Saturday, 31 August 2013

West Ham 0 Stoke 1 - Who needs POSSIBLE points deductions when we deduct them ourselves?

Well that served the club right. All that bollocks about potential points deductions if we buy somebody to play up front, and in the meantime we surrender five points anyway with goal less displays against Newcastle and Stoke.

We were dreadful today, and it all comes from having nobody to lead the line, with Maiga showing all the movement of a concrete pillar and all the physical strength of a cobweb. It comes to something when, in an effort to produce something in the box, Allardyce sends on an eighteen year old kid for the last few minutes!

With Spurs spending as if money has gone out of fashion, Sullivan has bullshitted the West Ham fans claiming we are tied by financial rules that don't really cut in for 18 months and which, anyway, only carry a vague threat of penalties. Instead of buying a striker, meanwhile, good money was spent on Downing who, thus far, has lived down to everything I have always thought about him.

So, instead of sitting securely near the top of the table after a kind opening round of fixtures, we already find ourselves looking over our shoulder wondering what is in store if Carroll doesn't come back firing. Today was depressing with a capital D!

Downing was awful. It was 16 minutes before he passed to a player in claret and blue and with Jarvis switching wings in an effort to get him into the game, our overall effectiveness was reduced as we strove to accommodate the Liverpool reject. Jarvis, meanwhile, was at his frustrating worst, standing up crosses all afternoon that even Rob Green could come and collect with impunity.

In central midfield, Nolan was absolutely anonymous and Noble was a bloody liability. And Diame was little better! There was no spark, no guile, no fluency - but then nothing was happening ahead of them with Maiga occupying a shirt but barely participating in the game. The failure to withdraw him says everything about the stupid composition of our squad - there just wasn't anybody else to play in the bloody position! God, I even found myself wishing we had Crouch or Jerome on the bench, it was that bad!

The Stoke goal was well taken but was our own fault with either Noble or Nolan giving the ball away in our own half and a clumsy foul on the edge of the box conceding the free kick. And sickeningly, one pathetic Maiga header apart, we didn't have a single chance all afternoon!

Get the cheque book out Sullivan and stop making excuses!

Player ratings: Jussi 6; Demel 5 (crossing awful!) Collins 8 Reid 8, O'Brien 6; Noble 2, Nolan 2, Diame 5; Jarvis 4, Downing 1, Maiga 0  Subs Morrison 5 Collison and Lee not on long enough to grade.

Half Time: West Ham 0 Stoke 0 - Blowing our lines rather than bubbles

The last time we had a chance to go top of the Prem for 24 hours, Bolton came to the Boleyn and Green made two terrible errors as we folded 3-1. And based on that first half, the team are intent on blowing the opportunity again.

The back 5 apart, we have been awful. Maiga has missed another nailed on opportunity, making a hash of a header from a rare Jarvis cross. Jarvis has been poor but has looked like Messi when compared to Downing who took until the 16th minute to pass the ball to a member of his own team. Nolan has been a passenger. Diame has looked lumbering. Noble has been caught in possession waiting for some movement, any movement, ahead of him. All the football has been played by Stoke and it is only thanks to some typical blood and thunder defending from Collins and Reid, that we are not behind.

The only encouraging news is that we surely can't be that bad in the second 45! Allardyce will be laying into the team as we speak, and texting Sullivan and Gold to say "Fcuk wage caps, I need a fcuking striker who at least knows what a fcuking goal looks like!"

Friday, 30 August 2013

Allardyce threatens Nolan and laments the loss of Diarra!

Ok, could you combine two more ridiculous statements in one headline without resorting to "Michael Gove saves British Education System as Nick Clegg's Lib Dems rocket ahead in the polls?", but it seems we have moved in to a truly parallel universe, where having played for Bolton doesn't guarantee you a place in the West Ham starting eleven, and being a lazy, sulky French tosser doesn't preclude a start!

Speaking after Diarra's injury ruled him out for the entire season, Allardyce waxed lyrical about how he was going to be a huge loss; so huge that we happily sent him out on loan last season! The big question is, with his wages presumably covered by an insurance policy, are we now at liberty to go out and sign a replacement? Or a striker perhaps? It must be said that, Allardyce apart, few will be lamenting the sidelining of a player who looked as if he was carrying a cruciate ligament injury even when supposedly fully fit. If Faubert was a TGV, this guy is the Glacier Express!

Even more remarkably, Allardyce warned Nolan that with Morrison playing out of his skin, the traditional first name on the team sheet may be under pressure for his place! True, the warning went out to Noble and Diame too, but Morrison is much more suited to Nolan's role, as his scoring record shows, than to the engine room of the team occupied by Mo and Mark, our very own Eminem.

God, if Allardyce drops Nolan and sells Vaz Te and Taylor, he really will be clearing out his Bolton closet!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Does Vaz Te have a point?

Of course, there's more than a dollop of irony involved when an ex Bolton man complains of getting a raw deal under Allardyce at West Ham, but the Portuguese enigma may be the exception that proves the rule. Two things set him apart from the typical Bolton player of course: he is skilful and he is lazy.

Now we all know that Allardyce demands 100% effort from everybody he selects, which is why Diarra is likely to be on the first available cross channel ferry, and so his relationship with RVT was always likely to be strained despite their previous association. But as Vaz Te says, the stats suggest that he has done an effective enough job whilst at West Ham.

But strangely, the West Ham fans seem to be as cool on him as his manager. In truth, of course, although we have always prided ourselves as the Academy of Football, like Allardyce, we have always valued highly a player who gives 100% when out on the pitch. Billy Bonds, Geoff Pike, Mark Noble, Paul Goddard, Martin Allen, Julian Dicks, Alvin Martin, Paul Konchesky, Steve Lomas, etcetera all won a fan club based around commitment and passion at least as much as skill.  And, of course, Vaz Te looks as passionate and committed as the Liberal Democrat rank and file are to Nick Clegg.

But have we put too much emphasis on body language and paid to little attention to the end product? Remember, we are in the Prem thanks to a Vaz Te goal against Blackpool! It now looks odds on he will leave, but I, for one, will be sorry to see him go.

Hardly a Gold Cup performance but Cheltenham win is better than an Aldershot defeat!

Well it is a relief that the game is out of the way to be honest. Vaz Te scored to make a case for being retained, and the Morrison hype machine received another boost with his strike. 2-1 against a team from the bottom division isn't anything to get excited about, but it's a bloody site better than losing 2-1 at home to Aldershot!

The performance did, however, suggest that the squad depth is not as great as some would have us believe; and Diarra's performance in particular was reportedly woeful. He is French and he doesn't want to be at West Ham so the sooner we offload another Le Sulk, the better for all concerned. And those who favour him over Noble really should put their hands up and admit to being very wrong indeed!

That's right Stani and Sav, bend at the elbow, tighten the muscles, point your fingers to the sky and...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cheltenham a litmus test for season ahead

Cheltenham should present few if any problems, even if Allardyce selects a second string eleven, but the way we perform could be a clue to how the season will unfold. Every West Ham fan has obsessed about the need for another striker, but the Capital One Fan Cup will give us the opportunity to assess the ability and desire of a whole host of  alternative options to our perceived first team.

We already know that Morrison will get a start, and he seems to figure prominently in Allardyce's plans. It would be interesting to see Lletget and Lee too, both of whom figured in pre season games and appear to be on the fringe of the first team squad, although I would be worried if Pelly Ruddock were to start in a makeshift defence. Last season, Allardyce ripped into the back four after the humiliating exit at the hands of Wigan, but what did he expect when he started with Spence, Tomkins, Potts and McCartney? We can expect a defence of strangers again but hopefully it will include experience and talent in the form of Diarra, Rat and Tomkins.

Collison should get a start, as should Vaz Te who, if he scores, may yet get an opportunity to save his West Ham career. After his sloppy performance against Newcastle, Downing should also be given a run out.

With the need to avoid injuries, we will probably see a team something like this:

O'Brien, Tomkins, Diarra, Rat
Collison, Morrison, Taylor, Lletget, Downing
Vaz Te

Monday, 26 August 2013

Parker starts Fulham career with defeat and booking

After narrowly escaping slipping down to the Championship following a bid from family friend 'Arry Redknapp, Scotty Parker found himself on the wrong end of an Arsenal tonking in his debut game for Fulham.

Not surprisingly, the Arsenal midfield over ran and outclassed Parker who, despite his energy and commitment, has always been found lacking when pitched in against top class opposition.

Jol was careful to praise his debutants after the game and talked of needing time to gel, but the Premiership doesn't give you a lot of breathing space. Fulham have now lost their last five home Premiership starts, a startling stat which explains why they narrowly escaped a relegation battle at the fag end of last season.

On paper Fulham look too good to go down, but at West Ham, we know that good looking paper teams can be torn to shreds if confidence dips. Fulham fans should also note that Taarabt (QPR), Parker (West Ham) and Bent (Charlton) have all suffered relegation from the Prem in their careers and, as QPR found to their cost last season (Wright-Phillips, Green, Dyer, Ben Haim, D J Campbell, Hoilett), players who have gone down once are a reasonable bet to go down again at some point in their careers.

The win at Sunderland, themselves probable relegation contenders, was not without good fortune so this may prove a long and tough season for Fulham and Parker. Still, if the Cottagers go down, Scotty may pick up Player of the Year again!

Is Sullivan spinning a yarn and taking West Ham fans for mugs?

Well if we are to believe David Sullivan, West Ham can't buy a new striker because of the new Premier League financial relegations. He cites some cobblers about the threat of possible points deductions and a £52m cap on the wage bill with an allowance to only increase wages by a total of £4m...blah, blah, blah.

It all sounds very credible until you look at Tottenham and Chelsea, to cite but two. Tell me, how exactly will Chelsea comply with these supposed regulations if they sign Rooney and Will I Am? Let's put the granny shagger on £120,000 per week and his arrival alone will inflate the Chelsea wage bill by £6.24m. The Brazilian, meanwhile, will be on a minimum of £100k per week, adding another £5.2m. Then there is Mourinho's salary, and the other new arrivals. And what about all the new arrivals at Spurs ahead of the departure of Bale and even Parker. Are Chelsea  and Spurs risking a points deduction?

The answer to that is, of course they're not, because the first test for compliance is not until February 2015 so no penalties can cut in until then, and points are not going to be retrospectively deducted are they? Is Sullivan seriously suggesting that, in the middle of a subsequent season, a club will be penalised with a points deduction for an offence committed the previous season? Cobblers!

And if this was a genuine issue, would we have purchased Downing given all the cover we already had for the flanks? We need a striker, that is obvious, and an extra midfielder was a luxury, not a necessity.

Something doesn't make sense here. I hope Sullivan is simply trying to drive down the price of a player we are trying to sign by pleading poverty. If not, he appears to be taking West Ham fans for mugs.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Tottenham Hotspur find the perfect Bale replacement - and no transfer fee was involved!

So, two Premiership games in to the post Bale era - with matches against the mighty Crystal Palace and Swansea no less - and Spurs have managed two goals...both penalties! All that money spent on midfielders and strikers, and no goal has been fashioned from open play in 180 minutes of football! How pathetic is that?

But then, Spurs fans will be quick to point out that the two games have yielded six points so why do they care? And without Bale, it seems the Cockyfools have unearthed a new match winner already. With two assists so far, step forward the new hero of Tottenham Hotspur...the bloody referee!

Ravel the Brazilian!

You have to laugh. Morrison arrived in the Prem wearing gloves in August and with his name changed on his back, Brazilian style, to the much more catchy Ravel. Talk about Mr Precious and Mr Ego!

But I'm not about to criticise the decision. How could I when I have supported the Hull City Tigers name change?

Morrison is far too common a name. If it was Waitrose, fair enough, that has a whiff of quality about it, but if you were called Asda, Tesco, Lidl or Aldi, would you want the name emblazoned on the back of your football shirt?

Mind you, Ravel has apparently had the supermarket's adverts plastered all around the corridors of the Boleyn, screaming out to Allardyce, "Fresh choice for you!" and "More of what matters!".

And let's face it, whatever the boy chooses to wear on the back of his shirt, and given his history some would argue it should simply be "C*nt", all that matters is his performance on the field. We didn't have long enough to judge him yesterday, but he was involved in the disallowed goal so that has to be promising.

Ravel, the English Brazilian. We would all be happy with that!

For a report on yesterday's thriller at St James's Park, follow this link:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Newcastle 0 West Ham 0 - Defence make a point as chances are scorned

Well it's not a game that will live long in the memory but that's true of the two previous matches between the two sides, a 0-0 draw at Upton Park and our 1-0 win in Geordieland last season. But had Nolan or Maiga buried great headed chances, we would have won again.

Defensively we were excellent, until the 92nd minute when an intended cross came back off the far post and fell invitingly at the feet of Gouffran, who missed from two feet! Pardew would have scored that one with his pants around his ankles and a player's wife bent over in front of him blocking his view of the ball!

But that really was Newcastle's one chance in the game, and that was a freakish accident. Demel and O'Brien controlled the flanks superbly, Reid and Collins were totally in control down the middle, and the midfield screened the back four tirelessly. Time and again, a Newcastle player in possession looked up and saw a wall of claret and blue. We weren't parking the bus, when we had the ball we attacked, we were just brilliantly organised, committed and disciplined. Noble and Diame, in particular, worked like the proverbial Trojan, chasing back, closing space, niggling at the man on the ball, slamming the door shut on any gaps and looking to springboard attacks when we won back the ball.

And we created chances. Maiga should have scored with an unchallenged header in the first half. Nolan had an even better chance in the second but, like Maiga, headed wide. Reid was agonisingly close twice in the first half. And Maiga had a goal struck off for offside, when the ball fell to him unmarked following a deflection.

The spirit was excellent, typified by the disappointment shown by Downing and Diame when they were substituted. It was pissing down, and West Ham players of yore would have been more than happy to make an early exit from a soggy game in the North East - but this lot are hungry!

Four points from six and no goals conceded to date. The opposition haven't looked great but we are playing without Carroll and had he been fit for today's game I have no doubt we would have collected maximum points. It wasn't thrilling but it was a huge improvement on the five goal hammering in our relegation season!

Player ratings: Jussi 5 (nothing to do!); Demel 7, Reid 8, Collins 8, O'Brien 8; Noble 7, Diame 8; Downing 6, Nolan 6, Jarvis 7; Maiga 6 Subs: Cole 6, Morrison 5

Half Time Newcastle 0 West Ham 0 - So far so good!

Well it hasn't been the most exciting game so far but Allardyce won't be concerned about that. We have looked compact, Jussi hasn't been troubled so far, and the three best chances have fallen to us.

Reid could have two now, so nearly connecting first with a Maiga flick on, and then with a free kick from deep from Collins. Downing and Maiga combined really should have scored after an excellent pass inside the full back and down the line by O'Brien & a superb cross from Jarvis. Downing headed the ball back across goal when perhaps she should have gone for goal, and Maiga either failed to anticipate or was blocked off.

The best chance fell to Maiga, with a free header in the six yard box which he somehow deflected wide of the goal. With Carroll playing, that would have been 1-0.

Newcastle will have to show more in the second half, but thus far, Diame and Noble have shielded the back four superbly and the defence have been on their game. One goal could win this!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Thank God we side stepped Anelka!

Let's face it, Anelka would have been a classic West Ham signing, being over the hill by a good two years by the time he would consider a move to us; and, of course, he is a former Bolton man. But this time, we resisted, no doubt because of absurdly inflated wage demands, and allowed Steve Clarke to sign the man who typifies everything that is loathsome about French footballers.

Well, one game into the season, and Old Nick is rumoured to have retired from the game following the death of the most important person in his life - outside of his own reflection in the mirror of course - his agent.

Now you can understand why multi millionaire Anelka is distressed by the death of the man who engineered his moves and negotiated his mega money contracts; and without him, why would he want to go on exactly?

But then again, if he retires, his income stream will come to a juddering halt. So expect Anelka to see out the season for the Baggies, just don't expect him to break sweat too often. He has the perfect excuse now, a season long dose of depression.

Cheeky Crystal Palace Chump Chamakh in Lying Claim

So, after signing for the mighty Crystal Palace, prize chump Chamakh, who along with Pogatetz made a determined bid for a place in the Worst Ever West Ham Eleven side last season, has accused Allardyce of "lying" because he wasn't given game time at Upton Park.

What is that if not a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black? Never mind Allardyce lying, surely we could "do" either Chamakh himself or Arsenal under the Trades Description Act for sending us a player purporting to be a Premiership striker.

Palace have probably landed an excellent signing, however, as Pogatetz can spend a season settling in before, hopefully, finding his level next season in the Championship.

Mind you, Chamakh has stirred things for Diarra by claiming that the sulky Frenchman warned him about Allardyce in advance. Expect Alou to go out on loan again before the window closes!

Newcastle's Remy, Taylor and Gutierrez all missing for West Ham game

Well that's a turn up for the books! Usually players return fit and hungry for a game against West Ham (even Michael Owen!) so when you read that three of the opposition's first choice players will not be taking the field, you have to smile and wonder if our fortunes are changing.

It would be even better, of course, if Cabaye were deemed not to be right mentally for the game, with a switch to either Arsenal or Paris SG looking more and more probable. In fact, it might be an idea for Sullivan and Gold to "go public" on a £20m bid for the talented midfielder on the eve of the game, prompting Wenger to make another bid on the morning of the match.

Pardew is asking the Newcastle fans to judge him after three games, which suggests a degree of confidence ahead of back to back home games against West Ham and Fulham. But Pardew was confident ahead of the Sunderland game at the back end of last season, and look what happened there!

Nolan will have his tail up for this fixture of course but Newcastle will come out of the blocks fast, anxious to make up for the tonking at the Etihad. We will need to be mentally strong and organised at the back as we won this fixture last season and need to conjure up 47 points this time around just to stand still.

No Carroll of course, but Newcastle are without at least three key men so...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Well said David Gold for knocking Newcastle and Manchester City!

It may not be wise to wind them up, especially when we are playing Newcastle at the weekend, but Gold got it absolutely right when he called the two line ups, for last night's game,  a "disgrace" because there were only three Englishmen amongst the 22 starters - and one of those was sent off!

This is a World Cup year and it is shameful that Premiership clubs are not doing more to help the national team's cause. We have seen what has happened to the Scottish national side because of the selfishness of the Glasgow clubs, and there is a real danger of England going the same way.

Counting our Celtic and Irish players, we could field virtually an all British 11, with players in correct positions:

AN Other: O'Brien, Tomkins, Collins, Tayor: Noble; Cole, Nolan, Morrison; Jarvis, Downing; Carroll

And that is without playing any kids, Collison or McCartney!

I know the Treaty of Rome ties our hands a bit, but it would be easy to ban all non EU players from the game if clubs show a contempt for the national team.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Tottenham's Parker sidesteps QPR to join Fulham

So Scotty's agent has done it again, negotiating another 3 year contract which keeps the injury prone, ageing, running round in circles, midfield spinning dynamo in the Prem and so in with a shout of going to Brazil...well in Scotty's mind at least.

Redknapp must be fuming. 'Arry went out on a limb when pushing the case for signing Parker when at Spurs and Levy clearly wasn't keen on the deal, preferring to invest in younger players whose value might spiral - like Bale - rather than old lags with depreciation stamped all over their foreheads. 'Arry won the day and got his man, but Levy had his card marked from that point forward.

The Parker groupies will again make their case for the ever spinning action figure, but AVB didn't rate him and Wenger has never shown any interest. Why? Because the guy is so limited.

QPR fans should be rejoicing at the news that Parker has opted for Fulham  - because as those legs get older, the injuries are likely to multiply and Scotty's all action style is going to be more and more difficult to maintain.

Who will buy Matt Taylor?

Leeds United were linked with him, but cash strapped Leeds have to shrink their existing wage bill so won't be able to afford Taylor anytime over the next decade. 'Arry had him at Portsmouth when Pompey stormed the division, but QPR are being linked with Konchelsky and surely even Fernandes will put a cap on the number of over paid thirty somethings Redknapp is allowed to bring in. So who else might be interested?

I suppose the promoted clubs might fancy him as a squad player. Adkins witnessed first hand what a twat the guy can be when he was sent off against Southampton, so Reading are unlikely to offer. How about Celtic? He could do a job in Scotland and might fancy a tilt at the Champions League, but can Celtic afford him?

Blackburn could afford him but have not expressed any interest. Perhaps a Turkish club? Well if they take Anton, they will take anybody! Or the States perhaps?

One thing's for sure, Matty is surplus to requirements at Upton Park and the sooner we ship him out, the better.

Will Di Canio and Sunderland have a parting of ways before Christmas?

One game in and the pressure is already on. The fixture list has not been kind to Sunderland and with the club notoriously bad travellers, there is a danger that Il Duce's Black Shirts could be cut adrift come the end of October.

Just how the Italian will cope with the pressure of losing regularly will be interesting to see. This is the man who once demanded to be substituted at West Ham because the referee wouldn't give him penalties. To say that his temperament is brittle is the understatement of the year!

His first mistake of the season was probably to go into the first game with five new faces in the team. Allardyce has received criticism for sticking with 11 players who were at the club at the end of last season to start the game against Cardiff, but it probably makes sense to ease players in, gently blending the ingredients together, rather than stirring the mix violently and hoping for a dramatic reaction.  Messers Rat and Downing will get their chance soon, and Morrison may also get into the mix, but we ended last season well, so why fix what isn't broken?

The same isn't true of Sunderland, of course. Yes Di Canio got an initial reaction but if you explode a bomb in a dressing room, even the most lethargic players will react - a certain Danny Graham excepted of course. However, once the blood was cleaned from the walls, Sunderland reverted to type - and they are a moderate and grossly overpaid bunch.

Mistake number two may be the creation of a divided dressing room, with the Di Canio Foreign Legion parachuted in over the summer. Ten new faces already, and Il Duce reckons he needs another five. So, no long term future for any of the players already at the club when he arrived presumably? You can hear the mutterings of dissent down in London!

Fulham at home was a gimme fixture which Sunderland needed to win. The opening day defeat has pricked the Di Canio bubble and there may be big trouble ahead!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Why were Diarra and Vaz Te brought on rather than Morrison?

Ok, I don't want to gripe after an excellent opening day win - albeit we were playing Cardiff, not Man City - but the decision to overlook Morrison completely was somewhat irritating.

The kid has had a truly brilliant pre season and it would have been exciting to see him given a run out, even if only used as a sub. Fair enough to bring on Downing, the fans were anxious to see him on the pitch too, but why waste time with Vaz Te when everybody already knows what he can and can't do?

Just imagine the joy had Ravel come on and scored! Barkley started and shone for Everton at Norwich, showing the benefit of giving a kid his head. And a toothless Cardiff were the perfect opposition to give Morrison his Premiership bow.

Let's hope Allardyce doesn't provoke the wrong sort of Ravel reaction by constantly overlooking him. The boy has ability and deserves a chance sooner rather than later.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Mark Noble has a mare as West Ham defeat Cardiff in season opener

Well what do you do with the guy? Mr PR, all smiles and on message statements and no crucial contributions on the pitch, Mark Noble gave his usual anonymous, mistake ridden performance.

True he assisted our second goal with a one two and a superb driving run at the heart of the Cardiff defence before releasing Nolan to score, but anybody can get lucky.

True too, in the first half, he played a pin point, perfectly timed pass through to Joe Cole, which the former England man really should have buried. But anybody can get lucky twice.

And true thrice that he played another brilliant pass, from half way line onto the toe of Jarvis on the edge of the penalty box, which really should have led to another goal, but we've all heard the saying, three times lucky!

Of course, Noble will talk his way out of trouble and into Allardyce's team with his nodding dog, PR performance, but better judges than Big Sam, Avram, Zola and Curbishley will all point to the free kick he gave away and a number of stray passes in the game.

So what that Noble was the holding midfielder and West Ham kept a clean sheet? So what that Noble chalked up one assist and created two other nailed on scoring opportunities? The guy's a clown and is only in the team because he is an arse licker.

The West Ham Academy? Local boy doing the club proud? Don't make me laugh!

Bonds award a clever ploy to set the mood for Cardiff game

I don't mean this in a cynical way, but making an award to Bonzo before the Cardiff game can't do us any harm, with the fans stoked up for the battle by recognising a genuine West Ham hero.

When "outsiders" are asked to nominate the West Ham greats from the last 50 years, names like Moore, Hurst, Peters and Brooking would, of course, feature on everybody's list. But for many West Ham fans, Bonds would feature in the top three. In fact, for me, he is second only to Moore.

For those who supported the club through the seventies and eighties, there will be many fond memories of Bonds, either as a rampaging right back, as a hard tackling, enforcing, midfielder or as a centre back; and it is one of the great football mysteries how he managed to go an entire career without picking up a single England cap, albeit he was called up once and had to withdraw through injury.

Two memories of Bonds stand out for me and both, in their way, typify the man. The first was at The Dell, Southampton, when Galbraith made the mistake of grabbing Bonds by his tackle as a free kick was about to be taken. Bonds went absolutely psycho and literally chased the Scot around the pitch trying to land one on him.

The second didn't even involve Bonds himself. It was White Hart Lane and an ancient Bonds had been recalled. Some of the players had ambled onto the pitch as a disabled fan was being wheeled around the touchline when a cry came from a wag to the right of me of "Billy's out for his warm up!". The point is, Bonds would have climbed out of a wheel chair to play for the club.

Bonds, of course, went on to manage Millwall, but not even that counts against him in the eyes of West Ham fans. The guy is a genuine legend, and so he should be after playing a jaw dropping 663 league games for the club.

One thing's for sure, if the current crop play with 50% of Billy's desire, Cardiff will be swept aside with no problems this afternoon!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Can we afford to let Vaz Te go to Nottingham Forest?

With Forest rumoured to be interested in Vaz Te, the question arises, can we afford to let him go? He may not be Premiership class but he can play up front, and we have precious few players who can do that.

Allardyce may be bluffing of course, but he claims we are not going to sign anybody else, so as things stand we have an injured Carroll, an inadequate Maiga and Vaz Te, plus the promising but raw Lee.

The only other option is to play without a conventional striker, using Nolan, Morrison and Cole in the fashion that Everton used Felaini and Cahill. With Downing and Jarvis stretching the opposition down the flanks, this could be an exciting option, but it seems a very progressive formation for lump it long Allardyce to adopt.

Can Nolan lead the line? I don't see why not, and with Cole and Morrison running beyond him, defences may not know who to mark.

But for Cardiff it is likely to be Maiga. Let's hope he is up to the job!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Allardyce's Midfield Headache

(Article submitted by Stani)

With the season all set to kick off, it will be interesting to see the first choice midfield Sam Allardyce chooses to go with. Personally, I think he'll have a bit of a headache which he'll try to relieve by cramming the midfield with 5 rather than the braver choice of 4. This will mean little game time for Maiga and any other striker we get in as Carroll will obviously be Allardyce's main man when fit..

The returning Ravel Morrison has been our standout player in pre-season, and there is also the summer addition of youngster Danny Whitehead and the likely acquisition of Stewart Downing, so Allardyce does have more options to consider in midfield than the end of last season.

If we sign Stewart Downing then I'm prepared to give him a chance, but I'm not sure I like the way we're heading in terms of the style of football we hope to play. Also, too much is being designed around Carroll, which could cause us a lot of problems should his injury problems continue.

Matt Jarvis has a lot to prove this season, and I would be prepared to give him the opportunity on our left to do so this campaign. My gut feeling is he'll never be the player Allardyce thought he was. We spent a huge sum of money on him and so far he's not given any reasons for Allardyce to be able to justify the price the club paid for him.

It will be interesting to see how the manager accommodates both Jarvis and Downing in the side, or if he is able to at all. We have a number of midfielders to choose from and most of them would harbour hopes of being first choice starters.

Regulars to the site will know I'm not the biggest fan of the limited Mark Noble, and with the squad improving this season, I expect him to play a bit part role if Allardyce is honest with himself and brave enough to drop him. It would mean finding someone else to play that role of sitting deep and shielding the back four, and Mohamed Diame would be my man. He would have to temper the attacking side to his game, but with the likes of Nolan, Joe Cole and ravel Morrisson in my team, that side of things will be taken care of. That is not to say Diame will not get forward; of all our midfielders, he is most capable of doing so from such a deep lying position.

My first team:

Jarvis /Downing Morrison Cole
Rat Reid Collins Demel

This would be an exciting side to go with, but the season just gone has shown us that Allardyce tended to err on the safe side both in terms of team personnel and tactics, even when there was a case for the team to be more expressive.

So, with a fully fit squad to choose from, who would your starting midfield be?

Mohamed Diame, Alou Diarra, Jack Collison, Matthew Jarvis, Ravel Morrison, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Matthew Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te, Danny Whitehead, Joe Cole, Stewart Downing

Monday, 12 August 2013

Full marks to Sullivan & Gold - Again!

OK, I'm not a big fan of Downing, but if he is unveiled as a West Ham player tomorrow, you have to give huge credit to the owners again. After shelling out somewhere between £12m and £15m for Carroll, many of us thought that we would pad out the squad with loan signings and cheapies, but the Board had different ideas. The signing of Downing shows commitment and ambition the like of which we have rarely, if ever, known at Upton Park.

And it seems as if we can expect at least one more signing, with Allardyce demanding another striker. Finding the right man may now prove even more tricky, because with the sudden abundance of offensive midfielders, there's unlikely to be a berth on the flanks when Carroll is back in the team, so we need somebody happy to play second fiddle but good enough to step up to the plate when called upon. That man could have been Grant Holt but he is now at Wigan so God only knows who the club has in mind. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Tottenham's Kane in on loan. He is big, skilful and knows where the net is.

Given Allardyce stereotypically bypasses the midfield, it is amazing how many midfielders we now have in the squad: Nolan, Diame, Cole, Morrison, Jarvis, Downing (if he signs), Noble, Collison, Diarra, Vaz Te...we can now name an outfield of 10 midfield specialists! (Plus Taylor!) And we are still being linked with Barton and a Swedish international! This suggests that one or two might be let go and everybody will be hoping that Diame isn't on his way out for a big ticket fee. And quite a few of us will be praying that Noble stays too!

It seems that the days of us being a selling club really are a thing of the past, however. Duxbury made that claim, and promptly sold Bellamy & Collins, but now any sale really will be because Allardyce is happy to part with the player or because he spies a better value alternative.

We are not alone in spending big, of course. Cardiff and Swansea have invested big money and Norwich have brought in seven new players. The Sky money has encouraged a much greater sense of financial adventure.

Nevertheless, the Board's investment in the squad since bringing in Allardyce has been immense. Nolan signalled their intent. Jarvis shocked us. Carroll, on loan even, amazed us. And now Downing has come like a bolt from the Claret and Blue. I was suspicious of Sullivan and Gold when they arrived, but I was wrong. They really have done a fantastic job so far!

West Ham Fight Club target Liverpool's Sterling as well as Downing & QPR's Barton?

Never mind bruising the football using Allardyce's lump it long tactics, it's looking like West Ham are following Hull City Tiger's example, by seeking a name change to West Ham Fight Club.

We already have Andy Carroll and Ravel Morrison on the books, so just imagine what it will be like if we sign serial thug Barton, alleged girl friend beater Raheem Sterling (on loan) and Stewart Downing, who was arrested in January after an alleged assault!

Add in two alleged rapists who we were rumoured to be trying to sign, and it's not a very pretty picture is it?

West Ham Fight Club would work quite well as a name with Allardyce in charge and would signal a complete break with our soft bellied past and, whilst we are about it, we could perhaps adopt the name, the Boxing Academy of Football!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

QPR's Barton to West Ham, Noble to Sunderland?

West Ham fans who have campaigned against Noble for years may be about to get their just deserts with rumours that we have revived interest in signing Joey Barton. The deal would only make sense if Allardyce is considering cashing in on Noble.

Di Canio, of course, has seen a lot of Noble, watching West Ham games over the years. He understands Noble's qualities and knows that he is a leader on the pitch. Allardyce has been a fan up until now, but he has worked with Barton before so it is hard to dismiss the story out of hand.  That said, we have been linked with Barton more often than we have been linked with Beckham, so this may still be lazy journalism. I hope so!

Just imagine Barton, Carroll and Morrison in the same dressing room. Never mind Hull City Tigers, we could rebrand as West Ham Fight Club or West Ham Total C**TS.

Of course, the logical move would be for Barton to link up with Di Canio at Sunderland. They are both big on fascist salutes after all!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Will John Terry offer his condolences to former Hammer, Sunderland and QPR man Anton Ferdinand?

How the not so mighty have fallen! I admit to defending Anton when he was a West Ham player but I couldn't believe what Blunderland paid for him, and it remains hugely ironic that Curbishley walked because the Board pocketed absurd amounts of dosh from the sale of Pug and McCartney. Nani was clueless when it came to recruitment, but when it came to disposal, his record wasn't at all bad!

Anton's career went backwards fast at Sunderland, not helped by being played at right back, left back and in midfield, but that didn't stop QPR shelling out for him - but then QPR bought anything that could move didn't they? Or not move in the case of Green at corners!

Anton's first game under 'Arry's gaze saw him come on at Old Trafford with QPR on course for a shock result. As soon as his boots touched the turf, the Mancs scored before adding another two in the remaining minutes. I said then that Ferdinand would never play again for the Hula Hoops and I was almost right, with Redknapp quickly dispatching his turkey to Turkey. And now his inflated contract has been terminated with extreme prejudice.

And talking extreme prejudice, Anton will for ever be remembered for throwing his toys out of the pram when John Terry said something not very nice to him. Spying an opportunity to displace Terry from the England captaincy so big brother could wear the armband again, Ferdinand made a black pudding out of a little bad blood, and destroyed team England in the process. But why would the Ferdinands worry about that ahead of a major international championship?

So where now for Anton? An extended stay in Turkey perhaps? I'm sure Terry will be on the phone offering his condolences, calling it a "F***ing black day for English football" and pointing out that 'Arry might have made a mistake because football isn't a "F***ing black and white game" and expressing the hope that Redknapp will get a "F***ing black eye" for sacking Anton.

Any abiding memories of Anton in Claret and Blue, apart from that fantastic goal at Fulham?

Downing from Liverpool? Will we never learn?

Dear God, let's hope the rumour is wrong. Why the hell would any club pay £6m for that perennial underachiever?

OK, I accept that we could do with some more pace in the team, but the guy is approaching 30 and has never been anything other than an ordinary player. In many ways, he embodies the demise of Liverpool FC, a mediocre player who would never have got anywhere near their squad during the great years. Like Milner, he has far too many England caps; in fact, one international cap is one too many.

Yes, as a kid at Miserablebrough he looked half decent, but his potential has never been realised and it was an act of gross folly when Liverpool forked out a fortune to buy him.

Of course, the big concern must be that money is being spent to strengthen an area of the team that does not especially need strengthening. We have Cole, Jarvis, Vaz Te, Morrison, Maiga and Collison who can play wide; what we urgently need is a striker who can play down the middle!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Will West Ham consider a name change as well as a change of stadium?

Exciting developments at Hull, with the club moving with the times and changing their name to improve branding opportunities. Bored by old fashioned Hull City, Egyptian owner Assem Allam has decided to incorporate the club's nickname into the official title of the club. No doubt the City will be dropped altogether in due course, and Hull will become Hull Tigers or simply, The Tigers.

Wolverhampton Wanderers led the way some time ago, of course, with their name readily abbreviating to The Wolves and Tottenham are known as The Spurs. For some clubs, this new trend will be very simple to adopt. Should the Dildo Brothers adopt West Hammers, it may upset the purists, but The Hammers versus The Tigers has a feisty ring about it for the Sky marketing boys. Arsenal Gunners also works easily of course. Southampton Saints is another good one and the Glasgow clubs already operate as Rangers and Celtic.

However, for some clubs, the nickname doesn't have the right ring about it. Leeds Whites may be deemed racist or cowardly. Leicester Foxes has a mangy sound about it. Liverpool Reds works, I suppose, but isn't very exciting and other clubs might argue they have as much right to the name. Everton Toffees doesn't sound terribly imposing, does it? And Newcastle Toons sounds a bit too Looney Tunes even for a club that has a slapstick feel about it 99% of the time. As a contributor says below, the real nickname is The Magpies, and that could work I suppose but it doesn't really sound aggressive does it?

So what names might clubs adopt into the future? Leeds Cloggers works for me or the club could go the whole hog and opt for either Damned or Bastard United. Liverpool Cheats has a nice ring about it, given the commitment to retaining Suarez and the number of benefit claimants residing in the city.

How about Leicester? Well given the car park excavations, maybe the Leicester Hunchbacks could work. The Newcastle Barcodes also works, given all the players have a price under Ashley, or maybe the Newcastle Frogs would be more suitable given the composition of the squad and the way the team croaks every time they get a sniff of a trophy. Millwall? How about The Scum?

Any other suggestions? 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Braga defeat must force Sullivan's hand

OK, the result is irrelevant and the game will be very quickly forgotten - one of the most tepid matches in the history of football with a total exclusion zone around both goal mouths apparently agreed before kick off - but the 90 or so sterile minutes illustrated perfectly our desperate need for another striker to both back up and support Carroll.

Season after season we fail to address the most glaring weakness in the squad until either just before the window slams shut or in January. In recent seasons there has been a crying need for a left back which has been stubbornly ignored. We now have Boomtown Rat and the maturing Potts so that little hole has been filled.

The right backs - O'Brien and Demel - are not going to compete for Player of the Year any time soon, but between them they can do a job. And with Collins, Tomkins, Reid and Diara (if he stays), we seem to have enough cover at centre back. Defensively we were ok against both Sporting (who would never have scored without the referee's assists) and Braga, and that epic defensive display against Liverpool at Anfield is still fresh in my mind.

Jussi is a worry because he made two bad mistakes against Sporting but Adrian looked ok and a better understudy than the mugs we have given a salary to over the last few seasons. Boffin anybody? Nevertheless, a new keeper may be a priority come January.

The midfield still lacks pace. Noble screened the back four well against Sporting and his range of passing was, as usual, good. Diame, providing his heart is still in it, is a class act. Nolan is Nolan. He missed a sitter against Sporting but scored a typical sniffer's goal in the second half. He won't open up defences with his passing, and he certainly won't do it with his pace, but he is our most penetrative player going forward, even with Carroll in the team.

The most exciting news is the emergence of Morrison. He scored two superb goals against Sporting, and against Braga showed his willingness to take on players and the skill to force them into fouls. If he can keep his head straight, he could be a huge plus this season.

Collison is Collison, a perfect sub who will run his heart out and pop up in the box to score the odd important goal. What about Diarra? He should be good enough to hold down a place in the team but, as with Diame, so much will depend on his commitment to the cause.

Jarvis remains frustrating. The potential is there, and his completed crosses record is surprisingly good, but too often he drifts out of games. That said, with Carroll in the team, Jarvis is a must to supply the ammunition. Then there is Joe Cole. He put in a shift against Sporting and, crucially, looked fit. The skill is undeniable, the heart is beating for the fans and the club, so maybe, just maybe, he could be born again this season.

But up front? Vaz Te is too languid and Miaga too fitful. We need a striker and we need him now, not two or three games into the new season, especially with Carroll injured.

Get your finger out Sullivan! And make sure it is gripping the cheque book!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Unsporting Lisbon 2 West Ham 3 - A Ravelation!

Am I missing something? Sporting Lisbon are a pretty good team aren't they? And this was just a pre season friendly wasn't it? So how comes we outplayed them, scored three times without Carroll and Diame in the team, and the match was played in a ferocious fashion with the Lisbon coaching staff doing their nuts when we scored and when only 3 minutes added time was allowed at the end of the game?

Anybody who didn't see the game might think we were lucky but they couldn't be more wrong. Lisbon's first goal was a decidedly dodgy penalty and their second came from a free kick that should never have been awarded: Cole was fouled but he was penalised in a ridiculous decision. DRS would clearly have shown a hotspot around Cole's rib cage!

By the time Lisbon scored that second goal, we had Elliot Lee on up front, Sebastian Lletget on for Nolan and, most amazingly of all, one Pelly Ruddock in the centre of defence in place of Tomkins. Add in Morrison, who started, and that is four kids whose combined age might just about add up to Jussi's!

The goals were superb. The first came from a Boomtown (on at half time) throw, with Maiga back heading the ball into the six yard box and Nolan drifting in behind his marker to steer into an empty net. We were still cheering when Boomtown slipped a pass into Morrison and Ravel buried a shot into the corner from 25 yards. Brilliant! Then Cole sent in a cross and who was that rising, Carroll fashion, on the edge of the six yard box to glance home a header? Only Ravel again! This kid may be good as well as a thuggish arsehole!

Unsporting's goals apart, with both credited to the referee for the assist, we were rarely troubled. Reid made a brilliant goal line clearance after a fantastic twisting run by Carrillo, but that was genuinely it. We bossed the bloody game!

Of course, the last time we had a great pre season was under Avram so we shouldn't get too carried away, but Boomtown looked good, Maiga looked a bit better than last season, and Morrison was, excuse the pun, a ravelation! Add in Carroll, Diame and Collins and who knows, it could be an exciting season!

We even drew a mysterious penalty shoot out at the end of the game. Lee scored his which is promising. Morrison missed his. But who cares?

Player ratings: Jussi 4 (two bad errors); O'Brien 6, Tomkins 6, Reid 8, Taylor 5; Noble 6;
 Morrison 8, Nolan 7; Jarvis 6, Cole 7; Maiga 6 Subs: Rat 7, Lletget 6, Lee 6, Ruddock 5 (wasn't he a striker when we signed him?)

Half Time - Lisbon 1 West Ham 0 - Anything but sporting!

Hang on a mo, somebody should tell both sets of players that this is a pre season friendly, not a winner takes all show down. Some of the tackles have been distinctly tasty and at one point, both teams were on the point of a mass brawl after Maiga was trampled on. Very unseemly.

Up until the award of the dodgy penalty in the last seconds of the half, we looked pretty good and should have been ahead, with Nolan missing a sitter after a Morrison shot - yes Ravel is playing at last - rebounded off the post straight to Captain Kev in the six yard box. Two things to say here. Best he misses them in friendlies and it's good to see that knack of being in the right place at the right time persists.

Defensively we have been good, with Reid and Tomkins looking assured, Noble screening them effectively, O'Brien doing his usual tidy job at right back and Taylor slotting in at left back. Anyone know where Boomtown is? Shopping in Harrods with Florin perhaps? But then again, he probably just doesn't like Mondays.

Jarvis has been poor. Cole has put in a shift. Maiga looks stronger physically but just as frail mentally. Haven't really noticed Morrison apart from that shot. Taylor conceded the penalty and lost possession to start the move. Jussi has missed one corner, flapping in a Green like fashion, and spilt a long shot which went straight into his chest.

Not a bad work out. No shame this far. Team looks fit, physical and up for a fight. Well, what do you expect with Allardyce in charge?

Why is Remy on his way to Newcastle?

So what the hell is going on? Why are we letting Loic Remy join the French Foreign Legion in Newcastle rather than snapping him up for the bargain £2m that the Barcodes are rumoured to paying for his services for a season long loan?

Once again, we are playing brinkmanship as the new season approaches. We all know we need a striker, we don’t need Sullivan Junior to tell us that, and we aint going to get one for less than £2m.

True, Remy’s wages will set Newcastle back a small fortune, but he looks to be well worth the money, providing he can keep his hands off the Geordie lasses.

There’s only one deal that will make this bearable and that’s if Big Chief Demba Ba returns following Chelsea’s capture of Shrek.

We are supposedly targeting a top ten finish, but with Carroll as our only out and out striker, that seems very, very ambitious. We need a striker and we need him fast. Remy would have been perfect. Ba would be good. We don’t want another Chamakh!

But even Jack the Twitter knows that!