in the Carrick class. He is the third best of an ordinary looking bunch but lacks the pace and class to become an England player. Yes he has a career in the Premiership ahead of him, but nothing more. Remember Geoff Pike? I see Noble in that class - and the sooner he understands his limitations and plays within them, as Pike did, the better. Despite what some think, Parker is not that fantastic, he just looks it because the players around him are so ordinary.

Tomkins, I think, will emerge as the other true class act from the current crop but I worry that we are damaging him by expecting too much, too early. He is looking pretty good at the moment and, apart from being done by Defoe for the second goal, coped very well despite all the pressure we found ourselves under at Tottenham. The trouble is, he does not have a turn of pace and lacks the experience to compensate for that at this stage. He needs a pacey, experienced centre back alongside him. At the moment he has the experience in the form of Upson, but if we lose Matty, I fear that Tomkins will be horribly exposed. Tomkins probably has what it takes to play for England but Anton looked just as good at the equivalent stage and his form has dipped - that is part of growing up for a centre back which is why I would buy him back because he will "come again" when the right manager makes him feel good about himself. But Ferdinand and Tomkins as a pair? Sharp intake of breath I'm afraid!

What about Stanislas? Well until we see the lad played on the right, I don't think we can judge. The boy is horribly one footed and that foot is his right, so the insistence on playing him on the left is madness in my book. Defensively, he is a disaster so clearly he needs to mature, but that's not a surprise. To me, he shows in flashes and lacks mental toughness. I don't see him ever playing for England and fancy that he may end up playing in the Fizzy Pop, hopefully not in a West Ham shirt!

Freddie is coming home! But he is coming home without a goal! Remember when Sears was being spoken of as the new Cottee? Well even Cottee didn't manage to net an England goal! Is the guy any good? Well he looks very very average to me and the decision to recall him smacks of desperation. He needs a goal, any goal, and then he may just kick on again but his physique is against him and he certainly does not have the mental toughness a top striker needs.

And then there is Zavon. That goal against Villa was pure class, but then we were all very excited when Sears burst onto the scene weren't we? You have to be very special to cut it in the modern game if you are small and, that goal apart, Hines has not shown anything to excite me so far. Yes he is willing but effort is not enough, the game has moved on.

Duxbury has used this crop of 'if, buts and maybes' to excuse shrinking the squad to generate cash. In the past we have sold our kids, now we are selling our experienced players and asking kids to do a job that they are not yet up to doing. It is all a huge con, with the Board exploiting our passion for our home grown players. I remember the days when you would see new cars driving at 30mph with "running in" notices on the back. I also remember 'Arry operating with big squads at West Ham and easing the kids through to the first team. The way we are doing it now, there is a danger we will burn out these kids and make them even more average than they already threaten to be.

As for 'Arry's comments last season - they weren't controversial, they were a generous wake up call. But we didn't want to listen!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Back In The Bottom Three

No surprise really and I reckon a Bolton win was probably the best result for us tonight. I can't see Bolton going down personally: I reckon it is between Hull, Portsmouth, Wolves, Burnley and ourselves. So, a defeat for Hull is probably good news for us long term. The lower the points total for survival, the better!

Et Tu Mutu?

Where will it all end? Toni, Ballotelli, Adriano, Kezman...and now Mutu. Tell me, haven't we burnt our fingers sufficiently with dodgy Romanian gypsies? They come, shop until they drop and bugger off home without ever putting it in on the pitch don't they? Oh and do lines of coke to keep their energy levels up!

I suspect this is more nonsense, fabricated either by the press or the Duxbury spin machine. Why am I bothering to blog about it? Well how could I resist a headline like "Et tu Mutu"?

Monday, 28 December 2009

That Was The Decade That Was - The Start of the Noughties

The first game of the decade and a new century?

A 2-2 draw away to Newcastle. The team read:

Hislop – Potts, Stimac, Ferdinand, Minto – Cole, Foe, Lampard, Carrick, Sinclair – Keller.

How wonderful would it have been had we retained four of that team? No prizes for guessing which four! Lampard scored our first goal of the decade and Stimac the second as we fought back from two goals down to draw the game. This was a Newcastle team featuring both Shearer and Ferguson up front and Speed, Solano and Lee is midfield. A point well won under ‘Arry’s stewardship! No Di Canio of course – come on, Newcastle, just after the New Year celebrations, cold January day – what chance?

11th January 2000 West Ham 1 Aston Villa 3

Remarkable because this was a League Cup game played after we had already knocked Villa out of the Cup. The trouble was, of course, that ‘Arry sent on Manny Omoyinmi as a substitute in the original game, even though he was cup tied. And we all knew, from the moment a replay was ordered, that we would do the decent thing and crash out of the cup! Of all the cock ups we have been involved in over the years, this was the second biggest – beaten into second place only by the signing of Tevez! I remember listening to the commentary on the radio for the original game and yelling “He’s cup tied, he’s bloody cup tied” as Manny was about to be sent on. I knew, why in God’s name didn’t ‘Arry? And what about the kid himself?
For the record, the Hammers on duty that day were: Hislop, Potts (Ruddock 91), Ferdinand, Stimac, Minto, Lomas, Foe, Lampard, Cole, Sinclair (Keller 116), Di Canio.

Who scored our goal? Have a guess. Frank Lampard!

12th February 2000 West Ham 5 Bradford City 4

They don’t come much freakier than that! Well apart from being five goals to the good against Burnley before hanging on desperately to a 5-3 victory! Things never change at West Ham do they? Sinclair, Di Canio, Cole, Lampard and Moncur were all on the scoresheet that day. Bywater made his debut as a teenager, coming on for the injured Hislop, and did not make the most auspicious of starts. A 2-4 deficit in the second half was turned around in remarkable fashion with Lampard crashing home the winner. Yes, Frank Lampard again guys; you know Fat Frank, the one you love to hate! The Hammers on show that day were as follows: Hislop (Bywater 2), Charles (Kitson 57), Ferdinand, Stimac, Minto, Lomas, Moncur, Lampard, Cole, Di Canio, Sinclair.

April Fools Day 2000 – Man Utd 7 West Ham 1

In the rogues’ gallery that day were: Forrest – Potts, Foe, Ferdinand, Minto, Lomas, Lampard, Moncur, Sinclair – Kanoute, Wanchope

Wanchope scored and Di Canio again failed to make it past Watford Gap! A “hip injury” this time apparently! ‘Arry had said before the game that the Mancs were not playing as well as in the previous season and Scholes rammed his ill advised words down his throat with a hat-trick, his first in club colours – and all this after Wanchope had given us the lead in the 11th minute. It is never a good idea to upset the big boys so early on in a game is it? Poor Forrest must have been having nightmares, he had been in the Ipswich goal five years earlier when they shipped 9! Intriguingly, despite the hammering, Redknapp elected to stick with his original starting eleven throughout. What did that say to the guys on the subs bench? Well, apart from Cole, who ‘Arry was no doubt protecting, you couldn’t expect a lot from Feuer, Keller, Charles or McCann could you?

April 22nd, 2000 West Ham 5 Coventry 0

Margas scored! Di Canio bagged two, Kanoute netted and Carrick also got on the score sheet.

For the record, we finished that first season of the new decade and century in 9th place with 55 points. Redknapp was still our manager, Ferdinand, Cole, Lampard and Carrick were the future of West Ham and England and Di Canio and Kanoute looked a bit tasty up front. Add in Sinclair who was to go to the next World Cup and things looked rather promising. But then things started to go wrong!

Other Results Go Our way!

What a relief! Defeats for Burnley and Stoke will do us very nicely thank you very much whilst a draw in the Blackburn v Sunderland game was perhaps perfect in the circumstances. Now we need Man City to do the business against Wolves!

Tottenham 2 West Ham 0 - Damage Limitation, Injuries Apart.

So, how stupid does Zola look at the moment? Interviewed before the kick off, he said he left the decision to Parker as to whether or not he should start. I'm sorry, but that is piss poor management. If Parker was feeling a hamstring two days after the Pompey match, there was no way in a million years that he should have been considered as a starter for this game. And so it proved. After 10 minutes, he was off and we were a goal behind because he was unable to track back as Tottenham broke. Eight minutes later and Ilunga was off too, having looked less than enthusiastic at the prospect of coping with Lennon. Let's hope neither injury is serious but with Parker, a niggle usually becomes semi terminal doesn't it?

The injuries apart, this was a huge mismatch from start to finish. It was to the immense credit of the defensive unit that we kept the score down to two, but by defending with such discipline, we offered absolutely nothing going forward. King and Dawson must have been wondering when the game was going to kick off as the ref signalled the end of the match! Gomes did get his hands on the ball once but I don't think he had a save to make as such did he?

Mind you, Green wasn't exactly busy was he? And what he was called upon to do, he did abysmally. Fair enough, he was unlucky with the bounce on the first goal, but unlucky is becoming his middle name. He made a terrible hash of catching one corner and was lucky Crouch barged into the back of him after he dropped the ball and he should have done much better with Defoe's initial shot for the second goal. His kicking throughout was woeful, culminating in the dreadful slice into touch. Ask yourself, how many saves has Green made over the last five games? Hardly any. Not only is he not an England keeper on his present form, it is questionable whether he deserves his place in the West Ham team.

Defensively, we were impressive. I suspect Zola has lost control to Clarke when it comes to how the team is set up. As soon as we tried to move on to the offensive, gaps appeared and Tottenham broke to score. That is our problem. We can defend as a unit but if we try to show any adventure, we are buggered. When Stanislas came on to add attacking impetus he was, yet again, played wide left with Diamanti switched to the right. It is madness, sheer madness, but incredibly some on here continue to defend the decision to play the kid on the wrong flank.

I know Tomkins lost Defoe for the second goal but, that apart, he coped well. Upson was rock solid. Faubert did his job and Spector coped manfully on the wrong flank up against Lennon. Kovac marked space well but again had no concept of how to track a runner from midfield, even when it was Huddlestone. Dear God, the guy is not easy to miss is he but Kovac managed to overlook his runs all afternoon. Behrami stuck to his defensive job well but offered nothing going forward as a result. Diamanti was barely in the match but still should have seen red for repeated fouls on Lennon, capped by mouthing off at the ref. Collison managed one shot on goal but, like the rest, spent the game marking space rather than running in to it. Jimenez returned to type by looking lost and poor Franco was more isolated than Yuri Gagarin when he was blasted into space. Still, he achieved his primary object, collecting a yellow that keeps him out of the Arsenal cup game rather than the crucial fixtures against Portsmouth and Wolves.

2-0 flattered us to be honest, not because Tottenham deserved to score more but because our zero return was too generous given how rarely we crossed the half way line! Reality bites back and mid table looks a million miles away all of a sudden!

Player Ratings: Green 3 - Faubert 6, Upson 8, Tomkins 7, Spector 6 - Collison 5, Behrami 6, Kovac 6, Jimenez 3, Diamanti 4 - Franco 4 (What could he do without the ball?)

Upson and Parker In The White Hart Lane Window

Sod's Law applies with a vengeance today. If rumours are true and 'Arry fancies both Upson and Parker, then a great performance from the pair could seal their moves; two shockers may deter 'Arry but would, of course, result in us suffering a tonking. Why is it never easy supporting West Ham?

Interesting to see how Duxbury will handle it should we agree to sell to the Cockyfools after all his assurances!

Tottenham v West Ham. Team And Tactics.

Time to pack away the euphoria and prepare for one hell of a challenge. This Tottenham team is tasty but, as Fulham showed, are not infallible. Spurs were lucky to escape the Cottage with a point but, of course, they were resting Defoe for most of that game.

Where-as Chelsea and Pompey were tactically inept, 'Arry has undoubtedly identified our Achiles heel and he doesn't even need to change his team to exploit it. Krancjar and Lennon will be told to hug those flanks, take on the full backs and whip in the crosses. Remember Wigan? Well 'Arry will fancy another goal glut.

Thankfully, we still have Upson because I reckon we are going to need him. Behrami is rumoured to be starting so he will offer Faubert some protection, hopefully neutralising the threat of Krancjar to some extent. How will Tomkins cope with Crouch? That feels like a mismatch to me. Kovac will have to be disciplined and hopefully Parker still has some juice left in his tank after his amazing efforts against Portsmouth. Ilunga will have to be at his best to contain Lennon.

Presumably the team will read: Green - Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga - Behrami, Kovac, Parker, Collison, Diamanti - Franco

The hope is that we will outnumber and outfight Tottenham in midfield, enabling us to control the game. That is a huge hope but stranger things have happened. Wolves came away with a 1-0 victory didn't they?

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Better To Be Snapped Leaving A Brothel Than Lose Today! (Part Two)

More topical gags, with no suggestion that any of the managers concerned were actually snapped leaving a brothel.

'Arry goes into a brothel and selects his favourite girl. Before they get down to the real business, the girl says, "That will be £500." 'Arry is taken aback momentarily but then replies, "It's all right love, no charge tonight, this was included in the Crouch deal."

Avram is caught coming out of a brothel and is challenged by a journalist who asks, "What have you been up to?"
"Just carrying out some research", Avram replies.
"Research?" the journalist asks. "Research into what?"
"What it's like to go down. I needed to know after Saturday."
"So what have you found out?" the journalist asks.
Avram replies, "It leaves a bad taste in your mouth."

Green Slipping Down The Rankings

One of the odd things about this season is just how little Green has contributed to the cause. For all the defeats, and all the goals conceded, Green has made very few saves. Against Chelsea, I could have kept goal for all Green had to do, and the same goes for the match against Portsmouth. At Bolton, Green had a mare and against Birmingham, he had to do very little. You have to think long and hard before remembering any "great" saves he has made this season, the Villa game apart.

On what I have seen recently, he stands no chance of going to South Africa. Capello clearly fancies Foster, even though he is third choice at the Mancs, whilst a cluster of other keepers are all pressing their claims. Robinson is looking to be back to his best, Kirkland proves his class every game, even when shipping nine at Tottenham, and Hart has matured, filling out physically and now really looking the part as the last line of a very mean Birmingham defence. David James is waiting in the tunnel.

For Green to make it to South Africa, he needs to up his game dramatically. He is likely to have a great opportunity to prove his worth at White Hart Lane - let's hope he takes his chance and keeps a clean sheet. Remember that Arsenal game in the Great Escape? I'd prefer that to a repeat of the Reading fixture in the same season!

Two Games Do Not A Great Escape Make

Well, being West Ham, we did things in extremes in the games that straddled Christmas. Matches against the very top and the very bottom teams in the Prem have seen a surge of confidence and optimism amongst the fans based on 4 home points, three goals for and only one against, and the heady heights of finding ourselves fourth from bottom. Behrami is back, Cole should return soon, Franco made it into the starting 11 despite the rumours of a mystery injury, Kovac played out of his skin and scored, Jimenez won the penalty and delivered a delicious free kick for Kovac to head home, Parker is ubiquitous in every game, Diamanti is looking unique and everything is suddenly wonderful.

But reality, of course, is perched like a ravenous crow on the edge of our bedstead. The four points were based upon a defence that looked so much more assured because of the presence of Upson; if the rumours of his defection are true, then we are in big trouble unless an experienced centre back is sourced. Hull and Bolton, two of the teams below us, have games in hand, as do a number of clubs immediately above us. Wolves illustrate how a few good results can see you leap up the Prem, only to slump back down on the back of one defeat. Cole isn't fit yet and Franco, at 33, has to lead the line alone again on Monday. Tottenham are so flush with talent that they were able to rest Defoe ahead of our game on Monday, a luxury we can only dream of. Behrami looked sparkling for the 15 minutes that he was on but can we risk starting him at Spurs after two relapses already this season? We still have Faubert at right back!

The truth is, these two matches have kindled hope, nothing more. Had we lost both, the coffin lid would be in position, ready to be nailed down. Instead, we are sitting up in bed, in remission, looking at patients who look sicker than ourselves and feeling rather smug about having a 55% chance of survival. However, as great as confidence is, confidence is fickle. Some on here are already talking about a mid table finish, and with Sunderland in 10th, just 4 points ahead of us, that doesn't sound too absurd on the face of it. However, such talk is extremely dangerous. 'Arry and Defoe have sharp needles, desperate to burst our bubble of confidence and should Tottenham thump us, the optimists will turn doom mongers overnight. In a way, however, that game is irrelevant. The big matches are the return fixture with Portsmouth and the home game against Wolves. Four points from those two games would be very useful in helping us secure our Premiership status, which is our realistic target for this year.

Yes there is reason for hope after yesterday's result but only the sort of hope a cancer patient has when he hears that his cancer is in remission. To suddenly think he is going to live forever and return to smoking forty cancers a day would be stupid. There remains something rotten and far from benign in our accounts and, Portsmouth apart, we are likely to find ourselves weakened the most during the January sales. There is a long battle ahead before we can look forward to playing Premiership football next season so let's not get carried away.

We did look much improved in those last two games and lets hope the momentum can be maintained at Tottenham and then into January! But let's not let our dreams fly too high guys! Bubbles are pretty but bubbles burst as we very well know and as a certain Icelandic bank discovered not so long ago!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Great To See The Spirit!

Wonderful to see the spirit out there today, it was reminiscent of the Great Escape. Zola hugging Behrami before he was sent on, hugs all round for Franco as he came off. The team played for their shirts today and did us proud. It may only have been Pompey but this was a huge win. Suddenly we are in amongst the pack whereas a defeat would have seen us cut adrift.

Just think, we are only a point behind Everton! Of course Moyes will cite all the injuries, but I think we have that excuse too don't we?

West Ham 2 Pompey 0 - Two Moments Of Hilarity Amidst The Tension

Two very funny moments during the game, with Faubert giving a piggy back to a Pompey player raising a chuckle only to be bettered by Kovac's desperate need to be loved after scoring! Did you see the reluctance of the fans to hug him after the goal? You could see the thought bubbles coming out of their heads: "But you're Kovac! You're shit!" Priceless!

West Ham 2 Pompey 0 - What a relief!

Getting sick of this humble pie over Christmas! Eat too much more and I will have to accept that size 18s are stunners! Jimenez wins a penalty! Kovac heads the second! We keep a clean sheet with Faubert and Tomkins in the side! Bloody hell! So much for my 0-2 forecast!

No match report because family demands stopped me watching most of the game. I saw the last 30 minutes (against the wife's instructions!)and was very nervous until Pompey brought on Utaka. They lost their shape at that point and we looked comfortable thereafter.

How good did Behrami look after he came on? Jimenez also looked so much better with his head shaved! Faubert was impressive, Kovac looked committed, Green looked comfortable! A clean sheet, two goals, no bookings, thank you Santa! And thus far, the other results have suited us too! Even Diamanti tackled back and took the ball!

Was it all a dream? I bloody hope not! Happy Christmas!

Better To Be Snapped Leaving A Brothel Than Lose Today!

Topical gags, with no suggestion that either manager has been photographed leaving a brothel!

Avram Grant goes into a brothel, strips naked and asks "How much?" The horrified prostitute, in an effort to put him him off says, "Two thousand pounds."
"Two thousand pounds?" asks Grant incredulously.
The tart looks at his saggy man and replies, "For you, it's a snip!"

Gianfranco Zola goes into a brothel, strips naked and asks "How much?" The amused prostitute looks at his little man and says, "Twenty five pounds."
"Twenty five pounds?" asks Zola incredulously. He searches through his wallet and says, "I only have five pounds for now but I can give you the rest once Upson is sold in January."

Zola Looking For A Repeat But...

Zola is hoping for a repeat of last year's Boxing Day victory over Pompey but one look at the team we fielded that day will reveal why that is very unlikely to happen. The side Zola sent out that day read:

Green - Neil, Davenport, Upson, Ilunga - Behrami, Noble, Parker, Collison - Cole and Bellamy.

Three of the four goals we scored were shared by Cole and Bellyache.

Incredibly, a very similar side had failed to beat Pompey at Upton Park a few weeks earlier, with Cole, Bellyache and Sears all drawing a blank despite starting. Apart from Collins for Downpipe and Sears for Noble, West Ham lined up with the same personnel, although, of course, Zola was still messing around with 4-3-3.

Our home record against Portsmouth is dire and we go into today's game without a recognised striker available apart from an 18 year old kid and an ex Tottenham crock. It is all set up for us to lose unless a hero steps up to the plate. Will Zola risk Behrami? Will he push Diamanti forward? Will Stanislas or Nouble get the nod to play up front? Will Duxbury dare to show his face? Remember, it was around about this time last year that he assured us that players would only leave for footballing reasons. Since then we have lost Bellyache and Ginge, with Upson leading those heading for the exit door in January.

I fear the worst today. Prediction. 0-2. I hope to God I am wrong!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas - 2009 Didn't Happen!

It's ok guys, you've just come out of the shower and 2009 hasn't happened, it was all a bad dream! So...

Neill is still our right back!

Collins is the centre of defence alongside Upson

Bellamy is leading the line with Cole.

We haven't signed Kovac!

We have high hopes of Sears!

Green is on form!

Nobody has heard of Savio!

We are not in the bottom three!

Duxbury is looking forward to seeing Ashton kick off the new season!

Zola has hair and is smiling!

Tottenham are in the bottom 5, not the top 5!

Now if somebody could save a certain Icelandic bank, everything would be perfect!

Here's hoping!

Happy 2009 everybody, it couldn't be much worse than the last one!

Well that's my Christmas wish list, hope you get yours guys!

Thanks to everybody for looking in and contributing, even if it's just to insult me!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Top 10 West Ham Highlights From 2009

It's not been a vintage year has it? Here's my top 10 highlights from 2009:

1. The Hines goal against Villa. The situation, the timing and the finish all make this the top highlight for me. Sadly, just like Sears, this Hines goal appears to have been a flash in the Premiership pan because he has been VERY ordinary since.

2. Cole's wonderful goal at Wigan. This was one of the best goals I have ever seen scored by a West Ham player / team. If only those short passes at pace worked more often!

3. Cole's goal against Tottenham. What a beaut! Shame about what followed!

4. Cole's goal at Newcastle. This was the proof of Cole's improvement as far as I was concerned. He moved onside before Ilunga launched the pass, timed his run perfectly and lashed the ball home beautifully with his left foot. Zola hasn't cut it as a club manager but he may have fashioned a player who could help England win the World Cup!

5. Tristan's goal at Stoke. At last, a goal from a direct free kick!

6. Green's penalty save against Villa. I rated this as a special save because of the strength of Green's hand as he reached down and scooped the ball up and clear.

7. Parker's pass to set up Collison against Burnley. Superb vision and quick thinking - and the finish was almost as good.

8. Parker's brilliant block on the line against Chelsea. He did something similar against Burnley and, both times, then managed to get in a block on the edge of the box a matter of seconds later.

9. Julian Faubert's loan to Real Madrid. That alone vindicated the name of this blog! And to think, Real actually paid us so he could have a kip on their bench! Shame they sent him back!

10. Diamanti's penalty against Arsenal. It wasn't a penalty but what the heck, it capped a great fight back and gave us hope!

Have I missed any magical moments worthy of a place in the top 10?

Striker Crisis As Franco Is Crocked

No King Cole, No General Franco, No Major (as in surgery) Ashton, No Drummer Boy Sears - what in God's name does Zola do for the Pompey game? Start with Nouble? The kid certainly cannot be asked to lead the line alone. Risk Dixon Both Crocked And Green? Avram Grant must be wearing a smile broader than the Gaza Strip!

I have been warning that this would happen since August. Don't say it is bad luck, it is rank bad planning. You can't trust to just two fit strikers, Cole and Franco, and expect to get through the season without this happening, especially when one of the two is 33 years old and unaccustomed to the pace and intensity of the Prem. I warned that Franco should not be risked against Chelsea in case this happened; I didn't dream that he would be allowed to do anything in training that might result in injury, freak or otherwise. Somebody should know by now that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong!

So what does Zola do? Personally, I would go with Diamanti and Stanislas up front, with strict instructions that they must not track back. Both should be detailed to press Pompey's centre backs when we are not in possession and to sit on their shoulders when we are, looking to break on to passes over the top. That leaves us short in midfield, so I would move Faubert forward and tell him to get forward, take on the fullback and whip in crosses low. My team would read:

Green - Spector, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga - Faubert, Parker, Kovac, Collison - Diamanti, Stanislas.

The hope would be that Collison will get in to the box to support Diamanti and Stanislas and that Diamanti will prove his quality as a finisher if allowed chances inside the box. Will Diamanti be disciplined enough to operate as a striker? God knows but it would be a huge ask to pitch kids like Nouble and Dixon into this game.

It's a mess, but it is a mess of our own making! You reap what you sew!

Zola Hit By Striker Set Back

So Adriano will not be wearing Claret and Blue in the New Year. Well there's a shocker! Rumour has it that Messi won't be joining us either, nor Torres, Rooney or Ronaldo. But don't worry everybody, Freddie Sears is coming home!

When Upson Goes

We are in desperate trouble if we let Upson go. We saw against Chelsea how important he is to the team and, with Gabbidon limping from the pitch with yet another injury, we also saw how likely it is that we will find ourselves with a centre back pairing of Da Costa and Tomkins. Opposing forwards will be rubbing their hands together in glee at the thought of that!

Had we kept Collins, the sale of Upson may have been feasible, but without Ginge AND Upson, the central defensive locker will be as bare as the forward locker currently looks. Every team needs a central spine and ours was Green, Collins, Upson, Parker and Cole. The loss of Collins (sold) and Cole (injured) has left us vulnerable, take out Upson too and we will effectively be spineless, especially with Green out of form. I know Cole is expected back in mid January, but that is still some weeks away and recoveries do not always run to plan. How would you fancy a "spine" of Green, Da Costa, Tomkins, Parker and Franco? Or, should Franco be unavailable, Green, Da Costa, Tomkins, Parker and Sears? That is a terrifying prospect but we only need Franco to pick up ONE MORE YELLOW CARD for that to be our spine once Upson is sold!

All eyes are currently on the Pompey fixture but the return game is only just around the corner too. Cole will be unavailable for both and my money would be on Franco picking up that yellow card over the next couple of games. Personally, I would try to engineer it to time his suspension for the FA Cup game against Arsenal. This team isn't going to win the Cup so let's try to get our priorities right! But Franco does mix it and does slide into challenges from the side and from behind, so invites a yellow every game: four bookings in ten starts show that referees do not like his style.

These remain very worrying times. There was a surge a belief after we picked up that point against Chelsea but there are major structural problems in our squad. When we lose Upson, the whole team could collapse down on itself like the World Trade Centre.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Presents For West Ham Players

It's Christmas time! Wouldn't it be nice to send the players a present to try to lift their performances from Boxing Day onwards? Who should get what?

Faubert: A heart! Perhaps if we sent him along the Yellowbrick Road, he might find one!

Stanislas: A start on the right side of midfield so he can use the foot God gave him to cross with and not the one Zola seems to think he can use!

Dyer: A new body.

Ashton: A legal action against Curbishley for playing him before he was ready.

Spector: Carrying his West Ham form on to the international stage. We have to beat the USA first game up in the World Cup!

Green: Velcro for his gloves, a ladder to help him reach crosses and a nasty streak. Why does he allow oppoents to stand in front of him at corners?

Upson: If he stays, a place in the England squad for South Africa. If he goes, a return of his injuries woes!

Tomkins: A DVD of England v Brazil 1970. Watch Bobby. THAT is how you defend!

Ilunga: A memory. Perhaps then he might start replicating his performances of last season.

Parker: Rooney's field of vision. Scotty has a great heart but he does miss a pass too often to be a genuine England player. And then there is his goal scoring...

Jimenez: A Ryanair flight back to Milan.

Cole: A starting position for England in South Africa after a fantastic second half of the season.

Franco: As for Cole, only substitute Mexico for England.

Noble: An extra yard of pace and self belief.

Diamanti: Goals that are five feet wider and five feet higher for when he shoots in open play!

Da Costa: The faith of his manager.

Behrami: An injury free 2010.

Collison: Lampard's scoring record in the Prem!

Kovac: A dream move to Real Madrid. Well Faubert nearly pulled it off!

Perhaps then, Zola might get the best present of all, survival in the Premiership!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Redknapp Wants West Ham Centre Back To Push For Champions League

With 'Arry's tax evasion trial imminent, rumour has it that he is already planning his Mean Machine to take Pentonville Prison into Europe. So, no doubt, he has been alerted by news that Callum Davenport also faces a trial in January for assaulting his sister.

Originally there was a massive outpouring of sympathy for Davenport with stories doing the rounds of him standing up to drug dealers, but now a different picture is emerging. Of course stabbing a guy to stop him assaulting your girlfriend is well over the top but it would appear that the Davenports mix with the dregs of society, so what can they expect?

Mind you, the idea of Davenport assaulting anybody puts me in mind of Geoffrey Howell's resignation speech in which he laid into Thatcher. Maggie talked of being savaged by a sheep and in Davenport's case, it would be a giraffe! Beware of those dangerous velvet covered horns on the top of the head!

West Ham Take Over Grounded

It is looking as if Tony Fernandes's bid hasn't got wings after all. The boss of Air Asia has said that he is worried for the future of the club but isn't willing to commit any cash to saving us, preferring to play with Dinky toys rather than Subbuteo.

It is hardly surprising that, in a week where yet another airline has gone bust, Fernandes is none to keen to take on such a risky investment. Formula 1 has a global market and is something of a cash cow, unless you make the mistake of running one of the teams. The same goes for football. If you owned the Premiership, you would be laughing, but own a team in the Premiership? Who would be stupid enough to do that? Only a complete Icelandic merchant banker!

So, with Intergroup not making any noises, it looks like it may be the two Davids or nobody. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place!

Official Site Asks: Do You Know These People?

West Ham United continue to work closely with the Metropolitan Police in connection with recent events surrounding reports of attempted money laundering.

Today we are publishing more images of two people who are the heart of investigations and would ask anybody with information to come forward. Please ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 9111.

All information will be treated in confidence. Perhaps you are a model who has been told to "spread like marmalade" or a Birmingham fan who can testify to deliberate and protracted torture.

Or alternatively, you may simply have information on how these two do their business.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Kezman To West Ham

It seems that Mateja Kezman is the latest striking reject to be linked with a move to West Ham. Can't say I'm overly excited by the idea of signing a Paris St Germain reject but I seem to remember him crashing in a couple of great goals during his largely unimpressive spell at Chelsea. Has to be a better bet than Da Costa or Sears surely, and if we can land him on loan until the summer, I wouldn't look this gift horse in the mouth. Sign him, I say, if only as a warm live body to serve as a decoy for Franco!

Can Sears Save Us?

So, Freddie Sears is coming home! How excited are we about that? His record at Palace doesn't exactly set the pulses racing given we desperately need a goal scorer, but he has been played out of position, wide on the right, so there are excuses for his failure to score. Of course, his record in our Claret & Blue does not offer much promise either, but he is older, stronger, wiser so maybe...

How mad is it, however, that we did not insert a clause in the loan contract enabling us to recall him whenever we wanted to? Somebody should be held accountable for that but, given it was probably Duxbury, there's not much chance of that happening is there? Sears might have been useful against Pompey but he will still be plying his trade in the Fizzy Pop. Absurd!

Genuine Shoots Of Recovery Or A False Dawn

I was amazed to see Wolves sitting in 12th place in the Prem after their victory over Burnley. That just shows how a "little run" can see you climb the table quickly at the moment. But Wolves will still be relegated. Gravity will suck them back down despite that freak result at Tottenham.

We are on a high today because we picked up a home point after three consecutive defeats. Looked at like that and the shoots of recovery looking decidedly sparse. Yes it was against Chelsea and they are top of the table but they have been playing badly and were without Anelka and Essien - and amazingly chose to play without wide men despite our weaknesses at full back. They talk about these Italian managers but Ancelotti missed a basic trick yesterday. If you have a Faubert at right back, you get the ball wide and run at him. Chelsea failed to do that all game!

How good was our performance? Well defensively we were strong, with the team playing as a defensive unit, but can we play that way at home to Pompey? Obviously not. Franco was isolated far too often and there were times when there appeared to be no out ball whatsoever. So for the next game, 4-1-4- 1 has to become 4-1-2-2-1, with Diamanti and Collison getting much closer to Franco. The trouble then, of course, is that our back four will then be left exposed; and most of us agree that Tomkins, Faubert and Ilunga are vulnerable in those circumstances.

The truth is that, without a victory on Boxing Day, the hope generated yesterday will appear false. We saw that we are not as bad as some thought yesterday but that doesn't mean that we are equipped to escape the drop. With Cole available, I would feel super confident going into the Portsmouth game, but without him, I am still wondering where the goals will come from. Relying on penalties to score is a dangerous strategy! And without Cole, we have managed just one goal from open play in four games. That is a frightening stat and one that we ignore at our folly. Grant will be telling his players that one goal will secure a minimum of a point and two will ensure victory. And remember, we haven't won any of our last four home games against Portsmouth.

So, we have avoided the poison chalice of being bottom at Christmas but nobody should feel complacent. A defeat at home to Chelsea followed by a victory over Pompey would have been preferable to two draws. For there to be genuine green shoots of recovery, we have to put Pompey on the canvas on Boxing Day!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lampard Has Got Balls!

There's not many around who would have stepped forward to retake that penalty a total of three times! Love him or hate him, you have to give credit where credit is due. It would have been so easy to turn to Bollocks or Drogba and say, you take it. But not Lampard. In the eye of the storm, he calmly stepped forward and tucked it away time after time after time. The big question is, will he cope that well in an England penalty shoot out?

It was never a penalty but...

...why did Upson dive in? Sturridge wasn't going to score from there so Upson should surely have stood on his feet. Tackle in the box and you give the officials an opportunity to give the penalty, stay on your feet and the onus is on the opponent to create a better opening than a free shot on goal from 12 yards. We had already won a penalty so the ref was looking to even things up, never mind that he had turned down two legitimate Chelsea penalty claims already! A bad decision by the assistant referee, but an even worse one by Upson!

West Ham 1 Chelsea 1 - Back to basics and off the bottom!

To begin, turkey is off the menu for me. I will check out the ingredients for humble pie and pop off to Tesco first thing in the morning. What idiot suggested surrendering the points because there was no way we could get a result? I stand guilty as accused. Pitch in guys, I deserve it!

Secondly, well done to the 12th man. The West Ham roar was back with a vengeance today and it put an extra yard into every West Ham player on the pitch - even Kovac! And amazingly, support for our guys exceeded the hounding of Lampard and Terry.

So how do we explain the transformation? Well here's where I recover some credibility because, of course, Zola came up with the incredibly original idea of playing a left footer on the left side of midfield and a right footer on the right. And what was the result? Suddenly we had balance. Suddenly the ball could be played wide. Suddenly the opposition full backs had something to think about. Suddenly our midfielders were tackling on the right foot if an opponent tried to pass them on the outside. Suddenly we looked like a team. Quite why it has taken Zola so long to hit upon this very basic idea is beyond me. Who knows, he may now stick with it!

Were we unlucky? The penalty was never a penalty and the referee did his best to make amends by making Lampard take it three times. Or perhaps he was just rubbing salt into the wound by forcing us to watch Lampard net three times in the space of two minutes! The encroachment decisions were absurd, we had five times as many players in the box when Lampard connected than Chelsea did! And the penalty decision was absurd too. Upson clearly took the ball, as was shown by where it ended up! But before we yell about being robbed, we should remember that Gabbidon deliberately handled in the box before he limped off and Green got the benefit of a 50:50 decision when he took out Kolu.

1-1 was a fair result on the day and that is to our tremendous credit. In truth, for all their possession, Chelsea created precious few openings thanks to a tremendously disciplined defensive performance. The entire team defended as a unit for the first time this season, I would suggest because, for the first time this season, everybody was comfortable in the positions they were asked to play.

Meanwhile, Chelsea made it easier for us by playing narrow, coming into our packed defensive bodies just as we did at Birmingham. Upson was superb and showed what we will miss if we sell him. Noble was everywhere defensively, as was Parker. Collison won the penalty and ran his heart out. Diamanti was impressive and tackled back with commendable verve, if not too much technique. Even Kovac occupied a space, although I lost count of the number of times he allowed Lampard to drift off his shoulder and out of eyeshot. He really isn't very focused. Up front, Franco was immense and was so unlucky not to head the winner in injury time. As for Parker's block on the line and clearance, that was brilliant. And he followed up by racing out and making a challenge on the edge of our box.

In recent weeks the team have lacked bite and fight but it was back today. The bookings for Noble, Parker and Franco speak of the passion and commitment as we contested that midfield as if we were in a war. Lampard, Bollocks, Cole and co must have wondered how they had ended up playing Bolton on an angry day at Upton Park! How Diamanti didn't get a yellow is a complete mystery - I counted three challenges which could have seen him booked.

The one big concern? Franco's booking. One more and he misses a game - and Cole isn't ready to return yet. That nightmare scenario of playing without either came a step closer!

But no negatives today. The team played for their shirts, the tactics were spot on, and the crowd were superb. If we can keep that going, we can escape!

Ratings: Green 5 (no difficult saves and he risked conceding a penalty. He also made a hash of a corner yet again)Faubert 6, Gabbidon 5 (Tomkins 7) Upson 8 Ilunga 7; Collison 7, Parker 8, Noble 8, Kovac 6, Diamanti 7 - Franco 8

Forget Tottenham, Pentonville Are Chasing Champions League Place

With the news that 'Arry faces prosecution over tax evasion, plans are being drawn up for Pentonville Prison to push for a Champions League place. A spokesman for the nick said, "If Aston Villa can do it, why not Pentonvilla?"

'Arry is already working on plans to strengthen the prison's mean machine. An application has been made for Marlon King to be transferred to Pentonville and 'Arry is currently arranging for the intercept of a bus load of African players, illegally entering the country in Dover at his behest.

A spokeman said: "'Arry has a dossier of players he hopes to recruit. Ledley King has been given permission to attend as many night clubs as he wants over Christmas and 'Arry is picking up his bar tab. Defoe has been told to be himself and Bowyer and Woodgate have been sent an invitation to attend an Asian New Year's bash. 'Arry has plenty of dirt to ditch and has been heard to say, 'If I go down, a lot of buggers will go down with me!' Don't forget, Rio was at West Ham with 'Arry so that whole business over the missed drugs test may yet come to light!"

Why we must NOT do a Wolves against Chelsea!

Savvakis says:

We have to challenge for every game and against any team we play. This is the Premier League for Christ's Sake! What are you saying? I know we were hopeless in the last few games. But what is hurting more than anything is not the lack of skill in our side but the lack of commitment. Picking a weaker team (and personally I am not sure what is weaker or stronger anymore) will not change anything other than reinforcing the defeatist attitude and lack of self belief which is currently spreading faster than Swine flu.

I am sorry HF. I disagree with you this time. I would not bet my house on West Ham winning today, but just think if we can have a positive result what it would do to our confidence. We should give it our best shot and play to win. Any other way would not be the West Ham way. This is why I don't support Wolves and I always supported West Ham. Don't take that away from us. We can still hope. Miracles happen in football; and this is the type of miracle we need to set us off to another great escape. If we fail, then we would have failed doing it our own way. Not by selling our soul. I am happy Sears is coming back in January. I think he has great potential and can help in our revival.

In Cyprus, I support APOEL. The total worth of all the players in the APOEL team is less than the value of Lampard! No one fancied APOEL scoring twice and getting a positive result at Stamford Bridge. APOEL had a very crucial game to play against OMONIA the following weekend which could have determined the Champion this year. They did not field their second team, perhaps they were a little lucky too, but the fact that they went for it and scored twice against a very strong Chelsea team helped their cause far more than if they were to follow your advice and keep their best players for a match that "mattered". I say let’s go for it, give it our best and we can beat the mercenaries from South Kensington. We did this may times before and we can do it again. It will be 11 against 11, plus they will have to play in our ground in front of our supporters. We cannot concede home games to anyone!

Forest And Leeds Offer Us Hope

Football is a funny game. It seems to me that there is a certain equilibrium hidden in the inner workings of the game. Clubs have their ups and clubs have their downs, but an omnipotent force ensures that, in time, things return back to how they should be. In the short term, clubs like Hull, Wigan, Reading and Wimbledon are allowed a stint in the top division, but we all know that they will sink back to where they belong over time. Clubs like Leeds, Forest, Wolves and Leicester may fall on hard times, but the passion of the support and the history of the club somehow inspires recovery, no matter how massive the problems.

Look at Leeds. They are on the way back. If we play them in the Championship next season, who would you fancy to win at Elland Road? The ghosts of Bremner, Clark, Gray, Lorimer, Giles, Charlton and Hunter would be at the shoulders of the current crop of players in all white and our own Bobby Moore would shrug and say, I could never win at Elland Road anyway! Look at Leicester. They sank into Division 3 for the first time in the club's history, crippled by debts. And look at their response, immediate promotion and now chasing a place in the Prem via the playoffs. Look at Forest, like Leeds and Leicester, dumped down into Division 3 but now chasing promotion with a team of nearly men who are playing exciting football under Billy Found Out And Found Wanting Davies. Look at Southampton under our very own Alan Pardew. Despite the points deduction, they are chasing a playoff place and playing with verve and confidence. They will be back, happily. Even Aldershot and Accrington Stanley have rediscovered their true level.

So, although relegation will feel like an absolute catastrophe, it needn't be. Financially, it would be a disaster of course, but if it means administration, then let's take the points deduction sooner rather than later - and tell Shafting United to go whistle for the outstanding £20m. Who knows, relegation may just focus the minds of Straumur and persuade them to set a realistic figure for buying the club, a figure that would allow new owners to invest in the team to ensure we bounce back quickly.

West Ham belong in mid table in the Prem, somewhere between 8th and 16th. Our mistake was hubris, believing we could over achieve, believing that we could disturb the natural order. That is the classical recipe for a tragic hero. But in all tragedy there is catharsis. Sooner or later, we will stop screaming "We are a club more sinned against than sinning" and accept our destiny. It may be on Boxing Day with a defeat at home to Portsmouth when another line from Shakespeare would then be more appropriate, "Et tu Pompey? Then fall West Ham." But as soon as we accept our fate, the recovery will begin. It is clinging desperately to the edge of the ledge that destroys the soul. Let go, fall, and the angels will break your fall and help you back to where you belong over time.

If we go down, we will be back; the gods of football may play with us as they have played with Leeds and Forest but the natural order will be restored; sooner or later. It will be painful but don't forget the joy of that play off victory over Preston.

West Ham v Chelsea - Team and Tactics

2008/09 0-1

2007/08 0-4

2006/07 1-4

2005/06 1-3

Sorry to start with that list but it is important, critical in fact. Chelsea are no weaker this year; we are. Chelsea come into the game relatively injury free, we don't. Chelsea have Drogba and Anelka, we have Franco nobody. Chelsea have Lampard and Bollocks and Joe Cole, we have Parker, Kovac and Collison; Chelsea have Ashley Cole, we have Ilunga. Chelsea have a right back, we have Faubert or Spector. See where this is going?

On Boxing Day we play the most important game in our club's history since that game at Old Trafford when Tevez scored his improbable winner; and sadly we have nobody of Tevez's ability now. If we lose or draw against Pompey, nothing and no one will save us. It is absolutely crucial that we field our strongest, fittest team in that fixture. See where this is going?

Let me give you a nightmare scenario: on Boxing Day, Zola finds himself without Upson, Parker and Franco because of injuries or a red card picked up against Chelsea. See where this is going?

Try as I might, I cannot come up with a team or tactics that will enable us to even compete with Chelsea today. We played Manchester United minus their defence and still contrived to lose 4-0; what chance do we stand, therefore, against a close to full strength Chelsea, charged up by our idiot boo boys attacking Lampard and Terry? Against Birmingham, we barely managed a shot on goal. Against Bolton, we made basic errors all over the pitch and handed victory on a plate to our relegation rivals. See where this is going?

I am sorry, but Wolves showed us the way in midweek. Ahead of such a crucial fixture, dare we risk Upson, Parker and Franco? Who will play up front against Pompey if Franco is injured? Who will lead the team if Parker and Upson are unavailable? Where would be the sense in risking them in chasing a losing cause?

Chelsea will win whatever team we field. If I was Zola, I would have my eyes squarely on Pompey. Sod one game at a time. Of course, defeat against Chelsea will see us bottom of the table for Christmas and that will mean relegation without an even greater escape than our Tevez inspired escape, but defeat at home to Chelsea would not be to blame for that, defeat at Bolton was responsible for that. We cannot afford to lose against Pompey.


Green - Spector, Da Costa, Gabbidon, Ilunga - Faubert, Kovac, Noble, Collison - Diamanti, Stanislas

Can that team avoid defeat? No. Will any team Zola picks avoid defeat? I doubt it. But this side would guarantee that we would have Franco, Upson and Parker available for Boxing Day - unless, of course, they don't fancy playing because their futures are elsewhere!

PS Before you yell abuse, I would gladly eat Humble Pie for my Christmas dinner if Zola picks and inspires a side to beat Chelsea. But if Franco and Upson limp off and we lose anyway, how will you feel?

Faubert - West Ham's TGV

At last, Faubert is living up to his nickname of TGV (after the very fast French trains). But only because the TGV's got into a sulk because of the cold weather and refused to move in the Chunnel!

Given Faux Pas' performances for the club, can anybody come up with what TGV might really stand for? How about Typical Gallic Vanity?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Mark Hughes For West Ham

With Clarke broadcasting how inexperienced Zola is and suggesting he is not up to the job, does anybody fancy Mark Hughes when he is relieved of his duties at Man City tomorrow? I know the guy has looked distinctly average at Unreal City, but after Upson and Parker leave, he is not going to have any big egos to deal with at Upton Park is he?

Who knows, with his friends at Man City, he might be able to wangle a couple of loan signings for us. It's a thought, though not a very good one perhaps! Your opinions?

Bottom For Christmas

After Pompey's 2-0 victory over Liverpool, we will go bottom tomorrow with any sort of defeat against Chelsea. And we all know what happens to the club that finds itself bottom at Christmas! How have the club and its fans managed to sleep walk into this disaster?

This blog tried to wake you all up back in August but would you listen?