Saturday, 30 November 2013

Half Time Guess What West Ham 0 Fulham 0

So Allardyce's program notes list the strikers he tried to buy, but trying isn't good enough. They wouldn't join because they knew they wouldn't get a game if Carroll was fit and available. Mind you, that was always going to be one hell of an IF!

Today, Allardyce has returned to plan A. Maiga up front, Nolan behind, Jarvis and Downing out wide and Diame and Noble providing the midfield engine - and that might work if Jarvis could cross and Maiga could score. But Jarvis wastes opportunity after opportunity to put the ball into dangerous areas, and Maiga shows all the goal scoring potential of 'Arry's mum. And I use that simile advisedly because Bent, who famously missed a chance that Redknapp's mum would have buried, is in the Fulham team - and my money is on him or Taarabt to score second half.

And that's a real worry, because Fulham have goal scorers in the team - Bent, Taarabt, Duff, Sidwell - and we haven't. So in a game that has 1-0 written all over it, you have to mark Fulham as favourites to run out the winners.

McCartney is on a yellow and is a good bet to get red as he tires. I would take him off. Tomkins is lucky to be on the pitch as it is, because the challenge which secured yellow had red written all over it for me. Late, dangerous, at pace - it was an ankle breaker and he is a lucky boy to still be on the pitch.

We have had chances, but chances are no good without people able to take them, and Maiga summed it all up horribly when he shouldered Noble's free kick onto the post from two yards out.

Fingers crossed things get better second half, but it doesn't look promising!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Welcome to the West Ham Ministry of Silly Relegations!

West Ham are going down. No they are not! Yes they are. No they not! Yes they are. No chance of staying up. Yes there is! No there's not. Excuse me, is this the five minute argument or the full half hour?

So, Monty Python are returning, but who needs a ticket for the 02 when you can watch a bunch of dead parrots, silly walks and the very wettest of wet spam menus at the Boleyn? False number nines, Allardyce total football, pushing on from tenth place last season - the script is more absurd than anything Cleese and co could ever have come up with and the rest of football, outside of White Hart Lane, are falling over themselves laughing!

Of course, the complacency around the place is, as ever, alarming. How the hell the management and board sat on their hands until the transfer window slammed shut before they even thought about recruiting a striker, only the Great God Palin will know! Apparently some time around the end of July, Allardyce was called in to see Sullivan and the conversation went something like this:

Allardyce: Good evening, Your Holiness.
Sullivan: Evening, Allardychio. I want to talk to you about this squad of yours, The Latest Last Supper. I'm not happy about it.
Allardyce:  Oh, dear. It took me all summer to assemble.
Sullivan: Not happy at all.
Allardyce: Is it the goalie you don't like?
Sullivan:  No.
Allardyce: He does add a degree of reassurance, doesn't he? Oh, I know, you don't like the kangaroo.
Sullivan: What kangaroo?
Allardyce: No problem, I'll send him out on loan.
Sullivan:  I never saw a kangaroo.
Allardyce: Uh, he's right at the back in the squad photo. No sweat, I'll make him into a striker. All right?
Sullivan: That's the problem.
Allardyce: What is?
Pope  The strikers.
Allardyce:  Are they too Jewish? I made Maiga the most Jewish.
Sullivan:  No, it's just that there aren't any!
Allardyce: There's Andy Carroll.
Sullivan: That striker is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, It rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the pitch it'd be pushing up the daisies! It's metabolic processes are now history! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off it's mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible! He IS AN EX-STRIKER! The latest Dean Ashton!
Allardyce: I need some money to buy a striker then.
Sullivan: Money? Money? Do you know how difficult things are? Do you know what we had to go through before we were able to buy this club. (enter David Gold and Karren Brady) You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o'clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down the mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out. When we got home, our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!
Gold:  Luxury! We used to have to get out of the lake at three o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!
Brady:  Well, we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o'clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.
Sullivan: Right. steels himself I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing "Hallelujah."
Brady: But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.
Sullivan: Nope, nope. And anyway, there's always the Financial Fair Play Inquisition!
Door is thrown open. In jump a clutch of FA officials dressed as cardinals!
FA Official: Nobody expects the Financial Fair Play Inquisition. Our chief weapon is surprise... surprise and fear... fear and surprise... our two weapons are fear and surprise... and ruthless efficiency. Our three weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the balance sheet.... Our four... no... amongst our weapons.... We'll come in again but we are not going anywhere near Loftus Road or White Hart Lane!
Allardyce: No money? Ok I will make do with Maiga. I will cut down the greatest teams in the division with a red herring! If he weighs the same as a duck he's made of wood and therefore he's a striker!
Sullivan: But he's crap!
Allardyce: Well that's cast rather a gloom over the season hasn't it? Look what have the strikers ever done for us? They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers. And what have they ever given us in return?!
Sullivan: Goals?
Allardyce: What?
Sullivan: Goals?
Allardyce: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
Sullivan: And victories?
Allardyce: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the goals and the victories are two things that the Strikers have given us.
Sullivan: And the entertainment.
Allardyce: Well, yeah. Obviously the entertainment. I mean, the entertainment goes without saying, doesn't it? But apart from the goals, the victories, and the entertainment--
Gold: Premiership survival.
Brady: I married one.
Sullivan: An out ball.
Gold: A World Cup in 66.
Sullivan: An FA Cup in 75.
Gold: An FA Cup in 64.
Sullivan: A Cup Winners Cup in 65.
Allardyce: Well I'll give you goals, the entertainment, the victories, Premiership survival, marriage material, the out ball, a World Cup, the FA Cups and the Cup Winners Cup, but apart from that, what have the strikers ever done for us?
Enter a fan who points at Allardyce
Fan: Why are you manager? I didn't vote for you!
Allardyce: You don't vote for managers.
 Fan: Well how do you become manager then?
Allardyce: The Brady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Allardychio, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your manager!
Sullivan: Look this is getting us nowhere!
Allardyce:  All right ... I confess I haven't bought any strikers ... I hate West Ham.  I have this terrible un-un-uncontrollable fear whenever I see the words The Academy of Football. When I was a kid I used to hate the sight of West Ham playing free flowing football. My mother said I was a fool. She said the only way to cure it was to become a West Ham manager. So I spent five ghastly years at the FA coaching academy. Can you imagine what it's like studying how to pass the ball on the ground for five years? I didn't want to be a West Ham manager anyway. I wanted to be a Real Madrid manager. Thumping the ball long for Ronaldo to chase after it...

 And now for something completely undifferent! Yet another season of heartbreak!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

West Ham help Gillingham to tune up for victory at Sheffield United

As warm up games go, the 9-0 hammering by a West Ham Eleven in mid week wouldn't normally be what the doctor orders ahead of a key relegation 6 pointer. But the hapless Gills were still able to dust themselves down, travel North and spank hapless, helpless, hopeless and piss pot less Shafting United at the weekend.

And as a result, the Blunted Blades are right back where they belong - in the bottom 4 of the old Third Division - second from bottom to be precise, just 2 points ahead of Notts County who hold up the entire shit pile.

The damage was done this time by Carlos Tevez-Kedwell and Carlos Tevez-McDonald, both of whom deserve a "Well Done" card from West Ham fans.

It's beginning to look as if even a Clough can't save them! But even a Clough can't overcome a curse! Give back the money or the nightmare will never end!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mystery Trialist Scores in Nine Goal Thumping of Gillingham

So, who is he? Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Jack Frost are on the case as we speak, trying to track down the mystery man who replaced Carlton Cole on 60 minutes in the nine goal stroll, the mystery man who is repeatedly called "Trialist" on the Official Site!

We shouldn't get too excited, of course - even Carlton and Maiga scored, which tells you everything you need to know about Gillingham - but, let's face it, we will take anybody with a goal in him at the moment.

Quite why the Official Site declines to name him is anybody's guess. Maybe he is an illegal immigrant, or possibly he is on the run from the CIA. Bloody hell, where is Wikileaks when you really need it?

Or maybe the guy is simply called Trialist!

Who cares. He scored! Sign him! Start him against Chelsea! Who needs Carroll when you have A Trialist?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Too good to go down?

The phrase has an uncomfortable resonance. Kanoute, Cole, Di Canio, Defoe, Johnson, Sinclair, Les Ferdinand - how could a team blessed with such talent possibly drop out of the top division? Well Allardyce knows, because Allardyce's Bolton condemned us to relegation; and Sullivan and Gold know, because Sullivan and Gold's Birmingham drove the final nail into our relegation coffin in the last game of that miserable, miserable season, a game we had to win but drew 2-2.

The trouble that year was an imbalanced squad. Yes the team was blessed with genius, but at the heart of the defence there was a void, and for all the talent in the team, there was a shortage of steel outside of Repka and Lomas. The team was almost all silk with very little backbone.

Well here we go again. Joe Cole is common to both teams, of course, and it would be a sad postscript on his unfulfilled career if it were to be sandwiched by two relegations with the club he claims to love. And outside of Cole, there is Morrison, Rat, Reid, Downing, Noble and Carroll - all far too good to be relegated! But are they?

Downing has been relegated before. So has Joe Cole. And Winston Reid. And Mark Noble. And Andy Carroll. And, of course, Tomkins, Jussi, O'Brien, Jarvis, Collison, Jussi, Taylor, Vaz Te, Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan. Too good to be relegated? This team is cut from relegation cloth!

Yesterday's game was terrifying. For 45 minutes we bossed the match in a way I cannot remember us bossing a game. I posted at half time that it was like an exhibition game. We were the Harlem Globe Trotters and Norwich were a bunch of stiffs sharing the arena just to make us look good. At half time it could have been 4-0 and should have been 2-0 at the very least. Our control and domination were total.

So what the hell happened? Well first of all, this team can't score goals. You know it, I know it, Allardyce refuses to admit it, and ultimately Chris Hughton knew it. His instruction at half time was straightforward - get higher up the pitch, press the man on the ball, don't worry about gaps at the back, we can give them four chances and they won't take more than one.

I knew what was coming. At half time I wrote, "To be honest, the biggest worry is that Norwich will press us higher in the second half and one of Tomkins, Collins, Noble, Collison, Morrison or Demel will be caught in possession. Delia's darlings might as well be hung for a mutton stew as for a lamb casserole after all, so worrying about gaps at the back may now be off the agenda." OK, I didn't identify the right culprit, but based on his performances so far this season, who would have expected Jussi to hand the equalizing goal on a plate to Norwich?

That Jussi mistake was as bad as anything Green ever did and he compounded it with the unnecessary challenge which invited the award of the penalty. But why the hell did that goal make such a difference? It should have been a blip. Normal service should have been restored immediately. Like the Harlem Globe Trotters, we should have just stepped up a gear, re-established a lead and then cruised through to victory. But suddenly everything fell apart. Suddenly nobody was able to find space. Suddenly Norwich were dominating possession. Suddenly we were a complete shambles.

Then came that free kick. What the hell was Jussi up to? He left so much of the goal unguarded that I could have stepped up and scored. Bloody hell, my 82 year old mother might have fancied her chances! If the guy can't defend free kicks - and the evidence is clear that he can't - then we have to stand a defender on a post to help him.

What followed was humiliating. Carlton Cole is a shot bolt. Bringing him on is ludicrous. Taking off Joe Cole was madness, meanwhile. He has a goal in him, unlike Carlton and Diame and Jarvis. As soon as Joe departed, all hope of victory evaporated. Fine, bring on Mo, but don't take off Joe - Jack Collison was the obvious choice.

And then removing Noble? Crazy. Look how exposed Tomkins was for the third goal! And who was knitting our game together in the last five minutes?

Yesterday's result should be a wake up call to all those who believe that the possibility of relegation is unthinkable. Without Reid, our defence is little better than the defence of 2002-03 - and Reid is out for a stretch; and without Carroll we don't have an attack, never mind an attack to compare with Defoe, Kanoute and Di Canio!

But let's not worry. We have Joe Cole. And Defoe may return in January. And if some idiots have their way, Di Canio could replace Allardyce!

Who finished bottom in 2002-03? Sunderland.

This is getting spooky!

Player Ratings First Half: Jussi 6; Demel 8, Tomkins 7, Collins 6, Rat 9; Noble 8, Morrison 8, Nolan 7, Collison 7, Downing 7, Cole 7

Player Ratings Second Half: Jussi 0; Demel 6, Tomkins 4, Collins 5, Rat 6; Noble 6, Morrison 6, Nolan 4, Collison 5, Downing 3, Joe Cole 4; Subs: Diame 4, Carlton 0, Jarvis 1.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Half Time Norwich 0 West Ham 1 - Exhibition football so far!

Well, for much of that first 45 minutes I thought I was watching a training game - or at most a pre season friendly. Our passing has been unnervingly precise, the movement has been wonderful, and with better luck and better finishing, we could be three goals ahead. Nolan has forced two saves from Ruddy, and really should have buried one of them, and Demel has hit the bar with a header from a corner. Meanwhile, Norwich have been chasing shadows and, when they have got the ball, have looked clueless. Hang on, this can't last, can it?

The goal was superb. Noble played a lovely pass inside the full back, Rat sent over a delicious cross, low and hard to the near post, Nolan tried to flick it home but when his effort was blocked, had the composure to retrieve the ball on the by-line, look up and pick out Morrison, who slid it into the gaping net.

To be honest, the biggest worry is that Norwich will press us higher in the second half and one of Tomkins, Collins, Noble, Collison, Morrison or Demel will be caught in possession. Dehlia's darlings might as well be hung for a mutton stew as for a lamb casserole after all, so worrying about gaps at the back may now be off the agenda.

Of course, this is all utterly surreal. An Allardyce team passing the opposition to death! Who would believe it? Fingers crossed the Canaries don't burst our bubbles second half!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Reid as big a loss as Carroll!

Norwich City's luck has turned just days after the drubbing at the Etihad. Already without an attack because of the absence of Andy Carroll, West Ham must now take to the field at Carrow Road without the man who knits the entire defence together, Winston Reid.

Suddenly, the game looks like a bloody minefield. We should be rubbing our hands together at the prospect of playing a team beneath us in the table., especially after they have just shipped seven goals, but because we are so dependent on Carroll and Reid, it feels like we will be playing with less than half a team!

Take out Noble and Jussi and the side would be completely without a spine. It could be a long 90 minutes!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Judas Loved Jesus Shocker as Defoe seeks Spurs exit!

Life is full of regrets isn't it? Judas, of course, hanged himself after betraying the Messiah, and, whilst sopping short of that, Germstain Defoe is apparently keen to put his head in the Upton Park noose after expressing regret about his infamous transfer request and expressing his love for West Ham.

And why exactly? Because in a World Cup year, he is desperate to find himself a berth at a club where he will see first team football. Yes he loves West Ham, in exactly the same way as all mercenaries love the nation that pays their wages!

Do we want him back? Personally, I can't see the point because Allardyce won't use him. 4-6-0 will revert to 4-5-1 at some point, and Defoe is not tall enough to get on the end of 38 crosses into the box is he?

What did Jesus say as the noose tightened around Judas's neck? "Father, let him rot in hell!" And Defoe should be left to rot in Tottenham's reserves.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Elliot Lee gives Allardyce a nudge as Sheffield United slip back into bottom four!

Ok, it was only Rotherham, but nevertheless, young Lee netted a crucial equalising goal in the last minute of the Divison 1 clash. And even more pertinent, given we are talking Allardyce, he scored with his head! So Sam, 38 crosses failed to find a West Ham nut against Villa, whilst Elliot Lee got his nodder on the end of one delivered by a Colchester team mate. Worth a chance perhaps? The kids did well at Burnley!

Meanwhile Shafting United's revival proved deliciously short lived. A 2-0 defeat at lowly Shrewsbury put them back exactly where they deserve to be, in the bottom four! The Tevez curse continues. Pay back the money McScab and Sheik Dusty Bin and the nightmare will end!

Allardyce Looking Down Wrong End of Telescope!

Apparently Allardyce thinks we were unlucky not to beat Villa. Well on that basis, he was watching a different game from me! How many genuine saves did Guzan have to make? Two, if we count the Jarvis scuff and Joe Cole's effort from a near impossible angle. And Villa? Well Jussi made two brilliant saves (from Wiemann in the first half and Benteke in the second) and the Villain's Belgian also hit the underside of the bar from a position you would even back Carlton Cole to score from. We were not unlucky not to win, we were bloody lucky to draw!

Allardyce again quotes stats and suggests that sooner or later it will come right, but if you don't have goal scorers in the team, how are you going to score goals, exactly? I have given the alarming goal scoring stats for this team before - these players aren't just goal shy, they are goal comatose! Did anybody think Jarvis would score when Nolan played him through? Did anybody expect Downing to hit the back of the net when he twice cut inside? Did anybody expect Noble to bury that free kick? Dear God, unless we are awarded a penalty, this bunch have no idea where the back of the net is!

How desperate is it when the fans stand to applaud the introduction of Carlton Cole, a player who couldn't find a club after we released him? Now I'm not having a go at the guy here, but when you NEED A GOAL, who is the last man you turn to? The Upton Park faithful stood as one man to encourage Carlton on his introduction, but it was an act of kindness, not an expression of expectation. And following his introduction, we looked more stretched and Villa should have scored twice whilst we created that solitary half chance for Joe Cole.

The six man midfield can work, if the personnel are right. Jarvis, for one, is a waste of space. Allardyce quotes the 38 crosses we put into the box, but Villa had three tall centre backs parked in there and we had Nolan on his own. Now Captain Kev is great when he ghosts in unnoticed, but when he is the target man, his effectiveness inside the penalty area is lost. And who else broke into the box? Morrison a couple of times, Collison maybe twice, Jarvis himself, and Downing, but never in a central position - until Joe Cole came on.

The formation surprised me. When I saw the team, I expected Collison to be at the front of the six, possibly swapping places with Morrison and Nolan. Instead, Allardyce changed a fluid six into a rigid five plus one. Jarvis and Downing played like Redknapp and Sissons in their prime, only without Hurst and Byrne to hit in the box. Time and again, Villa's full-backs were beaten but when the ball came over, it hit a West Ham No Man's Land because we had nobody in the box. I could have been at the centre of Villa's defence and the Midlanders would still have kept a clean sheet!

So where do we go from here? Well unless Petric is up to it, I suspect we have to persist with the "false number 9", but then we simply have to get as many goal scorers into the team as we can. That means no place for Jarvis and a start for Joe Cole, irrespective of his defensive liabilities.

The start point must be Noble and Diame at the base of the six. They are the best defensive midfielders in the squad and Diame is a beast when on form, whilst Noble increasingly controls the midfield. The other four players then have to be used in a fluid way, interchanging with each other so that the opposition defenders don't know who to pick up. My four would be Morrison, Nolan, Downing and Joe Cole, with Collison introduced for the last twenty minutes when Nolan's legs tire. Like Nolan, Joe Cole instinctively breaks into the box, and runs at clever angles. He came on and had two shots on goal, and might well have scored the winner had Noble's attempted pass not been intercepted as he broke behind the Villa centre backs.

One thing's for sure, there's no point setting up to feed Carroll when Carroll isn't on the pitch! Yes he might have scored three on Saturday given those 38 crosses, but he can't score when he's sat in the bloody stands! Allardyce needs to stop harking on about luck and start working out genuine solutions. He was the twat who opted for Downing whilst Remy was allowed to join Newcastle. The need for a striker was obvious to everybody else because everybody else understands that 38 crosses to nobody are absolutely bloody pointless!

Player Ratings: Jussi 9; Demel 7, Tomkins 6, Reid 6, Rat 5; Noble 8, Collison 6; Jarvis 6, Morrison 6, Downing 7, Nolan 7 Subs Carlton Cole 5, Joe Cole 6, Diame (not on long enough).

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Half Time West Ham 0 Aston Villa 0 - No surprises there then!

So, the inclusion of Collison has meant that we have reverted to a half way house between 4-5-1 and 4-6-0, with Nolan moved forward to play the lone striker come advanced play maker role. The possession stats are superb - something like 60-40 in our favour - and all allegations of long ball football must be consigned to the rubbish bin, but sadly for all our possession, we look absolutely toothless up front, and worryingly vulnerable to a Wiemann led break.

In truth, the best chance fell to Villa in that first 45, with Villa knocking a long ball over the top and Wiemann outstripping Tomkins. To be fair to JT, Wiemann is a speed merchant and Tomkins stuck at his job, staying on the Villa's man's shoulder, whilst avoiding making a red card inducing challenge. As a result, Wiemann was always conscious of the defenders presence and so was unable to compose himself for his finish; and Jussi did what Jussi does best, spreading himself wide and blocking the effort.

Wiemann had another chance minutes later as Villa sprang forward from our corner, but Morrison stayed with him and Webb was kind when waving play on after a six of one and half a dozen of the other tussle. On another day, a free kick might have been awarded and a dodgy red card shown. Maybe the luck is with us.

Going forward, Jarvis and Downing keep crossing in to the box, but with three big centre backs marking an advanced Nolan, it's all been far too easy for Villa to defend. Where can we conjure a goal from? My bet would be Joe Cole, with Jarvis sacrificed second half. The trouble is, Villa may be ahead by the time he is introduced!

Return of Collison could be key

Interesting. Allardyce has apparently stuck with 4-6-0 but has dropped Diame and replaced him with Jack Collison, who will presumably exchange with Morrison as the "False Number 9".

This is an interesting one. We looked so much better against Burnley when Collison replaced Diame, and he is much more naturally suited to breaking in to the box. Of all the players in the squad, he and Joe Cole seem best suited to the fluid formation that Allardyce has been forced to adopt.

The inclusion of Jarvis ahead of Cole is disappointing in my book, and the "ideal 6" would probably have Diame and Noble at its base, with Morrison, Joe Cole, Collison and Downing providing the attacking foursome, but that, of course, would mean leaving Nolan out - and to be fair to Captain Kev, he won the first penalty at Turf Moor.

This is a big, big game and we desperately need to return to winning ways. No Petric again, not even on the sub's bench. Is he injured or just crap? Time will tell!