Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Allardyce's Midfield Headache

(Article submitted by Stani)

With the season all set to kick off, it will be interesting to see the first choice midfield Sam Allardyce chooses to go with. Personally, I think he'll have a bit of a headache which he'll try to relieve by cramming the midfield with 5 rather than the braver choice of 4. This will mean little game time for Maiga and any other striker we get in as Carroll will obviously be Allardyce's main man when fit..

The returning Ravel Morrison has been our standout player in pre-season, and there is also the summer addition of youngster Danny Whitehead and the likely acquisition of Stewart Downing, so Allardyce does have more options to consider in midfield than the end of last season.

If we sign Stewart Downing then I'm prepared to give him a chance, but I'm not sure I like the way we're heading in terms of the style of football we hope to play. Also, too much is being designed around Carroll, which could cause us a lot of problems should his injury problems continue.

Matt Jarvis has a lot to prove this season, and I would be prepared to give him the opportunity on our left to do so this campaign. My gut feeling is he'll never be the player Allardyce thought he was. We spent a huge sum of money on him and so far he's not given any reasons for Allardyce to be able to justify the price the club paid for him.

It will be interesting to see how the manager accommodates both Jarvis and Downing in the side, or if he is able to at all. We have a number of midfielders to choose from and most of them would harbour hopes of being first choice starters.

Regulars to the site will know I'm not the biggest fan of the limited Mark Noble, and with the squad improving this season, I expect him to play a bit part role if Allardyce is honest with himself and brave enough to drop him. It would mean finding someone else to play that role of sitting deep and shielding the back four, and Mohamed Diame would be my man. He would have to temper the attacking side to his game, but with the likes of Nolan, Joe Cole and ravel Morrisson in my team, that side of things will be taken care of. That is not to say Diame will not get forward; of all our midfielders, he is most capable of doing so from such a deep lying position.

My first team:

Jarvis /Downing Morrison Cole
Rat Reid Collins Demel

This would be an exciting side to go with, but the season just gone has shown us that Allardyce tended to err on the safe side both in terms of team personnel and tactics, even when there was a case for the team to be more expressive.

So, with a fully fit squad to choose from, who would your starting midfield be?

Mohamed Diame, Alou Diarra, Jack Collison, Matthew Jarvis, Ravel Morrison, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Matthew Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te, Danny Whitehead, Joe Cole, Stewart Downing


Anonymous said...

I agree with 95% of what you say. My fear is that we have set out our stall. Crosses to carroll who heads into the net. Every team in the Premier knows our plan. Ive no doubt Carroll will cause mayhem from the crosses. But unless we have a real striker alongside to take advantage of it we could come undone. And I dont want to think about Carroll b, eonh out for a long spell. I will give bfs the benefot of the doubt. But as the SAS say 'Who dares wins.' Flooding mid field may mean we concede less. But we need to score 10 more than last season of we are to kick on.

Anonymous said...

Can't see that the team you suggest would be right to be honest.

My prediction is:


Demel, Collins, Reid, Rat



Anonymous said...

Jarvis, Diame, Morrison, Downing
Rat, Reid, Tomkins, Demel

I know Downing is a left footer and Jarvis is right but this tends to work better. We have cover at CB with Collins and Diara who will also deputise for CM as would Noble, we have Cole and Vaz Te on the right as cover, Dan Potts as LB cover, Jordan Spence as RB Cover and Downing and Jarvis potential to swap wings. With Adrian as cover for GK. I still see us a Striker light but Elliot Lee to fill in. I am so torn with Maiaga as he looks at times to be amazing like his finish against Southampton then the next time it comes to him he looks like he couldn't trap a bag of we cement. Looking forward to a good season this year. COYI

daz said...

noble won possession back 209 times in 26 games, once every 10.38 minutes, thats the 2nd highest of anyone in the premier league. he also had the 6th best tackling stats of the whole league (best at west ham), lets look at the stats noble v diame, tackles per game 3.6 v 3.5, total interception 50 v 38, total fouls 35 v 54, clearances 30 v 22, successful dribbles 36 v 18 (out of a huge 65 attempted) all in nobles favour and noble played 5 games less, I would of read the rest of your article but you spouting nonsense and vitriol. stats from april (30 games into the season) said no west ham player has made more tackles than him ( 95 ), no west ham player has won more tackles than him ( 71 ), only Stephen n’zonzi ( 208 ) has won possession of the ball more times than noble (205, and n’zonzi has started 3 more games) in the entire barclays premier League, only youssuf mulumbu at WBA (every 10:20) wins the ball more frequently than noble (every 10:29) and nobody in the premier league wins the ball more frequently in the middle third of the pitch than noble does (every 18:19).

what about retention and recycling of the ball, he isn't the best passer is he...well no cm player in the premiership passes the ball forward more than noble does, with 42% of his passes with an overall 82% pass accuracy, (8% higher than the team average), west ham played 9939 passes, 1333 of them were noble, then there are his penalty taking skills and loyalty to the club, he not only has some of the best stats of a west ham player but the best in the league! take off the blinkers

fred149 said...

There is a reason Diame couldnt keep his place in a struggling wigan team. He isnt suited to sitting deep and holding. That is why Noble is key, he won possesion of theb all more times then any player in our team had more touches of the ball had the highest pass completion rate was 2nd in tackles won and he frees up Diame to go on his maurading runs. The biggest problem for me is Nolan. If he isnt scoring hes doing f*** all.


JOB, Tomkins, Reid, Rat

Jarvis, Diame, Noble, Downing



That would be my lineup on a regular basis but some games I would swap Downing for Cole. Jussi has looked awful in pre season and Adrian looks the better bet to me.

Anonymous said...

HF, since you will be reading this how about taking a look at this, you to stani. http://www.joeybarton.com/the-damning-demise-of-grassroots-football/

HF I think you should publish this on both your blogs and try get as many people to sign as possible.

pete1951 said...

Noble's recovery stats are misleading . How many times had he given it away in the first place ? He is a Championship plodder . He can't pass , read the game or score from open play . He has been in the team because we had no one better ! Get rid as soon as possible and take Tomkins with him . Both not good enough for this squad . . Loyal losers .

Sav said...

Pete1951, I was going to write something similar about Noble but then I read your comment and I declare that spoke my mind. Only HF still thinks he is our leader!!!

fred149 said...

Pete, are you Stani in disguise?

fred149 said...

How can they be recovery stats if he has a pass completion rate of over 80%

Anonymous said...

Daz hit it perfectly on key.

The smartest move would probably drop Nolan but can't cause you all including Sam think he's the key. Personally he is just in the rebound place at all times. That can be played by many. Why wouldn't you have someone with a little more skill in that spot.

Demel Tomkins Reid rat
Downin/Collison noble Diame/morrison Jarvis
Vaz te/cole/Nolan

Hammersfan said...

All this knocking of Noble is so laughable. As the stats quoted by Daz show, he is key to the team. It is interesting that as soon as he arrived, Allardyce built the midfield around Noble and Nolan. Parker was moved into central midfield to accommodate Noble as the deep lying play maker & anchor.

Since Parker's departure, Noble has blossomed to the extent that no alternatives have been signed and O'Neil, who the Noble knockers laughably argued was the better option, has been released. But that is because Allardyce lets Sullivan & Gold pick his team apparently, and Big Sam is happy to play a PR man at the heart of his midfield even though he isn't up to the job. Apparently we are chasing Alistair Campbell to play in goal!

The anti Noble arguments are truly pathetic and completely ignore all the evidence; but since when has evidence counted for anything when blind prejudice is involved?

daz said...

pete1951 - Noble has an 8% better pass accuracy than the team average, he gives the ball away 18 times out of 100 passes but the team overall give away 26 times out of every 100 passes. not only does noble recover and win back his own misplaced passes, he recovers everyones! now this is where the uneducated might struggle to understand, noble plays 18% of our team passes, that's the most in the league for any player, that's how many passes he makes! a huge amount, 44% of them are forward passes, again the most in the league, the sheer volume of passes mixed with the most forward passes means to the uneducated among us he gives the ball away a lot, when in reality his industry and work rate make him irreplaceable, sell him to a rival and strengthen them, why would we do that? diame can walk anytime he wants for the right fee, diarra will walk when he fails to play every game and collision cant play 3 games in a row, if we sell noble and things go against us with diame and diarra who will start in cm, the answer probably would be we will agree a cut price january move for joey barton, be careful what you wish for

fred149 said...

Daz, also add in Diarra is utter bollocks and cant run means we will concede almost double the goals we conceded last season.

Stani said...

Agree completely, Pete.

17:02 That's probably what Allardyce would do. But I think Morrison deserves a go and that Diame is our most important player.

Stani said...

It is precisely because of Noble's stats that Allardyce picks him, because Allardyce is a stats man and that is his achilles heel. He and those of you backing Noble need to watch more FOOTBALL and less stats.

These stats you keep quoting would put him above some of the best midfielders in the league but if I asked you if you would have Noble ahead of any of them, you yourself would say no. Why? Because football is not just about statistics because as Noble proves, they can be entirely misleading. Although the one about him being among the worst at corners in the league is spot on! :D

The way you lot go on I'm surprised no bigger club has come in for our jewel in the crown. Wonder why?

Stani said...

Daz, you're talking nonsense. It's his job to do those things...that's his role, so how can you use those figures as an argument to compare with someone who doesnt have that role (Diame)? It's a bit like saying Joe Cole has X number of more assists from corners than Matt Taylor so he's the better corner taker. Taylor doesn't take so many corners.

Your comment about him being 2nd highest in the league in terms of winning possession tells us little because the better players and teams retain possession better, hence they do not need to win it back as often.

Noble is amongst the esteemed group of Stephen N'zonzi and Yusuf Mulumbu? That says everything about the use of statistics doesn't it?!

Take off the blinkers? Mate, you should take yours off and put the stats away and watch him PLAY the game.

So you didnt even read my whole article? Well then.

Stani said...


Wigan got relegated. Did them a load of good dropping Diame didnt it? There goes that argument.

Hammersfan said...

There is one crucial stat involved in your assessment of Noble though isn't there Stani?

Now, let's have a look at all the players you "promote" and those you knock. West Ham's most important player now? Diame. West Ham's most underrated player until recently? Carlton Cole. Player who should have been given more chances last season? Diarra. Who should be in the England cricket team? Ravi Bopara. Who do you hammer the most? Noble, Jarvis and Cook.

Now what do your favourites have in common? And what do your pet hates have in common? Coincidence that the first group are not white and the second group are? Discrimination works both ways mate, and sometimes it is subconscious.

Stani said...

What rubbish HF.

Ok, so my backing of O'Neill and Taylor over Noble for set pieces? And my support of Nolan and how he is vital to our team in all he does? How Collison is a better prospect than Noble? What about Joey O'Brien last season when I said he was our most underrated player and player of the season the season before? Kovac, Parker, Behrami, Spector, Diamanti, Neill, Bellamy...I backed all these guys when you were dissing them at some point.

I think if we asked about who was more discriminatory, me or you, people would definitely not say me. I dont see colour, mate. Poor argument, HF

Hammersfan said...

Funny the way you left Stanislas off your list Stani! Remember how you sang his praises and called for him to be played on the left?

And for the record, I don't remember a lot of support for Kovac, Parker or Spector! And, of course, I forgot one of your top bĂȘte blanc, one Robert Vert. And then there was Avram of course.

OK, name me a black player at West Ham that you have been critical of Stani. And maybe I am being unfair, maybe it is just white ENGLISH players you don't have any time for.

fred149 said...

If I remember correctly Stani was a keen backer on Parker. Stani the fact that you have stuck up for Kovac and spector shows how ridiculous your opinions are. Both utter garbage. Parker was a trier but was no good at his actual job and behrami was similar.

Sav said...

HF it is despicable that you should make such argument against Stani. If there is a racist here, it is you who can assert and actually write such a thing. It is so absurd,ridiculous and totally unfair for Stani that it is not worth any further comment.

Hammersfan said...

Keep your money in a Cypriot bank Sav! I don't accuse him of being a racist. I say his views are prejudiced.

Stani said...


Err, I was responding to your comment HF. Stanislas isnt white, why would I include him in my retort to your accusation that I don't back the white players?

And yes, I was arguing for Stanisals to be played in his natural position at the time. Hardly a controversial view to hold.

No HF, you wouldnt remember my support for Kovac, Parker or Spector would you? But I can't do anything about your selective memory.

Who was the most critical of Reid when we first signed him? Yes he has improved immensely now but by all accounts he was poor when we first signed him. Did his skin colour stop me criticising him?

Stani said...


My backing of Kovac and Spector was when we had a stripped squad under Zola/Avram. It was at a particular moment in time...a time that has now passed. Taking this backing of them out of context is stupid so you shouldn't fall into that trap. They were more complex arguments about team make up and formation and how to best utilise what we had at the time. I have always known their limitations as players, but unfortunately we didn't have Ronaldo and Messi on the bench at the time. You should try to develop deeper arguments than that.

Stani said...

The same HF who was looking to defend Suarez when he was racist towards Evra and Terry when he was racist towards Ferdinand!

Sav said...

Here you go, you did it again. "Keep you money in a Cypriot bank". What an inappropriate and insensitive comment to someone who lost money because of the bail-in. How is this not prejudiced or indeed racial? Whenever you are about to lose an argument you hit below the belt and resort to such tactics. It is a miracle how we keep coming back and allow you to insult us. I mean really!

Hammersfan said...

But Sav, you may be bald so keep your hair on might be personally insulting!

You are an economist, shouldn't you have seen what was coming? How exactly is the comment racial? I didn't steal money from accounts because of shocking governance and the crass stupidity of joining the Euro did I?

Calm down, calm down, it could be worse, you could be a Scouser!

Hammersfan said...

Stani, get your facts right, at NO POINT did I defend Suarez. I challenge you to find one word I have ever said in support of the guy.

As for Terry, I stand by everything I said. And it is wonderful that Anton the Turkey finds himself in Turkey.

Anonymous said...

Stani isn't a racist. He's just a bad judge of a football player. Not to mention ridiculously blinkered when it comes to Noble.

I know stats can't tell the whole story but they can give a very reasonable indication. If he wins more tackles than anyone else in the team, percentage wise and literally, then surely he is a decent tackler. Unless of course the cunning swine is picking his tackles. perhaps he does a quick assessment on his chances of winning a particular tackle before attempting it. Same with passing and everything else he rates highest in the team at.

And to give things a bit of balance I also think hf's appraisal of Parker is also a joke.

Everyone is spot on re Vaz Te mind. Definitely championship player at best.