Monday, 31 May 2010

Tottenham Knocking Gingerly On The Door Of Destiny

Don't shout it too loudly, but Tottenham could be Premiership contenders next season. They already have the best squad in the Prem in terms of strength in depth; if a bold approach is adopted and they sign three quality players, they could give Chelsea and Man Utd a run for their money next season - depending on how much Abromovitch spends this summer of course.

Thus far, Tottenham have capped their aquisitions at and around the £16m mark. If they are to push on, Levy will have to bite the bullet and sanction three or four signings in the region of £25m. Of course, letting 'Arry loose with that kind of dosh could be dodgy. Tottenham may end up with three Africans whilst 'Arry sun bathes in a new mansion in Sandbanks.

Never mind the Upsons, Parkers and Carlton Coles of this world, if Tottenham are to push on, they need to be landing bigger fish. The capture of Modrich and Palacios were master strokes but the signing of Pavolva showed that £11m isn't enough to capture a top quality striker. And Tottenhham now need somebody with more class than Crouch and Defoe up front. How about a £50m bid for Torres? That would signal intent! Or £35m for Tevez? The club can afford to sign both, if they want to gamble.

This summer will tell us a lot about Tottenham's ambition. Will the plans for the new stadium provoke financial caution or will the possibility of elbowing Arsenal to one side spur Levy into taking the ultimate gamble? Sell Keane, Jenas, O'Hara and Pavolva for £30m and then chuck another £75m into 'Arry's spending pot, and Tottenham really could be live title contenders next season! But the likes of Bellamy and Myhill are not the answer. 'Arry and Levy need to look to the stars, not to the nearly men!

Play your cards right Tottenham and anything could happen! Play safe, and somebody else will go home with the big pot!

Liverpool Settling Into Mid Table Obscurity

After reading that Liverpool's manager, whoever that may be, will only have £15m to spend this summer, it appears that the club are now cutting their cloth to suit a position in mid table. Apparently, they only need three players to turn them from Europa League semifinalists into Premiership Champions elect! Who the hell are they kidding?

I wonder how much longer the Liverpool fans will stomach this? At least their hated rival's fans have displayed some spunk, organising the alternative scarf campaign. The Scousers seem to be submerged in torpor. They can't see that Benitez is at least to much to blame as Hicks and Gillete, after wasting a King's ransom on duff players. Sure they want the Yanks out, but what are they doing about it?

Now Yossi is on his way, leaving them even shorter in midfield creativity. Gerrard and Torres will return tired from the World Cup, assuming they return of course. If you were Torres, would you fancy hanging around with "Going nowhere" Liverpool, or would you fancy joining Jose at Real Madrid?

And as for Gerrard, if the rumours are true, he might fancy Spain to get out of reach of the Child Support Agency. And of course to put distance between his wife and the city of Derby. Not that I am suggesting there is any truth whatsoever in what is being said. Surely the stand in England captain wouldn't be so stupid, would he? But even leaving all that aside, a deal taking Gerrard to Real might make sense for both Liverpool and Gerrard. Stevie G will want to win trophies and that's more likely to happen under Jose at Real than under Rafa at Liverpool. Meanwhile Gerrard's legs aren't getting any younger and his all action style can't be sustained for many more seasons. Liverpool would probably do well to cash in while they can.

But if Gerrard, Torres and Yossi depart, where do Liverpool go from there? Who would fancy joining a club in turmoil with no world class players? Upson perhaps? Even Carlton Cole is begging us not to sell him! Liverpool might have the funds to buy replacements but can you replace Gerrard and Torres? Would Rafa hang around if his best players left? And if he went, wouldn't Reina follow?

I predicted last summer that Liverpool would finish outside the top 4 and warned then about the implications. Liverpool fans hurled abuse in my direction then but it has all happened, just as I predicted. The money spent last summer was spent unwisely, just as I said in August. As good as Johnson is, Liverpool's needs were elsewhere. You can get by with an average right back; you can't get by without a forward line or a quality midfield.

Liverpool's best hope is perhaps Woy Hodgson because he knows how to get the best out of Average Joe players...and by August, that may be all the Liverpool manager has to work with. Moores has been critical of the Yanks but he sold the club to them so he has a lot to answer for too! Be warned, if you support Liverpool, 2009-10 may yet be remembered with affection given what may be about to follow!

Here Comes Avram!

Well, just like the sun, Avram doesn't want to make an appearance over a bank holiday, so we have all had to wait until tomorrow for him to be unveiled as the new manager of West Ham United. As I type, he is being checked through security at Tel Aviv airport, returning from the land of the Kibbutz and Palastinian oppression, to Sullivan's land of Kid Us All and East End depression.

What will Avram have to declare when he checks into the West Ham arrivals lounge? I have a picture of David Sullivan doing a Bruce Forsyth impression and saying, "Hasn't he done well?" before checking out what has been remembered from the conveyor belt. "David James, very good, bit old, but we all need a goalkeeper don't we...Prince Boateng...not great with penalties but a lovely set of tattoos...they should go down well with the supporters...cuddly toy, well everybody always remembers the cuddly toy don't they? And what's this? A Thai massage parlour girl? Very nice but I could have found you one of those if you had asked. Hang on, what's this Thierry Henry? Oh no, I'm sorry my love you remembered that one just after the buzzer went. Jamie O'Hara? No apparently you didn't get that one either. What about Beckham? Did he get Beckham? Hang on, they're just checking. Oh I'm sorry, it seems that you remembered David too late too. But never mind, hasn't he done well? It's so much harder than when you're playing at home isn't it? Pardon? No I haven't seen your wife!"

The Press Conference promises to be a real hum dinger!

Q "Are you excited to be taking over at West Ham Avram?"

A "I am pleased yes."

Q "What are your targets for next season?"

A "To win as many games as we can and draw as many of the remaining games as we can."

Q "Would you like to make it through to another Cup Final?"

A "That would be nice yes."

Q "Can we expect to see changes to the squad?"

A "I will look at what we have and what we need. It is too early to say."

Q "Can we expect any players to be sold."

A "It is too early to say."

Q "Are you looking forward to working with David Sullivan?"

A "He can't be any worse than the cnuts I was working for before! Can he?"

I think Bruce would sum it up perfectly. "Hello Avram, nice to see you, to see you...nice"!

Poor Unloved Upson

Has ever a player had so few fans? Poor old Matty may be about to wave his mates off on a World Cup adventure, before skulking off home to wonder where it all went wrong; and nobody seems to have a kind word to say for him.

I ran an article yesterday on the injustice of Carragher and King being allowed back into the squad, and NOBODY put in a kind word for Matty. Where were the West Ham fans lining up in support of the club's (embarrassed cough) captain? Carragher cheated us out of the FA Cup but West Ham fans still bite their tongues rather than voice support for Upson. King plays for hated rivals Tottenham, but not a word has been spoken in defence of England's Mr Dependable Matty Upson as he faces crushing heart break.

Where's David Sullivan? He has an opinion on everything else so why hasn't he come out and pledged his support for the (polite cough) rock of our defence? Surely he could have spoken up? Let's face it, if Upson went to South Africa and had a good World Cup, his value would rise.

Indeed, never mind West Ham fans or people connected with the club, Upson has been linked with both Tottenham and Liverpool, and none of their fans seem to rate the guy either. He's useless according to the fans of the clubs he seems most likely to join! Don't expect a great welcoming party if you go Matty!

Where did it all go wrong Matty? Well if you put yourself into cruise control, pacing yourself for the World Cup at the end of the season, it is desperately difficult to change gear in the final third of the season. Poor old Matty will be standing at the Easyjet check in desk, demanding to be allowed on the plane. "What do you mean I've turned up late? But that was playing for West Ham, that doesn't count! Look, I earn more than almost every other player at the World Cup, perhaps I could make it worth your while. The plane hasn't left yet has it?"

Poor old Matty. Poor, poor, old Matty. Poor, poor, rich, old Matty. But don't worry Matty, over in South Africa, all the crocodiles have heard about your plight and are crying!

Argie Keeper Heading Our Way?

Speroni sounds like something you might donate in a fertility clinic, but apparently he is a keeper with Palace and may be heading across town over the summer; unless he opts to move to Miserableboro instead. And why would anybody in his right mind move up there?

Is he any good? I have no idea! Traditionally South Americans aren't that great between the sticks but he may be an exception. At least he isn't Scottish! Of course, his imminent arrival suggests Green will be departing.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Dagenham & Redbridge promoted in front of 32,000 loyal fans!

Nothing like a day out at Wembley to help fans discover a passion for the home town club is there? Dagenham and Redbridge have scraped by on average gates of just over 2,000 all season, despite making it into the playoffs, but a play off final at Wembley saw the good denizens of the town of Dagenham exchange their BNP rosettes for the badge of the Daggers in their droves. Nick Griffin, of course, secured 6,620 votes in the last election in neighbouring Barking, three times Dagenham's average home gate!

I wonder if BNP Councillors Steed, Doncaster and Bailey were at Wembley to cheer on their "hometown" team? Jolly unfortunate for them if they were, given Jon Nurse (pictured above) scored the winning goal. Not exactly the BNP ideal of a perfect Dagenham resident is he? Still perhaps he will now bugger off back to Barbados where he belongs eh guys? Along with all the other black and Asian nurses (and doctors) who keep our National Health Service running eh?

The politics of the region apart, it is great to see a little club like D&R punching above their weight; although that term is perhaps as unfortunate as the club nickname given the high profile of the far right in the town. I'm afraid I can't hear the town's name without thinking of that great gag on Have I Got News For You..."The leaked details of BNP membership revealed 2 teachers, 3 policemen, 1 doctor...and Dagenham!"

I think Jon Nurse should now be given the freedom of the borough personally!

Kamikaze Japan Save Kamikaze England's Blushes

Well that was awful! It wasn't so much a case of trying to play yourself into the squad as doing your best to ensure you have the summer off! We weren't just poor, we were dire!

Where to begin? Well let's start with the 7 who definitely will not now be going to South Africa. Warnock hasn't kicked a ball and we don't need three left backs so he can book a fortnight in Cyprus. Parker hasn't had a sniff either so presumably he can spend some quality time with the family, although Huddlestone and Carrick have both done their level best to play Scotty into the squad by default. Surely Huddlestone won't go. This was his big chance and he looked utterly disinterested, ambling around the pitch as if he was having a round of golf! Presumably Dawson isn't going either. If he figured in the plans, he would surely have been given 45 minutes at least. I think the guy is VERY unlucky. That's four down, what about the next three?

Well Johnson doesn't look as if he's done enough. That's a shame in my book. I like the look of the guy because he can use both feet and is comfortable on the left. But Capello preferred Lennon on the left and he is, as I said before the game, as effective on that flank as Stanislas and Spector. What is it with these Italians? Why do they pick players on the wrong flank? On the left, Lennon is hopeless; on the right he is dangerous. Lennon will go, but I'm not sure about Walcott. He was crap again today. The boy has unquestionable talent but even Wenger has not been able to shape that raw ability into the real deal. I think Theo became a no no today. So, that's Parker, Walcott, Johnson, Huddlestone, Warnock and Dawson all heading for an all inclusive break in the sun at their own expense. Who is the last of the unmagnificent seven?

I reckon Upson may just be on the plane by default. Ferdinand, Terry, Carragher and King are all injury prone or out of form. Upson aint any great shakes but Capello knows his strengths and weaknesses so I reckon he will get the nod. So, the last of the losers is between Bent, Defoe and Heskey. Defoe will surely go and my guess is that Capello will opt for Emile over Bent, although after both missed easy headers today, Fabio must be regretting not including 'Arry's wife in the 30!

So much for those who are not going, what is worrying is those who therefore will make it on to the plane! Wright-Phillips? Really? He isn't going to win us a World Cup is he? Carrick? How ordinary has he looked since Christmas? Heskey? He hasn't scored a goal since February! Upson? Has Capello seen our goals against column? It is worrying.

Most worrying of all though is the form of Rooney. True he played in Lennon in the first half and nearly scored with that beautiful curled shot in the second, but I can't remember seeing him give away the ball so often. He is jaded and he is not at peace with himself. He didn't touch the Jap with that "rake" but if he does that in the World Cup, he's off, contact or no contact. He shouldn't have been on the pitch today, he should have had his feet up getting a breather.

The only good thing about today was seeing Joe Cole back on the pitch and having a hand in both goals. Surely that has booked his place; he has much more quality than Walcott and Wright-Phillips rolled into one!

So, is Capello now going to switch to 4-5-1, with Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Lennon and Barry (when fit) accommodated? Or will Crouch start up front with Rooney, with that awkward Lampard and Gerrard centre midfield pairing with Cole out left? In truth, after the two friendlies, we have learned nothing about our ideal first 11. Let's just hope the players were keeping something in reserve, saving it up for the games that matter.

And, of course, there is one other consolation: we won - yet again!

Upson On The Brink - Because of Tottenham and Liverpool's CHEATING

For so long, Upson seemed a certainty for the plane. It didn't matter how badly he performed in Claret and Blue or how often he slipped up in an England shirt, he was still Fabio's preferrred replacement for both Ferdinand and Terry. But that was when the only competition for the position was Lescott. Now, with the cheating Scouse traitor Carragher returning to the fold, and King rolling up his death bed and walking, Upson is seriously at risk of missing out on his World Cup dream.

Ordinarily, this would have West Ham fans up in arms! It is a bloody disgrace when you think about it. Neither Carragher nor King played any part in the qualification campaign. No extended season for them last summer. No long flights to the Ukraine or Belaruse in mid season. No divided loyalties between club and country. Isn't it odd that King was ruled out by 'Arry when Tottenham were engaged in the blood and thunder of a Premiership season yet, via a Christ like miracle, King is suddenly fine to play three games in a week now Tottenham's season is over? That stinks.

But not half as much as the inclusion of that cheating Scouse traitor Carragher. Remember, this is the guy who, when there was an injury crisis in the centre back positions, REFUSED to answer England's call for help in that all or nothing qualification game against Croatia. I don't care what he thought of McClaren, his COUNTRY needed him and the Scouse shit turned his back on his nation and the fans who enable him to earn such a fantastic salary. "I'm not picked as first choice so I won't play," he whined like a spoilt ten year old. And as a result, we crashed out of the Euros. Upson, meanwhile, has turned up come rain or shine, accepting his role as understudy, proud to play for his country. Put yourself in Upson's boots. How would you feel if you were left out in favour of either King or Upson?

So why aren't Hammers fans up in arms? Well because we have had the feeling all season that Upson has been looking after himself when playing for West Ham, pacing himself ready for the World Cup. We know that had he felt a niggle, he would have walked off the pitch, no matter how important the game to West Ham. We saw the way Tomkins was asked to mark Doyle, Rooney and Davies whilst Upson marked...well nobody. We also know that he wants out, that his heart isn't in the club because he THINKS he is too good for us. So, in a way, it would be good to see him dropped, so he can feel how we felt all last season, that sense of crushing disappointment, that feeling of being kicked in the bollocks.

There are no rights here, just wrongs. Carragher should not be on the plane and nor should King. Look at the fuss because Terry screwed Bridge's girlfriend, Carragher and King have screwed every England fan for three seasons or more. But take Upson? After his performances for West Ham last season? No way. If you don't make it Matty, don't expect any sympathy from down Green Street way!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Zola Selected Our Eurovision Entry!

If he was still at the club, I would back Zola to sign up Josh Dubovie to play left back for us next season! What a great contest it was tonight, poor Josh apart!

I just love the show. I thought Wogan was brilliant with his acerbic comments but Graham Norton is even better. Mind you, I'm not sure he should have highlighted the fact that Israel didn't award Germany a single point! Surely they could have put the little matter of the death of 6 million Jews to one side for something as big and as important as Eurovision eh Graham?

The voting was, of course, the usual farce. Greece award 12 points to Cyprus, Cyprus 12 to Greece, Iceland voted for Denmark, Denmark for Germany, Serbia for Bosnia, Bosnia for Serbia, Turkey for Germany, Spain for Germany (jackboots unite!), the Ukraine for Belarus, in the process lifting them above poor Josh! Dear God, our entry was so bad that even Malta awarded us no points!

The German song is fun isn't it? How miserable of Israel not to let bygones be bygones! The best thing though was that dance across Europe! Made you feel that we could all be one big happy family one day!

I reckon Sullivan and Gold should sing a duet for the UK next year - I can't see us getting into Europe any other way!

What is Capello up to?

The team for Japan isn't just experimental, it is positively weird. The side in full reads:

David James, Glen Johnson, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Theo Walcott, Tom Huddlestone, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, Wayne Rooney, Darren Bent.

To begin, what is the point of starting with Rooney? We know what the guy can do and, on his own admission, he is feeling jaded and in need of rest. Capello, himself, has said that the team have to learn how to play without Rooney and yet Capello starts him every game. What happens if Rooney is injured tomorrow? How stupid would that be? Why risk him? Why?

Then there is the selection of David James. What is that about? We know what he can do too and he is hardly in need of the experience. Hart, on the other hand, looks the best of the three keepers but still has only 90 minutes of international football, spread over two games, under his belt. Surely he should have started this game ahead of Calamity?

But what is really strange is the inclusion of BOTH Lennon and Walcott. We know Lennon can't play on the left, he's about as effective there as Stanislas and Spector, so what is going on? Can we expect to see Walcott and Lennon switching flanks? Very, very weird.

And then there is Huddlestone. He isn't a midfield anchor man but that's where he is playing! If we picked this team against Brazil or Spain, we would be ripped apart.

No Parker and no Upson either; it's looking like Green will be the only Hammer on the plane. And if Upson is left out, he will only have himself to blame. To describe his season as average would be unfair to the word average. Looking after himself for the World Cup may be about to bite him on the arse big time!

Well Done Millwall

I don't suppose there will be many West Ham fans saying that, but Millwall belong in the Championship and after the heartache of last season, it's good to see them up there alongside Leeds and Norwich.

Millwall detractors will point to that dreadful bobble which cruelly denied Austin when he was clean through - Swindon should seek financial compensation from the owners of Wembley; that pitch really is a joke!

On the other hand, I'm not sure how an own goal can be disallowed for offside. The claim is that Amankwaah was under pressure from Trotter (who was offside when the ball was crossed) but had the Swindon player headed the ball TO Trotter, he would have played him on, so it seems a nonsense that it can be offside if the ball never even reaches the Millwall player! In my opinion the Millwall man did not become active because the ball never reached him!

It's all academic any way. Millwall are back where they belong and let's hope they stay there, whilst we stay in the division above, so maintaining our gloating rights.

Go on Hammers fans, show some charity, say well done to the Lions of Millwall for getting into the division that we would be horrified to find ourselves playing in!

Sullivan On The Gravy Train, Making West Ham A Laughing Stock!

(The article has been submitted by Shaun)

So far, I am definitely no fan of Mr Sullivan! I have reservations on Mr Gold...and Ms Brady, well, she's not worth wasting expletives on! Sure, they're the owners (for the main part) of West Ham, and we are reliably told that if it were not for their 11th hour intervention, we would be in administration now or worse?!

In my opinion, they saw a classic investment opportunity, and bought in on the cheap! We don't know what went on behind the scenes, but did the Icelandics really make the right choice in jumping into bed with these wheeler-dealers? Were they really the only option?! I'm sceptical of that! I detest the contrite smugness of Brady in referring to the club as 'the Business'! I detest the odious way Sullivan airs his arrogant views in public!

Their '10 Point Pledge' is nothing original. They hatched the same 'original' plan on the Birmingham website back in 2008 with similar promises, albeit in a different format! They bailed out less than 12 months later! Anyone hear alarm bells yet??

We already appear to have jumped straight to No.4 on the 'pledge' list?! 'Continue to clear the debt' 'investing' a further £8million! Everyone shouted 'good on ya Davids', until it transpires that the £8m was essential in 'bridging the gap in the finances'...or more to the point, covering the overdue Tevez installment to S***f U*d and paying the players wages out of season! Basically, the Ferryman had to be paid again..or else!

No.6 on 'the Pledge' concerns 'building the status and image' of the club. Is Sullivan serious on this one?! I think he's 'avvin' a giraffe! His ignominious treatment of Zola, coupled with his insistent collaboration with the press, who gladly lap up his negativity, have surprisingly yielded 2 positive outcomes.....on the one gloved hand, they make Prince Phillip look diplomatic and articulate by comparison...and on the other, Oxo have shown interest in a partnership investment to create a new savoury seasoning....Laughing Stock!! But be warned...there will be side effects!

Let's hope Capello leaves Parker out!

The West Ham fans calling for Parker's inclusion in the World Cup squad might like to stop and think for a moment. How, exactly, would that be in the club's interests?

I am not Parker's biggest fan, believing that he lacks the vision necessary to succeed at the highest level. I also think that "turning circles" in your own half will equate to turning into trouble when up against the very best players. Parker only needs to lose possession once for England's World Cup chances to go down the pan. Then there is his appalling goal scoring record and, more worrying still, the number of times he commits yellow cardable fouls. Parker would be a fair bet to see red even if a referee worked on the Graham Poll principle of three yellows and you're off.

But, leaving aside England's needs for a moment, lets think this through from the club's perspective. If Parker doesn't make the cut, he returns to West Ham without a ridiculously inflated ego, and with a summer to rest. If he goes to South Africa and succeeds, you can bet your mortgage on him leaving in the close season: why would a World Cup superstar hang around at Upton Park after last season? If he goes to South Africa and fails, however, how will that affect his confidence for next season? Either way, by being with the squad, he will lose valuable time for resting his body ready for the challenges ahead. Players regularly under perform after a World Cup campaign because they go into the next season physically and mentally tired. Can we afford to have a tired Parker, especially given his injury record? And talking about that injury record, what if he breaks down in South Africa and we lose him for the start of next season?

All in all, it would be in the club's interests if Parker was sent packing by Capello.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Sullivan and Gold Play The £106m Drop

Well, S&G made it through the first round, bravely lumping the majority of the money on Zola and Clarke, whilst risking a smaller reserve on McCarthy and a relative pittance on Mido and Ilan. Given the Championship Play Off game was supposed to be worth £83m to the winners, S&G have already come close to covering the reduced debt just by staying up. But now it gets interesting.

The Zola answer is no longer an option, and the choice seems to be between Avram Grant and...well the only dark horse is Curbishley and I think he queered his pitch when he tried to climb into the Hull City saddle. The remaining £86m staked on Avram? If he was a horse in the National, your heart would be in your mouth as he approached the Chair; and with the Davids in charge, he will certainly be quaking in fear at any mention of the Elbow!

But where do we go from there? I have a feeling that all £86m has been lumped on the Stadium move, not because it is best for the club but because it will go a long way towards giving S&G back their initial investment. A redeveloped Upton Park must be worth between £40m and £50m. So, once that deal is done, West Ham already looks like a tasty money making venture, providing the Davids do enough to keep us in the Prem.

How do they now divvy up the pot? £8m on Henry's wages? That's a non runner in my book, that chute will open up and the money would disappear down the tubes. £7m on feeding up Yakubu? We have already bought one fatted calf, McCarthy, so surely we won't buy another. £3m on Piquionne? You might as well buy a bloody Pekingese!

What is odd is the way none of the money is being staked on a defender. Sure we need strikers but the goals against column was a disaster last season. If we leave all the money lumped on Da Costa, Tomkins, Gabbidon, Spector, Ilunga, Faubert and Upson, then the relegation reprieve will be for one season only. Then there is the problem of that imbalanced midfield. It seems we are committed to keeping both Parker and Behrami and I don't think the pair compliment each other because both are so goal shy and both lack any real vision creatively. Is Beckham the answer? Do we really want to stake all on a player who is recovering from an injury that destroys the careers of players half his age?

My money would be going on Fletcher and Eagles to start with but it is beginning to look as if Fletcher will be allowed to move to Wolves instead. If you're not black and fat, you're not on the S&G radar as a striker it seems. Who knows, maybe Karren Brady now has a thing for big black men?

Watching the contestants on the Million Pound Drop get excited when they get through the first round is a warning to all us Hammers fans. With Hull, Burnley and Pompey in the division, that first big question was really a gimme, even with Zola in charge. But now, the pressure builds for everybody except Sullivan and Gold. With the move to the Olympic Stadium looking more and more likely, they are already close to recouping their initial investment; it's the rest of us sweating on the future. And the summer may just be the commercial break before everything goes tits up after the adverts!

Tranmere Players Get Their Knickers In A Twist

We always suspected that the females up North were lacking a little in the class department, but I don't think we understood fully how low some of them are in the table of gentility. News has broken that a Merseyside female football captain has been cleared of causing grievous bodily harm on her opponent after a league match turned ugly.

Trouble flared at the end of the game between Middlesbrough Ladies and Tranmere Ladies at Billingham Synthonia Ground, when Boro striker Nicola Duckling and Tranmere captain Lindsey Smith clashed.

All 22 players got involved in the row, which included allegations of spitting, a head-lock and a knee to the face, before they were split up, Teesside Crown Court heard.

And 30 minutes later in the car park, Ms Smith approached Ms Duckling, who was with her partner and Boro goalkeeper Ami Bullen, and punched her once in the face, leaving her needing surgery for a broken cheekbone. Ms Smith, 23, of Beckwith Street, Birkenhead, denied a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm, claiming self-defence.

A jury cleared her after deliberating for more than four hours. Outside court, an emotional Ms Smith said: "I am happy it is over and done with now. The last nine months have been hell, getting accused of something I didn't do. I did punch her, I admitted that, but a lot of lies have been told about me right the way through this court case."

She told the court she believed she was going to be attacked in the car park, bearing in mind what she claimed had happened at the end of the game. Tranmere won 3-2 after Middlesbrough missed a penalty after the referee had played 10 minutes of added-on time. Players had exchanged banter throughout, with Tranmere players being branded "Scouse scum" and taunted with "Get back to your council house", the court heard.

After the final whistle, Ms Smith claimed Ms Duckling got her in a head lock, spat in her face, pulled her shirt up and kneed her in the head, twice. It was claimed the Boro goalkeeper ran the length of the pitch to join in the melee.

Boro players rejected her account in court and Ms Duckling said it was Ms Smith who put her in a headlock, which she shrugged off. She denied spitting in the face of her opponent. After showering and having a drink, Ms Smith went over to Ms Duckling to get some answers to what happened on the pitch, saw the Boro player had her hands raised, so struck out once.

Ms Smith has been suspended by the Football Association since the incident - only the second match of the league season - in August, the court heard. She was sent off once before in her career, for swearing, the jury of eight women and four men was told.

Beautiful, just beautiful! West Ham fans will have to change that song "You dirty Northern bastards!". Never mind the blokes, it's their birds who now come home punch drunk!

Just a footnote. We thought we had a tough time last season but check out the record of Darlington Ladies. Played 20, won one, lost 19, points 3, goal difference minus 166! Of course, being Northern gals, there wasn't a clean sheet in sight!

West Ham Opt For John Barnes

After seeing him in the "Playing For England" video, David Sullivan has launched a surprise move to sign former Watford and Liverpool great, John Barnes.

A spokesman for the club said: "David has always been a huge fan of John Barnes and after seeing him in the video was struck by how fit the former England player looks. True he has put on some weight, perhaps because he's eaten too many Mars Bars, but David reckons he is probably lighter than McCarthy and latest target Yakubu."

Barnes could yet arrive in a player manager capacity if Avram Grant decides not to take the job. Thiery Henry may also join, offering the exciting prospect of a heavy weight front five of McCarthy, Yakubu, Henry, Barnes and Boa-Morte. Fans will be reworking a Beatles classic, "He aint heavy, he's my striker!"

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Franco's Release A Bad Mistake

The decision to release General Franco seems like a bad mistake to me. We are not exactly blessed with great forwards at the club and whilst not quick over the ground, Franco had what our other strikers distinctly lack, a quick brain.

He made 16 starts last season, with a further 7 appearances as a sub, and netted five times. That's not a great record, I know, but look at the stats and you find that when Franco figured, we scored an average of 1.39 goals per game; and this drops to exactly one goal per game in the Premiership games in which he didn't figure. We averaged a point a game in Franco's games, and just 0.8 points in the games he didn't feature in.

Those stats suggest that Franco was worth retaining, especially as he was on a relatively modest £20k per week as a salary. He also seemed a very popular figure amongst his team mates and a pain in the arse as far as opposition players were concerned. Watching him turn King at Wembley made you realise what a good job he could do if used by a more tactically astute manager than Zola. The decision to let him go seems flawed.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

West Ham To Be Renamed Fat Club

As if Billy Bunter McCarthy isn't enough, it's looking more and more likely that we will be replacing kebab eating aficionado Mido with eat anything and everything aficionado Yabuku. Take away restaurant owners around Newham must be rubbing their hands together in glee at the prospect! With McCarthy and Yakubu paired together up front, there's certainly no danger of our strike force being labelled lightweight!

I USED to be a big fan of Yakubu but the operative words here are 'USED TO BE'. Like McCarthy, his best days are behind him and, as injuries have mounted, so his midriff has thickened. Moyes is no mug and if Yakubu was worth retaining, the Scot would ensure he kept him. I suspect, just as with Big Spam and Benni, Moyes is delighted that West Ham want his resident hard to motivate Mr Blobby!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sullivan And Gold Tell Fans, "Show Us The Money!"

So, Sullivan and Gold's tentacles have spread further around the throat of our club, with their stake increasing to 60%. We needn't worry of course, because they are just like us, fans of the club, wanting a stable and successful future. Well that's alright then!

However, some may draw the line at the idea of climbing into bed with the Davids. Who knows what they might have hidden under the duvet! So the idea of "investing" in the club whilst they are in charge may have dubious appeal. Quite what the deal will be when the details of this "opportunity" to invest in the club are released is, at this stage, anybody's guess. I have visions of a new version of the Ann Summers model for doing business, however. As fans, we will be invited to come to the party, with a sexy sounding offer, including a few titillating temptations. The Davids will then take advantage of the moral obligation we fans will feel to cough up in support of the club we love, and only afterwards will we discover that our "investment" has all the substance of a see through crotchless thong!

Beware - the whole purpose of the Ann Summers Party is that the punters get shafted!And be aware that in the Davids' world, "All fans are equal but some fans will always be much more equal than others!"

Monday, 24 May 2010

Another Small Step Towards Winning The World Cup

It certainly wasn't a brilliant performance and, first half, we were very strangely stretched, but in the end we ran out comfortable winners against a decent Mexico team. I heard before kick-off that West Ham had released Franco. Why for pity's sake? Look at the way he turned King in the first half - the guy has class. Sign him up for another season.

But back to England. I hate to say it, but we looked so much better second half with Carragher on the pitch. I didn't want the cheating Scouse traitor brought back into the fold but, on the basis of tonight, he is worth his place in the team, never mind in the squad.

That first half was poor. Carrick looks out of his depth and we saw tonight how much we miss both Lampard and Barry when they aren't playing. I know Hammers fans will make the case for Parker but I have always maintained that he lacks the vision and class for international football. The decision not to use him at all tonight suggests that Capello has reached the same conclusion. Is Huddlestone the answer? I'm not sure about him either. Personally, I hope Barry is on the mend!

Rooney had a quietish game which, given the result, is good news because it shows we can win with our genius playing as an ordinary mortal. Crouch again showed that he adds a certain something to the mix. Yes he looks ungainly but, say what you will, the guy is amazingly effective. Never mind his handball offside goal, he set up our first superbly.

Not sure about King based on tonight's performance, and Rio looked all at sea, but how much was that down to a midfield unit that were misfiring and looking like they had never set foot on a training pitch together? Second half, the midfield played much better as a unit and, as a result, we looked so much more secure at the back. Unlike Green, Hart didn't really have a save to make. That said, I felt much more comfortable with Hart between the sticks - he exudes confidence and was bossing his defenders, giving them verbals throughout the second 45; unlike Green. Yes Green made two very good saves but Mexico didn't test him on crosses (why didn't Franco tell his team mates to crowd Green at corners?) and there was that one awful moment when that shot straight at Green rebounded off his chest into the middle of the penalty box; he was so lucky there wasn't a Mexican on hand to stick that rebound away.

Johnson was excellent going forward and scored a brilliant goal; Baines looked ordinary sadly. Walcott flickered brightly at times but his final ball was invariably poor and his decision making was often flawed. Lennon looks the better bet to me. How quick did he look when he burst through to win that free kick? In the World Cup proper, Mexico would have had two players sent off, one for that foul on Lennon and the other for the foul on Gerrard.

Overall, it was an average performance but we still won 3-1. This is becoming a very refreshing habit!

Official Site Plays Cruel Joke On Fans

We are used to the anodyne content of the OS and grew aware that under Duxbury, the bloody site should have been renamed Pravda, such was the level of state control over what was published...but even the Grand Puppet Master stopped short of playing cruel jokes on the loyal West Ham fan base! Now the Official Site has sunk to new lows.

Turning to News Now, my heart skipped a beat as I read the OS headline, "Spector a Reading Star"! My God, he's gone I thought, and to the club just down the road from where I now live! But opening the article, I found it was all a ruse. It turns out that by Reading Star, they mean that, unlike a sizable section of the fan base, Spector can...well read!

Is that what he was doing all season? Focusing on the advertising hoardings, sounding out his letters, and trying to work out what that very odd word on his shirt said? Is that why he missed so many tackles, headed the ball straight up in the air, played opponents on side, gave away possession...did he let players drift past him so he could sound out the letters on the back of their shirts as he followed in their wake? "L-E-E Lee! M-A-L-O-U-D-A Malouda! V-A-L-E-N-C-I-A Valencia!"

It all makes sense now! In his mind, he wasn't playing a game of Premiership Football, he was on the set of Sesame Street! Today's game is brought to you by the letters Zee, O, L and A and the number 18! Oops and the number 1 for West Ham and the number 3 for Bolton, Wolves and Fulham!

No wonder he was playing like a muppet!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Upson Focused Only On The World Cup! We Would Never Have Guessed!

West Ham "captain" Matty Upson has told the OS how he would be "bitterly disappointed" not to be on the plane to South Africa. Well quel surprise! Some of us have had the impression that he has been "looking after himself" all season, putting self preservation ahead of the needs of the team. How many times were Tomkins or Da Costa asked to look after the opposition's main man whilst Upson marked...well nobody in particular!

“We are looking to the World Cup and my biggest focus is that right now,” said Upson. “That is the only thing I am thinking about. Hopefully I will go and get on the plane and experience the World Cup. It could be great.”

The question is, when exactly did he say that? This week? Or back in January, November or even last August?

Commemorative Blackpool Rock In Production

Keen to exploit the commercial possibilities of playing in the Prem, the seaside town of Blackpool is launching a range of commemorative merchandise for sale this summer.

Punters in the town will be able to buy Premiership Rock: bite it all the way down to the bottom and you read the same word written through the core - relegation.

Punch and Judy shows will be replaced with Ferguson and Holloway shows, with the Scot beating Wurzel Gummage around the head whilst squealing, "That's the way to do it!" The players meanwhile will be saddled up to earn extra cash over the summer, giving kids "donkey" rides along the beach.

The Pepsi Max ride is being renamed the Holloway Max ride: after climbing to the summit, you hurtle back down again at an alarmingly quick speed. The famous Fortune Tellers, meanwhile, will defy sceptics by accurately forecasting that the club will be back in the Championship by the middle of May 2011.

Blackpool didn't get their promised Casino but the football club has made it to the promised land. If Holloway has any sense though, he won't hang around to see what happens. He is a hero today, but come January the good denizens of the town will want his scalp. Sadly Blackpool's pedalos will be washed away in the wake of the muti-millionaire's yachts in double quick time!

Roll up, roll up for the end of the pier show, for one season only!

Hammer Hero Hurst Says Zola Had To Go

Interesting to read Sir Geoff Hurst lining up with Duce Di Canio by supporting the sacking of Zola. The Italian's backers made a lot out of the support given to Zola by Dicks and Brooking, but now we have two greats on the other side of the scales.

Hurst makes a lot of sense when he says: "“The appointment of Gianfranco was wrong. Nobody admires him more than me as a man and a player – but from assistant manager of the Italy Under-21 side to manager of a Premier League club was flawed. I was sorry to see Franco move on, but it wasn’t a good appointment. He had very little experience.”

That is honest and to the point. This isn't a man with an agenda, this is somebody who likes and respects the Italian but who understands that he was, quite simply, out of his depth. As Hurst says, "It’s just madness. You can’t come off the shop floor and be a managing director. It was inevitable that what happened was going to happen.”

Hurst is also very clear on why Zola failed. I quote: “You have to move people out of the way who are going to be an obstacle to that and if you’re too nice and soft it doesn’t work. It’s a tough profession and you have to make tough decisions".

Hurst is a good guy, a nice bloke. He isn't quite as anodyne as Brooking, but he is certainly not a Jose. To say it, Hurst must believe it and feel it. Shouldn't we all just accept that if Sir Geoff says it, then it must be true?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Blackpool In Tangerine Dream Land

Congratulations to Blackpool! What an achievement, starting the season as one of the favourites to be relegated from the Championship and ending it by winning promotion to Tangerine Dream Land.

Of course, Blackpool in the top division brings back unhappy memories for West Ham fans. Back on the second of January 1971, West Ham led by Bobby Moore and featuring Jimmy Greaves, Clyde Best, Frank Lampard Senior and Billy Bonds, contrived to lose a Third round F.A. Cup tie 4-0 at bottom of the table Blackpool. The defeat was bad enough, but then it came out that Moore had been out on the booze with 3 team mates the night before the game. The Daily Mail led the press in exposing what, in those days, was a major scandal, and Moore was suspended by the club. It was a sea change moment in his relationship with Greenwood and Moore's eventual exit from the club was sealed as a result. Unlike Bobby Charlton at Old Trafford, Moore would never become an elder statesman and footballing ambassador for the club. Sadly, in 1975, Bobby was wearing a Fulham shirt when we won the F.A. Cup.

The West Ham team in full that miserable day in Blackpool read: Ferguson, Bonds, Lampard, Eustace, Taylor, Moore, Ayris, Lindsay, Best, Howe and Dear. Older fans will have no problems remembering any of that lot, with the possible exception of Lindsay and Howe, two "squad" players who never really cut it as First Division players. Howe made 73 starts for the club spread over six seasons before moving to Bournemouth, whilst Lindsay managed just 42 starts over 3 seasons before being shipped out to Watford. Wonder where they are now?

70-71 was a miserable season, much like 2009-10. We narrowly avoided relegation, finishing third from bottom on 34 points. But in those days, of course, you only got 2 points for a win so that points total is massive compared with Zola's team. We did, however, play 42 games! Our home record was miserable - no fortress Upton Park that season because we only won six at home - but we did chalk up 4 away wins. By coincidence, Burnley went down that season too!

How things have changed since then! The 22 top division clubs included Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Blackpool, Ipswich, Coventry, Derby and Southampton. Man Utd finished 8th and Wolves 4th!

Poor Blackpool now face an impossible task. I would like to wish them well but, until our squad is revamped, we have to find three teams to finish below us - and Blackpool must be a banker bet! They finished bottom in 1971 on 23 points and I would be amazed if they equal that total this time around, even with 3 points for a win!

Enjoy the dream guys, but don't expect it to last!

Blackpool In The Top Flight?

Bobby Moore will raise a glass or four to that! Who wants to pay homage to Bobby by joining me on a pub crawl around Blackpool on the night before our game up there?

Sullivan Admits To Henry Publicity Stunt

With journalists falling over themselves to break the story that we are in for Henry, Sullivan has burst the bubble before is has properly left the plastic blowy thing (what ever they are called!). After initially telling the World that we were after Mr Va Va Va Va Va Vahoo Vahoo Vahoo Vahoo (Anybody got any jump leads?) Vahooooommmm, Sullivan has now admitted that "Yes, of course it is very unlikely that we will get him - but we can only try!"

So, when this is all proved to be so much Red Bull, expect an announcement that we are also hoping to sign Messi ...then Ronaldo, Fabregas, Tevez and Rooney; followed a little later by a confession that, "Yes, of course it is very unlikely that we will get him - but we can only try!"

Keep trying Sulli. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that Mido might yet start the season in Claret and Blue?

West Ham's Claret and Blue Dad's Army

With news that we are apparently trying to sign the 32 year old Henry and the 39 year old David James and may yet offer a contract extension to the 33 year old Boa-Morte, I hope Sullivan has made a planning application for an extension to our treatment room - a geriatric ward!

With the smiling Zola replaced by the lugubrious Grant, it seems S&G are intent on going from one extreme to the other. You win nothing with kids, Hansen once famously said before Giggs, Beckham and co swept to the title; well you win absolutely nothing with a team on zimmer frames! The Academy of Football? Under Sullivan & Gold, we won't have a Nursery team but a Nursing Home team if we're not careful!

West Ham Line Up Henry

So the silly season is well and truly upon us. I look in on News Now and find stories linking us with former Arsenal great Thierry Henry. Apparently we are prepared to pay him £75k a week, despite the £30,000 wage cap I thought S&G were looking to impose. Henry is also supposedly keen on the deal too. Well, £75k per week is a good pension plan isn't it?

Any truth in it? I doubt it. A deal taking Fabragas to Barcelona, with Henry loaned back to Arsenal, with his salary met by Barcelona for a year, seems much more likely to me. Should we actually buy Henry, I'd expect us to buy Thomas, Edward, Gordon, Toby, James and Percy too so Sullivan has the full set. Well, it might be one way of keeping him amused!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Fletcher Fancies Doing Porridge At The Boleyn

Unless Tribal Football are now recycling my stories as their own - and they recycle everybody else's so I wouldn't be surprised - it seems that Fletcher may be a West Ham target just as I predicted. The suggestion that the Scot fancies joining us is, in my opinion, very promising. If we can capture him for £5m or £6m and sell Cole for £15m, I reckon that would represent very good business indeed. Fletcher netted 12 times for a very ordinary Burnley last season and is only 23, so has time to improve.

If we bag Fletch, any chance of locating a Godber, an Ives and a Luke Warm? Zola was our Mr Barrowclough but Clarke remains, the epitome of Mr Mackay! As for Sullivan, well he is Genial Harry Grout to an absolute T!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Grant On His Way

Following his resignation as manager of Pompey, it is now nailed on that Avram will be unveiled as the new West Ham manager, probably sometime on Friday. I have already blogged my support for his appointment but I recognise that I greeted Zola with open arms; and look how that turned out!

Avram is not Jose. Avram is not even 'Arry. But Avram is probably what we now need, a steady pair of hands who seems to have the ability to organise and motivate a team to perform to their capabilities. Regular contributor, Stani, and others, will point to Grant's dreadful win ration in the Prem last season, but I have admiration for his ability to keep a team focused, despite the players not being paid on time, the club going into Administration and a clutch of mad contracts that prevented him from picking his teams based on ability and form. To get a team to a Cup Final, given all that was going on, was something of a miracle. And who knows what might have happened had Boateng buried that penalty?

He isn't exciting, he isn't a genius and he sure as hell isn't an oil painting. But Avram is the opposite of Zola - experienced in management and tactically proficient. He may fail, but he is much more likely to succeed than Zola. Champions League football in 5 years? No chance. But keeping our heads above water in the Prem and enjoying the odd lengthy cup run? Very possibly.

In Avram we trust? Let's hope so!

£8.5m For Behrami; Deal Or No Deal?

After saying "No thank you Mr Banker" to an £8m to £10m offer for Carlton Cole, should Sullivan and Gold take the money supposedly on offer for Behrami, or should they play on, hoping for a higher offer?

To my mind, that represents a very good offer for a very average huff and puff merchant. In his first season, Behrami won lots of admirers amongst our fan base, who revealed their East End roots by echoing that old mantra, "Never mind the quality, feel the width". What an engine they purred. Covers every blade of grass on the pitch they argued. Heart of a lion they opined. True, true and true again. But the lawnmower used by the groundsman has an engine, covers every blade of grass and is as about as creative in the final third as our so called Swiss David Beckham. How many goals has Behrami scored? How many goals has he created? Not many! When I had the audacity to call him an Average Joe before Christmas in his first season, I was met with howls of derision. Now, many more accept that he is not "all that".

Like some, I suspect Behrami will look better in a better team. He does have a great engine and his enthusiasm is impressive. Played alongside genuine creative talents, he will serve a purpose; but in Zola's team he just ran around a lot. It's not as if his defensive expertise compensated for his ineptitude in the final third; we conceded 66 goals for pity's sake!

£8.5m? I would take it, depending on the exchange rate of course!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Upson Injury Scare

Following a nasty clash of heads with an England team mate during training, there were fears that West Ham captain Matty Upson may have suffered a brain injury. After being told to lay still for a second, a number of on pitch tests were conducted to assess the extent of any damage to Upson's cerebral cortex. Happily, the all clear was given after Scott Parker confirmed that the chances of an injury were highly unlikely because, on the basis of Upson's defensive performances last season, the guy is totally brainless anyway!

Avram Grant Explains Ambition To Take West Ham Throne

Grant overheard yesterday:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by these son’s of porn;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a manager.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sullivan And Gold - All The Signs Are Good!

I know there is a lot of concern about the guys now running our club, and I will certainly be maintaining a healthy suspicion of everything they do and say, but, for the time being, all the signs are goods.

Firstly, they handled the situation with Zola perfectly. I was all for jettisoning him after the Wolves game, and I suspect Sullivan was doing his best to make him jump ship, but Gold held his nerve and backed the players to get us out of trouble, regardless of the incompetence of the manager. With Behrami, Cole, Parker, Upson and Green all apparently wanted by clubs in the top half of the Prem, it was unthinkable that we could finish below Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley - irrespective of Zola's inept tactics and inability to ignite a fire in his players' bellies. It was a close shave in the end, but the best poker players win the pot with dodgy hands, and Gold played our dodgy hand perfectly.

Once we had survived, there was no messing. Zola had to go so Zola went. We will probably have to pay him compensation but if the contract stipulates a maximum of £1.9m then that has to be the deal of the century to rid the club of Zola's naive "leadership". Interestingly, Clarke is still at the club and providing he is not going to sulk his way through the remainder of his contract, this has to be good news, especially if Grant comes in above him. I blogged that Zola and Clarke had fallen out over tactics and Clarke's decision not to walk suggests I may have been right.

Meanwhile, I approve of the appointment of Grant, if it happens. Mark my words, if it isn't Grant, then it won't be any of Wurzel Gummage, Big Spam or Dave Jones. The "dark horse" is Curbishley. I'm still suspicious about the way he dropped off Hull's radar so suddenly: one minute he was nailed on to step in as caretaker manager until the end of the season, and the next there were denials all round. There's no way that Hull were PLANNING to appoint Dowie when Brown was sent on gardening leave - that was a last minute panic measure. I still suspect, as I blogged at the time, that Sullivan contacted Turds asking him what the Fcuk he was up to, given the plan for him to take Zola's job in the summer. Maybe Sullivan and Gold thought better of appointing Curbishley as a result, but if I was looking to make a clever bet on the next manager of our club, it would be on Curbishley. Would that be a bad move? I detest the guy and his brand of football but at least, unlike Zola, he knows how to organise a team to frustrate the opposition. I would not renew my mini season ticket, watching paint dry is cheaper, but if survival in the Prem is all that matters, then Sullivan and Gold could do worse. Mind you, they might as well appoint Allardyce - except Blackburn would seek compensation!

Most reassuring is the report that we turned down a £10m bid for Carlton Cole from Birmingham. I expect Cole to be sold, but I like the suggestion that he is carrying a £15m price tag. If Unreal City buy Milner for £24m (as rumoured), O'Neill will have money sloshing around and he needs a replacement for Heskey. Liverpool also fancy Cole apparently and, more improbably, Arsenal have been linked. When the merry go round starts, Sunderland may also come into the equation if Jones is sold. I reckon we will pocket £12m - £15m for Cole and that would be great business. Buy Fletcher and Eagles for a combined £9m from Burnley and we would have two players for the price of one and cash in the bank.

The plan to move on Green also makes good sense. I've always said that Green is not all that and if we can get £6m for him, great. Sign a young keeper and David James on a free and again we would have two players for the price of one, plus money to invest elsewhere.

If Grant is appointed, in addition to James, I'd expect him to bring Boateng with him, and again that makes good sense. Sell Behrami for anything over £7m and replace him with Boateng and, once more, we end up quids in, without weakening the squad in my opinion. With Parker's stock high, I expect him to go too, especially if the rumours about Fabregas are true. Should Arsenal, Villa, Liverpool and Tottenham get in to a bidding war for Parker, I can see S&G wilting under the pressure of an offer of between £12m and £15m. Parker did the job of two players last season but with £15m, we could buy three. And we could cover the wages of three too, given the massive salary Parker enjoys.

I fancy we could start next season with a very different team, but with a team much better equipped to succeed in the Prem. For the time being, I'm backing S&G because I like what I see!

S&G's 10 Point Plan

Just logged on to find that Sullivan and Gold have announced a 10 Point Plan. Dear God, the bar has been set low for the new manager! If the target is only 10 points, they could have stuck with Zola!

I'll get my coat!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Germany's World Cup Bid Kicked In the Ballacks!

Oh dear, what a shame! That thoroughly lovable guy Michael Ballack has been cruelly ruled out of the World Cup courtesy of that shocking Boateng tackle on Saturday. And Boateng is German too isn't he? Wunderbar!

Ballack is already being described as irreplacable in the German press! They were an outside bet for the World Cup anyway but I reckon this kick in the Ballacks has knocked them out of the running altogether. Torres may yet struggle and Fabregas is already out so Spain will not be at full strength either.

If we can keep Rooney fit, we have a real chance!

Wurzel Gummage? Big Spam? Come off it!

Do we really believe Holloway will soon be breezing through the doors of the Boleyn calling Karren Brady "Aunt Sally"? Can you imagine the reaction of our multi national band of bastards to the West Country scarecrow? As a comedy turn, he could fill a slot at the Christmas Party, but as a manager of West Ham? "Oyie don't know about laaaattttt." Speaking as a Cockney raised in Yeovil in Zumerzet, the idea that somebody speaking as Holloway speaks could manage West Ham is, well, laughable. Turds had a brown Volvo, Holloway would drive down Green Street in a brand new combine 'arvester. On the short list? Only to give the appearance of a list!

And Big Spam, in charge of southern softies West Ham? I can see a certain logic but are Sullivan and Gold so thick skinned that they would opt for Mr Brute Force to join the dynasty of Greenwood and Lyall? I know Zola was a disaster, but surely the Davids would not make such a radical break with the traditions of the club. Imagine the brief given to Tony Carr: "I don't care what he can do with a ball, is he six foot four, built like a brick outhouse and has he got an ASBO? If not, forget it." Bugger the Academy of Football, with Allardyce in charge, we would become the Borstal of Football!

Dave Jones? At the Academy of Football? Unfair I know but some people insist there is no smoke without fire. And leaving that aside, and it should be left aside because the allegations were judged unfounded, the guy does not have the necessary experience in the top division does he? Half a season in charge of Southampton and one full season in the Prem with Wolves, which ended in relegation, don't look good on the CV do they? A very long shot I'd say.

Which, apparently brings us down to Avram. Unless, of course, this short list is a smoke screen. That brown Volvo may yet poodle its way down the Barking Road!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

England World Rounders Champions!

Well it aint cricket as far as I'm concerned, but it's still pleasing to see an England team win something for a change, even if half the side were born in South Africa! Congratulations to Collingwood and the boys, it's great to put one over on the Aussies again.

Now, let's hope Capello's Lions can follow the lead. We lost at Fulham and the last time that happened was in 1966 of course. An omen perhaps?

Boateng, Petrov, who else?

The odds are that we will sign Boateng from Pompey and Petrov from Man City, and both would represent good business in my opinion, transforming an impotent midfield into a unit with the potential to create and score goals. Of course, there are reservations about both. Petrov's injury problems are well documented and Boateng is not the most stable in terms of temperament, but I would be happy to see both in our squad.

But who else can we expect to see arrive? Anybody available on a free seems to be linked with us and I only have to mention Tristan and Mido to highlight the dangers of a "mop up the slops" strategy. Jimenez and Lopez, meanwhile, show that loan deals are not usually the solution to a team's problems. True Di Michele, Ilan and Ilunga worked out slightly better but, to get quality, you have to invest hard cash.

Hopefully, we can exploit the needs of the big boys to strengthen their squads by squeezing good money for the sale of our dubious "blue chip assets". The stock of Upson, Green, Cole, Diamanti, Behrami and Ilunga must surely have dropped over the course of a terrible season, but with Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd, Unreal City and Villa all desperate to bolster their squads for next season, there could be a number of counter bids for our "top" players. The question then, is who we buy as replacements.

Well Chelsea and Man City will be moving on players in the summer and whilst the Joe Coles and Carlos Tevezes will sadly be out of our league, there might be two or three rejects we could be in with a chance of signing. The important thing is to have a team shape in mind and to sign players to service that shape, something Zola, Nani and Duxbury failed completely to do - leaving us with no first choice right back, no wide players with pace, no reserve left back and no alternatives up front.

It looks like being a summer of comings and goings. Fans will play Football Manager on the blogs, suggesting all sorts of fanciful signings, but we have to hope that the club's management team are more realistic. I will be happy if I can look at the squad in late July and think, yep, every position is reasonably well covered. That was not the case last July. In fact it was not the case at any point in the season!

I don't expect great things next season but we will have to be better equipped to stay up than we were this. Cardiff and Blackpool are playing a Play Off Final for the right to be relegated next May and I don't expect West Brom to survive either. Wolves, Newcastle and Wigan will all struggle too, and Fulham may come back to earth with a bump if Woy leaves, but the Premiership will be stronger next season overall, unless Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool are simply resigned to Chelsea domination.

Interesting times and we need a manager appointed quickly to ensure we are not left behind at the starting gate.

Bloated Benni McCarthy Told To Lose Weight

Poor old Benni McCarthy has been told to lose his spare tyre. According to reports on the net, Sullivan and Gold are furious that the South African's Body Mass Index figure puts him officially in the Fat Bastard category, with the arrow hovering close to the Mr Blobby sector.

Insiders at the club are wondering why McCarthy's weight increased exponentially after signing for the Hammers. Maybe it was down to McCarthy sitting on his fat arse game after game or maybe he enjoyed too many kebabs with fellow fatty Mido. When we signed the pair, many thought West Ham had done clever business; now, it appears, the deals only represented great value on a "pound for pound" basis: never has so much flesh been bought for so little it seems!

There are threats of massive fines if McCarthy breaks the scales on his return at the end of his working summer. But is it Benni's fault? The poor boy may just be "big boned". He may have reached that age where his body balloons irrespective of what he does.

Big Sam couldn't believe his luck when West Ham came in for Benni and now we know why - Allardyce wanted his fair share of the pies!

Kevin Mitchell Hammered

Another day, another defeat. It seems even our pugilists have had all the fight knocked out of them. I blame Zola. Apparently he told Mitchell to lead with the wrong hand!

It was obvious to me who would win when I heard the two guys interviewed. Katsidis is a bright, personable guy; Mitchell sounds like...well, he sounds like he was educated in Newham.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Welcome Avram To The Promised Ham

When Curbishley arrived he was in a brown Volvo, towing a caravan. Now, it's Avram rather than a caravan, and who will he have in tow? David James anybody, returning to the Upton Park fold? Well I bet, after that performance today, he starts ahead of Green in the World Cup, and Rob appears destined for pastures new anyway. We need somebody to play wide left so would Belhadj be worth a punt? Boateng had a mare today but he is on the radar apparently. Fancy any of the others?

After wandering for so long in the desert of Fratton Park, even Upton Park must appear like a Promised Land to the Avramlites. "Let my people go!" Avram will demand, and Pompey can't afford to say no at this stage. The Dindane deal has taken them to the very brink as it is, they can't run the risk of a whole plague of frogs!

I, for one, will welcome Avram with open arms. Quite what the gas chamber hissing anti Semites amongst our fan base will make of him, is another matter. What with the Jewish Gold in the Board Room and the Israeli Grant in the managerial hot seat, we will have more of the New Jerusalem about us than Tottenham! Time to rename parts of the ground perhaps? Ticket for the West Bank anybody? All get changed in the Gaza Strip? Never mind Canning Town, let's rename it Canaan Town. Oh and move over Katie Perry, make way for Jordan!

Not everybody will be happy about the appointment of Grant but there are a few massage parlours around Newham allegedly excited at the prospect! How does that song go? "He'll be running round Newham with his willy hanging out!"

Don't Touch O'Hara With A Bargepole!

Lots of fans have been drooling at the thought of signing O'Hara but, with the news today that he has a double stress fracture of his back, we should not touch him with a barge pole! I have never been convinced about him as a player anyway - I think he is more huff and puff than sublime skill - and with that sort of injury, we should definitely look elsewhere. To Danielle Lloyd perhaps!

Spector Confuses If & When

Lovely little quote from Spector when explaining why he wants Green to play for England in the World Cup opener against the USA. Our American defensive giant said: "I always felt confident having him behind me, that IF something went wrong, he'll be there."

Surely that IF should have read WHEN!

I wonder if Green will now reciprocate, telling the World's press that he hopes Spector is picked to play for the USA! I can hear Rob now. "It would be great if the USA followed Zola's lead and played John at left back".

Friday, 14 May 2010

Steve Clarke Speaks Out

Following the dismissal of his great friend Gianfranco Zola, Steve Clarke has spoken up and said...precisely nothing. As the world awaits in anticipation of a broadside from out of the shed where the bibs and bollards are stored, all we hear is the sound of silence.

Am I alone in thinking this strange? What kind of friend is Clarke exactly? Wouldn't you expect him to show solidarity with Zola? Surely a statement expressing regret (or dismay even) might be in order? Have I missed something perhaps? Has Clarke walked, saying that he couldn't possibly stay at the club after Gianfranco's sacking? Has he come out and said the sacking is a terrible mistake? Has he assured the world that Zola will prove himself a great manager in the future? If not, why not?

Is he looking after Number 2 perhaps, anxious to keep hold of his own hopelessly inflated salary? Or is he hoping to get the top job himself? Or does he understand that Sullivan and Gold had no other choice, having experienced first hand Zola's inexperience, seen the folly of his decision making? Clarke was a full back himself wasn't he? Surely he could see how hopelessly unsuited Spector was to the left back role?

It is all conjecture at the moment of course. The sun is setting on the training ground and Steve Clarke is busy for the moment, collecting up the bollards, folding away the bibs. Perhaps when everything is locked away safely in the shed, he will find the time to talk. Perhaps.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

An Open Challenge To Gianfranco Zola

If Zola is such a good guy and such an honourable man, then I challenge him to prove it. His record as a manager at West Ham was dreadful - the first time we have lost six Prem games in a row, the first defeat at Fulham since 66, the first home defeat to Wolves, the lowest number of away victories in a season, the lowest number of victories overall and the club's lowest points total ever achieved in a season in the Prem; and the worst win ratio EVER of any West Ham manager in history! But none of that was enough to provoke him to resign. Yet he is still an honourable man -apparently.

OK Gianfranco, prove it! Sue Sullivan for wrongful dismissal but pledge to give any compensation awarded to the Bobby Moore Cancer Fund. THEN I will respect you. But if you chase the compensation for yourself then it will prove what I always suspected, that you were in it for the money and yourself, not for the club, the players or the fans. Go on Gianfranco, prove me wrong! Prove you are the good guy that your supporters claim.

Zola In Line To Take Over Italy!

There's been an angry response to my spoof report that Zola could take over at Real Madrid. Apparently, although a great manager in the making, it is insulting in some way to link him with the job at Real Madrid, though for the life of me, I can't understand why.

Well truth is stranger than fiction they say, and unless I have been the victim of another spoof, Zola is in the running to manage Italy no less! That seems like a perfect job for him to me. I hope he gets it, then he can turn Italy from a spoiling team into a side playing the beautiful game, with right footers cutting in from the left flank and left footers cutting in from the right. I would cheer his every decision, especially if he achieved the same results as he achieved at West Ham!

Real Madrid Want Zola

Following his shock departure from West Ham, former Chelsea great Gianfranco Zola has emerged as the favourite to take over as Head Coach at Spanish giants, Real Madrid. The genial Italian is highly regarded in the Spanish capital and is believed to have all the necessary credentials to lead Real into the next campaign.

A spokesman for Madrid said: “We have been linked with Wenger and Mourinho but feel that Zola is head and shoulders above both. The guy is so nice and has played the game at the very highest level. We are confident that Zola’s experiences at West Ham will have taught him a lot and we have it on no less an authority than Julian Dicks, that the East London club made a grave error when dismissing him.”

He continued: “Indeed, such is the track record of Dicks at Grays Athletic, leading them to a bottom place finish in the Blue Square League, that we are considering appointing him as assistant to Zola; assuming Steve Clarke is not available of course.”

However, with Zola sure to be in great demand, it is uncertain that he would accept the post at Real Madrid should it be offered to him. Ferguson’s days at Manchester United may be numbered and Zola could elect to hold on, anticipating walking into the Old Trafford job when it becomes available. Alternatively, Chelsea may prefer Zola to the ageing Ancelotti, whilst Arsenal will almost certainly have kept close tabs on the smiling Italian, fearing a swoop for his services from Tottenham Hotspurs. But Zola may well see a return to Italy as his best bet, which is sure to have Jose Mourinho looking over his shoulder anxiously in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Forlan Floors Forlorn Fulham

Hard luck to Woy and the boys, you did London, England and the smaller clubs proud! And me, I just wanted to be the first to write that headline!