Sunday, 30 September 2012

Pearson Sweating As Redknapp Is Linked With Leicester

Oh dear wouldn't that be a shame, if poor Pearson, the guy who walked out on Hull City, were to be sacked to make way for 'Arry?  The question is, would Redknapp take the job?

Leicester is a long way North and 'Arry might be hoping a team down South might yet come knocking. His unspoken dream of AVB being shown the door and an emergency "save us" call coming from Levy probably evaporated with Tottenham's stunning victory at Old Trafford yesterday, but QPR and Reading are both struggling and West Ham will find life more difficult next month. All three would suit Redknapp, and Brighton would be ideal in the Championship.

I would be surprised if Redknapp were to venture so far away from home at this time in his life - he turned down Newcastle after all - but if the rumours discomfort Pearson, then great. He deserves all he gets after walking out on Hull mid season, joining promotion rivals in the same division. If he is sacked, it will serve him right.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Championship Even More Pathetic Than Usual As Hull And Blackpool Results Prove

Leeds won, lifting them up the table towards a play off place, but other results proved what a pathetic division the Championship is this season. Leicester have now climbed into the playoffs, but largely through default; Blackpool, the early pace setters, are suddenly struggling; Hull are average at best; Huddersfield couldn't even beat Zola's Watford; Blackburn failed to win at Charlton; Brighton lost at home; and so it goes on.

There is no quality whatsoever in the division following the promotion of West Ham and Southampton. Put a few results together and suddenly a team will be top of the table and heading for the Premiership. Of course, what happens following promotion is another matter, as Reading and Southampton are proving. Southampton spent big in the summer but a return of just three points to date shows how difficult it is when you move from Sunday League football, packaged as "the Championship," and the real thing. West Ham have tucked away 8 points already but hard times probably lay ahead.

Had the Leeds takeover happened earlier, they could have walked this division because it is truly crap. No wonder the Arabs see money making potential from buying into the club. Sign half a dozen decent players in the summer and, with parachute payments in place, the return for a season up followed by relegation are huge.

Leeds Takeover Still Shrouded In Doubt

I said it yesterday and now Phil Hay of the YEP has committed to print all the uncertainties that still surround the take over deal - and added weight to the issues I raised. The fact that GFH hover on the brink of bankruptcy is very interesting. And, as Hay rightly says, it may well be that they are the company not only fronting, but funding the purchase.

Hay doesn't pick up on the point, but as I said yesterday, all the indicators are that this is being seen as an investment, not as a love toy. God only knows what will happen if the deal is completed and the company then fold. Leeds could find themselves in administration all over again, trapped in a recurring nightmare.

That may not happen of course, but the early signs are less than reassuring. Of course the long suffering Leeds fans want to look on the bright side of life, but as West Ham fans, we know all about dodgy merchant bankers, and when the Icelanders bought our club, they looked financially secure, something that cannot be said of GFH. Maybe, just maybe, this is a PR venture, a last desperate throw of the dice by a bank about to go down the drain.

The Hay article is well worth a read before Leeds fans hurl the now familiar abuse. I expressed all these concerns ahead of Hay and now the YEP has caught up and, with more time to research, have expanded on the argument. I'm not saying this is a bad deal for Leeds - it may be absolutely brilliant - but it is far too early for fans to be crowing from the rooftops. Remember, Master Bates is still in the mix and, as Hay says, there's no guarantee that he will be going away any time soon.

Still very interesting days at Leeds. And the big question now is how the uncertainty will affect the team's performance. If your days may be numbered no matter how well you play, how committed to the cause will you feel? And meanwhile, Warnock may see the shadow of a dagger pointed at his back!

To read the Hay article, follow this link:

Allardyce Crticicising Everybody EXCEPT Himself!

Just in case youngsters Hall, Spence and Potts missed his post match rant, Allardyce has put his criticism into print and warned them that they are in danger of being shipped out of the club - and this is on the back of one bad TEAM performance. As man management goes, this really is scraping the bottom of the barrel and pretty cowardly.

There were some senior pros out on the pitch, and they must carry more responsibility than the kids, but strangely Allardyce doesn't mention them in his Standard article. Why isn't McCartney cited? I didn't see the game but I was amazed to read that young Potts was pushed out of position to accommodate the Irish carthorse rather than vice versa. Play a kid in a makeshift defence, play him out of position, then name and shame him in a high circulation newspaper three days later under a headline reading "Players put their careers in jeopardy" - brilliant, the young lad's confidence and motivation must be surging!

Of course, when Allardyce is the target, he thinks it is so unfair, and like Enfield's Kevin he complains it is all so personal. I wasn't one of those who criticised our performance against Sunderland and I agree with Doctor Evil that we dominated the game, but his complaint that the criticism of our style of play "is a personal thing" because "they don’t particularly like me for whatever reason" is pathetic. Allardyce is happy to name and shame young kids after a team he selected are taken apart by Wigan but when anybody dares to criticise him, he comes over all precious.

For the record, whilst I was happy with our performance against Sunderland, the free flowing football of Southampton in the second half against Villa put our tactics to shame. The Southampton players are certainly no better than ours, and the Sunderland players are no better than Villa's, but the Saints looked like a top notch team because they passed the ball at pace and showed great movement. If Sam wants to be loved, I suggest he watches a tape of that game and thinks, "If Lambert, Puncheon and Lallana can do that in the Prem, what might Jarvis, Vaz Te and Benayoun do if used correctly?" He might also note the affection shown towards Adkins despite Southampton's miserable start to the season.

The Standard article is a fascinating read beacause the arrogance of the man sweats through virtually every sentence. He even turns a tribute to John Bond into an Allardycefest, writing,

"John even tried to sign me when he was manager at Norwich. It didn’t quite come off which was a pity because, two months after that, he moved on to Manchester City and had I been at Carrow Road and doing well, he might have taken me with him."

How insulting to Norwich City! And how brashly, crassly arrogant to squeeze this into a eulogy! Mind you, Allardyce then adds that Muffin "always gave you his full attention when you talked to him". Slight typo there, Allardyce meant, "always gave you his full attention when you talked AT him"!

Is the criticism of Allardyce personal? How could it be otherwise when he comes across as such an insensitive arse?

Friday, 28 September 2012

Are Gulf Finance House Good News For Leeds United?

Leeds fans have reached for the tissues at the prospect of getting rid of Master Bates, and they are certainly not crying tears of affection, but how closely has anybody looked at the new owners? The early rumours suggested Bahrain based oil billionaires, but a simple Google search of GFH shows that they are anything but this.

The company have only existed since 1999 and are an Islamic bank, specialising, in their words, in "unlocking value in some of the world’s most dynamic emerging economies" and using that money "to invest in Islamic financial institutions and infrastructure projects harnessing the enormous potential offered by the region’s dynamic economies".

Interesting. The statement made yesterday did in fact mention Leeds United's heritage but the words "a rich history " were employed. A Freudian slip of the keyboard perhaps. That apart, the statement was all about the money that the merchant bankers (and the rhyming slang is important) aim to make out of the club. The statement read:

“Football teams in England have recently received a significant revenue boost due to the renegotiation of broadcasting rights and it is expected from next season each team in the Premier League will receive a minimum of GBP 60m per season due to the increase in broadcasting right.
LUFC would also benefit from this if it can achieve promotion to the Premier League.”

Now the good news for Leeds fans is that to untap that financial potential, Leeds have to win promotion, but the bad news is that, like Bates, the new owners appear primarily focused on using the club as a cash cow. And where will the money go? Into Islamic projects by the sound of it, some way away from Leeds or even Bradford. Look at their proud portfolio:

"GFH has established some of the region’s leading financial institutions including First Energy Bank, the world’s first Islamic investment bank focused exclusively on the energy sector. Other financial institutions founded by GFH include Khaleeji Commercial Bank in Bahrain, QInvest in Qatar, Arab Finance House in Lebanon, First Leasing Bank in Bahrain and Asia Finance Bank in Malaysia.

Flagship infrastructure projects include GFH’s Financial Harbours in the Kingdom of Bahrain and Tunisia, Energy Cities in Qatar, Libya and India, which are complemented by as well as innovative lifestyle developments such as the Royal Ranches of Marrakech in Morocco. GFH also led the conception and delivery of Jordan’s biggest commercial infrastructure project, the Jordan Gate in Amman."

All a long way from the days of Don Revie, except he also defected to the oil states of course, betraying the whole nation in the process.

This looks like a case of frying pan and fire to me. At West Ham, we know all about merchant bankers - the Icelanders looked like manna from Heaven when they arrived but we soon found out differently.

Portsmouth caught a cold too. Things have not shaken down as people hoped at Liverpool and Villa because the owners want to run the club as a profit centre, not as a hobby or because they love the club. Look at Blackburn last season too. And Leicester's experience shows that even when you throw money at it, results are not guaranteed in the Championship because you can't attract genuine quality, you just end up with former Leeds strikers who looked good in the third tier of English football.

The take over looks good news but it may be too early to be celebrating just yet, especially as the role of Bates in the new regime has not yet been confirmed. The old sod may have the last laugh on Leeds fans yet.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Zola's Watford Sinking Fast

So Watford sit fifth from bottom in the Championship, just two points above a relegation place. It is early days of course, but Watford's struggles are unsurprising for West Ham fans who witnessed Zola's incompetence at Upton Park.
He is a nice guy, no denying that, but sadly he does not have what it takes to manage a football club. He may be a great coach - he certainly seemed to bring out the best from Cole - but when it comes to tactics and selecting a team, he is sadly clueless.
How long will he keep the job? Well for as long as he nods his head politely to every demand of the Pozzo family. Who knows if Watford matter to the Italians, or if they are using the club as a finishing school and a shop window for young prospects and the 'not quite up to its'.
The hope is that Zola will polish rough diamonds and make them sparkle amongst so much paste. But everybody should note what happened to Diamante and Daprela at Upton Park. One was used inappropriately and went on to get international caps for Italy after he left, and the other was destroyed by Zola's decision to use him only in games against the big five.
The Pozzos don't want to be relegated but is that the limit of their aspirations? Indeed promotion could be a handicap to a plan to use Watford as a nursery.

Tony Cottee Reveals He Knows NOTHING About Football!

What an idiot! Tony Cottee played in over 600 games and scored more than 200 league goals but he clearly knows nothing about football! The poor misguided fool has expressed delight at Noble signing a new contract and despite Mark's obvious inability, has described him as a "skilful player and a great passer of the ball".

In fact, apart from his lack of goals from open play, Cottee has eulogised the West Ham No Mark. Indeed, so fulsome is his praise that I feel compelled to carry it below!

According to West Ham legend Tony Cottee:

"It’s fantastic to hear Mark Noble has signed a new five-year deal with West Ham. He was an integral part of the side that got promoted last season. In fact, he’s been outstanding since he broke through eight seasons ago.

Noble has been a great servant to the club and I hope he plays at West Ham for his whole career, he’s the type of player we will always want to have in our team. He’s a homegrown player, a West Ham fan and he plays with passion, but there is so much more to him than that. It’s selling him short to say otherwise.

Mark is a very skilful player and a great passer of the ball. His delivery from set-pieces is superb too.
My only criticism of him over the years would be with regard to the number of goals he scores. But his role in the team at the moment is to sit in front of the defence and with Kevin Nolan alongside him you don’t need Mark to go tearing forward at every opportunity."

Strangely, that chimes with what I have been saying for the past three seasons but what do I know? Noble's critics, who have never played the game at a professional level, obviously know better than a player whose career stretched over 600 league games!

Ken Bates Vindicated As Leeds Take Over Nears Completion

Leeds fans hate him, but if the take over happens - and it looks long odds on now - then the Chairman will deserve huge credit. He inherited a sow's ear from Ridsdale (via Krasner) and may just have fashioned the proverbial silk purse.

Why is the Bahrain based company interested in the club? No mention of a great heritage, the trumpet call of all Leeds fans, instead the key factors cited are the fan base and the fact that Leeds are debt free. (Please note, it seems like this is a commercial venture, not a Manchester City style spendfest.)

Now Bates may have done his best to undermine that fan base during his time at the helm, but it was his very careful stewardship which has put the club's finances in order. The decision to go into administration and take the points deduction was controversial - and represented cheating in some people's eyes - but a new Leeds rose, phoenix like, from the ashes of the Ridsdale era and, whilst the wilderness years have been agony for the fans, the now very real prospect of a return to the Premiership Promised Land should be compensation enough. A financially bouyant club stands a much better chance of flourishing in the top division than a club struggling to service debts.

Of course, there's many a slip between hand and mouth, so the deal may yet flounder but that seems unlikely. And if it goes through, LUST and all the critics of Bates should order a large slice of humble pie. Chelsea fans hated him but look at where Chelsea are now. Maybe, just maybe, Bates has worked his magic and pulled another rabbit from the hat!

Beating Kids Around The Head With Club, Allardyce Style!

Neanderthal Man Movie Poster
August 27th, 1973. Ipswich at home. West Ham selected a bright young keeper by the name of Mervyn Day. The result 3-3 which suggests an indifferent night at best for the young debutant. Greenwood's reaction? He praised his young keeper to the heavens and said he was West Ham's keeper for the next 10 years. He was wrong about the ten years but that's not the point. He built a young boy's confidence.

Contrast that with Allardyce. He ballsed up when he picked the team. Potts at centre back. Really? Spence also used in a makeshift defence. Unfair. And unfair on Tomkins too who found himself the meat between that sandwich.

We didn't lose because of the defending, we lost because we started without a defence - a defence used to playing alongside each other.

But Allardyce's reaction? The opposite of Greenwood's. No protection, no encouragement, no grace. They will learn from being booed off the pitch apparently. Bollocks. That booing wasn't directed at the players, it was directed at the team, Allardyce's team, which threw lambs to the slaughter. But Allardyce is never going to accept the blame himself is he? Far easier to bash a kid or two about the head publicly apparently.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Farewell To John Bond

I am too young to remember Muffin in a West Ham shirt - and that's saying something I know - but I hold fond memories of his time at Bournemouth and Norwich. Indeed I vaguely remember a pre season friendly in the early seventies that I attended whilst Bond was in charge. Brian Dear played up front for us and was bloody hopeless!

I am not one for insincere messages of condolences but Bond was a genuine member of the West Ham family, having played almost 400 games for the club, so it is only right that his passing is marked.

It's a real shame that Allardyce didn't pick a team to give him a fitting send off last night!

Full Marks to Warnock and Leeds

Top marks to Warnock and his charges for their epic victory over Everton. On paper it looked a difficult game but from what I saw before I fell asleep - we are two hours ahead over here, it had been thirty plus degrees all day and with beer at £1 a pint, I was woozy - Leeds fully deserved the win.

The key to the result, of course, was taking the fixture seriously. Bechio could have been rested but wasn't, as could have been White and Tonge, but Warnock got the balance between rotation and fielding a cohesive team right, and picked up a well deserved result.

Last season Allardyce surrendered our League Cup place with a weakened team and repeated the trick last night. It is a stupid policy, not least because of what is does to club morale and to the individual confidence of those brought in, only to lose embarrassingly. Leeds go in to the weekend with confidence surging; West Ham's insecurities climbed a notch or two last night.

The only worrying thing for Leeds last night was the gate. There were sections of the ground very thinly populated from what I could see. If a cup tie against a Lancashire Premiership club can't fill the stadium, that has to be cause for concern. What's happened to the famed passion of Leeds fans?

Allardyce Must Carry Can For Humiliating Defeat

What a disgrace. Allardyce is pointing the finger at his players but when you make nine changes, play a defence that have never worked together as a unit, include a kid at left back and a guy who couldn't command a place in Bristol City's team last season, what do you expect? I saw the team and groaned.

I've said it before and I will say it again, you start the season with the chance of winning just three trophies, and the title is hopelessly out of reach. To surrender your place in one of those competitions by picking a reserve team is just plain stupid. Make a couple of changes fair enough, make nine changes and you are asking to be tonked.

And don't give me the "keeping key players fit" line. If that's the case, why risk Jarvis? Surely we haven't paid all that money for an impact sub in the Prem?

And what has that game done for the confidence of those who played exactly? It's all very well for Allardyce to complain about our defending, but if I was Tomkins I would be hammering on his door and asking how a defence is meant to play together when they are strangers and when players are being used out of position. Tomkins alongside Reid or Collins with McCartney at left back and Spence at right back would have made sense; the four selected were crazy. End of.

Allardyce also said he expected better "value for money" from his defenders. Well the fans who paid good money had the right to see a proper team.

And the effect on the club's confidence overall?

Stupid. Bloody stupid!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Mark Noble, A Hammer Throw Back

So Mark Noble, aged 25, is about to sign a five year contract, coming as close as anybody can to committing an entire career to the club that nurtured him. He had his chance to move this summer, Fulham definitely enquired, and he could have run his contract down and done a Rob Green, but it looks as if his love for the club and sense of fair play will ensure he does the decent thing.

Noble really is a throw back to the good old days. He already has over 220 appearances to his name and whilst he will never come close to Billy Bonds' record of appearances, by modern standards he could record an amazing number of starts if he and the club see that contract through.

His critics will claim it is because he has no other options but Jol definitely wanted him and, on a Bosman or at a reduced price because of a short contract, there would be a clutch of clubs eager to sign him. If he was "playing the game" as some claim, he would leave the contract unsigned, twisting arms into selecting him on a threat of, "I play or I walk away"; but Gold claims he will sign a contract today. Good on him I say!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bates Buying Time At Leeds By Hinting At Limited Sell Out

So Master Bates has fed Leeds fans a few scraps in his programme notes and suddenly all the natives are happy. But look closer, and what has the Chairman actually revealed?

The club are in advanced talks with a prospective buyer. Check. We knew that some time ago.

The would be investors - and that is a key word - have not yet committed themselves and nor has Bates agreed to sell any or all of his shares. We knew that too.

Confidentiality agreements prevent Bates from saying who the buyers are. Nothing new there.

The would be owners are from Bahrain. But didn't LUST tell us that a couple of months ago? Mind you, everything LUST have said has been wrong according to Bates.

The deal didn't happen in time for the August transfer window. We noticed Ken.

The hope is to complete the deal before the January window. You might expect that, but there are no guarantees.

London lawyers are holding up the deal. Ah, the familiar tactic of demonisation. Blame the bastard lawyers, and better still, make them Southern bastard lawyers!

Meanwhile, there are rumours of an American investor too.

And most crucially, the clever money seems to be on Bates retaining a controlling interest in the club and staying on as Chairman. Just what Leeds fans are hoping for!

And what don't we know? Who exactly. When exactly. How much exactly.

Back to back defeats raised the prospect of the natives getting restless. But now, they have put away their weapons and are once again waiting patiently. Bless.

Mind you, Jose has resigned from Real Madrid and Ronaldo has said he is sad at the club, so who knows...

Fortress Upton Park As 'Arry Tips West Ham For Mid Table

One defeat at home in 2012 and, as 'Arry says, with Nolan feeding off of Carroll and good wide men getting in crosses, we will score goals. With Old Bag Puss ducking a Lineker invitation to criticise Allardyce's tactics on MOTD, it was good to hear his opinion that we will have a good season and finish mid table.

The highlights confirmed what I thought when watching the game live, we were in a different class to Sunderland and, on another day, would have breezed to victory. The fact we didn't was down to bad luck, unconvincing finishing from Cole and Vaz Te, poor play by Collins - it was another shocking error when he gave away the ball and poor marking subsequently - and better goalkeeping from Mignolet than from Jussi: the Black Cats' keepers save was out of the top drawer, whilst Jussi got a hand to Fletcher's goal but failed to deflect it wide.

Some may bang on about long ball, but we are using the full width of the pitch rather than hitting it long down the middle, and I have no problems with that. The game was never boring and Sunderland contributed nothing much to it, which suggests we were pretty pleasing on the eye. The decision to relegate us to the last game on MOTD seemed unfair.

Anyway, the dropped points apart, there were far more positives than negatives from yesterday as even Redknapp had to admit!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Great Weekend For Warnock's Leeds As Young Pole Scores

Wow, what a weekend it has been so far. First Blackburn crashed to defeat, then Cardiff lost whilst Leeds beat Forest. That means three of the probable top six have lost whilst Leeds secured maximum points. Now Warnock will be hoping for Blackpool to slip up at home to Huddersfield and, probably, for Leicester and Hull to share the points.

Even better, the victory was achieved thanks to a goal from Dominic Poleon, hinting at a bright future for the promising youngster. And all this after the 7-3 home hammering last season and with a mini injury crisis seriously limiting Old Big Gob's options.

So as things stand, the Royal Shakespeare Company will not be performing Twelfth Night in Elland Road on Monday, unless, of course, Leicester beat Hull and climb above them in the table. Meanwhile, Leeds fans will be Poleon Dancing in the bars tonight!

And who knows, the takeover may happen on Mega Monday!

West Ham 1 Sunderland 1 - Black Cats' Nine Lives Exhausted Late On!

Well, a point was disappointing, but the performance was exciting. True, you should be able to put more than one goal past a defence featuring Bramble, O'Shea and Rose, but Sunderland rode their luck in an outrageous way and with decent finishing we could have scored six.

The Fletcher goal apart, and a failed attempt to connect on a wicked cross into our box, Sunderland offered little in the way of an offensive threat, and, for the most part, parked the bus and challenged us to score. And on another day, with more luck and Carroll playing, we would have hit three, four or five.

I said at half time that Nolan would take a chance sooner or later, and boy did he take his second half opportunity well. In the first half two efforts screwed wide and another forced a brilliant save. This half, with time ticking down, he dropped his shoulder superbly and smashed home a wonderful volley. People scoffed when I said he should have been in Woy's England squad, and West Ham fans howled in protest when I claimed he was a more deserving winner of player of the season than Parker two seasons back, but this goal showed what he brings to the table. If we stay up, and we look good enough to do so on this showing, Nolan will be a key factor.

And so will Noble. Once again he was the hub of the team, delivering diagonal ball after diagonal ball into the final third of the Sunderland  defence creating opportunity after opportunity. Get Carroll on the end of those passes and opposition defences will be at sixes and sevens, just as ours was when Carroll and Nolan killed us off at Upton Park when Newcastle stole a victory two seasons back. Noble will not be credited with the assist for Nolan's goal, but it was his delivery that caused the initial panic, delivering to a clearly predetermined Allardyce game plan. And how many times should we have scored from Noble's corners? Time and again he found West Ham heads only for chances to be missed, the Collins header that thumped against the bar summing up Sunderland's good fortune and our bad luck.

First half, Vaz Te, Cole and Nolan all wasted good opportunities to score and Nolan forced a World Class save from an even better volley than the one that hit the back of the net. Second half, the pattern repeated, with Vaz Te failing to connect properly on the edge of the six yard box, Benayoun missing a wonderful Jarvis cross because of a touch off Bramble's head and Collins thumping a header against the bar. Time and again we battered at the door and had we failed to equalise, it would have been a terrible injustice.

Indeed, such was our superiority that, for once, the crowd remained 100% behind the team, roaring them forward and only expressing frustration at the officials and Sunderland's time wasting tactics. Overall, we looked impressive when we had the ball, and when we didn't, Noble and Diame harried and chased and pressed a high line, and Nolan did a similar job on the edge of the final third.

The big question must be why Allardyce did not start Jarvis. The guy looked electric when he came on, transforming us down the left. The only explanation is that Doctor Evil does not rate O'Brien at left back and so wants Taylor to protect him - quite rightly perhaps but you then have to ask why he didn't hunt down a proper left back in the summer. This position has been an Achilles heel for two long and it could yet prove an expensive oversight again. Two O'Brien headers set up half chances for Sunderland and he was nowhere to be seen when Vaughan failed to get on the end of that cross. That said, he looked reasonable going forward and forced a tidy save with a driven shot from outside the box.

We wanted more than a point but O'Neill teams are hard to beat when set up to defend, and with more luck, we would have won this comfortably. Give Jarvis a start and get Carroll fit, and this team will offer a threat to any defence. The problem remains our defence which looks vulnerable, despite impressive performances from both Reid and Demel.

Player ratings: Jussi 5, Demel 7, Collins 5, Reid 7, O'Brien 5; Noble 7, Diame 6; Vaz Te 5, Nolan 9, Taylor 6; Cole 4. Subs: Benayoun 6, Jarvis 8, Maiga 5


Half Time West Ham 0 Sunderland 1 - Black Cats Have Nine Lives!

Disappointing that we are behind, of course, but we could and probably should have had three goals by now. Vav Te missed with a header, Cole jumped too early and ballooned a header wide, and Nolan has had three chances, one of which he directed across the face of goal but just behind Collins, another narrowly wide and the last produced a world class save from a world class volley.

We have shown enough to suggest that this game is far from lost. Indeed, had Carroll been fit, I suspect we would be leading quite comfortably. Sadly, for all his hard work, Cole has been his usual ineffectual self. When his head connects with the ball in the box there is no real control, no real conviction. He looks, to me, like a man low on self confidence; but then, when inside the penalty box, he has looked like that more often than not.

Defensively, we have not looked so clever. O'Brien is clearly a makeshift left back and Collins still looks vulnerable, dwelling on the ball far too long and being bullied by Fletcher in a way he shouldn't be. The expensive Scot took his goal well but he was allowed too much time by Ginge, who rightly had his head in his hands after the ball hit the back of the net. We really cannot afford error after error, game after game, from the ugly Welshman.

In midfield we have looked decent. Noble and Diame have had the better of things in the centre of the park, and Noble critics should note that we have nearly scored from three of his set pieces. That said, why he and Nolan buggered around with a free kick just outside the box is a mystery. It was the wrong side for Taylor but it looked right up Vaz Te's street.

Taylor and Vaz Te both have the beating of their full backs and two opportunities have arrisen from getting big men on the shoulder of Rose inside the box. This is an area to exploit in the second half surely. We need to get Vaz Te in the game more too. Meanwhile, if chances keep breaking for Nolan, you would back him to bag at least one.

All that said, it remains odd that Jarvis is not in the starting line up. It looks to me as if Allardyce is trying to protect O'Brien rather than pushing the opposition onto the back foot with the attacking threat of Jarvis. That has to change at some point in the second half but I doubt we will see the switch before the 60th minute, unless Sunderland get a second. Maiga for Cole? Actually I would bring on Yossi and move Vaz Te inside.

Noble Putting In The Hard Yards

Interesting stats are emerging. Those puzzled by the inclusion of Reid alongside Collins might be surprised to learn that he is the fastest player in the division, clocking in at 23.38mph. Pace at the heart of a defence is invaluable, particularly when the partner and full backs are not exactly nippy.

The Noble critics, meanwhile, might be interested to learn that Noble has already covered 26.95 miles in the first four games, the second highest total in the division! With that level of commitment, perhaps it is no wonder Allardyce rates him.

Noble has also made him self so available to team mates that they have passed to him 172 times already this season, the highest for any player in the squad. If nothing else, this proves that Noble is the glue that is holding the team together. Glue may not be glamorous, but without it, things fall apart!

Sullivan & Gold to be Knighted?

Bless. The two men who happily saw West Ham relegated (under Roeder) have again explained that their ownership of West Ham United has nothing to do with making a profit. In fact with huge debts still hanging albatross like around the neck of the club, they are having to dig deep into their pockets to fund new signings. Why are they doing it? Love.

Hmmm. Love. Love in the world of Sullivan and Gold, business man who have turned 'love' into a money spinning industry.

Now I'm not climbing up on to a moral high horse here. If I could have made millions from erotica I would have happily done so. It's a far more decent industry than armaments for example. But apart from Linda Loveless, is anybody really willing to swallow what the Davids have to offer.

Doing it for love? Yes, and for the prize money available at the end of the season, of course, which, potentially, could halve the debt at a stroke. Not to mention the redevelopment of the ground, after we have exchanged owner occupier status for a tenancy on a pad that doesn't really suit our needs. You do not have to be a business genius to see how SuGo are going to turn this venture into a nice little money earner, providing, of course, we remain in the Prem.

And remaining in the Prem explains the transfer deals this summer. Originally, Gold talked of four signings over the summer, hoping that would be enough. When it became clear that the team wasn't up to it - and only then! - the cheque book was opened.

But the Davids tell us it all comes down to love and nothing to do with the moneyshot. Surely our magnanimous benefactors are overdue knighthoods!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Warnock Has Confused Priorities At Leeds

Another day, another defeat. And Leeds didn't lose against Hull because they were short of strikers - two goals should be enough to win any home game - but because they are as leaky at the back as an incontinent granny after a vindaloo curry.

Three goals shipped at home to Blackburn, two in Cardiff and three goals conceded against Hull. So much for the watertight defence that Leeds fans boasted about on here after the opening day victory over Wolves.

And so much for the promotion charge too. When I warned at the weekend that, even this early in the season, the table does not lie (look who already occupy the top four spots in the Prem) Leeds fans scoffed. But back to back defeats have put things into context. Leeds are already six points adrift of an automatic promotion place, and more worrying still, only one team in a play off place is less than six points, and so two victories, above the once mighty Whites. Playing catch up is a dangerous game!

In fact, Leeds are closer points wise to second from bottom than they are to Forest in sixth place! Warnock will cite injuries, bad luck and individual errors, but he put this team together and ultimately he must be accountable.

And meanwhile, Take Over Tuesday has, once again, become 'What Happened Then? Wednesday'. No movement forward on that front, and slipping below the plimsoll line in the Championship meanwhile. Things are not going to plan with a vengeance!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Take Over Tuesday At Leeds

So this is it then, the day all Leeds fans - Lorimer apart - have been praying for, the day when Master Bates packs up his box of Kleenex and vacates the premises, leaving the door open for camel riding Arabs to make the reverse journey taken by Don Revie when he betrayed the entire nation and exchanged the honour of managing the national team for the blood money of Arabia.

Who says so? Well a poster on here told me at the weekend that he has it "on good authority" that the take over will happen today. So that's pretty conclusive then. And there will a ten million pound transfer war chest apparently; sadly locked away until January of course.

Mean time, Warnock is still desperately trying to prise open Bates' wallet, fighting through the cobwebs and padlocks in the hope of squeezing out just enough cash to sign somebody on loan to cover for crocked McCormack. Why is he bothering with all that oil money about to pump into Elland Road one wonders?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Gold Wants To have His Cake And Eat It!

So, does Gold have his head so far up his arse that he doesn't know what is happening? Before the season kicked off, West Ham seemed to be trying to implement a unilateral wage cap. Quickly realising that this was a sure fire way of returning to the Championship inside of 12 months, the Board splashed cash - and commensurate wages - on Diarra, Jarvis, Benayoun and, most obscenely, Carroll.

Now, with a squad fit to last the course, hopefully, the call goes up to fix a wage cap based on existing salary structures. Is the guy in La La Land? I'm all for putting West Ham's interests first but this is so obviously parochial and biased it can't be true. You can't have your cake and eat it, end of. Either we want to play with the big boys in the top league or we accept our status as a Championship club that enjoys the odd foray into the Premier League.

Gold may want to run the world according to his own agenda but life rarely works like that. Sadly, the Premier League are not porn models who will turn over and take it up the rear to a director's orders!

Redknapp Rejects 70 Page Dossiers

Well he would wouldn't he? The poor geezer can't reed and rite proper like, so he is hardly likely to favour the writing of dossiers as a qualification for good football management. According to 'Arry, all footballers are as thick as shit. Keep it simple is his philosophy. And I'm not arguing.

Tottenham won yesterday, but only against misfiring Reading. How long will AVB stay in the White Hot Lane seat? Looks like another Oneday Ramos to me, with knobs on!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Allardyce - A PR Puppet With No Mind Of His Own

So, is Allardyce a PR puppet with no mind of his own? Does he pick the team to satisfy Sullivan and Gold's obsession with media management? Does the "right image" take precedence over winning games and achieving Premiership survival? Is Allardyce being paid a bonus to keep the fans happy rather than keeping West Ham in the Premiership?

As ludicrous as that sounds, West Ham fans repeatedly level that charge. Two contributors to this site regularly suggest that Allardyce is a doormat that the owners and PR bods wipe their feet on. Gold steps out of his Rolls and Allardyce, apparently, lays down like a red carpet and begs, "Please walk all over me". When he is about to name his team, Allardyce scurries along to the owners' offices, it seems, and asks, "Is that team alright for you boss or should I make any changes? Anybody in particular you would like to see in the team? Have I got the balance right to suit the image you are seeking to project? Would Her Royal Highness Brady like me to make any changes perhaps? Just name the player and I will pick him, regardless of his suitability and ability."

It's a delicious image, to be honest. Mr Ego himself, humbled and craven, down on his chest in front of Brady, his arse lifted in the air, wagging an imaginary tail. This is a man who compared himself to Jose and argued he was really the "Special One". This is the man who claimed he should be managing Real Madrid or Barcelona. This is the man who put himself forward for the England job, expecting to be appointed despite advocating tactics that would have taken the national team back into the Dark Ages. This is the man who mocked West Ham fans and the idea of the West Ham way, telling the world that the West Ham way had won nothing except relegation. But this is the man who picks players because of their PR appeal, apparently.

Tell that to Tomkins. Who predicted his replacement with Reid? If Allardyce selected his team to please West Ham fans and to pay homage to the Academy heritage, surely Tomkins would be one of the first names on the team sheet. Odd that this craven Allardyce ignores all that and picks the unpopular Reid ahead of home grown JT isn't it?

But, apparently, Allardyce completely changes personality when it comes to Mark Noble. He doesn't rate him as a player apparently - how could he, the guy is crap - he simply picks him to keep the owners, fans and the PR gurus happy. And not only does he pick him, he gives him a key role in the team and uses him as his set piece taker, even though the guy is totally hopeless. Each Friday, after training, Allardyce picks his team and says to himself, "I'll include Noble because he is West Ham through and through and the fans love him. It was a great bit of PR on Tuesday when he talked about the move to the Olympic Stadium, with PR control like that, he has to take the corners!"

The argument is absurd when you look at it like that, but still people persist in claiming that Noble is only in the team because he is a yes man. With Grant, you might buy that. With Zola you certainly would. But with Allardyce? And, indeed, with Curbishley? Come on, get real!

So, is Noble in the team ahead of Diarra and Benayoun because Allardyce fancies his PR skills, or does Allardyce value what Noble brings to the team? The answer is so bloody obvious that the question is farcical. Perhaps, just perhaps, Noble's critics should start asking themselves why the guy is preferred to a man who recently captained the French national team, and start looking for his positives rather than jumping on any and every mistake he makes in a game. That might be the more logical position to take rather than this stupid argument that Allardyce turns into a compliant pussy every time the insertion of the Mark One Dildo is demanded by Gold and Sullivan!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Poor Zola Still Can't Teach Watford How To Do It!

Another week, another defeat. Another week and still more goals conceded from set pieces. Zola knew it was coming this time - well it was Bolton! - and had been "working on" how to defend set pieces for a couple of days during the international break - but all to no avail!

Apparently GianFredo expected the first half to be difficult. Very astute I must say!

The Italian admits there's still work to be done, but just like after every West Ham defeat, he felt his side deserved better, even though Watford's only goal was a fluke. It's a bloody unfair game though, when matches are decided on trivial matters like which side scores the most goals!

What about the keep ball football? Watford had 54% of the possession! Fewer goals, fewer shots on target and fewer shots in total but 54% of the possession! Surely there should be points awarded for style, just like in synchronised swimming!

Liverpool Climb Out Of Drop Zone With Draw At Sunderland!

Where were Liverpool in the the table when they sacked Woy? And where were they when they turned on King Kenny, the idol of the the Kop? Well sacking two managers who have won league titles has done the club a lot of favours hasn't it? Rodgers has arrived and well and truly rogered the Reds!

Four games played and the top four has a familiar look - Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal and Man City, with Liverpool six points adrift already! Thank heavens the Hillsborough Report has given Liverpool fans something to cheer about otherwise they would be buying tickets to be the first to throw themselves off the Mersey Gateway!

Could Liverpool be relegated? If Suarez gets a strop on, anything is possible given the paucity of strikers at the club!

Warnock's Wheels Coming Off At Leeds!

The Leeds fans are falling over themselves to lick Warnock's balls but one look at the table tonight should make them stop and think. True, Snakeinthegrass demanded a move, but the disillusioned former captain apart - and he's no world beater - the squad has been remodelled according to the former QPR and Shafting United manager's wishes. But to what avail exactly?

Tonight after a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff thanks, deliciously, to a penalty won by West Ham reject and former Whites' target Nicky Maynard, Leeds sit in ninth place in the Championship table, and they will almost certainly sink lower after tomorrow's game between Leicester and Wolves. Whatever the result - a low scoring victory for Wolves apart - one or other will climb above Leeds; and Wolves are currently second from bottom in the table!

Leeds fans will cry "Too early to see any significance in the table" but that is cobblers. Blackburn, Blackpool, Cardiff and Forest  have established early superiority and will finish in the top six, so that means there's only two potential promotion places up for grabs already!

Look at the results Leeds have achieved so far and they scream mid table mediocrity. The narrow victory over Wolves looked good but has been put into context by the newly relegated club's subsequent results. Peterborough look doomed already so the victory at London Road looks no big shakes. The draw at home to Blackburn Rovers was a fair result because the Battery Farmers will go up as Champions, whilst the defeats at Cardiff and Blackpool show that Leeds will fight bravely but lack the necessary quality against a half decent team. I warned before the season kicked off that Leeds could be in a relegation place after five games. I was wrong. Leeds are a massive two points above a relegation place!

Of course, Master Bates will be blamed for this, but Leeds fans have defended Warnock's signings so they must accept serious judgement errors if things do not work out as they hope. Old Big Gob has built his own team from front to back, so if it misfires, he must carry a large proportion of the blame. End of.

Where were Leeds in the table when Warnock took charge? Was it seventh or eighth? And where are Leeds now? Ninth. Doesn't bode well does it?

Given all the fuss concerning the take over and the fanfares following Warnock's appointment, the Royal Shakespeare Company will be performing a one off show at Elland Road soon - and after considering, and rejecting, A Midsummer Night's Dream, they have settled for now on Much Ado About Nothing! Mind you, come next Saturday it could be Twelfth Night and the week after, A Comedy of Errors!


Too Cautious Allardyce Needs To Take Off Shackles

Ok, a point at Norwich was not a disaster, but the Canaries haven't won in the league yet this season and so were there for the taking - but to win, you have to have a positive frame of mind; and Allardyce played safety first unnecessarily.

The team selection said it all. OK, Jarvis may not have been ready for a full 90 minutes, but why not start him and seek to seize the initiative, rather than try to steal a win with a late substitution? Then there was the delayed use of Yossi. The guy opens teams up. What's the point of giving him just 4 minutes, plus injury time, of action?

As I posted yesterday, this was a season defining game and, despite our chances, Allardyce blew it to a certain extent. Had he gone all out for victory, we may have lost, but I fancy we would have won by a comfortable margin. Hughton seems to agree with me because he said after the game, "it's a clean sheet against a strong powerful West Ham side who will trouble a lot of teams this season."

Contrast that with Allardyce who accentuated the positives of a clean sheet, insisting, "From our point of view it is a well-earned point. It is our first point away from home this season and another clean sheet is very satisfying. That's three clean sheets from four since our return to the Premier League and that is a basis to build from."

You can't argue with the logic that says you can't lose if you don't concede, but you can't win if you don't score either! 38 draws sees you safe, usually, but nothing more - and we are not going to draw at Old Trafford, the Etihad and Stamford Bridge, to name but three, so victories are essential. I repeat what I said yesterday, set this team up to attack and we will put two past most opponents and, along the way, win more games than we lose. 15 victories gives you 45 points, a much better return than aiming to eke out safety from 0-0 draws.

Fair enough, a dodgy looking defence on paper has looked pretty efficient, the Swansea game apart, but the big challenges lie ahead and whilst 7 points from four games is not to be sniffed at, a false picture has been created by a relatively easy start to the season. In fact 7 points is par for the course and nothing more, for a team narrowly avoiding relegation. Southampton have started like we did under Grant, but Southampton have been punching with the heavy weights who will soon be aiming at our glass jaw!

All that said, a substitute bench reading Tomkins, McCartney, Benayoun, Maiga, Jarvis, Henderson and Diarra does not scream out relegation fodder - especially with Carroll ruled out by injury!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Norwich Away - A Season Defining Game

This is the big one. No Carroll, but otherwise a strong squad presumably brimming with confidence after the hammering of Fulham. The season could now go one of three ways, and this match is likely to set the tone for everything that is to follow.

Put frankly, Norwich are the sort of team we should be looking to beat if we are to make any sort of mark on the division this season. They are a decent team; nothing more. They have a decent manager; nothing more. They have a few decent players; nothing and no more.

Win this, and the season could map out like Pardew's glorious first year up. With our tails up, believing in itself, this West Ham team could be more than decent. There are so many options going forward, so much potential to create goals, that even a vulnerable back four may not be an obstacle to a top ten finish.

Draw it and you would have to say that the result was par for the course for a team that will struggle but survive; enough perhaps for many West Ham fans but a low bar in my estimation given the astute looking signings made over the summer.

Lose it and all the fears and insecurities will return. I fancy Norwich to be in or around the drop zone over the course of the season so we really must be looking to take something from these sorts of games, given much sterner challenges lie ahead.

No Carroll, but we have Cole, Vaz Te and Maiga. We have Nolan. We have Jarvis. Is Yossi fit? I don't know. We have Noble to pull the strings too. The defence is shaky. To try to eke out a 1-0 would be extremely dangerous. Back this team to score twice against 70% of the opponents in the division and we will win more than we lose. Let's go for it. Let's go for glory!

Come On You Irons!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

West Ham To Sign Defensive Genius?

Well we have had a Ruud Boffin between the sticks so why not Mensah at centre back? He may not be the best defender in the world, but if he lives up to his name, he will have an IQ higher than the combined total of the entire Bobby Moore Lower!

The Truth At Last

The truth will out, they say; and so it has proved, albeit it too late to take to task those truly responsible. People power forced the hand of the government but there is a delicious irony, the human tragedy apart, in a Tory government laying bare the deceit and mendacity of the Thatcher government and her Praetorian police guard.
Football changed for the better because of Hillsborough, Bradford and Heysel but the price was too high; far too high. The people of Liverpool have now had confirmed what they always knew, that an unholy alliance of government, police and media puppets distorted the facts and demonised football fans when the blame lay elsewhere.
I have picked up the news late in Romania but yesterday was a great day for British democracy. Let's hope that we can now move on and that this is not used as an excuse to tap in to the compensation culture that has now consumed Britain. Mistakes were made, terrible mistakes, but there was no malice aforethought, but cruel revisionism after the event.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Warnock Speaking In Tonges At Leeds

The Borrowers
How many players does Warnock need exactly? Doesn't he know that you can only field 11 players at any given time? What about all the bright young things the club claim to have coming through the ranks?

With Bates no longer having to hide the cheque book because the window has closed, Warnock is now looking to pick up any waif or stray he can on loan. So far, the favourites to arrive are Jermaine Far From A Jenas and Michael Speaking in Tonges. Two warm live bodies it is true, but hardly quality!

Meanwhile, yet another take over deadline has been and gone!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Allardyce Singles Noble Out For Praise

Interesting. Whilst highlighting the versatility of his present squad - and going forward there is certainly an exciting range of options - Allardyce identified Noble and Vaz Te in particular as players who can perform different roles for the team.

When he arrived, Allardyce surprised us all by moving Parker forward - a role he floundered in - and pegging Noble back as the team's anchor. As the season unfolded, Noble increasingly became the hub of the team, pulling the strings, linking the play, picking the passes, closing down opponents, covering every blade of grass and orchestrating our play. When Noble played badly, the team played badly, and Noble's critics blamed him; when Noble played well, the team played well, and Noble's critics claimed it was in spite of a genuine midfield general.

Well Allardyce seems to disagree with those who seek to dismiss Noble as a go slow liability. Vaz Te offers the spark of unpredictability up front whilst Noble can sit and hold, or move forward and dictate the play from a more advanced position. He has the best passing range by far in the team and has grown, in my view, into a player of genuine quality.

Who needs Scotty when the man kept in Parker's shadow is actually a far more rounded player? Expect an England call up before the end of the season!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Zola Out Of Control At Watford

It didn't take long did it? After a promising start, September promises to be the cruelest month after a 5-1 tonking at Derby County. When the wheels came off at Upton Park under Zola, they came off big time, but it took a season to arrive at catastrophe; the process seems to have accelerated at Watford.

Once again, the familiar pattern has emerged. Like the affable nodding dog that sat in the back windows of Cortinas in the 1970s, Zola is trying to appear upbeat, but the felt has worn thin and the plastic patches are already showing through. Whilst Mr Cones & Bibs Clark has got off to a flier at West Brom, GianFredo Zola is struggling already and nodding forlornly as the car is driven for him by Godfather Nani and Consiglieri Duxbury.

Poor Zola is already explaining how Nani recruits the players and putting the loss of a key member of his squad down to a policy of naked ageism. Then there is the familiar complaint of too many players in the squad - 42 at the last count apparently. But then how many of those are actually Watford players? The new recruits are all on loans!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Where are you Robert Green?

Just seen the England squad and there's no place for England's 666. Shame! It seems that joining QPR is a good way of bringing the curtain down on an England career. Green made the squad in the Championship with West Ham; but even though he's in the Prem with QPR, he's out in the cold.

When will Hodgson wake up to Noble's potential I wonder? Expect to see him in the squad before the end of the season! And as for the Moldova game, given the injuries and the dearth of strikers, I would have included Nolan!

Leeds United's Official Site Confirms What Every Leeds Fan Fears

Yep. Yesterday was the the day apparently. Well today was the day actually but like all the todays before it, that today is now yesterday and yesterday all Leeds United's fans' troubles seemed so far away, but now they're here and baby here to stay, for Leeds fans believed in yesterday!

How appropriate that on yesterday's today, the much lamented today of the great take over, the Official Site made a stunning announcement. Big news breaking! Take off time! All aboard! Who needs Master Bates' Elland Road when you have...

Flamingo Land. Yes folks, it was all quiet on the take over front yet again, but Leeds United were happy to announce a new ride has opened at the local amusement park. Well, with Warnock in charge, you have to find entertainment somewhere don't you?

And how appropriate that the ride is called Pterodactyl - a dinosaur ride for a dinosaur club some might say. An ugly vicious creature that once scaled the heights but which is now - other than in the imagination of some - as extinct as a dodo.

Perched appropriately close to Cliff Hanger - and the fans might hang poor old Cliff for taking the piss should he ever turn up and sing Congratulations - the ride promises to "combine high altitude thrills" with "soaring and swooping" - well guys, what goes up, must come down. Like the Take Over Balloon perhaps?

Join the ride, and you will quickly feel as if you have "truly taken flight as you quickly rise" - well seventh in the Championship is likely to give you a nose bleed if you are a Leeds fan! - before you "circle and circle above the crowds below moving ever further to horizontal"! How appropriate!

A dinosaur ride for a dinosaur club moving in ever more horizontal circles! The "very sight of it" apparently creates "spine tingling fear to rival its prehistoric namesake". Mind you, parallels end there because to term Elland Road "stone age theming" is perhaps overdoing it. Iron Age surely? The natives can use basic tools and have evolved communication in the form of hand gestures and grunting!

Perhaps it is time for a new logo for a new era, a pterodactyl and a flamingo standing guard over the portals of Elland Road, the stone age reality of extinction side by side with the pink fluffy symbol of hope, teetering precariously upon one snap thin leg.

But never mind guys, today is the day for the takeover!

Alton Towers are closing in on Flamingo Land!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Bates Promises Leeds Are Going Nowhere

Very interesting to read that Snodgrass is of the opinion that the take over at Leeds is "not now happening". There's a surprise. So what went wrong then? Was it all a ruse designed to dampen criticism as Master Bates kept his wallet under lock and key all summer long? Or did Bates want too much?

Meanwhile, the most hated man in the City has warned against spending money and pledged that he will only sell if the new owners are in a position to take Leeds "to the next level". That kind of suggests that Bates doesn't anticipate promotion to the Prem under his tenure doesn't it, as there wouldn't then be a "next level" to attain!