Tuesday, 30 November 2010

West Ham 4 Man Utd 0 - Wake me up before you go go!

A man who went into a coma in 2003 woke up tonight and asked what had happened whilst he was asleep. "The Tories are back in power", his wife tells him. "No way!" the man replies. "Oh and America has a black President" she continues. The man whistles in disbelief. "Oh and West Ham have just beaten Manchester United 4-0" she adds. "Now I know you're pulling my fucking plonker!" the guy replies.

Sorry about the obscenity but really! Four bloody nil! Four bloody nil! Four bloody nil! Four bloody nil!

And this was no fluke. Spector's two goals in the first half were superb, and Cole's two in the second even better. In fact Cole's second and our fourth would have made it into a Pele scrapbook of great goals. He received the ball back to goal, rolled his defender adroitly and slotted the ball home from a tight angle with his left foot. It was great centre forward play. A wonderful goal! And the Obinna assist wasn't bad either.

Mind you the third goal pushed it close for goal of the game. Obinna sent over a fabulous cross and Cole anticipated, got in front of his defender and powered home a superb header.

Mind you, Spector's second was a bit tasty too. He sliced through the Man Utd ranks with a wonderful driving run, released to Obinna, and when the ball broke loose, pounced like a leopard on a springbok, and buried the chance, left footed, with aplomb.

Mind you Spector's opener was a bit tasty too. Obinna sent over a perfect cross and Spector, ghosting in Peters like, buried a header.

And before that, we had a goal disallowed unluckily, with an Obinna shot deflecting off Spector who was marginally offside. Clattenbung gave the goal and was back on the half way line before he realised that the Assistant was flagging.

And on top of all that, Obinna forced a good save and Hines could have been given a penalty! It really could have been six!

After an early scare or two, with Green saving superbly from Obertan and clawing away a dangerous cross, we were tight at the back until late on when Hernadez came close-ish twice. But the biggest danger was that Clattenbung would call the game off because of the snow!

Tomkins was excellent all night, and Upson was very good too. Ben Haim was slow to close a couple of times, that left flank is still a worry, but was a solid lump in the challenge. Faubert had a couple of moments, losing the ball when trying to shield it behind for a goal kick and heading back towards our penalty spot when it was heading out of danger, but was otherwise fine.  Green made that great early save and only made one howler, so nearly presenting the Mancs with a goal from a terrible clearance.  Barrera was fine, once he realised the white stuff coming out of the sky couldn't be snorted, and even Kovac came out of the game with credit.

But there were 4 real heroes on the night. First half, Spector was a revelation in midfield and he did nothing wrong in the second 45, even making a couple of defensive interceptions. On a normal night he would have got Man of the Match.

Cole had a quiet first 45 but was superb in the second half. Both goals were collector's items for me and the sponsors gave him the MOTM award, but I thought there were two better personally.

Even better, even more incredibly, was Boa! Restored to the left of midfield, he was like a hornet in a tart's knickers - and my God the United tarts got their knickers in a twist because Boa stung them where it hurt whenever they were in possession on our left. Boa was up and down the pitch all night, closing, harrying, holding, running, laying the ball off. You name it, Boa did it, apart from score of course! This was his best ever game for West Ham without question. Maybe, just maybe, Boa will have an Indian summer!

But my MOTM was Obinna. I had a go at him before the Wigan game, saying he couldn't track back, couldn't tackle, couldn't cross and couldn't score. Well what the fcuk do I know? He set up the first, the third and the fourth, had a goal disallowed because his shot hit Spector, and had a hand in Spector's second too. He was brilliant tonight!

What a night! I have more to write but must go now, Uma Thurman and Keira Knightley are at my front door offering me ten grand to join them in a threesome!

Player ratings: Green 6: Faubert 6, Tomkins 8, Upson 7, Ben Haim 6: Barerra 6, Spector 8, Kovac 6, Boa 9; Cole 8, Obinna 10 Subs: Reid 6, Hines 6

Half Time West Ham 2 Manchester United 0 - Alice Through the Looking Glass!

Before kick off I wrote:

I bet Ferguson is quaking in his boots! Remember Peters, remember Brooking, remember Bonds, remember Carrick, remember Joe Cole, remember Yossi Benayoun, remember Van der Elst,  remember Fat Frank Lampard, remember Liam Brady...well Specs joins the midfield pantheon tonight!

And here we are at half time, with West Ham leading 2-0 and with Spector the scorer of both goals! Now I could claim to be a genius here but I was, of course, being sarcastic! And amazingly, if not for a linesman's flag, Spector would have bagged a first half hat trick!

And this isn't a fluke either. Spector's driving runs have been like a knife through the heart of the Man Utd midfield and defence. We have seen him do it before, charging forward from full back. Remember against Burnley (I think), when he won a penalty? Remember the swashbuckling charges forward in the final weeks of last season. As a defender the guy is shit, but with the ball at his feet, he looks a half decent player. Watching tonight, you have to wonder why Parker has been keeping him out of the team!

His first goal was superb. A lovely cross from Obinna, and a delicious header from Spector, who had ghosted, Peters like, into space. The second was even better. Spector carried the ball from the half way line, unselfishly released the ball to Obinna on the edge of the box and then, when the ball broke loose, had the speed of thought and composure to get to the ball first and then bury the chance, left footed. Di Canio couldn't have bettered it!

And it was so nearly 3-0! Another fantastic driving run from Spector, another pass to Obinna, a crisp strike from Obinna and gooooooaaaaaaalllllllll! Clattenburg gave it and was back on the half way line before he realised his assistant had flagged. But what for? Obinna was outside the box! But replays showed Spector had continued his run and the ball deflected off him into the net!

It is too early to be cocky. In fact a 3-2 win for the Mancs might still be a reasonable bet, but for 45 minutes we have turned the football world upside down! I don't care that this is Man Utd's reserves, look how many players we are missing!

Spector's half but Upson, Tomkins, Boa, Green and Obinna have all played with distinction too, and I loved the way Ben Haim took out Fabio and Boa cleaned him up a couple of minutes later. He knows he is in a game!

What can go wrong from here? Man Utd substitutions? A Faubert cock up? Or Clattenburg abandons the game because of snow!

Kovac and Spector in Centre Midfield!

I bet Ferguson is quaking in his boots! Remember Peters, remember Brooking, remember Bonds, remember Carrick, remember Joe Cole, remember Yossi Benayoun, remember Van der Elst,  remember Fat Frank Lampard, remember Liam Brady...well Specs joins the midfield pantheon tonight!

West Ham dig in for the Mother of all Battles!

LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus Mido, forty feet wide or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Isle of Dogs pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.

Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.

On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be sitting her — as here he is — with a foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be — as here they are — mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horse-hair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might. On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, ought to be — as are they not? — ranged in a line, in a long matted well (but you might look in vain for truth at the bottom of it) between the registrar’s red table and the silk gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters’ reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them. Well may the court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their colour and admit no light of day into the place; well may the uninitiated from the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in the door, be deterred from entrance by its owlish aspect and by the drawl, languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais where the Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that has no light in it and where the attendant wigs are all stuck in a fog-bank! This is the Court of Chancery, which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire, which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse and its dead in every churchyard, which has its ruined suitor with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress borrowing and begging through the round of every man’s acquaintance, which gives to monied might the means abundantly of wearying out the right, which so exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope, so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart, that there is not an honourable man among its practitioners who would not give — who does not often give — the warning, “Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here."

Yet here we come. "M'lud in the case of West Ham United versus the Football Association and the sister case of West Ham United versus Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the solicitors representing the club in the case of Carlos Tevez..."

A Gun to Avram's Head

So when is interference support and when is support interference? Push up bras enhance the impression, but when the breasts flop loose, you can lose sight of the belly button!

Gold has explained the process behind the appointment of Wally Downes and it has that familiar old  ring to it. Remember how Duxbury told us that all team decisions were made by Zola, including who was bought and sold? Does anybody believe that now? Did Zola really want Collins and Bellamy sold? Did he really want Savio? If so, he was even more hopeless than I have given him discredit for. Not that anything changed under Gold, Sullivan and Brady. Look at Zola's initial treatment of Ilan - anybody would have thought the guy had bird flu in his early weeks at the club!

Here's what Gold said:

"The board felt we needed to make some changes to the coaching staff because something wasn't quite right. We proposed to bring in Wally and Avram was thrilled to have him. So I guess you can call it a team decision.

"It was Avram who had the final decision. Anyone who comes in on the football side will always be the manager's decision.

"We do our best to be supportive, but I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression we do anything other than what the manager wants."

Note where the initiative came from! Not Avram. "The board felt" admits Gold, and sitting bottom of the table, Grant was in no position to disagree was he?

I can just imagine how "thrilled" Grant was when called in to the office to be told that his appointment, Petrovic, wasn't cutting it so the board had decided on his replacement. "You're still manager mate, but we pick your coaching team. And, by the way, 4-3-3 aint working is it? And Boa, really? Drop him for Saturday eh? What about that kid Stanislas? Might be worth a look you know. Not that we're picking the team you understand. But David, Karren and myself would like to see Junior have a run out."

I can picture Avram turning cartwheels of joy in the meeting!

"And of course," Gold might have continued, "You have the final say. If you don't want Downes then we won't appoint him. By the way, have you read the Daily Mail? Where do you think these stories about you getting the sack are coming from? Just because we are bottom and have only won one game! Bloody journalists! So, anyway, your choice. Wally?"

Monday, 29 November 2010

Sod's Law Strikes The Boleyn Again!

Well wouldn't you know it, whilst we were struggling to overcome Wigan, a certain team who have struggled all season to find form (except when we played them), got into their stride nicely and warmed up for the Carling Cup quarter final by banging in seven goals. To add to our troubles, a certain Rooney returned to the starting line up and looked to have recovered his mojo with a vengeance!

It always happens to us doesn't it? Why couldn't we be playing a nervy Chelsea (I know they are out!) or a dispirited Villa, or even the Man Utd of a couple of weeks ago? But no, the Law of Sod strikes again!

I watched the game on Saturday, blissfully unaware of what was going on elsewhere. Off the bottom, I thought, then heard about the late Wolves winner. Up for the Cup I thought, then heard about the Mancs result. Watching them on MOTD was frightening!

And now we learn that Jacobsen and Parker are probably ruled out - along with Hitzlespurger, Noble, Collison, Dyer (I assume), Da Costa, Ben Haim and Ilunga (hopefully!). Of course Spector isn't injured; that would be hoping for too much!

So Fergie must be quaking in his boots at the prospect of either Kovac or Boa replacing Parker and either Faubert or Specs trying to guard the right flank of our defence! Will Stech be in goal? Why not? We could give McBenni a waddle out up top too, just to guarantee that Man Utd progress.

It's time to ditch the SBOBET logo on our shirts in favour of SODSLAW!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Surely there is a left back out there somewhere?

Come in number three, your time is up!

We have tried Spector, Ilunga and Gabbidon, and all have looked crap. Daprela was sold so that option was lost. Matt Fry is on loan at Charlton and surely wouldn't be if he was up to the job. Ben Haim looked OK but is always injured. Young Brown is meant to be a good prospect but so is Jordan Spence and he can't get near the first team despite being older.

It seems the cupboard is bare at the club so a dependable left back must surely be our primary transfer target in January. But then it should have been last January and in the summer too, and nobody at the club, either under Grant or Zola, seemed to realise.

So, who is out there? Anybody got any suggestions? Wayne Bridge on loan perhaps? I doubt he would want to be so close to the Terry family. Anybody in the Championship? Surely there's somebody with a left foot, half a brain and a bit of pace out there somewhere?

Reason to be cheerful? One, two, three.

With the initial euphoria over, it is time for some hard reflection. We knew this team would win some games over the season, so a victory against Wigan at Upton Park was, really, the very least we should have expected; but, apart from 3 points, was there any worth in the victory?

Wigan are a strange team. One week they look dreadful, the next they surprise you. Our cause was certainly helped by the fact that they had two players suspended - and crucially Rodallega was one of them - but the previous week the Mancs had struggled to kill them off, so this was no walk over.

Let's start with the positives. Leaving aside the dreadful performance against Liverpool, we have been difficult to beat in recent weeks, either because we have scored ourselves, or because we have kept the opposition scoring down. Yes the results against West Brom and Blackpool were disappointing, but we didn't lose, did we? Away to Arsenal we defended well. Away to Birmingham, we deserved to win and, 15 minutes apart, were much the better of the two sides. But we haven't turned that into points so far. Maybe beating Wigan is the starting point. Maybe.

Yesterday, Obinna, Piquionne and Stanislas combined well as an attacking unit and Behrami and Parker clicked in the centre of midfield, to the delight, no doubt, of Noble's critics. At the back, Tomkins looked a much better partner for Upson than Gabbidon and Jacobsen put in a competent, unfussy performance before he came off. All good so far.

The trouble is, to win games you can't afford to have an obvious Achilles heel, and this team has a few. The major one now is Gabbidon. He has looked poor at centre half and he is NOT a left back. He conceded the penalty stupidly - how the Assistant Referee didn't call it is beyond me - and was also done for the Wigan goal. He is too easily turned and he ignores the basic rule of stay on your feet in the box when challenging. Even with the Wigan goal, he risked a second penalty by trying to take the ball in the box. It is a dangerous game to play. You look brilliant when you pull it off but a complete mug when you don't. Gabbidon is more mug than Einstein!

But who replaces him? Ilunga has looked hopeless. Spector is Spector. Brown is just a kid. So who else is there? The sale of Daprela looks ever more baffling as each game goes by.

Then there is Parker's habit of diving recklessly into tackles. Halsey was generous yesterday. There was one double footed challenge from Parker where he got the ball, but I groaned. Half a second late and Parker would have been off and his opponent would have been on a stretcher. Then there was that mindless clatter on the edge of our box. Parker again looked bemused when the free kick was given but there was never going to be any other outcome. He slid in, from the side and behind, and cleared up his opponent's standing leg. He should have been booked for that, no question and Wigan were given a great scoring chance from the free kick. It was a senseless challenge because Wigan had a better chance of scoring from the resultant free kick than they had in open play. It is as if Parker gets a red mist and loses all sense of what is appropriate in a given situation. He has conceded two free kicks that have resulted in goals already this season and is walking a suspension tightrope due to bookings.

Then there is Barerra. He did ok yesterday but how good is the guy? Maybe he will find his feet and start to excite us, but Etherington looks a much better player to me and selling him looks foolish.

The biggest worry about yesterday is that it could easily have finished 3-3. Wigan had a legitimate goal ruled out for offside and missed a penalty. I know we missed a great chance from open play but, the fact remains, that Wigan should have scored three against us, and if Wigan can score three, what chance do you stand against the good teams? We can't rely on our strikers netting 3 or 4 every game to get points. Stanislas looked good offensively but he can't defend, so Gabbidon was always going to be exposed; and exposed he was and at fault for the goal and the penalty. The old issue of balance therefore remains. We don't seem to be able to attack and defend in the same game - it is either one thing or the other.

So, in summary, the three points were welcome but the result does not tell the whole story. We allowed Wigan far too much of the game and looked the second best team for the first 25 minutes of the game and for a good 50% of the second half too. We created more chances than Wigan and scored more goals but so what? Wigan are one of the worst teams in the division and should have scored three goals on the day anyway, the number we mustered. So, there are reasons to be cheerful, one, two, three. But God help us when we get hit by a team with a rhythm stick, because this team still doesn't know how to cope when under pressure.

And as a footnote, any singing of the praises of Wally Downes is ridiculously premature. Wigan should have scored three. Great defensive coach? On the evidence of that game, Downes' defensive drills are as effective as his diet!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Where have all the defenders gone?

What the hell is happening in the Premiership? Has a rule been secretly passed that states defenders are not allowed to mark? I know tackling has all but been banished from the game, but the space strikers and midfield runners are being afforded is incredible.

Blackburn may have had seven players ruled out (we know how that feels) but the space Berbatov, Nani and Rooney were allowed was insane. The same applies to Arsenal at Villa. With 35 goals scored in just 8 games, it was more like the results from an under 10 league, with nine year old keepers in full size goals!

The results this season have been amazing. 0-0 draws are virtually unheard of. And this all follows a boring World Cup where organised defences largely suffocated creative play.

People say this is a weak Premiership but results in the Champions League suggest otherwise. Teams just seem to be going for it more, trading punches rather than hiding behind raised arms, whilst ducking and diving and playing for a points decision or a late haymaker knock out punch.

We won 3-1 but Wigan missed a penalty and had a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside, so it should have been 3-3.  Even more amazing was West Brom's result at Everton. What in God's name is going on? Simple, the game's gone crazy!

West Ham 3 Wigan 1 Frankenstein Revives The Corpse!

 Before the game I wrote:

"This is a must win game. What odds the draw?" and "If you judge the strength of a team by the bench, we are in trouble" and "If I am Martinez I am sending everything down our left" and "Oh for the option of Daprela" and "Gabbidon aint a lot of use at left back it is true but he has to be an improvement on Rita" and "Up front, Cole has talked himself onto the bench even though Obinna has been crap in recent weeks" and "This team is already dead and buried" and "Show me a fighter outside of Parker in the West Ham team" and "Wigan will fight today, we have all the punch and determination of Audley Harrison" and "The team already have their excuses written" and "Behrami already has his exit strategy planned" and "A draw looks nailed on to me". I'll get my coat!

To be fair, I was right about Gabbidon. He was done for Wigan's goal and conceded the penalty in pathetic fashion. He actually dived into a tackle in the box in the first half but fortunately connected with the ball that time. We still need a left back!  But that apart, hands up, I was wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong again!

So why the turn around? Well Tomkins and Upson were nicely solid at the back. That is a much stronger combination than Upson and Gabbidon. To be fair, I also said, "Tomkins returns and I'm not complaining about that. Gabbidon has been poor at centre half and Ilunga even worse at left back." In midfield, Parker and Behrami fought like tigers and both got on the score sheet. So much for my claim that they don't offer a goal threat from midfield! And up front, Piquionne, Stanislas and Obinna combined well, and Obinna stuffed my criticism down my throat with a brilliant goal and an even better assist for Parker! Boy am I happy to be wrong!

First half we were goodish. Second half, although we scored twice, we were nervy. The penalty save by Green was huge. Had that gone in, I would have backed Wigan to get a point. And although the conceding of the penalty was stupid, a goal had been coming. We started the second half poorly, handing the initiative to Wigan and, just as with Birmingham, went into our shell when two goals ahead. Why? Hopefully this result will settle a few nerves. The removal of Parker didn't help the cause either once we were three goals ahead. Kovac for Parker is like a moped for a Porsche!

Mind you, I have repeatedly said that Parker is not international quality because of his poor tackling technique and, yet again, he conceded a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box with an utterless reckless tackle. Why he wasn't booked is beyond me. Fortunately Wigan failed to capitalise, just as they failed to capitalise on the penalty. Had those two gone in, we would have been talking about a different game! 3-3 and the grave would be dug and the headstone ordered.

Now back to the positives. The first goal was superb: a lovely cross from deep from Jacobsen, a brilliant head down by Piquionne and a lovely finish by Behrami. Well done to Huff & Puff for getting so far forward!

The second was better. Piquionne took the ball well, pullled left (as he did all game), thought about going past his defender and shooting but had the composure to reassess and tee up Obinna who drove the ball low and hard into the right hand corner of the net. It was a brilliant finish and, just as impressive was the way Stanislas was diving in at the far post trying to net had the ball been narrowly missing. A superb goal all round.

But the third was as good. Parker drove forward again, played the ball wide left to Obinna, who went to the line and squared across brilliantly for the onrushing Parker to finish. That's six goals for Parker now and I said he couldn't finish!

At the other end, Gabbidon apart, we defended well. The penalty was crass, both in its conceding and in its execution. Green saved it, but it was a very poor penalty. The Wigan goal was superbly taken - it was probably the best goal of the game and suggests that Cleverley has a future. But once again, Gabbidon was done. He is not as much of a liability as Spector and Ilunga, but it is a close run thing. We need a left back urgently!

Piquionne and Stanislas both forced good saves in the first half and a better finisher than Cole might have bagged two in the second, whilst Piquionne missed an absolute sitter! It was a goodish display overall but nothing to get carried away about, especially given Wigan had a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside. The late winner for Wolves means we are still rock bottom and Blackpool edged another point towards safety. Who will go down if not ourselves? Wigan, Blackburn, Fulham, Wolves? We are still playing catch up! Lazarus has a pulse but he is not yet turning cartwheels!

Hang on, I've just realised, had Wigan scored the penalty and the disallowed goal been given, it would have finished 3-3; so I was right after all!

Player Ratings: Green 6: Jacobsen 6, Tomkins 7, Upson 7, Gabbidon 4: Barerra 6, Parker 8, Behrami 7, Stanislas 6:  Piquionne 8, Obinna 7 Subs: Reid 5, Kovac 4, Cole 6

Half Time West Ham 1 Wigan 0 - The corpse twitches!

I wouldn't exactly pronounce the patient alive and kicking, but there are signs of life, a twiching of the eyelids, movement of a finger or two, a bending of the toes. We are not only ahead but look good for the lead.

What are the positives? Well it is a dangerous thing to say but Wally Downes may just have brought a sense of order to our back four. Tomkins and Upson have looked good at the heart of the defence and Wigan have only got down the flanks a couple of times. Gabbidon has played well thus far, and the midfield have served well as a protective screen. Green has taken a cross and not looked terribly troubled. I may regret saying that!

The goal was excellent. A lovely cross from deep from Jacobsen, a superb leap and head down from Piquionne and an excellent finish from Behrami. That's his second of the season. He will get a nose bleed if he's not careful! Joking apart, it was great to see him so far forward and getting in where it might hurt.

Most of our play has actually come down our left, with Piquionne and Obinna naturally pulling left, leaving the right flank under utilised in my opinion. Stanislas is coming inside every time he gets the ball still so it would be good to see Barerra and Jacobsen getting past the Wigan left back and banging in crosses. Piquionne has the beating of the Wigan centre backs in the air every time and forced a good save from a Stanislas corner.

Junior himself also forced an excellent save with a superb shot from just outside the box that was heading for the top corner.

Those moments apart, we haven't created a lot, but we could be three goals up with a little more luck.

What happens from here? We must not sit back and invite Wigan on but I fear that is what will happen. Grant has to lay into the players at half time and urge them to kill off Wigan, and Upson and Parker have to be real generals on the pitch.

The patient may not be dead yet. But if the life support is switched off in the second 45 then the headstone can be ordered!

Team for Wigan. Is Zola back?

Cole has been dropped for opening his gob and criticising Grant, but that apart, this could be a Zola team. Tomkins returns and I'm not complaining about that. Gabbidon has been poor at centre half and Ilunga even worse at left back. The Welshman aint a lot oof use at left back it is true but he has to be an improvement on Rita. Oh for the option of Daprela! Actually, if Zola was back, Spector would be at left back!

Behrami returns to partner Parker, though how fit both are is a concern. Nevertheless, it is the right centre midfield combo given the absence of Noble, Collison, Dyer and Der Hammered. I have no complaints about the inclusion of Barerra but it looks like Stanislas has been picked to play on the left again! God help us! One he can't cross off his left foot and two he will offer NO defensive protection for Gabbidon. If I am Martinez, I'm sending everything down our left!

Up front, Cole has talked himself onto the bench even though Obinna has been crap in recent weeks. Still, at least it shows Grant is tough. He may be stupid tactically too, but he is tough. Zola was stupid tactically and weak!

Stanislas offers a goal threat I suppose and Hines is on the bench! As are Kovac, McBenni and Boa! If you judge the strength of a team by the bench, we are in trouble!

This is a must win game. What odds a draw?

Wigan at home - Preparing the Last Rites

Never mind Save our Season, today's game is more about "Save our Souls"! Before the players leave the dressing room today, a priest will administer extreme unction, with oil blessed and administered to the players' eyes, lips, nostrils, lips, hands, feet and loins, as he says, ""Through this holy unction and His own most tender mercy may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed  by sight by hearing, smell, taste, touch, walking and carnal delectation." Fortunately the sins and faults do not have to be individually listed or we would be waiting for a month of Sundays before the players get out onto the pitch!

This team is already dead and buried. Even if we win today, I see no way back. The news that Noble may be out until the New Year is just the latest nail driven into our relegation coffin. As England stagger, punch drunk, in the first test of the Ashes, I still hold out hope that we can come back Lazarus like; but England have fighters in the form of Strauss, Collingwood, Trott, Prior, Swann and Broad. Show me a fighter outside of Parker in this West Ham team. Never mind poor ability and poor tactics, the biggest factor is that the players are utterly gutless. Wigan will fight today, we will have all the punch and determination of Audley Harrison!

Debate is raging about Cole but tell me, why is his confidence so fragile? The guy is huge, quick and experienced. Why isn't he punching his weight? Why isn't he imposing himself? Why isn't he making opposition centre backs cower for cover? Yes the supply is poor but so is Cole's attitude. He looks for excuses before he looks for the ball and the back of the net.

Look at Upson. Where is his leadership? Why isn't he in the face of his own players and in the ribs of his opponents? He can't be arsed that's why. He is off in January so why is he still captain?

Look at Dyer. Does he have a pain threshold? The guy will limp out of a contest because of a mouth ulcer!

Look at Green, he is SCARED under crosses. It is pathetic to watch.

Look at Ilunga. He doesn't give a toss.

And we could go on.

I don't expect anything today. The team already have their excuses written. "So many injuries, bad refereeing decision, manager's tactics, individual mistakes, you could see the effort, Wigan played well...blah, blah, blah." It doesn't matter to them. Dyer will collect his £83,000 regardless of the result. Parker has his release clause should we go down. Boa knows he might have a future in the Championship. Ilunga is probably dreaming of an easy life in the South of France, away from the nasty cold weather of England. Behrami already has his exit strategy planned. "Roma, Roma, where for art thou Roma?" Cole fancies Liverpool. He might even fancy Stoke now. Obinna is only on loan anyway. And we can go on.

This is a poor Wigan team and last week's sending offs have made them weaker. But so what? Blackpool came and out fought us. West Brom came and out fought us. Fulham came and out fought us. And we looked happy with a point in each of those contests. A draw looks nailed on to me. And nailed on is an appropriate term, because this cross is of our own making, and I see no resurrection.

"vos votum ut reddo hic. Per is sanctus unction quod Suus own plurimus tener misericordia may Senior ignosco thee quisquis sins vel mendum sententia festinatio trado..."

Friday, 26 November 2010

Good News For A Change!

At last, some good news for a change. West Ham players should have a new bounce in their stride with the announcement of the death of Bernard Matthews. It's party time for the boys in Claret and Blue and across the whole nation for all the other turkeys. Bootiful, just bootiful!

West Ham Open Ticket Office in Queens Market

"Roll up, roll up, for the deal of the century. I'm not giving you one porn dvd for a score my loverly ladies, I'm not giving you two porn dvds for a score, I'm not even giving you three porn dvds for a score, I'm giving you five, yes five, porn dvds for a score! Come on luv, open that purse, I'm robbin' myself blind 'ere. Tell you what, one, two, three, four, five porn dvds for a score, and I'll throw in a dildo. No? Plume de ma tante! Come on my luv, you're killing me 'ere. Tell you what, one, two, three, four, five porn dvds, a dildo, a pair of crotchless, see through panties and...'ere, I'll throw in a ticket for the Wigan game for free!"

"What's that luv, what's in the porn dvds? Loyal season ticket holders being shafted luv, shafted good and proper!"

Thursday, 25 November 2010

What is Carlton's game?

Carlton's broadside is fascinating. He rages against the machine with a vengeance, dumping his frustration in no uncertain terms with one of the least guarded statements I have seen since the advent of media and image consultants. A contributor has posted Cole's comments elsewhere, but they are so powerful that I think they stand repetition here. I therefore carry his comments in full below.

The question is, what does Cole hope to achieve. It may be a case simply of venting frustration of course, and engaging the stable door on his brain only after the words had bolted. He may have read his comments back and thought, "Shite!". We have all done that at times in our lives!

On the other hand, Cole may be the nominated spokesman for a disaffected bunch of players, the John Terry style mouthpiece, willing to go where the angels fear to tread. If so, I hope the players now back him and don't behave like the cowards in the England dressing room, stabbing their team  mate in the back and forming a quick queue to voice support for the "gaffer". After the shambolic performance at Liverpool, we need a "Spartacus" approach if there is discontent in the dressing room, not a series of Shaggy style denials. 

Let's face it, this is a gutless bunch of players. Where was the criticism of Zola last season? And where was the criticism of Zola's dismissal if they rated the guy? Boa broke cover after the final game of the season, daring to criticise Sullivan, but a new contract bought his silence in double quick time. Less "I'm Spartacus" and more "I'm Spartacu..lary happy with the way this club is being run!"

Alternatively, Cole may simply be laying the foundations of an exit strategy. If Grant is going nowhere then Cole may have to be offloaded somewhere following his open criticism of the manager. Cole looked exasperated when withdrawn at Anfield but I saw no difference between the way he was isolated in Saturday's game from the way he looked isolated for most of last season under Zola. He seems to have forgotten that 4-3-3 was not the invention of Avram! No doubt Cole feels the loss of Zola most keenly because Gianfranco was the Red Pollard to Carlton's Sea Biscuit! As a result, like the posters who still defend Zola, and indeed like Pollard himself, Cole has some major blind spots (let's face it, he can't even see the back of the net from 12 yards out!).

Maybe Carlton wants out. Who could blame him? The fans are unfair to him and with a manager who seems unsure of his abilities, it would surely suit Cole to move to pastures new. Even Stoke might seem a reasonable alternative after what Carlton has endured so far this season.

Then there's the third possibility, that Cole was green lighted to speak up by Sullivan. Let's face it, the utterances of the players are very tightly controlled these days, so the Cole comments are all the more shocking. Maybe, just maybe, the sacking of Petrovic and the comments of Cole are a calculated strategy to undermine Grant and prepare the ground for another constructive dismissal.

Any which way, Cole's comments point to deep divisions in the dressing room and, on the eve of the crucial Wigan game, are less than helpful.

Here's what he said:

"The game plan was for me to stay as the longest person away from everybody and try to hit me on the diagonal or something, but we weren't even doing that, so that went out of the window and we didn't have a Plan B"

"In the first ten minutes we had lost the game, psychologically anyway. That was diabolical. We didn't even turn up for this game. The first ten minutes we dropped so deep. I can only remember one time when the ball came up to me and I kind of miscontrolled it, but we still retained possession, then I looked to my left and there was no one attacking - there was nobody there at all.

"I think I had just one cross, apart from that I had nothing and as a striker, that's starvation, that's famine - what am I supposed to work on? When we changed to 4-4-2 in the second half, I felt more comfortable because someone was up there with me and I felt that we were starting to get on the ball a little more.

"But then I got taken off and I was like, okay, that's not what they want me to do. They would rather I stood up there on my own, trying to make nothing happen. So what was the game plan? Was it to sit back and hit Liverpool on the counter-attack? Apparently not."

"I'm deflated," Cole said. "I'm not happy and I hope something can happen as soon as possible because we need to change this ASAP. Everyone is deflated."

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Tottenham make Petrovic look even more stupid

What an arsehole Petrovic sounds. He's been at the club for five minutes but talks about tearful farewells at the training ground. He even trotted out the line, "But West Ham are bigger and more important than Zeljkov Petrovic"! I've got news for you mate, Bedminster Town are bigger and more important than Zeljkov Petrovic!

The pillock is looking for a manager's job, and will no doubt carry our results so far this season at the top of his CV! I'm sure his personal statement will also explain how weak the Premiership is and how much stronger is the Bundesliga by comparison. That will explain why little old Fulham knocked out Wolfsburg in the semifinal of the Europa League last season, and why Tottenham have trounced Werder Bremen in the Champions League tonight then. Bloody useless these Premiership teams I must say; the Germans possess so much more technical ability! That's why Cologne fancy Spector! As if the Yanks didn't do enough damage to the city in the air raid of 1944!

You have to wonder why, given the paucity of talent in the ranks of the opposition, Mr Petrovic couldn't mastermind a victory or two over the likes of Blackpool, Wolves and West Brom. Still, he carries his fantastic ability and judgement to pastures new now. He won't be returning to the club because, I quote,  "I don't want to go there because I don't want to make myself more important than the game on Saturday". As if!

What a twat!

West Ham on yet another Downer

I must admit that I know very little about Wally Downes, but what I was told today hardly filled me with optimism. A work colleague, involved in youth football at semi professional level, described him in very unflattering terms, having come across him on both a professional and social basis. It is hearsay I accept, but he does not sound like the sort of guy who would stimulate the intellect. A bit of a Julian Dicks, with less emphasis upon the Julian and more upon the Dicks apparently!

Still, he once swung for Warnock so he can't be all bad can he?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Where's Wally?

Would you Adam & Eve it? According to the Daily Mail, we are looking to appoint Wally Downes as Grant's assistant manager.

Why? Well he has the perfect credentials! He was number two at Southampton until he was sacked recently. Southampton? Yes, we are preparing for life in the third tier of English football it seems.

Still Downes worked for Pardew so maybe he is the stalking horse...watch this space.

Where's Wally? If Pard's is coming back, it may be more a case of where's his willy?

Petrified Response as Petrovic is Sacked!

The buck stops here apparently - with the number two! With Chelsea showing Ray Wilkins the door, we have followed their lead by offloading Avram's number two. It is a peculiar and cowardly response in my book.

Who wanted Petrovic and who appointed him exactly? If the guy really was a disastrous appointment, then surely the man who recruited him should be brought to book? If Petrovic is so important that he has to be shown the door because of our poor results, what exactly does Grant do? Isn't he accountable for the performances and results?

You also have to wonder about player power at the club. One poster scoffed at my suggestion that the players were not trying at Anfield because they were looking to engineer a sacking, but does that look so stupid now? The club are apparently dismissing Petrovic because he has failed to win over the dressing room! Win it over? Since when do you have to win over your players? Aren't they paid to do a job for the club? Was the performance at Anfield designed perhaps to send a clear and unequivocal message to Sullivan, Gold and Grant: get rid of the guy we don't like or we will throw every game?

So where does this leave Grant? Looking bloody foolish because Petrovic was his man, and the players have shown that their views count for more than their manager's. That is a dangerous and untenable situation. Who determines the tactics now? Grant knows that the players have more power than he does. Who picks the team? Well Grant can ill afford to upset Scotty Parker and his circle of friends because, as Petrovic found to his cost, if the players don't like you, then you are given your P45.

The move is staggeringly inept in my book. If Di Canio or Dicks suddenly appear, then God help us. Neither has the experience necessary to drag us out of the quagmire we find ourselves in. Maybe, just maybe, Grant is about to move upstairs, leaving a berth for the return of Pardew. That might just make sense.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Scabs to break Scottish Referee's Strike

The SPL is threatening to become the new Grunwick, with news that the Scottish FA are seeking to employ stand in referees to officiate in place of the much maligned sweaty socks whistle blowers.

A spokesman for the SFA said, "We are very hopeful of finding like for like replacements. A shortlist has already been identified including Stevie Wonder, David Blunkett, Nick Leeson, Neil Hamilton and Charles Ingram. Alternatively, Mark Clattenburg may also be available if we are willing to sink that low."

Sunday, 21 November 2010

And to think, we sacked 'Arry!

Arguments rage on here about the relative merits of Zola, Curbishley, Pardew and Grant but one thing is certain, Redknapp is better than the whole lot of them. Love him or hate him, and I can’t see that there’s a lot to hate, you have to admit that the guy knows how to motivate his players and organise a team to get the best out of them.

We sacked Redknapp back in 2001 after we finished 6th from bottom in the Prem. But that season, we enjoyed a good run in the Cup and after 22 games were sitting in 6th place in the table. It was only when the season was “dead”, that results fell away, with the team losing 6 of the last 9 games. But those games were largely irrelevant because, after the bitter disappointment of our exit to Spurs in the Cup, there really was nothing to play for. 6th from bottom sounds poor, but we were 8 points clear of relegation and level on points with the club in 13th.

Most importantly, Redknapp had lost the services of Rio and was blooding new youngsters: Joe Cole made 26 starts, Defoe came on as a sub, Frank Lampard played over 30 times at the still tender age of 21, and Carrick made 32 starts. The golden generation were coming through and even Roeder managed 7th place the following season with the nucleus of players that ‘Arry left behind.

Does anybody believe that we would be in this mess now had ‘Arry stayed? We still don’t know the full story behind his dismissal of course, and I’m not going to risk a legal action by reiterating what I have been told, but in pure footballing terms, his dismissal has proved to be shear madness.

Just watching the two televised games on Saturday was enough to show why ‘Arry should still be in charge at Upton Park. Two nil down at half time at the Emirates, Tottenham should have been dead and buried. But ‘Arry got amongst them, changed the tactics and Tottenham took Arsenal apart second half. But at Anfield, Grant watched as Liverpool tore us to shreds and left his tactical changes until the game was utterly beyond us. Waddle could see after 5 minutes that we had to revert to 4-4-2; Grant did nothing until we were three goals behind.

Traditionally, West Ham have stood by their managers through thick and thin. Lyall took us down but still was not sacked. Had we stood by ‘Arry who knows what might have happened? It could even have been West Ham playing in the Champions League this season, just as Eggert promised!

Was THAT a team playing for their manager?

I have backed Avram so far. Well, correction, I backed Avram until the Atonement fiasco. Anybody who puts hocus pocus religious customs ahead of their job should be invited to find a role more conducive to his medieval views in my opinion.

But, that apart, I have backed Avram. Despite the results, the team have played better this season and, until yesterday, we have not looked easy to beat in recent weeks. But yesterday was very worrying.

To begin the tactics were wrong. 4-3-3 at Anfield? 4-3-3 with the players we had at our disposal? 4-3-3 when you have to stop Johnson getting up the right flank? It didn't make sense from the start.

But after 5 minutes, it so obviously wasn't working that Grant stood up. He didn't do anything about it. But he stood up. And he didn't sit down either. He stayed standing up, blocking Woy's view and forcing the Liverpool man to get to his feet so he could see the Liverpool goals go in. Woy thought he had the best seat in the house until Grant took root on the astroturf at the side of the pitch.

Why didn't he change things? Why didn't he revert to 4-4-2? Was it sheer bloody mindedness? Had Grant fallen asleep on his feet? Had he suffered a stroke? Had his mind wandered to massage parlours? Had he placed a bet on us to lose?

And what was happening out on the pitch? It seemed to me that the players were on strike. I had the impression that they had no faith in the system from the start, and were making the point by not trying. This looked like a group of players trying to get the manager the sack to me.

What was going through the heads of Sullivan and Gold, I wonder. They must have seen the disorganisation and lack of effort. The performance against Wolves provoked the Sullivan email last year and this performance was every bit as bad. And being on TV, the club was being exposed to national ridicule.

Karren Brady gave a half hearted vote of confidence to Grant last week. A few weeks back, a target of seven points from the "next four games" was given. We collected three. Along with Wolves, we are now adrift from safety and sinking fast in the quicksand of relegation. Pardew, Curbishley and O'Neill are all out of work.

Would anybody be surprised if Grant was replaced on Monday?

Snapshots from yesterday that summed up this team

Yesterday's performance was absolutely dire and an exact carbon copy of our surrender at Anfield last season. That, in itself, says so much about our club, never mind this group of players. Blackpool went to Anfield and won in their first season back in the Prem after an absence of 40 years; in all those years, most of which we have been in the top division, we haven't even come close to defeating the Reds! That is an indictment of the club, the fact that no matter who the manager, we travel to Anfield expecting defeat and hoping, at best, for a draw.

Last weekend, Sunderland thumped Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. What hope is there that we will EVER do that? Yesterday, Birmingham beat the Plastics. How many years is it now since we turned them over? But London derbies are supposed to be unpredictable! Not when West Ham are involved. Why? Because we play without passion, we play without commitment, we play in expectation of defeat. Look at Tottenham's second half performance at the Emirates yesterday. Could you see us doing that? When Liverpool went ahead, was there a single West Ham fan in the World with a brain who held out ANY hope of a fight back? Certainly nobody in the team thought it was possible!

For me, this team were summed up in a number of snapshots from yesterday's game.

The first saw Johnson running down our right flank. Upson had been drawn out of position, just as he was when playing for England against Germany, and was trailing in Johnson's wake, and Ilunga was there too, jogging! I was yelling, "Run you bastard, run!" but the lazy git wasn't breaking a sweat. I joked about the team wearing lead boots and it was this moment that provoked the idea. Grant eventually pulled Ilunga off, but he should have been withdrawn after five minutes. He may be injured. He may be sick. He may not give a toss. One thing is for sure, he should not have been on the pitch!

Two, three and four all belong to Obinna. We thought this boy was good when he arrived but he is looking like another Jimenez to me! Watch him for Liverpool's third goal. He lost the ball then sat on his arse. When he eventually got to his feet, he made no attempt whatsoever to close or win the ball back. The boy has pace but not when an opponent has the ball. We offloaded Diamanti because he couldn't defend, but at least he tried! Obinna showed his contempt for defensive duties again when he started to track a Liverpool runner into our box, but then literally stopped and stood with his hands on his hips whilst the attack continued! Had one of my team mates done that on a Friday night kick about, I would have given him a mouthful. But did Upson shout at Obinna? Nope. Then we switch to the other end of the pitch and the one bit of class shown by a West Ham player all night, with Noble showing skill and determination to beat two Liverpool players and lay the ball back to Obinna; who leant back and lashed the ball into orbit! Obinna can't shoot, can't tackle, can't cross and can't be arsed. No wonder Inter don't want him!

Now we turn to Green. Yes he made two great saves but did you see him when he came for that cross and made a complete hash of it? It was a carbon copy of his rush of blood against Bolton back on the 14th of November 2007. Three years on, and three managers later (and two goalkeeping coaches later!), and Green has learnt nothing. The guy just has no idea what to do under a cross. There was a scrum of players between him and the ball yesterday, just as against Bolton when Nolan headed that equaliser from a Taylor cross, but Green still came almost out to the penalty spot, trying to take the ball. Why?

Now back to the third goal. What was Upson doing exactly? He wasn't marking anybody when that cross came over, that's for sure! And what did Upson do all game? Did anybody see him shout? Did anybody see him looking angry? Did anybody see him trying to organise the defence? Did anybody see him communicate with Grant? This guy is no captain. Why is he still wearing the armband?

Now to Kovac. O dear God! Second half, to be fair, he played slightly better, getting in an important block in the box and heading away three crosses, but in the second half, Liverpool had switched off and were playing the game as if it was a pre season friendly (and we did ok in those didn't we?). Did you see that drilled pass straight into touch? Kovac hit it as if he was taking a shot from outside the box and it cleared the touchline a good foot above Piquionne's head! Then there was the short pass played to Noble, who was all of two feet away from him. Kovac played it to Noble's trailing foot, and Noble promptly lost possession as he tried desperately to bring it under control. Waddle summed up Kovac perfectly. I quote, "I don't know what he is there for, he offers you nothing defensively and he can't do anything with the ball." We had the guy on loan for a season and still bought him! Why? Because he was cheap and Zola wanted him!

This team is a mess but our club has been a mess for so so so long, so why are we surprised? This morning, Bolton Wanderers sit in 4th place in the Prem with a team of average players. The operative word here is "team". We haven't had a team since that FA Cup final! And on the day when we surrendered so tamely at Liverpool, it was informative to see that Etherington scored for Stoke, Harewood scored for Blackpool, Konchesky was in the Liverpool team that murdered us and Bowyer netted for Birmingham against Chelsea. Johnson, of course, also scored but he was sold for other reasons.

This mess is of our own making. And I can't see anybody on the club's books with the ability or the will to get us out of it! We are going down because that is what we deserve.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Grant blames new boots

Avram Grant has put the poor first half performance at Anfield down to new boots. The Israeli explained: "In the light of all the injuries, we decided to trial new boots today that would offer greater protection to the players. After the experiment, we have decided that the answer is not, after all, lead boots."

The Shadow of Liverpool 3 West Ham 0 - And we didn't even chase shadows!

Now let's get something straight from the start. This is NOT a good Liverpool team.  It is a shadow of the great Liverpool teams that have rolled us over year after year at Anfield. They were beaten at home by the King's Head, Blackpool for pity's sake! Yes they beat Chelsea, but Chelsea were without Lampard and Drogba - and look at the Plastics' last two results anyway! Gerrard didn't play either, and Liverpool lose 50% of their side when he doesn't make it on to the pitch. But even 50% of a very ordinary Liverpool team were enough to murder us!

Why? Because, just like last year, we arrived at Anfield without any heart, desire, belief or game plan. The decision to set up 4-3-3 was brave but utterly foolhardy. And the time it took Grant to change things around was pathetic. At one point, before Liverpool had scored, the commentator said, "Liverpool are comfortable and West Ham are compliant" and that said it all. Grant stood, Zola and Roeder like, on the touchline, doing nothing. We were yelling, "They're not closing, why the hell are they not closing" but Grant just stood there, looking glum, looking resigned, looking mournful, looking utterly clueless.

What in God's name was going on? Liverpool players ambled into acres of space between our defence and midfield, and absolutely NOBODY went with them. Nobody marked. Nobody tracked. Nobody closed. In fact, nobody in a white shirt bloody moved!

And nobody shouted either. Not Grant. Not Upson. Not Green. Nobody. There was no anger, no passion, no fury, no recriminations, no attempt to put things right. Green blinked. Upson stared. Grant glowered. But nobody said or did anything. They just waited for Liverpool to score. Then waited for Liverpool to score again. And then waited for Liverpool to score a third. Grant did revert to 4-4-2 eventually but it seemed like some sort of divine afterthought. Why the switch wasn't made after five minutes, by which time Liverpool had already had three shots, is completely beyond me.

In the stands, Sullivan and Gold also sat in silence but something will be said tomorrow, that's for sure. The fans, of course, found their voices, singing the name of Di Canio. I would favour Pardew personally.

Did anybody play well or even decently? Green made two superb saves but was hopeless the two times he was tested under crosses. Noble tried valiantly but what chance did he stand? The team had no shape and it was back to the very worst days of Zola. In fact, the performance was identical to our surrender last April at Anfield. So much so, that I was tempted to just copy last season's match report, but Gerrard played last year, and Torres this, so the Liverpool teams were different.

Outside of Green and Noble, the team were utterly useless to a man. Ilunga was out of position every time Liverpool attacked and made no attempt to hurry back. Gabbidon was hopeless. Upson was terrible. Boa was Boa. Kovac was Kovac. Cole was comatose, Piquionne anaesthetised and Obinna embarrassing. And Jacobsen looked like a Blackburn reject. Big Benni came on and did nothing. Barrera came on and did very little. Tomkins came on and was played out of position.

We needed to fight like Blackpool fought at Upton Park last Saturday. Instead, we set up deckchairs as if on Blackpool prom and let Liverpool pass round and through us. It was embarrassing and disgraceful and showed that these gutless bastards should be sacked to a man!

Player ratings: Green 6; Jacobsen 3, Upson 3, Gabbidon 1, Ilunga 1; Kovac 2, Boa 1, Noble 5; Obinna 1, Cole 2, Piquionne 3 Subs: McCarthy 1, Barrera 3, Tomkins 4

4-3-3 again!

Cole and Kovac play. Have you seen the subs bench? Worrying!

Why we SHOULD have sold Parker in the summer.

Scott Parker Scott Parker of West Ham United challenges Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at Upton Park on February 8, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Scott Parker;Dimitar Berbatov
So, Sullivan and Gold were true to their word. Parker was not sold. Mr West Ham was given a new contract. Brilliant!

Until you look at the table.

"But where would we be without Parker?" his advocates will demand? Maybe not bottom is the obvious reply.

"But where would we be without Parker's goals?" comes the retort. Maybe not bottom is again the reply.

"But Parker has been our best player all season!" fires back the Parker bandwagon. And that, my friends, is precisely the problem.

Now, I admit that Parker's goals have amazed me so far this season because his record has been so poor in the past, but again, we have to say, so what? We are still bottom. For all his drive, for all his goals, for all his heart on his sleeve passion, Parker's presence and style of play may just be stopping us from progressing as a team.

That needs some explaining I accept. Well first off, you have to ask where the team and squad are weakest. Most would agree that we desperately need a quality left back and a goal scorer or two. Parker's goals have been remarkable for another reason too - no other bugger apart from Piquionne is scoring!

Now, I still find myself wondering where we might be in the table had Parker gone to Spurs and Keane and O'Hara had come in the opposite direction. Might the team not look a little more balanced?

If that deal had proved impossible, had we eked out £10million for Parker, might we have been able to play the market and signed players to plug the obvious holes we have in the team?

And just as important, might the team have developed a heart outside of Parker's chest if he wasn't at the centre of affairs? For all his drive and passion, he does run up a lot of blind alleys in a game. For all his goals, he does make some dumb choices when the ball breaks to him just outside the box, with the decision to let fly clouding out any bigger picture of the pitch. For all his ability, he does lack that extra ounce of class, yet the team use him as if he is the new Maradona.

Capello doesn't pick Parker for a reason. He has a poor tackling technique and concedes free kicks unnecessarily in dangerous areas of the pitch. Nor is his ball retention brilliant. And this "patch" apart, he doesn't score enough goals either.

If Parker doesn't play today at Anfield it will feel like a Hammer blow. But if we got a result without him, would Grant DARE to pick a side without Scotty the next game he was available? Not a chance in hell! Parker is now bigger the team, bigger the club, bigger than the manager. And the trouble is, Parker isn't Gerrard or Lampard or Terry or Rooney, Parker is just an averagely good midfield player who covers a lot of ground. And for that, we are paying him £4million a year in wages.

Had we sold him, where would we be now? Well it couldn't be much worse, could it?

Friday, 19 November 2010

West Ham Approach Beelzebub

The evidence seems flimsy at this stage, but rumours suggest that Sullivan & Gold have taken their first tentative steps towards selling West Ham's soul. The Boleyn is up for sale, and with it the heritage of our never to be great club.

Barratt helicopters will be buzzing up and down Green Street tomorrow. Floorplans for Boleyn Mansions are being drawn up as we speak.

Cue the orchestra. Karren Brady sits at her spinning wheel offering her elixir of youth. Sullivan and Gold step forward and sip from our chalice of doom.

This will end in tears, mark my words!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Unpatriotic British Media Expose FIFA Corruption

What a bloody disgrace. How dare these jumped up journos put at risk our bid to host the World Cup by exposing bribery and corruption at the very top of FIFA?

Has the British media got no sense of what is right and proper? So what that Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii were attempting to sell their votes? That's only to be expected when the tournament is worth God knows how many hundreds of millions of pounds to the host nation! What were these guys trying to charge exactly? A paltry £500,000, and the money was going to be used to build artificial pitches so was going back into the grass roots of African football anyway.

And as for poor Ismael Bhamjee of Botswana, Amadou Diakite of Mali and Ahongalu Fusimalohi of Tonga and Tunisia's Slim Aloulou, why are they being suspended? Just because they didn't dob their mates in! Outrageous!

Bloody hell, does anybody think the Yanks got the World Cup without oiling the gears with a few under the table dollars? And South Africa? The FIFA committee genuinely thought that the Rainbow Nation was the perfect nation to host the World Cup, did they?  Of course, the World Cup only lasts four weeks but diamonds are forever apparently!

It's about time the media kept their grubby exposes to themselves! Well said Andy Anson for telling the BBC to keep their noses out of FIFA's business. This country isn't interested in ethics, values, integrity, honesty or fair play. Where does that get you? All we want is to host the World Cup; so what that a few dodgy Africans pocket a wedge of dosh in the process?

Does anybody believe that all the money raised by Comic Relief gets to the poor in Africa? But does that stop us from shelling out for British comics to stay in 5 star hotels in Uganda whilst appealing for us to part with our hard earned cash to help build a well that costs just £20? That's possibly less than Lenny Henry's minibar bill for each night of his stay! We don't object to that do we? But then it's one rule for us Brits and another rule for the Africans it seems!

If the BBC show that documentary on FIFA corruption, then we should withhold our license fees in protest! Unpatriotic bastards! Bloody hell, they will be telling us that Italian clubs shouldn't be allowed to bribe referees next!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Gerrard limps off; please God Torres is injured too!

A disappointing England display overall but it was only a friendly so who cares? Carroll looked good. Johnson looked good. I thought Lescott did well defensively. And Gerrard was good second half until he was injured. And who knows, that injury may be great news for West Ham.

Boy we could do with Gerrard missing Saturday's game and for Torres to pull up lame too. We've had enough bad luck with injuries so wishing ill on the opposition seems reasonable in the circumstances.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Diamanti in line for Italy debut!

Bloody typical isn't it? We sign an exciting prospect from Seria B, can't work out where to play him, sell him for less than £2m, and now he's in the Italy squad, predicted to make his debut for the Azzurri tomorrow.

Now I accept that playing for Italy these days is not what it once was. Bloody hell, even Reid looked like a Premiership player when New Zealand played them in the World Cup but still, how the Hell did we part with a future Italian international for less than we paid for an overweight South African reject? Diamanti was our second highest scorer last season, whilst McBenni is still looking for his first goal. Well I say looking, but I mean hanging around, hoping one will come along of course.

How much would you invest in Diamanti bursting the net with one of his trademark free kicks tomorrow? It's even more certain than Dyer coming off inside the first twenty minutes, in the next game after actually playing a full 90 minutes for the first time in his West Ham career!

Karren Brady Commits to Avram

Picture the scene. Avram stands at the front of the synagogue, best man Sullivan at his side. Cue Fiddler on the Roof and Brady appears at the back, on the arm of David Gold. Gold looks into her eyes and gives her a reassuring touch on the forearm. Brady smiles back nervously and swallows deep. (No! Paul Peschisolido has not done a Hoffman and barged his way into the service!)

They walk slowly up the aisle. Grant looks around expectantly and smiles at his bride. Brady trembles, her slow steps falter, she looks behind hopefully, but Gold urges her on, whispering in her ear. As Karren reaches the front of the synagogue, Grant steps into the aisle and takes her by the hand; and the service begins:

"Do you, Karren Brady, take Avram Grant as your lawfully hired manager, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, till death do you part, so help you God?" Grant smiles and slides a blotchy hand across her bottom.

Suddenly Brady panics. She gasps in horror and looks around desperately, for Pardew, O'Neill, Zola, ANYBODY! She tries to step away, but Gold grips her by the arm and whispers, "Say I do! Say I do!"
"But..." Brady protests. "Look at him! Look at that face! Look at that body! Dear God, just picture his credentials!"
"Stay calm", Gold whispers. "Remember, one week before we sacked Zola I was on Radio Five Live, saying he would be our manager for many years to come! It's only words. Words mean nothing. Say, I do!"

The Rabbi clears his throat and asks again, "Do you, Karren Brady, take Avram Grant as your lawfully hired manager, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, till death do you part, so help you God?"
Brady wipes away a tear and says through gritted teeth, "Probably"!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Noble The Lionheart!

The news that Noble played the Blackpool match with stitches still in his wound, following the appendix operation, just shows how much playing for West Ham means to him. For me, he has been our best player this season, even outshining Parker.  And, I suspect, desire is a major factor in what is setting Noble and Parker apart.

Sadly, I'm still not sure the two compliment each other in a 4 man midfield, but if the rest of the team showed the same passion and drive as Noble and Parker, then I'm bloody certain we would not be in the mess that we now find ourselves in.

Amazingly, some morons are still criticising Noble, refusing to see that he has recovered the form that made him such an exciting prospect a couple of seasons back. I agree the lad lost his form for an extended period but I suspect a lot of that was down to being played out of position, and being asked to form a midfield partnership with Parker that suited neither ideally. As the junior partner, Noble had to give ground, and giving ground isn't something that comes easily to him.

The team were crap on Saturday - we should have rolled over the Blackpool King's Head without any problems whatsoever, even though they had enjoyed a week off - but Noble merits admiration for putting the team's needs over his own comfort. Could you see Dyer, Upson, Ilunga or Behrami playing with stitches in their sides? No bloody chance!

Government Happiness Index Reveals Deep Depression in Dagenham

Government ministers are puzzled by early returns to its General Welfare Index, the measure of people's happiness. Alarming returns suggest that Dagenham, Basildon, Redbridge, Ilford and Barking are caught in a general trough of unhappiness, although, strangely, utter misery seems to be largely confined to white van driving, overweight, balding, tattoo bearing, working class, white males with Staffordshire bull terriers as pets.

A government spokesman said: "We are puzzled and troubled by these results. The index suggests that this group of people are trapped in a terrible depression that has lasted for the best part of 40 years, although it has deepened considerably over the last 12 months. The index suggests that,contrary to the general picture for the British population, misery intensifies at the weekend, reaching its nadir at approximately five o'clock in the afternoon most Saturdays."

"There are various theories to explain this. We are looking at improving the ambiance inside the cabs of white vans and investigating whether tattoos cause a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It may be the result of hair loss so we are considering making hair transplants available on the National Health Service once the national debt has been reduced."

"There are already plans to reduce obesity, although we are concerned that the loss of comfort eating may negatively impact on a socio-economic group who traditionally eat all the pies. Maybe the dogs are to blame? Who knows?"

One thing is for sure, if any civil servant bearing a clip board challengers a white male with tats in Green Street on a Saturday afternoon at 5.15 pm with the question, "How happy are you feeling today?", he had better have a place booked in A&E! Oh sorry, the A&E department will have closed to fund the civil servants conducting the bleedin' survey!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Were we cheated by Holloway?

Leaving aside all the ranting of Wurzel Holloway, one question remains unanswered: were we cheated by Ollie Gummidge?

There's been a lot of fuss being made about the way he risked conceding the game at Villa, but that is not the point. The rule that Holloway undoubtedly broke is there to ensure that no team enjoys an advantage over any other because of a manager deliberately picking a weakened team.

But there is another side to this. Blackpool's game is based upon 100% commitment and they play at a frenetic pace. The question is, if the same 11 players had played for ninety minutes at that pace on Wednesday, could they have repeated it for 90 minutes 4 days later?

Our players had battled through a tough game on Wednesday, whilst the Blackpool Brickies had enjoyed a night off after a bracing day on the building site. Would they really have been able to compete for 90 minutes had Holloway stuck to the rules? Probably not.

Last season I called for Wolves to be deducted points after they pulled a similar trick, so I am not being inconsistent here. The rules were broken, plain and simple, and we suffered as a result.

Capello Calls Carlton Cole! Christ!

Oh dear God, as alliterative headlines go, that's pretty good, but surely the most important C word is missing! Has Capello seen Cole this season? I'd pick Freddie No Goals Sears before I'd plump for Carlton No Confidence Cole!

Are we really THAT desperate? Green and Cole are in the England squad, but there's no place for either Parker or Noble! What a joke!

Once again, Capello should have gone to Specsavers!

The Table has now taken shape. We are going down.

I said before the Newcastle game that it was a game we had to win. Others disagreed. We had some easier fixtures coming up, it was argued.

For 15 minutes away to Birmingham, our season was on the point of redemption. For fifteen minutes against West Brom we saw an escape route. Even with a victory yesterday, there was the possibility of turning things around. But we blew it. Not once, not twice, but three times in a row.

Stupidly, whilst ahead against West Brom, I dared to work out our probable league position on the back of two home wins in a row. Relegation? No problem! What an idiot! This is a team that includes Ilunga and Boa. This is a team that can't defend and attack in the same game. This is a team without balance. And this is a team without a brain, a heart and without courage. And Grant aint the Wizard of Oz!

Look at the table now and it is scary. We are 5 points adrift of safety already and with the joint worst goal difference in the division.

Whilst we were surrendering a lead against West Brom, Wigan were fighting back to snatch a draw against Liverpool. Can you see our spineless bunch coming from behind against Liverpool?

Whilst we drew 0-0 at home to Blackpool, Birmingham, in a relegation place as we speak, forced a 0-0 draw away to Man City. Can you see our gutless bunch getting a result at Maine Road?

Whilst we surrendered a two goal lead at Birmingham, Newcastle battled their way to a win at the Emirates.

And whilst Grant was saying that he was "happy" with our performance in a 0-0 draw at home to Blackpool, Stoke City were rolling up their collective sleeves and flooring Liverpool as decisively as Hay did Harrison.

Tell me, who is going down this season if not us? Stoke? No chance! Wolves? Probably now, though they look a half decent team. Bolton? Not a chance in hell! Wigan? Maybe, but they are not the certainties I expected. West Brom? I very much doubt it - they are SEVEN points ahead of us. Blackpool? Odds on in my book but we have given them a six point start. Birmingham? Possibly but they can fight in adversity, unlike us! Blackburn? Maybe but only if Big Spam leaves. Fulham? They got a 0-0 result at Newcastle yesterday. Newcastle? They have twice as many points as us!

We have dug our own grave and it will take a miracle for us to get out of it. To escape relegation, we will need at least 40 points this season. Where the hell are we going to get 31 points from? There are only 25 games left. We can't win away. No hang on, we can't win at home either! Our defenders can't defend, our forwards can't score, our midfielders are easily bypassed and our keeper can't move his feet to take a cross.

Can anything save us? Show me a Tevez on our books! There aint one! We are going down unless Pardew breezes in after the inevitable defeat at Liverpool and announces that he is shagging the wife of any player who doesn't record a rating of 10 in any game between now and the end of the season!

Green called up for England!

O dear God, Green is in the England squad! Has Capello lost his mind? Somebody show him the footage of Green flapping at that cross in today's game! Somebody show him examples of Green's kicking! Somebody show him a recording of the Birmingham game!

I know beggars can't be choosers and the pantry is pretty bare of keepers at the moment, but surely things are not so desperate that we need to pick a man who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and who turns to jelly every time a ball is crossed into his box?

I know Hart is first choice but, what with it being a friendly, I reckon Green might just be given 45 minutes. I tell you what, I'm not going to risk watching the game with my Tottenham mate just in case!

As for Capello, he should have gone to Specsavers!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Grant was happy with that!

I've heard it all now! I fumed each time Zola praised pathetic performances, claiming we were unlucky when we had played like absolute clowns, but to hear Grant claiming he is happy with the performance after a 0-0 draw at home to the King's Head, Blackpool, takes the absolute biscuit. We were lucky for God's sake, The Red Lion Blackpool had a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside and Harewood missed a sitter, but Grant is happy. We couldn't score at home to a bunch of Brickies turning out for their local pub side, but Grant is happy. We played the match at The Wheatsheaf Blackpool's pace, letting them set the tempo of the game throughout, but Grant is happy. What a farce!

I'm sick to death of the excuses, sick to death of the hard luck stories, sick to death of the "We deserved better" complaints. Blame the referee. Blame bad luck. Blame injuries. Credit the opposition. It's all bollocks. We were crap again today, so crap we couldn't win at home to a bloody pub side, so crap that their keepers looked truly troubled only twice in 90 minutes, so crap that we needed a wrong call from a linesman to come away with a point!

Grant was happy with that was he? Well Grant should piss off forthwith.

West Ham 0 The King's Arms Blackpool 0 - And we were lucky!

This is disgraceful. As I said at half time, we were playing a pub team and, to be honest, we were lucky to come away with a point. Why? Because we did not score a legitimate goal, where-as Blackpool did. Harewood was not off side when he put the ball in the net, two other Blackpool players were, but they were not active. People at the ground without the benefit of replays would not know that, of course, unless, like the Assistant Referee, they were looking along the line with a perfect view. His error secured us a point.

No, hang on, we didn't scramble a draw because that goal wasn't given, we scrambled a draw because Marlon Harewood managed to miss the target from two yards out when completely unchallenged and unquestionably onside. THAT will be one of the misses of the season. So, Harewood should have scored twice! Yes Harewood, that testosteroned lump of peperami whose face grows out of his neck! Maybe he missed because he felt sorry for us!

And who could blame him? We are going down because we are truly shit. I don't care that Cole hit the post. I don't care that Noble nearly scored with a brilliant curling effort. I don't care that we were robbed of a penalty. I don't care that for most of the second half, Blackpool were defending and trying to hit us on the break, we have just drawn at home to a pub side and we were lucky to come away with the point! It is humiliating.

Who played well? Well Parker ran around a lot and set up a great opportunity for Barrera. Noble nearly scored. And...

Boa? Did you see that miss? I did. Played in, with only the keeper to beat, with redemption beckoning after his crass performance on Wednesday, Boa planted it wide! Did you see Boa's cross? I did. With Blackpool stretched and Barrera available for the cross...Boa failed to beat the first defender. Hopeless, absolutely hopeless.

Barrera? Did you see his three shots, one from the Parker pull back, two others giving him wonderful opportunities to score? I did. He shoots and crosses like Boa. Enough said!

Obinna? Did you see how often he over hit his crosses, did you see his wild, wild, wild shooting? I did. Did you see that foul on the right hand side of the box that so so nearly conceded a penalty? I did. He is an athletic Boa. Enough said.

Gabbidon? Did you see how easily he was turned for the Harewood miss? I did. He showed the outside, then was turned as easily as Faubert at Arsenal. Ludicrous defending. Truly, truly pathetic.

Upson? What did he do? Where was he as a captain? Why was Harewood given two great opportunities to score, one of which he took, only to have it struck off by the linesman?

Ilunga? I think it was him who played Harewood onside and did you see his foul that gave Blackpool a free kick on the edge of our box? Remember how the guy used to overlap down the flanks and send in delicious crosses? Oh, I forgot, he was on loan then and trying to earn a new contract. Now, why does he need to run?

Piquionne? Bloody hopeless all match. No wonder he was withdrawn! There was one embarrassing moment when he ran offside. He was looking along the line for pity's sake but still went far too early.

Cole? Out of form and hopeless.

Dyer? Lasted 17 minutes! He jogged off though! Took one look at the Blackpool Brickies playing in Wurzel's back four and thought, "I could get hurt here!".

Jacobsen? Where was he every time Blackpool came down our right?

Noble? He did OK but OK isn't good enough when you are playing a pub team!

Parker? He was an arch culprit in my book because he played LIKE a Blackpool player - all huff and puff and hustle and bustle and run and run, but with next to no guile!

And Green? Did you see that flap at the cross, palming the ball out to the edge of the six yard box straight to a Blackpool player? I did. Yes the follow up volley hit him and stayed out but that was not technically a save because Green knew NOTHING about it; and anyway he had created the opportunity with another crass piece of keeping. And as for his kicking...dear God, the guy can't even kick a ball!

Full marks to Blackpool, they played as if this point would be the point that would keep them up. They played with energy, with passion, with commitment, with heart, with belief, they played for their shirts.

Our lot were just worried sick about picking up bruises and the probability of a pay cut when we go down.

Should Avram go? After this, yes. We needed seven points from the last three games and we have collected three. That is disgraceful and our performance today was abject because we made Blackpool look a decent team.

We are going down. You can put your mortgage on it!

Ratings: Green 3, Jacobsen 3, Upson 5, Gabbidon 3, Ilunga 4, Dyer 0, Noble 5, Parker 6, Boa 4, Piquionne 3, Obinna 4 Subs Barrera 4, Cole 4, McCarthy 3