Wednesday, 30 September 2009

West Ham's Greatest Ever Players, Numbers 4 & 5


Numbers 4 & 5 were not difficult to identify but placing them in order was not so easy. Brooking was a great servant of West Ham and is the first "one club man" in the list, but Peters was, in my opinion the better player, and, of course, a World Cup winner into the bargain. In the end, I have come down in favour of Brooking because Peters' best performances were probably for Tottenham and England.

4. Trevor Brooking

I don't like the guy. I have met him twice and on both occasions he has been aloof. The first time I was only 12 or 13 and was in seventh heaven to find myself on a railway platform with the West Ham team. Hurst, Moore, Pop Robson and co were all brilliant, signing autographs with a smile; Brooking ignored me. The second time was at Luton when Brooking was commentating for Capital Radio and I found myself sat behind him and in the hospitality lounge with him at half time. My attempt to engage in a brief conversation about his West Ham days was met with a complete blanking.

That said, there is no denying that he was one hell of a player in a West Ham shirt. Brooking had an incredible gift for ghosting past players, leaving them for dead with a simple shift of his body. He didn't dribble, he didn't drag the ball, he didn't shimmy, in fact he didn't seem to do anything, he just strolled off and the ball went with him as if tied to him by invisible string, leaving an opponent utterly bemused in his wake. His range of passing was superb and, as he proved against Hungary when the ball stuck behind the stanchion, he had a hell of a shot on him when he let fly. He collected 47 caps and scored 5 goals but, to my mind, was never really truly comfortable with himself in an England shirt. Most of the time he looked constrained and slightly nervous, almost as if doubting his right to be in the team. In a West ham shirt, however, he oozed class and confidence. 639 starts (and eight as a sub) brought an excellent return of 102 goals - what would we give now for a midfielder with a return of a goal per every six and a bit games? In fact what would we give for a forward to play alongside Cole with that rate of return! Brooking won two FA Cup winners medals in the Claret and Blue and, of course, famously scored the winner in the final against Arsenal. Some might argue Brooking's right to be ranked only behind Moore but I disagree. Mind you, had he signed his autograph when I asked aged 13, I might now be seeing things differently!

Martin Peters

Peters was pure class. Alf Ramsey said he was 10 years ahead of his time and rated him world class. His ability to ghost into the box and get in a header at the near post was legendary. Unfortunately, Peters left us for the old enemy in 1970 so I only saw him playing live for West Ham in a handful of games and in TV highlights on Match of the Day and The Big Match (no live games back then except for the Cup Final!). So why is he in at number 5? Well, I saw him, and he played his part in that World Cup win so I think he deserves this lofty position. Then there is the little matter of his goals per games played record when in Claret and Blue. Brooking's record looks good but just take a ganda at Martin Peters' return - 100 goals exactly in 364 games! Different times I accept but that is one hell of a record for a midfield player. He missed the Cup Final in 64 but was in the team that turned over Munich 1860 in the 65 Cup Winners Cup Final.

West Ham's Greatest Ever Players Numbers 1-3


Ok, I can only base this on those I have seen since 1969, but I thought it might be interesting to give a view on who have been our best players over the last 40 years in rank order. This, of course, will be highly personal and subjective but it gives you guys the opportunity to challenge my opinion and put forward counter arguments. What are the criteria? Obviously quality of performance and games played must be a factor, but many will make a case for Tevez to be "in the top 10" despite a limited contribution, both in terms of games played and overall effectiveness. We won nothing with Tevez in the team and a case could be made to suggest that his arrival undermined team morale and led to all our problems in the first place whilst what has followed has, of course, been a disaster. But to many, like Di Canio, he is a West Ham god.

How can you compare a striker with a keeper many will argue. Well we all feel comfortable rating every player out of ten on a game by game basis so any comparison is against a measure of perfection for a player in that position. As an example, if Moore is the best defender ever but Parkes is only the 20th best keeper ever, then Moore must figure above Parkes in the list. Make sense?

The idea is to work through the list, ranking over the next 18 months every player who has worn the Claret and Blue since 1969. This will test my memory in some cases because certain players have filtered their way out of my braincells. To qualify, a player has to have represented the first team so, I think, that stops Joey Beauchamp figuring at the bottom of the pile doesn't it?

What's the point? A bit of fun and, maybe, it will help younger fans to get a handle on players who they may have heard of but never seen. Yes the game has changed so comparisons are a bit unfair but what the hell - if you disagree, argue the toss!

The top 5 or so are unlikely to be too controversial, although there may be some dispute over the order of greatness.

1. Bobby Moore

Surely not much explanation needed here! Moore played in a total of 646 games for the Hammers (one as a sub), scoring 27 goals, and set a record of 108 caps for England in the days before mass rotation of substitutes and a multitude of meaningless friendlies and qualifiers against the likes of The Former Republic of Burton Upon Trent. Anybody who saw that seminal battle of Moore and Banks against Brazil in the 1970 World Cup will be able to testify to the sheer genius that was Bobby Moore. A defender who supposedly never tackled, a defender who was supposedly short of pace and a defender who couldn't apparently head for toffee, Moore was, nevertheless, one of the greatest the game has ever seen. Pele, Maradonna, Cruyff, Beckenbaur, Mooore, Zidane, Banks - he really does merit a place in such exalted company.

Why was he so good? Because he read the game better than anybody. A great striker knows instinctively where the ball will drop in the box and Moore was the defensive equivalent, able to second guess a pass and pick up the pieces before it ever got to the intended recipient; but it was his passing that really set him apart. Hoddle, Gascoigne, Waddle, Brooking, Currie...they could all deliver fantastic passes over half the length of the pitch but, believe me, none were better than Bobby. Who can forget the way he would release Hurst as he burst into the box or hit a ball into the stride of Brooking? Add to that his inspirational qualities as a captain alied to his humility and he really was both a great player and a great man.

I met Bobby and will never forget his immense charm and decency. I wept as an 11 year old when he was arrested in Bogotta, fearing he would never play again, and our 75 triumph in the FA Cup lost some of its sheen for me because the great Bobby Moore was on the losing team. I was at Upton Park to see him stop a game against Wolves by blowing the whistle after he had knocked the referee out with a header and was in the crowd paying my respect for his memorial game, also against Wolves. He will never ever be topped in my opinion because he is the ultimate West Ham legend, the man who captained England to victory in the World Cup.

2 Geoff Hurst

The clue to why Hurst is my number 2 lies in the last sentence of the Moore piece. Yes many will argue the case for Brooking or Bonds or even Di Canio, but, at the end of the day, it was Hurst who scored that immortal hat trick against West Germany. He did what nobody else has done, scored three goals in a World Cup Final, and he did it as a West Ham player. I have seen many dark days over the years but, to all our detractors and gloating Cockyfool fans, I have always been able to reply, "But West Ham won the World Cup for England". Hurst's three goal have been gold dust for me over the years!

How good was he in truth? Well 24 goals in 49 England games show that he was not a one game wonder but also point to the fact that his England career was not as long as some might imagine. His 249 club goals in 501 starts (he also came on once as a sub) point to a class striker operating at a goal every two games throughout his career, despite starting life as a wing back. Hurst was strong in the air, solid in the challenge, hungry in front of goal - and he couldn't half leather a ball when he saw the whites of a keeper's eyes. And Banks apart, keepers dived out of the way of his penalties for fear of breaking a wrist! Banks, however, did get in the way of one in the semifinal of the League Cup and, as a result, we missed out on the final. Even the gods are flawed I discovered to my horror!

Not as talented as Shearer, Hurst was, nevertheless a damn effective striker and merits his place in second place in the list of Claret and Blue immortals.

3 Billy Bonds

Just to prove my inconsistency, my third greatest Hammer is an Englishman who was never once capped by England. For me, this was a huge injustice. Bonds may have lacked a little in class but he more than made up for that in heart, stamina, power and influence. Had he been selected for England, Billy would have more than held his own for as long as the referee allowed the rampaging pirate to stay on the pitch! Billy started 791 games for West Ham (with another 13 as a sub) and scored 61 goals. No other player will ever top that appearance record!

Playing at right back, in midfield or at centre half, Bonds was always in the thick of the action. With socks rolled down, he dared opponents to bruise his shins, but few were mad enough to take him up on the invitation. I was at Southampton to see Galbraith grab Billy by the bollocks and I will never forget the chase that ensued, with the Scot running for dear life as an enraged Bonds gave chase, with the rest of the West Ham team running after him like the keystone kops! Bonds, Paddon and Brooking were my favourite ever West Ham midfield, two piratical captains and a gentleman officer in glorious league together. Brooking had more class and caps, Peters was a World Cup winner, but Bonds, despite starting at Charlton, was West Ham through and through. He is my Immortal Number Three!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Red Hot Cole


In amongst all the gloom, one bright coal burns bright - for one average game apart, Carlton is on fire. Six Premiership games have yielded three premiership goals - and but for an absurd whistle for half time, he would now have four. And that whilst playing for a struggling team that offers him pathetically little support.

Carlton's goals so far this season reveal how far he has progressed. There was the blinder against Tottenham, the header against Liverpool and the brilliantly improvised deflection in last night's game. The assist for Parker's disallowed goal was also superb. Not only did Cole win the ball fair and square, his pull back (and the awareness it demonstrated) was sublime. Parker received the pass gift wrapped and even he couldn't miss after Cole had served it up so deliciously on a plate.

All night Cole battled for the cause, receiving the ball with his back to goal and two or three City defenders up his arse. His instant control and tenacity were a joy to behold - but where was the support? Time and again it was three against one in favour of the defenders so Cole was forced to look back or run forward on his own. Strong, brave, determined, skilful, I thought Carlton was superb last night and he deserved far better support from his teammates. I'm beginning to wonder how long we can keep him though. In a World Cup year, would you want to take a battering every game with nobody on your side available to back you up? Cole is now the real deal and, to be frank, is looking too good for the side he is being asked to carry.

Monday, 28 September 2009

You Bloody Fool Zola!


So Zola has criticised the team for their first half performance; what a bloody nerve! He sent out the wrong team with the wrong tactics so how dare he criticise the players he exposed to potential humiliation? I've said everything I need to say about the tactics in my match report (see below) but I am furious that Zola is knocking the team rather than putting up his hands and admitting he got it wrong tactically - again!

I want to interview the guy and ask him how he expected us to cope with the threat of Petrov, Bellamy and Wright-Phillips down the flanks with no width in our midfield to offer cover for our full backs. And with De Jong and Barry shielding the centre backs, why were we trying to play through the middle of City's defence?

Don't blame the players, look in the mirror Zola. Who bought Kovac and sold Collins? Who failed to sign a specialist right back? Who has signed unproven Premiership players as supposed replacements for Bellamy? Oh sorry, that's Nani and Duxbury!

Green had a pop last week, Zola is having a go this week - the cracks and stress fractures are showing. And meanwhile Clarke is very quiet. No doubt he is thinking, what the f...?

Man City v West Ham. Men Against Boys


We can criticise some of the performances tonight but that would be missing the point. Just look at the two substitute benches and it tells you everything you need to know. Tomkins and Da Costa as a centre back pairing? Twelve Premiership starts between them! Now we see the total folly of selling Collins. Unlucky because Upson and Gabbidon were injured? Not really when you take into account their respective track records with injuries. The uncomfortable truth is that we have been lucky with Upson over the last two and a bit seasons - he is overdue an extended lay off.

The worst thing about tonight was the tactics. With Unreal City playing Petrov and Wright-Phillips wide and reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, what in God's name was Zola up to fielding his 4-3-3 formation with no natural protection for the full backs? Yes Faubert was badly at fault for the first goal but where was the poor sod's protection? How many times was Petrov given the ball and invited to run at Faubert with no protection whatsoever for Le Sulk? Diamanti was again, nominally detailed to play on the right but he isn't going to tackle back is he? And even if he tries, he is tackling on his wrong foot. For those of us who remember Petrov humiliating Neill, the formation was bloody absurd. Before kick off I said to my son, Petrov will murder Faubert and so it proved. That's not the Frenchman's fault, it was Zola's. The tactics were as flawed as Haig's in the Great War!

Poor Tomkins and Da Costa! Apart from the first goal, I thought both aquitted themselves reasonably well in the circumstances but what chance did they stand? Yes Tomkins was slow to cover across when Petrov broke free for the first goal and yes Da Costa should have got goal side of Tevez, but that was five minutes into their first game together. It reminded me of the contest between the Christians and the lions! Basically, it was a no contest from the off and Tomkins, in particular, came out of the game with some credit for his bravery and commitment. But how much psychological damage is the kid suffering at the moment? Three consecutive three goal reverses must be affecting the lad's confidence. Ilunga, meanwhile was fantastic, largely keeping Wright-Phillips quiet and doing his best to cover the entire back four.

In midfield, we were over-run. On half a dozen occasions I was screaming, look, look, six, seven or eight West Ham players that you could cover with a blanket when we were in possession. There was no width whatsoever and De Jong and Barry simply picked our pockets as we tried to thread passes through the eye of a needle. City, meanwhile, took the ball and hit it to the flanks - blindingly simple because of Zola's ridiculous tactics and team selection.

Why have we wasted money on Kovac exactly? Surely we should have retained Collins rather than sign him? Jimenez? He conceded a stupid freekick for the second goal and was peripheral throughout. No wonder the Special One let him go! £8m? He isn't worth £3m from what I've seen so far. And Diamanti? He can hit a free kick and that shot was stunning but can we afford such a luxury player? And Noble and Parker? They battled hard but did they make a killer pass all game?

The other star, apart from Ilunga, was Cole. His goal was Zolaesque and he was robbed of an assist by an appalling decision. Time and again, he received nightmare passes but made the ball stick and time and again he found himself with no options. All the passes go straight down the middle, what Cole needs is somebody getting down the flanks and putting in crosses. But how is that going to happen with no natural width and players played on the wrong flank anyway? Again, Zola's tactics are questionable.

Was Green at fault for the second goal? Royle thought so, though I think that is a little harsh. But why was there such a big gap in the wall? That is Green's job.

It is now official, we have less points after six games than in the Great Escape season. This is getting very very very worrying indeed. We have lost our defensive solidity and we are no more effective going forward. The team isn't gelling and heads will go down if this continues. What is most worrying, is the lack of alternatives. Tell me, what happens if Cole is injured? Franco anybody? Has he taken a flight back to Mexico without anybody telling us?

Player ratings: Green 6, Faubert 6, Ilunga 8, Tomkins 6, Da Costa 6, Parker 6, Noble 6, Kovac 5, Jimenez 5, Diamanti 5, Cole 9 Zola 0

Releasing Stories Through Unnamed Sources

This was, of course, a favourite trick of Alistair Campbell's, secretly releasing leaks that made Tony the Messiah look even more divine and Gordon the Ogre even more diabolical. Well, I have long maintained that Scotty Duxbury is a devotee of the black arts of Campbell and the New Labour spin machine so it comes as no surprise to read the "rumours" that Scotty and his Nani financed the Franco deal out of their own pockets. You will note that these are rumours and that the sources have not been revealed. Nor have Duxbury or Nani either endorsed or refuted the story. Well it makes them look good doesn't it, so what harm is there in letting us all think it may be true? I wonder who started the rumour in the first place? Hmmmm, tricky one that!

Here's a thought though, who pays Nani's and Duxbury's inflated salaries exactly? And what is the point of paying Nani if we don't have the money to buy any of the players he recommends?

Sometimes It Is Best To Head Off Sanctions!


What follows was posted on this blog after the Millwall “game”. I include the comments left on the article. Tell me, with the F.A. now charging the club and us already out of the Cup, who was right? I’m not seeking to be smug here, merely pointing out that sometimes you gain more by taking the “long view” rather than the “short view”. Had we resigned from the Cup and issued a heart felt apology, I suspect this matter would have been put to bed. As it is, God knows what will now happen!

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It wasn't the club, it was the fans; it's not a football issue, it's a problem in society; what about the policing?; the main violence was outside the ground; the Millwall fans were to blame.

All of these points will be made, all of these excuses will be given, but at the end of the day, none of it washes. The scenes IN and AROUND Upton Park last night were truly disgraceful and action has to be taken or there is a real danger that "fans" of other clubs will watch the news footage and fancy a bit of it themselves. How many idiots around the country will watch "Green Street" and other films glorifying football violence and think, "We should have a 'firm'!"? What if it kicks off at the Emirates tonight with Celtic fans deciding to exit the Champions League in a trail of destruction?

The hard truth is that this was inevitable: inevitable because it was Millwall but more importantly because, for too long, the club have tolerated the intolerable. I have used this blog to condemn the hissing employed (in games against Tottenham) to simulate the sound of the gas chambers; and I invited the usual threats of violence from the thugs when I spoke against against the abuse of Lampard and Terry. But what action has the club taken exactly? It is now so easy to identify the culprits with numbered seats and CCTV. Why are the guys who participate in this abhorrent behaviour allowed to return to the ground? We hear mantras like "Kick Racism Out Of Football" yet we allow a section of our fan base to "joke about" the extermination of nearly six million people based on their race and religion. If you accept the unacceptable, something awful will happen sooner or later. Last night has been coming.

The club should now take the moral high ground and hurt the idiots where it hurts most. We should resign our position in the Carling Cup and ask that Millwall be allowed to take our place. Like that, we will distance ourselves absolutely from the disgraceful behaviour that otherwise will be associated with the club. Every effort should then be made to identify the idiots responsible last night and to ban them for life. And we should not stop there. The hissing should be stopped. The abuse of individuals should be stopped.

We must clean up our act and bowing out of the Cup, unfortunately, would be the right first step. It is time for action, not words.

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Comments Left:

Anonymous said...
So we should punish the majority of good West Ham fans and the team (all of whom are completely innocent) because of a mindless moronic few(most of whom are not even real football fans), and then reward the Millwall thugs (again the minority, most Millwall fans I know are great people) by putting them in the next round at our expense?

You really are an attention seeking idiot.
26 AUGUST 2009 11:37

Anonymous said...
I'm sorry but there seems to be a massive over reaction to what happened inside the ground as far as I can see(I'm not talking about outside). Don't get me wrong, I do not in any way condone violence and I wasn't at the game but from video evidence the majority of fans were on the pitch celebrating with only a few getting involved in violence at the Milwall end, these are the fans that should be banned.

Make no mistake, there were only a very few, the rest were celebrating and perhaps goading but you can't go banning for life those celebrating on the pitch, o.k. they shouldn't invade the pitch and it shouldn't have happened and these people should be banned for the season and not for life for just running on the pitch, that would be ridiculous.

If you heard Thompson on Sky you would have thought that world war 1 had broken out, the guy is an idiot and should have reported the reality and not what he 'believed' to be going on inside the ground so please, can we have a little bit of thought about it all before you start to declare the ICF are back and West Ham are mindless thugs because it only plays in to the hands of the gutter press.
26 AUGUST 2009 11:44

Hammersfan said...
You clearly have not heard of the phrase, "the Moral High Ground" 1137.

1144 The only reason there wasn't a pitched battle on the field of play is because the Millwall fans INSIDE the ground behaved themselves. Had they spilled onto the pitch, God knows what would have happened. It wasn't only "running on the pitch" - it was goading Millwall players and fans trying to provoke a ruck.
26 AUGUST 2009 11:58

Duxbury's eyebrows said...
Fair point, but it takes two to tango as Millwall have their fair share of mindless idiots as well you know. As to who stated it? Doesn't matter anymore as it's like my two kids when they start arguing, bickering and fighting, they both become as bad as each other. The club can only control what happens inside the ground and not what happens down Green Street, that is as I have said in another post, down to the police to control as that is what the club pay the Met six figure sums for. So maybe the police should have been a it more clued up. As for that stupid Green Street film, that was as plastic as Micheal Jackson and all of the people that I know who have seen it, just like I found it laughable, I doubt that the film was a factor. I think a fine for both clubs and a life time ban for all the idiots involved and even prison sentences for some would suffice as I think that last night was a one off. The lesson to be learnt from all of this is not to rest on our laurels. But it's funny how so much anger and hatred is manifested whenever we have a shit government in charge, so much anger and frustration that vents itself at the slightest thing. Bring back Acid House!!!
26 AUGUST 2009 12:11

col said...
Goading is one thing and it doesn't mean trying to start a ruck, I saw a West Ham fan goading a Milwall player, running passed the said player at the time, he could quite easily have started a ruck but he didn't so please shut up and stop over reacting like most toe rag journos are, goading is part of football, always has been and always will be so don't try to tell me just because we were goading we were actually starting a ruck. Pathetic.
26 AUGUST 2009 12:15

Anonymous said...
Again, i find myself reading this pointless post... Not sure why, and i will turn off Blogs again in Newsnow... but i can't not comment on this.

Like one guy said - the ctions inside the ground weren't as bad as people are making out. the pitch invasion isn't exactly the wortst crime in the world - there's bound to be rivalries in ths tie like this and whether its the police's fault for not having enough men to cope, or west ham's - to chuck west ham out of the comp is ridiculous!! millwall were beaten by and evetual better team - thats all that matters!! anything that happens off the pitch, (i know the irony there) should stay in the hands (and feet) of the players!!

most, if not 90% of the trouble happened outside of the ground, where i assume it is up to the met police to deal with. The majority of both sides fans, behaved well. the banter (albeit, maybe a little to far) insdie the ground was always going to happen. you won't ever stop that unless you ban away supporters.

the police should have had more men on the ground, and in the tube station to handle the violent fans.

is it an excuse - sure, but it would be wrong to chuck west ham out of teh comp, just because of a small minority of thugs.
26 AUGUST 2009 12:17

Anonymous said...
Please go away you petty little prat.
26 AUGUST 2009 12:52

Anonymous said...
Just to balance things up, I was there last night and aggravation errupted from the monkey chanting at Carlton Cole and the sick songs being directed at Jack Collison and Calum Davenport. No excuse for the behaviour of the few idiots who got on the pitch but not right to call for resigning the cup place. You're wrong there, and must not have been at the game.
26 AUGUST 2009 13:16

Anonymous said...
I was there and whilst the behaviour was poor there were so many teenagers and young men there that I have never seen before, all of them moving through the rows to get a shout in at the away fans across the large expanse to divide fans.

I don’t understand why so many strangers got tickets when the club said only previous purchase history would be allowed, I can only think they have been rather na├»ve in ticketing.

Certainly there are those that fought the police that should get prosecuted. And those that threw things down at the police (cups fag packets etc.... should also get prosecuted, but don't believe for a moment the away fans are innocent, they were vile.

Re hissing are you sure you are not confusing shh it’s like a library in here, as is a common song when facing Tottenham because they are so quiet....it was the same last night once West ham went ahead.

Certainly the police pushing the camera in peoples faces to take pictures, and I do mean exactly that: it was almost a macro photography and then progressing to photograph every one in the stand, whether they were involved or peacefully watching the game from their seat is hardly helping matters.

I guess the club and fans will be hit hard by knee jerk reactions that the English are now famous for as they become judge and jury based upon media articles.
26 AUGUST 2009 13:30

Anonymous said...
The Millwall fans inside the ground behaved themselves????

Did you hear what they were singing from the very begining about Davenport and Jack's dad????

They were in there to purely provoke, not too mention the reason that side of the West Ham tryed to get over to them is because the Millwall fans were throwing there broken seats at them!!!!

I do not agree with the violence one bit, but DO NOT for one second say they behaved themselves!

They done exactly what you do, wound people up to get a reaction so it looks like they are the inocent party!

Moral high ground my arse the players won that game the deserve to get through to the next round especially after most of them played Sunday.

Do yourself and the everyone else a favour, don't pay your internet bill for 6 months get cut off, and then come back when you have some sense!
26 AUGUST 2009 14:16

Fonzie's Bald Patch said...
Hardly fair on the players who managed to turn a shit performance into something worth celebrating by the majority of fans who were there.

What would you like to say to them, sorry you lost at the weekend to one of your rivals, sorry one of your team mates got stabbed, sorry Jack you had to endure songs about your Dad from scum, sorry Carlton you were racially abused but because a few spoilt it for us we're just going to write off everything you have done and give up this chance.

What does that say to the people who were there and behaved themselves - you don't count.
It's simple ban those who need to be banned and publically condemn it.

The question should be asked why 850 police officers marshaled the lunch time Tottenham game and only 350 were there for last night?

I also agree with other statements about the media - the violence outside the ground was disgusting but what actually happened was a pitch invasion in celebration which has been picked up and magnified, yes there was some jeering by idiots but the whole thing itself wasn't as bad as made out.
The problem is we live in society fuelled by Maxwell's sensationalist media empire and this blog is an exact mirror of that the only thing I agree with in this whole article is the hissing part and to the poster who commented this:

'Re hissing are you sure you are not confusing shh it’s like a library in here, as is a common song when facing Tottenham because they are so quiet...'

You are joking right?
It's a vile addition to a classless song and if you need figure the connection and believe what you have typed then I'd love to live in your world.
26 AUGUST 2009 14:49

el martillo said...
Definitely not. It would just be an empty gesture in view of the fact that everything is in place to deal with the problem properly. Why punish the players and the decent fans for the behaviour of a minority?

It is quite possible to track the movements and behaviour of virtually everyone in the ground. A sliding scale of offences could be established and culprits punished and in some cases banned for life. Those who are not ST holders or club members of one sort or another will almost certainly be on a database somewhere and each ticket carries an identity.

Why haven't they done it before? The same reason they will only make examples of a few this time....you don't upset the paying customer.

I suspect the club is well aware of the hissing, racial abuse and threats of violence in the crowd but have decided that tackling the problem doesn't make a very good business case. Just keep a lid on it and make a few gestures. Don't upset people, especially if your taking money off them......... And then it all blows up in your face.
26 AUGUST 2009 14:57

Hammersfan said...
I meant in terms of not coming onto the pitch. I am not condoning the actions of the Millwall fans but Mark Bright, when commentating, said that the Millwall fans should be "congratulated" for not coming on the pitch and said their behaviour was to be "praised" in the "circumstances". I have seen West Ham stewards struggling to hold back West Ham fans and have seen West Ham fans, not Millwall fans, goading opposition players and ignoring the pleas of their own heroes to get off the pitch. Had Millwall fans spilled onto the pitch, the game would have been abandoned. Given that would have suited them once they were behind, I think they showed commendable restraint INSIDE the ground. That is not to say that they were blameless. I am afraid West Ham fans have no right to object to obscene chanting given the stuff dished out to Defoe, Ince, Lampard and Terry. Pots and kettles comes to mind!
26 AUGUST 2009 14:59

Fonzie's Bald Patch said...
"I think they showed commendable restraint INSIDE the ground."

That's why Sky Sports News is showing the shamed up seats in the away section then and actually (finally) concede it's not all West Ham?

Either way this comes down to knee jerk over reaction.
The police should have dealt with the violence outside that was clearly as much both sets of 'fans', they should consider the actions of the pitch invaders and punish accordingly.
26 AUGUST 2009 15:34

Anonymous said...
you idiot, of course west ham fans have a right to object to obscene chanting. I object to it. I have a right to. Just because some other idiots have slagged off terry's mum or whoever, doesn't negate my right to be offended when millwall were blatantly racist and deeply offensive to collison.
fans who stoop to that level have no right to complain but for those who don't you have to voice your disgust or they will just get away with it
26 AUGUST 2009 15:43

Hammersfan said...
Then you agree that the foul abuse should not be tolerated? I agree with you. Identify and ban those who targeted Lampard, Terry and Defoe; and all those who hissed against Tottenham. That would be progress. But as Marty says, that would cost the club money.
26 AUGUST 2009 15:48

Anonymous said...
so you agree that West Ham fans do have the right to object to obscene chanting?
26 AUGUST 2009 16:04

Hammersfan said...
Of course they do, but not by running on to the pitch and trying to attack the perpetrators. On that basis, Lampard and Terry would have the right to go into the crowd and thump their tormentors.
26 AUGUST 2009 16:10

Anonymous said...
You don't think that the only reason perhaps that Milwall fans didn't invade the pitch was because there was only 3000 of them. So they were more easily contained by the Hi-Vis brigade. Versus, what, 25000 Hammers? They're not that stupid. They could see it would have been a bad move as they would perceive themselves as vastly outnumbered inside the stadium.
Giving up our place to Milwall is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Not only does it imply our total culpability but would only cause more resentment amongst that kind of "fan" towards Milwall, and then potentially more trouble.
We need to understand that provocation is accepted as a reason for certain, but not all, things. Legally, provocation is considered when judging crimes, but only considered. The media will go with the line that gets them the biggest reaction and allows them the greatest impact (rather like this blog). They aren't going to show Milwall fans chanting racist and wholely offensive muck, they'll simply show the 1000's of Hammers getting wound up by it. There needs to be a massive distinction made between what happened inside the stadium and outside. One was a big deal, one wasn't.
27 AUGUST 2009 09:56

Justin said...
Of the people around me less than 5% were wearing colours, bunch of daygos who don't care if they get banned. Vast majority of them under 25 if not under 21. Not reflective of the usual crowd that I sit with.

Anyway:

Although there were outbreaks of violence both before and after the game - something attributed to ticket less supporters - very few incidents occurred inside the ground itself. Only ten arrests were made in total.

The pitch invasions that have received widespread media coverage today illustrate no fighting whatsoever - just jubilant home fans celebrating Junior Stanislas' equalising goal and subsequent penalty.

I am fed up of knee jerk inflammatory discussion on this. Ill informed people believing ill informed media, and getting on their high horses when they know nothing of what went on.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Zola Is A Big Part Of The Problem


If we lose tomorrow night, we will have one less point after 6 games than we had at the equivalent stage in the Great Escape season. We lost the last of those 6 games to Man City away, the score 3-0.

It was not too many months later that Pardew lost his job. He was roundly blamed for the run of results that saw us in the bottom three, just one point off safety, when he was sacked, even though his plans had been shattered by the injury to Ashton and the failure of the Board to invest sufficiently in the development of the squad.

However, Zola seems to have the full backing of the fans but, apart from the fact that he replaced Turds and anybody was going to be an improvement on that, I can't understand why. When you look at the facts, Zola is a large part of the problem!

Yes he is a lovely guy and yes he wants to play football on the ground but, beyond that, what is there to say positively about his performance as a manager? To begin, he is a push over for the Board, backing Duxbury, the owners, anybody and everybody, when he should be standing up to them and demanding their backing instead of vice versa. Why did he just accept the sale of Collins when we were all given assurances that no first team players would be allowed to leave? Why does he keep reiterating the nonsense that the financial situation is not as bad as people are claiming when that patently is not true? Why did he back the signing of Savio when we obviously needed an experienced striker when Bellamy was sold? Why did he dilly and dally waiting for Neill instead of telling Lucash to take a running jump or sign? Why did he give Faubert the impression he wasn't wanted, then leave himself with Faubert as his only option at right back? Why wasn't he jumping up and down about the lack of cover for left back and the absence of a goal scorer in his squad? Imagine for a moment 'Ary's reaction in this situation! He would be using the papers to embarrass the Board and force their hand one way or another. Is Zola just looking after number one, playing the game and singing from the Board's hymn sheet to stay on their good side, so avoiding the tin tack? Look at his best pal act with Duxbury! Could anybody climb further up the arse of their CEO?

Then there are the tacics! Remember what happened last season when Zola tried to play 4-3-3? We struggled, so badly that we found ourselves in the bottom 4 facing a relegation struggle. Then Zola changed tactics, reverted to 4-4-2 and suddenly we started winning. So, what does he do this season? Reverts to 4-3-3 and what is happening? We are losing again and find ourselves in the bottom three! And what is worse, we are now signing players to fit the formation which means we may not be able to revert back to 4-4-2 to retrieve the situation.

Then there is this perverse business of playing his wide midfield players on the wrong flanks. Last season, it was Boa Morte on the right and Stanislas on the left, now it is Diamanti on the right and Hines on the left. I don't know what his thinking is because it defies all logic. If defending, the out of position player has to use the wrong foot to takle with, and when attacking, the defender finds it easy to show inside, into the scrum in the centre on the edge of the box. Crazy, bloody crazy.

And finally, there is the lack of communication with Ashton. Zola admits he has barely spoken to the guy and isn't sure what the position is because Ashton has only shown up at the ground once. What the hell is going on? Hasn't Zola heard of mobile phones? What about making Ashton feel part of the group if he is ever going to return?

We average one goal a game for every game played in the Prem since Zola has been in charge; that is pathetic. His record of wins and draws to games played is no better than Curbishley's and no better than Pardew's either. In fact, it is no better than Roeder's!

In Zola we trust? In Zola we should have some doubts based on the evidence so far!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Into The Bottom Three


Hmmm. Remember how I warned before the season kicked off that we could struggle this season? Bollox, the C&B Klan yelled, top ten finish for sure, maybe top six even. I pointed out that we were weak up front, lacked cover for left back and didn't have a right back worthy of the name. No problems the C&B Klan screamed, Behrami can play right back and as for the lack of a goalscorer, in Zola we trust. Why do we need a replacement left back they demanded, when we have Ilunga who was ever present last season. I pointed out the danger of a slow start, the risk of setting the wrong tone at the start of the season, how we could be in for a repeat of the Great Escape year with no guarantees of a happy ending. I pointed out our dreadful goals per game record under Zola, I stressed the folly of needing to keep a clean sheet in order to win a game because we only averaged a goal a game. Scare mongering they yelled, there are loads of worse teams in the division - and Bolton and Wigan were both cited, two teams who have defeated us this season already.

Well look a the table guys. Look at the goals per game column. Worryingly, look at the goals against column in the last two games we have played against Premiership opposition - without Collins, a key figure in the amazing run that saw us secure the Great Escape. No Collins, no Neill to lead us on the pitch, no natural goal scorer to play up front. If City thump us on Saturday we will have 4 points from 6 games; in the Great Escape year we had 5 points after 6 games; and the sixth game that season? Man City away and, for the record, we lost 3-0.

Worried yet?

Friday, 25 September 2009

Tevez and Bellyache Await


As if three consecutive defeats on the back of that gruesome 0-0 draw at Blackburn were not bad enough, we now face the prospect of being stuffed at Maine Road with Tevez and Bellyache bagging the goals. And the problem with this is not just that they are former players but that they are, in many ways, prime culprits for the mess we currently find ourselves in.

Tevez has a God like status at Upton Park and daring to criticise him is akin to pointing out that Di Canio is a fascist. However, the fact of the matter is that his arrival unsettled the squad and his illegal signing has, of course, crippled us financially. Add in that he didn't start playing until were up to our nose in the relegation mire and then swanned off to Man Utd as soon as he possibly could, and suddenly, his hero status is somewhat questionable.

As for Bellyache, he came, he saw and he had an extended kip on the treatment table. People talk aboiut the profit we made when we sold him but, after taking into account a signing on fee and his wages, I bet we didn't have a lot to show in terms of a surplus when he hopped on the gravy train to Unreal City. And he left behind a depleted squad without a natural goalscorer on the books.

Sods Law says both will score on Monday,

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Signing Sol Makes Sense


After Sol Campbell made himself a free agent by walking out on Notts County, there has to be a possibility that Zola and Clarke will fancy enlisting his services. The loss of Collins is hitting us harder than the dynamic duo anticipated, with three goals conceded in each of our last two games, and we really lack an older head should Upson be injured now that Lucash has definitely passed on to pastures new.

Sol would also offer new marketing oportunities for the club and fit into a long and proud tradition. We have to harvest every available buck we can and, it seems to me, that football, because of a misplaced sense of machismo, has been slow to exploit the burgeoning pink pound.

With Sol recruited to our ranks we could perhaps add a pink side vent to our shirts and introduce a mardis gras flavour to the half time entertainment. Maybe six packed Hammer Boys could replace the Hammerettes and we could introduce a new mascot, a Feddie Mercury lookalike called Bubbles. The stands could also be renamed, recognising the special qualities that Bishop, Morley and Justin Fashanu brought to our wonderful club. Just a thought but if he reads this, Duxbury might just buy into it if he hears Sol using Mr Humphries catch phrase, "I'm free"!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Green Preparing His Exit Strategy


So Rob Green has come out and "blasted" the attitude of the team, claiming that we have "an over inflated opinion of our ability". I must agree with his main points, that we are crap at the back, crap in midfield and crap up front at the moment but you've got to wonder at his decision to come out and say it. Is Mr Nice Guy trying to prove to Capello that he has a mean streak, something I have accused him of lacking, or is he preparing his exit strategy perhaps?

Come the summer, Green can buy his way out of his contract for £1.5m and, in his boots, I would be planning to do precisely that. Duxbury declined to negotiate a new contract when Green complained that he was one of the lowest paid players in the first team squad and Green could have his pick of Tottenham, Villa and possibly even Man Utd if he was a free agent.

By speaking his mind, of course, Green could be engineering a position where he has to leave because either he is no longer welcome in the dressing room or "for the sake of his career". Come January, the statement might well read, "I have to do what is right for my career and the club have decided to accept an offer from Tottenham rather than accept a much lower figure in the summer due to the reduced length of my contract." Wouldn't be a huge surprise would it?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

What A Pile Of Dung!


Now, don't you wish we had taken the moral high ground and bowed out of the League Cup after the Millwall debacle? No risk then of massive fines and orders to play games behind closed doors. Simple, direct, praiseworthy.

But no, I was howled down when I suggested this at the time by short sighted idiots who were desperate to cling hold of our place in a no mark competition, convinced, for some reason, that we stood a chance of winning a pot that Arsenal let their U15s piss in because, in Wenger's view, it isn't worthy of the efforts of anybody old enough to have sex and buy cigarettes.

Now we are out of the cup, defeated by the mighty Bolton Wanderers and, worse still, our players have completed another 120 minute marathon. Tomkins, Hines and co have suffered another dispiriting defeat and another game has passed without a victory. This is becoming a VERY dangerous habit.

Parker and Ilunga looked "out on their feet" on Saturday, God knows how they are feeling now. This was all so stupidly unnecessary. If only Duxbury had had the balls to do the decent thing within 24 hours of the Millwall game as I suggested. "We apologise and have resigned our place in the cup to show that there is no place in the game for this mindless thuggery." But no, we clung on, desperately, dishonourably, disgracefully in my opinion. And tonight we got what we had coming to us because we lacked the moral fibre to do what was right.

We are in trouble guys, big, big, big trouble.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Hines Looks Tasty


After the honest assessment of the overall team performance, a glimmer of optimism! Hines looks as if he may have what it takes to succeed in the Prem despite, like Sears, being pint sized. I like the lad's confidence and his pace and control will unsettle the cart horse centre backs who still find sanctuary in the British game. He will come up against worse defenders than Carragher and Skrtl and, with a little more luck, will score goals and win free kicks and penalties.

It might be better, for now, to use him as an impact sub against tiring defenders - as Babel was used against us - but he has shown enough against Blackburn and Liverpool to suggest to me that he may be a better prospect than Sears. But he is missing a golden sponsorship opportunity - he should be wearing the number 57 on his back!

West Ham 2 Liverpool 3 - Somewhat Predictable, Sadly. What now?


Apologies for the delay in posting. My internet connection has been down, making me feel a bit like a castrated dog!

Back to the game! I forecast either a high scoring draw or a tonking and I suppose I got a bit of both. The first half matched up to my optimistic prediction but in the second half we were never really at the races. It was as if Clarke had pushed Zola aside in the dressing room and said, "OK no more of this attacking nonsense, let's keep what we've got!". We dropped deeper and deeper and the loss of Collins was highlighted as Tomkins and Gabbidon defended inside our box, rather than on the edge. The third goal followed a fantastic block by Gabbidon but he was deep inside our box when he made it, whereas Collins and Upson have been so disciplined in holding the "last line" much higher up. Another brilliant Gabbidon challenge was made on the edge of the six yard box and resulted from him, Ilunga and the midfield falling fast asleep at a throw in. Full marks for Gab's recovery but if we defend like that every week, we are going to be in trouble!

Ilunga had a mare by his standards and looked exhausted when Babel (of all people)skinned him for the third goal. And poor Tomkins was taught a lesson when Torres did him all ends up for the first goal. Does anybody believe he would have passed Collins with such consumate ease? The kid has a great future but we may be damaging him by exposing him to players of Torres quality so early in his career. Look back at my pre match review and sadly I called Tomkins against Torres as a mismatch in the making. And then there is Kovac. His challenge on Gerrard for the second goal was pathetic. I am unconvinced of his worth.

Move to midfield and we see the problem of buying players because Nani fancies them rather than because the team needs them. Both Noble and Hines were out of position and I'm not sure we got the best out of Diamanti because we were expecting him to track back, something he clearly doesn't fancy doing. Liverpool are vulnerable down the flanks but we played narrow, allowing Johnson and Insua to attack with virtual impunity. With Hines and Diamanti unsuited to providing defensive cover and Noble gravitating infield rather than holding to the right flank, we looked vulnerable every time Liverpool swept forward. Come the second half, we were reduced to trying to squeeze out any space in our half, so leaving Cole utterly isolated again. There was only ever going to be one result second half and, if not for my love of West Ham, I would have put my mortage on a Liverpool win ten minutes into the second period.

There was no shame in the defeat (unlike at Wigan) but our frailties were cruelly exposed. Without Upson and Collins, we are lightweight at the back, whilst our midfield lacks balance and shape. Hines and Diamanti look good in flashes but both were guilty of giving the ball away to Liverpool far too often, with Hines inadvertently starting the move that led to the first Liverpool goal with a misplaced pass in midfield. The kid shouldn't be there, he should be up on the shoulder of Cole and breaking beyond, allowing Cole to look forward instead of always back. That, of course, means a 4-4-2 formation which then makes it difficult to accommodate either Diamanti or Jimenez because of their reluctance to defend. If Jimenez and Diamanti play, then Hines can't, but both have to play much closer to Cole than we have seen them thus far. Then Noble and Parker have to anchor midfield with Dyer my prefered option to make up the midfield, if he can get and stay fit. Then where does Behrami fit in? Replace Noble?

Waddle was cruelly accurate in his co-commentary. We don't support Cole quickly enough and, playing like this, we are going to struggle. I warned before the season started of the dangers of a slow start, made more probable by our failure to make signings earlier. Pompey will go down and so will Hull but Burnley, Wolves and Birmingham look as if they might make a fight of it. Zola and Clarke have a lot of work to do quickly if we are not to find ourselves in a relegation struggle akin to three seasons ago. I warned that the writing was on the wall before the season kicked off. Perhaps a few more might start to read it!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Gerrard, Torres, Kuyt, Johnson & Yossi - A Five Pronged Threat


I blogged after the Tottenham game that I couldn't believe that Babel was being selected ahead of Yossi and predicted that Liverpool would not figure in the race for the Premiership this season. Rafa has seen the light with regard to the Israeli and Yossi repaid him last week big time, knocking in his third hatrick for the wheelstealers. Liverpool arrive at Upton Park desperate for points and with Rafa in no position to rotate - he simply has no alternatives to fill the boots of his big five attacking threats. So, worryingly, with no injuries, we are likely to face the full force of Liverpool today and that could result in a spanking.

The last two performances have been depressing and Zola must understand the need for more creativity from the off. Sitting back and inviting Liverpool on simply is not a viable option. But, of course, the inclusion of Diamanti and other attacking options could leave us vulnerable at the back. Hopefully Ilunga is fit to return as we will need him to combat Johnson's surges down the right. Tomkins against Torres worries me and Gerrard has his tail up again.

I would be pleased if we came away with a high scoring draw - 2-2 is a possibility - but if I was to invest money on the result, I'm sorry to say that it would be on a two or three to nil victory for Liverpool. Let's hope that nothing then kicks off on the long walks home given the closure of the tube stations.

One last observation - even if Liverpool do spank us today, they will not figure in the title race. The squad isn't good enough to last the pace.

Gold Fingers West Ham As Takeover Target


David Gold is either playing silly buggers or genuinely holds out hope of taking over his hometown club. Stopping only just short of saying he is on the brink of a bid, Gold explained,

'At our age we're beginning to think we don't want to go too far so I believe, if anything goes through, it would be a southern club where we would all like to settle down and spend the rest of our time.'

'Everybody has financial difficulties at the moment and would welcome anyone with a football background and a lot of money.'

'I was born in Stepney and by the time I was three I was living across the road from Upton Park. I went to Burke Secondary Modern after failing my 11-pluses.'

'I have to admit I hated jellied eels, probably the only person in the East End who felt this way. But I did like pie and mash.'

The guy sure packs in some cliches there, even down to the East End tradition about failing in academia - "I aint got no O Levels and only went to one university, the bleedin' university of life!" Any genuine East Enders looking in to the blog might like to confirm whether or not they like jellied eyes - I can't abide them so David is not as unique as he thinks. For the record, I think pie & mash is somewhat over-rated too when offered by the traditional shops. Give me a ruby every day of the week!

Do we want him? Well he has to be better than C&B Holdings and the bankruptcy courts. Do I fancy Karen Brady? Not a lot, but she has to be an improvement on the tranny that BG arrived with on his arm and than Duxbury in a dress. In fact, the idea of Duxbury having to clear his desk for a woman fills me with glee! What's more, Karen must be moving into that age bracket where Rooney might fancy a piece of the action. When he is out of contract, we could say, "We can't match the wages Ferguson is offering but you could have the CEO every Tuesday and Wednesday night." Actually, if that deal was struck, I would prefer it if Duxbury was still in position!

My only worry looking at the recent pictures is that this may not be the real David Gold. The guy is almost ugly enough to be Eggert in a wig and a false beard!

Ashton On The Brink


You don't have to have a degree in reading between the lines to know that Ashton will be officially hanging up his boots before the end of the season. I'm not sure what exactly is happening, but my guess is that there is some haggling going on "off stage" over the settlement of the contract. Presumably, Ashton has been insured by the club and AXA, or whoever, are demanding conclusive proof that the guy cannot play any more. There is probably a loss adjuster saying, "Hang on, you played Tristan and he couldn't run or jump so why isn't Ashton up to leading your line?"

I have been predicting for the best part of a year that, one way or another, we wouldn't see Ashton playing again in C&B. Stoke clearly fancied him but must have seen his medical report before backing out. Duxbury has gone quiet on Beano and Zola isn't terribly convincing when denying the rumours that Ashton's career is over. I suspect that there is an argument still that Ashton is bottling it, over-reacting to the twinges of pain he suffers as he tries to pivot and land on his suspect ankle. Pain thresholds are very personal and mental firewalls can be difficult to overcome. Alternatively, Ashton may be trying to resist official foreclosure of his career in order to maximise his salary take ahead of a final termination settlement.

From the club's point of view, the sooner this is settled the better. Ashton's salary is a huge drain on resources whilst the insurance pay off could be used to secure a replacement.

How could we afford to bid for Chamakh? The only logical explanation is that we were expecting Beano's retirement and the compensation settlement.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Thank You Nigel Reo-Choker!


I was feeling pretty depressed after the inept performance at Wigan, and it was compounded by Defoe, Benayoun, Bellamy and Konchesky all scoring at the weekend. How many 'if onlys' can you cope with in one go? Villa kept a clean sheet with Collins newly installed at centre half too and Lucash has linked up with Everton!

So it was with some relief that I learnt today of Reo-Choker's spat with Martin O'Neill. At least that is one we are well rid of! Just imagine for a moment if we had Yossi and Defoe in the current squad! Then how good would Cole appear? Bugger!

Duxbury Welcomes General Franco


West Ham's CEO, Scott Duxbury has announced, "I am very pleased to be able to welcome Guillermo to West Ham as I was determined to deliver the extra attacking options that Gianfranco wanted for the new season."

He forgot to add, "I failed to deliver any of the attacking options that Gianfranco wanted. He and Nani supplied a long list of players who would enhance the squad but, most unreasonably in the circumstances, all the clubs wanted money for them."

"I dillied and dallied for as long as possible to save wages, and sold James Collins but, in the end, I had to sign somebody. I did not force Franco on Gianfranco, I gave the manager a choice, between an overweight Aussie striker who he knew couldn't cut it any longer in the Prem and an injury prone Mexican with no experience of English football whatsoever."

"I am confident that Gianfranco has made the right choice. He is the manager so if it is the wrong choice, we all know who to blame don't we? By the way, has anybody noticed how well Stech has been playing. He must be due a first team start sometime in January surely?"

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Carlton Cole Knockers Climb Out Of The Bunker!


Oh dear God, one average game and Carlton is being condemned on the West Ham blogs. The Nazi No Mark Professional Golfer has re-emerged from his bunker on the org and is leading the attack and Grumpy, of course, has raised a straightened arm in support, listing all the strikers Cole has played alongside to prove the guy isn't worth his salt. Quite who these mugs believe can take his place is beyond me. Of course, back last November the saviours were supposed to be Freddie One Goal In His Career Sears and Diego-slow Tristan, now it is Zavron yet to score in the Prem Hines and General Franco. Do these idiots never learn?

We know Carlton is not a natural goalscorer but we really do not have anybody to replace him. That's not Carlton's fault, that's down to Duxbury. Hopefully, Diamanti will be up to the job of tucking away the chances that Carlton creates because if he isn't, we are well and truly buggered.

For the record, Cole failed to start in 13 games last season. We only managed to score twice in one of those games. The 13 matches yielded just 2 wins whilst we lost 7 of them, including the defeat at Watford in the League Cup (A game Grumpy should remember because he was there in person to see it!). The goals for column whilst Cole was out of the side stood at just 8 in 13 games, whilst the goals against column stood at 17. A return of 10 points for every 12 Premiership matches played (our record without Cole) would have seen us finish on just 32 points - which would have secured Newcastle's survival and sent us down!

Drop Cole? Great idea I must say!

Lucash Neill - Everybody's A Loser


So Lucash is on the brink of joining Everton, securing a salary approximately £5,000 a week less than we were offering. Multiply that by 52 and he is losing a quarter of million pounds in salary for the year on what we offered. Then there is the hassle of moving and the estate's agents costs, assuming he has a house in the South East - and the solicitors costs for the sale and purchase of a house up north of course. Assuming he is selling a gaff at £1.5m, he will be paying agents' fees of £32,000 alone!(more than a week's wages - heaven forbid!)

Then there is the money he has lost whilst on extended gardening leave. He could have been earning £30k a week throughout July, August and September, had he signed the contract we offered. I make that £360,000! So, by me reckoning, Lucash is out of pocket to the tune of over £642,000. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy according to Jamie Carragher!

But can we afford to gloat? My mate Nev is praising Duxbury for allowing Neill to leave but that is short sighted in my opinion. Faubert has aquitted himself well thus far but for how long will that continue? Le Sulk hasn't felt the nip of the winter chill around his nether regions yet this season and my money is on him being "out of sorts" before we reach Christmas. Then what have we got? Spector anybody? Or Behrami played out of position? Personally, I would prefer the option of Neill.

As for Everton, they are signing a player in the second half of September who is not match fit. Lucash is not the quickest anyway and I can't believe his extended break will benefit him. I also suspect that Neill's character would fit better with the temperament of Zola than Moyes.

If there is a winner in this then it is Everton. Both West Ham and Neill must have regrets.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

West Ham's Academy In Nigeria


News is breaking of a new West Ham academy to be launched in Nigeria. COE Scott Duxbury broke the news and explained how the venture had been conceived. He told amazed reporters,

"It was not something I had considered until I received an unsolicited email from a Mr Conner Britt in which he set out the exciting proposal. In return for transfering £2m in British Stirling into a Nigerian bank account, we have been given first option on all the best talent in Nigeria. I know supporters were disappointed by our decision to sell James Collins to Aston Villa but I am sure they will be delighted now that they understand how the money has been used. We sold Bellamy and landed Savio. Who knows what fantastic talent will now find its way to West Ham on the back of the Collins sale."

Duxbury In Line For Kenyon's Job


With the news of Peter Kenyon's impending departure from Chelsea, there are suggestions in some quarters that West Ham's COE Scotty Duxbury may be considering applying for the Chelsea job. As a close friend of ex Chelsea favourites Zola & Clarke, his defection to the west may be seen as a bridge that would facilitate the return of the Dynamic Duo to their spiritual home, once Ancelotti has had enough; just as Storrie and 'Arry were reunited at Pompey.

Mr Presentation certainly has the credentials to be a Chelsea man. With his emphasis upon image over substance, Duxbury would have no problems with the plastic coated sheen coated over the old Stamford Bridge. If he can skip over his involvement in the Tevez affair, forget that he gave a big fat contract to an even bigger and fatter Ashton, fail to mention on his CV that he elected not to ask BG and Eggert how transfers were being funded and gloss over the purchase of Savio, then he might just have a chance of landing the job.

In an expression of the affection I hold for the guy, I would gladly write him a glowing reference if I thought it would help him to secure the Chelsea job!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dicks and Grays, A Marriage Made In Hell!


Have you ever been to Grays? Along with Gravesend, it must be one of the most appropriately named places on the face of this earth! Just up the road from the exotically but misnamed Stanford Le Hope (it should read No in the middle), Grays is only a desirable address if you have the misfortune to find yourself living in Chafford Hundred. Even Dagenham and Basildon are bourgois compared to Grays and this thoroughly ugly corner of Essex! If Kent is the garden of England, Grays and its environs must surely be the outside crapper!

The appointment of Dicks must be the ultimate marriage made in Hell. I really do wonder which is the uglier, the town of Grays or Julian's mug. I wish him all the best but Dicks in Grays is not an image to inspire poetry!

Another Duxbury Balls Up? Or Part Of The Master Plan?


I am not convinced that Green is the real deal as an international keeper but I do recognise that he is a bloody good Premiership keeper who would command a transfer fee in the region of £10m if sold. It would be a bloody stupid CEO therefore, who would allow Green to run his contract down to the point where he could buy it out for just £1.5m, ahead of "selling himself" to a club for three times that figure, pocketing the dosh himself.

However, this is the position we are now apparently faced with. How long ago did Green want to open negotiations on a new contract? Wasn't it before the start of LAST season, just after Ashton negotiated a bumper deal for occupying a bed in the treatment room? If you remember, Green complained he was one of the lowest paid players in the squad and wanted parity with the top earners. And what did Scotty say? Wasn't it something along the lines of, "There's no hurry, Robert Green still has more than three years to run on his existing contract." Well I'll be buggered by a pneumatic drill if that contract isn't now running down - and, surprise, surprise, Green isn't in such a hurry to put pen to paper all of a sudden. Why should he be in the circumstances?

So, we know what will happen in January don't we? Scotty will announce that a bumper deal has been offered to Green, making him the highest paid player in the squad, but that sadly Green has declined to sign it. In the light of this, and the fact that the club could lose him in the summer for just £1.5m, Scotty will say that any offer above £8m would have to be considered. Tottenham will offer £7m and Scotty will snap off 'Arry's arm whilst promising fans that funds will be made available to Zola (if he is still there!) to reinvest in the squad. We will then sign a couple of players for undisclosed fees (totally £1m probably)and Scotty will tell us that playing Stech in goal is in line with the tradition of blooding players from the Academy.

And still the Three Monkeys will defend Scotty and say, "What choice did he have if Green wants to go?". Well, in advance, he could have signed him up on a long term deal when Green originally asked for it. Just a thought!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Time To Decide - Is Zola or Clarke in charge?


After two consecutive inept performances, Zola now has to make a decision. Is he going to bow to Clarke's conservative instincts and go "safety first" every game, accepting that the best we can hope for is a draw if the opposition scores; or is he going to follow his own inclinations and put adventure ahead of caution, challenging the team to swap punches and back themselves to score more than their opponents?

Thus far, the signs are bad. The games at Blackburn and Wigan were depressing, with negative tactics employed in both and team selection becoming more conservative after the first of those two games - despite all the evidence that even with Jimenez playing, we weren't going to score in a month of Sundays. Quite how anybody leapt to Kovac as the solution to our lack of creativity after the Blackburn game is a mystery that will probably never be solved. It reminded me of the appalling decision to pair Mullins and Parker in midfield for the home game against struggling Tottenham last season. In fact, you don't have to go back that far. It echoed the decision to bring on Kovac with the score at 1-1 for the home game against Tottenham THIS season. Safety first, caution, stopping the opposition scoring - the philiosophy according to Turds.

One decision that has to be made is what should be done with Noble. The lad is class and is West Ham through and through, but he is not a right sided midfielder. Either he is moved inside or he is dropped because with him wide on the right, the only threat to the opposition flank comes from Faubert overlapping. Noble does not have either the pace nor the positional discipline to play the role. Of course, if Noble is retained, and Diamanti is selected, then there is no place for a fit again Jimenez, unless revolutionary tactics are employed. Stanislas is also a problem. The kid has potential but he is still very raw - and it shows. If selected, the lad should at least play on the right flank where he is on his natural foot, not forced to play wide left because Clarke and Zola want cover for Faubert and don't trust Junior to provide it. The obvious solution to the problem of the right flank is Behrami, but he is more a destroyer than a creator in my book so I don't see his inclusion leading to a lot more goals. Then there is Dyer of course, but can he really be regarded as a first team player with all his injuries? Any attempt to plan around him seems doomed to frustration - work all week on tactics and it is odds on he won't make it onto the field come Saturday because of a niggle or a twinge somewhere. The guy would be nicknamed Sicknote if Beano hadn't outAndertoned Darren Anderton and claimed the title in perpetuity.

I now want to see Zola show he has balls. I want him to take charge and stamp his optimism on the tactics of the team. Yes Clarke can drill us defensively, but within the framework of a team that is playing offensively. Liverpool would be a dangerous game to "go offensive" but if we sit back and soak, they will outscore us anyway. So sod it, let's go for broke. Ilunga is a big loss but that was always going to be the case and the failure to sign an experienced understudy was disgraceful. Gabbidon is not a left back and nor is Spector so, like it or not, Daprela or Da Costa have to be picked until Ilunga returns. I would go for Daprela.

My team for Liverpool would be:

Green: Faubert, Gabbidon, Upson, Daprela; Stanislas (or Dyer), Behrami, Parker, Collison; Diamanti, Cole.

This would move Stanislas onto his right foot with an injunction to go past his full back and get in crosses, whilst re-establishing some balance on the left hand side by including a true left footer in Daprela. Behrami and Parker should afford defensive cover enough for when Daprela and Faubert range forward. The formation is still not ideal because there are not enough goals "in" our central midfield pairing but, that is the problem of playing Parker: he contributes very little in the final third so you need a Gerrard or Lampard paired with him in midfield - and sadly, we don't have anybody of that calibre. If Noble were to be included, I would leave out Parker and I don't think we can do that can we?

I'm not pretending it is easy to find the right combination but that is the problem of picking up players that Nani fancies rather than allowing Zola and Clarke to sign who they actually need. Kovac was a stupid signing and I suspect that Diamanti will now make Jimenez somewhat surplus to requirements. We are short of cover in both full back positions and still do not have a natural left sided midfielder. The jury is very much out on General Franco.

Whatever the personnel choices, Zola must now take control. This is West Ham and at West Ham we play to win, not to draw 0-0.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Natives Are Grumbling - Zola Is Tactically Naive & Too Defensive!


It didn't take many games did it? For all the stick I get from them for saying it how it is, before it happens, The Three Monkeys and Claret & Blue Klan are quick to squeal as soon as we crash to defeat!

A quick check on the org reveals Grumpy sticking the knife squarely between Zola's shoulder blades. Spitting out the pips from the wicked Queen's apple, he rants, "The team and tactics deployed yesterday by Zola were totally and abysmally wrong. Not for the first time, his naivety in tactics has cost us." I don't disagree Dave, I stated before kick off that Wigan were there for the taking and that Diamanti had to play from the start.

The Italian Jock Strap, meanwhile, is positively choking on his haggis. He rants, "Surely yesterday with the loss of 2 of our most attacking influences in Collison and Jiminez (3 if you want to throw in Dyer) then it was paramount to get some other 'forward thinking' link up player involved and surely Diamante was the option!! I know he might be "new" etc but he played and was full of confidence after Tue night!!" I concur, I concur!

That loveable North Bank yob also puts the boot in, leading the attack with his size nine Doc Martens, and yelling, without upper case letters, "to have parker, noble and kovac from the start was a terrible decision. where was any creativity going to come from from those three ? diamanti should have started - please no one give me any BS that diamanti needs time to settle. he could have started and come off in the second half. kovac is shite - fact. for a big guy, kovac does sweet fa."

Three Monkeys in unison and singing from the same hymn sheet as this blog? O my bruvs, whatever next? Perhaps my droogs over on West Ham Til I Die might see the light. Mark Ryan might start a petition for this blog to be adopted as the official voice of the disgruntled fans!

Who knows, one day the penny might drop that Zola has been handicapped by the failure to sign Diamanti and Franco earlier. Oh, and of course, we were beaten because Gabbidon was "done" whilst playing out of position at left back. And who has been on the line on numerous occasions to save us when Green has been beaten? Would that be Ginge Collins by any chance?

And who do we have to thank for all that? Super Scotty by any chance? Heaven forbid!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A Disasterous Start To The Season


Today was the dog turd on the top of the cake, confirming the start of the season as an absolute disaster: one win from four games, and that slightly fortuitous away to newly promoted and evidently hopeless Wolves, and just three goals scored, at a rate of less than one a game. Add in an inept performance at home to Third Division Millwall, having to come from behind and requiring extra time to secure a victory, and it all adds up to a depressing and deeply worrying start to the season.

Away to Wolves we looked OK but, as I said at the time, a better team would have scored from the numerous crossing opportunities we allowed. The Tottenham game exposed how little punch we possess up front. Cole scored a brilliant goal but, apart from that, we looked ordinary in the final third. The Millwall game was embarrassing full stop and would be best forgotten for so many reasons. Against Blackburn, we didn't seem to understand that the pitch had a final third. And now, pathetically, we have surrendered against a Wigan team who have lost their last four games and were there for the taking.

I blogged on the eve of the game that Diamanti had to start but Zola and Clarke opted for a safety first appoach and we got our just deserts as a result. If you wait until you go behind before you try harder to score than to not concede, then you hand the initiative to the opposition and invite defeat. We were guilty of that at Blackburn and even more culpable of it today. Diamanti had his tail up after a stunning start for the reserves so the decision to go with Kovac and Hines rather than Collison and Diamanti was beyond negative and bordering on the perverse. The fact that Diamanti came closest to scoring simply proves the point. A positive, go for the throat approach, would probably have secured victory. Instead, we cowered in front of a toothless opponent and ended up savaged by a sheep. That is unacceptable.

Is Zola to blame? Yes for his team selection today but that was probably based on the late arrival of Diamanti. I warned that the points lost at the start of the season due to a failure to score could never be recovered, and I am being proved right. It was pathetic that we kicked off the season with just one recognised striker and it is a disgrace that our "salvation" comes in the form of an injury prone Mexican who has managed to score at a rate of less than 1 goal in every 5 games in Spain. Who is to blame for that? Well who kept telling us that Ashton would be ready and who fannied around for months without signing a striker?

Step forward Scotty Duxbury!

Curbishley Re-Appointed On The QT!


Although there has not yet been any official announcement, and Zola has agreed to appear at games for the sake of appearances, it seems that Alan Curbishley has been reappointed as West Ham's manager to head off his constructive dismissal claim. With CB Holdings refusing to stump up the necessary cash to fund either the legal battle or meet the settlement, it seems as if Duxbury may have done a deal to put Curbishley back in charge of team selection.

The club is, of course, trying to hide what has happened but the evidence is mounting. First there was the sterile performance at Blackburn with the team making little or no attempt to pass the half way line, then the signing of the injury prone Franco and now we have the team selected for the Wigan game, complete with three centre backs, two holding midfield players and no place for Diamanti. You're not telling me that this is the way Zola wants to play. Wigan have just gone a goal ahead and it was always coming. If you offer no attacking threat, you invite the opposition on.

If we lose this, we are in for a relegation struggle - mark my words. Depressing, deeply, deeply, deeply depressing. Get Diamanti on quick!

Third Party Ownership. Tevez, IKEA and....Duxbury!


OK, I may be a bit dim, but, O my brothers, would somebody please explain to me how IKEA and his fellow investors can pocket £47m when Tevez moves across Manchester, whilst Man Utd don't pocket a penny from the deal, yet this is all above board and kosher? What is and isn't a third party agreement exactly?

Now I am sure Man Utd were careful with the way the Tevez deal was done, but that then begs the question how, exactly, we managed to mess it up so badly. If it was possible to pay a fee and sign Tevez "on loan" for a fixed period, why didn't we do it? What the hell was going on when we entered into an "illegal" (in terms of the rules) deal when there was a perfectly legitimate way of signing him (as the Mancs have now shown)?

Duxbury has been very vociferous on all sorts of subjects but he has been conspicuously silent on this one. He can't blame Eggert, BG, or Curbishley, of course, because none of them were in place when the Tevez deal was struck. Nor can he blame Brown and the old Board for what happened after the initial ruling, because they had departed by that stage.

So what is the single common factor, who is the only man who bridges the signing of Tevez and the agreement to pay Sheffield United out of court? That would be Scotty of course. Time and again he told us that West Ham had done nothing wrong and that we had nothing to fear about Shafting United's legal action, then suddenly we settled out of court, then we learnt that, in the opinion of the authorities, we had done nothing to merit further punishment. That doesn't add up does it?

My brothers, let me take you back to August 6, 2006 and an announcement from the club. We were told then, "West Ham United are delighted to announce the double signing of Argentinian World Cup stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Brazilian club Corinthians. The pair have been signed for an undisclosed fee and put pen-to-paper on permanent contracts with the club this afternoon. All other aspects of the transfers will remain confidential and undisclosed. The transfers represent a massive coup for the Hammers, who have beaten off some of Europe's biggest clubs to secure the services of the duo."

Now there are two interesting things here: the claim that it was a permanent deal, with subsequent events suggesting this was false; and the insistence that "All other aspects of the transfers will remain confidential". The fact that Chelsea had been negotiating to sign Tevez for a fee reported to be between £20m and £60m sort of added to the suspicion that there was something even dodgier than an 'Arry deal involved here. Especially when you remember that back in May of 2006, IKEA had claimed "Tevez will leave Corinthians if a team pays the contract's release clause, which is between £69m and £83m". So how on earth had we signed him on a permanent deal exactly? And Mascherano into the bargain! Fishy? It stank worse than an eighty five year old prostitute after a visit from Wayne Rooney! Yet the Board, including Duxbury, insisted that everything was above board!

The position shifted in March 2007. By then, the contract agreements had been exposed by Liverpool's attempt to sign Mascherano on the same deal, forcing us to reveal the terms. The reluctance of the club to do so tells a story, as does the defence, that we should not be punished because the deal was struck by a former regime. That always seemed like a weak argument to me because it sounded a bit like "My mate made me do it!" Anyway, the owners and manager may have changed but one familiar figure had made it onto the lifeboat when the old Titanic went down - there, smiling in the prow, was Scotty!

Perhaps Scotty can't spill the beans because should he do so, our place in the Prem might be endangered even now. Fair enough if that is the case. But then, perhaps, he is therefore too dangerous to cut adrift which would explain why, during a double regime change, he has remained the one constant and why, despite seeming incompetence in a number of areas, he has been promoted rather than shunted out.

If anybody else can supply a logical explanation, I would be glad to hear it! If Mr Duxbury would care to offer a blow by blow explanation I would be delighted. Are we not entitled to know why Man Utd could do what we were not allowed to do? Somebody cocked up hugely; who was it and how much did Mr Duxbury know at the time?

Friday, 11 September 2009

Franco The Best? Better Than All The Rest?


How about these stats?

He joined Villareal in 2006, scoring 14 goals in 81 appearances during an injury-plagued spell in Spain. The veteran forward has scored six goals in 18 appearances for Mexico.

Hmmm suddenly Carlton sounds prolific. Then there's the injury plagued bit! Move over Beano, there's room on that treatment table for two. Oh hello Kieron, didn't see you there curled up beneath Beano's tummy!

Only at West Ham!