Thursday, 30 September 2010

West Ham United - A Family At War But A Family Regardless.

One of the joys of running this blog is when I receive emails and strike up a real dialogue with people. I’m knocking around the idea of writing a book based on how our memories of West Ham carry us back in time and trigger memories of what was happening in our lives and in Britain at the time. If you fancy participating, please share your memories. To kick us off, here are the memories of the oldest poster I know of. I have checked with John and he is happy for me to share his emails with you. I found it fascinating.

We don’t always see eye to eye on here but John’s story shows the human side of being a West Ham fan and an Eastender. As Fareham says, it is in the blood and though we may fight from time to time, we are one big family with a fascinating heritage!

John’s story:

Initially I lived with my mom, dad and sister over the top of my grandfather's pub in Burdett Road, then due to my father's work we moved, when I was three, to Bradford. I go back to the War and certain memories will never be forgotten: the gas mask in a case, windows taped in diamonds, air raid shelters, enormous water containers, the German bomber brought down in Heaton Woods, the unexploded bomb in Norhcliffe playing fields, being taken out of bed to sleep under the table when the sirens came on. Corned beef, grey bread, potatoes, rice. No fruit, no sweets, no crisps, no toys, very little heat, damp walls. Which all drove me with my limited talent to end up living in a large house sitting in 15 acres of land on the edge of a very pleasant village in N. Essex called Great Bardfield.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people in that era out of East London ended up doing ok for themselves. When we returned to the south east in 49 we lived in Manor Park for a bit then the old man bought a little end terraced house in Hornchurch. I, like a lot of others, gradually moved (or was driven) farther and farther out until reaching Bardfield.

From the age of 24 I have always been running my own business which was hectic and demanding and basically needed 24 hour concentration, hence other than business I don't remember a lot.

I used to go to home games and meet up with a load of mates in the centre of the chicken run. The comments were like a comedy show, and I was left either feeling elated or depressed by the results, but business then ruled the emotions. In 1988 I suffered from growths in my head above the left eye and had three major ops and nine hours of anaesthetic which messed up my brain. From being able to add up pages of figures in my head, suddenly trying to add up half a dozen cheques would put me to sleep. I couldn't concentrate adequately to even read a column in a newspaper let alone a book, but over the years it got better until 2001 when I was diagnosed as having prostate cancer and had to have another long operation after which they gave me 18 months to two years to live. I shot off to Switzerland for three weeks of cancer treatment and here I still am. Lots of major happenings but I can only tie them in with loss of memory.

I remember vividly a Harry Redknapp goal but not the date or who we were playing. (he only scored 8 goals in his whole West Ham career mate so there’s not many to pick from!) I remember seeing Boyce scoring a beauty from the half way line against Man U at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground - probably a cup semi final but I can't remember what date or how we did after that. (It was actually against Man City at Maine Road in the league mate. It was Jimmy Greaves’s first game for the club after the transfer of Peters to Tottenham. We won 5-1! But Boyce did score twice in the 3-1 semi final win against the Mancs in 64. The match was played in an absolute mud bath and, by the end, you couldn’t see one kit from the other! The old leather ball was sodden and must have felt like it was made of lead. Bloody superman wouldn’t have scored from the half way line in that game! Your memory has conflated two games that were 6 or 7 years apart!)

I met an Italian who was even more fanatical about West Ham than I was and we used to meet in a restaurant called the Spartacus in Romford in which I met and chatted to a couple of West Ham players. Now you would think, of all names, I would remember theirs but I don't. The crazy thing is I do remember one of them left the Hammers and went to Norwich. He was married to a Norwich beauty queen, and sadly I remember reading he died quite recently. But his name escapes me and it is bloody frustrating. (It was Graham Paddon, one of my favourite ever Hammers. He, Bonds and Brooking made up a fantastic West Ham midfield!)

I am making the long trip on Saturday with my brother so hope the team keep up the good work. Surprising what a difference it makes when 11 players all try their hardest!

Other players' names have come back into focus. The other guy I met was Pat Holland, another very friendly guy. I also met John Sissons once. I was visiting a friend who lived on the County Park Estate in Hornchurch and John Sissons lived a couple of doors away on the other side of the road. I was just leaving when we both saw a woman backing her car out of her drive a small child on a trike had stopped on the pavement right behind where her car was coming out. Sissons leapt over two fences at an amazing speed and snatched the kid away from the wheels in the nick of time! The speed of the man was amazing and I had to go over and congratulate him.

From the age of 20 to 24 I worked as a property negotiator for Robert Carter Estate Agents who had branches in Barking, Seven Kings and Hornchurch. I became the manager at Hornchurch and once took Ken Brown's details. He was one of my favourite players of all time and was looking for property in the expensive, aloof, Emerson Park area of Hornchurch. Geof Hurst, Martin Peters and the goalkeeper they had at that time also called into the office. I can't remember his name. He was very good but didn't stay long. You will probably remember him because he played county cricket but not for Essex. Isn't it amazing that I can remember that, but not his name! (Jim Standen I think mate.) I think at that time we had just won the European Cup Winners Cup and all the players were flush with a bit of dosh and were investing it in property. I never found anything for them though.

You mentioning Billy Bonds reminds me of one of the best football duals between two players I have ever seen. It was a summer’s evening game at Upton Park. We were playing Southampton who at that time had Kevin Keegan playing for them and him and Bondsie had a right old tussle. The skill and experience of those two players pitted against each other was a match to be savoured and not forgotten. I have not got a clue what the score was though! Lost in the fog of time!

West Ham Chase Pugh!

Glad to see that we are interested in a Bournemouth player. The involvement of 'Arry and Ken Bond down at the south coast club mean that there have been links between the two clubs for some time now. Rio, of course, was farmed out on loan to the Cherries before he hit the big time and The Foe also enjoyed a successful spell down there (19 goals in 31 games!).

More recently, Carl Fletcher joined us from Bournemouth and he will be affectionately remembered as the man whose stunning goal kept bellyaching Spurs out of the Champions League! Mr Pardew also has reason to remember Fletcher affectionately - well his wife at any rate! Allegedly.

I have no idea how good this guy Pugh is, but he could come in handy should we be forced into a fire sale - especially if he arrives with his brother Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Did Rob Green make his biggest mistake yet on Saturday?

Okay, I know you would have to go some to "better" the error made against the USA. The gaff against Chelsea pushed it close but that one required Upson's contribution to gift a goal to the opposition.

The one against Villa that led to the first goal we conceded this season wasn't in the same league, but is worthy of a mention because of the timing. It was the last thing Green needed in his first competitive game after his World Cup debacle.

Of course, Bolton fans have a scrap book of Green errors. Two at Bolton last season, two against them at Upton Park the season before, and go back to Turds and there was a 1-1 home draw when Green tried to come through a scrum of players to collect a cross above the penalty spot - he didn't get there and Bolton scored!

But never mind all that,  after one great save on Saturday, Green supporters are suddenly heralding him as the new Gordon Banks all over again. They forget that Green came for a corner and dropped it BEFORE we scored against Spurs. They forget too that 'Arry, for some reason best known to himself, didn't instruct his players to crowd Green at corners. Mark Hughes will not adopt the same purist approach when Fulham rock up at the weekend!

But that dropped corner was not the howler. The huge mistake that Green made was that rude gesture to the Press Box. Talk about inviting the wrath of God down upon himself! Tell me, what is going to happen if Green drops a clanger against Fulham? How may the pictures of that gesture come back to haunt him beneath headlines of "Up Yours Green!"?

Some will say it was good to see that Rob Green has a fighting spirit but I think it was a dumb thing to do. The journalists didn't let in that goal against the USA, Green did. The journalists didn't spill that Drogba free kick, Green did. The journalists didn't push that cross back into play against Villa, Green did. The Bolton fans don't want to see journalists between our sticks when we play them, they are delighted to see Green there!

Green would have been better advised to get more good games under his belt before making that gesture. If he thought the press were out to get him before, then God help him if he makes another mistake any time soon!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

McCarthy Scores!

True it was only for the reserves - and even Freddie Sears makes the net bulge for the stiffs from time to time - but it is still good for a forward to find the net, at any level. McCarthy is clearly fourth in line at the moment, and may drop down to fifth when Hines is available, but I have a hunch that his goals will prove important at some point during the season.

Stanislas also found the net but, long term, the most significant thing may be the appearance as a sub of Hall. This boy has been playing with older kids for England and is meant to be a real prospect.

A 2-0 victory apparently does not reflect our level of superiority over Wigan reserves. I remember a time under Zola when we lost every time we took to the pitch - be it first team, reserves or in a "confidence building" friendly fixture. Well that seems to have been turned on its head. There is a new optimism pulsing through the club and, hopefully, winning is becoming a habit!

Image Rights Row Set To Explode At West Ham

This issue has been bubbling under for the best part of 12 months now but was picked up as a main story again by the Sunday Times at the weekend. It seems the club are still withholding image rights payments to players on the basis that the club might be liable to a bill from the Inland Revenue for tax evasion. And basically, this is just a glorified form of tax evasion that the ConDemns should nail pronto.

But I remember Sullivan or Gold using as an excuse that a player might clear off back to France between payment and the arrival of the tax bill, making it impossible for the club to recover the money. At the time I speculated on who the hopping frog might be, and it came down to one of Ilunga or Faubert. Though who would want to use either of their images is beyond me! Is there a product out there called Indolence?

Well, nobody can go anywhere for the foreseeable future, given the window has slammed shut and locked the entire squad in the fire sale that was supposed to be West Ham. Behrami may wander to the balcony and plead, "Oh Roma, Roma, where for art thou Roma" but it won't do him any good. He is stuck with his image rights at Upton Park come what may until January at least.

In any case, why can't a contract be drawn up, requiring the players to reimburse the tax bill should it arrive from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs? That's not so very difficult surely? It looks to me as if the club are holding on to the money because it suits the club to do so, not because of any genuine concerns. I suspect, for example, that Parker reached an agreement when that contract extension was signed.

It seems that McCarthy is particularly unhappy that the money hasn't yet come his way. No doubt, there was revenue generated when it looked as if he might be part of the South Africa squad for the World Cup. As for any other money due for McBenni's image rights, you have to wonder who would want to use his image exactly. Phat Farm perhaps?

What will Benni do if the club refuse to pay him? Go on strike maybe? But would anybody notice? How about a hunger strike?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Are Man Utd following Liverpool down the tubes?

The times they are a changing. Liverpool stand on the brink of receivership, sit just two spots above the relegation places, and are only two points ahead of ourselves after what WE accept has been a disastrous start to the season. With Woy in charge, they are fully equipped to battle to a mid table position and enjoy a jaunt in the Europa League. Heady days indeed for the modern day heirs to the dynasty of Shankly, Paisley and Dalglish.

 I suppose it is no wonder that the wheels have come off for Liverpool, it had to happen some day given what the City is famous for! So now the once great club is propped up on piles of bricks and waiting desperately in line at the liquidation auction. Anybody got £250million going spare for a once great club featuring the mighty Paul Konchesky at left back? Tell me, why would Torres want to hang around in January if Chelsea, Man City or a European giant come knocking? And if he goes, why would Gerrard choose to keep company with the likes of Onecapchesky, No'good and the Tower of Babel?

This is Anfield? So bloody what?

But Liverpool may not be alone in walking the boardwalk to oblivion. Hated rivals Manchester United are beginning to look a little tired and shop soiled themselves, with cracks appearing on the field as well as in the boardroom. Where has that Ronaldo money gone? Other than to service the interest charges on the Glaziers' massive debts, of course. Scholes and Giggs are still there, but are not getting any younger. Rooney is out of sorts, his "ankle injury" keeping him out of the game in Valencia.

The draw against Rangers showed that the squad is not as strong as Ferguson thought and 7 goals conceded in 3 away games indicates that all is not well at Old Trafford. The Mancs surrendered their title tamely to Chelsea last season, exited the Champions League early and had to rely on the Carling Cup for silverware - and that only came courtesy of an appalling refereeing decision! Relinquishing a two goal lead in extra time at Goodison said it all. They will finish top 4 this season but I fancy Man City and maybe Arsenal to finish above them, never mind Chelsea.

How long will Fergie stick around? He won't want to be remembered as the man who built a great team and then took them down the same road as the once mighty Liverpool. "You'll never walk alone"? Nope, the Scousers and the Mancs could be shuffling hand in hand down the same road to nowhere!

McCarthy has no future at West Ham under Grant

Anybody wondering why Benni has not even been used as a substitute, only needs to read what Avram is putting our recent recovery down to. According to the man who knows all about seasonal fasting, our surge is form is down to "hungry players"!

So no future for infamous comfort eater McBenni Burger then!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Crazy, Crazy Premier League!

Well I called the blog The Game's Gone Crazy for a reason! How mad is this season? We have had a "terrible" start and yet we are just three points behind Newcastle who are in tenth place. Newcastle have hammered Villa 6-0 and took all three points at Everton, but have lost at home to Blackpool and Stoke! Look at Everton, bottom of the table! And look at Liverpool too, just two points ahead of us! 2-2 at home to Sunderland and only scraping a point because of yet another crazy refereeing decision.

Who would have forecast West Brom's victory at Arsenal? They were 3-0 up at one stage and had missed a penalty! Tottenham's defeat at home to Wigan was crazy too, whilst Wolves are 4th from bottom despite impressing most observers so far this season.

Who will go down when the dust settles? My money is still on Blackpool and Wigan but who joins them? Birmingham perhaps? Newcastle? West Brom? Fulham? Bolton even? Wolves? One thing is for sure, 35 points won't be enough to stay up this year so thank God Avram is already ahead in the Grantazola Index, courtesy of that fantastic victory yesterday!

Sunday Times Report Saturday's Game Honestly!

Apart from the player ratings, which I think were on the modest side, I was impressed by Paul Rowan's account of the game in the Sunday Times. Rowan opens the report with the words:

"Harry Redknapp had never been defeated as a manager by his old club West Ham in 10 meetings but yesterday his side were not only beaten but at times overwhelmed".

He then criticises Redknapp's assessment of an "end-to-end game" saying this "made light of West Ham's dominance".

His assessment of Green's performance is good too, referring to a "brilliant save" but putting Green's other saves in context by saying that he "dealt with a couple of long range efforts".  He also describes how Cole "took up where Piquionne left off", rejecting suggestions from Cole knockers that he was poor when he came on.

All in all, it was refreshing to discover that somebody else watched the same game as me!

Hang on, why isn't Rowan part of this great Anti West Ham Media Conspiracy? Perhaps Fareham can explain!

Why do West Ham fans put personal ego and prejudice above their love for the club?

Let's get things straight to start off. I expected Parker to be sold before the window closed and believed the decision not to sell him was wrong. I also said it was wrong to pick Green for England and was not in the least bit surprised when he made that error against the USA that set England on the road to ruin. I have always maintained that he is a very good shot stopper but a very average all round keeper. But, on both counts, I would be delighted to be proved wrong!

I do not wear claret and blue goggles and am happy to evaluate players based on their ability and performance, rather than according to club allegience. In my opinion, Hart and Robinson are better keepers than Green. In my opinion, Lampard, Gerrard, Barry, Milner and co are all better options for the England midfield than Parker. Others will dispute that and I am happy to engage in the debate. But I will engage without prejudice and I will put personal ego to one side. So what if I am proved wrong? I want to be! I want West Ham to win!

But look at this cobblers from my old adversary on the Org, davefking, who has a pathological hatred for Carlton Cole - a hatred that saw him post that he was PLEASED when Cole was injured last season. I quote:

"Cole deserved a nought. he didn't run, didn't challenge, didn't try, in fact to me, he looked like he was in one great big sulk at being dropped. You'd have thought he would have run his little cotton socks off after that kick up the backside, because if Cole has one attribute, it is his work rate. Yesterday he didn't even TRY."

Now, I am happy to concede that Piquionne and Obinna looked superb as a pairing, and I am happy to say that both have looked much better than Cole so far this season. But to accuse Cole of not running and of not trying is absurd.

Mr King may not have noticed that we were leading 1-0 in the second half and that the tactics shifted. Noble was pulled deeper and the emphasis shifted from attack to protecting what we had by the time Cole was introduced. Look at Noble's positioning when we took corners in the second half. He was holding, protecting against a Tottenham break. As a result, we became compact defensively but stretched offensively. Unlike in the first half, when we played an expansive 4-4-2 system, with Obinna and Piquionne up front and Dyer playing pretty high too, we reverted to 4-5-1, with Obinna pulling back into midfield and Noble dropping deeper. Cole was isolated, doing the job that two men, and sometimes three, were doing in the first 45.

To claim that Cole didn't run is ridiculous. I remember a shot on the turn from inside the box, over on the left. I also remember Cole holding the ball up waiting for support over on the right. The truth is, he operated right across the width of the pitch and when he received the ball, it was invariably with two Tottenham defenders up his arse because there was nobody else left for them to mark. Cole did his job, and did it pretty well. He was an out ball. He worked the full width of the pitch and ensured that Huddlestone had to sit deeper, filling the gap that appeared between Tottenham's centre halves and the half way line. Why did this gap appear? Because Corluka and Bassong, no slouches, were frightened of Cole's pace. Mr King may also have missed the fact that for the last 5 minutes, Obinna was off the pitch, leaving Cole utterly isolated up front. But where was the game played for the most of that five minutes? In Tottenham's half!

This sort of bitterness is very sad. Why put personal ego, bitterness and prejudice ahead of your love for the club? Yes Mr King, claim that Cole is inferior to Piquionne and Obinna, you can make that case. Yes, say he is unworthy of a place in the England squad, you can make that case too. But suggest that he didn't try yesterday? To claim he didn't run, that he was in a sulk, that he merited ZERO as a rating? That is small minded bitterness speaking, that is an ego desperate to be proved right. It is that sort of attitude that saw fans turn on Frank Lampard Junior and help drive him from the club. I suspect that Mr King would have taken a 1-1 draw rather than see Cole score a late winner!

Supporting West Ham does not mean that we have to pretend every player in the team is the dog's dangly bits, but supporting West Ham should not embrace wishing ill upon players just so we are proved right! I would love Green and Parker to prove me wrong - and yesterday was a good start! Dear God, I am even accepting that Boa can do a job for us! Let's judge things honestly eh? Let's put ego to one side!

Has the real Mark Noble just stood up?

There was so much to delight in yesterday: the no nonsense, get on with the job approach of Jacobsen; the saves of Green; the monumental defensive performance of Da Costa; the movement and skill of  both Obinna and Piquionne; the continued superb form of Parker; and the way that the team, in contrast to last season, played with energy, verve and desire ALLIED to shape and organisation. But for me, the most pleasing aspect of the performance was the way Mark Noble played. 

Noble is a player who triggers passionate debate amongst our fans. Many will excuse him anything, because he is "West Ham through and through" and an Academy product; others have written him off, claiming he is too slow and lacks the necessary skill to merit a place in a good Premiership team. This is odd given the type of player he is. You expect extreme reactions to players like Huddlestone, who appears languid and lazy at times, but Noble always plays with his heart on his sleeve, always gives his all, always tries 100%. The trouble is, some have argued, that Noble thinks he is better than he actually is, that he tries to be too clever and so looks a mug, regardless of his passion.

Noble has been through one hell of a journey for a guy who is not yet into his prime years. He started as a Joe Cole type but was remodelled by Pardew because of his lack of pace. He made his debut for the reserves aged just 15 - a record - suggesting that the club saw something VERY special in the boy. He is still only 23 but has been playing for the first team for 7 seasons, and has more than 100 Premiership games under his belt. That is part of the problem. Critics treat Noble as if he is 27 or 28, not a young player still finding his way in the game.

The last two seasons have been disappointing for Noble. His career undoubtedly stalled and probably went into reverse. But look what he had to deal with. England U21 duties meant that he went almost 20 months without having a break - that is one hell of a burden for a player whose all action style means that he never stops running. Then there was a deep seated injury which he struggled to shake off. Then there's the turmoil at the club. Noble has played under Pardew, Curbishley, Zola and now Grant, and has just got on with the job to the best of his ability, come rain or rain! Weaker individuals might have been crushed by what has been happening at the club. Then add to that Zola's use of Noble, playing him wide right and wide left, when the guy is patently suited only to playing in the centre of midfield, and is it any wonder that he looked "out of form".

Well yesterday, I saw the old Mark Noble, the Mark Noble that got us all so excited during the Great Escape, the Mark Noble that Arsene Wenger, of all people, considered buying. Now Wenger may not have an eye for a keeper but he does know a good midfielder when he sees one. The fact that he even considered Noble - even though he is English! - suggests that the boy has what it takes to succeed.

Yesterday wasn't a one off. Towards the end of last season, he was out of position but still holding his own in midfield and looking strong defensively, if still a little casual with his passing. Against Stoke, I thought he was excellent too, the senior partner in midfield in truth, which is saying something given the way Parker is playing this season! And yesterday, against a very strong Tottenham midfield unit, he looked absolute class. What impressed me most was his movement - the way he created passing opportunities for others. He looked like a genuine midfield general to me and, again, I thought his all round game was better than Parker's.

Regular contributor Stani Army has promised to run naked down the Barking Road if Noble gets more than one cap for England. Well, I think we should make that streak (or waddle mate?) a sponsored event with money going to the Bobby Moore cancer charity. Be warned Stani, I can see an England midfield five of Johnson, Rodwell, Noble, Wilshire and Milner come the next World Cup, with Walcott used as an impact sub!

Spuds Crushed - In Memory of WesthamtilIdie

We were not the best of mates and crossed swords regularly on the Org, but I know how much Bill (WesthamtilIdie) would have loved that game. He was, of course, West Ham through and through, but if one thing came close to equaling his love for West Ham (and his family), it was his loathing for everything Tottenham Hotspur.

He would have been delighted by the result and even more so by the way we played Tottenham off the park. Sadly, being an atheist, I don't think Bill is anywhere in the universe to revel in the victory but if you can read this, I raised a glass to you tonight sir. Shame we waited until you shuffled off this mortal coil before we mashed those Spuds good and proper!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Match of the Day Televised Another Game!

Funny, I thought we dominated the game but the MOTD edit suggested that Tottenham had the lion's share of the match. We get to Shearer's analysis and see bits of the game that weren't even shown in match play!

What happened to the first 20 minutes when Tottenham couldn't get hold of the ball? Ended up on the floor of the editing room clearly. What happened to Cole's shot and Upson's header and Da Costa's header? Like the Mission Impossible tape, they self destructed! What happened to the "Oles" as we passed the ball around Spurs players as if they were bollards? Not worthy of showing clearly.

I don't hold with this crap about the media having it in for West Ham but the "highlights" of today's game were absurdly unrepresentative. Thank God I saw it with my own eyes, otherwise I would be going to bed thinking we were lucky to win!

It was all about who Tottenham were missing at the back according to Lineker and Shearer as if King and Woodgate turn out every game for Spurs normally! Hutton, Bassong, Corluka and Bale are all internationals of course and if Cudicini had elected to, he would have played for England. In front of them were Huddlestone, Jenas, Modric, Lennon and Van Der Vaart, all of whom have represented their countries, as have Crouch and the subs, Keane, Dos Santos and Pavlova. The whole point about Tottenham is that they have tremendous strength in depth so to highlight who wasn't playing is missing the point completely.

I didn't hear any mention of Hitzlespurger, the captain of the German national team in August, being missing from our ranks, nor any reference to Behrami being ruled out, nor talk of how Collison and Hines are on our long term injury list, nor how our reserve keeper is out for the season, nor how McCarthy is too fat to play, nor how we were disrupted by the injury to Dyer! In fact, if Shearer has the audacity to mention Woodgate, then we can still claim Ashton!

We beat Tottenham fair and square today, dominating possession. Yes Green made a great save but so did Cudicini! Obinna was superb second half but I barely saw him in the MOTD edit. Apart from his shot, I don't think I heard Noble's name mentioned and Da Costa only featured when his header was deflected wide. NOTHING about his defensive qualities! And did you hear Parker's name mentioned apart from how he nearly joined Tottenham? MOTD viewers will be left wondering if he played after the first minute!

Absurd! Much more of this and I will have to admit that Fareham Hammer was right!

East End Heroes 1 Tottenham Lukewarmspurs 0 - The season starts!

What a performance! I was fearful about the second half after Tottenham bossed the last 15 minutes of the first 45, but I needn't have worried. One Huddlestone chance apart, and we know how poor he is at converting shots into goals, Tottenham only created one opening, and Keane passed it to Green to give him some catching practice.

Second half, we bossed the game. Noble was again superb, and so unlucky not to score with that beautiful drive from ten yards outside the box. Green's save from Modrich in the first half was top drawer but he needed the bar to help him; Cudicini got an amazingly strong hand to the shot and turned it over and wide.

Apart from that, Cole had a shot on the turn after a beautiful pass from Obinna and Tottenham were in utter disarray after a Barerra cross into the box. Upson headed wide at a corner, Da Costa headed wide from a free kick, Obinna forced Cudicini into a good save, and Tottenham looked stretched for most of the half, hanging in there like a boxer who had taken a pounding, rather than putting us on the ropes as most Hammers fans, myself included, probably anticipated.

The performance from everybody in a West ham shirt was truly heroic - although you wouldn't want Private Dyer in the trenches with you, would you? Yet another injury, yet another withdrawal. But Barerra looked much better to me anyway!

Piquionne went down with cramp and came off, but how Obinna, Noble, Boa and Parker kept going at that pace, with that level of commitment, is beyond me. Under Zola, we looked slow, unfit, brittle; this team ran and ran and ran for 90 minutes and Tottenham really didn't know what had hit them. I'm sure 'Arry said at half time, "They will get tired, space will appear" but it was Van Der Vaart, Modrich, Huddlestone and Jenas who looked punch drunk when the game went into the final twenty minutes!

At the back, we were brilliant. Jacobsen had a superb game doing the basics just as the basics should be done. He was up against Bale and never looked troubled all game. When Lennon was moved to the Tottenham left, Jacobsen simply put him in his pocket. The withdrawal of the England flop said it all. Apart from the last 15 minutes of the first half, when he got in two dangerous crosses, Lennon was never in the game. Full marks here to Gabbidon and Boa too! Indeed, that booking apart, and ignoring a few careless passes, Boa deserves a special commendation for the way he stuck at his job. He closed, he harried, he broke, and he even did his full back once! Up and down the pitch all afternoon, he played like a young buck, not an aged stallion having his usual mare!

How good was Da Costa? He seemed to meet every cross into our box and dealt with Crouch without any fuss or bother. He has to be a fixture in the team now surely? And when he puts his foot through the ball, God it covers some ground! The Tottenham defence dropped deeper second half, fearful of Cole and Obinna running on to one of those hammered clearances. Alongside him, Upson was neat and efficient - they looked the perfect pairing to me, the best since the heady days of Collins and Upson holding Liverpool at bay at Anfield.

Behind them, Green was almost excellent. He came for one corner and dropped it but, that error apart, he was superb. The save from Modric was brilliant and, whilst you would expect a Prem keeper to deal with everything else that Tottenham threw at him, there were no errors and he look composed and a peace with himself. Maybe the corner has been turned. Maybe missing the Sunderland game was just what the doctor ordered.

First half, Piquionne was superb and fully deserved his goal; second half, Obinna terrorised the Tottenham defence and deserved to score. He has great potential and if the money is there, we should make his signing permanent. Barerra too looked classy when he came on. Dyer ran around a lot but Barerra made the ball do more of the work and saw space well, pulling off the flanks to create out balls for the defence.

The true engine of this success was the midfield pairing of Parker and Noble, however. They were up against the classiest department in the Tottenham team - Van Der Vaart, Huddlestone, Jenas, Modric and Lennon - but they outplayed them for 75% of the match! Noble really was breathtakingly good. He picked his passes superbly, created the pass for others through his intelligent positioning, battled for the ball in midfield all game, took the corner from which Piquionne scored and so nearly scored the second himself. Remember when people talked about Noble as a future England player? Well whisper it quietly but, on that showing, he may yet wear the Three Lions on his shirt at full international level.

And Parker? Well he was Parker. Brilliant! I may have to eat my words!

And well done Avram! The team selection was spot on, the tactics superb and the performance first class. And he is now ahead of Zola in the Grantazola Index! THAT was the best performance we have seen for a long, long, long time. Has the ghost of Zola been exorcised already?

And there's another hero to mention: the crowd. Upton Park rocked like it hasn't rocked for years! The 12th man is back!

A great, great, great afternoon. One swallow does not a summer make, but you wouldn't be complaining if that swallow was courtesy of Kera Knightley and, at this moment, this victory feels THAT good! In fact, I think I may really have died and gone to Heaven!

Player ratings:

Green 9; Jacobsen 8, Da Costa 10, Upson 8, Gabbidon 8; Dyer 6, Noble 10, Parker 9, Boa-Morte 8; Obinna 9, Piquionne 8 Subs Cole 7, Barerra 8

HT - West Ham 1 Tottenham 0 A Half of Two Halves!

What a fantastic first 25 minutes! We murdered them! Quicker, more athletic, more inventive, it looked like we had two extra players on the pitch at times! Noble was superb. He was everywhere, taking intelligent positions to keep the game flowing, dropping into holes, coming short to the player in possession to give him options, and pulling wide left to create space for others through the middle. I was impressed with him against Stoke too. He may just be back to his best! There was also one beautiful piece of defensive work, tracking back into his own box and blocking a cross!

In that opening twenty five minutes we were brilliant. Tottenham couldn't get a foothold in the game as a possession count of 61% to 39% showed. The trouble is, it only yielded one goal and, but for a brilliant save from Green, Tottenham would now be level. In fact Green has made 4 saves so far, more than he managed for the whole of last season! In one way, that's great news, but in another it shows the extent to which Spurs have come back into the game. The last 15 minutes of the half belonged totally to the Cockyfools which is going to make the half time team talks interesting. Has our bubble of surging confidence burst?

Second half, we have to close Van Der Vaart and Modric quicker. there is too much space in the ten yards just outside our box. Lennon also got past Gabbidon twice, sending over crosses which, on another day, would have led to goals. We have coped with Bale well so far, but he also remains a threat. And there is still Keane on the bench of course!

Our problem is that Tottenham have the extra man in midfield, and as well as Boa, Noble and Parker have covered, they are always a man short. Dyer is off, inevitably, so Barerra will have to be disciplined defensively if we are to keep a clean sheet.

Going forward, Piquionne has been superb and Obinna has looked lively, but he is still shooting from distance when he should be picking a pass. Once again we had a break, with Piquionne and Dyer running into space unmarked but the Nigerian blasted wide. He did look up a minute or so afterwards and played in Barerra - he needs to do it more often!

We could score on the break, Bale is ranging forward and Corluka and Bassong look vulnerable but we face a real battle keeping Tottenham at bay second half. Jacobsen has been superb, Upson and Da Costa have been good and Gabbidon has done okay, but second half Tottenham are going to come at us with 'Arry's wind in their sails. Can we hold out or press forward and score a second?

Boa is on a yellow!

Game on!

No Cole, no Barerra, no Stech, no Ben Haim

Team reads: Green; Jacobsen, Da Costa, Upson, Gabbidon; Dyer, Noble, Parker, Boa; Obinna, Piquionne.

Looks like a sensible compromise to me, although Boa's record against Spurs aint great. I would have gone with Barerra instead of him, but otherwise, team looks fine to me - except perhaps for the return of Green. Can set up 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Cannot set up 4-5-1!

Come on you Irons!

Wembley here we come!

Soke at home; we can win that! I have very bad memories of Stoke in the League Cup, with Banks saving a Hurst penalty at Upton Park in the League Cup semifinal, and Moore in goal, saving a Stoke penalty, only for the rebound to be buried; but I fancy us to go through to the last eight.

Just as importantly, Arsenal have a tough tie away to Newcastle. If Wenger stays pig headed and picks his kids, and Newcastle go with their first team, then I fancy another top 4 club to exit. Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool are already out. If Arsenal join them, then the door is open for a "lesser" club to go all the way to Wembley.

Avoiding Man Utd along the way will be crucial but, the Mancs apart, I would fancy us at home to every other team left in the competition. Villa and Newcastle away would be dodgy, but at Upton park, I would back us to progress. Anyway, I have a sneaky feeling that Burnley will dump Villa out.

This could be our year! Come on you Irons!

The Press Hate Us! From Fareham to John O'Groats!

Fanno you desperado lol! NO problem with you 'lifting' one of my posts and having a pop at me , you’re entitled to your opinion, but to deny me the chance to reply on your blog are the actions of a COWARD.

Quite frankly, I just found it all so amusing. Fanno lifted one of my post about the media whores’ pathological hatred of our great club; according to Fanno, that was pathetic rubbish and paranoia. Fanno reckons we get a fair crack of the whip. What planet are you on my friend ? The likes of Henry Winter, Harry Harris, Oliver Holt have a pathological hatred of West Ham United, even today, three years after the Tevez affair, they're STILL at it !! Grant two games away from the sack ! Parker’s head turned! Cash strapped Hammers looking to offload Barrera ! Upson refuses to sign new contract ! Sullivan forced back onto the market as a seller due to West Ham's crippling debt! Chelsea in 'second 'gear outclass hapless Hammers! Anything to portray OUR great club in a negative light!

According to Fanno we get a fair hearing and the people who are responsible for our negatives press are our owners, who are the real media whores, who spout 90 % of shit on the back pages! Fanno, old boy, a funny stance that one, true you started out anti Gold &Sullivan but when you fell for the Remy ,Henry spin you did a flip flop ....Strange happenings at the Boleyn you wrote, maybe Gold realises he can't take it all with him you trumpeted...of course when none of these stories came to fruition you reverted to style, anti Gold &Sullivan stance .You reminded me of a child who is having a tantrum ,in a effort to calm him down the mum offers him a bag of sweets, the child duly behaves till the sweets are finished then the tantrums suddenly return lol!

You say that I possibly am now courting popular opinion because of all the insults I had to endure, because I now sound like a 'Happy' clapper”. God help me! I must be an extremely pathetic individual if I take opinions that differ from mine on the internet personally! After all, they're only opinions and mine are no more important or less important than any fellow Hammer. We are a 'broad' church and like, even the best of families, we do differ from time to time. You seem upset about my apparent about turn on Gold &Sullivan, no about turn whatsoever !! Show me any post of mine in which I have back tracked or endorsed them ? True I no longer call them by my nickname for them, I have no regrets in not doing so anymore. I stopped calling them that out of respect for my fellow Hammers , because I felt I was stifling reasonable debate on this site .I was. A few weeks back I said that I still have deep fears for the club should we lose our bid for the Olympic Stadium under Gold and Sullivan, I said that they leaked stories into the press about exotic transfer targets to sell season tickets. Fanno, I said I would give my opinion of things at the end of the transfer window. Yes I did say Gold and Sullivan did a GOOD job and have strengthened us in the most trying of circumstances. That’s not backtracking ,that’s bloody fact Fanno lol!.

Hold on, have you forgotten that just two years ago we had the likes of Tristan lumbering round the Boleyn Ground, S&G never sold any of our better players, brought in the likes of Barrera, Obinna ,huge potential, Piquionne, Reid, Ben Haim, Hitzleberger; nothing wrong with them at all. What the hell must I say ? I’m unhappy? Christ it’s not as though we've been signing Marlon Harewood or DJ Campbell!

I notice you say at the end of your post you 'actually 'value my opinion’. I’m glad you do ! I value yours and anyone's post whether I agree with them or not, because by posting proves one thing you love West Ham. Some said on Fanno's blog, Fareham’s posts are just as negative as Fanno's! One even suggested I may be Fanno in disguise lol!.

I’m afraid not. I respect ALL opinions and when I say something, it's because I truly believe it! I’m not negative for the sake of being negative, if there is something positive to say, I will say so ! I’m happy with some of the football we are playing, think we'll have a good season, go on Fanno old son, 'lift' that and read it !.Pathetic ??..yes Fanno...I would say so. 'Lifting' my story to create a bit of controversy on your blog, running out of things to say old boy! To deny me the chance to reply to your drivel on your blog is not only pathetic in the extreme, but the actions of a coward. We're more than a football club, we're a way of life COYI !!

West Ham v Tottenham. "God help me!" pleads Green

West Ham chaplain Alan Bolding has spilt the beans on how Robert Green is seeking solace in God in his desperate attempt to overcome his nightmare World Cup and depressing loss of form. This isn't exactly reassuring is it? First of all, the chaplain shouldn't be talking to the press - if Green wants to tell us that he is on his knees in desperation then fair enough, but surely he has the right to confidentiality?

Personally, I think Rob might benefit more from working with a goalkeeping coach rather than a Church of England witch doctor. I know Jesus saves but he aint too clever on crosses is he? No wonder that, every time the opposition win a corner, poor Rob is hung out to dry!

There's also a possibility of a split in the dressing room and up there in Heaven. I mean there's Avram praying to one God, the God of the guys who called for Jesus to be nailed to the cross, whilst Green is praying to his opposite number! If we win today, despite another Rob Green howler, perhaps we will have an idea of which religion is backing the right guy! But if we lose, with Gareth Bale firing home the winner, then we will know that all this religion is a load of tosh.

If the missing link scores, who needs a Divine Creator?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Tickets Unsold for Tottenham Game

Would you believe it, we still haven't managed to sell out a home game against Tottenham? I don't care if there is a recession, this is nothing short of incredible. In the week when the West Ham Process published the results of the survey into the fans' views on moving to the Olympic Stadium, this should give Sullivan and Gold further food for thought.

Not that they will care about the team playing in a half empty 60,000 stadium of course. Nor will they give a toss that the majority of fans prefer expanding the capacity of the Boleyn. All they care about is releasing the redevelopment potential of the current ground.

Welcome to Boleyn Mansions, a development of luxury apartments on the doorstep of the City and Canary Wharf!

The Rhyme of 'Arry the Albatross

It is an ancient wheeler dealer,

And he stoppeth one of three.

`By thy twitching 'ead and saggy face

Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The dressing-room doors are opened wide,

And I am Avram Grant;

The players are met, the tactics are set:

Mayst hear the merry din.'

He holds Avram with his blotchy hand,

"There was a club," quoth he.

`Hold off! unhand me, saggy faced loon!'

Eftsoons his hand dropped he.

He holds Avram with his glittering eye -

The West Ham manager stood still,

And listens like a three years' child:

Old 'Arry hath his will.

The West Ham man sat on a stone:

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient manager,

The saggy faced old 'Arry.

"The club was cheered, the Championship cleared,

Merrily we did not drop

Below the Prem, beneath all hopes,

Below the glorious top.

The sun came up upon the left,

Out of the East came he!

And he shone bright, and on the right

Went down into the Thames.

Higher and higher every day,

Till over the club at noon -"

And Avram Grant here beat his breast,

For he heard the bubbles blow.

And Avram Grant he beat his breast,

Yet he cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that saggy faced man,

The head twitching old 'Arry.

"And now the storm-blast came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o'ertaking wings,

And chased us down and down.

And now there came both Camara and Song,

And it grew wondrous cold:

And terrible results came floating by,

As black as blackest Cole.

And through the drifts the Academy kids

Did send a hopeful sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken -

Innocence was all between.

Bad results were here, bad results were there,

Bad results were all around:

Old Brown was cracked, then growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound!

At length he did cross this Albatross,

Onto the training pitch he came;

He sold the players he ne'er should have sold,

And round and round he flew.

The club did split with a thunder-fit;

The Chairman knifed it through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;

And good results did follow,

And every day, for money and gain

The Terrence Brown's did hollo!

`God save thee, ancient Manager,

From the fiends that plague thee thus! -

Avram asked, Why look'st thou so?' -

"Because with his crossbow

Brown shot 'Arry

the Albatross."

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Paranoia of West Ham Fans is Pathetic!

What is it with our fans? Why this huge chip on the shoulder, this pathetic "Nobody loves us, everybody's out to get us" complex? It is embarrassing. It is humiliating. It is so damn childish!

Take this post from "Fareham Hammer" on the Org:

"It may be quiet on here,but it's even quieter amongst the media whores, denied their daily fix of anti West Ham diatribe must be driving them round the bend! How sad must you be to forge a living on the back of a pathological hatred of West Ham United football club. Lies ,bending of truths, a dig at OUR GREAT CLUB at EVERY opportunity, absolutely determined to see us relegated and face financial Armaggeddon. I've got news for the desperadoes. Forget it. You might as well go into detox and clean up your acts, you pathetics!
Yes we are starting to gel, not there yet...but come on, it's starting to look exciting, and the football is not too shabby either. Again not quite the carpet football we, the disciples of the Academy of football, so cherish, but a VAST improvement on the dross we've had to endure during the last few seasons. I 've said it many times before and I'll say it again, as the results improve and the quieter the media whores become, the feel good factor will reverberate round the club and, as a result, everybody associated with the club will be more relaxed, confidence will spread to the team, then watch this team REALLY turn it on. A couple of teams are going to get a real pasting ,remember you heard it from Fareham first! Saturday is Saggy Chops and his mob, I'm up for it! You're up for it! The team's up for it ! Our chairmen are up for it !.Oh YES WE CAN !! He's just a wheeler dealer !!.We're more than a football club,we're a way of life COYI !!"

Oh dear God! This is the man who just a  few weeks back was forecasting relegation and Armageddon himself because of Sullivan and Gold. This is a man who was terming anybody posting anything positive a "happy clapper"!  What a turn around!

Let's get things straight, this paranoia is pathetic. The media report. Match of the Day do not show West Ham last because Lineker hates the club, but because our games are, more often than not, rather run of the mill affairs. The press do not have an anti West Ham agenda: in fact, the response to our victory over Sunderland was extremely positive.

The truth is, we have been a bad news story for a long time now. That's not the fault of "media whores", it's the fault of poor management in the Boardroom and on the training field. When the club is run properly, we will receive positive press - simple. To secure positive press, all we have to do is win more games than we lose.

My message to all the paranoid fools who seek to delude themselves and others, is grow up. And please cut the attempts to sound Churchillian. It may buy a few "Great post mate" replies from thirteen year old fans, but it is largely toe curling stuff!

So, a little perspective: we played well for 45 minutes against Stoke and for  the best part of 90 minutes against Sunderland. That doesn't make us world beaters but it does mean that we are not as bad as we were all beginning to fear. Avram is not media friendly and that will not help our profile in the media but we do have media whores at the club, in the form of Sullivan and Gold, who will ensure that we are regularly on the back pages - and because they spout crap 90% of the time, the coverage will often be negative. That's not the fault of the journalists is it?

Fatty Dowd Takes The Biscuit Barrel!

Well I've seen some pretty crap refereeing over the years but it seems to be getting worse! How the hell Fellani stayed on the pitch against Newcastle at the weekend is beyond me; and why Nolan wasn't awarded a penalty in that game, after being kicked up in the air from behind in the box, will remain forever a mystery. Those were the crimes of the Ancient Mariner!

But never one to be outdone, Fatty Dowd came to the party tonight and didn't just take the biscuit, he consumed the whole bloody biscuit barrel. How exactly did Taylor stay on the pitch after taking Kakuta out at the hip and sending him cartwheeling through the air? Dangerous play? The bloody Taliban are pussy cats in comparison with that tackle! But Dowd simply pulled out the custard cream instead of the Jammie Dodger. Still, after scoring a powerdriver of a freekick, Taylor then gave Dowd another chance to show red with a cynical trip. Surely two custard creams would amount to a Jammie Dodger? But no, Dowd gave the free kick and left Taylor on the pitch.

Mind you, unlike the Ancient Mariner, Dowd wasn't biased in favour of one side. God and Big Phil Dowd alone know how he gave that penalty to Alex! Absurd!

Something has to be done about rank refereeing like this. Of course referees make mistake - it is a hard job - but Mariner and Dowd took incompetence to a new level this week. An enforced rest would be in order for both.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City Crash Out! The Carling Cup Opens Up!

Brilliant! Chelsea rolled over by Newcastle losing 4-3 at home! Man City dumped out, losing 2-1 away to West Brom! And best of all, Liverpool crash out on penalties at home to Northampton Town! How the mighty have fallen!

Fans of the big boys will point to resting players and squad rotation but that is so much cobblers, if Northampton fans will excuse the pun! Nobody made Ancelotti, Mancini and Woy treat the competition with contempt, and their decision to do so has blown up in their faces. How dare Man City and Liverpool, especially, demonstrate such arrogance? It's not as if they are winning trophies every season is it? Dear God, Liverpool might even struggle to qualify for the Europa League via the Premiership this season, so passing up on the Carling Cup is nothing short of crass stupidity!

The rot really has set in at Anfield. When this blog suggested, more than a year ago now, that Liverpool could actually go bust, Scousers howled abuse. Well now that is beginning to look like a real possibility. The once great club is on its knees in a cesspool of debt and the squad is so wafer thin that they can't even beat Northampton at home!

So Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City are out. So are Tottenham. And Everton. And Sunderland. And Fulham. And Blackburn. And Bolton. The League Cup is opening up. Fingers crossed that Arsenal draw the Mancs in the next round!

Avram Grant Has Another Problem

So Avram now has a problem and a half. After winning with a 4-4-2 formation, featuring a team of understudies, what does he do when ‘Arry brings his Cockyfools to the Boleyn? I remember Zola sticking with the same team after a great draw away to Liverpool. Set up to defend at Anfield, they had no attacking instincts and Tottenham rolled us over with ease.

Does Green return, or does Avram wake up to the fact that the team looked far more assured at the back without a nervous wreck between the sticks? Wreck or Stech? Tough call Avram.

Does he risk Ben Haim against the pace of Lennon? Or revert to Gabbidon? Will we ever see Ilunga again? Will Upson return? Surely we won’t risk Da Costa and Tomkins together against Pavlova and Keane? Although they kept two international strikers pretty quiet last night! It must be Jacobsen instead of Faubert surely?

What about in centre midfield? Will Kovac keep Noble out? Will we retain Barerra and play 4-4-2, or will Noble come back in to be paired with the Czech and Scotty Parker in a 3 man midfield? Boa or Dyer if we do stick with 4-4-2?

And what’s to be done with Carlton?

The good news is that we now have a squad. The challenge for Avram is who does he pick, who does he leave out and what formation does he go with? Time to get down on his knees to look for more divine guidance perhaps?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sunderland 1 West Ham Reserves 2 Crisis What Crisis?

"Faubert has played well. Tomkins has played well. Da Costa has played well. Ben Haim has done well in the second half...West Ham are in a false position...West Ham will get out of trouble...Stech hasn't been bothered since the goal...West Ham will be well out of trouble by Christmas...Obinna scored a wonderful goal..."

Not me, just taking dictation from the Sports Extra commentary! Sunderland played their first team, we went in with 7 changes and, from what I heard, played them off the park, becoming only the second away team to win at the Stadium of Light in 2010. The other team? Man Utd!

I can't give an authoritative account myself because I was listening to the radio, but we have won away from home at long, long, long last and did it in style and with plenty of gas left in the tank. No Upson, no Green, no Cole (until he was brought on), no Noble (sub), no Dyer (sub). Is that the secret? Forget the Englishmen - though to be fair, Tomkins did play and so did Parker, and both played very well.

Boa did well. Barerra did very well, looking "intelligent and a constant threat". Kovac did well. Avram did well.

I take it all back! Well done Avram for respecting Yom Kippur. God must be Jewish! Can't write any more, I'm off to get circumcised!


Half Time Sunderland 1 West Ham 1

Only able to listen to radio commentary but it sounds like we are a little unlucky to be all square at half time. Obinna and Piquionne combined well for the goal and Piquionne took the chance expertly. Parker is playing well again and Barerra is also impressing. Boa and Kovac must be doing OK because we have largely controlled the midfield.

Typically, the goal came from a corner. No Green, no Upson, but we still can't defend crosses or set pieces! Sounds to me as if Faubert is having a bit of a mare!

At 1-0, it looked so good. But now, if you were investing money on the game, it would have to be on Sunderland sadly. But fingers crossed! Just beware those crosses!

Who Needs The Carling Cup When You've Won Nothing For 30 Years?

According to Avram, the Carling Cup is a bonus and an opportunity to look at fringe players. Well, excuse me. I thought we were competing in just three competitions this season, one of which we don't stand a cat in hell's chance of winning. I thought that, with the big teams resting players, the Carling Cup represented our best chance of winning a trophy. I thought that winning the Carling Cup secured you a place in Europe for next season. I thought that, after 30 years of hurt, ignoring the Interlollipop Cup, it might be rather nice to win a trophy.

Funny ideas I know. Perish the thought that we might actually try to WIN a trophy. Perish the thought that we might actually seek to secure a place in Europe. Perish the thought that the club might try to reward the fans with a day out at Wembley. Dear God, what crazy idiot came up with the idea that football was about winning Cups and giving fans a taste of glory!

For once, I would be happy to see a keeper rested, but only because I want Green dropped anyway. For once, I would be happy to see Cole stood down, but only because he is out of form and we need to see if McBenni can do the business. But apart from those changes, if Grant surrenders our place in the Cup through stupid rotation, I will be seething.

To my mind, we should see the same team as on Saturday, except for Boffin in goal, Dyer in place of the injured Behrami and McBenni in for Cole. There should be no place for Spector, Tomkins, Stanislas, Sears or Kovac. We saw a glimmer of hope on Saturday so let's build on it, not throw away the feel good factor by exiting early from the competition that we stand the best chance of winning!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Diamond Geezer a star at Bescia!

Well wouldn't you know it? Diamanti is suddenly looking a 24 carat diamond now he is back in Italy. A beautiful free kick secured Nani's men victory in the latest Seria A round of games, and his chairman is suddenly comparing our ex nutter to Baggio, no less!

Whilst we scratch around, desperately looking for a goalscorer, it is frustrating in the extreme to see last season's second highest scorer doing what he does best, after we all but gave him away to the Italians. We still await an explanation from Sullivan and Gold for a deal that left 99% of Hammers fans utterly incredulous. Don't we deserve that?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Time for Green to be put out to grass

Surely it is now obvious, even to his most passionate backers, that Robert Green is a mental wreck and is a liability between the sticks. His gaff for the second goal against Chelsea was dreadful and he was not blameless for the other two goals either. His error cost us the first goal against Villa and he looked like a rabbit in the headlights at Stoke yesterday.

That mistake in the first half was typical. Yes a player ran across the front of him, but any half decent keeper would either have taken the ball cleanly or made the decision to push it away to safety. Green did neither and spilt it. Stoke didn't score but no thanks to England's former number 6.

Was he at fault for the goal? I think it would be harsh to say yes, but his attempt to get to that cross was lamentable. Jones should have seen a keeper's fist coming towards his face instead of staring at a gaping, empty net. Green looked resigned to Jones scoring, just as he looked resigned when Stoke hit the bar. The ball came out and was back in active play whilst Green was standing head down, behind his line. Had a Stoke player put the rebound into the net whilst Green was still hanging his head despondently, our Robert would have been crucified by his critics.

People will point to that save from Jones but, as good as it looked, Green needed the post to rescue him and, had Jones scored from that angle, we would have been talking about an amazing goal. The fact is, the odds were in Green's favour.

The brutal truth is that Green is a liability and has to be put out to grass. Who comes in? Well Stech did ok against Oxford but wasn't really tested and is still very young. Looks like we need to call on our foul mouthed scientist. Step forward Ruud Boffin!

How good is Obinna?

There were some very tangible positives from yesterday's game: Jacobsen looks the part at right back, Da Costa and Upson looked like a good centre back pairing, Parker and Noble were solid in midfield, and Piquionne looked promising. The shape also worked well in the first half, although we didn't work the flanks enough still because Piquionne will work the channels but is not naturally a wide player.

The player who is likely to trigger the most debate, Green apart, is Obinna. How good is the guy?

So far, I can understand why he is on Inter's books but I can understand just as well why they have sent him out on a season's loan. He has ability, no question. His instant control is impressive and his movement tests defences. Yesterday, he forced a good save from Sorensen and played a major role in the goal, with his free kick delivered deep and accurately into the Stoke six yard box. Pandemonium ensued.

However, the guy looks very raw and far too impetuous to me. We saw a shot go out for a throw in on his debut and he missed a golden opportunity against Chelsea when he blazed at goal, rather than control the ball and place it. Yesterday, he chose to shoot from 30 yards when we were counter attacking and Stoke defenders were back peddling anxiously. The ball blazed wide and players racing up in support were left frustrated by Obinna's lack of composure and awareness.

The question is, will he bring more to the table than he takes away? How many goals will he score and create to compensate for his impetuous wasting of openings? He needs to score soon. If he goes game after game without hitting the net, he will become more anxious and the crowd will see his errors and start to groan and hurl abuse. He is a tryer, and that will go down well at Upton Park, but West Ham fans like cute footballers, not dumb ones, and thus far, Obinna has looked a tad on the selfish side and not the brightest of buttons when in possession of the ball.

Obinna is adjusting to new team mates, a new country, a new manager and a new style of play of course. Not many arrive in the Prem and make an instant impact. We do not have the luxury of time, however. If Obinna spends a season developing, that will be to Inter's benefit, not ours. He has hit the ground running - the guy has pace - but we now need him to hit the back of the net, hit his team mates with passes and to become a hit with the crowd.

How good is Obinna? Time will tell. But time is in short supply when you are bottom of the table five games in to a 38 game season. Remember how long it took for Tevez to bed in? If Obinna takes that long, we are in trouble!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

One Point Behind Everton After Tougher Games!

That puts things a little into perspective. We have played five, three of which have been away from home; Everton have played the same number, but three at home. We have both played Man Utd, but our game was at Old Trafford, Everton played them as hosts. We have also played at home to Chelsea, whereas Everton have not played any contenders for the top five apart from Ferguson's men.

So far, Everton have played at home to Newcastle and Wolves, two games they would expect to win, and have secured just one point from the two fixtures. They were lucky against Man Utd with two goals in extra time against a Mancs team shorn of Rooney. Away from home, they suffered defeat at Villa, like ourselves, and also came unstuck away to Blackburn, a game they would have expected to seure at least one point. Their fixtures should have yielded a par total of at least 7 points, and instead they are sitting on two.

Our one point sees Avram level on points with Zola on the Grantazola index (we drew at Villa last season, lost at Stoke and the other results have matched!) and, apart from the Bolton defeat, which was actually par for the course in truth, we have not shed points we would normally expect to pick up.

Yes it stinks to be bottom after 5 games, but we played well in patches against Chelsea and were certainly not over-run, we dominated the first half against Bolton and were much the better team in the first half against Stoke today.

The defence looked so much better for the reintroduction of Da Costa and you have to wonder why he has been ignored up until now. Jacobsen also looks a tidy defender who does what it says on the tin. I was impressed with Upson today too and, remember, until his own goal, we were in control defensively against Bolton. The loss of Upson in that game proved expensive. The worry now is the left back berth. I said it was stupid to leave ourselves with only only specialist option for left back, and so it is proving. Ilunga was at fault for Chelsea's third goal and Gabbidon was nowhere to be seen when Pennant sent in the cross for Stoke's goal today. But what choice do we have? Spector and a kid called Brown!

Bring in Hitzlespurger, and the central midfield three could yet prove the powerhouse of the team. Parker has three goals now, which is incredible! If Derr Hammer can start banging them in, we might just manage two goals in a game some time before the end of the season!

I liked the shape today, although there was a case for a defensive substitution at half time to revert to 4-4-2. Piquionne's movement is very good and Obinna has good pace. Sadly, neither look goal machines! Cole was largely ineffective up front, however, and we still await a goal from a forward 6 games into the season, including a home game against fourth division Oxford. THAT is a major concern! Maybe McCarthy is the answer. He was on the bench today. He should have been fasting with Avram!

The table still makes uncomfortable reading. There is a gap between ourselves and the real relegation candidates: Blackpool, Newcastle, West Brom, Sunderland, Wolves and Wigan. And yes, I still fancy Newcastle to struggle. However, the green shoots of recovery are there to see if you want to see them; although, given the way he is performing, "green shoots" may not be the most appropriate term!

Stoke 1 West Ham 1 Avram not there to see that it was nearly good!

In the beginning Avram created the team and the tactics. 2 Now the defence was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the Greenness; and the spirit of Zola hovered over the face of the squad. 3 And Avram said: 'Let there be Da Costa.' And there was Da Costa. 4 And Groves saw Da Costa, and saw that Da Costa was quite good; and thus Avram divided the opposition forwards from the Greenness. 5 And Avram called the Da Costa centre half, and the Greenness He called keeper. And there was 45 minutes and there was a whistle, one half. {P}

6 And Avram said: 'Let there be some tacklers in the midst of the team, and let them divide the forwards from the defenders.' 7 And Avram made the midfield, and divided the defenders which were behind the midfield from the attackers which were ahead of the midfield; and it was so. 8 And Avram called this team West Ham. And there was forty five minutes and there was a whistle, to end the first half. {P}

9 And Avram was not there to say: 'Let the players of West Ham be gathered together unto one place, and let the clean sheet appear.' And so it was not. 10 And so Avram could not call forth the clean sheet from his defence, and through the gathering together of the players he could not call forth His Victory; and being not there, Avram could not see what might have been good. 11 And Avram did not say: 'Let the defenders put in tackles and close, challenges yielding possession, and possession bearing control after its kind, wherein is the seed of victory, upon the pitch.' And so it was not so. 12 But the Pulis brought forth tacklers, their challenges yielding possession after its kind, and possession bearing control, wherein is the seed of victory, after its kind; and Pulis saw that it was good. 13 For there was a whistle and there was a restart, the second half. {P}

14 And Avram was not there to say: 'Let there be ball retention in the midfield of the team to divide the opposition from our goal; 15 and let there be forwards holding up the ball to give relief unto the defence.' And so it was not so. 16 And Avram was not there to revert to two great strikers and 4-4-2: the greater striker to win the ball, and the lesser striker to shoot towards the goal. 17 And Avram was not there to set another player into the midfield to give relief unto the defence, 18 and to rule over the midfield and over the match, and to divide the opposition from the Greeness; and being not there, Avram saw not that it might have been good. 19 And lo, there was a cross and there was a header, two lost points. {P}

20 And Avram was not there to say: 'Let the midfield swarm with swarms of busy players, and let Obinna fly ahead of the midfield in the open firmament beyond the Stoke defence.' 21 But Pulis created the great Stoke monsters, and every tackling creature that kicked and crunched, wherewith the midfield swarmed, after its kind, and every winger too after its kind; and Pulis saw that it was good. 22 And Pulis blessed them, saying: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the West Ham net, and let Stoke points multiply in the Premiership.' 23 And there was a whistle and a draw, still bottom of the table! {P}

Player Ratings:

Green 4 (First half howler, shared responsibility for the goal, one good save, although fortunate that the post came to his rescue in truth):
Jacobsen 6 (Looked neat and tidy most of the time.)
Da Costa 6 (Must take some responsibility for the goal as grounded as Jones headed home Pennant’s cross)
Upson 6 (Generally strong and neat in his defensive duties but horribly out muscled by Jones when Green turned that shot onto the post)
Gabbidon 5 (Cross came from his flank and he was nowhere to be seen. His distribution was poor all game);

Behrami 5 (Conceded stupid free kicks, collected an absurd booking have committed three fouls in the space of 30 seconds and offered next to nothing going forward)
Parker 6 (Scored a goal and ran around a lot but his first FOUR passes went to Stoke players. He lost possession twice outside his own box trying to run with the ball rather than pass and played one crazy cross field pass into touch, setting up a Delap throw in the closing minutes.)
Noble 7 (Kept ball well from what I saw and put in some lovely tackles to win back possession.)

Piquionne 6 (Great shot against the bar and linked up well)
Cole 6 (excellent defensively at set pieces but offered nothing going forward)
Obinna 5 (Ran around a lot, enthusiastic but takes the wrong option 99% of the time.)

Sub Kovac 6 (Did his limited job reasonably well after replacing Behrami.)