Friday, 30 April 2010

Fulham v West Ham - Let's Cheer The Heroes!

Our trip to Fulham is the clash of everybody's second team...against West Ham United. To be honest, now that the points no longer matter, I wouldn't even begrudge Fulham victory over us on Sunday. The achievements of Woy and his boys have been truly fantastic over the past couple of seasons and their triumph on Thursday, whilst Liverpool crashed out, was a total joy.

Well done Fulham, well done Woy, well done Bobby, John and Paul. The result really doesn't matter on Sunday so I hope our fans take the opportunity to pay fitting tribute to a team of genuine footballing heroes - and I'm talking about the Fulham boys of course!

Why consult with Zola?

It gets madder and madder - unless Zola is on his way out of course. The revelation that Gianfranco was not told that his entire squad, apart from Parker, is available for transfer, nor that we had bid for Dorrans, is nothing short of surreal. Who exactly is deciding which players to target and what is the criteria? Is it a case of Karren Brady saying, "I fancy that Dorrans"?

Zola's position is clearly untenable. Sullivan is doing everything he can to force Zola into resigning. Some have argued that Sullivan was simply saying every player has his price, except Parker of course, but Zola has not read it that way. He has taken Sullivan at his word.

It seems we are into a game of chess here. Zola probably wants to stay and Sullivan obviously wants him out. Is Avram Grant recommending players? He could be brought in as Technical Director over Zola's head if Sullivan's tactics don't work.

How motivated are Zola and the players going to be on Sunday now? Fortunately the result doesn't matter to Fulham either! Still, if our team are in the shop window, where better than at Fulham given the connection with Harrods?

Thursday, 29 April 2010

What in Duxbury's name is going on at West Ham now ?

You have to laugh! Once upon a time, we heard nothing from the powers that be at West Ham. It was as if we, the fans, didn't matter. There was no need to inform us, we were just a bunch of East End Pikies who probably wouldn't be able to read a press release even if one was issued. Brown was aloof. Deals were done in smoke filled rooms and the first we knew about the comings and, mostly, goings, was when a player appeared in an opposition kit, or, immediately after signing for us, reported to the treatment room and booked an appointment with a financial adviser to discuss early retirement. Remember how we learnt, on Sky Sports News, that West Ham had signed Tevez and Mascherano and everybody thought the news team had got it wrong? Liverpool perhaps? Man Utd maybe? Tottenham possibly? But West Ham? Well, of course, our instincts were right and we hadn't signed them - but that was Brown's and Duxbury's little secret and, never mind us, they didn't share it with the FA or Premier League either!

Then along came Eggert and a new era of openness - open your mouth, open the cheque book, openly invite every other club to jack their valuations up five million as soon as the receptionist reported that West Ham were on the phone, even open your bottom cheeks and bite the cushion as every club in the land rushed to join the queue to take advantage of us.

Then came the era of Duxbury! Now we were told everything - with one small reservation, everything we were told was untrue! Duxbury embraced the media and gave them what they wanted - enough bullshit to fill an entire football supplement. He even embraced the blogs and fed them crap, buying the support of KUMB and Dale by massaging the egos of their editors. So what that Duxbury was shafting them? From Dale's point of view, that was a positive advantage! The only way of getting to the truth now was to listen to what Duxbury said, and assume the exact opposite. Looking forward to Ashton leading the line? He wasn't going to play again then. None of our players will be sold in January? That's goodbye to Bellyache then. The club do not need to sell anybody? That's Collins off to Villa! The club is not close to financial meltdown? Hello to the Davids and a package to avoid financial Armageddon!

But where is the centre of gravity now? At least we kind of knew where we stood before, even if it was, under Brown, completely in the dark! Now Gold says one thing one day and Sullivan the complete opposite the next! Is Zola staying or going? Are we a buying or selling club? None of us know.

Interesting days lie ahead. The Davids have cleverly constructed a maze and we are going to find it bloody difficult to puzzle our way through it!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Liverpool Want Behrami

Well, they can have him! I love this assessment of the headless chicken carried on another site:

"The intelligent right sided player can double up as a full back and out and out winger and has also been known to ply his trade in an advanced midfield role and could be available for around £8m and the Anfield boss is looking to supplement the move with funds generated from the sale of Spaniard Albert Riera."

Intelligent? Really! If he is so intelligent, perhaps he can explain why the headless chicken crossed the road, then crossed it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again...

Double up as a full back? Liverpool saw how good he is at tackling in the box - they should have been awarded a penalty courtesy of a Behrami challenge at Anfield. A full back? He's such a good full back that Spector gets in ahead of him!

An out and out winger? Well, a winger who can't cross the ball into the box!

And as for plying his trade in an advanced midfield role...well how many goals has he scored exactly?

Sell him for £8m? No, we should hold out for £12m! If Benitez is still in charge, they would pay it. Or better still, Yossi plus £5m. Now that would be a deal and a half!

Mini Season Ticket - Fantastic Value For Money!

Just as I predicted when I bought it, the mini season ticket covering the last six home games of the season, has proved fantastic value for money. Just as I said at the time, it has given me access to five relegation cup finals, with the bonus of a worry free opportunity to see Unreal City, complete with Tevez and Bellyache, at the Boleyn in the final game of the season. If we win, great; if we lose, we will probably be celebrating Tottenham missing out on the Champions League!

A couple of games in, some were gloating, seemingly delighting in West Ham losing so I would have a miserable time. In fact, those first three reverses simply ensured that the excitement continued right the way through to the Wigan game. Had we beaten Bolton, Wolves and Stoke, the Sunderland and Wigan games would have been dead rubbers. Even better, the victory over Wigan coincided with my son's 17th birthday. As he said, being there to celebrate our survival on his birthday will live in his memory for ever; as will seeing his selection win in the National on the big screen at Upton Park after watching our crucial victory over Sunderland.

I will not always be singing Sullivan's praises on this site, I'm sure, but that mini season ticket was a brilliant marketing idea and I am SO glad I took full advantage of it! And to those who were goading me when we were losing, well who looks stupid now?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

If Parker is not being sold...

...why are the two players we have been linked with so far both central midfielders? Just a thought! My priority might be wide midfielders, full backs and a centre back or two. Oh and a forward or two if Ilan isn't hanging around. But no, Dorrans and Boateng are the names in the frame at the moment. Interesting.

Planning a firesale? Burn down the house whilst you're about it!

(Contributed by Shaun)

From the comments I've seen, it seems like a 'firesale' would be very popular. I simply can't get my head around this! What if the 'predicted' firesale HAD occurred in the January transfer window...does anyone think we'd now still be in the Prem? Does anyone really think class, quality players would have been falling over themselves to get a game at the Boleyn, given the financial situation and PL position? Why should it be any different in the summer?

Presumably, Cole and Green are included in the desired 'revolving door' clearout Hell yeah, Parker too (even though Sell-ivan says he can stay) while we're at it eh? Is off-loading the spine of the team a sensible option? Does anyone really think that Parker (30 later this year) is going to want to hang around when he sees Cole, Green, Upson, Zola ALL disappearing around him?

I actually heard David Gold in an interview yesterday state, 'West Ham are not a selling club'! Obviously he and DS don't see much of each other then, given Sullivan's latest incredible alleged comments. Did anyone see DS say in his initial press conference that, if he could, he'd swap the Birmingham team for the current West Ham team? Obviously not. DS has also allegedly come out and said that the manager is NOT involved in buying players! WTF?! Deja vu Monsieur've already had to fork out on one 'constructive dismissal' calamity!

The 2 D's and Brady Bunch's current motto is 'increase revenue and cut costs'. So where's the money going to come from to get a brand new team out every week who are happy to play for League 1 salaries? It ain't going to happen guys...surely the realists among you can see that? We need to retain the quality players we have (and don't say we don't have them because we do!) and improve the squad around them, and not a nucleus of just one player! Simply put...we can't afford to do anything else!

Come On You Premiership Irons!!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Zola Is Going In The Summer! And So Is Diamanti! And So Are Others!

Very interesting to hear Gold on Radio 5 Live. He chose his words carefully, very carefully! On the subject of Zola, he said that he wanted him to stay and that Zola had met his "brief" but he reminded everybody of the six straight defeats and how that nearly became seven at Everton. He also said that "nothing was certain" in football, however, and suggested that, after being to hell and back, Zola might fancy a "sabbatical".

A deal has been done, probably after the Stoke game. Zola is being allowed to leave with his dignity intact and West Ham are saving on the compensation. How Clarke responds is probably still uncertain, which explains why Gold is avoiding any allegations of trying to force the pair out. One constructive dismissal claim in 12 months is enough for any hard up club!

It was also interesting to hear that Gold "wants" to retain his top players but again that this may not be within his power because some players may want to leave or "go back to their home countries". That's Diamanti off then, and there was also talk by Sullivan, a while ago, of not wanting to chase after image rights payments should a player go back to France - I thought that was Faubert at the time but it is beginning to look as if it was Ilunga. That would explain, perhaps, why Diamanti and Ilunga have not been playing.

Gold also said that running a football club was "not brain surgery" - you just have to reduce your costs and increase your revenue! So, that's goodbye to all the high salaried players then! Expect a revolving door to be installed into the foyer of the Boleyn Ground over the next couple of weeks!

West Ham Survive As Burnley Crash

Well how easy was that then? I predicted some time ago that 34 points would be enough to survive and so it has proved. I suspect we will now finish at least 5 points clear of the drop so that, in years to come, people looking at the final table will have no idea of the stress we have suffered. It is somehow appropriate that our survival was confirmed when we weren’t actually playing. Because let’s face it, we will be in the Prem next season due to the incompetence of others rather than because of our own efforts and ability.

Burnley duly caved in against Liverpool according to the script. First half, they acquitted themselves well and were unlucky not to go in ahead. But second half? Well Laws had given them a half time team talk!

The demise of Burnley was great news for us but, leaving aside parochial concerns, was sad. Their victory over Manchester United in the second game of the season will live long in the memory of Clarets fans, as will that epic game at Manchester City and their spirited hammering of Hull. Burnley, quite simply, were never good enough for the Prem, but they were well and truly buggered by the defection of Coyle to Bolton. I dearly hope Mr Coyle comes a cropper next season; I would love it, really love it, if Bolton went down. Betrayal merits painful retribution in my book! Our 2-1 defeat to Burnley under Laws says everything about the depths we have plumbed this season under Zola. Who scored our goal? Ilan wasn’t it? Has anybody yet worked out why our tactical mastermind Zola then preferred Mido to the Brazilian until that crucial goal at Everton?

Hull’s relegation was nailed on at the start of the season. The fact that we have been worried for so long that they might survive at our expense is further proof of how bad we are! How, on earth, did we let them come back from two goals down to lead us at the KC? Crikey, but for a sending off, we might have lost that game! Give them 2 more points and shave one off us, and we would only be three points ahead of them at the moment! I would say it would then be all to play for, but Hull could probably play until Christmas without winning another game. The appointment of Dowie was classic. Who relegated Newcastle last season? Shearer and Dowie! Shearer’s not available, so just get Dowie. Pearson had arrived back like a returning Messiah – just like Shearer at Newcastle when you come to think of it!

As for Pompey, well a lot of credit for our survival may be due to ‘Arry! You have to feel for the poor Pompey fans who, in classic fashion, were conned into mortgaging their home to pay for a Pyramid style ‘Arry con. I understand the argument that Pompey have deserved to come a cropper but we are in no position to chuck stones ourselves, given our house of glass. Of all the teams at the bottom, Pompey have played with the most passion and pride since their Administration was confirmed. Grant deserves huge credit for this and surely the whole nation will be cheering on the ex Chelsea man and his patched up team in the Cup Final. The elimination of Tottenham was great fun to watch: how fantastic would it be if they turned over the Plastics?

So, we are safe; but so what? Now the dust has settled, you have to marvel at how we ever got into such a mess in the first place. To finish below any of Pompey, Hull or Burnley would be the equivalent of finishing second to Dowie in a beauty contest!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

West Ham Are Safe!

At times like this, it always pays to look to the Bard. So, to Macbeth Act 3 Scene 4:

Enter Sullivan, the First Murderer at the door.

Gold: There's blood on thy face.

Sullivan:'Tis Burnley's then.

Gold: 'Tis better thee without than Burnley within. Is Burnley dispatch'd?

Sullivan: My lord, Burnley's throat is cut; that Laws did for them.

Gold: Laws art the best o' the cut-throats, yet he's as good that did the like for Hull. If Dowie didst it, then Dowie art the nonpareil.

Sullivan: Most royal sir, Hull cannot escape.

Gold: And Burnley's safe?

Sullivan: Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch Burnley bides, with twenty trenched gashes on their heads; the least a death to a Premiership club.

Gold: Get thee gone; Zola still lives. Tomorrow we'll hear ourselves again.

How did we get into this mess? Blame Duxbury!

(Article contributed by Hotshot C)

There's going to have to be a post mortom on the sorry situation we found ourselves in: 'worse than waking up in bed with a trannie asking you to marry her/ him'...

OK so the club got caught up in the financial meltdown, but DUXBURY has a lot to answer for! This is his record:

- Tries to pull the wool over the eyes of the Premier League and buys 2 Argentinians on a dodgy deal - cost to the club : £35 million in compensation.

- Then tries to pull the wool over our eyes and comes up with 'the project', where he is to install the best upcoming manager and well known coach in Europe, along with the best scouts and English and foreign talent - cost: Didn't quite work according to plan, and almost got the club relegated..

- He then borrows on a few years TV and sponsorship money and sells our best defenders and striker (Collins and Bellend), in order to buy and loan 'world class players' (Jiminez and Diamante) - cost: Almost got us relegated and made the club an embarrassment, while other clubs like Wigan, Sunderland and even Hull were buying/ loaning decent players (Zaki, Bent - yes remember him? Geovanni etc)..

If any one can add to this list please do so!

West Ham Fans Have The Memories Of Goldfish!

Dear God, reading the Org, you have to wonder at the IQ of our fans! Here we are, clinging on to our Premiership status courtesy of Dowie, Laws and Al Faraj, and the Orgsters are talking as if Zola has led us into Europe! I wonder how many of these guys go to the ground, because every conversation I heard before the game, during the game and on the walk to the tube after the game yesterday, centred on how Zola had to go.

And what is the argument now for retaining Zola? The players love him, Zola is learning his trade and we have stayed up despite all the problems. Apparently, given all the problems, Zola has worked a minor miracle in keeping us up! Let's deal with these in reverse order.

Firstly the miracle of staying up. Now, I may have missed something but I don't recall Zola's squad being asset stripped last summer. Yes we had money problems which prevented massive investment in the squad but, apart from the defection of Neill, the release of Di Michele and Tristan, and the sale of Collins, Zola carried the same squad into this season as finished 9th the season before and 10th in each of the previous two seasons. True Ashton retired but everybody knew that was going to happen - well everybody with any sense!

The Board actually invested in the squad. Ilunga was signed permanently, as was Kovac. Jimenez came in as a like for like replacement, supposedly, for Di Michele. Franco came in for Tristan, Da Costa was acquired, as was Nouble, and Diamanti was purchased. Of course, we lost Bellamy but Turds managed without him most of the time anyway, and Zola presumably had some sort of say in the ridiculous signing of Savio which is what really damaged the squad most. Had we bought a proper striker, the squad would have had more balance. But Zola didn't want another striker because of his obsession with 4-3-3. Yes the sale of Collins was costly but I have said many times that Zola has to be held accountable for that. Curbishley quit on principle; Zola should have threatened the same over Collins instead of nodding acceptance.

Now none of this reflects the image of a poor put upon manager unable to shape his own squad. Ilunga, Kovac, Da Costa, Franco, Jimenez, Diamanti, Nouble - that's SEVEN new signings. How many managers changed more than seven of their squad over the close season? And in January, the Board added McCarthy, Mido and Ilan! We don't know what the Jimenez, Mido and Ilan loan deals cost and what the hell happened with the Savio-Da Costa swap, but I think the rest added up to somewhere in the region of £13m before the sale of Collins. That means the Board invested £8m over the two transfer windows. It's not a lot, but it built upon a squad that coped last season after the sale of Bellamy. How much did Wigan spend net? They lost Valencia. How much did Bolton invest net? What about Blackburn who lost Santa Cruz? How about Stoke and Fulham? Wolves, Burnley and Birmingham had to reshape squads from the Championship.

The apologists also try to defend Zola because of injuries. Sure we have lost Ilunga for most of the season but why didn't Zola source an understudy left back? The Dyer and Ashton injuries were predictable. Cole's injury was not out of the ordinary. Forwards get injured, that's why you have back ups. Boa was a shock, but come on, Boa? It's not like losing Gerrard, Lampard or Rooney is it? Collison and Hines? They should only be squad players at their age anyway. Gabbidon? Anybody surprised there? In truth, we have been LUCKY that Green, Upson, Faubert, Parker and Diamanti have all been relatively injury free. Zola said he wanted to work with a smaller squad; well he has his wish!

The "Learning the trade" argument is absurd. I don't want an apprentice manager on £1.9m a year with an assistant who earns more than Phelan earns assisting Ferguson at Man Utd. Why pay a monkey to learn the job when there are plenty of organ grinders out there who already know how? Zola had a season to "learn" last year and what good did it do? 4-3-3 failed so Zola reintroduced it this year. Brilliant!

For my views on the players' love for Zola, see "What does the players' love for Zola tell us".

Zola is a nice guy, I like him. But a manager? I'm sorry, we are in the Prem because three teams were weaker than ours, not because of Zola. In fact seven or eight teams are weaker than ours but, because of Zola, five of them are above us in the table! For those with a goldfish memory, can I please remind you of Liverpool away, Bolton home and away, Burnley away, Stoke at home, Wolves at home, the last 20 mins at home to Burnley, Man Utd (without a defence) at Upton Park, that second half against 10 man Sunderland, that second half against 10 man Arsenal, that second half against 10 man Fulham, that sterile 0-0 draw at home to Blackburn, that abject surrender at Tottenham, the second half shambles at Chelsea and Man Utd and surrendering a 2 goal lead away to Hull, needing Hull to go down to 10 men to enable us to salvage a draw.

We've just beaten Wigan 3-2! So let's retain Zola! Retain Zola? Yes, and let's volunteer for relegation next season whilst we are about it!

The Refs In England Destroy Our Players

(Article submitted by Sav)

Why is it that referees in England, week in and week out, make so many wrong game-defining decisions? Why isn’t anyone doing or even saying something about it? Why is it so hard to even contemplate change in some sacred areas in English football? It seems it is against the English culture to criticize authority. “Don’t criticize the referee; if you do, you will kill the game”. But I say, you should not worry about killing the game because the referees in England are doing a good job of this on their own. Something needs to be done and sooner rather than later. What is even worse it affects the way football is played in England and as a result stifles the development of talent in English football.

What needs to go out of the window is the religious belief that football is a physical game. No it is not! Rugby is a physical game; football is a skilful team game. Referees should not allow disguised rugby players on a football pitch to spoil it. When a skilful attacker is dribbling through a number of players, balancing himself finely while running at 30 miles an hour, it doesn’t take too much of a push to put him off balance and surrender the advantage to the defender. A little shoulder-to-shoulder or a slight body check is enough to render, in an instant, all the skills possessed by the attacking player useless on an English football pitch. The defender is, almost always, given the benefit of the doubt by the referees in England.

Teams and coaches who need to be successful in these playing conditions in England can ignore the fact that referees favour defensive play at their own peril. It doesn’t pay dividends to play attractive attacking football in England. Look at the switch of fortunes for Allardyce’s Bolton when he finally realised that this is how he can get results in the Premiership. Alex Ferguson made this rule the foundation of his success; his defenders push the tolerance of the referees to the limits. It pays dividends because the benefits are far greater than the occasional costs. Building a team that plays skilful and elegant football just doesn’t cut it in England I am afraid.


What does the players' love for Zola tell us?

It was wonderful to watch Parker run to Zola after scoring that goal. The affection for his manager was obvious and you could see from all the players that the win was as much for Zola as it was for themselves, the club or the fans. What conclusions should we draw from this? How can you sack a guy who obviously has such support from the team he is managing?

The Zola backers will use this as the main reason in favour of retaining the lovable Italian. The argument goes, don't blame Zola, he clearly has the support of the players. The trouble is, should the players love their manager so much?

Listening to a Hull player on MOTD last night was very informative. The criticism of Brown was amazing. Most were shocked by Brown's (effective) dismissal, but it seems he had lost the players completely. Obviously you don't want to go that far. But what good has appointing Dowie done them? Hull looked a better team under Brown to me, perhaps because he was prepared to chew off the primadonna "superstars" who now "grace" our football pitches in the Prem.

Let's bring it closer to home. Who was more popular with the players, Curbishley or Roeder? Who was the more successful manager? Who did the players and fans like more, Bonds or Redknapp? Who has proved the more successful manager? Apparently, Greenwood and Moore had very little time for each other as people, but that didn't make Greenwood a bad manager did it?

It was player pressure that landed Roeder the job at Upton Park and look at how disastrous that proved!

How popular are the best managers? Martin O'Neill had a tense relationship with Clough and Robertson, one of his European Cup winning players, said how he did not like Clough, the man. There is no doubt that Clough, one of the best managers the game has ever seen, was objectionable in the extreme - but that didn't stop the players recognising his brilliance as a manager did it?

Would the players have ever hugged Revie? Not a chance. Revie was a manager - a man apart in public, but his players respected him enormously and knew that he would back them to his last breath. A mate? No. A manager? Absolutely. Can you imagine Revie not being in contact with "one of his boys" if he was out for 12 months with a career threatening injury? Mobile phones didn't exist back then, but Revie would never have ignored a player in the way that Zola ignored Ashton.

Do you think the players "like" Wenger? Do they run to the touchline and hug him? How about Ferguson? Jose is an interesting one. He is Clough like, playing with the emotions of the players, using the team almost as an extension of his own ego. But do the players like him in the way ours like Zola? I doubt it.

Sadly, football and management are not about being "nice" and popular, football and management are about winning. Why were the players hugging Zola? Because we were winning -against Wigan! Winning has become such a rare event at West Ham that any victory provokes this public outpouring of relief. That's not to the credit of Zola, that's an indictment: a home victory over a team in the bottom 8 should not be cause for wild celebrations, should it?

So where do we go from here? Has this changed anything? We will survive, but we may survive with the lowest number of points ever secured by a club not relegated from the Prem. Even if we win our last two games, we will still finish with 2 points less than when we were relegated under Roeder. Those are the hard facts and no amount of smiling and hugging will change that. On Monday, we surrendered at Liverpool. Zola's response was to field the same team, except for the return of Parker. Yes we won, but how well did we play? If we are honest?

Zola is a very nice guy but what good is that if very nice guys finish 17th - or lower?

Old Pals Act Keeps Us Up

Just like to extend a huge thank you to Dowie for helping to mastermind Hull's relegation and to Jimmy Bullard for missing that penalty. Once a Hammer, always a Hammer it seems! (Unless your name is Redknapp or Lampard!)

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Well Played Wiley Coyote!

I thought Alan Too Old To Ref Wiley had a brilliant game today. The guy carries a few extra pounds and is certainly no pup, but he was up and down the pitch all 90 minutes and really had his finger on the pulse. He has clearly watched Behrami and had his number well and truly. How many times did Behrami nose dive into the turf after losing control, only for Wiley to shake his head and wave play on? The home crowd didn't like it at first, but after two or three rejections by Wiley, the anger turned on Behrami instead. We know what the guy is up to and, if we are honest, that is not the West Ham way and not what we want to see. Instead of conning refs, Behrami might like to work on his first touch and try dribbling instead of kicking it ahead of him and scrambling after it.

And Wiley had Ilan's number too. Just as with Behrami, Ilan seems to think that an opposition player coming within a yard of him is unfair and merits a free kick. Just like Behrami, he throws himself to the floor at the merest hint of physical contact, and Wiley was having none of it from him either. Of course, this was not to our advantage but it was refreshing to see a ref standing for no nonsense.

And the handball goal? It wasn't handball, Rodallega put it in with his cock. Maybe a case for a drugs probe perhaps, has he been popping Viagra or was he just excited to be in the presence of all those Essex girls? Maybe, looking at that picture above, Wiley has researched Rodallega too!

West Ham 3 Wigan 2 - The Day Zola Got It All Right - Well Almost!

Shall we try to ignore the fact that Zola had the choice between Spector and Daprela and chose The Wank, who promptly put Wigan ahead? Mind you, I'm still trying to work out how I didn't see it. It was right in front of me but nobody around me seemed to realise that it was an own goal. It looked soft, it looked as if Green was half asleep, it looked like a killer blow, but it didn't look like Spector put it in. Again, it just shows that watching live distorts the game; you get a much clearer picture on a TV and PC screen!

The goals we scored all looked good to me. Cole's run and cross for the first were impressive and, yet again, Ilan was in the right place at the right time in the box. That is a very useful knack! Mind you, outside the box, and it is less a case of Ilan's knack and more a case of Ilan's knackered; Franco looks so much more accomplished as a footballer. If you could roll the two together into one player, you would have a perfect foil for Cole.

Noble's free kick for the second was a beauty and Kovac was amazingly alert to get on the end of the rebound. I didn't want him in the team so well done to Zola for picking him!

And as for the third goal, well, wow! I have had a go at Parker for not scoring enough and, typically, the hit and hope effort against Chelsea was irrelevant. This one was special. The cushioned header back by Franco was first class and Parker's finish was sublime. I rate Kirkland and he was at full stretch and didn't have a prayer of reaching it.

Apart from those goals and Cole's effort cleared off the line, we didn't create much did we? A header bounced off the top of the bar and...nope, I can't remember anything else. Not surprising, I suppose, with Noble wide on the left, Behrami wide on the right and Kovac anchoring midfield. Parker apart, that was a utilitarian midfield in the extreme for a home game we were desperate to win against lowly Wigan. But full credit to Zola, he knows best! I don't think there was a single person in the stadium who agreed with his decision to retain 10 of the 11 who surrendered so abjectly at Anfield, so I guess that makes the team selection inspired. You have to wonder why we employ Clarke though, when we concede two goals from corners!

It wasn't a great performance, it wasn't a great result if you ignore the significance attached to those 3 points, but it was a great, great, day! On the way to the game I met a guy called Graham down from Glasgow to watch the game. It's fans like that, fans who travel the length of the British Isles to watch West Ham, that typifies our club, those and the East End maniacs around me, hugging all and sundry as each of those three precious goals hit the back of the net! What a day!

But how fickle were those wonderful fans at the end who, instead of singing Zola's name, broke into a chorus of "One Ian Dowie, there's only one Ian Dowie!" Kind of says it all doesn't it?

Player Ratings: Green 6 (One good save and one dreadful clearance that hit Da Costa!); Faubert 6, Da Costa 6, Upson 6, Spector 5; Behrami 5, Kovac 6, Parker 8, Noble 7; Cole 6, Ilan 6 (he scored!) Sub Franco 6

West Ham Team For Wigan

The knee jerk response after that shocking performance at Liverpool is, shoot the lot of them. Upson was awful; drop him. Spector was useless; drop him. Cole was virtually anonymous; drop him. Kovac only completed one forward pass all game; drop him. Noble did nothing; drop him. Behrami never made it into the final third of the pitch; drop him. Stanislas couldn't get a corner above ankle height of the first defender; drop him. Green's distribution was even worse than usual; drop him. Ilan never managed a shot all game; drop him. Faubert can stay because we don't expect that much and he didn't disappoint; no, sod it, drop him.

Da Costa can stay, he at least looked like he WANTED to be out there!

But of course, we can't drop all of them. If we did, we might have to pick Mido!

No, somehow we have to make a silk purse out of the sow's ears that Duxbury, Nani and Zola have collected together in what is laughably called a Premiership squad. This ensemble of recorder players, maracas shakers and triangle tinklers were going to orchestrate our bid for a European tour at the start of the season if you remember. What a joke!

So what do we do? Is Ilunga available? Is Ilunga still alive anybody? He's probably still well enough to bank the salary but he doesn't seem too anxious to get out on the pitch. Unless he has upset Zola too!

Diamanti anybody? What has happened there then? Something stinks. Ilan says the Italian speaking players are out of control and simultaneously Diamanti is dropped or left out with a mystery injury. You don't have to be Hercule Poirot do you? But Zola must not be allowed to endanger our Premiership status by leaving out our second highest scorer. I don't care if there has been an argument, we need Diamanti so Zola can swallow his bloody pride. Hopefully he might choke on it!

What about the left back berth? Well, ironically, Spector played well in the last home game against Sunderland. The trouble is, the Wigan players like to run with the ball and, if at left back, I can see Spector giving away a penalty. Based on that challenge in the box against Liverpool, we also need to avoid Behrami tackling in our penalty area! Full back? No chance! If Diamanti plays on the left, we need a proper left back, so I suppose that means Daprela. Zola has used him as a sub in the last two games! Parker returns so Zola has the following selection choices:

1) Who does Parker replace?
2) Who plays at left back?
3) Who plays up front alongside Cole?
4) Does Diamanti return?

I expect to see the following team:

Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Spector
Noble, Kovac, Parker, Behrami,
Franco, Cole

My team would read:

Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Daprela
Behrami, Noble, Parker,
Franco, Cole

What ever team Zola picks, we desperately need to win. Hull WILL beat Sunderland today. Hull will get a point at Wigan. And Hull may well get a point at home to Liverpool. We need to stay 3 points ahead of them today. Still, if we desperately need a goal with ten minutes to play, Zola could always send on Boa and Mido!

And if we do win and Bent puts Sunderland to the sword, I will have the best Saturday night I've had all season: the wife has been warned to expect a very personal version of the London Marathon. Never mind Kashmire, cue the Ride of the Valkyries!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Why logic says it will all go pear shaped for West Ham tomorrow!

I'm getting worried. Despite our appalling performance at Liverpool, the majority of the fans still seem to be treating tomorrow as something of a formality. According to the creed, we turn up tomorrow, roll over Wigan and then hear through the PA that Hull have lost to Sunderland and Burnley have gone down to Arsenal. Job done, we are safe, let's start planning for another season in the Prem.

It reads like a great script but it ignores a few facts!

To begin, there is our home record against Wigan. The last five results at Upton Park, reading backwards, have been 2-1, 1-1, 0-2, 0-2, 1-3. One win in the last 5 head to head games between the sides at the Boleyn doesn't bode too well, does it? In fact, we have only ever beaten Wigan twice at home in the league! Does a home win look such a formality now?

Then there is the little matter of current form. We were absolutely dreadful at Liverpool on Monday, of course, whilst Wigan come into the game on the back of knocking three goals past Arsenal in their last ten minutes of game time. Does a home win look such a formality now?

Then there is the pressure. "Pressure? What pressure?" the Wigan boys will ask. But we are playing for our lives. Imagine the mood inside the Boleyn if we go a goal down and news comes through that Hull are ahead against Sunderland! Does a home win look such a formality now?

To win, we have to do something that we have only managed to do once so far this season, win two home games on the trot. Probability says that aint going to happen. Does a home win look such a formality now?

And then there is this assumption that Hull will roll over against Sunderland. This is a Sunderland team who have managed just ONE AWAY WIN ALL SEASON. If Hull could pick the ideal opponents for a must win game, they would be hard pushed to find a better option! Remember, this Sunderland team are so poor away from home that even we beat them! Hull, meanwhile, have only lost 6 games at home this season. Does a Sunderland win look at all probable now?

Of course, I would love the agony to end tomorrow but the more I look at the facts, the more I can hear a line from Platoon: "I have a really bad feeling about this one". Dear God, I hope I'm wrong!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Kick Pompey When They Are Down Why Don't Ya?

Outrageous! The FA, Premier League and the Society For Protecting The Interests Of The Bigger Clubs have clubbed together, as usual, and ruled that Pompey will not be allowed to play in Europe next season. Apparently they didn't fill out the required form!

What utter cobblers! They are bankrupt and relegated but, despite this, have fought their way through to an F.A. Cup Final! Isn't qualification for Europe supposed to be settled on the field of play? Why does a club need to fill in a form to apply for a place for God's sake, shouldn't progression through to the Final of the most prestigious domestic cup competition of them all be more important?

My first thought, when Pompey triumphed over Tottenham, was that their great fans would be rewarded with a European adventure to compensate for all the misery of this season. But no, the pedants and vested interest protectors don't give a monkey's toss about common justice or the romance of the cup. Some have suggested that the winners of the FA Cup should qualify for the Champions League; if Pompey win it, they won't even get in to the Europa Piss Pot League. What a disgrace!

Come on Fulham!

Never mind the British link, never mind the ex West Ham players, never mind Woy being a weally, weally gweat guy, we need Fulham to still be alive and kicking in the Europa League this time next Thursday. If they crash badly tonight, their focus may return to the Prem, if they have to go all out for victory next Thursday, then we could find them tired and less than 100% committed on Sunday week.

Ideally, the game next Thursday will go to extra time and penalties with Zamora, Duff and co left physically and mentally knackered by the end of it. Sad that we are reduced to looking for Fulham to play a weakened team to stand any chance of beating them, but that's how far we have fallen!

Give the poor manager a break!

After reading about the criticism of Dowie by Hull fans last night, I was struck by the injustice of it all. I know Dowie isn't Jose or Wenger, but I watched the game on an internet stream without commentary or crowd noise, and, based on what I saw, Hull played well and were unlucky. The first Villa goal had an element of good fortune about it, with an attempted clearance rebounding off Carew straight to Ivebonkedawhore, who then took his chance brilliantly. Dowie criticised his defenders but had any of them cleared the ball off the line, it would have been a different story. The trouble is, Gabby took the chance so well that any goal line clearance was impossible.

Contrast that with the Collins block. Kilbane really should have tucked his chance away but Collins made himself big, kept calm and made a brilliant clearance. Yes Kilbane could have done better, just as the Hull defenders could have done better for the Gabby goal, but in both cases, luck favoured Villa and Villa players made the very best of that luck. Had that Kilbane opportunity gone in, I fancy Hull would have gone on to win.

I saw much more positive play from Hull in last night's game than I have seen from West Ham in all of the home matches against Wolves, Bolton, Stoke and Sunderland combined. Of course they are an average team, with possibly only Bullard truly worthy of a place in the Premiership, but they played with passion and they had a shape and they competed. Contrast that with our showing at Anfield! I was worried until the penalty gave Villa a buffer.

And yet, when Dowie brought on Giovanni for their midfield kid, the crowd apparently turned on him, chanting, "You don't know what you're doing!" I knew what he was doing, he was looking for more goal scoring potential, although the thought occurred to me that it would leave the Tigers more open to be hit on the break. But so what? Goal difference isn't going to keep them up so a 1-0 loss is the same as a 2-0 loss. Hull needed to score so bringing on Giovanni seemed like a legitimate gamble to me, a bit like us bringing on Diamanti for Kovac or Noble. Wouldn't we expect that if we were a goal down at home in a must not lose game?

None of this means we should be more understanding towards Zola. Far from it; in my view, the fans have been much too understanding of Zola, too ready to excuse his tactical blunders. However, the reaction of the Hull fans last night showed that, if your face doesn't fit as a manager with the fans, then you can't do right for doing wrong. And let's face it, with a face like that, Dowie's isn't going to fit anywhere too readily is it?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hull 0 Aston Villa 2 - How We Miss Collins!

He isn't Bobby Moore by any stretch of the imagination, but Collins has a lot of the Alvin Martin about him. He was a giant at the back against Hull. Every cross into the box seemed to find Ginge's head and his tackling, closing and blocking were all impeccable tonight. Remember that victory at Sunderland last season when cross after cross into our box thudded against Collins' head? Remember those full blooded blocks as players lined up a shot on the edge of our box? That was Collins again tonight.

What he gives is 100% commitment, and there's a heck of a lot of defensive nounce in him too. The block he made in the first half, on the goal line, with an unmarked Kilbane shooting from the edge of the six yard box, was truly awesome - one of the best goal line clearances I have ever seen. How Zola stood by and allowed Duxbury to sell Collins has always been beyond me. After our showing at Liverpool and Ginge's performance tonight, I am convinced that our perilous position is as much down to that decision to part with Collins as to any of the other dreadful mistakes we have made since the dismissal of Pardew. Collins was a defensive general tonight, a real leader at the back, and that is exactly what we have been missing all season. He was a key figure in the Great Escape and was at the heart of our defence in all our epic defensive performances since; but the clowns running our club decided to sell him. Madness!

Hull fought well tonight, far better than we did against Liverpool, but were undone by Villa's superior skill and a disciplined showing from the boys in Claret and Blue. If only we had shown the same level of commitment against Liverpool! Hull fans will go home disappointed at losing but can have no complaints about the team's spirit and desire to win. Could we say the same after the Anfield debacle? Dowie isn't going to be called Jose anytime soon, but he motivated and organised Hull better than Zola managed two nights ago!

So, we stay afloat! If Hull contrive to lose against Sunderland and we avoid defeat against Wigan, we will be as good as safe. If Hull draw and we draw, we will still be as good as safe. If we draw and Hull win, Hull will still need to beat Wigan to send us down. If, if, if but the ifs are in our favour for now - thanks to James Collins!

Half Time Hull 0 Villa 1 - So Far So Lucky!

Well the score is fine but that was a tense 45 minutes. Hull are fighting like tigers and, in Bullard, have a player with far more flair than anybody in the West Ham squad, Diamanti apart. Why is it that Hull can accommodate Bullard against Villa but Zola can't find a way of getting our equivalent into the first 11 against Liverpool?

Ivebonkedawhore's finish for the Villa goal was superb but it was a very lucky rebound from an attempted clearance that gave him the chance. Apart from that, and a couple of long shots early on, Villa haven't offered a lot going forward. Hull, on the other hand, have missed two good chances, one with Bullard shooting high and the other seeing an incredible block on the line from our own James Collins to stop Kilbane scoring. If Villa win this 1-0, I might end up calling the decision to sell Ginge to them as inspired. It was, quite simply, one of the best goal line blocks I have ever seen! Keep it up Ginge! By the way, there was a Hull tackle in the build up to the Kilbane chance that showed more commitment than our whole team mustered in 45 minutes at Liverpool.

Fingers crossed that Villa find another goal and kill the game off. If Hull equalize, I could see them winning. And on this showing, they would thump Sunderland at the weekend! The next 45 minutes could decide whether we stay up or go down! Don't let Zola near the Villa dressing room!

Grant & Pardew - The Dream Management Team

Two new favourites have emerged for the manager's job in the summer. In the red (and white stripes) corner we have a certain Alan Pardew; and in the blue, one Avram Grant. You will note that, at no point, have I bought in to the McClaren, McLeish or Jol rumours but I have highlighted the claims of both of the latest hot tips. That leaves my other nomination to announce his candidancy at some time soon. I suspect if I ran a thread on it, ESPN would run their headline in a week's time, but for now I will whisper it quietly, Alan Turds Curbishley.

My ideal? Grant arrives as Technical Director / General Manager and Pardew is put in charge of team affairs. Then if Alan feels the need, instead of cosying up to one of the players' wives, Avram can take him along to a massage parlour he allegedly knows!

Lucky Boa - His Eight Months Of Agony Has Come To An End!

"Lucky old Boa" is all I can say after reading the Newham Recorder headline announcing his eight months of agony has come to an end. Boa's has ended, but ours is ongoing! Tonight is so so so so big. We DESPERATELY need Villa to turn over Hull; anything less than a Villa win and the tension increases.

If it's a draw, the flame of hope still burns; if Hull win, our Premiership hopes will be incinerated and the resulting dust cloud will close City Airport!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Liverpool Marathon Journey Is So Unfair

How disgraceful that Liverpool have been asked to make that marathon journey ahead of the game against Athletico Madrid on Thursday. It begins with a luxury coach ride to the station followed by a train to London. Then they have to CHANGE trains before another train journey to Paris. This is followed by a luxury coach journey to a 5 Star hotel and an overnight rest. Then the poor sods have to journey back to the station on another luxury coach before another high speed train journey down to Bordeaux where a luxury coach will take them to the airport to board a flight to Madrid and yet another luxury coach ride to a 5 star hotel some time tomorrow afternoon!

Poor sods. I hope the Brits who have taken taxis across Europe to get home for work have some sympathy for these poor put upon superstars! And I hope our soldiers who fly to Afghanistan on Hercules troop carriers understand the huge sacrifices Carragher and the boys are making, not to mention the soldiers and sailors who sailed around the World before going to war to defend the Falklands!

There Is A Cancer In Our Club

Another day, another defeat, this time with the reserves rolling over against Tottenham. Of course, reading Alex Dyer's drivel on the OS, you would struggle to know that Tottenham's kids had rubbed our collective noses in the dirt in a 5-2 hammering.

Tottenham played Jenas, Rose and Bostock, so it was no wonder they thumped us apparently. In fact, Dyer says we only lost because Tottenham "completed their passes or crosses and hit the target with their shots in the final third" more consistently than we did. In other words, they outplayed us as the 5-2 scoreline suggests. The problem is, Tottenham had 10 or 11 first team "reserves" not playing in the game. We struggled to name a substitute's bench against Liverpool and are relying on the likes of Lee, Payne, Edgar, Montano and Abdulla to come through over the next 2 to 3 seasons.

But Dyer, like Zola, saw merit in the boys' "attitude" which he couldn't fault. What a shame that we were lacking in technical ability and quality! Funny, I didn't know that the Academy of Football was based on attitude and effort over flair and technical skill!

From top to bottom, our club stinks at the moment. I don't include Sullivan and Gold in that, although the stench they give off in time may drown out anything we have smelt so far. The problem is the lack of backbone, the lack of honesty and the lack of leadership evident whenever a West Ham team takes the field of play. It doesn't matter if we lose, nobody is ever directly criticised! Of course it may be going on behind closed doors. The withdrawal of Stanislas at half time was a very public slap down for the kid, but the message generally seems to be, "If you run around for 90 minutes, that's ok". Win? Tacky business winning! Play good football? Asking an awful lot! Get into the opposition penalty box? Be fair, it was Anfield!

I am fed up with hearing the excuses for Zola. Since Christmas we have played well just thrice, away to Everton and Villa and at home to Birmingham. Yes we thumped Hull but they were piss poor and ended up with nine players! Yes we beat Sunderland but by no stretch of the imagination did we play well. We were dreadful against Bolton (home and away), Burnley, Wolves, Arsenal and Liverpool. We were poor against Spurs, Stoke, Portsmouth, Man Utd, Blackburn and Chelsea. That isn't unlucky, that is a TERRIBLE record and it is down to rank bad management: poor team selection, poor tactics and poor motivation. We are not a good team but we are not as bad as we look each time we take to the pitch. Zola reckons he sees something on the training pitch; so why don't we see it in a game?

The excuses have run out. Zola is a dead man walking. I just wish he had walked back in August, or had at least threatened to do so when he learned of the proposed sale of Collins. He proved himself a doormat by allowing that to happen and we have never recovered. Zola has got everything wrong and we are where we are, on the brink of relegation, because of his weakness and ineptitude. There is a cancer in our club and it needs to be cut out. Zola must go.

Players Need 3 Day Break Before Wigan Game

Read Zola’s comments after that shameful performance against Liverpool:

"I don't think it was our best performance. I think we started well and were comfortable on the pitch but the first goal changed things completely. I think we felt we couldn't come back from it. We are all disappointed but it is not a moment to think too much about that. We made mistakes today. They were very costly and we didn't play very well. But we need to react straight away because on Saturday we have a very important game."

This is what he should have said:
“That performance was a disgrace and I apologise to the wonderful fans who showed more passion over that 90 minutes than my players have managed to muster over the whole season. We were embarrassing today, that is the only word for it. We made Liverpool look like Barcelona and I could not see any urgency or fight in my team. I apologise.”

Zola says we need to react straight away ahead of “a very important game”. I have a suggestion, send the team on holiday for 3 days! It worked last time! Probably because minimising Zola’s involvement with the team is crucial for us to get a result!

Monday, 19 April 2010

What's Happened With Diamanti?

Dodgy hip? Cobblers! He didn't travel to Everton, with no suggestion of an injury until the day of the game, he was an unused sub at home to Sunderland, and he was left on the bench all night again tonight. Why? What the hell is going on?

Stanislas was awful against Sunderland and lasted just 45 minutes tonight. The kid hasn't got the quality necessary at this level sadly - left or right flank. Zola's alternative? Franco up front and Ilan moved out of position again! What a joke!

Tonight cried out for a 5 man midfield with Diamanti breaking forward to get alongside and beyond Cole when the opportunity presented itself. Instead, despite being completely over run in midfield for 45 minutes, Zola sent on another striker at half time! I know he is a tactical numpty but that was beyond ridiculous!

So what has happened? Well Ilan was quoted saying that the "Italians" were out of control. I reckon there has been a bust up and Diamanti is receiving the Davenport treatment. And I fear Zola will relegate us rather than back down!

Liverpool 3 West Ham 0 - Lacklustre? Meek? Try Gutless, Spineless and Complacent!

Tonight said it all. Ahead of today's game, a work colleague, who has watched every minute of Liverpool's season, told me we really had a good chance of winning. When I laughed, he insisted I had no idea how badly this Liverpool team were playing, how disinterested Gerrard was, how inept they were up front without Torres, how slow they were at the back. Go for it, and you can win, he asserted.

Go for it? Did we even come out of the changing room? This performance was as shameful as any we have put in this season. There was one tactic only, lump the ball forward to Cole and hope. Zola, the professor of beautiful football? Don't make me bloody laugh! Do you know, Kovac played one completed forward pass in 90 minutes? That was two minutes before the end of the game and the ball was returned to him and he promptly lost it and Liverpool went on the attack.

Did any of Stanislas, Noble, Kovac or Behrami once get into the Liverpool box? How on earth are you going to score a goal if you don't even get players into the opposition box? Can you remember one occasion when a midfield player broke beyond Cole? Can you remember Ilan getting into the box even? Dear God, can you remember one cross into the box that wasn't a pass to Reina? How many attempted crosses were simply thudded into a Liverpool defender standing five yards away? Did you see that Stanislas corner?(Our only corner?). Not only didn't it clear the first defender, it barely reached him!

Behrami was in the team to protect Spector. Kovac was in the team to protect Upson and Da Costa. Noble was in the team to protect Kovac. Stanislas was in the team to stop Noble taking set pieces. Ilan was in the team to...I'm not really sure why he was there! Cole was in the team to collect long lumps and shoot hopefully. Shameful, gutless, a surrender from the off!

And at the back? If Capello watches this back, Upson can kiss goodbye to South Africa. Upson or Dawson? After Dawson's performances against Chelsea and Arsenal and this showing of Upson, that's like asking champagne or dog's piss! Upson was at fault for all three Liverpool goals - he was truly dire! Da Costa tried but he is not yet a Premiership defender. Spector tried but he will never be a Premiership defender. Faubert tried but he is not even a defender.

This performance reminded me so much of Newcastle last season. There was no drive, no creativity, no bite, no organisation. This was a surrender, pure and simple.

And things were summed up for me when Gerrard fouled Behrami about 10 minutes into the second half. Liverpool were winning 2-0 and coasting but Gerrard turned on Benayoun and chewed him off for not chasing back. Where was that anger in the West Ham team? Where was that passion, that commitment, that leadership? It wasn't there, anywhere on the pitch. Upson is a joke as a captain and, a few Noble tackles apart, there was not even a spark, never mind a fire in the West Ham bellies.

The performance, just like at Arsenal, stank of complacency. "It's ok, we will beat Wigan and Hull won't collect 7 points". Well playing like that, we won't beat Wigan. And watching that, Hull will feel inspired.

Anybody still defending Zola after that performance needs his head testing. Liverpool treated the first 20 minutes like a pre season friendly and never had to get out of second gear. It was so so so so easy. We played like a team going down and I'm coming round to the opinion that relegation is exactly what we deserve: the management, the players and, sadly, the fans who have been every bit as complacent as the players all season. Get your heads out of your arses and face facts. Zola is hopeless!

Player ratings: Green 6; Faubert 5, Da Costa 5, Upson 1, Spector 5; Stanislas 1, Kovac 2, Noble 5, Behrami 4; Cole 5, Ilan 4 Subs: Franco 5 (McCarthy and Daprela not on long enough to rate.)

Reasons why we can beat Liverpool tonight

1. Torres isn't playing.
2. Torres isn't playing.
3. Torres isn't playing.
4. Torres isn't playing.
5. Torres isn't playing.
6. Torres isn't playing.
7. Torres isn't playing.
8. Torres isn't playing.
9. Torres isn't playing.
10. Torres isn't playing.
11. Torres isn't playing.
12. Torres isn't playing.
13. Torres isn't playing.
14. Torres isn't playing.


1960 Torres isn't playing.
1961 Torres isn't playing.
1962 Torres isn't playing.
1963 Mido won't take a penalty!

Come On You All Terrible Runs - Even Those Going Back To 1963 - Have To End Someday Irons!

Beating Wigan Isn't Enough!

The Wigan victory over Arsenal has sunk us deep in the mire. They will not go down now, and come the home game against Hull, may have nothing to play for. There is no love for West Ham over at Wigan because of the Tevez affair and it may suit them to send us down by way of deferred justice. I would fancy Hull to win that one to be honest.

In addition, Hull now have two home games against Villa and Sunderland. Who knows what Villa team will turn up but, even if Hull lose that one, I would make them at least evens to beat Sunderland. Six points for Hull would still leave us safe on goal difference IF we beat Wigan, but what if Hull scrap for a draw against Villa or Liverpool?

The trouble is, our home record against Wigan is poor and unless we pick up a point at Liverpool, the pressure will really be on next weekend. I very much fear we will draw that game anyway. Then we are in desperate trouble.

We now need Wigan to get a result against Hull and hope that Villa win and Sunderland at least battle for a draw. One away win all season, and their defeat at the Boleyn don’t bode well for a Sunderland win do they?

This is going to the wire and a Tevez led Unreal City may just prove a cheese wire around our throats. This weekend has been disastrous! If you have a god, time to say a prayer!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Is it time for Wenger and Arsenal to part?

Have Arsenal and Wenger reached the end of the road? Until the Barcelona tie, all looked hunky dory at the Emirates and Wenger appeared a strong contender for manager of the year, but since the Messi reality check, Arsene and his team have looked shell shocked; so much so that Wenger had even run out of excuses today. It wasn't the referee, it wasn't the pitch, it wasn't negative tactics from the opposition or bullying yard dogs trying to break his precious players' legs. Arsenal weren't good enough to beat Wigan, pure and simple.

The die hard Wenger fans will cite injuries of course, but in previous seasons, Arsenal would have played their U19s had this been a League Cup game and still won. Why did they lose? For the same old reasons. Wenger has failed to sign a quality keeper, lacks cover for the centre back position and does not have an enforcer in midfield. Quite why he has these blind spots is anybody's guess, but blind spots they are, and they have cost Arsenal dear. This was their year potentially, with Liverpool crap, United weakened by the loss of Ronaldo, Unreal City still undercooked and Chelsea never better than average over the whole season. Had Wenger signed a quality keeper, a quality centre back and a midfield hard man, the title could have been Arsenal's. (Green, Upson and Parker anybody?) But he didn't. Look at Fabianski today. The guy is crap and Almunia is no better. And a centre back pairing of Campbell and Silvestre? Fine if this was 2005 but it is 2010!

Now he may lose Fabregas, having stupidly gambled with him in the Barcelona game. Why would the Spaniard want to hang around in North London any longer if Barcelona or Real Madrid really fancy him? For so long untouchable, Wenger's judgement is now seriously in question. Has he reached his Arsenal sell by date I wonder?

Wheels Come Off Wigan Escape Route

Ever thought the gods were against you? Bolton score two goals in as many minutes, Wigan score three in ten. Tevez awaits. It is written in the stars, just like I warned. Hull will beat Sunderland. Hull will beat Wigan. IF we don't beat Wigan, we are down.

Still, in Zola we trust!

West Ham Can Be Europa League Contenders Next Season If They Leave Things As They Are

Let's face it, we are far too good to go down. In Green, Upson, Parker, Behrami and Cole we have one of the strongest spines outside of the top 5. Mix in Faubert, Noble, Ilunga, Collison and Diamanti and, if we are honest, we have one hell of a team. And that is without mentioning three players bound for the World Cup in June, Spector, Franco and McCarthy. Ilan is Brazilian! Dyer will be fit and firing next season! Da Costa and Tomkins are tremendous prospects at the back and we have Welsh international and former Hammer of the year, Danny Gabbidon in reserve. Then there is the new crop of kids coming through: Stanislas, Sears, Nouble, Spence, Daprela, Stech and that Icelandic kid whose name I can't spell. And, of course, there is the ever hungry Mido!

Meanwhile, we have a fantastic management team. Clarke has been there and done it at Chelsea. He was the brains behind winning the Premiership, numerous Cups and guiding Chelsea through to a Champions League final. Zola, meanwhile is a tactical genius and a man with a mission. Most ordinary men would have walked away this season but not Zola, he has hung on in there and is learning all the time. With this season under his belt, he will be a managerial giant next season. Whilst the likes of Redknapp, O'Neill and Moyes have got flabby in the comfort zone of challenging for a place in Europe, Zola has taken the punches down at the bottom and can wear the bruises with pride. Whilst McLeish and Bruce have had an easy year, guiding their clubs to mid table obscurity, Zola has been learning in the hard school of experience, fighting for his and our beloved club's life. Whilst Woy has exhausted his team of yard dogs and West Han rejects by taking them through to the semifinal of the Europa League, Zola has focused on what really matters, staying in the Prem!

There's talk of replacing Zola next season. Why? Why would anybody do that? Look what happened when we replaced Roeder. We lost a brilliant coach who, if given time, would have guided us to glory. Would we really be where we are now if the Board had stuck by Roeder? Remember, we went down with 42 points, far more than we will secure this season. But that's a tribute to Roeder, not a criticism of Zola. Remember, when Roeder was in charge, the Premiership was not blessed with sides of the quality of the current Hull, Burnley and Wigan sides!

All this negative talk has to stop! Let's look at our strengths! Let's look at the quality we have in every position on the field! let's focus on the fact that we have so much quality that we sent Inter Milan and Chilean star Jimenez packing! Let's look at the fact that half our team will be at the World Cup Finals in the summer! Let's remember who we have in charge of team affairs, a brilliant management team who know that, given time, 4-3-3 will be the passport to success! Let's ignore ridiculous details like the League Table. The table can lie! Does anybody really believe that Birmingham merit their lofty position in the table? Of course they don't! So, no negative talk. Let's forget about any talk of relegation! Let's forget about talk of replacing our manager! Let's pretend this season isn't happening and look forward to challenging for the Europa League next season!

Come On You Leave Things As They Are And It Will All Come Right Irons!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Nail Biting Time

I opted not to follow the results today, taking a day at the beach instead. I was nervous as I turned on Radio Five Live, fearing the worst after Birmingham's performance last week. The worst didn't happen, thank God, but Hull's away point may galvanise them and give them hope. Burnley lost but Bolton are now safe and Wolves are nearly there. Let's hope Arsenal can field 11 fit players tomorrow to roll over Wigan!

Nouble's lack of starts at SWINDON says it all about Zola's incompetence!

What a joke. Sears goes out on loan to Crystal Palace and Coventry and can't score a goal for love nor money. Nouble, meanwhile, can't even break into the Swindon first 11 - he isn't yet good enough for the old Division Three!

Now this isn't intended as criticism of Nouble. Far from it. He is only 18 and, as we have seen, VERY raw. The trouble is, we played a home game against Blackburn in the Prem, a vital game against modest opposition, and Nouble was played up top ON HIS OWN! And he was also left all alone up top in a vital relegation six pointer at Pompey. And, of course, he was asked to do the same job away to Villa, who, ahead of that seven goal mauling at Chelsea, had the best defensive record in the Prem. Oh, and of course, at home to Arsenal in the FA Cup third round!

So, let's get this clear in our heads for a moment. The lad is not yet good enough to start for Swindon Town in the old Third Division but Zola left him up top on his own in three vital Premiership games and in the one remaining competition we had a chance of winning! Doesn't that seem odd?

Now the Zola apologists will say that wasn't Zola's fault, but he and Nani prioritised Jimenez and Diamanti over signing an out and out striker. It was Zola who decided on the 4-3-3 formation and left himself with NO COVER for the only two strikers on the books once we reverted back to 4-4-2. Cole was always going to pick up a knock over the season - he receives a physical battering every game - and, at the fag end of his career, Franco was also likely to pull up lame with greater frequency than a young buck. How on earth did Zola allow this situation to arise?

How much money was wasted on Jimenez? Was Diamanti really what we needed most in the situation we found ourselves in? The answer to both of those questions is no. Nugent may not be the dog's danglers but he was good enough to mug Upson and to transform Burnley at Upton Park after he came on - he was available on loan. I am sure that, had we searched in earnest last July for a striker rather than signed Jimenez, we would have found somebody to fit the bill. But Zola had tunnel vision. He only wanted to play one way and failed to resource a plan B. That is why we are still only just hovering above the drop and may yet fall through the trap door.

Last time we went down, Roeder failed to bolster the defence with players fit for the Prem. This time around, Zola was just as remiss with the strikers, the full back positions and, after the sale of Collins, the centre back position too. Say what you like about Straumur, it was Zola who identified the priority needs on the pitch and the club signed Jimenez and Diamanti according to his wishes.

And please don't say he expected Ashton back. Ashton didn't train through the summer, did not join the pre season tour and I was predicting from Easter 2009 onwards that he would never kick a ball again. Zola only ever saw him once and, on his own admission, was not even in telephone contact with him. How ridiculous is that? And keep in mind that had Ashton reported fit in August, we wouldn't have signed Franco so the situation would not have been any different in the sense that, after reverting to 4-4-2, we would have had no cover for either striker - with one of those Dean Made Of Porcelain Ashton!

There is a charge in law of criminal negligence. By leaving himself with no cover for his strikers, no cover for his left back position and nobody experienced to play alongside Upson in the centre of defence (Gabbidon was NEVER going to play more than a handful of games), Zola was criminally negligent in footballing terms.

Friday, 16 April 2010

New Contract For Boa

Everybody is assuming that Boa will be on his bike in the summer when his contract runs out but that need not necessarily be the case. Obviously nobody is going to offer him the package he is on at West Ham, unless a porn director has seen his package! But that means we could perhaps keep Boa on the cheap. £60,000 a week is crazy money for the ultimate Ordinary Joe journeyman footballer, but would he be worth keeping for another season on say £10k per week? Remember, before that injury he was considered good enough for Portugal!

Boa has a point to prove at West Ham. If he is willing to play for ten Midos a week, should we give him the chance to add to that solitary goal in Claret and Blue? £520,000 for a player of Boa's potential, wages included? You might struggle to find that value elsewhere.

Come On You Give Boa A Break Irons!

Zola Should Read This Blog!

Speaking to Radio Five Live, our esteemed manager confirmed the club's struggles this season had come as a shock, adding: 'Absolutely. No-one was expecting it would be so tough".

No-one? Want to go back and read what I was writing in July and August Gianfranco? I predicted a struggle against relegation and that was BEFORE we sold Collins. How on earth our struggles took Zola by surprise is completely beyond me. The guy obviously has no idea about what it takes to succeed in the Prem! No first choice right back, no replacement left back, nobody to play up top with Cole and no replacement for Cole should he get injured. And then Collins was sold leaving us with two kids and a physical wreck to compete for a centre back berth!

Clarke, meanwhile, has found a very long winded way of saying the game's oldest cliche. I quote: 'We go to Liverpool and give a good account of ourselves. We take stock on Tuesday and see where we are and we build for the next game after that. We focus on the next game, that is as far as we look in this moment in time. It would be silly for us to look any further ahead so we look for the next game and we get the points we require to keep West Ham in the Premier League.' So, that would be, "We're taking one game at a time" then Steve!

Love that picture above. Etherington is clearly thinking, "You want me to play on the right? Have you seen me kicking with my right foot?"

Come On You Read And Learn Zola Irons!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Sullivan's Prophesy Of Armageddon Coming True

Well David Sullivan, complete with sandwich board declaring, "The End Is Nigh" warned us, and now his predictions are coming true! There's surely no coincidence involved here, with Gehenna opening, in of all places, Iceland!

There's no escape, all flights are cancelled and Britain is in lock down. Gog and Magog, it seems, were Eggert and Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson; and Duxbury, as I warned, was Satan!

Dear God, if the Scriptures are right, this is going to continue for the next 1000 years! And we thought we were in the Championship for an age last time around!

THIS is why Sullivan and Gold considered buying Palace

Relegation-threatened Crystal Palace are just three weeks away from 'meltdown' - manager Paul Hart is poised to quit the financially stricken Championship club to join Tottenham's coaching staff, first-team coach John Pemberton is off to Sheffield United, while the Croydon side's ground, Selhurst Park, is at risk from developers.

Interesting! Now, what do Palace and ourselves have in common? Claret and Blue shirts of course. Major financial problems of course. Manager on the move shortly of course. But most importantly, a stadium ripe for redevelopment.

Coincidence that!

Boa-Morte's Return Is Like Getting Tevez Back!

You have to love the guy! No not Boa-Constrictor but his biggest admirer this side of Iain Dale. My old mate westham66 on the Org is wetting his pants at the thought of Boa returning, comparing the well endowed one with Carlos Tevez no less! I quote:

I'm talking about Luis Boa Morte of course who puts in 110% every game. I was one of the few that always stuck by him when he was getting slated by people on here because he missed the odd goal or 10, but anyone that knows anything about football knows what a lift it is to a team when you have a player that gives 110% every match. And not only that, but helps with link up play and gets back and defends also. He's the real McCoy, 3 players in one, just like Tevez, but unfortunately does not have the goal scoring finesse! It's like we have 12 men on the field and not 11 and this is what we have been missing. If if you notice, our form really started to take a hammering after Luis got injured, so the sooner he returns the better. Liverpool may be too soon for him, but I can't wait to see him back in the squad and I hope he gets a great reception, because after all the shit he was given he still never gave up and kept working his ass off for us again and again, and I think that's pretty admirable! A lot of players would of just sat on the bench and taken the cheque! In some ways I see him as a bit of a hero, Heart of a Lion. Never stops trying, heart of a Lion Luis Boa Morte, COYI!

As eulogies go, that's not bad. One problem, after Boa's return to the team last season, on Valentine's Day, we won just 3 of 11 games. Stats! Who needs them when they spoil a good story?

Come On You Who Needs Carlos When You've Got Luis Irons!

Collison Out For Season.

Collison has been ruled out for the rest of the season apparently, needing another operation on that troublesome knee. I fear that poor Carlton also needs an op and is being unfairly criticised for risking his World Cup place by playing through pain. He is definitely not moving with complete freedom and is regularly clutching at that knee after a strong challenge. Being Scouse Cheats, to nearly quote Ferguson, I wouldn't be surprised to see Carragher and co "testing" that knee with a few well directed kicks next Monday!

There's still no news on Ilunga. What's going on there then? Nor on Diamanti. After the poor showing of Stanislas against Sunderland, we could do with both Ilunga and Diamanti returning for the Liverpool game. There is no way that Diamanti will start on the left for as long as Spector is at left back, so to see the mercurial Italian again, we need Ilunga back.

On the subject of Collison, this may be good news in the long run. It would explain why the lad's form dipped (added to the death of his father) and offers the hope that he will "come again" next season. Last year he looked a special talent, this year he has looked run of the mill. Hopefully an op on that knee and an extended rest will get him back to his best.

Come On You Where Are Ilunga And Diamanti Irons!

Results Continue To Go West Ham's Way

How much longer will our luck hold out? There have been people bemoaning our luck because of injuries and refereeing decisions (although I think we have had more than the rub of the green there over the season) but where luck has favoured us thus far is in serving up some pretty rubbish teams in the Prem to aid our survival. Generally speaking, you aim at 38 points to survive but this season 35 will do it and 34 may even be enough. In fact, if results elsewhere keep going our way, we may already have enough to stay up!

There were three big results for us last night. The failure of Wigan to beat an understrength and knackered Portsmouth team was a huge bonus. Okay, ideally we wanted Pompey to win but did you see the game? Second half, Pompey barely got into the Wigan half. The only tactic was to get bodies between Wigan and the goal and defend in numbers, hoofing it up to the half way line by way of relieving the pressure. I think the ball actually got into the Wigan half five times in the second 45 minutes (apart from crossing the half way line on a clearance, falling to an unchallenged Wigan player and being returned immediately). Wigan looked good running with the ball but their passing, crossing and shooting were woeful.

The Tottenham victory was also good news because it drove another nail in Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. Now there are two teams significantly ahead of them, both with a game in hand. Are Liverpool going to risk a less than fully fit Torres against us on the Monday when they play in the semifinal of the Europa League on the Thursday? What about Gerrard? Isn't this the ideal opportunity to give him a breather? Winning at Liverpool, even against their U19s is probably beyond us but if we could come away with a point, that would be a huge bonus. If only we had played for a point against Wolves, Bolton and Stoke, our position would be so much better now! We also need Tottenham actively engaged come the last game of the season when they roll into Burnley. I know we are playing Man City so we do not need them desperate to win, but I would fancy Burnley against a disinterested Tottenham more than I would fancy us against a Man City team who have already secured Champions League football. The big worry is which Liverpool will show up at Hull. I will be cheering on Athletico Madrid in the semifinals, hoping that Liverpool go to Hull needing to win to secure European qualification of any sort for next season!

And that is why the Villa and Everton draw was good news too, because it keeps both teams on the shoulder of Liverpool! Let's hope Pompey are allowed to take that Europa League spot too - failure to fill out a form should not rule them out!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Pompey's Victory Over Tottenham May Be Bad News For West Ham

Tonight will tell. For some time now, West Ham fans have been telling me that Wigan are a key to our survival. According to this reasoning, Wigan have the toughest run in of all the teams at the bottom because they have a couple of unwinable games. Great. But what these calculations fail to take into account are home games against Pompey and Hull.

To be honest, I think these arguments were born of desperation. Everybody saw Hull's game at home to Burnley as an easy three points for the injured Tigers and expected this to kick start their Great Escape. If Hull weren't going to drop, then who was? Let's pretend Wigan have a terrible run in to make ourselves feel better!

Tonight the Wigan theory is put to the test. If they beat Portsmouth, they are all but safe. A home win against Hull would then almost certainly take them out of our reach and, if they beat Pompey, I'd imagine we would be desperate for Wigan to defeat the Tigers.

Unfortunately, Portsmouth go into tonight's game already relegated and with weary legs after Sunday's epic. Why should the Pompey players put their places in an FA Cup Final on the line by risking injury in 50:50 challenges? They now have the perfect showcase for their talents at the end of the season and have no reason to "Play up" in the remaining league fixtures as a result. I was cheering Pompey on against Spurs because it was such a romantic story, but looked at coldly, that victory was bad news for West Ham. Our desperation to see Spurs turned over may, in the long run, return to bite us.