Saturday, 31 May 2014

Should West Ham Rescue Scott Parker From Fulham?

It seems amazing doesn't it, that such a great player as Scott Parker can be relegated from the top division of English football THREE times in a - as yet unfinished - career. Anybody would think, looking at that record, that the guy wasn't that much cop!

Incredibly, despite helping Fulham to a next to bottom place finish in the Premier League, Parker was overlooked for this season's Player of the Year award. Maybe his team has to finish rock bottom to merit that accolade!

But now the poor guy is stranded in the Championship and we all know how Scotty hates to play in the second tier of English football. So surely, after giving such great service to West Ham, before being forced to request a transfer when - following our relegation - Spurs made a cut price bid, we should step in and rescue him.

It's the very least we can do for a player who loved the club so much that he signed a contract extension, securing a massive wage increase, a week after Spurs bought Van Der Vaart; poor Scotty delayed and delayed signing that contract, only for Wheeler Dealer 'Arry to let him down by switching his interest to the Dutchman at the last moment. And how did West Ham reward him for his loyalty? By getting relegated! Just like Charlton! And now Fulham!

So, let's forget all the other transfer targets and prioritise bringing a true West Ham legend back to Upton Park. True fans of the club - who lauded Parker's heroic efforts as we finished bottom of the Prem - should launch a "Bring Back Scotty" campaign without delay. We owe it to the guy. And let's name the Olympic Stadium after him when we make the move too!

Do one Lescott!

So it looks like Lescott has shunned our advances. Well thank God for that! He laughed at suggestions that he might come to Upton Park on loan in January, and there's no way we want somebody with that attitude at the club.

In truth, Lescott is a very average player who has got more average by the day whilst living off the fat of Unreal City's inflated wage bill. He lacks focus, consistency and composure and isn't half as committed in the challenge as Ginge. God knows what he is looking for in wages, but one thing's for sure, he will have inflated expectations after adjusting his spending to his salary at Man City.

Jog on Kryten, we don't want you at West Ham!

Friday, 30 May 2014

If Sunderland's Jack Colback is the answer, we are asking the wrong question!

So the latest big white carrot topped hope is apparently Jack Colback, because he is available on a free from Sunderland. Allardyce regards him as the best player presently available for nowt but he would wouldn't he? Colback is an Allardyce type of player - high on energy and effort but very seriously lacking in one key department.

Question. Aged 24, how many goals has Colback scored over his career? Answer, ten.

Even more seriously, how many has he scored in the Prem? Answer, four.

Why did we struggle last season? We didn't score enough goals. So how is four goal Colback going to improve the situation exactly? When you play a single striker, you need midfield players who can score goals. Noble can't. Diame can't. Downing can't. Jarvis can't. So why add another goal shy player to the "armoury" exactly?

Somebody tell Allardyce we need GOALS!

It's Mo-Go Diame!

Well he lost his mojo when Allardyce started playing him as the front man in a striker-less formation and then as a wide man because Jarvis was so consistently hopeless, but now, it seems, Diame simply wants out.

How else can you account for his ridiculous comments about team mates not trying? Team mates not good enough might be a reasonable observation, but the one thing I witnessed all season was a team desperately trying to overcome its very severe limitations. Who, exactly, were the non triers?

Well, for sure, it wasn't any of O'Brien, Noble, Collins, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney, Carlton Cole, Taylor or Jarvis. Now you can question whether some of those should be in a Premiership team, never mind a team striving for a top ten finish, but to question their desire and effort would be madness in the extreme. The one thing every one of them could be relied upon to do, is run until they drop (which we only just avoided!).

What about Nolan? Well according to Diame, things got better after January when the competition for places increased. That rules out Captain Kev then, because with Morrison's departure, his place in the team was absolutely guaranteed. And with the situation improving in January, he clearly wasn't thinking of Carroll, because he hadn't kicked a ball during the period when players were supposedly not trying.

Does the finger then point at Demel? If so, it seems harsh because he always looked committed to the cause to me, even if lasting 90 minutes seems to be a challenge for the guy. Adrian or Jussi? Daft idea.

So, who are we down to? Joe Cole, Downing and Morrison? Well they were contenders for the one area of the team where there was competition for places, so Diame's argument flounders even if he is right that these three were more interested in themselves than in the team - which I can well believe. But to be fair to Downing, he did a lot of tracking back and I lost count of the number of blind alleys he ran up in most games.

So maybe it was Mogodon Maiga that Diame had in mind. Maybe Mo doesn't understand that the guy is just shit!

Or Boomtown Rat perhaps? Well the fact he defected mid season tells us he was unhappy at being used only occasionally by Allardyce but, again, I saw a player running and running and running whenever he wore the shirt.

If I've forgotten anybody, I apologise. But what difference did the new arrivals in January make anyway? They barely started a game between them, so the "competition for places" that they offered was virtually zero.

No. Mo was talking out of his arse, unless he was talking about his own attitude of course. One thing's for sure, he has guaranteed himself a cold shoulder from his team mates when they return to training, which suggests to me that he wants out of the club before the start of the new season. But if he's dreaming of a top 6 club coming in for him, then he's in for a disappointing summer. True Allardyce played him out of position for most of the season but that's because he was found out in the engine room of the team, giving away far too many free kicks on the edge of our box, which, with Jussi in goal, led to goals!

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Rebuilding Is Underway & Underwhelming!

So, three players have gone and the first new recruit is on his way. I'm not overly excited about the prospect of Zarate, but he has to be better than Maiga, Cole, Downing and Jarvis, doesn't he? The fact that he can play wide but can also score goals points to the direction in which we are heading: no change in the 4-3-3 tactics, just a change in personnel. I hope somebody has told the Argentinian that his first job is to track the opposition full back!

Meanwhile, suggestions that we are prepared to loan out Downing tells you everything you need to know about the failure of that particular deal. At the time he was signed, I expressed deep reservations about the deal, not least because, with Carroll side-lined, our priority had to be a striker and not another winger, but, as ever, the Claret & Blue Klan tried to shout me down. One season and one goal on, the folly of the deal is surely obvious to everybody. Let's hope Zarate does a bit better than that!

The latest talk is linking us with Gareth Barry and that would be as bloody stupid as the Downing signing. I have huge regard for the former England man, but he is no spring chicken and given the need for pace and goals, Barry must be the wrong man at the wrong time surely. Yes he is available on a free but so what? The same applies to Ince, and despite his genes, he would surely be a more exciting recruit. Tell me, what threat would a central midfield of Noble, Barry and Diame pose exactly?

So, Zarate is a start, but if we are serious about a top 10 finish, we have to unearth better gems than him and ignore players like Barry.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

West Ham owe it all to Tottenham Hotspur

Take a look at the final league table. After 38 games, West Ham ended up with 40 points, just 7 clear of relegation. And six of those points came courtesy of victories over Spurs!

God knows what would have happened had we not swept to that amazing 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane back in October. Without Carroll and any forward worthy of the name, we looked nailed on certainties for the drop. Keeping clean sheets is all very well, but if you can't score, you can't win games and, apart from beating hapless Cardiff and lowly Cheltenham, we didn't look capable of winning a game. True we engineered a draw at the St Mary's Stadium courtesy of shutting out the Saints, and performed the same trick at Newcastle, but defeats at home to Stoke & Everton and away to Hull meant that the Relegation word was writ large upon the wall by the time we staggered into White Hart Lane.

And after that amazing 3-0 victory, things didn't get any better. Man City took us apart at Upton Park before we stole another point at Swansea courtesy of yet another 0-0 draw; another goalless bore draw followed at home to Villa and then we contrived to lose 3-1 at Norwich after murdering them for the first 45 minutes. Without those three points gifted by Spurs, we would have been deep in shit, even after a very lucky 3-0 win over hapless Fulham.

And so it went on all season, until Fabulous February. How wonderfully fitting that our survival was finally confirmed in the penultimate game of the season, with our third victory of the campaign over a Tottenham team that cost a mere £100million plus to put together. Three games, three victories and an aggregate score of 7-1! Even Maiga managed to net against Tottenham!

Makes you wonder where we would have finished in the table had we been allowed to play Spurs every week, doesn't it?

Sullivan Boxing Clever With Allardyce On The Ropes

Some of you may have noticed that this blog went quiet in February when we launched the winning run that secured our survival and that was down to good old fashioned East End superstition. Many would have promised not to change their underpants until West Ham lost, then until West Ham were guaranteed safety, but as a blogger, I pledged not to post until we were safely over the line. And, to be honest, with Allardyce in charge, what was there to say? You can only describe a parked bus so many times!

So, I'm back and what has changed? Well we are in the Prem again next season - and that looked unlikely until Fabulous February. And we are being linked with a host of potential signings - but this is the silly season for that sort of thing. And we have released three players - which is worthy of discussion. And, most importantly, Allardyce has survived the most tepid of votes of confidence and has been told to smarten up his act. It seems Sullivan and Gold were as bored watching that parked bus as the rest of us!

So, will anything change? To be honest, for as long as Allardyce is in charge, that's unlikely. You could give the guy Messi, Bale and Ronaldo and he would still be drilling the team on how to defend from the front. His mantra is simple - if you don't concede, you can't lose, and if you concede one you only need to score once to avoid defeat. It's simple, it's straightforward and, as his record shows, it works. Boring certainly, but who wants the excitement of relegation exactly?

And let's be fair to the guy, there were performances last season that had nothing to do with the West Ham way but which were absolutely fundamental to our survival. That performance at the Bridge was awesome - boring but awesome! And the win at Sunderland was superbly orchestrated. And the win at Cardiff was down to excellent team discipline as was the victory at Villa. We were unlucky at Everton, we weren't disgraced at the Etihad, Liverpool's penalties were both tenuous and we even stayed in the game at the Emirates for much of the match. And then, of course there were the Tottenham games!

But if you want to sum up everything that is wrong, you only have to look at the home wins over Norwich and Hull. The fans didn't boo at the end of our victory over the Canaries but they should have done, because we played on the break at home to a side that was eventually relegated, and we were bloody lucky to come away with one point, never mind three. As for the Hull game, well I for one felt ashamed to be a West Ham fan as we struggled to get and retain the ball when playing against ten toothless tigers. Truly shameful!

But Allardyce will laud those wins over two teams that finished beneath us in the table, and will probably point out that a narrow defeat at West Brom preserved our goal difference, making it all but certain that we would survive even if Norwich suddenly came over all Real Madrid, or Sunderland for that matter.

And if we are honest, Allardyce probably over-performed given the squad he was working with. The policy of having Carroll, and nobody else, was mad and the absurdity of re-signing Carlton said everything that needed to be said about the lack of forward planning (the pun is fully intended!). Surely, that mistake will never again be repeated, which means that with two left backs leaving, two left backs will have to be signed this summer - along with two midfield players, two strikers and, at least, one winger who can score goals! We need pace, pace and more pace - and goal scorers too. I blogged last season about how few goals the squad have scored between them over their careers, and take out Nolan ( and many want to!) and you would have one of the most goal shy squads in the history of the game. It's all very well having Jarvis and Downing dashing up the flanks, but if you have nobody to put the ball in the net should either actually put over a cross, how are you going to score exactly?

So we all know what has to be done to refashion a sub standard squad but can we afford to do it? Sullivan used the excuse of Financial Fair Play last season and it's hard to see what has changed this summer. True we have Joe Cole off the wage bill, and McCartney was on absurd money given his limitations and fitness record, but if the financial corset is real, how are we going to acquire and pay six or seven new quality players exactly? One way would be to sell Downing who proved a terrible waste of money all season, but after his one goal return, courtesy of a pansy Tottenham wall, who will want to sign him?

The Academy has stuttered, and not just because of Allardyce as the tonking at Forest proved, and the days of unearthing a Keegan at Scunthorpe or a Devonshire at Southall seem to be over. We keep trying, but it doesn't work because the quality of the Prem is so much better that the quality of the old First Division, and the scouting networks are such that gems are found aged ten, not twenty one!

So, the Sullivan plan seems to me to be the best one - which is to ease Allardyce out rather than sack him. Had he gone this summer, we would have been nailed on certainties to go down next season; because Allardyce leaves behind a squad that can only play one way, as Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle have all discovered at their cost. You may hate him, but if you want to avoid the drop, he's your man; and when you sack him, relegation is all but guaranteed to follow. But maybe, if you foist a different style of player upon him, and let him drill discipline into those players, maybe, just maybe, a year later you can jettison him and hand a decent squad over to his successor. Maybe.

Next season aint going to be pretty but when we went down under Grant, we would all have given our right arms to have bounced right back and to still be in the Prem two seasons later. And let's not forget we beat Spurs three times last season with an aggregate score of 7-1; Big Sam deserves a statue for that alone!

So I want to see Allardyce go, desperately, but not quite yet. I can take another year in the dentist's chair, wincing in agony as the Allardyce drill does its business - because maybe then we can actually survive his departure!