Thursday, 11 May 2017

Antonio The Smiling Bull Signs New Deal

So all the speculation about Antonio joining Chelsea was wrong - for now at least. The news of a 4 year deal is great, but we all know that contracts mean nothing if a player wants to go. Just ask a certain Payet.

What the contract does mean is that we should get a fair price when or if our Smiling Bull moves on. And hopefully Michel has also got another clause inserted into the deal, "Under no circumstances am I to be played at bloody right back!"

Friday, 5 May 2017

West Ham Lions 1 Tottenham Antelopes 0

Where the hell did that come from? OK, we played reasonably well at Stoke and defended well against Everton, but can anybody honestly say they saw us winning so comfortably? 1-0 may not sound like a pounding but had decent chances been converted, we would have run out 4-1 winners; and that scoreline would not have flattered us!

The chances missed? Kouyate should have netted after Lloris blocked off Lanzini; Calleri should have buried the chance he made when picking Alderwiereld's pocket in the box; and Fletcher won't have many better chances to score if he plays for another 10 years. And for Tottenham? Eriksen should have scored.

Defensively we were brilliant. Collins was a Goliath, Reid was everywhere and Fonte rediscovered his brain. Even Byram played out of his skin, making you wonder why he wasn't given more chances earlier in the season.

Look through the team sheet and you find hero after hero. Noble was back to his best, making a mockery of those who do not rate him. Lanzini was brilliant, doing a passable impression of Eden Hazard at the top of his game. And Calleri, yes Calleri, played like a young lion and gave the much vaunted Tottenham defence the run around. He may just have secured a future at the club.

Tactically we were brilliant, sitting in there, gloves raised, covering every attempted Spurs jab and when we won the ball, we sprang forward with rapier like speed. How good was that Noble pass to Lanzini? And how bad was Kouyate's follow up shot? I must admit, I thought our chance had gone in that moment.

But tonight we saw the sleeping lions roar. Who needs Payet? Who needs Carroll? Who needs Sakho? And if he is Chelsea bound, to sit on the bench and play for the stiffs, who needs Antonio?

Today we found our new home. It's been a long and winding road from Upton Park but we have arrived at last and suddenly we sit 9th in the table and can look forward to building a team to compete better next season. And until then, we can savour the life blood ripped from Tottenham's title challenge!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Slaven Faces Exit Just Like Zola

So apparently Bilic's tenure at West Ham comes down to how we perform in the last two home games of the season.  As the final whistle blows on our miserable first season in the London Stadium Emperor Sullivan will clambour to his feet, hold his thumb out in front of him and, in a moment of high drama, either point it to the sky or down to damnation.

It is an interesting approach but it is entirely consistent. Zola suffered the same fate after "leading" West Ham to a 17th place finish with a buffer from the drop of just five points following a first season in charge of supposed "high promise". Like Bilic, Zola was hugely popular with the fans and there are still many who blame Grant rather than the Italian for what followed. But look at Zola's record since. This blog called him GianFredo for a reason - he was never cut out to manage.

Bilic is different in that respect. The guy has a track record and a much more intimidating personna. But the Bilic apologists must wonder at the poor judgement calls of the Croat this season. True there can be virtue in pig headedness but the persistence with Antonio at right back, Kouyate at centre back and right back, Randolph in goal, Snodgrass and Calleri in any position, Tore when fit and both Payet & Lanzini wide left suggest tactical myopia. All season Bilic has tried to force square pegs into round holes and the results have been disastrous.

Yes there have been injury problems but is anybody surprised? Who, outside of Bilic, believed the guff about Carroll being a new man? Who, apart from Bilic, believed that Cresswell was bionic and would never break down? Who, Bilic apart, thought that Reid would get through a full season untroubled by injury? Who, apart from Bilic, believed that Antonio could be used every game without a hamstring giving out sooner or later?

It may seem harsh to judge Bilic on home games against Spurs and Liverpool so let's judge him on the whole season. Let's judge him on that inept second half at Hull; let's judge him on pulling off Ayew and sending on Noble against Stoke; let's judge him on the failure to beat Middlesbrough at home, relying on a Payet wonder goal to secure a point; let's judge him on the double headed home hammerings against Man City and the humiliating home mauling by the less than spectacular Arsenal; let's judge him on the nervy 1-0 home victories over Hull, Burnley and Swansea...

Sullivan's thumb should already be pointing down surely?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bilic to give Carroll a good talking to!

So Slaven is going to have a chat with Andy Carroll about his injury record. Brilliant! I know talking therapies are all the rage in Hollywood but does Bilic really believe that he has the power of healing in his words? If so, it's a bloody shame he didn't give Andy a good talking to 24 months ago!

But who knows, if he succeeds with Carroll, Slaven might work the oracle with Sakho too, although all the rumours suggest that the manager's words have inflamed Daffy's injured ego rather than soothed his nagging ailments.

But  if Slaven really has this Frankenstein like power to reanimate, perhaps signing Sturridge might not be such a bad idea after all.

Or maybe Bilic should look further afield. I hear the scouts have identified an exciting talent in Israel by the name of Lazarus!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Pochettino Fears Hammer Blow to Tottenham's Title Charge

Even as we speak, Pochettino has retreated into a bunker beneath White Hart Lane with the Tottenham tactical brains trust, desperately seeking a plan for how to stop West Ham's rampant strike force. To misquote The Sound of Music, the challenge is how do you solve a problem like Calleri? How, exactly, do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

A Tottenham source revealed, "Poch has had to contend with some great strikers this season, players like Costa, Lukaku, Aguero and Zlatan, but none have presented the same sort of challenge as the West Ham wonderkid."

He continued, "This lad is different because he does the unexpected. Most strikers in the Prem are predictable. Give them a sight of goal and they will shoot. Give them space to run into and they will attack the space. Present them with a chance in and around the six yard box and they will open up the goal by dragging the ball sideways before firing into the net, But not Calleri."

"Look at that Rabona against Stoke! Who else would have tried that trick in that situation? Had it come off, what a goal that would have been. And to be honest, you can't legislate for that level of audacity."

But it is not just Calleri who is causing sleepless nights for the Tottenham boss. Our source contniued:

"Poch also has to factor in Carroll and Sakho. Who knows if they will make it on to the pitch and, if they do, for how long they will last. We all vaguely remember the dangers a fully fit Carroll poses but it is the half fit Carroll that worries Poch. The guy rarely breaks into a sprint anyway so he is unlikely to lose much from his game there. He is such a physical presence that should Bilic choose to use him as a totem pole, there must be a danger that a shot from somebody such as Lanzini might bounce off him and fly into the net."

"As for Sakho, we are worried that he might play in this one as he doesn't have to risk his back on a short flight or coach trip."

Then there is the threat posed by Ayew. "He is fit and fresh after being pulled before Calleri in the game against Stoke. That was clearly a Bilic tactical masterstroke, leaving West Ham utterly toothless up front against Stoke to try to lull Tottenham into a sense of false security."

It is easy to see why Tottenham are so concerned. Kane is, no doubt, studying footage of Calleri hoping to pick up tips on how to improve his game whilst Dele Alli must be hoping to emulate the movement and runs of Ayew on Friday night. It all adds up to a fascinating show down at the London Stadium, the final result of which is impossible to call.

And if Calleri starts, listen out for a new West Ham anthem:

How do you solve a problem like Calleri?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Calleri?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Nightmares Do Happen

Any West Ham fan with a memory longer than a goldfish's will know that nightmares do happen. Yes, many clubs have bad dreams, but some clubs seem to corner the market in the darkest of dark matter. Need proof? Name me another side relegated from the Prem with 42 points in the bank!

So should any of us be surprised by Swansea securing a draw away to Manchester United hard on the heels of  Hull's point at Southampton and Burnley's victory at Crystal Palace? The sinister implications of those three results should be obvious to all: Swansea may be 7 points adrift but three wins from three games would take them to 41 points; Hull are just 5 points behind us and play relegated Sunderland at home next up; and Burnley are now above us in the table and have a superior goal difference.

But to compound the chances of cataclysmic misery, the results at Everton, Tottenham and Middlesbrough all conspired to thicken the storm clouds gathering over Stratford.

Courtesy of Chelsea's thumping 3-0 win, Everton go in to their next game, against Swansea no less, with nothing to play for and on the back of two deeply disappointing performances, including their inept showing at the London Stadium; would anybody now be surprised if Swansea turned them over?

Tottenham, meanwhile, stay on the heels of Chelsea and have to win on Friday; but by the time they play Hull on the last day of the season, their dream will almost certainly be over and they will probably be playing with second place guaranteed and possibly in the knowledge that defeat might send us down. How motivated will the Cockyfools be in that game one wonders?

And, misery upon misery, the failure of the Manchester clubs to win mean that Liverpool remain in the hunt for a Champions League place ensuring they will be at full strength and hungry when rocking up for our last home game of the season. Manchester United, meanwhile, have a nightmare run in and Jose is already threatening to play an Under 23 side for the away game at Palace, which should ensure Allardyce's mercenaries make it through to a minimum of 39 points and with a goal difference superior to ours.

But so what? Swansea are not going to win three out of three are they? And Hull aren't going to secure 6 points from 3 games surely? Take a look at the remaining fixtures and feel a noose tighten around the throat!

After Everton, Swansea play Sunderland away and West Brom at home. Everton are on holiday, Sunderland are down, and West Brom haven't shown up since their last minute equaliser at the London Stadium. Those games are winnable, very, very winnable. A great escape beckons!

And Hull? After Sunderland, they play Palace away and Tottenham at home. Whisper it quietly but two wins from those three - given Palace have no defence and Tottanham may have no motivation - are not impossible.

So we may well still need 3 points. Three points from where, exactly? Spurs may revert to type on Friday but it aint likely is it? You have to fancy them to score at least one and who, exactly, is going to net for us?

Liverpool at home? Again it is difficult to see us keeping a clean sheet and as vulnerable as Liverpool are at the back, you have to have a forward line to capitalise on that weakness.

And Burnley away? Would you stake your life on us securing a win there? It has all the makings of that game at Birmingham which saw us relegated with 42 points.

You reap what you sow, I'm afraid, and if all our nightmares come true, it is no more than the Davids and Bilic deserve. There has been a horrible complacency around the club since Christmas of 2015. The failure to recruit a quality specialist rightback in three transfer windows was criminal. The failure to sign a left back until Cresswell's injury was almost as bad. The decision to operate a centre half light until February was, at best, injudicious. And the overstocking of wide midfielders whilst failing to sign a half decent striker was utter madness. Tohre? Feghouli? Snodgrass? Ayew? Really?

Sorry I have to go. My daughter's head has just turned 360 degrees and she is puking up green bile as her body lifts off the bed and hovers in mid air. Does anybody know the number of a good exorcist?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Adventures of Allardyce in Sunderland

Allardyce was beginning to get very tired of sitting in the shadow of his own ego outside the bank, and of having nothing to moan about: once or twice he had peeped into the book of tactics his replacement was writing, but it had no pictures of long balls in it, 'and what is the use of a book about passing,' thought Allardyce, 'without pictures of the route one ball?'

He was considering in his own mind (as well as he could, for thinking made him feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of beating Wenger again would be worth  the trouble of getting up and applying for a job, when suddenly a Red and White Striped Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by him.

There was nothing so VERY remarkable in that; nor did Allardyce think it so VERY much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, 'Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be relegated!' (when he thought it over afterwards, it occurred to him that he ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually TOOK A CHEQUE BOOK OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT-POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Allardyce started to his feet, for it flashed across his mind that he had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a cheque book  to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, he ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole beside the Wear.

In another moment down went Allardyce after it, never once considering how in the world he was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Allardyce had not a moment to think about stopping himself before he found himself falling down a very deep well.

Either the well was very deep, or he fell very slowly, for he had plenty of time as he went down to look about him and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, he tried to look down and make out what he was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then he looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with empty trophy cabinets; here and there he saw pictures of Montgomery and Porterfield  hung upon pegs. He took down a jar from one of the shelves as he passed; it was labelled 'Premiership Victories', but to his great disappointment it was empty: he did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as he fell past it.

'Well!' thought Allardyce to himself, 'after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they'll all think me at West Ham! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of my own ego!' (Which was very likely to be true.)

Down, down, down. Would the fall NEVER come to an end! 'I wonder how many positions in the table I've fallen by this time?' he said aloud. 'I must be getting somewhere near the bottom of the league. Let me see: that would be nearly one hundred places down, I think—' (for, you see, Allardyce had learnt several things of this sort in his lessons in the hard school of knocks  and though this was not a VERY good opportunity for showing off his knowledge, as there was no one to listen to him, still it was good practice to say it over) '—yes, that's about the right distance—but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?' (Allardyce had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say, like total football, the false number nine and free flowing football.)

Presently he began again. 'I wonder if I shall fall right THROUGH the league! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think—' (he was rather glad there WAS no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) '—but I shall have to ask them what the name of the division is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this the Blue Square Prem or the National League?' (and he tried to preen himself as he spoke—fancy preening yourself as you're falling through the divisions! Do you think you could manage it?) 'And what an ignorant big Sam they'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere.'

Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Allardyce soon began talking again. 'Sullivan'll miss me very much to-night, I should think! I hope they'll remember his bottle of champagne at tea-time. Sullivan my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no Payets in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a Nolan, and that's very like a Payet, you know. But do Premiership clubs want a Nolan, I wonder?' And here Allardyce began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to himself, in a dreamy sort of way, 'Do Premiership clubs want a Nolan? Do Premiership clubs want a Nolan?' and sometimes, 'Does Nolan want a Premiership club?' for, you see, as he couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way he put it. He felt that he was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that he was walking hand in hand with Nolan, and saying to him very earnestly, 'Now, Kevin, tell me the truth: did you ever play a pass over five yards?' when suddenly, thump! thump! down he came upon a heap of dirty kit and boots, and the fall was over.

Allardyce was not a bit hurt, and he jumped up on to his feet in a moment: he looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before him was another long passage, and the Red & White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost: away went Allardyce like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, 'Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!' He was close behind it when he turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen: he found himself in a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of miner’s lamps hanging from the roof. There were doors all-round the hall, but they were all locked; and when Allardyce had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, he walked sadly down the middle, wondering how he was ever to get out again.

Suddenly he came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it except a tiny golden key, and Allardyce’s first thought was that it might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, he came upon a low curtain he had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: he tried the little golden key in the lock, and to his great delight it fitted!

Allardyce opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: he knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest stadium you ever saw. How he longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those retractable seats beneath that Olympic roof, but he could not even get his head through the doorway; 'and even if my head would go through,' thought poor Allardyce, 'it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.' For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, like West Ham winning at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City that Allardyce had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so he went back to the table, half hoping he might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time he found a little bottle on it, ('which certainly was not here before,' said Allardyce) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words 'DRINK ME' beautifully printed on it in large letters.

It was all very well to say 'Drink me,' but the wise and wily Allardyce was not going to do THAT in a hurry. 'No, I'll look first,' he said, 'and see whether it's marked "relegation" or not'; for he had read several nice little histories about managers who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things, all because they WOULD not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you keep it up your back passage for too long; and that if you cut your finger VERY deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and he had never forgotten that, if you drink too much from a bottle marked 'relegation,' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.

However, this bottle was NOT marked 'relegation,' so Allardyce ventured to taste it, and finding it not so unpleasant, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of jock straps, coal dust, Geordie tears and hot pies) he very soon finished it off…

To be continued...