It’s been while, what with International breaks, holidays and golf trips (missed the Chelsea Game, bah). Last week saw us get played off the park by an organised Watford team, while our visitors were smashing big Sam’s Sunderland all over the place.
Traditionally, these games are close, with honours even at Upton Park last year, with Everton winning the league game, and WHUFC winning the League Cup game in dramatic style with Adrian scoring a penalty in the shootout.
West Ham lined up with Reid back in the centre of defence following the Ginger Pele’s sending off last week. Carroll was favoured up top again, with Zarate and Valencia on the bench, as Moses took up his slot on the right hand side.
Yesterday we welcomed one of the new teams to the Premiership. I for one, was not sure of victory as we had had a tough game at Leicester during the week, which was lost in extra time. This was born out by the WHU start which was leggy to say the best. Noble and Kouyate especially were out of sorts and just looked knackered. Just as well we are not still in Europe !
Noble summed this up just before the 10 minute mark, by directing a lazy pass across our goal looking for Tomkins. This was intercepted by Brady who coolly opened the scoring for the canaries.
West Ham huffed and puffed throughout the half. Just after the half hour mark we managed an equalizer when Payet and Sakho combined well to finish with a tap in to make it 1 – 1 at half time.
No subs at half time for WHU , which surprised me, as I wouldn’t have been amazed to see neither Noble, Koutaye, or Jenkinson come out for the second half.
The second half was very much more of the same in what was becoming a easy to forget game. Nathan Redmond came on near the end and I imagine thought he had scored the winner when once again Noble fell short to allow Redmond’s shot to find Adrian’s bottom corner.
Then WHU woke up, and we threw everything at them including Andy Carroll who got himself into a couple of good positions, which were well covered by Ruddy, who also made a great save from Payet. Ruddy’s luck ran out when he tried to punch out a Free kick with Carroll bearing down on him and got it as far as Kouyate, who finished well to secure a draw with seconds to go
So, a point at home keeps us in 3rd and 1 point closer to Man City, but Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, are 2 points closer to us. Fairplay to Slaven, who had no problem taking off our Captain, as he was having a shocker, maybe a little earlier next time. He also finished with 2 up top, which is encouraging, but with Moses and Payet, you will always have some sort of forward presence.
The Norwich fans seem to be turning into some sort of Palace style “Ultra” support model, which is funny if nothing else.
MOTM was both goalkeepers who kept the goals with some great saves, especially Adrian with his face, which must of stung a bit. With all these saves you would think the game was a classic, it really wasn’t. It was a bit of an attritional game and the score was about right, although Norwich may feel they shaded it, but they did sacrifice the lead twice.
Hopes were high as The Hammers entertained their struggling opponents under the lights at the Boleyn. Newcastle were not having the best start of the season ever, but WHU were yet to register a point at home, whilst taking full points on the road at Arsenal and (historically) Liverpool.
Since that game at Anfield, some 4 players have joined WHU and one made his debut last night as Victor Moses came in for Obiang, and Tomkins found himself once more in the right back berth. Mark Noble also made his first appearance as officially the club captain, although with the fans he has held that position since Scott Parker left.
WHU started the game with a spring in their step, with Payet and Koutyate especially taking the game to the Geordies. The players seemed happy to close down, move around and make quick passes. Something we haven’t seen for a while. In the 9th minute a neat interchange between Noble and Sakho fed the ball to the edge of the box to Payet, and he shaped up perfectly to meet the ball in his stride to smash it into the top corner
As is usual for WHU the game started to drift and although we maintained the attacks, we were not really making the best of our chances. The Newcastle No.8 Vumon Anita was playing as a one man defence and was stopping everything and everyone coming his way. We continued as is now usual to half time, content to be ahead but not really pushing. But it must be said we were playing further up the pitch than normal and not buggering about passing it around the back.
It made a change not to go in 2-0 down at home, so happy days.
Once again we started the second half with the wind in our sails attacking the Bobby Moore. We cleared an early attack from Newcastle to Moses who ran the whole length of the pitch and got himself in on goal. He shoots, beats the keeper, but not the bar. The rebound comes straight out to Payet who volleys it in to make it 2-0. Big shout to the the team here, as Payet ran off on his own to celebrate, everyone else was congratulating Moses, who had his head in his hands ! From here on, Payet ran the show and gave us his full set of tricks and passes. This started to breed confidence within the team and soon everyone was at it. Against a better team we may of suffered , but Newcastle could not capitalise on the showboat circus. Even Mark Noble was taking people on and getting crosses in. There were back heels and fancy passes all over the place. The crowd were loving it, but occasionally you could see where the loss of the ball could reduce the deficit easily. The biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for the reintroduction of Andy Carroll (again), who nearly picked up a yellow card with his first touch (or non touch as it was on Tim Krull). His five minute cameo ended the night perfectly. The crowd were chanting “Are you watching Allardyce” for the last few minutes in between cheering on the back flicks and nutmegs.
2-0 to the Irons and 5th place in the league with Man City up next to hold on to our perfect away record this season (!). Why are we playing better? My theory is that now that we have a real squad, competition for places is driving players to play a higher standard of football. Lets hope this continues Messrs Bilic and Dicks
On a side note, Kevin Nolan was on Goals on Sunday this weekend and spoke glowingly of the club and his time there. With the stick people (myself included) have given him for the last 6 months, fair play to him, especially having his boy in a WHU kit. In parting, good luck to him in his future endeavours.
So in short, we have a top, top, quality flair player in midfield,backed up with some steel, we can pass balls all over the shop without fear, we score some tremendous goals, we can defend and attack in numbers, we are all in it together, and are always on the edge of going too far and screwing it all up.
THE WEST HAM WAY IS BACK !!!!!
MOTM: Payet, big shouts to Moses, Kouyate, Noble, and Tomkins.
“We are coming for you, we’re coming for yououuuuuuu. Barcelona, we’re coming for you ! “
That was the main chant post the second goal of WHU’s 2-0 win yesterday that helped WHU secure a top 4 position over Xmas for the first time in Premiership history.
This game was a home banker but didn’t play out that well, with West Ham making lots of silly mistakes early on. Most of these errors were happening in the centre back positions with both Reid and Tomkins making poor decisions and bad passes. Leicester didn’t capitalise on this luckily enough, but we were just piling the pressure on ourselves. Continue reading “West Ham United vs Leicester City 20/12/2014 EPL”→
After our win over Man City, most WHU fans were thinking that the next 2 games against Stoke and Villa should be 6 points and our top 4 status should be secure. However, old skool heads knew better, and those thoughts were realised after our draw at Stoke (albeit from 2 nil down), and another 1 point game with our 0-0 against Villa yesterday. Last year we would of lost by 3 or 4 at Stoke and maybe could of thrown away the valuable point late on yesterday. Let’s not forget this point moved us back into the top 4 (without at this time knowing the Arsenal result). These results have been recognised with Sam getting Manager of the Month for October and Diafra Sakho getting Player of the Month.
Villa are a team in trouble, and played that way. They spent the last half hour wasting time and if it wasn’t for some great goalkeeping would of lost to our last few minutes onslaught of their goal from the returning Andy Carroll.
WHU played the whole game in control with Downing (congrats on the England call up) and Song running the game from start to finish. The introduction of Carroll was immense, and if he had come in for longer (eg when Cole came on), we would of got a win. However that wasn’t to be and we have to learn that teams respect us more these days and sometimes we will be up against spoiling tactics. That all said some players need to take a look at themselves. Kouyate for example, is a player that prior to his injury had been a Diame with the ability to surge forwards and link up play. His introduction back in yesterday for Amalfitano (who was poor against Stoke) was welcomed but he really didn’t deliver. Against a tight midfield, he was ineffective and looked a shadow of the guy who started the season. In fact, he looked like Diame !
The one worry for me, was that with Valencia and Sahko not firing yesterday, we ended the game with Cole, Nolan and Carroll on the pitch. Will Sam start to revert to these tactics that saw him vilified last season if we go on a run of draws and losses? We will have to wait and see.
Carroll as previously mentioned looked immense when he came on. In the 5 minutes he played, he had 2 chances saved by Guzan . I think he will be introduced in longer spells moving forwards, and the upcoming International break will help with his recuperation.
Our next two games are away to Everton and home to Newcastle. Neither will be easy ,and will be a good bell weather for our finishing position for the season. But we cannot deny, that with a fully fit squad we should now be prepared for anything, and the competition for places should encourage better performances.
Shout out to Joe Cole who took some humorous “banter” well, while warming up for Villa. On that subject, fans singing “he hits who he wants” to James Tomkins might want to think about that.
MOTM today was again Alex Song, but big shouts to James Collins who played a blinder against his old team. Holidays and bad timings of games will limit my reports until late December now, but hopefully, I will still have the optimism brought on by he opening quarter of the season.
So, the season has come to an end and the Hammers ended up in a respectable mid table position. Despite the dreadful football exhibited by Sam and the team this year.
Where do we go? This close season has delivered some great rumors (Ashley Cole), some poor ones (Rio Ferdinand), and some outright hilarious ones (Emile Heskey ?).
The signing of Mauro Zarate is obviously a cheap tactic for the board and manager to protest their new brand of attacking football. What’s the chances he turns up and sits on the bench, watching Carroll flounder around on his own for another season. Where does this leave Carlton Cole? As he hasn’t followed his namesake Joe out of the door, I assume he stays and sees out his remaining one year around the bench and the last 10 minutes.
Talking of Joe , I for one will go on record and say he did not deliver this time around, and I for one was disappointed. Sam got one thing right, JC was simply not fit enough. Villa are taking a massive chance on giving him what surely must be his last chance.
With Joe in the taxi (c. V Paradis) was George McCartney and Jack Collison. Jack was no surprise, as he didn’t really add anything , and since his career threatening injury a couple of years ago, he is just not a premier league player. But he is WHU through and through, and his open letter to the fans was truly sad, especially his reminisces of that Millwall game. George going was interesting as currently there are no ideal replacements in the team unless Joey O’Brien is being favoured (really ?). Bring on Ashley Cole I say, or maybe Evra if he gets replaced at United as they talk about doing it nearly every season.
As part of this new look attacking team (LOL @ Sam), we need someone who is a real attacking midfielder. Nolan has cost us more than he has delivered in the last year, but will not leave all the time Sam is there (but he’s not in the photos for the new kit, so you never know). Who is this person we need? How about Ravel Morrison (remember him ?). Didn’t get a game for QPR either when it mattered, but we all know what he can do. If Sam is the manager he thinks and says he is then he has to sort this out. However if Fergie and ‘Arry couldn’t then maybe it is a lost cause. In that case I bring you…..Jack Rodwell. Wasting his time at City, and with probably more big players coming in , that won’t change anytime soon.
This is also the upcoming season to blood some of the Academy properly, and not in the way it was done this year, by exploiting them in the FA Cup.
This coming season for the club is critical, being the penultimate season at the Boleyn. We cannot be trying to get promotion before the big move, or worse still, move in while we are in the Championship. Just unthinkable.
I would also be looking to shift some more deadwood (RVT and Stephen Henderson) and someone who played like a dead wood, Mr Mohammed Diame. It’s a shame, the lad has everything, but cannot be arsed to do it for us, and keeps banging on about Liverpool. So do us all a favour mate and piss off.
Normally i would review the season but it was one to right off. I will issue my player of the season though. Once again unexpected (for me), after the surprise of Winston Reid last year, this years recipient is Mark Noble. Not only did he carry himself well all season he also carried Diame and Nolan at times as well. Well played Sir.
Special shout out to Adrian, who came into a team in disarray, let in double figures in his first 2 games (none his fault), and then turned in performance after performance. Good lad.
That’s me for this season unless any big news happens before the start of the season. But like the Euro’s i will be doing a little right up of the England games as they happen in the WC. Guess that will keep me busy for 2 weeks !
This was a game overshadowed by 2 events for me. One was the untimely and very sad passing of promising centre forward Dylan Tombides from a 3 year battle with cancer. The other was meeting with a good friend of mine who starts his chemo this week, after being diagnosed with some serious Cancer complications out of the blue resulting in massive operations less then 24 hrs post diagnoses. The words of Shankly went through my head, and i will have the disagree with the great man this time.
Dylan’s number 38 has been retired by the club and they held a very moving minutes applause before the start of the game witnessed by his brother and father.
The game to me was going to be a drawn out 0-0, that would secure league survival for both teams, and started as such. Sam set out his usual shocking formation, and Pulis didn’t do much better. But the Eagles seemed to have the upper hand as they were more lively up front even if it meant Yannick Bolasie diving all over the place like Tom Daly after a night on the piss. But WHU had possession, and outside of Andy Carroll getting a couple of chances, and one falling to the ever depressing Diame, neither team was going to break the deadlock.
The second half was more of the same, but WHU were retreating more and more into their shells, inviting Palace on. This meant more action in our box. Eventually the inevitable happened when Pablo Armero tripped Cameron Jerome in the box. Jedinak took the pen well, and that sealed the game.
There were shouts for penatlies on both sides, and that just about sums up the quality of the game all round.
So Palace are now safe, and we are not with 3 tricky games to go, West Brom (A), Totts (H) and Man City away on the last day. Other results will keep us up I imagine, so we must look to next season. I watched Sam this morning on Sky talking about improving the squad, but the reception he got at the end of the game (again), points to the fact that he probably wont be there to improve anything.
Last up, Palace fans, superb all day, plenty of noise and really got behind their team.
As well as managing football teams, it appears Mr Allardyce has added time travel to his skillset. Yesterday we moved from the 19th Century Football (TM J.Mourinho) to 21st Century defending according to Sam. Not that the defending should of been having to be used, but more of that later.
I arrived more in hope of a win rather than expecting one. Last years game, here was more what I expected, with Swansea on the attack and plucky old WHU getting away with it.
What i got was markedly different, with a positive WHU, attacking Swansea from the off and in reality, Swansea couldn’t cope. Our defence was containing the admittedly under par Swansea attack and Noble seemed to be everywhere. Carroll was dominating their defence in very impressive style, and you just felt it would be his day. More of that later as well.
The breakthrough came on the 27th minute with Noble picking up the ball in our box and spotting the run of McCartney on the left flank. George continued the run up the line and popped in a superb cross for Andy Carroll to rise high into the air and nod it down for Nolan, to get his first in a while, and his first of the game. Like the 58 outside on Green Street, we didn’t have to wait long for the next one (19 mins to be precise), when a Downing corner found Carroll on the far post, to nod it back in for his mate to double his tally for the day, and send the Hammers in 2-0 up at half time. That really doesn’t do justice to Carroll, as the height he got and the body twist to make the nod down accurate really has to be appreciated. However I cannot find any photos on line, so you will have to catch MOTD or sky or just believe me.
The second half seem to be going the same way, with WHU happy to let the The Jacks crack on in their own half and then use Carroll to involve everybody else in the play. Then with half an hour to go everything changed. Carroll challenged Flores for the ball, and having seen that, my eyes has gone elsewhere (the incident was that much of nothing), only to catch Flores out of the corner of my eye, rolling around like a cheese in Gloucester. Game stops, Howard Webb comes over, straight red card to AC. What! Really ? I have tried to find content this morning to put up, but i’m struggling currently (edit, now have some). This was not a red card, yellow at a push. Mr Webb made a grave mistake, that (and lets be serious for a minute), could relegate us. I’m not too sure the FA will want their poster boy overturned on appeal, but it’s all in their hands now.
So WHU has to change formation for the last 30 mins, and did stoically. Special shouts out to Matt Taylor, James Collins and Mark Noble, who just threw everything out there to defend (in a 21st century fashion) our lead. So in the end, 3 points and another clean sheet (our 11th this season, why are we 3rd bottom ?) .
In fact everyone played their part yesterday, including Nocerino (Nosher, anyone), one of our new Italian imports, who came on for the last 5 and looked lively going forward. James Tomkins made a tackle in the first half against Bony, that if it had of been made by Baresi, Beckenbauer, or (dare I say it) Moore, would of been lauded down the decades. If you see it, take into account the lad was on a yellow as well, and it was 0-0. Winston Reid made a welcome return to assist the late rearguard action. This probably signals then end of Tomkins’ run in the team, and is a shame, but we cannot accommodate everyone. It was also nice to see everyone in the correct positions, including Kevin Nolan, who put a shift in for the first time in a long time.
Anyway MOTM goes to big Kev for his contribution, but he was run close by Mark Noble, Andy Carroll and on the outside Matt Taylor.
Overall, our first season back in the prem has been a success, with Big Sam steering the team to a top 10 finish, in allegedly the best league in the world. We have a become a hard team to break down, but we do have a limited attack, unless Andy Carroll is playing. This means our league position is about right. For Sam then, we have to take on board that in the last two seasons he has done exactly what has been asked of him, and delivered in both years. But he needs to liven up play to get more fans on side.
Sam Allardyce 8/10
For the players we shall go in shirt number order.
2. Winston Reid. Bit of a shame to start any article at the top, but this is where we find ourselves. The Kiwi has been outstanding this season, and has won the club’s Player of the Season award, and mine. Which may come as a surprise as I wanted him out when we first took him on. 9/10
3. George McCartney – Only played about 25% of the season, and looked OK, but then injury struck, not OK. Probably should be offloaded this summer. 5/10
4. Kevin Nolan. Big Kev ended the year on a high, with a hatrick against collapsing Reading. Seems to drive the team, but could do with getting in the gym a bit, if you ask me. Double figures from midfield not too shabby though. 7/10.
5. James Tomkins. Really disappointing season for the young defender as Sam obviously doesn’t rate him, which is a shame. Would do best to leave, but i would like him to stay and prove Sam wrong. 6/10
7. Matt Jarvis. Our record signing has been everything we needed this year once he got going. Balls flew in from all angles from the feet of the small winger. More to come I hope. 7/10
8. Andrew Thomas Carroll. Where would we of been without Sam’s inspired loan signing. Not just his goals, but his teamplay and willingness to get on the end of everything has been nothing short of amazing. If he didn’t have a spell out injured, we would of at least been knocking on the door of Europe. If we can hang onto him permanently, colour me a Sam fan ! 9/10
9. Carlton Cole. This season sees Carlton leaving West Ham a cult hero and a West Ham fan. Never gave less than 100%, but just cannot fit into Sam’s system. I’m really sorry to see him go, but wish him luck wherever he ends up. 7/10
10. Jack Collison. Jack has had another injury hit season, but when he has played he still hasn’t lived up to his early potential. I would give him one more season, but there are rumours about an early retirement. 6.5/10
11. Modibo Maiga. Failure, except for a last minute cross for Kevin Nolan to get his hatrick against Reading. Back to France for this recruit. 3/10
12. Richardo Vaz Te. The enigma continues. The guy who scored our last championship goal, gets one in our last game of the season. RVT is just not good enough for Premier League football. He gets shoved off too much and gives the ball away too easily. Another one for the exit door. 4/10
14. Matt Taylor. Seems to give his all, and has the mark of a premier league player. Used sparingly this season, might see more action if RVT leaves. 6/10
15. Yossi Benayoun. Couple of appearances pre christmas and won a Europa League winners medal. Fair play. Don’t come back. 5/10
16. Mark Noble. The local boy had been an ever present until an injury took him out for a few games. Lots of puff, not nearly enough end product. Can do it, and once he gets it in his head he can do it. Needs to realise he is not the best player in WHU and just needs to get his head down and crack on. 6/10.
17 Joey O’Brien. Last years freebie becomes this year’s secret weapon. Plays really well on the right, not so good on the left but capable. A good addition to the team. 7/10.
19 James Collins. Started the season really badly, not sure where he was playing, not linking up with Reid, got mauled by Swansea and kept Tomkins out of the side . Post Xmas was indispensable. Kept Man U quiet on his own. Well played Ginge. 7.5/10
20. Guy Demel. His rampaging down the right seem to be more controlled now and his tackles better. Needs to stay . 7/10
21. Mo Diame. Absolutely fantastic all season. His goal against Man U was sublime. Held us to ransom a bit during Jan, but hopefully with that behind him and a better midfield to come in, he will improve again (before he leaves !). 8.5/10
22. Jussi Jaaskeklainen. Robert Green’s replacement played every PL game this season, and won us about 10 points in my estimation. A couple of mistakes are allowed in a season like this. Well played Sir. 8/10.
26 Joe Cole. If I’m honest I really wanted this to work, and it sort of did, if only from a raising the spirits point of view. Needs more game time, and needs to get his mojo back . You can see why Liverpool moved him on though, as by rights he should sit square in the Brendan Rogers camp. 6.5/10
32. Gary O’Neill. Never let us down as a sub, but really took his chance in the middle when Noble was out. Should get more game time next year. 7/10.
Abou Diarra – nice one.
Dan Potts. Your time will come.
Elliot Lee. Maybe, lets see.
Chamakh. Lol. Lets hope he wasn’t expensive.
Last but not least the Chairmen. Lets not forget, this season we have gained a new ground, as well as bankrolled the signings (re signings) of Carroll, Cole, and secured Diame. Also, for a man in his late 70’s David Gold is fantastic on twitter (dg). The other Dave has kept his self out of the media and left it to Karen, which is probably right. If the 3 of them play this ground business well, we could be up there in a few years.
We come to the end of the season and a dead game against an already relegated Reading. Sam made some changes with the recently impressive Gary O’Neill dropped for Mark Noble and Jarvis swapped out for Joe Cole. WHU started as you would expect and pressured Reading, but with no out and out shots (as usual !).
Just after the 20 minute mark WHU got their breakthrough when Alex McCarthy in the Reading goal fired a clearance against the back of Andy Carroll for it to fall into the path of Kevin Nolan, who rounded the keeper to score. 10 minutes later WHU doubled their lead through a fantastic take down from Carroll followed by a reverse pass into the path of RVT who slotted it home. Just as well as he was shocking up till then.
West Ham might as well of done the lap of honour at half time as they came out in the second half as if they were the team that were relegated. Reading took this as the invite it was and were back to 2-2 within 10 minutes of the restart. Staring down the barrel of a defeat reinvigorated the Hammers and they came back with two late goals from Kevin Nolan to get his hat trick. Nice to see him pull his finger out for a change. The last goal was interesting if for nothing more than the provider was one Modibo Maiga. Sam’s folly of the season came on for a cameo and hopefully his last appearance in the Claret and Blue .
So the season long battle to stave off relegation finishes and the one to keep Andy Carroll starts. He set up three goals (one by chance, but you have to buy a ticket and all that). and was clearly the best player on the park. But for his first WHU threesome, i’ll go Kevin Nolan for MOTM.
This week I hope to get the full season report card out but dont hold your breath.