Friday, 13 June 2014

Never mind Qatar, how much did Brazil pay to win last night's game?

Well what a diabolical start to the World Cup. The opening ceremony was cringeworthy with unimaginative dancers and singers that nobody could hear, but that proved the perfect prelude to the most embarrassingly engineered home nation victory you could ever dread to see.

It really is time for referees to be marched in front of the world's media and interrogated about decisions which are so ludicrous that they bring the entire game into disrepute and leave everybody suspecting that either money has changed hands, or political pressure has been brought to bear.

Yes there was contact in the box, and yes a referee can hide behind that fact, but look at the way the opportunity to award Brazil a penalty was seized upon! The referee would have been genuflecting in thanks for his personal salvation had he not been surrounded by understandably irate Croats. If that was a penalty, then a penalty should have been awarded at every single corner, because defenders from both sides had their hands all over the forwards. Shouldn't a referee be obliged to explain that level of inconsistency?

And tell me, had that happened at the other end, would a spot kick have been awarded? Not a chance in hell!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Joe Cole's Downward Spiral complete with move to Aston Villa

Well, it seems even 'Arry and QPR didn't want him and clubs on the other side of the Atlantic said, "You did us over with London Bridge when we thought we were buying Tower Bridge, so we aint buying the duff Cole, be it Carlton or Joe." So what was the former Boy Wonder to do when even Batman 'Arry and the Yanks of Gotham City didn't want him?

The downward spiral started with that switch to Chelsea of course. Then it was Liverpool and Lille, before Joe returned to his spiritual home and proved that he truly is washed up and past it. So what's a knackered old has-been supposed to do as he contemplates retirement?

Why, find a nice Villa to see out the rest of his days of course!

A change of badge, shirt colour and name is long overdue

We sold the club's soul when we appointed Allardyce. We've agreed the sale of the ground too. And any player worthy of the title has been converted into cash at the earliest opportunity since the days of Greenwood and Lyall, so why in God's name get into a tizzy over the badge?

Maybe crossed dildos could replace the hammers. Instead of the castle, move in the Olympic Rings, with each dildo piercing a ring in ultra suggestive fashion.

Why not add London or Olympic to the club's name? In fact, we simply have to get the word West out of the title because it is so confusing for tourists - the club is situated on the East side of the city is it not? And as for "Ham", well that is just plain provocative and insensitive in the new multicultural metropolis - surely East London Olympic Halal and Kosher would be a more representative name for the club.

And let's change the bloody shirt whilst we are about it shall we? Claret and Blue is so, well you know, yesterday! Why not the multicoloured Olympic rings worn as hoops? That would be simply divine!

Those fans voicing concerns need to get with the programme. Hang on, programmes? No, let's have an issues based women's glossy magazine instead featuring a tiara adorned Princess Brady on the cover!

There! The makeover is complete! Next stop, the Champions League! Or maybe London Fashion Week might be more our cup of caffe latte!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Tottenham already have Lennon, so why not sign McCartney?

With Spurs desperate for a replacement for Danny "A Rose by any other name would smell as shite" and with cash limited following the £100m splurge last summer, surely Pochettino should consider reuniting Lennon with McCartney, by signing the West Ham man recently released on a free.

Before Spurs fans scoff, they should remember that West Ham did the treble over their rag bag bunch of overpriced millionaires last season, and "Linda" played in two of those three games, starting at centre back in the League Cup game in December and in his more accustomed left back position in the penultimate game of the season.

It's true that McCartney is no spring chicken and it's true too  that he is pretty crap, but he still ran out a winner in two games against Spurs last season, and if £100million pounds worth of "talent" can only conjure  one goal over 180 minutes of football with McCartney in the team, he can't be that bad can he?

One thing's for sure, although ordinary, he's a better left back than Danny Rose will ever be! So come on Levy, pick yourself up a bargain! And with Lennon and McCartney on board, it shouldn't be too hard to locate a Harrison somewhere in the lower leagues and, once he's in place, Spurs would surely make sweet music because every other expensive signing must be a genuine Starr.

Mustn't they?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

West Ham and QPR miss out on Midfield Maestro

What a shame. It seems the lure of mega dollars has persuaded Fat Frank to ply his trade on the other side of the pond, rather than return to his roots or to link up again with Uncle 'Arry.

A move by West Ham for the best player produced by the club since Moore, Hurst and Peters (and yes I'm counting Brooking!) was always unlikely given the fans' antipathy for a player who, supposedly, was only selected as a teenager because of nepotism, but he would have been a wonderful addition to the ranks, guaranteeing either more goals than Nolan and Morrison put together if played behind Carroll, or wonderful control if selected as a deep seated play maker. Yes he's old, but when you ooze class, age doesn't matter.

As for QPR, he would have boosted morale both in the dressing room and on the terraces and would have been the pivot around which the Hula Hoops could have spun.

But, instead, he's heading for New York - until January at least when, who knows, if either club is desperate, a loan deal might yet be done.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Should West Ham Rescue Scott Parker From Fulham?

It seems amazing doesn't it, that such a great player as Scott Parker can be relegated from the top division of English football THREE times in a - as yet unfinished - career. Anybody would think, looking at that record, that the guy wasn't that much cop!

Incredibly, despite helping Fulham to a next to bottom place finish in the Premier League, Parker was overlooked for this season's Player of the Year award. Maybe his team has to finish rock bottom to merit that accolade!

But now the poor guy is stranded in the Championship and we all know how Scotty hates to play in the second tier of English football. So surely, after giving such great service to West Ham, before being forced to request a transfer when - following our relegation - Spurs made a cut price bid, we should step in and rescue him.

It's the very least we can do for a player who loved the club so much that he signed a contract extension, securing a massive wage increase, a week after Spurs bought Van Der Vaart; poor Scotty delayed and delayed signing that contract, only for Wheeler Dealer 'Arry to let him down by switching his interest to the Dutchman at the last moment. And how did West Ham reward him for his loyalty? By getting relegated! Just like Charlton! And now Fulham!

So, let's forget all the other transfer targets and prioritise bringing a true West Ham legend back to Upton Park. True fans of the club - who lauded Parker's heroic efforts as we finished bottom of the Prem - should launch a "Bring Back Scotty" campaign without delay. We owe it to the guy. And let's name the Olympic Stadium after him when we make the move too!

Do one Lescott!

So it looks like Lescott has shunned our advances. Well thank God for that! He laughed at suggestions that he might come to Upton Park on loan in January, and there's no way we want somebody with that attitude at the club.

In truth, Lescott is a very average player who has got more average by the day whilst living off the fat of Unreal City's inflated wage bill. He lacks focus, consistency and composure and isn't half as committed in the challenge as Ginge. God knows what he is looking for in wages, but one thing's for sure, he will have inflated expectations after adjusting his spending to his salary at Man City.

Jog on Kryten, we don't want you at West Ham!

Friday, 30 May 2014

If Sunderland's Jack Colback is the answer, we are asking the wrong question!

So the latest big white carrot topped hope is apparently Jack Colback, because he is available on a free from Sunderland. Allardyce regards him as the best player presently available for nowt but he would wouldn't he? Colback is an Allardyce type of player - high on energy and effort but very seriously lacking in one key department.

Question. Aged 24, how many goals has Colback scored over his career? Answer, ten.

Even more seriously, how many has he scored in the Prem? Answer, four.

Why did we struggle last season? We didn't score enough goals. So how is four goal Colback going to improve the situation exactly? When you play a single striker, you need midfield players who can score goals. Noble can't. Diame can't. Downing can't. Jarvis can't. So why add another goal shy player to the "armoury" exactly?

Somebody tell Allardyce we need GOALS!

It's Mo-Go Diame!

Well he lost his mojo when Allardyce started playing him as the front man in a striker-less formation and then as a wide man because Jarvis was so consistently hopeless, but now, it seems, Diame simply wants out.

How else can you account for his ridiculous comments about team mates not trying? Team mates not good enough might be a reasonable observation, but the one thing I witnessed all season was a team desperately trying to overcome its very severe limitations. Who, exactly, were the non triers?

Well, for sure, it wasn't any of O'Brien, Noble, Collins, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney, Carlton Cole, Taylor or Jarvis. Now you can question whether some of those should be in a Premiership team, never mind a team striving for a top ten finish, but to question their desire and effort would be madness in the extreme. The one thing every one of them could be relied upon to do, is run until they drop (which we only just avoided!).

What about Nolan? Well according to Diame, things got better after January when the competition for places increased. That rules out Captain Kev then, because with Morrison's departure, his place in the team was absolutely guaranteed. And with the situation improving in January, he clearly wasn't thinking of Carroll, because he hadn't kicked a ball during the period when players were supposedly not trying.

Does the finger then point at Demel? If so, it seems harsh because he always looked committed to the cause to me, even if lasting 90 minutes seems to be a challenge for the guy. Adrian or Jussi? Daft idea.

So, who are we down to? Joe Cole, Downing and Morrison? Well they were contenders for the one area of the team where there was competition for places, so Diame's argument flounders even if he is right that these three were more interested in themselves than in the team - which I can well believe. But to be fair to Downing, he did a lot of tracking back and I lost count of the number of blind alleys he ran up in most games.

So maybe it was Mogodon Maiga that Diame had in mind. Maybe Mo doesn't understand that the guy is just shit!

Or Boomtown Rat perhaps? Well the fact he defected mid season tells us he was unhappy at being used only occasionally by Allardyce but, again, I saw a player running and running and running whenever he wore the shirt.

If I've forgotten anybody, I apologise. But what difference did the new arrivals in January make anyway? They barely started a game between them, so the "competition for places" that they offered was virtually zero.

No. Mo was talking out of his arse, unless he was talking about his own attitude of course. One thing's for sure, he has guaranteed himself a cold shoulder from his team mates when they return to training, which suggests to me that he wants out of the club before the start of the new season. But if he's dreaming of a top 6 club coming in for him, then he's in for a disappointing summer. True Allardyce played him out of position for most of the season but that's because he was found out in the engine room of the team, giving away far too many free kicks on the edge of our box, which, with Jussi in goal, led to goals!

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Rebuilding Is Underway & Underwhelming!

So, three players have gone and the first new recruit is on his way. I'm not overly excited about the prospect of Zarate, but he has to be better than Maiga, Cole, Downing and Jarvis, doesn't he? The fact that he can play wide but can also score goals points to the direction in which we are heading: no change in the 4-3-3 tactics, just a change in personnel. I hope somebody has told the Argentinian that his first job is to track the opposition full back!

Meanwhile, suggestions that we are prepared to loan out Downing tells you everything you need to know about the failure of that particular deal. At the time he was signed, I expressed deep reservations about the deal, not least because, with Carroll side-lined, our priority had to be a striker and not another winger, but, as ever, the Claret & Blue Klan tried to shout me down. One season and one goal on, the folly of the deal is surely obvious to everybody. Let's hope Zarate does a bit better than that!

The latest talk is linking us with Gareth Barry and that would be as bloody stupid as the Downing signing. I have huge regard for the former England man, but he is no spring chicken and given the need for pace and goals, Barry must be the wrong man at the wrong time surely. Yes he is available on a free but so what? The same applies to Ince, and despite his genes, he would surely be a more exciting recruit. Tell me, what threat would a central midfield of Noble, Barry and Diame pose exactly?

So, Zarate is a start, but if we are serious about a top 10 finish, we have to unearth better gems than him and ignore players like Barry.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

West Ham owe it all to Tottenham Hotspur

Take a look at the final league table. After 38 games, West Ham ended up with 40 points, just 7 clear of relegation. And six of those points came courtesy of victories over Spurs!

God knows what would have happened had we not swept to that amazing 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane back in October. Without Carroll and any forward worthy of the name, we looked nailed on certainties for the drop. Keeping clean sheets is all very well, but if you can't score, you can't win games and, apart from beating hapless Cardiff and lowly Cheltenham, we didn't look capable of winning a game. True we engineered a draw at the St Mary's Stadium courtesy of shutting out the Saints, and performed the same trick at Newcastle, but defeats at home to Stoke & Everton and away to Hull meant that the Relegation word was writ large upon the wall by the time we staggered into White Hart Lane.

And after that amazing 3-0 victory, things didn't get any better. Man City took us apart at Upton Park before we stole another point at Swansea courtesy of yet another 0-0 draw; another goalless bore draw followed at home to Villa and then we contrived to lose 3-1 at Norwich after murdering them for the first 45 minutes. Without those three points gifted by Spurs, we would have been deep in shit, even after a very lucky 3-0 win over hapless Fulham.

And so it went on all season, until Fabulous February. How wonderfully fitting that our survival was finally confirmed in the penultimate game of the season, with our third victory of the campaign over a Tottenham team that cost a mere £100million plus to put together. Three games, three victories and an aggregate score of 7-1! Even Maiga managed to net against Tottenham!

Makes you wonder where we would have finished in the table had we been allowed to play Spurs every week, doesn't it?

Sullivan Boxing Clever With Allardyce On The Ropes

Some of you may have noticed that this blog went quiet in February when we launched the winning run that secured our survival and that was down to good old fashioned East End superstition. Many would have promised not to change their underpants until West Ham lost, then until West Ham were guaranteed safety, but as a blogger, I pledged not to post until we were safely over the line. And, to be honest, with Allardyce in charge, what was there to say? You can only describe a parked bus so many times!

So, I'm back and what has changed? Well we are in the Prem again next season - and that looked unlikely until Fabulous February. And we are being linked with a host of potential signings - but this is the silly season for that sort of thing. And we have released three players - which is worthy of discussion. And, most importantly, Allardyce has survived the most tepid of votes of confidence and has been told to smarten up his act. It seems Sullivan and Gold were as bored watching that parked bus as the rest of us!

So, will anything change? To be honest, for as long as Allardyce is in charge, that's unlikely. You could give the guy Messi, Bale and Ronaldo and he would still be drilling the team on how to defend from the front. His mantra is simple - if you don't concede, you can't lose, and if you concede one you only need to score once to avoid defeat. It's simple, it's straightforward and, as his record shows, it works. Boring certainly, but who wants the excitement of relegation exactly?

And let's be fair to the guy, there were performances last season that had nothing to do with the West Ham way but which were absolutely fundamental to our survival. That performance at the Bridge was awesome - boring but awesome! And the win at Sunderland was superbly orchestrated. And the win at Cardiff was down to excellent team discipline as was the victory at Villa. We were unlucky at Everton, we weren't disgraced at the Etihad, Liverpool's penalties were both tenuous and we even stayed in the game at the Emirates for much of the match. And then, of course there were the Tottenham games!

But if you want to sum up everything that is wrong, you only have to look at the home wins over Norwich and Hull. The fans didn't boo at the end of our victory over the Canaries but they should have done, because we played on the break at home to a side that was eventually relegated, and we were bloody lucky to come away with one point, never mind three. As for the Hull game, well I for one felt ashamed to be a West Ham fan as we struggled to get and retain the ball when playing against ten toothless tigers. Truly shameful!

But Allardyce will laud those wins over two teams that finished beneath us in the table, and will probably point out that a narrow defeat at West Brom preserved our goal difference, making it all but certain that we would survive even if Norwich suddenly came over all Real Madrid, or Sunderland for that matter.

And if we are honest, Allardyce probably over-performed given the squad he was working with. The policy of having Carroll, and nobody else, was mad and the absurdity of re-signing Carlton said everything that needed to be said about the lack of forward planning (the pun is fully intended!). Surely, that mistake will never again be repeated, which means that with two left backs leaving, two left backs will have to be signed this summer - along with two midfield players, two strikers and, at least, one winger who can score goals! We need pace, pace and more pace - and goal scorers too. I blogged last season about how few goals the squad have scored between them over their careers, and take out Nolan ( and many want to!) and you would have one of the most goal shy squads in the history of the game. It's all very well having Jarvis and Downing dashing up the flanks, but if you have nobody to put the ball in the net should either actually put over a cross, how are you going to score exactly?

So we all know what has to be done to refashion a sub standard squad but can we afford to do it? Sullivan used the excuse of Financial Fair Play last season and it's hard to see what has changed this summer. True we have Joe Cole off the wage bill, and McCartney was on absurd money given his limitations and fitness record, but if the financial corset is real, how are we going to acquire and pay six or seven new quality players exactly? One way would be to sell Downing who proved a terrible waste of money all season, but after his one goal return, courtesy of a pansy Tottenham wall, who will want to sign him?

The Academy has stuttered, and not just because of Allardyce as the tonking at Forest proved, and the days of unearthing a Keegan at Scunthorpe or a Devonshire at Southall seem to be over. We keep trying, but it doesn't work because the quality of the Prem is so much better that the quality of the old First Division, and the scouting networks are such that gems are found aged ten, not twenty one!

So, the Sullivan plan seems to me to be the best one - which is to ease Allardyce out rather than sack him. Had he gone this summer, we would have been nailed on certainties to go down next season; because Allardyce leaves behind a squad that can only play one way, as Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle have all discovered at their cost. You may hate him, but if you want to avoid the drop, he's your man; and when you sack him, relegation is all but guaranteed to follow. But maybe, if you foist a different style of player upon him, and let him drill discipline into those players, maybe, just maybe, a year later you can jettison him and hand a decent squad over to his successor. Maybe.

Next season aint going to be pretty but when we went down under Grant, we would all have given our right arms to have bounced right back and to still be in the Prem two seasons later. And let's not forget we beat Spurs three times last season with an aggregate score of 7-1; Big Sam deserves a statue for that alone!

So I want to see Allardyce go, desperately, but not quite yet. I can take another year in the dentist's chair, wincing in agony as the Allardyce drill does its business - because maybe then we can actually survive his departure!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Andy Carroll: Will the FA officially sanction cheating today?

I only saw the Chico Flores-Andy Carroll love tussle for the first time on MOTD2 last night, and on first viewing, I must admit my heart sank. From one angle, Carroll definitely swings his arm back and appears to make contact. And that's the view the referee had.

But seen from the other side, all becomes clear. Yes the arm moves backwards, but not maliciously, and the reaction of Flores is absolutely pathetic.

So now the FA face a challenge. What is more serious, a swinging arm that if it makes contact can result in a broken cheek bone or nose, or out and out cheating? I fear they will stupidly err on the side of personal safety, and in so doing, do untold damage to the game.

The sensible course of action would be for the red to be reduced to a yellow and for Flores to be charged with bringing the game into disrepute. And when found guilty, a significant ban and fine should be imposed because if we do not drive this appalling simulation out of the game then cheating will grow like a cancer.

So, is the risk to the health of one player or the risk to the health of the entire game more important? It's clear what the panel should decide - even Laudrup admits Carroll shouldn't have seen red - but I'm not holding my breath!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Any three from ten as relegation waters muddy with West Ham's win over Swansea

Well it looks like being one hell of a scrap to avoid the drop this season. We were briefly out of the bottom three, only for Moyeschester United to choke yet again - this time at Stoke. So now three points separates tenth placed Stoke and relegation - and that is crazy with more than half the season in the can!

What's even crazier is that our survival could now depend on an appeal to Carroll's red card. Nolan's two goals today showed how important the pairing are likely to be - and one without the other is about as useful as a single chopstick. Laudrup has sportingly said that the red card was harsh and hopefully that will help - and given Swansea are themselves deep in the mire, that was a very noble gesture indeed.

I couldn't see the game today as I am in hospital; and following it by constantly refreshing the Official Site match report was more painful than my operation to remove my gall bladder - especially after Carroll's dismissal. What's truly amazing about the last two games, of course, is that we have kept clean sheets without starting Reid and the new signings have been periphery too. Thank God in the case of Johnson!

What is clear from this window is that Sullivan and Gold are costing in relegation. No money was spent and the wages of the loan signings will not be carried over to the Championship. The decision to part with Rat was disappointing for me, but Allardyce clearly doesn't rate him. Let's hope the new Colombian is more professional than Montano; and the life of his family doesn't hinge on West Ham losing a key game!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Max Gradel set to reject "little Leeds United" in favour of Premiership Giants

Well that would be a kick in the David Haighs wouldn't it? Former Leeds United favourite Max Gradel is rumoured to have rejected a move to the 'Yorkshire Briefly Greats' after West Ham made a late, late move for the fleet of foot maestro.

Gradel himself was unavailable for comment but a source close to Leeds, Mr Lee Vitout said: "Obviously everybody at Leeds is disappointed that Max has decided not to join our campaign to finish in mid table in the Championship, but we fully understand his reasons."

"It is true that Leeds United briefly soared across the English footballing firmament like a mighty comet but we must all now accept that the glory years are long, long gone. If a week is a long time in politics, then a decade must be an eon in football. And it is ten years now since we were in the top division of English football."

"The facts may be unpalatable but are nevertheless undeniable. We do not own our ground and we do not own our training facilities. There is a very clear divide between our owners and our manager, and the position of David Haigh looks increasingly untenable."

"What's worse is that an Italian crook is now looking to take control of the club."

"A succession of managers have come and gone and the squad put together by Warnock and McDermott is ordinary in the extreme. And any hope of being in the Prem next season has long since evaporated. So why would any player with a sense of ambition choose to join us when he has the opportunity to play in the Prem, especially for the club that won the World Cup for England?"

He concluded: "If Max joins West Ham he will do so with the blessing of all Leeds United fans who understand that an ambitious player wants to play for the biggest team he possibly can. Our only hope now is that this will kill off West Ham's interest in McCormack because otherwise GFH Capital may be tempted to sell him just before the window closes in a desperate attempt to claw back some of their misguided investment and possibly even stave off administration."

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Chelsea Choked By Hammers Heroes!

Well what a fantastic rear guard action! The performance echoed our draw at Anfield last season, but was still more amazing because we have been leaking so many goals lately - and because Chelsea are a better team than Liverpool were last season.

There's little point in writing a match report as such, because all night it was a case of West Ham players closing, chasing, harrying, tackling, screening and throwing their bodies in front of shots. Critics of Allardyce must again accept that no other West Ham manager in our life time has organised a team so effectively defensively - and Allardyce is not blessed with a Bobby Moore, a Frank Lampard senior, a Julian Dicks, an Alvin Martin, a Tony Gale, a Billy Bonds or a Phil Parkes (with apologies to any of our star defenders down the years that my tired old brain may have forgotten.

Instead Allardyce had a back four featuring the lumbering Demel, the resolute but limited Collins, the not quite got it Tomkins and the right footed O'Brien playing at left back. You would expect Hazard, Eto'o, Oscar, Ramires and Lampard to make mince meat of them, and they probably would have done but for two absolute stars in front of them.

So once again, I call upon the critics of Noble to hold their hands up and admit to being wrong; whilst I happily concede that I have horribly underestimated Matty Taylor. These two guys were truly immense tonight, tracking runners, closing space on the edge of our box and throwing their bodies in front of shots. And when we had the ball - which wasn't often! - Noble used it better than any other player in a West Ham shirt. In fact the guy was typified by his refusal to be substituted, staring down Allardyce when his number was shown and making it clear that he was only leaving the pitch over Big Sam's dead body - so Nolan was pulled off instead! Brilliant stuff.

Adrian was superb too and his last second save from Lampard will be one of the great moments of this season, if come the season's finale we remain in this division!

And is there anything else to say? Carroll's air-shot may have cost us two bonus points, but equally it may have enraged the Chelsea bull and resulted in a trouncing, so let's not be too greedy. We remain in the shit, but if we play with this spirit for the remainder of the season, we should be good enough to stay up!

Player ratings: Adrian 10; Demel 7, Collins 10, Tomkins 9, O'Brien 9; Noble 10, Taylor 10; Downing 6, Nolan 7, Diame 5; Carroll 6 Subs Jarvis 6, Cole 6, Nocerino 4

Friday, 24 January 2014

Leeds United's McCormack to West Ham? Over Allardyce's Sacked Body!

OK we have bought some shit down the years, but Ross McCormack would really take the biscuit - providing Benni McCarthy didn't eat any left behind by Eggert Magnusson and the barrel has been kept hidden from Allardyce.

True the Scot has banged in a few goals in the Championship but how many players are capable of making the step up? And he's no spring chicken is he?

It doesn't take a high wattage bulb to shine in the darkness, and in the current Leeds team, a Lions Midget Gem would shine like the Koh-I-Noor. Good God, when you are compared with the likes of Podgy Kenny, Warnock Junior, Reg Varney, Shit Brown and Hell Hadji, you'd have to have two prosphetic left legs and be right footed not to stand out from the crowd.

If we are really interested in him then it can only be because we are planning for next season in the Championship. McCormack has Ted MacDougall and Derek Hales stamped all over him, a decent player in the lower divisions but hopelessly out of his depth in the top division.

And as hard up as Leeds are, they won't sell him for what he is worth which is somewhere between £1.5m and £2m.

Leave well alone for God's sake - just look at what Becchio has "achieved" at Norwich!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Former West Ham Star Treated Disgracefully

How outrageous! West Ham fans up and down the land will be venting their fury at the news that former favourite Paul Ince has been shown the door by Tangerine Dreamers Blackpool. How very dare they?

What has Ince done to deserve the sack exactly? He took over a moderately crap team - his son apart - and nearly a year later, he leaves behind a moderately crap team. Since when has that been a reason for a guy to be sacked exactly?

Ok, Blackpool started the season fabulously, and have fallen away horrifically, but Blackpool has built it's reputation on roller coaster rides so Ince was just doing his bit to support the resort's branding.

And it's true that the Guvnor made a prize arse of himself when he "violently shoved" a fourth official and collected himself a stadium ban - but that's not his fault, for its a well known fact that you can take the boy out of the East End, but you can't take the East End out of the boy.

So what that Blackpool have lost nine games out of the last ten - any team can have a bad run can't they? And so what that the club's supporters wrote to the Chairman demanding that Ince be shown the door? What the hell do football fans know?

Ince is a legend in his own mind and is a great manager just waiting for the right opportunity. His failures at Blackburn, Blackpool, Notts County and MK Dons (the second time around) are simply blips.

Blackpool will surely live to rue the day they parted company with the high and mighty Paul Ince. Maybe he will replace Moyes at Manchester United. Maybe Arsenal will sack Wenger in order to snap him up whilst he is on the job market. Pellegrini must be sweating after Unreal City only netted three at Upton Park. And even Brendan Rodgers must feel anxious, knowing that Ince has the man management skills and tactical acumen to get the very best out of Suarez.

One thing's for sure, it's a sad day for football and the whole football family will be desperate to see Incey back in the game as soon as possible.



Saturday, 18 January 2014

West Ham 1 Newcastle 3 - Carroll thinks he's playing for Newcastle!

Oh dear. Second half we were so much better, but in the first half the Geordies played us off the Upton Park. On came Morrison and, belatedly, Carroll after a lucky goal in the last minute of the first half, and suddenly Newcastle were on the back foot. First Taylor delivered a delicious cross from the right (with his right foot) and with Carroll not yet on the pitch, Carlton managed to slice wide of an open goal. Miss of the season contender one. Then Downing took the ball to the by-line, crossed perfectly onto the foot of Carroll, who with half the goal gaping empty, blasted the ball into the top tier of the stand.

Mind you, £15m Andy wasn't finished yet. No sir! Chasing back, he committed the sort of foul on the edge of our box that suggested he had not watched any of our games whilst side-lined. Adrian lined up his wall, took up position and, like Jussi, invited a shot into an unguarded corner of the net. Cabaye licked his lips, stepped up, and placed the ball exactly where Adrian invited him to put it. The Spaniard got a despairing hand to the ball but inevitably, it made no difference. 1-3, game over.

Allardyce will again bemoan injuries and missed chances, and with good reason I suppose. Going forward, Taylor was excellent, but at right back, he was hopelessly out of position and he was badly at fault for Newcastle's second. But where were Johnson and Collins as the cross cleared the ex Bolton's man's head and landed onto the foot of Remy - a player we could have signed this summer by the way!

Johnson looked what he is, a Championship defender playing in the Prem.

Jarvis was awful and his withdrawal was long overdue. Time and again he had the opportunity to cross, and time and again, he picked out a Newcastle defender unerringly. The last straw saw him with time to pick a cross on the edge of the box, only for him to literally pass the ball at shin height into a cluster of Newcastle defenders; not only didn't he clear the first defender, he failed to clear the first three! And that was with Carroll and Carlton to aim at! Hopeless!

And Diame was also poor. He seems to have lost the heart for a fight and, behind the striker, was totally at sea.

Which brings us to Allardyce's tactics. We all know that Diame is at his best in the engine room of midfield, so why is he being pushed wide or too far forward? Even with Morrison on the pitch, Diame was the most advanced forward, and given his poor finishing and Morrison's scoring record, that makes no sense at all.

So, another home defeat and now only goal difference keeps us off the bottom. It's Chelsea away next in the League so there must be a good chance that we will be bottom of the pile after that one. Yes Carroll is back, but as Carroll showed today, he is not Messi!

Player ratings: Adrian 7 (Good apart from his positioning at the free kick.); Taylor 6 (superb going forward, desperate when forced to defend) Collins 6, Johnson 5 (one excellent block) Rat 6 (like Taylor, much better in the opposition's half!); Noble 6, Collison 4, Diame 5, Jarvis 1, Downing 6, Carlton 5 Subs: Morrison 5, Carroll 3, Joe Cole 4

Half Time West Ham 1 Newcastle 2 - Skin of Teeth Time

Well we are still in it, but God knows how! Newcastle completely dominated the half and but for two Adrian saves, some poor finishing and half a dozen last ditch blocks, we could have shipped six or seven. Then, on the stroke of half time, Rat showed Jarvis how to cross, Carlton chest controlled the ball into Williamson's path, and with his keeper on the deck, the Newcastle man supplied a clinical finish to bundle the ball over the line. Back from the dead! Maybe!

To be honest, it's looked as if Newcastle have three extra players on the pitch. Going forward, we can't see the goal for a forest of barcodes, and when Newcastle have the ball, we are being cut to ribbons. Taylor is all at sea at right back, Diame is all at sea just behind Cole, Collison is all at sea chasing Newcastle shadows, Jarvis and Downing are not tracking back and have failed to pick out West Ham players from numerous crossing opporties and Johnson looks like a man experienced in relegation scraps - experienced at losing them!

It will be a miracle if we get anything out of this one, but for it to happen, surely Morrison and Carroll will have to be introduced. That may just give the team and the crowd a lift and may just give Newcastle something to think about defensively. Because until the last kick of the first half, the Gallic Geordies have had a stroll in the Upton Park.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Mark Noble Epitomises Bulldog Spirit at Upton Park

It was good to hear Hansen singing a West Ham players praises on MOTD for a change. Usually it's all about how our centre halves are too far apart, how we can't defend set pieces, how the position of our keeper is all wrong at a free kick and how detached our lone striker is. So for Hansen to say that he would be surprised if ANY player performed better this weekend than Noble at Cardiff, then we should sit up and take notice.

Noble is, of course, a controversial figure. Some fans recognise his worth, others sit on the fence, and there's a significant faction who blame him for every defeat: too slow, can't tackle, no vision, can't score, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

What these critics can't explain, however, are the stats, which prove that Noble is a comparable player to Gerrard in his prime in every respect other than goal scoring. The miles covered in a game are awesome, his circulation of the ball is phenomenal, his pass completion rate is consistently around 82% (and he does not confine himself to short five yard passes), his number of tackles per game is praiseworthy, and given he won't have a forward line, his assist rate aint bad either!

Indeed, Noble is for me, the perfect captain. Yes he gets booked, but when booked, it is for a full blooded challenge in pursuit of the ball, or he is taking one for the team to prevent the opposition breaking; unlike Nolan who churlishly rakes opponents from behind for the hell of it or kicks an opponent when he knows he is too slow to get to the ball. And Noble has only picked up three reds in his entire career - which compares favourably with Nolan's two in a month - and suggests that he exercises sensible restraint after receiving the first yellow.  When Noble exchanged shirts with Bellamy yesterday, he proudly retained that captain's armband around his biceps, and I reckon you would have had to cut his arm off to remove it.

And yesterday's game exemplified Noble: he was always available to receive the ball, always linking the play, always running to support others, always looking to close out danger and always battling for the shirt and the cause. To be fair, in Taylor and Collison, he had two willing deputies, two others who were prepared to punch their weight alongside him - and that's not the case with Morrison, Cole and Nolan, for example.

Now we shouldn't get carried away because we were only playing Cardiff, but the balance of yesterday's team looked better because of the committed engine at the heart of the team and Jarvis perhaps looked a better player because he was allowed to play slightly higher up the pitch.

I don't expect Noble's critics to suddenly hail him a genius, but it would be good if those who hurry to criticise when he makes a mistake, were to admit that yesterday he was superb. And maybe, just maybe, if we were ALL to unite behind Noble as Captain Fantastic, we might kick on from here and move up the table.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Scrapper Allardyce Rallies The Troops Brilliantly

Damn the man! We hate him. And hate him with good reason. He is a tactical Neanderthal. He is arrogant. He is coarse and crude and belligerent. But bugger him, just when you think you have him down and defenceless, he grabs your foot in mid kick and flips you over backwards!

Let's get one thing straight. Greenwood would not have won today's game after a 5-0 and 6-0 hammering. Nor would Lyall. Nor Bonds. Nor Redknapp. Nor Zola. Nor even Brooking. Maybe, just maybe, Pardew might have pulled it off, but I doubt it, not with the injuries and suspensions that forced Allardyce to start with Johnson at centre back, a 75% fit Carlton Cole up front and Collison & Taylor in midfield. On paper, out starting eleven was Championship quality at best.

And Cardiff were up for this game for a vengeance, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge for his first home Premiership game and Bellamy available after injury. The match had 3-0 written all over it at kick off, with Cardiff slated for the three goals! Add in a sickening injury to Demel after ten minutes and the cruel dismissal of Tomkins within thirty seconds of Cole being replaced by Carroll, and the result was nothing less than miraculous!

True we enjoyed a slice of luck when the goal line technology went AWOL with Kim's deflected shot looking as if it had bounced a yard behind the line before Adrian was clumsily fouled by Frazier Campbell. But that effort and one brilliant reaction save from the Spaniard in the second half apart, we looked pretty solid at the back, despite having Johnson at centre half and McCarthorse filling in as a left footed right back - and that was before Tomkins' dismissal! By the end, we had Diarra drafted in to that makeshift back four, and we still kept a clean sheet. Amazing.

And no matter how much you may loathe Allardyce, you have to give him credit for that! The players started the game as if they knew they were going to win it, and chased and harried all afternoon once a lead had been established.

Our first goal was superb. Taylor played a lovely pass to Jarvis who delivered a first time perfect cross to Cole, who met it with a perfect shot wide of Marshall. Classy.

And the second was just as good. Carroll collected the ball and everybody expected him to head to the corner to run down the last ninety seconds of the game; everybody except for captain for the day Mark Noble. Quite how Noble found the energy to run the length of the pitch at that stage, his critics might like to explain, but he burst beyond Carroll, took the pass into his stride, looked up, and from the angle, buried the perfect shot into the bottom corner of the net. If that had been Gerrard, the BBC commentator would have had an orgasm on the spot! Brilliant!

Who were the heroes on the day? McCartney played as if his life depended on the result. Noble threw himself in front of countless shots and ran and ran and ran. Adrian was superb. Rat looked like an international defender. Taylor was a revelation, covering as much ground as Noble, playing that superb pass for Cole's goal, and like Noble, chucking himself in front of shot after shot. And Jarvis looked like a Premiership player too!

We are out of the bottom three. There is hope. Carroll got through 20 minutes. Cole looks a decent understudy and has now recorded the second highest number of Premiership appearances for West Ham - an amazing stat!

Here's hoping Allardyce can recruit another two or three players. Relegation may not be inevitable after all!

Player Ratings: Adrian 9; Demel 5, Johnson 6, Tomkins 6, Rat 7; Collison 6, Noble 8, Taylor 8, Jarvis 8, Downing 7; Cole 8 Subs: McCartney 7, Carroll 6, Diarra 6

Is Andy Carroll the next Dean Ashton?

Those of us with long enough memories will read the suggestions of Carroll being rushed back early with a sense of deep trepidation.

Who can forget the lumbering shadow of the player that he once was that Ashton cut when he was rushed back following his ankle break? Look at his scoring record in the history books and it would be difficult to imagine that anything was ever seriously wrong -  19 goals in 43 starts (with another 13 appearances as a sub) is a record that Andy Carroll could probably only ever dream of - but look at another key stat and the truth shines out like a lighthouse on a moonless night. Incredibly, before and after the injury that terminated his career, Ashton only completed a full 90 minutes on 20 occasions for West Ham, after joining - like Carroll - for a then club record transfer fee.

The truth is, the guy was never fit. He arrived wrapped in more bandages than an Egyptian Mummy and a the move was threatened by a scan as part of the medical. Incredibly, he was taken off in his first 16 starts for the club, including in that epic Cup Final when we desperately needed a quality centre forward on the pitch for a penalty shoot out. So why did we buy him? Because we took a desperate gamble that other clubs chose not to take.

But having made that mistake once, it seems truly incredible that we made a carbon copy of the same error when we signed Carroll. Even as the deal was announced, I blogged that I hoped there was a clause cancelling the deal if Carroll's injury was more seriously than the club's doctors were suggesting. The guy was unfit, we knew it, but we still pledged £15m to sign him with no "Faulty goods" clause inserted. Staggering.

And now, as with Ashton, all hope is being pinned on Carroll, who will almost certainly be rushed back into action before he is ready. And we all know what will happen. We all know that 20 minutes into his first game back, Carroll with bend down, feel his heel, shake his head, wave to the bench and limp out of the remainder of the season.

These are dark, dark days for the club. The signing of Johnson is a joke and the prospect of playing a half fit Carroll is simply terrifying. Anybody looking forward to the game at Cardiff today? For me, the whole season feels like a recurring nightmare!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Allardyce Laughs at West Ham Fans' Pain

As if the performance itself wasn't sickening enough, the sight of Allardyce laughing in the post match press conference really twisted the knife in the guts. When pressed on the unhappiness of the fans, Allardyce had the audacity to laugh and tell the journalist that he had just won him 150 quid by leading with that question.

Laugh? How dare he! Mock the fans who vented their understandable anger following a second thrashing in a week? That is beneath contempt.

In fact, the guy seemed to have no concept whatsoever of the pain that the shameful performance had generated. He was smugness personified as he said that West Ham "weren't the first team to be heavily beaten at Manchester City this season" and "wouldn't be the last". Well I will correct him there, because we go to the Etihad on the final day of the season, so I would put my mortgage on us being the last!

What was missing from the post match press conference? Try humility. Then add remorse. Then add empathy. Then add respect. Then add personal culpability. The fat bastard might as well have said on camera, "West Ham fans? I piss on them from a great height."

I have not called for his head until this week but enough is enough. The brash contempt with which he sweeps away all criticism is revolting. I felt betrayed on Sunday and I felt betrayed again yesterday by the players and by the man who is supposed to motivate them and organise them to perform.

I don't care if he is the best man to keep us up, I would rather go down rather than have this brazen, bludgeoning buffoon in charge of the club I love.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

West Ham to offer free seats to all fans until the end of the season

With every West Ham fan in the land weeping in humiliation, joint chairmen and owners David Gold and David Sullivan are rumoured to be planning to offer free seats at Upton Park to everybody wearing a Claret and Blue scarf until the end of the season.

Speaking after the 6-0 reverse at Manchester City,  a source close to Mr Gold explained: "We really can't ask the fans to pay to watch this crap any longer."

"It's bad enough that they have been spending hard earned money watching a team without a forward line, but we felt that £50 per ticket represented reasonable value for as long as we had a defence and six players in midfield; and for as long as those players were playing for the shirt."

"However, following the debacle at Nottingham Forest and the humiliation at Manchester City, we accept that there is no longer a team to speak of. In fact, eleven concrete bollards would have provided more meaningful opposition for the Forest and City boys than the dejected, gutless rabble that Allardyce sent on to the field."

"Quite how we were foolish enough to spend £11m on Jarvis, £6m on Maiga, £5m on Downing and £15m on a crocked Carroll is anybody's guess. We trusted the judgement of our manager and that has proved to be very foolish. But we are stuck with him because we can't afford to sack him and no other manager in his right mind would agree to take on the squad that Sam has built."

"But let's look on the bright side, Princess Brady has been awarded a CBE in the Honours list which tells you something - probably that Cameron supports Spurs!"

"So come along to Upton Park for free and cheer on Princess Brady if nothing else. I'm sure she will do a twirl at half time and may even give the fans a flash of her thigh. And despite the cellulite, even that promises be more exciting than anything our players are likely to do out on the pitch!"

Allardyce Genius Vindicated in Manchester Rain

Half time and it's only 3-0. That proves the genius of Big Sam. He sacrificed the kids to save the big guns for this one, and look at how well we are doing! The decision to pick Adrian again was especially inspired. The guy is clearly bolted to his line and is a rabbit in the headlights of the Unreal City players as they pour into our box. Just what McCarthorse and Johnson's Polish need behind them!

Carlton's on for the second half though and that's going to make all the difference!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sack Allardyce? What an absurd idea!

Woe to those calling for Allardyce's head! It's not his fault. What else could he do? His squad is decimated. Other teams make changes for the Cup. We play Man City on Wednesday. They have had an extra day's rest. The priority is the Prem. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So, far from sack him, Sullivan and Gold had better thrash out a contract extension, doubling the tactical guru's wages! This is the man who invented 4-6-0 and who wound the clock back to the 1990s this week with the reintroduction of wing backs and three centre-halves. So much for the No Plan B Allardyce, not only does he have a Plan B, he has a Plan C too. It's just the absence of a Plan A that's the problem!

But all he needs is time and a little luck. Carroll will be back one day. Downing will start firing eventually. Jarvis will skin a full back and put a cross onto the head of a West Ham player one day. Nolan will last ninety minutes and score according to all Sam's Law of Averages. Winston will be back. Maiga will find his Premiership feet sooner or later.

And we will sign some players in January, because let's face it, signing up for a relegation battle in January is so much more enticing than linking up with a team looking to build on tenth place in the summer!

So what that we lost 5-0 to a Championship side today? What's the issue? It was only the FA Cup. You know, the only major domestic trophy that the club has ever won! But who cares about that? Allardyce pisses on our heritage. The past is the past, it counts for nothing. Moore, Hurst, Peters, Brooking, Bonds - forget them, their achievements were pointless.

And the Academy! Well we all saw the worth of the Academy today didn't we? Kids? You win nothing with kids! That's why Allardyce never picks them and then pitches them all in together. Who cares that they will be psychologically damaged by the experience? Allardyce will never use them anyway so a sports psychologist at another club can try to pick up the pieces.

And Jarvis and Downing? They weren't inept today, they were just being careful not to pick up injuries. That's why Allardyce used them as non tackling, not tracking back, non running wing backs  and shared the armband between them. They were setting the example to the kids. Don't worry lads, the game doesn't matter, the competition doesn't matter, the fans who travelled up from London to cheer us on don't matter, the reputation of the club doesn't matter, the fact that West Ham fans will be subjected to incessant mockery when they go into work on Monday doesn't matter, the memories of 64, 75 and 80 don't matter. Nothing matters guys, because we have excuses for everything.

And don't dare to blame Allardyce for his inspired ALL-THE-EGGS-IN-ONE-BASKET signing of a crocked Carroll. How was he to know that a player injured when signed might not regain fitness before half the season had elapsed? And as for the capture of Downing, well with nine midfielders on the books, it was obvious that the Liverpool reject was exactly what the squad needed!

So let's get real guys, we shouldn't sack Allardyce, we should build a bloody statue to the guy - if we can find a big enough block of granite to fashion his head out of! Stay calm everybody. In Allardyce we trust. And for God sake cheer the team on because it is down to the fans to motivate the players, not the bloody manager!

Enough is enough, sack Allardyce NOW!

No pressure game? Cobblers. this must be the last straw that breaks the camel's back surely. Today was utterly and completely disgraceful and shameful. Never mind playing kids, the team played without pride, without spirit, without organisation and without shape. And who is to blame for that exactly?

Sullivan and Gold now have to act. If Allardyce can't motivate the likes of Jarvis and Downing to put in a shift - and neither broke sweat all afternoon despite sharing the armband - then what function does he serve?

Look at Downing. He was substituted and promptly headed down the tunnel. He was supposed to be the captain for the day, and he couldn't even be bothered to hang around to give moral support to the kids sent out to the slaughter by Allardyce. And quite how the youngsters recover from this, God only knows.

Mind you, Nolan wasn't playing because Nolan is out of control at West Ham, as two red cards in a month show. He knows he is untouchable under Allardyce, no matter how badly he plays, so why does he need to worry? And when others see that, how do they feel?

The club is now in total disarray. The owners know that you sack Allardyce at your peril, but how the hell can they continue to support him after this humiliation? It's on a par with that 6-0 League Cup semi-final hammering by Oldham for me - and we played three centre backs that day too, with the hopeless Gary Strodder drafted into the team. Mind you, even Strodder would walk into the current West Ham team.

Maiga, Downing, Jarvis - all disgraceful, and Morrison wasn't much better. We play Manchester City on Wednesday and it could end up a cricket score. No more excuses. No more whining about injuries. Downing, Maiga and Jarvis were all bought by Allardyce at a combined cost of over £20m and they couldn't be arsed today - they coasted.

Sacking Allardyce is now the only answer.

HT Nottingham Forest 1 West Ham 0 - We're shite and we know we are!

So the first eleven are crap, the squad players are crap, and the kids are crap too it seems based on that first 45 minutes.  If this is anything like the team we will field in the Championship next season, then we will fall straight through the division!

Mind you, the kids aren't the worst players on the pitch! Look at Jarvis yet again! Time and again he has been one on one with the full back, and time and again he has failed to beat his man and get in a cross. The guy is summed up by that moment when he tackled himself, "firing" a cross against his "standing leg" and knocking the ball behind for a goal kick. Hopeless!

But then Downing has been no better. Captain's armband? The guy is walking around the pitch and is not tracking runners. Poor Potts and Driver must feel like five year olds abandoned on Spaghetti Junction whilst their Dad pisses off for a pint.

The tactics, of course, are hopelessly wrong too. Nobody knows what he is meant to be doing and so nobody is doing it.

Moncur? Not a chip off the old block sadly. Lleitget? Football light I'm afraid. Maiga? Needs ten minutes to think what foot to put in front of the other. Whitehead? Squeeze the puss. Adrian? An accident waiting to happen. Diarra? Slow.

Second half starting and it's no change!

If Redknapp is the answer, it's a bloody silly question!

Well 'Arry's 100% record in 2014 was exploded with a vengeance at Goodison. After the narrow and late, late victory over little Donny, hope surged through the veins of the gRRRRs, but with England's 666, Robert Green, rested, 'Arry's boys folded like an England cricket team in Australia. The gulf in class was huge: bloody hell, Jelavic scoring twice in a game is akin to club cricketer Smith scoring centuries in back to back tests against Anderson and co.

And this was an Everton team without a number of its star turns. 'Arry admitted Rangers were "well beaten today" and confessed "We struggled to live with them at times". Well, should QPR manage to negotiate their way back to the Prem, that doesn't bode too well does it?

What yesterday illustrated is that little or no progress has been made over the last 13 months since Redknapp took charge. Unassisted by McClaren, 'Arry's win percentage in 2013 was a disgraceful 23%, and when you consider the money he has spent, the wages that are being paid, and the ludicrous disparity between QPR's squad costs and the salary bills for the rest of the teams in the Championship, that is truly pathetic.

Of course 'Arry inherited a mess, but look at the players on duty yesterday and this was his team: Simpson, Arsehole-Ekotto, O'Neil, Phillips, Austin, Henry, Yossi and Kranjcar are all Redknapp mercenaries, and Barton was brought back from his French exile too.  Rarely has a manager been given such backing over a 13 month period.

The whole of football is watching, wondering how the Financial Fair Play Rules can be ignored with such impunity, and Fernandes must be wondering why his money has been "invested" in such crap. It was "only a Cup game" yesterday but it was also the QPR fiasco in a nutshell. 'Arry still has a 50% win percentage for 2014, but the team his side struggled to beat on New Year's Day shipped three goals at home to Stevenage yesterday - and lost. And I doubt that the combined wages of Stevenage's squad amounts to the wages of QPR's reserve keeper.

What a farce! And what's even more farcical is that 'Arry is being linked with a return to West Ham!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sack Nolan first, then show Allardyce the door!

What a pile of crap! Look at the starting eleven today and it was embarrassing. Never mind the injuries, the squad Allardyce has put together is simply pathetic, and the reason, of course, is the ludicrous purchase of the injured Carroll and the superfluous Downing.

Any team featuring Demel, McCarthorse, O'Brien, a semi fit Diarra, Taylor, Collison and Maiga in the starting line up is going to struggle. Where was the creativity? Where was the flair? Where was the goal scoring potential? There was none, of course. OK, we took the lead with the most route one goal in the history of route one, but we were never going to keep hold of it and we were never going to score a second - even with eleven men on the pitch.

The Nolan sending off was a disgrace. He was no doubt pissed off that he mistimed the last red and so had to put in a shift over the Christmas break; so he bought himself a holiday in early January instead. Captain? No captain stabs his own team through the heart and he should be relieved of the armband forthwith. In fact, I will script Allardyce's press conference for him:

"Nolan is a total James Hunt and is no longer the club captain. And I am now going to do the honourable thing myself and resign. I have fcuked up royally and have to accept responsibility instead of blaming player errors, missed chances, poor refereeing decisions and injuries. I built this squad and it is shit. End of. I apologise to the club's fans and wish them better luck with the next manager. I hear Neil Warnock is looking for a way back into football."

Relegation isn't just a possibility now, it is a probability. This squad is as bad as Grant's and is heading for the Premiership trap door. Can any manager save us? I honestly doubt it because the injuries, the red cards and the sense of resignation in the air have doomed written all over them.

And the game itself? Well it was dire. Fulham are shit which makes the defeat all the harder to take. In fact, it was all summed up by the winner, with Parker miscueing a shot straight to an unmarked Berbatov who simply tapped into an empty net. A Scotty Parker assist! That says it all!

Would the last man to leave Upton Park please switch off the lights?

Player ratings: Jussi 6, Demel 4, McCartney 4, Diarra 4, O'Brien 4, Noble 4, Collison 3, Diame 5, Taylor 5, Nolan 0, Maiga 4 Subs: Rat 4, Downing 3, Carlton Cole 3