Friday, 31 December 2010

Spector Enjoys Stinking at West Ham!

Well here's news to cheer us all up as we go in to the New Year. Spector had the chance to leave, and turned it down! As the American said, he is a West Ham player and has a job to do in Claret & Blue as we battle to avoid relegation.

So, he could have opted for Cologne and the sweet smell of success, but he prefers to continue to stink at Upton Park instead! Good on you Johnny!

Let's hope some of the Cologne rubbed off on him in the talks, however. We could sure as hell do with the Lynx effect!

2010 and all that c**p!

Well 2010 is nearly behind us, and thank God for that! I'm not sure if it is the worst calandar year in the history of the club - there's too much misery involved in looking back over all the years of failure - but they can't come much worse can they? How many wins? How many points? Seven wins in the Prem - yes just SEVEN in an entire calander year - and just 34 points in total. 34 points - no team has survived in the Prem with 34 points have they? We sit at the foot of the Prem at the end of the year for a reason and that reason is not Grant and is not the Davids either. They inherited a complete mess.

There have been highs and lows of course. There always are. The worst low? It has to be the opening 4 games of this season. As tough as those games were, we went into the season with hope and that hope exploded like an infected bowel force fed vindaloo. The performance at Villa was truly diarrhea. Grant picked a poor team and Villa annihilated us. It could have been seven. But look at where Villa are in the table now. The Chelsea and Bolton performances were not as bad - in fact we competed for 45 minutes of both games - but we lost because of the same old failings. Defeat at Old Trafford was inevitable but the selection of Spector was again a key factor. What does this guy do on the training field to merit selection?

Had we taken four points from those first four games, we would be on the shoulder of the mid table pack. That terrible start has weighed us down ever since. That and the failure to win any of the home games against the three promoted clubs. On comparable results, Grant is ahead of Zola in the Grantazola Index, but Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull are no longer in the division and we took 9 points off those three at Upton Park!

Staying with the lows, the three worst performances of the season were the two 3-0 hammerings at Anfield - virtual carbon copies of each other - and that dreadful surrender at home to Wolves. We didn't compete in any of those games. If we repeat the result against Wolves at the weekend, we are relegated, no question.

And the highs? That Ilan goal at Everton that gave us hope. The Parker goal against Wigan that gave us belief. The appalling form of Hull and Burnley over the second half of the season because that saved us. The victory over Tottenham which suggested we can play football. The Carling Cup adventure. And we have retained the Ashes!

But 2010 will be remembered for the surreal too. Sullivan's email for one. Zola's holiday in Sardinia for another. The signing of Mido. Mido for God's sake! The weight problems of McCarthy.

And for a select band, 2010 was the nightmare to end all nightmares. Robert Green will have cold sweats at the mere mention of the year and Collison will hate the year to his dying day.

At the end of the year is there hope? Noble has come again. Tomkins has come again. Green may have come again. Collison will return. Sears is looking promising. If he can stay fit, Hines may come again. Stanislas is looking promising too. Before his injury, Da Costa was looking half decent. And the Davids are dusting down the cheque book!

Here's to the end of 2010, the ultimate nightmare year! Let's look at the positives. We didn't go bankrupt. We have reduced the debt. Our recent results haven't been that bad. We are in the semifinal of the Carling Cup. It aint all bad is it?

Let's make a resolution, to UNITE behind Grant and the team. To back them to succeed. To stop the moaning and accept that the mess is not of the making of the current owners or management and pray that we can somehow pull ourselves out of the shit we find ourselves in. The in fighting isn't helping, the tension inside Upton Park isn't helping, the booing isn't helping, the persecution of the likes of Cole isn't helping. We support this team don't we? Let's start celebrating in 2011instead of bleating!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

January Sales - Buy Early Or Else!

According to Gold we are tracking 15 players. That would be Beckham, Pugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb plus seven others! Never mind fire sales, we need a fire brigade and a living legend!

We can forget Becks for a starter. I don't want us paying for him and Posh to stay over at the Dorchester, only for Beckham to sign for 'Arry at the end of the week. Let's keep things realistic this time shall we?

Hopefully there are no fat Egyptians floating around in the Dead Sea to be scooped up next time Avram pops over to Israel. And any player coming with a booklet of Burger King vouchers should also be given a wide berth, or girth for that matter!

Sidwell seems like a reasonable first signing. True he is ginger. True he isn't good enough for the Villa team - and Villa are in the bottom 5 - but he has an engine, is full of enthusiasm and scores goals. I'd take him over Spector, Kovac, Behrami and Boa.

Who else? Keane? I doubt he will come, even on loan. Luke Young? Got to be better than Faubert. Bridge aint coming apparently so name me a left back, any left back! And a left winger too. Why exactly did Zola sell Matty?

Anyway, whoever we sign, we have to sign early. The relegation clock is ticking and we can't afford to fart around and pounce at the end of the month. If they are coming, then get them in and get them playing, with the Barnsley game a useful match to stitch a new team together.

I accepted relegation a few games back. Now, like a fool, I see a glimmer of hope. Survival hinges on what happens in January - both on and off the pitch!

Liverpool Need Avram Grant!

After Souness, Evans, Houllier, Rafa and Hodgson, Liverpool surely need Avram Grant to complete their transformation from perennial Champions to candidates for the Championship. They should stop messing around now and just go for it! Avram has kept two teams in the bottom three for a whole twelve months now so is surely perfect for the Anfield job. Expect a move early in January, along with a bid for Carlton Cole to cure the goal drought on Merseyside!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Law Named After West Ham

A team of Cambridge Professors has discovered a new Law, a variant on the old Sod's Law. Leading Academic and Doctor of Probability Lee Vitout explained: "Sod's Law states that if something CAN go wrong, then it WILL go wrong. For example a piece of buttered toast dropped from a plate will always fall butter side down. However, our research has revealed the need for a sub law, the Law of Sod with knobs on. The new law, established following a ten year study of West Ham United Football Club states, "'Even if it CAN'T go wrong, it WILL go wrong'."

He continued: "How else can you explain sacking Harry Redknapp, who has since gone on to be one of the most successful English managers in the game, leading local rivals into the Champions League? And replacing him with Glenn Roeder?"

"How can you develop the core of the England national side through your youth team and still get relegated?"

"How can you be taken over by a billionaire and then find yourself on the brink of bankruptcy?"

"How can the signing of two great Argentinian players blow up in your face?"

"And how can you climb off the foot of the table, only for Birmingham to secure a draw against Manchester United with a last minute goal from Ian Bowyer, Fulham win away for the first time in God knows how long, Wigan equalise against Arsenal with an own goal when down to ten men, and Wolves win at Anfield?"

"That's not possible is it? That's not Sod's Law, that is West Ham's Law!"

Grant's Managerial Qualities Shining Through

He may have spent 12 months in the bottom three, but there are reasons for that and Grant's qualities are now beginning to shine through. At Chelsea he inherited a poisoned chalice after the departure of Jose but did better in his brief stint than the Special One in the previous season, at Pompey he found himself in an impossible situation but still took them to a Cup Final and, at West Ham, he was given the unenviable task of sorting out the mess left behind by Zola. That would be challenging enough without an injury list that would have made Field Marshal Haig reconsider his tactics! As I blogged yesterday, Grant's team for the Everton game all but picked itself. Any man still standing had to play! The draw, in the circumstances, was a very reasonable result.

If we look at his transfer dealings, Grant has looked reasonably astute too. Jacobsen has looked our best right back by far and was signed for peanuts, whereas Turds paid £6m for Faubert. Ben Haim has done a reasonable job when fit to play. Piquionne has been one of our best players and Obinna is a favourite of the fans. Reid and Barrera are young and the jury is very much out. They were bought as speculative investments and the hope is that they will adjust to the Prem in time. The key loss is, of course, Hitzlesperger. He captained Germany for pity's sake, suggesting he has huge quality.

Crucially, after a terrible start, he is now edging ahead of Zola when you compare the team's results head to head under the two men. Zola collected 12 points from the comparable fixtures last season, Grant 15. Next game up is Wolves at Upton Park and that marked the nadir for Zola last season. If we play as badly against them this year then we really can give up and accept relegation. And, of course, we are in the semifinal of the Carling Cup into the bargain.

I always maintained that those calling for Grant's head were being too hasty. The guy needs time. Anybody would need time given the mess left behind by Zola, even Jose! The squad is being remodelled within tight budgetary constraints. The results are beginning to pick up. We are in the semifinal of a domestic cup competition. I think it is high time that Grant's critics gave him some credit. This is West Ham, not Tottenham, we back our managers!

Damn you Ricky Ponting!

He's done it again. You want to hate the guy. You want to revel in your victory and the misery of the Australian captain. You want to hear him whinge and moan and blame the umpires. But he spoils it all by being such an honest, decent, honourable sod!

Well done to the boys, it was a fantastic performance in this test, all the more so on the back of the drubbing in Perth but damn it, well done to Ponting too for taking it on the chin like a man. Boy, could football managers learn from his example.

The Ashes are ours, the Aussies are routed, but Ponting has ensured that Australian cricket has retained its dignity.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

12 players ruled out of starting line up - and we still drew!

Now it's time for a sense of perspective. Sure the performance was uninspired and uninspiring but we were playing an Everton team that beat Man City on their own dung heap last game out, and we were unable to start TWELVE players!

How's this for a team?

Stech; Jacobsen, Da Costa, Gabbidon, Ben Haim; Behrami, Noble, Hitzelsperger, Collison; Cole (unable to start) Dyer.

OK, it's not great but I would back that team to at least draw with the side we fielded tonight. And I haven't included McBenni!

One poster has been critical of Grant for bringing on Spector at left back, but what options were left exactly once Ilunga felt his niggle? I know all teams suffer injuries, but can any team cope with having TWELVE players ruled out all at once? To come away with a draw in the circumstances is pretty impressive especially given two of the starting 11 were forced to withdraw with injury, one was short of match fitness and two of the subs who came on were not fully fit themselves! And that was after we had played a game two days ago whilst Everton had enjoyed a whole week off.

Over the 90 minutes we covered and closed well and, the goal apart, Green was only troubled the once. That suggests the back four, even including Faubert and Spector, coped pretty well, ably supported by our midfield quartet. It wasn't pretty, in fact it was drab, but that point may be crucial in the final reckoning.

We wanted a win, especially after Fulham's victory, but with 12 players unable to start, that was probably unrealistic. I am content with the draw. But Wolves on Saturday is another matter entirely!

I would suggest getting that bloody nurse out of the treatment room for starters!

West Ham 1 Everton 1 - The Ultimate Bore Draw

That was the last thing I needed after staying up until God knows what time for the last three nights watching the cricket. I sat enthralled by Arsenal's performance against Chelsea yesterday; today was as exciting as watching a repeat of Songs of Praise!

Mind you, as soon as you saw the team you knew what we had in mind. Conservative would be a fair enough description, with a midfield deprived of Stanislas in favour of Boa. The full backs were restored, but when those full backs are Faubert and Ilunga, it isn't terribly inspiring is it? Faubert was merde as usual and Ilunga gave up early, as usual. He breaks down as often as a 1973 model Cortina! What was wrong with him this time? He walked off fine.

Going forward we were uninspiring. Sears set up Cole superbly, after a brilliantt Obinna pass, but Carlton was wide of the goal, at a tight angle, was being closed and had to hit it with his left foot. It was no surprise to see it roll well wide. Parker was unlucky with a lovely chip. We headed over from a corner. And Everton scored an own goal. Apart from that, did we offer anything? Boa wasted a half chance. I'm struggling to remember anything else but it is very possible that I was asleep for large chunks of the game!

Everton weren't much better. Distan missed an early chance from just about the same spot as Cole. Fellani forced a goodish save from a corner. Everton had the ball in the net but Cahill was obviously offside (mind you Tomkins should have thumped the ball clear just in case!). They scored a good goal and arguments raged about who in the West Ham defence was to blame. Spector was sucked in, leaving Coleman unmarked to score, but where was Tomkins? Trying to close the cross on the right hand corner of our box. So where was Faubert? God knows but he wasn't where he should have been. Spector or Faubert? Take your pick. Sadly both were picked by Avram, albeit the Wank initially started on the bench.

The crowd were quiet, the football was tame, bordering on lame, and both sides seemed happy enough with a point. Fulham won, Blackburn won and Blackpool won too, but we snoozed our way through to a bore draw. Whisper it quietly folks but Villa are too good to go down; and we know what happens to teams in Claret and Blue when people reach that conclusion. Let's hope the Mancs thump Birmingham tonight!

Players ratings: Green 6: Faubert 4, Tomkins 6, Upson 7, Ilunga 4; Sears 6, Kovac 5, Parker 7, Boa 5; Obinna 6, Piquionne 7 Subs: Spector 5, Cole 6 (Hines not on long enough to rate)

Two Good To Be True!

Just take a look at the scorecard for the fourth test in Melbourne. England stand on the brink of victory and retaining the Ashes after reducing Australia to 169-6 in their second innings with no front line batsmen left. At sometime before 2 a.m tomorrow morning, victory will be confirmed and I will be able to get back into a normal sleep pattern!

How well did Bresnan bowl? I must confess that I thought the guy was something of a journeyman and was anxious when he replaced leading wicket taker Finn, but our selectors know what they are doing these days and Strauss leads the team superbly, getting field placings and bowling changes right time after time. Ponting doesn't just have a broken finger, he is a broken man.

And with the breaking of Ponting, so came the breaking of Australia's spirit. To see Ricky arguing with the on field umpires about a decision that had been confirmed by technology was amazing. He had lost it. Completely. And so have the "team" now. We were wondering what had happened to Zola and Clarke. Well now we know. Zola is selecting the Australia team and Clarke is the batting and bowling coach!

Meanwhile, West Ham won away and all the other results went in our favour; except one. The postponement of the Everton game against Birmingham gives Moyes' men a huge and unfair advantage. Everton arrive fresh, we play with aching limbs.

Should we win today, it will be the best Christmas I can ever remember. An Ashes victory and two West Ham wins on the bounce? It can't happen can it? That would be two good to be true!

Anyway, back to the game of Twister with my new next door neighbours..

Monday, 27 December 2010

Is Sears back from the dead?

Avram was pleased with him and some have apparently decreed Freddie MOTM - despite Cole's brace and Green's heroics - so has Freddie come back from the footballing scrap heap, a player reinvented and reborn?

Of course, West Ham fans have a tendency to err on the side of optimism when an Academy kid has a good game. Absolute mustard, the dog's bollocks, the new Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick...

Against Blackburn it was Boffin, and after the performance at Craven Cottage, Sears is now the latest in the West Ham production line to come good...we will see.

It is true that Sears gave some shape to the team and stuck to his defensive duties better than Barrera (in previous games) and Stanislas. He also had the virtue of being right footed and playing on the right flank. Others have made the point that he showed good energy, closed well and ran around a lot. He also showed good movement at times when he came in off the flank. It was lovely link up play when Cole set him up for his shot (which flashed wide typically) and he did well to break beyond the Fulham defence to set up Cole, following Piquionne's lovely pass.

But we must not get carried away. Overall, I don't think he did that well when in possession and on two occasions, he was eased off the ball far too easily when Fulham players leaned on him. His frame remains a disadvantage in a game increasingly dominated by athletic specimens. For every Messi, there are now ten players who are six foot plus and built to bully the little squirts. And sadly, Sears does not have the control nor ability of Messi.

His reinvention as a right sided midfield player, of course, presents a major challenge to those who talk about Zola's coaching skills. It was not the Italian who spotted this potential but coaching yard dog Neill Warnock! Who would have imagined that Warnock could appraise a player's attacking strengths better than Zola?

Everton, of course, will present a far bigger challenge than Fulham. Baines will be overlapping and Everton's midfield five will be pulling our defence in all directions. I would look at the defensive strengths of Behrami ahead of the attacking potential of Sears for this one personally - in the very unlikely event that Valedictory wants to play over the Christmas break!

It is, of course, far too early to be reaching any sort of conclusion about Sears. What the boy desperately needs is a goal; then, with confidence restored, we might see what he is really made of!

Without Full Backs, There's No Balance - And Gabbidon and Ben Haim Aren't Full Backs!

So there are rumours that we are trying to sign Luke Young again, but isn't he a right back? Ben Haim is not the best right back in the world, but he is only cover for Jacobsen. Our interest in Young suggests that the Israeli will be allowed to return to Pompey when the loan deal expires in January, but I think that would be a shame. The guy is a good utility defender who can cover across all four positions in the back four. It's also a shame for Pompey who cannot afford to pay his wages!

Ben Haim is not the problem. Get Jacobsen fit and we have a reasonable right back able to attack down the flanks. The big concern is Gabbidon and that left back position. Sadly, the Welshman is now a liability. How many times did he give away the ball yesterday, and how many times did he even cross the half way line? Play Gabbidon, and you lose all width on the left hand side when in possession.

Want to see the importance of a full back "working the flank", then look at Tottenham's first goal against Villa yesterday. When that cross for Van der Vaart came in, I assumed it was Lennon who had delivered it, but no, it was Hutton, running into acres of space and delivering a cross virtually from the byline.

Watching Spurs under 'Arry, you see how simple the game can be. Van der Vaart is a positional genius, to be fair, finding acres of space in a freshly packed tin of sardines with his brilliant movement, but there is nothing terribly sophisticated about Tottenham's use of the flanks. They simply get the ball wide and stretch opposition defences to snapping point. Look at Tottenham's second. They only had ten men on the pitch but still had a man over because Bale had thrust down the wing following a clearance from defence. Oddly, Bale found himself on the right and Lennon on the left, but both contributed to setting up Van der Vaart's second with brilliant counter attacking football, exploiting the flanks and pulling the opposition defence out of shape as a result.

How often did we stretch Fulham down the flanks yesterday? When we did, we created chances. Sears fired in a cross and found Stanislas, who knocked the chance wide. Stanislas ran at the Fulham defence and slipped a lovely ball through to Cole, who had a pot at goal. Sears crossed low to Cole too, who lost possession before he could get in a shot. Sears also "contributed" to the first goal, albeit his "cross" was crap. The point is, width removed the dense conglomeration of defenders from the centre of the penalty box. Parker was on the left hand corner of the box when he delivered the cross for the second too and even the third came because Piquionne was pulling to the left, drawing his marker out of position and creating space for Cole.

Playing with Stanislas and Sears gave us some shape yesterday, reintroducing the width that Zola seemed intent on ignoring when he sold Etherington, but Ben Haim and Gabbidon are centre backs and offer virtually no attacking support whatsoever. As a result, it is so much easier to close out the cross as the full back is never isolated one against two, forcing a centre back out to cover. Look at Fulham's goal. Who was trying to close down the cross on the right hand corner of our box? Tomkins, pulled hopelessly out of position as a result.

I'm not sure Luke Young is the correct priority personally. Unless Ilunga has miraculously found his brain, heart and courage, our desperate need is for a left back who can tackle and offer drive and width down the left flank when we have the ball. Until we find a square peg for that square hole, we will never have balance.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Where was McCarthy?

Interesting that Benni wasn't on the bench today. Wonder where he was?

Still eating his Christmas dinner perhaps?

Fulham 1 West Ham 3 A Game of 40 minutes and 50 minutes!

Well, I didn't have access to a PC at half time otherwise my match report on the first half would have read Real Madrid 1 West Ham 2. For 40 minutes Fulham played us off the park. I would use the old cliche about chasing shadows, but that would imply that our players actually gave a damn. They didn't chase shadows as such, they watched the shadows slide past them, like terrified toddlers in a House of Horrors.

First forty or so minutes, it was a roll call of ineptitude: Tomkins was outjumped twice in the first five minutes; Gabbidon was incompetence personified, weak in the challenge and terrible when on the ball; Kovac was Kovac; one cross apart, Sears was his usual lightweight self; Stanislas looked like a one legged player on the wrong wing and failed to beat the first defender with two of his three corners; Parker was huff and puff and not much else, mindful no doubt of the yellow card hanging like the Sword of Damoclese over his head; Green was OK but punched the cross which led, seconds later to Fulham scoring; Ben Haim was at best ordinary; Upson was hopelessly out of position for the Fulham goal, standing five yards BEHIND any Fulham player as Hughes, completely unmarked, headed home; Cole looked like he was ice skating for the first time in his life, unsure where his feet were and terrified of losing his balance; and Piquionne looked on a different wavelength from the rest of the team.

On 40 minutes, the possession count stood at 65% to 35% in Fulham's favour. Our heads were down. Defeat had been accepted. Grant was standing arms folded and glum on the touchline. There was no way back. Grant's only available option at half time was to give the players a spade each and invite them to dig their own graves. Fulham were playing like Real Madrid and we were playing like George & Mildred. So much for a happy Christmas.

And then it happened! Out of the claret and blue, Sears made a complete hash of a cross and Etuhu made an even bigger hash of his attempted clearance. The ball arrived at the feet of Cole, gift wrapped, with a claret and blue ribbon attached and bearing the message, "Best Wishes of the Season". As gift horses go, this was a veritable Derby winner and even Cole chose not to inspect the interior of its oral cavity. Like the great goal poacher he is, Carlton simply stuck out his foot and deflected it home! 1-1 and we had been murdered, mullered, minced and mashed up until that point!

So there we were, praying that we could get through to half time on level terms, when lightning struck twice. Parker received the ball on the left hand corner of the box, looked up - yes, Parker looked up! - saw that there wasn't a Fulham defender within 10 yards of him, and knocked in a half decent cross that cleared a bus queue of Fulham defenders and arrived at the feet of Piquionne virtually standing under the bar! For a moment I had a cruel flashback to that miss against Chelsea but no, the Frenchman buried the chance and we were ahead! 2-1 up and the whistle blew for the break moments later!

God knows what Avram said at half time. It certainly couldn't have been, "You deserve that"! "You lucky bastards!" perhaps. "No more of the same!" might have been reasonable based on the balance of play! Maybe he just said, "God has forgiven me the massage parlours at last, now go out second half and rub in our advantage." And in the other dressing room? Mark Hughes must have been asking when exactly Fulham had become Arsenal and why the bloody hell they didn't try shooting after stringing together thirty five passes!

And lo and behold, as Fulham took the field for the second half, our mob remained behind in the dressing room, trying to recover their breath after being convulsed in laughter for the whole of the interval no doubt. Then out they jogged, pulling on their Christmas gloves, desperately trying to hide their smirks and with this strange new spirit pulsing through their veins, the spirit of confidence! "Hang on", somebody said. "This is Craven Cottage and we ALWAYS win at Craven Cottage UNLESS Zola is in charge!"

And that was it. We were a new team. Cole performed as if he was in the January shop window and wanted to impress. Upson and Tomkins were suddenly playing together. Sears grew in confidence if not in inches. Parker realised that the referee was competent and wasn't hell bent on giving him a yellow regardless. Stanislas looked like he wanted to start the next match. Gabbidon actually passed the ball to players in Claret & Blue. Ben Haim looked like he was defending his homeland. Piquionne was determined. Kovac looked almost competent. And Green was simply awesome.

THAT save from American Eddie Johnson was simply awesome. I have been a critic of Green but shot stopping doesn't come better than that. I assumed, in real time, that Johnson had simply fired over because there was no way a keeper could deflect that shot high and wide at such point blank range. But Green did. He spread himself and his right hand was incredibly strong, forcing the ball away from goal. Very few keepers in the world would have made that save and if anybody quibbles with my rating of 10 for Green, I say watch that save again. And the way he went down bravely at feet in the first half and his save in the second half when a dozy Gabbidon played Andy Johnson onside and clean through on goal.

Those moments apart, however, we were largely in control. Fulham were now less Real Madrid and more Real Manure. Where in the first half they passed the ball around us as if we were training ground cones, now they passed the ball to Claret and Blue shirts as certainly as if the ball was a magnet and we really were the Irons! Sadly, we still weren't brilliant - the third goal was fashioned in a Keystone Cops movie - but Fulham were suddenly awful. Playing like this, they are very live contenders for the drop!

Cole should have scored after a lovely quick fire move that saw Piquionne, receiving a perfect pass from a Fulham player, release Sears who actually crossed to Cole! We created a chance! But Cole made a hash of it and lost possession. Sears himself had a chance, firing narrowly wide of the near post after clever work from Cole.

And we scored a third! It was an aimless ball forward, Piquionne failed to win it in the air, but for the second time in the game, Cole received a present, completely unmarked, seven yards from goal. To say he couldn't miss would be absurd - Cole misses these chances as a signature tune - but for the second time, Carlton came over all Michael Owen and buried the chance! I queried the Virgin Birth last week. After this, I aint questioning any miracles!

So, the first of three must win games in a row ended in a West Ham victory, our first win away from home since the very first game of the 2009-10 season. Our victory over Pompey on Boxing Day of last season - gained in the teeth of injury adversity - gave us real hope that we could survive and this win has suddenly transformed the table. Not only are we not bottom, Birmingham, Fulham, Wigan, Villa and, whisper it quietly, Blackpool, Blackburn, Newcastle and West Brom, can hear our desperate panting not so very far behind their shoulders. One team always collapses in the second half of the season. Take your pick from that bunch! Could Pards yet prove our saviour?

Mind you, following that victory over Pompey we performed abjectly at Tottenham next game up. We desperately need to build on this win and take a minimum of 4 points from the home games against Everton and Wolves. Do that, and it is game on for the Great Escape mark 2! The only trouble is, Everton are a bogey team and Wolves murdered us in the six pointer at Upton Park last season! Mind you, win those two games and I will be re-publicising the Grantazola Index!

Player Ratings: Green 10; Ben Haim 6, Tomkins 7 Upson 6, Gabbidon 4; Sears 5, Kovac 5, Parker 6, Stanislas 6; Piquionne 6, Cole 7

(The subs weren't on long enough to rate!)

Sears and Kovac start!

Oh dear God! Sears can't score in the Championship but he is first choice ahead of a Mexican international! No Dyer, well it is Christmas, what do you expect? Turkeys with any sense don't get out of bed at this time of Year! He probably tore a ligament pulling a cracker.

No Behrami or Jacobsen. Why would you recover from injury over the Christmas break exactly? If this lot were pulling Santa's sleigh, he would find them all holding up hooves apologetically on Christmas Eve!

Gabbidon and Ben Haim at full back again. Stanislas on the left, again. Fulham's right back is going to enjoy an easy game! And up front Carlton returns to terrify the Fulham back line whilst Kovac forms an impenetrable wall in front of our back four!

I suppose the team selection could be worse. We could have let the Aussie selectors pick the team!

Anybody feeling optimistic?

Feeling Green After Christmas Day

Poor old Robert Green. You can just imagine him, waking up this morning in a cold sweat and his wife asking, "What's the matter darling?"
"I've just had a terrible nightmare!" Rob replies, still trembling.
"What was it about?" the wife says, giving him a cuddle.
"It was the whole of 2010!" Rob confides.
"Never mind," comes the reply, with Rob pressed close to her chest like a baby. "2010 is nearly behind us darling and you have a match to look forward to today."
"Do I?" asks Rob. "Who am I playing?"
"Only Fulham. And Clint Dempsey!"

Blinking Good Christmas So Far!

I'm about to crawl upstairs to my pit having enjoyed a brilliant Christmas Day and with the Aussies 58-4! And Hussey is out!

Now, what's the chances of it continuing like this? Will I awake tomorrow to find England still on top and to savour a turn around in West Ham's fortunes, with a crucial victory at Craven Cottage?

Anybody want to share the wishbone with me?

Here's hoping!!!!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Santa's Sack for West Ham's Stars!

It's Christmas Time! Keep the mistletoe away from Avram, his God knows who he will be caught kissing under it! We can't afford another 12 months of Atonement!

For Kieran Dyer, the Hasbro game, Operation.

For Julian Faubert, a stepladder to help him challenge Shaun Wright-Phillips in the air.

For Barrera, a crucifix so he knows what a cross looks like.

For Carlton Cole, a hat rack with three hooks, two for his England caps and one for his flat cap for when he moves North.

For Scotty Parker, nothing. Well, when you are on £80k a week, why do you need Christmas presents?

For Benni McCarthy, a one way ticket to South Africa, Fat Bastard Class.

For Ilunga, a DVD of "The Wizard of Oz" in the hope that he can find some courage, a heart and a brain!

For Upson, a ticket out of here!

For Behrami, a night out with the Lazio Ultras!

For Tomkins, a centre back partner that doesn't ask him to man mark the opposition's strongest forward every game.

For Hitzlespurger, Kieran Dyer's Autobiography, "A Love Affair with the Treatment Table."

For Rob Green, a greased up copy of "England, My England" so he can relive an international career slipping through his fingers.

For Freddie Sears, a free ticket to Avram's favourite massage parlour. With his looks and record, it's the only way he's likely to score this season.

For David Sullivan, a framed picture of last season's table, showing West Ham FOURTH from bottom, signed by Gianfranco Zola.

For Spector, a DVD of THAT Man Utd game! It aint ever going to happen again is it?

For Avram, an attachable foreskin. It's the only way some West Ham fans will accept him!

And for all the West Ham fans out there - the ONLY Claret & Blue stars this year - a DVD of the Great Escape, a great roll of barbed wire and a motorbike. Who knows, the impossible may happen!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Smile, it is Christmas!

So what we are bottom for Christmas? It gives me an excuse to run that picture!

Want a Christmas turkey? Take your pick from McCarthy, Cole, Faubert, Gabbidon, Ilunga, Barrera...

Want to pull a Christmas Cracker? I know she's seen better days but Karren Brady has to be an improvement on Eggert!

Brussel sprouts? Bring on Boffin!

Three wise men? How about Sullivan, Gold and Avram? Sears has been recalled especially to lay in the manger to complete the nativity scene! Karren can play Mary, though the virgin birth might be a bit of an issue! The players are queueing down Green Street for the right to play the front end and back end of the donkey!

The spirit of giving? Well Everton are looking forward to a few presents on Boxing Day!

We're not short of Israelites of course.

And what's that scheduled for Boxing Day? No surely not? Not another repeat of the Great Escape!

Would you want to watch a West Ham game from here?

Yeah, I was behind the goal and I had such a good view I could almost see the goal at my end! The score? Not sure. Couldn't see what was happening at the other end of the pitch. In fact I couldn't really see what was happening in the penalty box at my end. But it was great value. I only paid £30 and ten seats either side of me were empty so I could lay down and have a snooze in the second half. I think we must have scored at some point because I could hear the distant sound of cheering.

Unless that was the Orient fans in Brisbane Road!

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Parker Will NOT Leave in January!

Absolutely not. Never. No way. Not a cat in hell's chance. Not until hell freezes over. Not in a million years. If there's one thing you can be sure of. Even if we are still bottom and cut adrift as we approach the end of the month. Definitely not. Impossible to contemplate.

Happy Christmas everybody. Hammersfan was wrong about this one! He said Parker would be sold in the last window! He should have trusted Uncle David Sulllivan, a gent who is always true to his word!

And now Avram has signed the pledge; Avram and Diddy David Sullivan, just like Cable and Clegg?

Wright-Phillips and Bridge

I would rather have Tezez but a move for SWP and WB would make sense, presumably on a six month loan to see us through safely either to survival in the Prem or relegation to the Championship.

Both are solid Prem players who lack the quality to play regularly in a side bidding to win the title. The question is, why would they want to join a relegation battle?

I suppose City would be reluctant to strengthen any of their rivals by selling or loaning to them the less than dynamic duo. And it might help their cause to strengthen us in the hope that we might then secure results against the likes of Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham - although the idea that Wright-Phillips and Bridge could make that much difference is a little far fetched.

Then there is the little matter of the cap on domestic loan signings.  Ben Haim would either have to leave or be bought, and any thought of taking Keane or O'Hara on loan would be binned.

We need a left back and a pacey flank man, although SWP is better down the right than the left. The deal makes sense for us but would Bridge really want to join our troubled waters and be so close to John Terry? And as for SWP, his last stay in London was not exactly a happy one. Mind you, Wright-Phillips does enjoy playing at Upton Park! He can't have outjumped many defences to score over his career!

In case I don't post later, Merry Christmas to you all, even you guys who hate me! I hope you have a great day tomorrow and that Boxing Day is even better!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Parker Nominated for Top Award

"What next HF? Are you going to criticise Parker for his failure to win a Nobel Prize for Physics?"

Following his outstanding efforts in leading West Ham to bottom place in the Premiership, West Ham captain elect, Scotty Parker has been nominated for the Nobel Prize.

After hearing about the nomination, Newham University's Professor of Midfield Generals, Lee Vitout reasoned: "Obama was given his award after just seven months in the job of President and Parker has been playing for much longer than that!"

He added: "Parker has consistently put West Ham and the fans ahead of himself. Look at the way he has stuck with the club despite our league position. He could have left in the last transfer window, Tottenham wanted him, but Parker signed a new contract didn't he? He committed himself to West Ham for the measly salary of £83,000 per week, just one third per week of what the Prime Minister earns in a year!"

He continued: "And look at what we have achieved with Scotty in the team! We have won two Premiership games out of 18! We have amassed 13 points! We still have all the teams above us within our sights! If we win all three games over the Christmas break we can start thinking about pushing for Europe. We will owe it all to Scotty providing he doesn't get a fifth yellow!"

No hang on, sorry that was a misprint! It was the Noble Prize! Markie drew Parker in the West Ham Secret Santa!

£4.5m for Behrami? Rampant deflation!

Remember, back in the heady days, when there were rumours of a £17m bid for Valedictory Behrami from Unreal City? Well, rumours suggest he is now worth less than the £5m we paid for him!

Behrami was the one everybody quoted when Nani was criticised on this blog. But I always maintained that the guy wasn't "all that". I always maintained that huff and puff was not a substitute for class and that, apart from energy, the Swiss "Beckham" - how laughable is that now? - brought very little to the table.

I was ridiculed and verbally abused for daring to say that Behrami was Joe Ordinary on Duracell batteries. Well, without wishing to blow my own trumpet too much, it looks like I was right, doesn't it?

Now, on to Scott Parker - who has a very limited passing range, plays with his head down so lacks vision and plays in a red mist which results in stupid tackles and shots that blaze miles wide. We should have sold him in the summer. We should sell him in January. If we keep him until the summer, we will pocket £3m tops. And is the guy keeping us up? Take a look at the table and a win percentage of 27% with Parker in the team!

Parker Reveals Churchill Spirit!

"Scott speaks!" the OS announces in a headline, sounding like a proud father after his son's first "Dada"! So, after 30 years, Parker has apparently mastered the art of speech! They are planning on tackling reading and writing next. And then, running with the ball with his head UP! And then, just before he retires, when and how to tackle!

And after all this waiting, Scotty did everybody proud with what he had to say! How about, "We are not in the best of positions in the league but if we can pick up some points, it will help us a lot"? Isn't he a clever boy, Auntie Karren, squeals delightedly! "Not only can he speak, he can do some maths too!"

But he didn't stop there! Oh no! He then brought out the fighting talk! "Let's HOPE we can win some games," Scotty continued. Ouch! That's the spirit! That will put the wind up Moyes, Hughes and McCarthy! That will get the blood pumping in the West Ham dressing room! Why isn't this guy the captain? With this sort of confidence and fighting talk we would be unstoppable!

At that point he must have watched a video of himself because he added, "Things CAN turn around quickly." Karren nodded sagely and whispered, "That's our boy. He could have been anything...ANYTHING! He could have gone into ballet!"

And determined to end his speech on a high, Scotty shocked the world with his incredible perception by adding, "There are some important games coming up in London and they are winnable games for us." That's a boy Scotty! Avoid terms like "must win", don't over commit, don't say, "Games we are GOING to win", keep it real, keep it honest, keep it low key, downbeat almost.

Just imagine Scotty in Churchill's shoes on June 4th 1940,

"We hope to go on to the end, we hope to find some fight in France, we will try on the seas and oceans, we will try with what little confidence and strength we can find in the air (but we are a short team), we will try to defend our Island (even with Gabbidon), providing the costs aren't too high, we hope to fight on the beaches (but not in Blackpool!), we will try to fight on the landing grounds, we will try to fight in the fields and in the streets, we will try to fight in the hills; we will only surrender when it seems sensible to do so, and even if, which I do think is distinctly possible, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, hopefully armed and guarded by the British Fleet, might, with a lot of luck and good fortune carry on the struggle. Mind you, we have to take into account it is Hitler and Germany. This war may be winnable but I wouldn't put much money on it personally."

Scott Parker as Churchill? Cue an advert: "He told me he was helping Harry Redknapp with his Christmas decorations yesterday!" Well, given our perilous position, it would be stupid not to have an insurance policy wouldn't it?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Most Stupid West Ham Headline of the Year goes to...

...the Guardian for breaking the news that...

"West Ham will sell Matthew Upson and Kieran Dyer if price is right"

If the price is right? A price, for Dyer? If anybody agrees to meet his wage demands, we will pay for the taxi to take him there. In fact, if anybody offers to pay 50% of his salary until July, we will pay for the taxi to take him there, even if it's a black cab and the destination is Sydney!

Putting a price on Dyer is like me demanding a wage for joining Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman in a threesome!

Blame the midfielders!

So we have had more shots than Manchester United so far this season and we have missed the target more than any other team except Birmingham. Conclusion? The strikers are crap!

Possibly. Alternatively, the midfielders are crap!

I think I've seen just about every minute of our league games so far this season and, to be honest, I don't remember us missing many sitters. Piquionne missed from six yards out against Wigan. Cole had a shot turned on to the post from point blank range against Birmingham. Piquionne has headed a couple over the bar. Boa put a reasonable chance wide against somebody. Barrera sliced one wide (against Blackpool perhaps?). Have I missed any? Nothing to compare with Harewood's and Balotelli's misses against us! McCarthy's air shot doesn't count because no shot on goal resulted.

So where does this high shots on goal stat come from? Simple: Obinna, Barrera and Scott Parker. All three are guilty of tunnel vision when the goal is in range. How many times have you been able to predict a Parker shot before he has even reached the ball? No matter how far out he is, no matter how many players there are between him and the goal, no matter the positioning and availability of team mates, Parker sees a red mist and has only one thing in mind. Yes he has pulled it off a couple of times but the majority have blazed high and wide.

Then there is Obinna. He makes very bad choices too. One day he will hit a shot cleanly from outside the box but how many will he miss beforehand? He is summed up by his very first shot in Claret and Blue - it nearly hit the corner flag!

And the worst offender is Barrera. This guy really is an idiot. Time and again, when he should be looking to pass, he takes a pot shot that screams wide.

Is it a shoot on sight policy instigated by Grant, or is this symptomatic of a bunch of players who are not playing as a team? When do we pass? When do we build up play? When do we cross? When do we CREATE chances?

Look at the Stanislas goal at Blackburn. Parker was in his red mist, blind to the positioning of team mates. He only had one thought, to try to dribble through on his own, to score a wonder goal. The ball broke to the superbly positioned Stanislas, but Parker didn't see him. How could he? He was running head down, focused on the ball, utterly unaware of the bigger picture.

Look at the team without Noble. Parker runs with the ball. Spector runs with the ball. Barrera runs with the ball. Dyer runs with the ball. Obinna runs with the ball. Behrami runs with the ball. Nobody passes. Nobody builds the play. It's like watching a team of under tens! It's like watching Beckham all those years ago when he thought he was playing Greece on his own. He finished the game as a hero because of that screaming last minute free kick but, that apart, he played like a headless chicken.

And we have a whole team of headless chickens!

Barton, O'Hara and Sidwell in; Behrami & Parker out.

It makes sense when you think about it. I loathe the idea of Barton in Claret & Blue but at £1.5m up front and future bail payments, he does look a bargain. He will certainly add some bite to the midfield. Sidwell used to score goals from midfield so he would seem a good replacement for Parker, whilst O'Hara is combative and can ping a pass.

Let's assume Behrami goes for £5m, we can have both Sidwell and Barton with £2m left over. O'Hara arrives, maybe on loan, as part of the Parker deal and that is centre midfield sorted. And I don't think we would be any weaker on the pitch and, if we get £6m for Parker, we still have £8m to play with.

There is a little nagging worry though. Barton and O'Hara have both played for relegated teams. (I think Sidwell was at Chelsea the season Reading went down but I'm not sure!).

We still desperately need a left back, another right back, a pacey left winger and a striker, however. And if Upson is sold, an experienced centre back. That means more pack shuffling. Cole has to go. Let's be realistic and say we get £8m for him, that gives the Davids £16m to "invest". You can bet your life that they are scanning the market  looking for "bargain" Mido and Ilan style misfits but, as we have now seen, you rarely pick up players of Premiership quality in this way.

The advantage of Sidwell and Barton is that both have Championship experience and would be very tasty indeed in the lower division. Their goals from midfield would fire us towards promotion and take the pressure off the youngsters.

Of course, all this assumes we have a free run at these players and other clubs might have something to say about that. But then again, who in their right mind would touch Barton with his discipline problems and O'Hara with his recent injury history? Both have "Made for West Ham" stamped all over them!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

It's Sears Desperation All Over Again!

This is Groundhog Day! Remember how, last season, we called a goalless Freddie Sears back from a loan spell in the Championship to fire us to safety in the Prem? Well we've just done it again! It's a year on, he still hasn't scored, but we need him!

Quite how a kid who can't score against the likes of Preston, Watford or Hull is going to be much help in out current situation is anybody's guess. I bet Moyes is having sleepless nights at the thought of Freddie putting the Toffees to the sword!

Sears desperation!

Steve Claridge on Liverpool, Rafa & Hughton

Steve Claridge speaking on Radio 5 Live said: "I don't understand why the fans gave so much latitude to Benitez and so little to Hughton. What they have to understand is that all the mess is down to the guy before. You have to look at what Hughton inherited. All the mess is down to the previous guy. You need time to sort out a mess like that, it doesn't happen overnight."

Substitute Zola and Grant in there and I think that is spot on for West Ham too! Except Grant wasn't left with Torres, Gerrard, Reina and Johnson and wasn't able to pick up Joe Cole on a Bosman of course!

I'd Rather Have Knightley Than Sidwell

WHTID screams, "I'd Rather Have Barton Than Sidwell". But give me Keira over either Joey or Steve any day of the week thanks very much.

No accounting for taste I suppose!

;  }

Sidwell to swap Claret and Blues

According to Sky Sports, we are lining up a move for Sidwell. Why exactly? Don't we have enough players to play in centre midfield when Parker, Noble, Collison and Hitlespurger are fit? Is there not a greater need for a goal scorer, a left back and somebody to play with pace on the left of midfield?

Of course, signing Sidwell would make sense if somebody was leaving...

...Scotty by any chance?

Official Site Announces Parker is in Shop Window

So now you're going to believe me! The OS has announced that Parker is in the shop window.

Mind you, I think the Davids would get more success sending him to an outlet in Sandbanks!

And a Merry Christmas to all you WHTID fans!

Boffin should be First Choice from now on!

Following Boffin's brilliant display on his debut, regular WHTID poster Lee Vitout  has launched a campaign to get Ruud installed as West Ham's first choice keeper ahead of  Rob Green. West Ham posters the length and breadth of the internet have been hailing the goalkeeping master class given by the Belgian at Blackburn and the Boffmeister is already being hailed as a West Ham cult figure to compare with Di Canio, Julian Dicks and Mad Dog Allen.

Vitout raved: "The Boff was brill. His save from Pedersen's free kick was World Class. He leapt and flew through the air like a salmon jumping into a John West tin. And I loved the way he dribbled round that Blackburn forward. Class sheer class."

Lee continued: "It may be tough on Rob Green who is clearly the best keeper in England, but after that debut showing, there's no way the Boffmeister can ever be dropped. I've not seen a debut as good as that since...since  Freddie Sears scored that wonder goal to launch his prolific career!"

A campaign has been launched in Over Land & Sea to get Boffin into the Belgian national team. Vitout continued: "We all know there is a prejudice against West Ham keepers when it comes to international football. How many caps did Phil Parkes get exactly? Or Mervyn Day? Or Bobby Ferguson? Or David James when he was at West Ham? Even Ludek only got 40 caps! Dear God, McKnight only got 10 caps! And now, just watch, Boffin will be ignored even when installed as West Ham's number one and Capello will use it as an excuse to drop Green, just because he is sitting on the bench. It's a bloody conspiracy against West Ham!"

Asked about Boffin's failure to take the two crosses leading to the goal, Vitout raged: "I've heard all this crap before. Look, even the mighty Rob Green struggles with crosses. I hate the way people try to pick holes. So Green is dodgy on crosses, but so was Jesus and he is the Saviour supreme. Green is a great shot stopper. You can't have everything can ya? And Boffin is cut from the same cloth! Bring on Everton I say, and that little tosser Cahill! With Boff in goal we have nothing to fear!"

Know nothing Hammersfan has been forced to concede that including Boffin on a regular basis would be a positive move. "I'm not sure about his merits as a keeper but all these pictures of rude boffs are certainly livening up my blog!" he agreed.

Relegation Written in the Stars by Tevez!

Anybody thinking our position in the league has got anything to do with Avram Grant simply needs to think about the implications of last night's result at Eastlands.

Everton have been crap all season, so crap that they have hovered just above the drop within touching distance of even ourselves. Unreal City, meanwhile, were on a roll. Victory last night would have taken them top of the table. Seven days ago the result was a banker. Then enter Mr Tevez!

Our saviour in the Great Escape promptly slapped in a transfer request and destroyed any semblance of team spirit and togetherness at the Manchester Whore House. Inside six minutes of last night's game, Everton were ahead and before you knew it, Baines had fired in another. Game as good as over!

And the significance to ourselves? Well what a perfect warm up for Everton ahead of playing West Ham! Talk about Sod's Law. They are a bogey team anyway and regard a trip to the Boleyn as a annual present of three points; now they will arrive with confidence restored, Tesco Value Toffees turned into Quality Street just in time for our game!

And not content with that, Fate smiled down wickedly as Anichebe was shown his second yellow, guaranteeing a start at Upton Park for one of three players: summer targets Yakubu or Beckford; or Luis Saha, who scores against us for fun!

So, that's another home defeat guaranteed - and there is nothing Grant can do about it! The involvement of Tevez in the restoration of Everton's confidence in time for this game is not chance my friends. This is the revenge of the gods!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Hines' Career In Danger

It is very worrying to hear that Zavon's dodgy knee has swollen up again. The lad was out for a whole year because of the injury and has played precious little football since his return. Avram said it "wasn't good" and that is surely the understatement of the year! The boy has great promise but so much of his effectiveness depends on pace and the ability to swerve around challenges. The knee joint takes a lot of stress and if weak, will give out time and again.

One poster asked why Hines looked so off balanced against Unreal City. Perhaps we now know why. I hope I am wrong but this sounds like a career threatening injury to me.

Where are all the goalkeeping Boffins?

I can't believe that people think Boffin played well on Saturday. At half time, I blogged, "And meanwhile Boffin is bidding to become a new Claret & Blue cult figure, although it remains to be seen if that third letter is correct" and, to be honest, I think an N would be a more than reasonable substitute for that L!

Let's look at the facts shall we? Boffin made one good save from a Pedersen free kick. It wasn't that testing because the Boffmeister manager to catch it two handed. It was a great showboating save, with the Belgian leaping like the proverbial salmon, but Pedersen clearly did not catch it right, otherwise catching it would have been the last thing in Boff's mind.

From another free kick, absurdly conceded by Gabbidon, Boffin took up a terrible position. Pedersen hit that one too well, getting great pace on the ball but insufficient bend. The ball zipped wide of the far post but had it been on target, the Boff's despairing right hand would have been a good yard away from the ball. One of Green's weaknesses is his positioning for direct free kicks and Boffin, despite his name, does not seem to have been reading the text books either.

Green's biggest weakness is when the ball is crossed into the box, but the Boffmeister made Robbie look like a master. He came for three crosses, missed two and flapped at one, failing to clear the box with his punch. The goal came from a cross into our six yard box and Boffin remained rooted to his line. True he saved the first effort but surely he should have taken the cross in the first place or punched it clear. One poster is trying to blame Ben Haim for the goal but Boffin could have dealt with the cross, and Barrera should not have lost possession trying to dribble from the corner flag, which created the opportunity for the cross in the first place.

Green is also a poor kicker and so is Boff. He has an "interesting" style when kicking from hand, kicking flat with a weird twisted body action, and seems to have little control over where the ball is heading. One kick went, at pace, directly into touch about 15 yards from our box!

But Boff's starring moment was when he dawdled on the ball and was forced to dribble round Benjani. He pulled it off - just, because Benjani so nearly blocked the clearance with a sliding tackle - but he really shouldn't have put himself in the position in the first place!

I rated the guy 4 and I reckon that was about right based on the evidence. Had Green played like that, the critics would have had a field day! But Boffin looks unusual, is a character and has a great name for the headline writers. In a drab match, he was solid gold for the sub editors tasked with producing an interesting sounding report.

But did he really play well? Ask the real goalkeeping boffins and they will say no!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

'Arry Talks Down Parker's Price

It's classic stuff. Parker? We don't need him. Why would we want him? I've got enough good midfielders at this club anyway. West Ham can keep him, he's worth more to them than he is to us anyway. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat.

But if you REALLY want to sell him...well we don't really need him, but to help you out, for old time's sake and all that...if it would help keep West Ham to stay in business, I suppose we could go to...five million if really pushed. Or £3million in the summer if you've already been relegated. Mind you, we can't pay his absurd wages so we will be looking either for Mr West Ham to take a wage cut or for you lot to pay him £20k a week to play for us until his contract runs down in, what, four year's time?

How does that sound? I know, I'm ripping out my own heart and giving it to you as a present, but then, I'm that kind of guy!

Where was Obinna?

Hines, like Behrami, pulled out late with an injury yesterday. So we know that Grant was without Green, Stech, Jacobsen, Ilunga, Da Costa, Collison, Hitzlespurger, Hines, Behrami and Noble. That is TEN players! But the big question is, where was Obinna?

I know the guy's form has been in and out, but surely Grant would not have chosen to leave him behind with so many players ruled out. He presumably didn't travel with the team because we started with only 6 players on the bench, including a 16 year old replacement keeper.

The injury list yesterday crystalises the problems Grant faces. One of his staunchest critics on here - a Zola ho desperate to be proved right about the Italian - has complained repeatedly that Grant has enlarged the squad to no good effect. Well thank God he has enlarged that squad because unless he had done so, we wouldn't have been able to put out a team yesterday! Remember, Zola told us all how good it would be to operate with a smaller squad!

But tell me, what options did Grant have yesterday? Look at the sub's bench and the only players not used were Reid and Faubert - and if Obinna was injured, or unavailable for other reasons, the cupboard was otherwise bare. In the circumstances, a 1-1 draw was probably a good result.

But does anybody know why Obinna wasn't there?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Blackburn 1 West Ham 1 - Two Points Lost. Bottom for Christmas!

It will be lonely this Christmas, lonely and cold. It will be cold, cold, cold, lonely and cold, this Christmas!

Well, we all know what happens to the team bottom of the pile at Christmas don't we? So what's the point of sacking Grant, retaining Parker, keeping Behrami, retaining Upson...Let's just accept the inevitable; the players have!

Once again, we didn't really show up for the first 45 minutes. Once again, there was no fight, no heart, no passion, no commitment, no leadership, no shape, no desire. It was cold. Bloody cold. So bloody cold that Behrami decided a warm up was more than enough thank you very much. Ouch the hip! The hip boss. It's the hip. Can't play boss. It's the hip hip hooray, Spector's in the team instead! Does anybody know if there are any flights out of Manchester Airport to Roma this evening?

Barrera isn't as cute as Behrami - the idiot actually found himself in the starting line up! Never mind, he played to get himself withdrawn and must have felt thoroughly cheated to be sent out for the second half. "What do you have to do to be substituted?" he asked Dyer as they came out for the second 45, "I have passed to the opposition every time I have touched the ball!" Not to be frustrated, he escaped from the terrible cold by trying to dribble the ball from his own corner flag, losing possession in the process and so playing a vital part in Blackburn's pantomime goal. Ball crossed in, Tomkins outjumped (Look out, he's behind you!), ball falls to ground via a Blackburn head and Tomkins body, a shot, a save by Boffin, all flailing legs and arms, a where's the ball, where's the ball, where's the ball panic, and a Nelson bundled follow up as Boffin lay on his back!

Mind you, Dyer did his best to come off at the interval too. "Offside? What is offside? There's no such thing as offside in the treatment room!" He perked up in the second half and combined brilliantly with Parker in one rare moment of quality but, that apart, he was average. Like the rest, he only woke up after we went behind.

Parker was busy and was involved in the goal with a typical driving run into a cul de sac.The ball made its way to Stanislas via a Blackburn player (the aptly named Givet) so, like the Blackburn goal, it was a slapstick creation, despite the brilliant Stanislas finish.

The goal apart, and a shot from Upson against the post, we offered virtually nothing going forward. Mind you, apart from free kicks happily conceded by Gabbidon and Boa, Blackburn offered no attacking threat either. Quite why Gabbidon and Boa did their best to assist Pedersen by giving away these free kicks is anybody's guess. Maybe they fancied the warmth of the dressing room too!

Spector shouldn't have started anyway and was justifiably withdrawn, although Barrera and Gabbidon had made much stronger personal cases to be substituted than the American. But then Cole and McCarthy came on and put them all to shame! If you want to look utterly crap, this is how you do it!

Upson did ok. Tomkins played well but was involved in the mess of the Blackburn goal. Ben Haim played well but was booked for a crude challenge and did his best to concede a penalty for pushing every time Blackburn were awarded a corner. How ironic that a Blackburn goal was struck off because Gabbidon was bundled to the ground by Nelson! Piquionne linked well a few times but was awful in front of goal, heading over from a corner and blazing two shots wide when it would have been better to check back and look for support.

That apart we were crap. Had Allardyce been in charge (of Blackburn!!!!), we would have been stuffed like a Christmas turkey. Luckily, the Blackburn board gave us a present by changing manager in the week of the game.

So, we sit bottom of the table for Christmas with unlucky 13 points. Anybody who thinks we can escape relegation must still believe in Father Christmas.

By the way, does anybody know what happened to Obinna? Was it too cold for him to even get on the coach?

Player Ratings:

Boffin 4; Ben Haim 6, Tomkins 6, Upson 6, Gabbidon 3; Barrera 2, Spector 4, Parker 6, Boa 5, Dyer 5, Piquionne 5  Subs Cole 2, McCarthy 1, Stanislas 6

Half Time - Blackburn 0 West Ham 0 - Skating close to the edge

To stay up, this is a game we have to win, but I have seen precious little evidence that the players regard it in that way. Blackburn are shell shocked. The sacking of Allardyce was out of the blue and his replacement is a rookie. We should be trying to capitalise but, for most of the first half, we have surrendered possession cheaply and lacked any ambition whatsoever.

To be fair, Boa played Piquionne in with a superb pass but the Frenchman shot tamely from a difficult angle; and Piquionne returned the compliment and Boa forced a modest save out of Robinson. That apart, however, we have offered next to nothing going forward. Spector slipped a brilliant pass to Barrera but the Mexican failed to get in a cross. He looks decidedly average again today. Piquionne also teed up the Wank with a lovely cushioned headed pass but Spector sent the ball into orbit.

Dyer has been awful. The guy clearly does not understand the offside law because he sits five yards BEHIND the last Blackburn defender. He did put the ball in the net - but he was a mile offside when he received the ball so it was never going to count.

Boa and Spector are trying hard but aren't good enough. Parker has been busy, but mostly in his own half. Piquionne has tried but is as isolated as Cole when we play 4-5-1.

At the back, Upson, Ben Haim and and Tomkins have looked quietly assured but Gabbidon has again been awful, conceding two unnecessary free kicks well within Pedersen's scoring range. His distribution has also been terrible.

And meanwhile Boffin is bidding to become a new Claret & Blue cult figure, although it remains to be seen if that third letter is correct. When he decided to dribble around Benjani, my heart was in my mouth and when he punched poorly I thought Green had made the game after all! Still, if he looks unsteady at the start of the second half, we have a 16 year old kid on the bench to replace him!

We have to win this one. We need a blind linesman to help out, just as in the Great Escape.

Grant not getting the rub of the Green

I'm beginning to think those calling for the sacking of Grant may be right. You can be a conservative manager (Revie), you can be a radical manager (Clough), you can be a passionate manager (Jose), you can be a dour manager (Ancelotti), you can be a dictatorial manager (Ferguson) and you can be a fatherly manager (Sir Bobby Robson) but you CANNOT be an unlucky manager!

Poor Avram seems to be cursed. His prayers on the day of Atonement seem to have been ignored. He has upset his maker big time - we have all heard the rumours - and Lady Luck is now wearing a strap on and giving him a good seeing to from behind in vengeance.

We should have known when we saw the fixture list and the terrible opening we were given to start the season. We should have known when Hitzlespurger was named the German captain - a West Ham player leading Germany! - and promptly pulled up lame, ruled out until February. We should have known when Da Costa was accused of assaulting that woman. We should have known when Noble got appendicitis. We should have known when Nobes recovered in record time only to succumb to another long term injury. We should have known when Parker fell ill and when Jacobsen and Ilunga joined the injury list. Seven players out, eight players out, nine players out, and counting. We should have known when Kovac turned up fit and available for selection!

And now Green is out for a crucial 6 pointer and his understudy Stech is doubtful. It never rains but it snows for hapless Avram! The poor sod is probably checking the Commandments as I write. Thou shalt not kill - check. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife or slaves. Check. Where the hell does it say anything about massage parlours?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Grant: Is it cos I is Jewish?

Now I accept that Grant did himself no favours by missing the Stoke game because of Atonement, but I do wonder how much of the hatred for the Israeli is borne out of antiSemitism.

Of course, Grant was subjected to race hate after he took over at Chelsea. The Jewish Conspiracy theorists leapt on the fact that Abromovitch was also a Jew, and, like good little Nazis, immediately claimed Grant's appointment was based more on the absence of a foreskin than on the existence of a coaching badge. Chelsea actually stated that some of the protests directed towards Grant constituted abuse of a racist nature, with Bruce Buck claiming they had received points of view which were racist and antiSemitic.

One regular poster on this site labelled Grant a "Zionist" very early doors, although quite what this has to do with his ability to manage the club is beyond me. I accept that Grant's record so far exposes him to criticism, but why were fans ready to stay loyal to Zola for so long, even when it was patently obvious that he was sinking and pulling the club down with him, and yet are now so quick to condemn Grant? It just does not make logical sense.

Remember, we are not Spurs. We don't sack our managers every five minutes. But hang on, that may be the problem for some! Maybe they fear that with Gold owning the club and Grant as manager, we are turning into the "Yids" anyway!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Where are we going to cobble together 28 points from exactly?

All this talk about sacking Grant is a stupid diversion. People need to wake up and smell the coffee. This is one weird Premiership and teams have been taking points at places where they shouldn't stand a cat in Hell's chance. Blackpool won at Liverpool and, just as remarkably, Stoke. Sunderland thumped Chelsea at the Bridge. Wigan won at Spurs. Newcastle and West Brom left the Emirates with 3 points in the bag. And so it goes on.

The net effect of all this is a high bar to survive this year. Even if results run to par for the rest of the season, 38 points will not secure safety. In fact, our record of relegation despite accumulating 42 points might be under threat. I don't know if the bookies are offering odds on how many points the club fourth from bottom will achieve, but I reckon it will be a minimum of 40. So tell me, where the hell are we going to harvest 28 points from?

There are games that we can write off immediately. Chelsea away? Even in mid wobble they will beat us. Tottenham away? Under 'Arry? In our dreams! Man Utd at home? Only if they play their stiffs! Man City away? Yeah if the entire first team squad go on strike! Liverpool at home? Bloody hell, we couldn't even get a result against Fulham with Hughton in charge and the bogey team label is on the opposite boot when the Scousers are involved!

So we come down to a narrow band of games.

28 points from 21 games? That's 8 wins and 4 draws! Find me eight wins! Wolves, Birmingham, Blackburn, Sunderland, Villa, Stoke at home. That's six if we take everything we can!

So we now need two wins AWAY from home! Hmmmm. Fulham? Wigan? Blackpool? West Brom? Blackburn? Two of those five. There's our eight wins. Not much margin of error is there?

Let's turn three of those into draws shall we? We still need a home draw. Liverpool? Everton? Arsenal? Man Utd? Or an away draw at Newcastle, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City or Bolton? What are the chances of that?

It's possible to make it to 40 points but is it probable? A chance in ten thousand I'd say! So that's why we have to start PLANNING for the probable and stop whining about Grant! Bloody Mourinho would struggle to keep this shower of shit the right side of the U bend!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Slow to act Sullivan & Gold to blame!

When it is obvious that a manager is clueless, you should get rid. No messing, no debate, no prevarication, just sack him. The trouble is that costs, and G&S don't like wasting money.

Critics of Grant are saying there's no time to delay now but they are missing the point. We are where we are now because the Davids dawdled back in January. It was obvious then that Zola was clueless, that the good ship West Ham was pitching in the perfect storm with an idiot at the helm.

Anybody who witnessed our performances away to Burnley, Liverpool, Man Utd, Tottenham, Chelsea, Bolton and Fulham last season must understand how bad we were under Zola. Yes, we were just as poor at Villa and at Liverpool this season under Grant, but other than that, we have at least competed in games away from Upton Park. Anybody unfortunate enough to have paid full price to see us play Blackburn, Stoke, Wolves and Bolton must have realised we were a team of dead men walking under the Italian. We have lost at home to Newcastle, Bolton, Chelsea and Man City, but we didn't look anywhere near as bad in those games as we did last season against Wolves!

But the fans backed Zola. In Zola, these fools trusted. And five crucial months were wasted as the team floundered like a drowning whale. Sadly G&S kept their harpoon under wraps, reluctant to put the lame Leviathan out of its misery because they dared not risk the ire of the already hostile fans. As Public Enemy Number One and Two, the last thing they could afford at that stage was to deprive the baying mob of their smiling pet of a manager.

And in those five wasted months, the wounds festered. Had we recruited Pardew last January, we would have pulled clear of relegation and positioned ourselves for a new push this season. Had we recruited Grant, the ship would have been steadied ready for cruising into calmer waters this season. But we did neither, we left the floundering beast to roll in agony, to lose hope, to drift aimlessly, to yearn to die.

And then we recruited the undertaker! Well when somebody has been murdered, you don't hold the guy burying the corpse responsible for the death!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Grant is not the problem!

Our last 38 games, a full Premiership season, have yielded  a miserly total of just 31 points. That would see us relegated in EVERY year that the Prem has existed. Grant has only been in charge for 17 of those games, Zola for 21. Grant has collected 12 points from his 17 games, Zola collected 19 from 21. Zola's record is slightly better but it included 4 points against Portsmouth and 3 against Hull, neither of whom are now in the division. Take off those 7 points and Zola's record in the second half of the season reads 12 points from 18 games! Familiar ring there by any chance?

People seem to be forgetting that Zola inherited a team that had finished 10th the season before and had banked 6 points before Zola took charge in his first season! The Italian turned a functional team into an uncoordinated mess. If Grant had taken over a successful team, as Zola did, then the criticism would be fair enough. But he didn't! Unlike Zola, Grant inherited an absolute mess!

Nobody is blaming the Coalition for the debt left behind by Labour. To blame Grant for Zola's mess is absurd. The guy needs time. To judge him this early is truly ridiculous.

We are in the semifinal of the League Cup for God's sake! How many times have we been in a Cup semifinal in our history? Not bloody many!

Blatter with his back to the wall!

I really do think Iain Dale should be leading this campaign, not me, but surely Septic Bladder should resign as President of FIFA following his comments that gay players should refrain from having sex during the World Cup in Qatar. What right has he to say that, and what right does he have to put gay players in a position where they either have to opt not to attend a World Cup or deny their own sexuality?

We know that gay players face terrible prejudice inside the game anyway. Poor Fashanu was driven to suicide, whilst teenage gay players have been driven out of the game by bullying and discrimination.

Surely in the C21st we should have a more mature and tolerant attitude, and we should be shunning nations that do not accept players, irrespective of colour, creed or sexual orientation? For Blatter to jest about this is utterly unacceptable. Septic may have his back against the wall for the wrong reason, but now he is there, somebody should deliver a "knock out blow" - preferably live on camera in Qatar, leading to his arrest and stoning to death!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Big Spam to Wet Spam

Well Man City have got MANCIni and Arsenal have got ARSENe so, on that basis, Big Spam is made for us! It may be time to decide, principles or performance, relegation the great West Ham way or survival the Big Spam way.

I would take a year or two in the Championship personally but then I have principles and know what our club really stands for. There are those who still yearn for the return of Turds; and Allardyce is Turds with knobs on!

Oh the irony! Ex Hammer Pardew is at Newcastle and Allardyce may be in the frame to replace Grant! When Turds was sacked, the Org's Neville Nixon warned me, "Be careful what you wish for!"; well to all those calling for the dismissal of Grant, I say listen to Nev, and just look who is on the horizon, blocking out the sun of a new dawn!

All aboard the open top bus to relegation!

Well I've heard it all now! Latest rumours are linking us with Blackpool loan "star" Luke "Reg" Varney! The 28 year old is on loan from Derby and is apparently attracting our interest on the back of 5 goals this season! This is a player who started out with meat substitute outfit Quorn and who has a grand total of 54 league goals to date, at the ripe old age of 28!

Do me a favour! Five goals could be a lucky streak! Bloody hell, even Emile Heskey scored a few earlier in the season! So what that Varney is playing in the Prem for the King's Head Blackpool and has netted a few, he is not the answer!

But then again, a £500,000 bid may show where our club is heading. Cole drives off in his Porsche for a cool £8 million, and half a million pound Varney arrives driving the number 15 bus! One thing's for sure, he won't be happy sharing a prawn sandwich with Blakey lookalike Iain "All aboard that's coming aboard" Dale!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Why are we bottom?

Ask David Moyes. Ask Alex McLeish. Ask Gerrard Houllier. Ask Mark Hughes. Ask Sam Allardyce. Ask Mick McCarthy. Even ask Ancelloti!

Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull are no longer in the division and their replacements are much stronger. And so are Bolton, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City, Sunderland and Stoke. This is a much stronger division than last year's Prem and the teams who could not afford to strengthen significantly are finding the going tough.

Zola's team finished above Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull and behind the rest. Is it any wonder that Grant's side is therefore sitting bottom of the pile? It's what is called continuity!