Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Another Day, Another Division At West Ham Disunited


Even when somebody is trying to pretend it is all peace and harmony at Upton Park, the truth slips out. What should we make of this from David Gold?

"In terms of selections and transfers we have zero influence," Gold said. "As to influence on 'Franco, I hope it is positive in the sense we show support and encouragement.

"That is what we do for a living, well that is what I do, I speak for myself. I would like to think that the manager would say that I show him and his team respect. They are there to do the job and I support them in anyway I can."

Look at the turn around in the first sentence of the second paragraph! It is as if Gold has thought in mid sentence, no hang on, this isn't credible, this sounds like bullshit! The "we" becomes "I" very dramatically and the "I" is then emphasised with the words "I speak for myself". Perhaps Gold is deliberately distancing himself from Sullivan, trying to reveal a different approach from his megamouth co-owner? Has there been a falling out between the two Davids because Sullivan wanted Zola out on takeover whilst Gold backed the incumbent manager, believing with home games coming up against Hull, Wolves, Bolton and Wigan, even a nice guy novice could stumble his way through to survival?

Now Sullivan is looking for an Arab backer! As if we haven't got enough divisions, now we could have the possibility of a re-run of the middle eastern crisis with the Jewish Gold at odds with new Arab investors. It's never boring at West Ham is it? Except when we have the ball of course!

COYI!

Bring Back Pardew!


Interesting to see that whilst Zola was in hiding, deciding whether or not he wanted the hassle of managing West Ham Disunited, Alan Pardew was winning a Cup at Wembley. OK, it was only the Johnstone Paint Trophy or whatever they now call it, but it was still a Cup! Remember when we used to take Cup competitions seriously and made it all the way to Wembley? Seems so long ago now, after the misery of Turds and Zola!

Pardew has done a brilliant job at Southampton, not only winning that Cup but lifting them to 10th in the old Division 3 despite starting the season with a 15 point penalty. The club has recovered its pride and will be amongst the favourites to win promotion next season.

When he was with us before, Pardew gained success on a shoestring. It is such a shame that we sacked him when money was available to strengthen the squad. You can bet your life he would have spent it better than Curbishley! Green, Reo-Coker, Zamora, Paintsil, Konchesky, Cole, Benayoun, Harewood - they were all bought cheaply by Pards and have either been sold at a handsome profit or will leave this summer for a tasty fee. Does anybody believe we would have lost 6 games on the bounce had Pardew been in charge? Remember, a few dodgy results and one 4-0 hammering at Bolton proved enough for Pardew to be shown the door. Zola, it seems, is going to be allowed more lives than a cat!

I have said it before and will say it again - Pardew is the man we need to recover our dignity!

COYI!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Is Faubert The Answer?


I know, the obvious answer is, "If yes then it must be a bloody silly question" but stay with me. On the whole, Faubert has aquitted himself reasonably well this season but I think he holds some responsibility for our defeat on Saturday. First half, I thought we did ok and were "shading the game", but just before half time, Faubert lost possession on the half way line and Stoke surged forward. For the last couple of minutes of the half we were under the cosh and we never seemed to recover from that point. Stoke had taken the initiative and we never looked like wrestling it back.

But the thing is, Faubert is not a right back. He has done a job there, but how much are we losing offensively by tying him to defensive duties? People forget that five of our first 7 goals last season came from Faubert passes / crosses. He is now playing with greater confidence and is more willing to take players on. As his goal against Hull proved, he can also belt the ball into the net, given the chance. Should Zola therefore move him forward, using his defensive ability to screen Spector at the same time?

For the Everton game, I would like to see us revert to five in midfield, but with Diamanti playing in the hole. I would keep Behrami on the left, ideally using Ilunga at left back if he is fit. Otherwise, I would go back to Daprela.

My team would read:

Green
Spector, Da Costa, Upson, Ilunga
Kovac
Faubert, Parker, Behrami
Diamanti
Cole

I suspect this team would have more "shape" than Zola's recent efforts and would offer more goal threat by getting Diamanti higher up the pitch in a central position.

Opinions?

COYI!

Don't Just Bury Your Heads, Bury Your Club As Well!


The decision of Zola to stick with West Ham, rather than the decision of West Ham to stick with Zola, has brought the ostriches out in their droves. The familiar chant has gone up, "Get behind the manager, get behind the club, get behind the team"; I am betraying the club by voicing concerns; it is down to me and others like me whether or not we win, apparently! On that basis, West Ham should pay me £1.9m per year to motivate the team! If I get behind them we will win, if I am critical we will lose! Pay me then, because Zola has no positive effect on them but I can pull victories or defeats out of a hat just like that apparently!

Parker tried to blame the fans after the Bolton defeat and that was outrageous. I felt physically sick to hear those same fans chanting "You're not fit to wear the shirt" during the Wolves game but prior to conceding the second goal, the support was unqualified. It made no difference to the performance though did it? Against Stoke, the support was excellent until the "I've got a tube to catch" brigade started to drift away in their droves with 15 minutes left. But again, it did not lift the team did it? No goals scored and, even more of an indictment in my book, not a single booking - just like against Wolves.

I stayed the course in all three games. I sang Bubbles, Come On You Irons, Indestructible and Over Land and Sea. But what good did it do? Sod all. Why? Because in all three games the team lacked motivation, organisation and inspiration. The Three Monkey Brigade can jump around in circles, scratching their arm pits and grunting "In Zola We Trust" but what difference will that make? None. The brutal truth is that Zola has taken us from a team in the top 5 on takeover to a team who no longer have the power to avoid relegation based on our own efforts. If Hull win their game in hand, we are as good as down.

Let's not be under any illusions here. Sullivan and Gold were hoping Zola would walk. Zola hasn't stayed for the fans, he has stayed for Clarke. And what do the players want? Most of them couldn't give a monkey's toss. They like Zola but there is a world of difference between liking and respecting a manager. I doubt that many of the Man Utd players like Ferguson! Do you remember backing Roeder all the way to the Fizzy Pop?

COYI!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Zola Gives Reasons For Staying In Open Letter To The Fans


Ciao

I am happy to announce that I will remain the West Ham manager for the foreseeable future. After losing six games in a row, including three very winnable home games against teams in the bottom half of the table, I thought it advisable to take some time out to consider my options. Should I remain manager of West Ham United or resign.

The most important consideration was whether or not I wanted to continue. I have a contract you see, and so the Board are not able to remove me without digging deep in their pockets, and I know that money is tight at the club. So, as much as Mr Sullivan may wish to sack me, he is not really in a position to do so.

I also needed to consider the wishes of the fans. I heard their cries for me to go after the Stoke game and, for the first time, I had a sense that the fans no longer trusted me. That might have persuaded me to go, but then I thought, most of the fans had left the ground by the time the final whistle blew, so the malcontents who remained were not necessarily a representative sample. Had the majority wanted me out, they would surely have remained to join in the cries for me to go. How could I walk out on these wonderful fans when they wanted me to stay?

Then there was the issue of my salary. £1.9m a year is an awful lot of money and, after my performance as a manager at West Ham, I am unlikely to be offered a similar figure anytime soon. Then there is my dear friend Steve Clarke who, as a journeyman footballer, has never had the opportunity to earn the mega salaries of the Zolas and Beckhams of this world. I owe it to Steve to keep him in the style to which he has recently become accustomed. Had I resigned, I would have betrayed my friend and I am no Brutus.

But finally there is the issue of unfinished business. I took over a team in the top five of the Premiership and, in the space of 18 months, have guided them to the very brink of relegation. Hull are level on points with ourselves with a game in hand so our destiny is no longer in our own hands. Having nearly finished the job, it would be criminal to walk away now with the Championship so nearly in touching distance.

I have had a wonderful break and return fit and ready for the challenges ahead. I am confident that the players will still respect me despite the pathetic figure I cut in interviews after the Stoke game and know that my tactics will come good in the end. I have no intention of changing tactical direction for the Everton game. Why should I? It is not a game we expect a result in anyway.

Yours most sincerely,

Gianfranco Zola

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Zola's Postcard From Sardinia


Ciao everybody, wish you were here, except for Mr Sullivan of course.

The weather here is wonderful and the sea looks so beautiful from the grounds of my villa. They tell me there are sharks in the bay but I am not worried. I am sure if I go in swimming everything will be fine. I have faith you see.

I have been thinking about the situation at West Ham and have decided to stay on. When all is said and done, football is just a game and we should not get so stressed about it. So what if we lose a few games? So what if the club is relegated? At the end of the day, providing the players are trying, we should be happy. Life is too short to worry about little things like relegation. I have played in Seria B and C and still enjoyed my football. We should not lose sight of that - football is sport, football is fun, it is about taking part, not about winning. That is why we should be called West Ham Olympic.

I was wondering this morning, when I woke to the sound of the gulls, why the Sun always rises in the East and sets in the West. If I was God, I would do it the other way around. Like that the Sun could cut inside rather than make its usual journey. The gulls have also troubled me. Surely they would look more majestic if they tried flying sideways and backwards rather than slavishly following the trawler. But now I am sounding like that French philospher.

Anyway, I have decided not to resign. Why not give it another go? My villa awaits if things do not work out so well in East London.

Gianfranco

Zola, Right Man Perhaps But Wrong Time



(The article below has been submitted by Rabelais. It is a "third way" in the Zola debate.)

Zola might make a good manager and it is a mistake to blame any one individual for the catastrophe that has been West Ham this season...but Zola is a guy caught in a perfect storm. And God, what I wouldn't give right now for an old sea dog like Roy Hodgson to have his hand on the tiller.

As HF says, Zola is tactically naive but he has other problems which are not necessarily of his own making:

1. A weak(ened) defence: look who we've lost without serious replacement - Collins, Neill, Ferdinand, McCartney.
2. A midfield light in attacking creativity - too many Nobles, Kovacs, Parkers and Behramis.
3. A slothful forward line - McCarthy, Mido, Franco.
4. And a whole lot of inexperienced youngsters all over the place, who really don't need to be blooded in a relegation dog-fight.

That said, Zola has seldom made the best of what he's got.

On the other hand, he being bullied out of his job by his employers. In any other industry he would have approached his union for advice, for he is clearly the victim of 'constructive dismissal'. But Zola has neither a union nor the guile to take his chairmen on.

So given that he is a victim of circumstance, what should he do? I bare the guy no ill-will and wish him well, but for his own sake and that of the West Ham, he has to walk. It is so patently clear that while Sullivan and Gold are in charge he has no future at the club, even if he leads the team to safety - which looks about as likely as snowball in hell.

So he should go because he has absolutely nothing to gain by standing each week on the touchline like a gimp, watching his team get beaten, without the power or acumen to do anything about it. If he decides to hold on for his P45 and the pay-off, he will look, not only an undignified figure but also a mercenary, self-serving figure.

Hoddle? Souness? Bilic? Who is waiting silently in the wings?


Souness doesn't want it! Thank God for that! Bilic doesn't want it! Thank God for that! Hoddle doesn't want it! Thank Hod for that! Does anybody want the West Ham job?

Well I take you back to Turds dropping out of the running for the Hull City job in double quick time. I said then that Curbishley would return to complete unfinished business.

If Zola goes, who else is available? That brown Volvo is being polished as I write!

Why Zola Has To Go!


Today we stand up to our chins in quicksand. We have been sinking deeper and deeper all season, but over the last six games, we have lost contact with Bolton, Wigan, Wolves and Sunderland. Now relegation comes down to Burnley, Hull and ourselves with 2 of the 3 about to drop. We have the strongest squad of the teams in the bottom six but we have the weakest team. That is down to poor management.

Yet again yesterday, we looked completely toothless against Stoke. Why? Because Zola will not set his side up to either to do the basics right or to exploit weaknesses in the opposition. I expressed frustration that Franco and Mido were selected against Arsenal ahead of Ilan and Cole, because Campbell's weakness is his pace. Wenger must have thought it was Christmas when he saw our team sheet. Yes he expected to win anyway, but he probably read the word "Surrender" when he saw Franco and Mido as the two pronged "threat". The failure to alter things significantly when Arsenal went down to 10 men showed the extent of Zola's tactical incompetence.

Against Wolves, we again saw the nonsense of using Stanislas and Diamanti on the wrong flanks, something that has failed time and time again. The one threatening cross we got in against Arsenal came when Stanislas drifted over to the right. Suddenly, but all too briefly, he looked dangerous.

Against Stoke yesterday, the tactic appeared to be to use two big men to batter the Stoke defence. Now given the physical nature of Stoke City, that warrants repeating. The tactic yesterday appeared to be to use two big men to batter the Stoke defence. Sounds pretty stupid when you see it in writing doesn't it? But that's what we tried to do! Every corner was delivered to the middle of the box and Mido and Cole were crowded out by Huth and his Mongol Horde. Where was the pace to upset the Stoke ogres? Where was the skill of the slingshot to fell the Stoke Goliath? Well Diamanti was initially on the bench, then parked out on the right, then moved into a three man midfield. Actually, of the three positions Zola deployed him in, the bench is probably Diamanti's most effective role! He is not a winger, especially not a right winger! Nor is he a combative midfielder! He NEEDS to play in the hole, either behind one or two strikers. I would have started him behind Cole and then, if necessary, behind Cole and Ilan later in the game.

But never mind Diamanti, where was Stanislas? Zola is destroying this kid. The boy is right footed. Given the right flank, he could cause damage; played on the left, I could mark him! But every time we see him, Stanislas is played on the left and then, when it doesn't work, he is punished by being left out.

And Stanislas is not the only kid being destroyed by Zola. Look at the decline in Sears since Zola took charge. Look at how Tomkins has been cruelly exposed, forced to play when patently out of form. Look at the dreadful handling of Da Costa who has looked reasonable when employed but who has been repeatedly ignored even when Tomkins has been failing. Look at the use of Daprela whose first four games were against Arsenal (twice), Chelsea and in a relegation 6 pointer against Wolves. Why wasn't he given 15 minutes when we were beating 9 man Hull for pity's sake? Because Zola doesn't think! Look at how Hines was repeatedly played out of position, used on the flank in a 4-3-3 formation rather than on the shoulder of Franco or Cole. I tell you, Zola would have destroyed Cottee and Defoe had he forced them to play as wingers in their first season. And look at Noble. Arsenal were interested at one point but now he looks Fizzy Pop class at best.

The team is a complete mess. Upson has blamed tactics and anybody with any understanding of football must see that Zola has no tactical acumen whatsoever. He repeats the same mistakes over and over and over again, then shakes his head and expresses disappointment that good players can't gel. He has to go!

Stand By Zola And Give Him Time


(Submitted by Stani Army in response to my article, Zola is too weak to win)

Because football is a team game, individual medal hauls, or lack of, are largely a result of circumstances a player finds himself in, and there are a number of examples that demonstrate this to us. I don't think it is an accurate method of judging the achievement or desire to succeed of an individual player, however good they are.

Take Stephen Gerrard for example. I think we can all agree that he should have won more medals than he has but it's not because of his personal underachievement or lack of will to win. Conversely, we have Clarence Seerdof who is the only player to have won three Champions leagues with three different clubs. Is Gerrard that bad and Seedorf that good? Or is their individual medal haul largely a result of circumstances (the club, league and specific period of time) they found themselves in?

Take an example closer to home, Paulo Di Canio. In 2002, Alex Ferguson wanted to buy him but due to his failure to offload Dwight Yorke, and our £3m price tag, the deal fell through. Now had Di Canio gone to Manchester United at the time, he would have had 3 league titles, 1 FA cup, 1 League cup, 1 Champions League to his name had he stayed there until his retirement in 2008. Now for two comparatively incidental or common footballing reasons (above), Di Canio lost out on that medal haul. But to say it was because of his personal underachievement or desire to succeed, I think is inaccurate.

I do believe that Gainfranco Zola, both the player and the manager, are winners. I think he has an underlying will to win that is not always immediately obvious. The fact that he has not resigned, I believe, is evidence of this. Some would say that him not resigning is because of his inability to recognise his inability, as it were. But I believe that it is that very reason to carry on which demonstrates to us that he has this inner belief and desire to succeed. Had he not had it, he would not have pushed himself to be so good purely as a footballer.

He is a rookie manager and we should not deny him this right to learn from a situation he has never found himself in before. Are we in a that much better a situation as a club than he is as a manager, to do so? We can all agree that he will come out of this a better manager so why not reap the benefits of this rather than letting him learn his trade here, but go somewhere else for others to benefit. If we do believe that one day he will be a very good manager, why don't we let that day arrive with him here. This is the same manager that many of us who are now calling for his head, feared that he may leave for Chelsea just last year.

West Ham 0 Stoke 1 - Beware The Ides Of March


There is a guy who purports to be a West Ham fan who comes on here to gloat because I have paid money to watch West Ham lose. He is one of a group who called me a traitor, a Spud and God knows what other insults because I predicted that we would struggle to avoid relegation this season. I am not gloating now, I feel pig sick that I called it right all along. In August it was obvious to me that the squad was ill equipped to cope with the Premiership and by January I was identifying Zola as the problem. Zola now stands on the brink of quitting and sadly it is three months too late. We are going down now, only victories against Wigan, Sunderland and away to Fulham will keep us up after Hull's victory today. Can anybody see that happening with the team's confidence destroyed?

Why have Gold and Sullivan allowed this buffoon to stay in charge? To save the pay off? Probably, but it will cost them many more millions when we go down. I said after the Chelsea game that Zola HAD to go. I stressed it again after a defeat at 10 man Arsenal when we barely mustered a shot on goal. And how he was allowed to continue after the shambolic performance against Wolves is utterly beyond me. But even today, people were backing Zola! But not at the end of the game. I head the chants of "F**K off Zola" at the final whistle and I hope he heard them too!

What is there to say about today's game. Zola again picked the wrong team. That is a given! Mido is shite. He hasn't looked like scoring and should not start another game for the club. True McCarthy is shite too. And so, it seems, is Ilan. That's why I proposed 4-3-3 this morning, hoping to get Diamanti into areas where he might score.

Instead, Zola left out Diamanti and Stanislas and played a journeyman midfield - who have totalled 4 goals between them all season! With Cole out of form and Mido goalless since his return from the Kebab house, it was odds on that we would fail to score. But did Zola factor that in when he picked the team? Of course not! Why would he? Why worry about little details like that? As he said yesterday, Zola has "faith" in his players! Faith! Such faith that he believes in miracles it seems!

I understand why Behrami started on the left, to protect Spector, but why Diamanti was again parked out on the right after he came on is beyond me. Once again he was playing on his wrong foot and, once again, he was, at best, a bit part player in the second 45 minutes. Presumably Dyer came off injured again!

Behrami again huffed and puffed but was next to useless. The nonsense of playing wide men on the wrong flank was illustrated perfectly when Behrami ran half the length of the pitch, got to the byline, but then could get no power on his attempted cross as he tried to deliver it with his left whilst on the run. Sorensen simply scooped up what amounted to a back pass. Mind you, Behrami was just as hopeless when he went down the right, ballooning his attempted cross into the crowd. The Swiss David Beckham? Absurd!

I think we created three real chances in the game. There was the Mido missed header (a pathetic effort), the Mido miss after Sorensen had saved and a Cole shot from outside the box. That was it wasn't it? And how many saves did Green make? None wasn't it? But we still contrived to concede and lose the game!

Did anybody play well? Upson was solid. Spector looked our most adventurous player going forward in the second half but, being right footed on the left, he constantly stopped before crossing. Cole looked brilliant in the warm up but struggled in the game. Parker took another one in the face, nearly played a perfect pass for Cole and ran his heart out - but with zero outcome again. Da Costa looked fine until Fuller turned him inside and out before scoring. Green coped with Delap's throws better than I dared hope. But going forward? Well we were hopeless yet again.

And the substitutions? Crass! Diamanti came on to play on the wrong flank, was moved briefly to the left and then found himself part of a midfield three. We need to get him in the final third; how could he do that in a three man midfield? Mido stayed on far too long and showed more pace when running for the bench after being substituted than he showed all game. Ilan was again played out of position and when we played with a front three there was nobody other than Spector trying to get the ball into the box for them to feed off. It was pathetic. In fact, I cannot remember feeling even a glimmer of hope throughout the second half. We could have played for another six hours without creating a clear cut chance.

Again we were toothless and disjointed. Again we lacked leadership, direction and cohesion. No wonder Clarke didn't want Sullivan to be a party to the tactical briefing on Thursday. It seems to me that the only evidence of planning was the siting of the advertising boards closer to the touchline to try to disrupt the delivery of Delap's throws!

Zola must go now surely? He sounded like a completely broken man when talking to reporters after the game. My money is on him wanting to quit but Clarke urging him to hang on in there for the payoff. If that is the case, Sullivan should bring in somebody over Zola's head and humiliate the Italian so he packs his bags and buggers off back to Sardinia.


Player ratings: Green 6; Faubert 5, Upson 7, Da Costa 6, Spector 7; Dyer 6, Parker 6, Noble 5, Behrami 4, Mido 3, Cole 5 Subs Diamanti 4, Ilan 4, McCarthy 4

Saturday, 27 March 2010

West Ham 0 Stoke 1 - Six Of The Worst!


There is a guy who purports to be a West Ham fan who comes on here to gloat because I have paid money to watch West Ham lose. He is one of a group who called me a traitor, a Spud and God knows what other insults because I predicted that we would struggle to avoid relegation this season. I am not gloating now, I feel pig sick that I called it right all along. In August it was obvious to me that the squad was ill equipped to cope with the Premiership and by January I was identifying Zola as the problem. Zola now stands on the brink of quitting and sadly it is three months too late. We are going down now, only victories against Wigan, Sunderland and away to Fulham will keep us up after Hull's victory today. Can anybody see that happening with the team's confidence destroyed?

Why have Gold and Sullivan allowed this buffoon to stay in charge? To save the pay off? Probably, but it will cost them many more millions when we go down. I said after the Chelsea game that Zola HAD to go. I stressed it again after a defeat at 10 man Arsenal when we barely mustered a shot on goal. And how he was allowed to continue after the shambolic performance against Wolves is utterly beyond me. But even today, people were backing Zola! But not at the end of the game. I head the chants of "F**K off Zola" at the final whistle and I hope he heard them too!

What is there to say about today's game. Zola again picked the wrong team. That is a given! Mido is shite. He hasn't looked like scoring and should not start another game for the club. True McCarthy is shite too. And so, it seems, is Ilan. That's why I proposed 4-3-3 this morning, hoping to get Diamanti into areas where he might score.

Instead, Zola left out Diamanti and Stanislas and played a journeyman midfield - who have totalled 4 goals between them all season! With Cole out of form and Mido goalless since his return from the Kebab house, it was odds on that we would fail to score. But did Zola factor that in when he picked the team? Of course not! Why would he? Why worry about little details like that? As he said yesterday, Zola has "faith" in his players! Faith! Such faith that he believes in miracles it seems!

I understand why Behrami started on the left, to protect Spector, but why Diamanti was again parked out on the right after he came on is beyond me. Once again he was playing on his wrong foot and, once again, he was, at best, a bit part player in the second 45 minutes. Presumably Dyer came off injured again!

Behrami again huffed and puffed but was next to useless. The nonsense of playing wide men on the wrong flank was illustrated perfectly when Behrami ran half the length of the pitch, got to the byline, but then could get no power on his attempted cross as he tried to deliver it with his left whilst on the run. Sorensen simply scooped up what amounted to a back pass. Mind you, Behrami was just as hopeless when he went down the right, ballooning his attempted cross into the crowd. The Swiss David Beckham? Absurd!

I think we created three real chances in the game. There was the Mido missed header (a pathetic effort), the Mido miss after Sorensen had saved and a Cole shot from outside the box. That was it wasn't it? And how many saves did Green make? None wasn't it? But we still contrived to concede and lose the game!

Did anybody play well? Upson was solid. Spector looked our most adventurous player going forward in the second half but, being right footed on the left, he constantly stopped before crossing. Cole looked brilliant in the warm up but struggled in the game. Parker took another one in the face, nearly played a perfect pass for Cole and ran his heart out - but with zero outcome again. Da Costa looked fine until Fuller turned him inside and out before scoring. Green coped with Delap's throws better than I dared hope. But going forward? Well we were hopeless yet again.

And the substitutions? Crass! Diamanti came on to play on the wrong flank, was moved briefly to the left and then found himself part of a midfield three. We need to get him in the final third; how could he do that in a three man midfield? Mido stayed on far too long and showed more pace when running for the bench after being substituted than he showed all game. Ilan was again played out of position and when we played with a front three there was nobody other than Spector trying to get the ball into the box for them to feed off. It was pathetic. In fact, I cannot remember feeling even a glimmer of hope throughout the second half. We could have played for another six hours without creating a clear cut chance.

Again we were toothless and disjointed. Again we lacked leadership, direction and cohesion. No wonder Clarke didn't want Sullivan to be a party to the tactical briefing on Thursday. It seems to me that the only evidence of planning was the siting of the advertising boards closer to the touchline to try to disrupt the delivery of Delap's throws!

Zola must go now surely? He sounded like a completely broken man when talking to reporters after the game. My money is on him wanting to quit but Clarke urging him to hang on in there for the payoff. If that is the case, Sullivan should bring in somebody over Zola's head and humiliate the Italian so he packs his bags and buggers off back to Sardinia.


Player ratings: Green 6; Faubert 5, Upson 7, Da Costa 6, Spector 7; Dyer 6, Parker 6, Noble 5, Behrami 4, Mido 3, Cole 5 Subs Diamanti 4, Ilan 4, McCarthy 4

Upson Admits Zola Is A Clown!


Upson has been caught on camera admitting that we are all at see tactically. Unaware that he was being filmed when in discussion with a fan after the Wolves game, Upson says,

“If you asked us our style of play tonight, you wouldn't really know, would you? Because we've lost our way a little bit. We've lost our way tactically. It's not a case of kicking people up the arse, it's a case of people knowing their job and us as a team knowing what we're doing. It doesn't matter how many miles you run or how committed you are - if you're not doing it together as a team you're not going to win the game."

That would tally with Upson and Behrami having an exchange on the half way line in the first half on Tuesday. Behrami was yards behind the play as they exchanged words and the "chat" ended with Upson patting Behrami on the back. I wondered what was going on at the time but now, it seems, the two may have been "discussing" the relative merits of shape, favoured by Upson, and crude effort, epitomised by Behrami.

It is further evidence that the club is falling apart. The fans have been knocking Upson but he sees it all from the back and must realise how pathetic we are as an offensive unit. When he looks up, who is there to pass to? Who is moving? Who is looking for the ball? Well, until Franco came on, the answer to that question on Tuesday was nobody!

Two things summed us up on Tuesday - both in the first half. We were awarded a free kick ten yards into Wolves territory. Tomkins took it, and passed the ball 10 yards SIDEWAYS to Daprela, who was instantly closed by a Wolves player. he passed the ball to Diamanti, who was close marked and the Italian put the ball into touch. Here was an opportunity to put the ball into the box, and we gave Wolves a throw in! The second came with yet another failed short corner. We were behind, we needed the ball in and around the Wolves goal, we had a corner...and Diamanti played it back 10 yards to Faubert, who was immediately closed, hurried into a cross, and he simply passed the ball to a Wolves defender and the opposition were breaking on us. Stupid. Plain stupid!

Upson was right in his assessment but aren't his comments to a fan as "unhelpful" as Sullivan's to the fans in general?

Dyer Rumoured To Be Fit - Go 4-3-3!


I would not want to be responsible for naming the team today but, for what it is worth, if Dyer is fit, this would be my side:

Green:
Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Daprela;
Beharmi, Parker, Noble;
Diamanti, Dyer
Cole.

I know, I know, it is 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. I know I have been calling for 4-4-2 all season. But at the end of the day, this is the only way of getting Diamanti into the final third without losing a numerical advantage in midfield. If Dyer is unfit, then I would slot either Ilan or Stanislas in, retaining the same formation. In fact, given Dyer's inability to score, it might be more sensible to do that anyway!

I travel today in hope, not in expectation. In Zola we trust? You must be joking!

Etherington Backing West Ham To Survive


Well that's it then! Anybody know where Scunthorpe is?

Wheels Coming Off On Last Lap


Lewis Hamilton is in trouble for doing donuts but, it seems, we have a bunch of donuts running our club. Take what position you like on Zola, it can't be in anybody's interests for the managers, owners and players to be so obviously at odds with each other. If we were striving for the old Wimbledon Crazy Gang mentality, then fair enough, but, unfortunately, that is not what is going on.

The press are now reporting that Sullivan read the riot act to the players on Thursday and was asked to LEAVE by Clarke. Dear God, I have worked for Barratt. I can just imagine the explosion had Sir Lawrie Barratt been asked to leave a building site by a regional Construction Director! And note it was Clarke who stood up to him, not Zola - what does that tell you?

Listen to Zola and I would be amazed if your hackles do not rise. The Italian sums it all up when he says, "I have thinking about this situation and have been saying, 'What the hell is going on here. It is a football game, Jesus Christ.' This is what I think about. I question myself, 'Am I doing everything that I can?' And I have to say 'yes'. I am doing it with passion. I am doing it with honesty. So why should I be kicking myself or banging my head against the wall?"

Why should you be banging your head against a wall? Because the team looked like a bunch of strangers on Tuesday, because despite having 9 months to work with this present squad, there is no team shape, no cohesion, no structure to our play. As for the line, "It is a football game, Jesus Christ", well doesn't that explain why Zola never won a title or Champions League as a player and only picked up 35 caps despite his prodigious talents. To him, it is a game. Great, very Corinthian, very noble - but so so so wrong! It is not a game for the fans, it is so much more than a game: it is part of our family, the lungs of our hopes, the heart of our dreams, the life blood that pumps through our humdrum lives. A game? No Zola, it is not a game! We play games at Christmas, West Ham is for life!

Asked if Sullivan is trying to squeeze him out, Zola replied, "That is a good question. I don't know. I understand the chairman, Mr Sullivan, is very much concerned about the situation. We are not in a very good position and he is concerned. I am concerned as much as him. I have faith in the players I am working with."

But that "faith" is the trouble! Zola believes these players are better than they are and will not shape his tactics to the raw material at his disposal. Stanislas is not Ashley Young, he cannot cross off his wrong foot and cannot push the ball along the line with it either. He needs to play on the right. It is simple. But Zola cannot see it. Tomkins isn't ready for the Prem. It is simple. But Zola cannot see it. Spector is not a Premiership quality player. It is simple. But Zola cannot see it. Behrami is all huff and puff and is not an attacking option. It is simple. But Zola cannot see it. Diamanti is potentially a match winner in the final third but is a liability in his own half. It is simple. But Zola cannot see it. But Zola has faith in his players so he repeats the same mistakes in game after game when he selects his side and determines the tactics. Zola chose his language brilliantly because, famously, faith is blind!

Sullivan is of the opinion that the team is unfit. I'm not sure that is the problem . The problem is that the team run twice as far as the opposition as they chase and run with the ball rather than mark space and pass. Watch Behrami! What does the guy think he is doing? It is like watching a nine year old, charging here, there, everywhere, and all to no avail. Wonderful effort, but all the huff and puff in the world will not blow a well built house down!

The stories coming out of the club this week are terrifying. The club is tearing itself apart in front of our eyes. This is Newcastle all over again and I am struggling to see how we can arrest the decline. Our performance on Tuesday reminded me of Newcastle's abject surrender in the final game of last season. They went down without a fight. And, of course, in charge was a rookie manager who the stupid Geordie fans adored and backed all the way through to the Fizzy Pop. In Shearer they trusted! God help us!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Zola Is Too Weak To Win


Given his undoubted ability, Zola does not have a great record of winning things as a player. True he has a Seria A winners medal, but in that season he only made 7 appearances for Napoli. Describing him as a "bit part" in that success would be hyperbole in the circumstances therefore. Then there was the Supercoppa Italia in the following year (the Italian Charity Shield), but the Italians take domestic cup competitions as seriously as Katie Price takes marriage vows. There were 2 UEFA Super Cups but that's the European equivalent of the Charity Shield - an exhibition game with an edge.

The medals that really count boil down to two FA Cups with Chelsea, a League Cup, a Cup Winners Cup and a UEFA Cup - and try telling Rooney, Lampard, Ballack, Keane, Scholes and co that those competitions are anything more than padding for the trophy cabinets. No side featuring Zola as a regular ever won a league title and no team featuring Zola ever won the European Cup / Champions League. A total of 35 international caps is also disappointingly low for such a great player.

Significantly, Zola finished as a "runner up" on too many occasions: he was on the losing side in the final in the FA Cup in 2002, the Charity Shield in 1997, the Cup Winners Cup in 1994, the Coppa Italia in 1995, the Supercoppa Italianna in 1995, in Seria A in 1994/95 and in Seria B in 2003/04. Zola was also in the squad when Italy finished runners up in the 1994 World Cup.

There is a saying that "Nice guys come second" and Zola illustrates this perfectly. In truth, given his prodigious talent, his playing career is a story of massive underachievement. And leopards don't change their spots.

We are going down because Zola is not a winner. Look at his lily livered response to both Tuesday's inept performance and Sullivan's fully justified criticism of that shambles. Sullivan simply voiced what every fan is thinking. He witnessed the fans turn on the team on Tuesday and he came down on the side of the supporters. But Zola? He has criticised Sullivan and tried to make excuses for the team. Crazy, absolutely crazy! The players needed to hear that their performance was pathetic and shambolic. Instead Zola has said, "Blame me". So Zola has simply given his players a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card! Ludicrous.

Just listen to him:

"We know that we have to produce a fantastic performance against Stoke," Zola said. "The good thing is that I do not need to motivate the players with a team talk, because they have already had one."

No need to motivate the players? Was he watching on Tuesday? Who has motivated them? Sullivan? But Sullivan was wrong to say what he said according to Zola.

He adds, "We are a good team, but going through a difficult moment. We need to make sure we show everyone we are a good team and are going to try to show that."

I know he is operating in a foreign language but that "moment" has been going on for 9 months now and I am worried by that use of the word "try". I don't want to hear they are going to try to show that they are a good team, I want to hear that we will!

Who would you back to motivate our malingerers on Saturday, Nice Guy Zola or Neil Warnock? Unfortunately Pulis is a Warnock type, a manager who will punch a player who has upset him. Stoke have nothing to play for but are guaranteed to arrive full of fight; but are we sure of that our dandy boys will be up for a battle? To answer that, look back to Tuesday night!

Good Cop, Bad Cop and Brady Is The Eye Candy!


It is the oldest routine in the book, the good cop, bad cop ploy. Except at West Ham, like everything else, it is arse about face. First Sullivan comes out and lays into the team, but in truth is trying to bully Zola into resigning. I suspect he would have got his way too, but for Clarke, who being a Scot will be looking to bank a payoff. I wouldn't be surprised if Clarke has quoted Pulp Fiction, responding to Zola's suggestion that they resign with the words, "That's pride f***ing with you. F**k pride!"

With the ploy failing, Gold steps in today as the good cop, offering himself as a bridge over troubled waters and telling the World that Zola has the "full backing" of the owners and that he will be the West Ham manager for "years to come". What an absurd statement! We are teetering on the brink of relegation. Does anybody seriously believe that Zola will be allowed to stay on if we go down? Can you think of anybody less well equipped to lead a team of journeymen out of the Fizzy Pop? Imagine Zola's short passing game in the Championship! We would drop another division!

So Gold's comments today are a sticky plaster. He knows that the club is tearing itself apart and that the chances of us beating Stoke are zero if we go into the game in a state of internecine warfare. The attempt to humiliate Zola into resignation has failed so now it is time to pretend everything in the garden is smelling of roses. Sniff deeper and instead of the rose petals you will smell the bullshit fertiliser!

Good cop, bad cop, it makes you think of that TV series, Life On Mars. Going back in time are we? Who is that standing on the touchline looking impotent? Glen Roeder appears shorter these days!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sullivan Bleeding From The Heart Or Backing Zola Into A Corner?


Upson has come out and said that Sullivan's open letter to fans (in which the co Chairman describes Tuesday's surrender as "pathetic")is "unhelpful". It seems that the players do not like the Chairman's honest assessment of the team's performance - they much prefer the Zola approach of making excuses on their behalf. Don't blame the players, blame me is the Zola mantra. But shouldering the blame does not go so far as accepting responsibility and resigning sadly. Dear God, even Mandelson would resign of his own volition if exposed as Zola was on Tuesday!

The question is, was Sullivan bleeding from the heart, or was this a strategy in trying to force Zola out? Is his position really tenable when the Chairman is describing the performance of the team as "shambolic". Now absymal would describe the team, "shambolic" describes the organisation of the team - that reads to me as direct criticism of the manager. In case Zola is in any doubt about who he holds most at fault, Sullivan goes on to describe the "disorganised way we played, allowing Wolves too much space so that they looked more like Manchester United". He twists the knife by referring to the "appalling performance against Bolton".

And he doesn't stop here! He writes, "Individually we have some very good players, but this is not being converted into a good team performance". So who is to blame for that? The players or the manager? Well Sullivan clarifies that for us when he says, "with some of the outstanding players we have, we can and must do better as a team" after what he terms "a pathetic performance".

Sullivan then launches a thinly veiled attack on Zola's tactics when he writes, "When I first started supporting West Ham, we had a tradition for playing the game ‘the right way’. I will settle for any way right now, as long as it is the winning way!" If that doesn't amount to "ditch your principles Zola and win at all cost" then I am Didier Drogba!

And what's wrong with the team? Well I have been saying the absence of width and the failure to use Diamanti as a playmaker. It seems Sullivan agrees because he says we need, "Another hero to watch: a midfield playmaker, a little wizard on the wing, a goalscorer".

It seems to me that Sullivan is doing his level best to provoke Zola into resigning. He is desperate for the Italian to walk away from the job. The strategy is high risk, however, because the players love the manager. Well they would wouldn't they, when they know that they will be able to play in the Prem next season whether or not we survive? Zola simply displays his weakness when he tries to shield the players from criticism after Tuesday's diabolical showing. Can you imagine Ferguson saying, "Don't blame the players, blame me" or The Special One? Weak managers think they are being strong when they carry the can; but it simply shows that they lack the balls to criticise the players, fearing they will turn against them as a result.

So the players support Zola and Zola supports the players and Sullivan is doing his level best to bounce Zola out of the job! That is not a recipe for happy families and is unlikely to result in the team pulling together in the same direction.

Pulis will be rubbing his hands together in glee. Last season two Stoke players had a punch up at Upton Park. This season, our entire club is ripping itself apart. The Chairman has turned on the players, the players have turned on the Chairman and the fans have turned on the players! It doesn't bode well for Saturday does it?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Sullivan's Email


I am writing this on Wednesday morning. I had no sleep last night, having watched the shambolic performance by the team against Wolves.

I was as angry and upset as every supporter in the stadium at the disorganised way we played, allowing Wolves too much space so that they looked more like Manchester United. This was the culmination of five defeats in a row, including an appalling performance against Bolton.

We have a few very talented players in our team, but it is a very unbalanced squad. Individually we have some very good players, but this is not being converted into a good team performance. Nobody at the club should delude themselves that we are a good team. The table at this stage of the season does not lie.

However, with some of the outstanding players we have, we can and must do better as a team. I apologise to every supporter for the pathetic showing on Tuesday night but I fully expect a dramatic improvement today as we have so much individual talent.

I accept that the club is in deep relegation trouble. However, we are a long way from being relegated. With your help we can get out of this and regroup in the summer.

This is a difficult time. It has been a week to regret but Saturday’s result can change that. We need a win, we need you to support us, to forgive us the result against Wolves and to remember what this great club is about.

The history and tradition of West Ham United, the heritage and the prestige demands we are a Barclays Premier League club. But we have no right to that. We have to earn it. The Academy of Football? Now we have to show that. The manager knows, I know, the players know.

When I first started supporting West Ham, we had a tradition for playing the game ‘the right way’. I will settle for any way right now, as long as it is the winning way!

We all have our favourite players, our heroes. Older fans can remember players like Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters – the cornerstone of England’s 1966 World Cup win. I know rival teams mock us West Ham fans for saying that, but one was the captain, another scored a hat-trick, the other scored the fourth. That sounds like a claret and blue contribution to me.

Younger supporters will probably look to strikers such as Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee as well as Paolo Di Canio. They all brought something special to the club.

Then there was Sir Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Alan Taylor, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Phil Parkes, Alvin Martin and Ray Stewart. We didn’t win much but there was always a quality and a style. Another hero to watch: a midfield playmaker, a little wizard on the wing, a goalscorer.

Now we need this team to show their quality.

Now we need this team to show us their talent, their desire, their passion, their dare.

Now we need new heroes.

Saturday may be tense, on Saturday you will feel anxious and, at times, unsettled. I ask that we try not to transmit that on to the field, that we get behind the team and provide them with a platform. The rest is up to them.

Click here to buy tickets for Stoke [HE COULDN'T RESIST! :)]

It’s hard being an owner. I’m finding it’s harder being an owner who is a supporter. I hope for happier times soon.

Thank you for sharing the same vision and dreams.

Come on West Ham.

David Sullivan
Joint Chairman

(Cheers for sharing this Stani)

Zola is an ex manager!


A West Ham fan enters Upton Park.

Mr. Praline: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(David Sullivan does not respond.)

Mr. Praline: 'Ello, Miss?

Sullivan: What do you mean "miss"? I'm not Carlton Cole!

Mr. Praline: {pause} I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Sullivan: We're closin' for lunch.

Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this pillock what the club appointed Manager not more than 18 months before.

Sullivan: Oh yes, the, uh, the Former Chelsea Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead useless, that's what's wrong with it!

Sullivan: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's learning.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead useless pillock when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Sullivan: No no he's not dead useless, he's, he's learning! Remarkable manager, the Former Chelsea Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful ideas!

Mr. Praline: The ideas don't enter into it. It's tactically stone dead.

Sullivan: Nononono, no, no! 'E's learning!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he's learning', I'll teach 'im! (shouting at Zola) 'Ello, Mister Gianfranco Zola! I've got a lovely right footed right winger for you if you'd care to play him on the right wing!...

(Sullivan smacks Zola about the head)

Sullivan: There, he took that in!

Mr. Praline: No, he didn't, that was you hitting him round the head!

Sullivan: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Sullivan: I never, never did anything...

Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting Zola repeatedly) 'ELLO ZOLA!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your eight games left alarm call!

(Lifts Zola up and thumps his head on the reception desk. Throws Zola up in the air and watches him plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Praline: Now that's what I call a dead useless pillock.

Sullivan: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned after the Wolves game!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Sullivan: Yeah! Wolves stunned him, just as he was wakin' up to what was needed! Former Chelsea Blues stun easily, major.

Mr. Praline: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That pillock is definitely a deceased manager, and when the club appointed it not more than 18 months before, we was assured that its total lack of tactical know how was due to it bein' new and inexperienced.

Sullivan: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for Sardinia.

Mr. Praline: PININ' for Sardinia!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment this season kicked off?

Sullivan: The Ex Chelsea Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable manager, id'nit, squire? Lovely ideas!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that pillock when I was at the Wolves game, and I discovered the only reason that it had been standing on the touchline in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.

(pause)

Sullivan: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If the club hadn't nailed that manager down, it would have nuzzled up to those doors, bent 'em apart with its nose, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this pillock wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' tactically demised!

Sullivan: No no! 'E's pining!

Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This pillock is no more! He has ceased to be a manager! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the touchline 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-MANAGER!!

(pause)

Sullivan: Well, I'd better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the shop, and uh, we're right out of replacement managers.

Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Sullivan: {pause} I've got a vibrator.

(pause)

Mr. Praline: (sweet as sugar) Pray, does it talk tactics?

Sullivan: Nnnnot really.

Mr. Praline: WELL IT'S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?

Sullivan: Look, if you go to my former club in Birmingham, they'll replace the pillock for you.

Mr. Praline: Birmingham, eh? Very well.


Sullivan: (to the audience) Well! I never wanted to do this in the first place. I wanted to be... A LUMBERJACK! (he takes off his white coat to reveal a checkered shirt and suspenders under it) Floating down the mighty rivers of the Fizzy Pop! With my Karren Brady by my side!

Zola's Not Fit To Pick The Team! Announcement Expected


It is nearly 12 hours since the worst West Ham home performance I have ever seen and Zola still hasn't resigned. In Zola we trust? An honourable man? Cobblers. An honourable man would have apologised to the fans, waved goodbye from the touchline and buggered off to Chelsea or Milan to learn how to select a team, determine tactics and motivate his players.

Zola was out thought by Mick McCarthy last night. Wolves were the better team ALL over the pitch. The defeat wasn't down to individual errors as Zola repeatedly claims, those individual errors (like Tomkins' last night) are because we are always stretched, always a man short at the back, in midfield and up front. After 5 minutes I said, "It looks like Wolves have an extra player on the pitch" and I actually found myself counting the players in Gold and Claret and Blue. We had no shape and no organisation; we were shockingly poor.

Zola says the fans should pick on him. No they shouldn't because he should go. He admitted that the performance last night was terrible and he admitted that it was his fault. We did not play well at Chelsea as he claimed. We were embarrassing in the second half against Arsenal's 10 men. We were shocking at home to Bolton. We were dire in the second half at Old Trafford.

The only question I have this morning is "Why hasn't Zola resigned yet?" Come on Zola, show all your supporters that their trust was justified!

West Ham 1 Wolves 3 - Zola Must Go


Please don't expect a match report. A Chelsea supporter (decent guy) tried to talk to me about the game on the way back on the tube and I was honestly struggling to hold back the tears - his wife realised and gave me that look that kind hearted females give to sad looking puppies. Over the 94 minutes of the match I moved through hope to fear to despair to complete and utter incomprehension. I honestly have no idea who played the pass for Franco's goal, by that stage I was in a total daze, utterly dumbfounded by what I had witnessed.

We weren't poor tonight, we were utterly and completely abysmal. That was the worst I have ever seen us play. There was no shape, no skill, no vision and, most seriously of all, no passion. Not on the pitch anyway. I think I am right in saying that we didn't pick up a single yellow card. In a crucial relegation BATTLE where we were fighting for our Premiership lives, nobody in Claret and Blue was sufficiently pumped up to take out a Wolves player, even when we were two or three goals down and facing utter humiliation. Can you imagine Bonds or Dicks or Repka surrendering so tamely as that shower tonight? The crowd turned on the players at 3-0 and chanted "You're not fit to wear the shirt" and whilst I did not join in, I could not condemn them. With the score at 3-0 I actually saw Diamanti SMILING!

The only player who looked up for the game was Franco. He may be slow, but at least he put in a shift after he came on as a sub and he thoroughly deserved his goal. As for the rest, well what can you say? Surely everybody now understands that the fault lies with Zola?

Tactically, we were inept again tonight. Typically, Zola went with the defensive midfield formation of Kovac, Parker and Behrami, none of whom offer any form of threat in the final third. Kovac did what Kovac does - pass sideways and backwards. Parker did was Parker does - turn in circles and run up blind allies. And Behrami did was Behrami does - chase around the park like a dog after a stick. Meanwhile Diamanti did was Diamanti does - flit in and out of the game and fail utterly in his defensive duties. Until somebody plays Diamanti in the hole, we will never see the best of him. Come half time, Zola made the change he should have made before kick off, sending on Stanislas but, surprise, surprise, he played him on the wrong flank again. Diamanti and Stanislas proceeded to cut inside into a congested midfield every time they received the ball and Wolves said, "Thanks very much, this is exactly what we expected."

Zola, meanwhile, cut a pathetic and forlorn figure on the touchline. Remember Roeder standing on the touchline with his arms folded whilst the world collapsed around him? Remember McClaren under his brolly as Croatia took us apart? Well Zola had his hands in his pockets but looked equally as impotent tonight. He wasn't giving directions to his players, he was simply standing there, utterly and completely bemused and out of his depth. The guy is killing us. He is taking us down. If anybody defends him after this showing then they need their heads testing.

As I left the ground I heard in my head the final stanza of Eliot's "The Hollow Men":

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

West Ham Wolves, Early Team News


Zola has decided to select the following team: Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero, Hero. The tactics are starightforward: Get out there and murder them!

Come On You Irons!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Why West Ham fans may cheer Tottenham qualifying for the Champions League!


What an amazing last day of the season we could face. Check out the fixtures for the last day of the season and the computer has thrown up the following:

Burnley v Tottenham
Hull v Liverpool

And

West Ham v Man City

What are the odds of that? Just imagine if Tottenham, Liverpool and Unreal City are still neck and neck in the race for the Champions League whilst Burnley, Hull and ourselves are still involved in a photo finish to avoid the drop! Imagine the irony of Tevez scoring the goal that sends us down! Or the bitter pill of us celebrating a Defoe goal that saves us but takes Tottenham into the Champions League! Of course, the nightmare scenario would be for Liverpool to be out of the running and picking their stiffs for the game at Hull, just as they did at Fulham in the Great Escape year!

God, I'm already feeling sick at the prospect! We have to beat Wolves tomorrow!

Dyer's Definition Of Fitness!


You have to give Dyer his due - and that's £65k a week at the lowest estimate - the guy has some brass neck! Get this for a quote!

"The fittest I've been since I became a West Ham player was at Wolverhampton on the first day of the season and I showed in that 70 minutes that I was on the pitch what I can do."

So, by Dyer's OWN admission he was not fit to play 90 minutes WHEN HE JOINED US or at any point BEFORE he broke his leg and hasn't been fit to play 90 minutes since! Brilliant! So yes Kieron, we saw what you could do, complete a whole 70 minutes on the football pitch - and, of course, you were then unavailable for the next 2 games after that extraordinary effort!

You couldn't bloody script it! And what does this tell us about the idiocy of Turds, Egg and Duxbury? Did they decide that there was no real need for a medical when they signed him?

I despair!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sears Nearly Scores A Goal!


Playing for Coventry as a late substitute, Freddie - The New Tony Cottee - Sears very nearly scored. He didn't score. In fact the goal that he nearly scored should have been ruled offside - because Sears was interfering with play - but still, he was involved and in the box, and he nearly touched the ball, and had he touched the ball, he might have had a shot and, had he had a shot, he might have scored. Just shows the lad's enormous potential if you ask me. Before the season ends, he may score a goal in the Fizzy Pop!

Volcano Erupts In Iceland


So there is a God after all! Shame Eider wasn't sitting on top of it!

The Time Is Right To Spank Wolves 5-0

People are starting to worry about Tuesday. Read the forums and, because Wolves did well at Villa and we have looked bloody awful in our last four games, anxiety is creeping in. I saw one poster say that 4 points from 6 next week would be a good return. In a way it would, but we should not be thinking in that way. We should be expecting a spanking. Why?

Well I had no time for Parker's bleating after the Bolton game but there is no denying that an anxious crowd communicates its anxiety, whereas an expectant crowd communicates enthusiasm. Look at the Burnley fans who sucked in their opening goal against us at Turf Moor. Look at the way the Hull fans roared their Tigers on after we took a two goal lead on their dung heap. Look at how Stoke fans turn their stadium into a baying arena for every home game. A goal and a man down against Spurs yesterday and they were still drowning out Phil Thompson when he tried to report on the game for Sky.

Upton Park used to be a cauldron, especially for games under floodlights. Teams used to dread coming to the Boleyn for the crunch games under lights, they knew the crowd would make our players a yard faster, a boxing division stronger and a division higher in terms of ability. That's why we used to beat Man Utd!

But we have lost that. Why?

Turds must take a lot of the blame. He sent the stadium into a coma and the crowd seem to have been on life support ever since. The atmosphere is muted now, no doubt about it. But Turds was flushed away 18 months ago now and that should have been sufficient time to recharge the passion, to get the fans stoked up again(the pun is deliberate!). Why hasn't it happened?

Because Zola's football, in its way, is as boring to watch as Curbishley's. True we no longer lump and chase, but now we pass sideways and backwards with very little forward momentum. We criticised Di Michele for his lack of goals but so much of our forward play was linked through him last season. He dropped deep and played the ball forward or wide, or spun either with the ball or looking for a return after laying it off. Everything was done at speed and there was a sense of urgency about our play, almost reminiscent of the Pardew era.

But this season we have lost that. Franco has no pace at all and, like Cole at the moment, shields every ball played up to him before looking for a backwards pass. We seem to be forever setting up the second and third phase and never actually get round to launching the attack itself. If Zola had been in charge of Desert Storm, we would still be camped in Saudi Arabia and Saddam would still be talking about the "Mother of all Battles".

This nonsense has to stop on Tuesday. If Zola tells the team to pass their way through the middle of Wolves then we will draw 1-1 at best. It is now time to go for the throat, to forget the fancy stuff and just aim to get the crowd onside and Wolves on the back foot.

With that in mind, I would throw caution to the wind. My team would be 4-4-2 but not as we have seen it so far. Behrami would be moved to right back. He can't play a killer pass and can't cross for his life so is a waste of space in midfield when you are looking to attack. He runs and runs and runs but so bloody what? I'd sell him in the summer! In central midfield I would pair Parker and Diamanti. It would be Parker's job to anchor sadly. I know we would lose something by doing this but I want to liberate Diamanti to roam and find space in the hole behind the two strikers. On the right of midfield, assuming Faubert is injured, would be Stanislas - yes on the right! The instruction would be simple. Get the ball, run at the full back and whip in crosses. Over on the left, if fit, would be Collison. If not, then I would move Behrami over to the left of midfield and bring back Spector to right back. Either way, the instruction to Ilunga, if fit, or Daprela, would be to attack the left flank, with whoever is on duty on the left of midfield warned to watch his back and provide adequate cover. Up front I would go with Cole and McCarthy, with instructions to get into the box to attack the crosses.

This is the way to get Upton Park roaring again. The first time Stanislas skins the Wolves left back, hope will surge. The more crosses that come into the box, the more the decibels will rise.

If I was Zola, I would have 5-0 on the wall of the dressing room. That's all I would be talking on Monday and Tuesday. This is Wolves, they are shite, we are much better player for player, so let's annihilate them!

I am there on Tuesday. I will be roaring encouragement when the players come on to the field. If I see direct play, with crosses into the box and shots on goal, I will roar support until the final whistle. Wolves will wilt if we attack as we attacked in the Pardew era. But if we play it the Zola way...well God help us!

Gold Going For Beckham


What nonsense! Sullivan and Gold do like to see their name in the papers don't they, and will come up with any old crap to keep us in the headlines. The latest yarn is that we will sign Beckham WHEN he returns from injury.

Now there's just a few holes in this story. Firstly we couldn't afford his state pension, never mind his wages. Secondly "when" should read "if" he ever returns from injury. Thirdly, even when a local boy, Beckham supported Manchester United. Fourthly, many West Ham fans hold him in contempt and, of course, it was our intellectual giants who hanged an effigy of Beckham after his sending off in the World Cup all those years ago.

If I was Beckham, would I play for West Ham? I don't think so. But maybe Gold is thinking of selling him a penthouse flat in Boleyn Mansions rather than signing him up to play for the club!

Zola Talks More Crap


Listen to the buffoon:

"I am disappointed, especially after the first half when I thought that we were playing the best game of the season," Zola said. "The key was to keep the discipline because you have the extra man and I told them to keep it simple, to move the ball around until we have two versus one. Scoring the penalty would have been a big help because Arsenal would have played different football. But they just sat back and played the counter-attack. We just did not use the extra man."

Well that's is pretty much what I said he would have said in his half time talk! That was exactly what the players didn't need to hear. What they needed to hear was this:

"This is a fantastic opportunity to open a gap over the teams at the bottom. Junior I want you hugging the touchline on the right and taking on the fullback. Alesandro, onto the left but drift inside and look to get in as many shots as you can. Daprela, get up that left flank as much as you can and get in crosses. I want to see the ball in their box much more. Let's play the second half in and around their box. Cut out the passing sideways, let's put them under pressure. This isn't the time for pretty football. Arsenal don't like it up them so get the ball into the box and attack it hard. Score early in the second half and they will crumble. Now get out there and win it!"

Can you imagine Martin O'Neill saying "keep the discipline...keep it simple...move the ball around" when 1-0 DOWN against 10 men? He would have been motivating, not philosophising! No wonder we looked so dozy, the players were doing exactly what they were told to do by our twat of a manager!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

For God Sake Zola, GO!!!!!!


We can't take much more of this. The guy is utterly clueless. His failure to motivate the players is there for everybody to see. Against Bolton we didn't wake up for the first 15 minutes, against Chelsea he admitted that we folded after they scored their second goal and against the 10 men of Arsenal, we treated the ball as if it was a Talaban explosive device.

The guy's tactics are absurd. Mido and Franco paired against Arsenal? Wenger was a little late coming down the tunnel for the start of the game, probably because he had side stitch from laughing after seeing our team sheet! Stanislas on the left and Diamanti on the right? We managed one good cross in 90 minutes of football and, surprise, surprise, it was a Stanislas cross FROM THE RIGHT. Did Zola see this and change things at half time? Of course not!

Where was the fight after half time? Where was the passion? Where was the urgency? Where was the extra man for pity's sake? Why wasn't Stanislas moved to the right, Kovac withdrawn, Behrami even switched to right back because he offers NOTHING going forward! Why did Mido and Franco stay on? Why wasn't Daprela encouraged to get forward and knock in crosses given Staislas kept coming inside every time - as he ALWAYS does when playing on the wrong flank?

But Zola did nothing. It was as if he missed the fact that Arsenal were down to 10 men. What did he say at half time? "We are playing well. Keep playing as we are and it will come good." I bet that was the long and the short of it!

He has to go. If he is the honourable man he suggests he is, he will walk. If he isn't, Sullivan and Gold should bring in somebody over him. I expect to have Curbishley in our dressing room on Tuesday. I don't want him there, but I think that's what will happen. Mind you, even Curbishley has to be better than Zola, at least we will lump the ball forward and chase it, instead of passing it sideways and backwards until we lose possession. At least a left footer will play on the left and a right footer on the right. At least we will get the ball into the opposition box!

Go Zola, GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arsenal 2 West Ham 0 - Embarrassing.


It wasn't shameful, it was horrific, it wasn't distastrous, it was just embarrassing. Arsenal reduced to 10 men for the whole of the second half controlled the game. Apart from Cole's shot against the post, we didn't look like scoring. There is no creativity in our central midfield whatsoever and, of course, Zola The Twat insists on playing Diamanti and Stanislas on the wrong flanks, so minimising their effectiveness. Mind you, Diamanti was truly dire today. His passing was poor and he gave up on the ball after his piss poor pass conceded possession when Arsenal won their penalty. And yes it was a legitimate penalty, unlike ours.

Where do we go from here? Well I will say it again. Zola HAS to be relieved of his duties. The guy is clueless and cannot motivate his players. I predicted that he would not make a change at half time and, true to form, he left things exactly as they were. Mido played most of the game on the half way line but he was the second of the strikers to be withdrawn. Campbell must have been thanking God to find himself up against Franco. "What, is there really a player who is slower than me in the Premiership?" What would Campbell have dreaded? A player with pace. So where was Ilan? On the substitute's bench of course! Why play to the opponent's weaknesses especially when you have a man advantage? Absurd!

Did you see any fire in the bellies after the half time team talk? Did you have a sense that the players believed the game was there to be won? Or even saved for that matter? Was there a noticeable increase in tempo? Were Stanislas and Diamanti switched? Was Kovac withdrawn in search of more creativity in midfield until it was too late? No, no and no again. We went out and passed the ball sideways and backwards slowly, as per usual - when we actually managed to get the ball that is! Did Arsenal at ANY point look under pressure? Did we at ANY point look as if we had a man advantage? No and no again. How many times did Cole receive the ball with 3 Arsenal defenders around him and not a single West Ham player available to pass to? Far too often!

At half time I predicted the final score. Smug? No, I'm bloody pig sick actually. But did anybody really think we would either score or keep Arsenal out in the second half, even when they were playing with 10 men? There was no drive in midfield, no creativity, no urgency, no skill. We looked as flat as a pint of beer left standing on a bar for three weeks. Embarrassing & clueless are the only words to describe it.

Player ratings: Green 7; Spector 5, Tomkins 6, Upson 3 (That's twice he has conceded a penalty when we have been playing against 10 men!) Daprela 6; Diamanti 3, Kovac 4, Behrami 6 (offered NOTHING going forward) Stanislas 5; Mido 3, Franco 5 Subs Cole 6, McCarthy 4, Noble 4

Half Time Report Arsenal 1 West Ham 0 - Wenger Not Amused!


Well it is all happening! Diamanti has been shite, including having his penalty saved and the referee is having a mare. It was never a sending off, in fact it wasn't even a penalty. Typically, we couldn't even capitalise properly on a free gift from the referee!

What happens now? We have a man numerical advantage for the second 45 minutes so how does Zola play it? Will we see Ilan to exploit the lack of pace through the middle of the Arsenal defence? Will Cole come on? Any chance of Diamanti and Stanislas switching wings perhaps and looking to stretch Arsenal? The best cross of the half came from Stanislas when he drifted over to the right. Funny that! Will Zola change it? I doubt it. I predict more of the same second half.

As at Chelsea, and at Man Utd, we have aquitted ourselves well first 45. Dozy defending has again cost us a goal and Arsenal have come close to slicing us open a few times but Green hasn't been forced into a save as yet. So it is promising despite the goal deficit. The trouble is, we collapse second 45 against the better teams.

But now the referee has evened things up for us. Surely our 11 should be able to live with Arsenal's 10? Let's face it, Arsenal's 11 struggled to overcome Hull's 10 last weekend! We NEED to capitalise on this but will we?

My prediction 2-0.

Mido and Franco up front!

Wenger must be bricking it!

Zola Is A Lucky Man!


Wolves winning 2-1 away to Villa but pegged back to 2-2, Hull winning 2-1 at Pompey but lose 3-2, Burnley heading for a point at Wigan but a late goal sinks them. We are still keeping our heads above water - just. Back in the bottom four but at least there is still a gap between us and the bottom three going in to the crunch game on Tuesday. Even if we lose to Arsenal!

R Day For West Ham


We could be in deep deep trouble by the time we kick off against Arsenal. Should Pompey lay down and die in protest against the points deduction and Burnley secure a result against struggling Wigan, then the relegation trap door will be yawning wide open. I am wearing the Claret and Blue of Villa early afternoon and then the blue of Pompey and the blue and white of Wigan this afternoon. Sod being clever and looking for Wigan and Burnley to share the spoils, relegation is now between Hull, Burnley, Wolves and ourselves. And I fear the ONLY way we will stay up is for Burnley and Hull to each lose 7 of their remaining games!

Zola Taking Two Games At A Time


Reading Zola's comments, it is clear that he has all but given up on the game at the Emirates today. Parker has some "tightness" in his legs and so misses the match and, as Zola admits, Parker is crucial to his team. Who doesn't feel some tightness in the legs between games? That goes with the turf. Zola is not shy to explain that we have an important game on Tuesday - which is the real reason behind Parker's absence. In addition to his comments published on the Official Site, Zola is believed to have said: "I have to ensure that we put on a good show for the mini season ticket holders on Tuesday night against Wolves. They are discerning customers and have invested their earnings in supporting the team and will not buy tickets again in a hurry if we serve up any more performances like the one against Bolton."

If reports are to be believed, Zola's plans are also in tatters because of shock injuries to Dyer and Gabbidon, both of whom have been ruled out by muscle problems. Two games in eight days is clearly asking too much for these two supreme athletes. But is Zola really keeping them back for the Wolves game?

Ilunga is back in training but surely will not play. That would destroy the Zola masterplan for developing Daprela by starting his career with games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Arsenal again. If the boy's confidence isn't shot to pieces after that, then he must be special! We have already seen a false start or two from Ilunga this season; Daprela is probably the better bet anyway.

Will Noble start? Will Cole and Franco return? What about McCarthy? Will Ilan be started on the right of midfield again after his epic performance at Chelsea? Will Spector's nightmare continue?

Questions, questions. But Zola just wants to say "Pass" and get to the next big question, the one that matters, the performance before the Fanno, that 36 pointer at home to Wolves!

Friday, 19 March 2010

The Shirt Of Hurt For West Ham Fans


Radio 5 presenters were wearing their "shirts of hurt" for Sports Relief today. For Nicky Campbell it was the England World Cup Winners shirt (in rugby), whilst Peter Allen was no doubt in an Arsenal shirt. For Tottenham fans, it would be Arsenal, for Millwall fans, the Claret and Blue presumably, for Everton fans the Red of Liverpool, for Liverpool and Leeds fans, Manchester United's colours, and so on. But for Hammers fans it's not so straight forward because there are so many contenders.

Many would argue for Millwall of course, but why should we worry about a Third Division club? Why give them the status or kudos? When was the last time they beat us on a football pitch? Too long ago now to worry about. Green Street fans might believe the Hollywood nonsense but true Hammers regard Millwall as a minor irritant, like a buzzing blue bottle in the bedroom at nine a.m. on a Sunday morning.

If not Millwall, then perhaps Tottenham? They stole Peters, Paul Allen, Kanoute and Carrick off us, amongst others. Even when they give us a ten point start, they still manage to finish above us in the table and have this annoying habit of winning a trophy every five or six years. But Tottenham hold us in the same contempt as we hold Millwall - their rivals are Arsenal so why would we give them the dignity of being our "shirt of hurt".

How about Shafting United? But what's £25m between friends? Why hate a club because of the incompetence of Duxbury?

Well Bolton then? Because of them, we were relegated with the highest points total ever accrued by a relegated team. Because of them, we lost the golden generation earlier than we would have done. They took six points off us again this season and knocked us out of the League Cup. As bogey teams go, they are green and snotty. But can you really hate a team of northern journeymen who live under the shadow of Blackburn, never mind the Manchester teams or Liverpool.

Then what about Liverpool? They cheated us out of the FA Cup and pipped us to the title in our best ever season. They stole Benayoun from us and Ince played for them too. But listen to their whiney voices and you have to feel sorry for them.

We can make a case for Leeds (the signing of Rio started our demise), or Fat Frank's Chelsea shirt, or the Iceland national team shirt or a Poland shirt, remembering back to Katowice and Bobby Moore's ignominious error, or the Everton shirt because they always beat us or...

The truth is, there is only one Shirt of Hurt we can wear - our own Claret and Blue because being a Hammers fan is one long tale of protracted misery!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Well Done Woy!


Fulham 4 Juve 1 - Says it all really. Can you imagine us coming back from a 4-1 deficit to win a two leg tie 5-4? In Zola we trust? Under Woy Fulham Win! Give me winning over trust any day!