WHUFC (1)vs Eintracht Frankfurt(2). Europa League Semi Final, First Leg 28/04/2022


Obviously I write this with a bit of disappointment, but I’ll try and give it a go.

First up, we probably put out our best side, with a patched up Zuma back in defence. No Coufal, which probably doesn’t bode well for him in the summer if Johnson is ahead of him.

Anyway, our biggest game for 46 years, home in a European semi. Exciting as it gets. Accompanied by my wife. We are playing a team mid table in an arguably worse league. Easy win for the Hammers right ? Yeah, Barcelona aren’t the team they once were……… We are massive…………… Light show, Fireworks, Tifo’s from both side pregame. This is what it all about……………”record scratch noise

One nil down in under a minute. This is not the script we were looking for. A really simple cross and finish in under 60 seconds could take away our whole season.

And then we huffed and puff and were probably the better team in first half, and Antonio’s long overdue goal after the longest 20 minutes in football history put us back on an even keel.

Bowen had a chance earlier having been put straight through but popped it onto the post. Painful.

Anyway one one at half time and everyone is talking about 3-1’s and all sorts.

Not to be , within 10 minutes our German visitors strolled though our back line again to score the decisive goal in this leg. Kamada was excellent throughout the game and just found himself in the right place from an Areola parry.And after that they controlled the game and exhibited excellent game management to get the game over the line.

Bowen had a chance with an overhead kick going off the bar in the dying seconds. That may have been harsh on the visitors, but I would have taken it.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the away support. Despite the horror stories flying around about the visiting fans on social media, I thought they were fantastic, and they made the atmosphere ramp up another few percent ! Might be a few fines coming their way for flares, etc but fair play to them.

So we now have to condense our whole season down to 90 minutes away from home with a one goal deficit. Some players need to step up. Fornals was quiet, Souchek and Antonio were wasteful and Declan was frustrated and maybe seeing the gulf between his team mates and the opposition (and his team mates and himself?). Quick shout out to the much maligned Said Benrahma. He looked amazing when he came on and just clipped the post with a long range effort. More of this please.

Put the kids out against Arsenal this weekend, and rest up for next week. It may mean no European football at all next year but when will we get this chance again? We seem to play better under pressure so lets ramp it up !

MOTM (Kamada – Frankfurt)

WHUFC (1) vs Olympique Lyonnais (1) Europa League Q/F 07/04/2022


Ever been on a roller coaster and half way through you start to question its safety but you cannot get off ? Welcome to last night at the OS, for our game against Lyonnais.

On the way to the ground, the atmosphere was a little flat compared to Sevilla. But still stupidly busy. Over an hour before kick off, the main outside concourse was squeezing room only.

Declan led us out as the 3rd West Ham captain ever to lead a team out at this stage of a Euro Tournament, and we should have fancied ourselves against a team 9th in their league. The warning signs were there however against Everton, a game which we got over the line but had to work.

With Lanzini out suspended (concussed ?) Benrahma made up the usual 11. As did Fredericks at right back, presumably because Johnson was still feeling the knock he took for England ? Or is Ryan being preferred again ? I suppose we will find out at Brentford this Sunday.

The game was pretty flat as well to begin with, and once again , same as Seville, the lower tier standing in 132 caused all sorts of problems with us (232) in the front of the upper tier. People were complaining to no avail, and tempers raised, but the stewards were not remotely interested. Personally I only get annoyed if someone stands in front of me at the cinema, and my view wasn’t that obstructed. But I understand some (including the 6 year old lad in the row in front of me) , can’t see and it’s not right. But if you are in the back row of the lower tier and everyone is standing, what do you do ? And if the employees of the stadium aren’t interested, why should the daytrippers be bothered.

However the stewards did get interested when what I can only call (judging by the amount of people who were “asked to leave” ) a massive fight broke out in 131 half way through the half. And we go into the break 0-0. Oh no we don’t. Just before half time, Cresswell was sent off for no reason at all. He put a hand on NDombele which wouldn’t have knocked over the aforementioned 6 year old. The ref has a checkered history regarding bent behavior, has already been called out for seemingly dodgy behavior this season and decided a straight red was the order of the day. Now, stopping a goal scoring opportunity is a red. Running away from the goal is not a goal scoring opportunity.

Second half was real backs to the wall stuff. Lyon to their credit can move the ball around and their right winger was having a field day. Johnson replaced Benrahma for Cresswell, and did his best. We had 3 attacks of note. One of which led to some scruffy defending, which saw Bowen open the scoring. We have missed this lad, and once again he does the business. We then had another chance about 3 minutes later when Bowen put a ball in on the break to a rampaging Antonio, who then made a complete mess of it, and I’m ashamed to say, the 6 year old may have learned some new vocabulary.

The last decent chance we had was interrupted by our second pitch invader of the evening, a life ban is not enough for him . Chances of being West Ham…..0. Twitter rumor mill puts him at Chelsea but who really knows ?

In between all of this Lyon got their equaliser from Areola palming a ball well wide but it got picked up by their other winger who put it in square to make an easy tap in for Lyon via their Spurs loanee (grrr) . We could have thrown it away with some nice judo throws in and around the box from Zuma and Fredericks in the time added on (8 minutes !) , but managed to keep it out.

So we take a draw across the Channel and hopefully we can keep 11 on the pitch, and put this tie to bed. The other tie is also open with Barca and Frankfurt also drawing.

One other football observation. Our midfield to a man (Rice, Benrahma, Soucek and Fornals) looked very out of sorts. Was it the formation of the opposition or just tiredness? Rice was quite sloppy in places, but he had to not get a yellow to be available next week, so that may have contributed.

Late entry to MOTM. Him and Zuma were excellent all night, but Dawson taking names in the last 2 minutes was a sight to behold, so well done Big Daws !

West Ham Utd 3 Chelsea 2 EPL 2021-2022 04/12/2021


Nice and bright, but cold

Early kick off on a freezing Saturday morning against the reigning European champions (as they may have mentioned, once or twice, zzzz)

Not a great set up, after our recent run of no wins in 3, but I had a feeling that if we got at them we had a chance.

As most people expected Lanzini came in for Benrahma. We also changed to 3 at the back with Coufal and Johnson as wingbacks, to allow Diop back in to the defence, to partner Zouma and Dawson

Empty Seats for the Champions of Europe

The game itself early doors was what you would expect. Chelsea were on top possession wise, and we defended resolutely and got the odd breakaway. One issue at this point but it persisted throughout was Antonio. Constantly giving the ball away and falling over for no reason. Embarrassing. How about use the skills that got you to where you were , not start relying on faking fouls.

Our visitors took a lead from a corner, makes a difference for someone to get a set piece against us ! 10 minutes later we were gived a lifeline after Bowen was brought down by Mendy running away from the goal with no one else in the box. Cheers. Up steps Lanzini and comfortably puts it away to level up. Just before half time Ziyech send across an amazing cross form the left straight onto Mounts foot, and Deccers best mate gave the visitors the lead going in to half time.

Everyone I spoke to at half time was doom and gloom . Talk of 4 or 5 -1 hidings abounded. I thought it may stay the same as neither team were on fire.

We started better, and Masuaku was on for the injured Johnson, which gave us a bit more balance going forward. Soon enough we got the equalizer from Bowen which went through the keepers legs with a nice well hit curving shot across the goal. Chelsea at this point were full of uncharacteristic mistakes and a bit blunt in attack despite Lukaku coming on at half time. We knew the keeper had a mistake in him so had to keep the pressure on, and we did. Bowen had a couple of other chances as did Benrahma when he replaced Lanzini. And with 3 minutes to go off normal time it was an odd shot / cross / who knows from Masuaku that beat Mendy on the near post to wrap up the points and streams of Chelsea leaving early.

Whats the takeaway ?Great game and we seem to have got over our habit of parking the bus against top 4 teams. We are still in there on merit, and are going into what would be considered easier games against Burnley, Arsenal and Norwich.

Injuries to Johnson, and Zouma could be massive if longer term. That would 4 first team defenders out. Not a good position. We have a dead rubber European game this week against Zargreb and although not very sporting I would play none of the first team at all , and save them all for Burnley.

It was pointed out to me (by the opposition) thatDeclan was quiet. I will say that Chelsea gave him less space than usual so fair play. He still made some key interceptions on the edge of our box and covered some distance. Soucek is more worrying. Another through the motions game. But we have to remember that his 6/10 is the same as others 8/9.

MOTM Bowen all day long. The goal, the effort, the linkup, using the space left to him by the Chelsea’s midfield trying to contain Rice.

FACTS

WHUFC 1 Tottenham 0 24/10/2021 EPL 2021-2022


First off , all back to normal on the seating front, with my European neighbours not in attendance (see Genk post) made the day a whole more enjoyable. And its always nice to get one over on the Totts, if nothing else just to chip away at the myth that they are a big club, which they held onto despite not beating us last season, and finishing below us in the league, and being part of the failed breakaway league with some real big clubs.

Continue reading “WHUFC 1 Tottenham 0 24/10/2021 EPL 2021-2022”

WHUFC (2) vs Rapid Vienna (0) 30/09/2021 Europa League


Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that !

European football is upon us for the first time in a few years and not in a qualifier. Last season got us straight into the group stages and tonight we were looking to keep our place at the top of our group, after beating Zagreb on the road 2 weeks ago.

Continue reading “WHUFC (2) vs Rapid Vienna (0) 30/09/2021 Europa League”

WHUFC (1) – Man Utd (2) 19/09/2021. EPL 2021-2022


A damp day in East London

If this was a movie it would be binned at submission for being too far fetched.

We have the return of the once great one to save the day again. We also have hero returning to the site of his recent exploits to see if he can repeat the formula from the dark side. And we have the introduction of a former hero, now into his dotage, to see if he can just one more time recreate the magic that made him famous throughout the land.

Continue reading “WHUFC (1) – Man Utd (2) 19/09/2021. EPL 2021-2022”

The return of the Moyesiah


Image result for david moyes

OK, first off , slightly joking with the title.

Here we are again, nearly 2 years to the day since i wrote this . And we find ourselves back in the same boat, calling the same batphone. But we also find ourselves in a better cabin on that boat.

Slaven went as he tried to work with players Sullivan bought, who were clearly not good enough. Pelle went as he made good signings , based on recommendations from his team, but couldn’t get them into a formation suited to their skillsets. Which for someone with his experience, is odd and backs up the Man City fan opinion regarding stubborness and unwillingness to change.

So once again, in comes David Moyes, And once again the team he has inherited is way better than he maybe expected. Subtle tweaks here and there are already producing results.

I have been saying for ever we need to get two up top (since Allardyce) and DM has moved Anderson into the space behind Haller to great effect. We seem to to have changed to a back 3 with pushing full backs, which definitely plays to the strengths of Fred and Arthur. However this may be curtailed with the injury to Fred during the Gillingham game. I cannot see Zaba charging up and down against Sheffield United this Friday.

Despite me doubting him massively when he signed , DM needs to find a space for Fornals. His recent performances, cannot be dismissed, and he could be Pelle’s last present to the faithful. Either Snodgrass or Lanzini needs to make way. Snods would be the easiest, however Lanzini doesn’t appear to be at it at all. His Instagram shows him in London very rarely and maybe January would be a good time to move him on for a few quid for someone who needs a playmaker.

Which brings us to the one remaining puzzle. Defensive midfield. Pushing Noble further up the pitch is always good for him (this has also been discussed by me ad infinitum). But 5 at the back and 3 towards the front (Anderson, Haller, Lanzini) leaves 2 . With Noble pushing towards Lanzini, leaves Rice in that hole. Are we good enough for one holding midfielder ? 3 center backs suggests we are . What we cannot do however is this insane substitution of subbing Noble for Sanchez. Sanchez is not equipped to play up the pitch, so invariably plays further back, which when we are chasing is counter productive and brings teams on.

DM will (and has already) upped the tempo of play. He has also dealt with the Haller issue (for now. Against better opposition we may see a switch back). He seems to have brought Diop back in from the cold, and put Noble in his natural position. So far so good.

The real test will be Friday against Sheff Utd. A team on the up, and a team that will fancy their chances against us (home or away). Another clean sheet will be a result for us. Draw or win , I’ll be happy with.

Personally I thought Moyes should have had the job longer term than he was last time. He has enough experience and is young enough to still be hungry. Lets get behind him and see this season out, and hope this time he sticks around !

Before we finish, can we just take some time to digest that Mark Noble is currently the Premier Leagues highest scoring player this decade !

WHUFC vs Newcastle United 02/03/2019 – EPL2018/2019


Very late as is becoming the norm, and I know I’ve missed a couple of games, but Fulham at home was just that. Fulham at home. Despite their early lead, as soon as it went to 1-1 they really didn’t want to know. Since then their manager has been sacked and former hammers favourite Scott Parker has been installed, so good luck to him , he will need it.

Newcastle arrived on a decent run and were likely to be a better test than when we beat them at their place earlier in the season.

Actually, stuff that. The Geordies were also devoid of ideas and even their fans were (for them) a little quiet. Today was all about a real club legend. Billy Bonds. Six foot two, eyes of blue and all that.

The stand I usually sit in was being renamed after him, and he now sits alongside Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking in getting this honour. This led to Gary Lineker winding up twitter suggesting the remaining stand was becoming the Mark Noble Stand. Although a little premature I think that would be better than what it probably will be. The Lycamobile stand ? The Betway ? The Kens Cafe ?

Anyway I say the stand I usually sit in, as for the first time since we moved I sat elsewhere for the game. In the prawn sandwich seats no less. Not quite a box, but very corporate. We (me and @mrsmackay) were kindly hosted by a supplier of hers to enjoy the game in a different atmosphere. This involved getting there considerably early and me seeing the “dark side” of the stadium I have never been around to that side, not even for other events.

Its very much what you would expect if you have been in the Club England section at Wembley. Lots of escalators and people knowing where they are going (except for you). We ended up in a lounge called the Forge for our lunch. Whilst munching, we enjoyed an interview, on a stage about 10ft away, about Mr Bonds, from some ex players. Namely, Alvin Martin, Ray Stewart, Stuart Slater, Pat Holland and Kenny Brown (jnr). Being the game was against Newcastle, Alvin was given the liberty of retelling his historic hatrick against the magpies (again!).

Food was 7/10. Entertainment was 8/10. Half time was interesting , listening to a guy on an acoustic guitar, playing Jump Around by House of Pain. Different, but he just about got away with it. Service was as you would expect, polite.

Don’t get this in Block 232

Anyway we filtered out early , as Bonzo was getting his presentation 20 mins before kick off. We were greeted by a great sight.

Billy was led out though an honour guard of ex players

And then was interviewed by Alvin Martin

Billy and Alvin

And then cut his ribbon, to open the stand. During his lap of honour there was not a dry eye in the house, especially from the man himself. as he made his way around the stadium a tribute played on the screens.

Billy Bonds is after you !
Bill finishing his standing ovation.

All parties have to end, and if you know where to look you can see my empty seat !

Then there was the little matter of the game. Mark Noble is the closest we have to a Billy these days, and we are all hoping that the mantle will be taken up by Declan Rice in the future. He did himself no harm by netting a header after 7 minutes, much to the consternation of @mrsmackay who wanted a bet on him to score the first goal only to be dissuaded by yours truly! From then on there was only one winner and a mistimed tackle on Hernandez gave us a pen just before half time. Ably converted by Mr Noble. The second half was only notable for me for 2 reasons. One, Longstaff at Newcastle is being touted as better than Rice, and was hooked at half time while Declan was picking up another MOTM and more plaudits. Secondly, and more interesting was Marko entering the fray (mystery illness from Wednesday cleared up). Clearly not happy at being a sub and not the darling of the fans anymore, outside of 2 runs it was Marko pre Moyes of sulking and and waving arms. He needs to sort himself out or the manager has no option but to start him from the bench every game, which actually is doing peak Marko a disservice and could actually cost us points along the way.

So, another good day at a stadium that is slowly (very slowly) becoming home. Not sure if I could do corporate every game but it has its advantages.

Handy to be able to watch replays in real time !

WHUFC vs Arsenal 12/01/2019 EPL 2018-2019


My second visit of 2019 to the London Stadium also brought home the harrowing fact the in the Premier League era, Arsenal have beaten West Ham more than any other club. But the early kick off normally upsets the apple cart (and the Acca punters) and this game did its bit to keep up that tradition.

Rumours abounded around Arnie. He’s going, he’s staying, his brother is a shit stirrer, allsorts. My take is this. If he wishes to leave to play in empty stadiums, in a league that will also most likely mean he loses his international place as well, just for cash, then good luck to him. He earns more than he can spend already.

Also lets be realistic, if someone offered you twice your wages to do the same job somewhere else, you would take it. Maybe not in China, but at least your head will be turned. He left Stoke quick enough, and we are no different, such is the way of the modern footballer. They chop and change all the time. Reece Oxford is our 5th longest serving player currently !

So Arsenal, Wengerless and let off the leash. 22 game unbeaten runs, new broom, and no win in 4 away from home in the PL.

We started with probably with as good as team as we could, but this was no plucky little West Ham. All the big guns were there with the exception of Balbuena. Ogbonna has scared me this season, and early on did nothing to shake that feeling, as Rice had to get him out of a hole a couple of times as Lacazette gave him the run around. However , once the early nerves went, everyone did their job. Antonio was making the runs down the wing we got used to a few years ago. Diop seemed to get his confidence back (it took a few games with Balbuena as well, obviously doesn’t mix well with others!)

Rice and Noble dominated. Rice especially. I’m not the only one saying every game he gets better, but he does ! We have started passing instead of lumping. Nasri I thought was quiet after reading the report of the previous week but he did nothing wrong. Arnie was quiet, and I’m sure I saw Anderson make a tackle !

Just after half time (0-0), we get a bit of a ricochet ball in the box, which Nasri calmly tees up for Rice, and its top corner , one nil. Declan’s first goal for the senior team on his birthday weekend, 2 weeks after getting a new contract. Arnie take note.

After that , we looked assured and controlled the game. Arsenal had some longer range shots and did actually get the ball in the net twice, but with comically offside attempts. And that was that, no panic, no last hurrah from the opposition. A relatively painless win, except for Arnie who left early to be replaced by Carroll. He applauded all round the stadium as he left the field. I have commentated above on my opinion around this, so that’s that, or is it? Would you pay a potentially injured player 200k a week ?

Carroll looked sharper again, and closed down well, as did Snodgrass when introduced. We finally have a proper squad.

Obviously a lot of the credit has to go to the manager, who had kept banging on about installing a big team mentality into the team. But this needs to translate across to the fans as well. We can live in the past glories of being there just about in the league but always having a say in the title with a couple of big scalps a year or we can become the team that plays in front of 60k every week ,with big players, and expectations to match.

Gary Firmager used to say the worst thing to let loose at West Ham is expectation and back then he was right. But we have to accept that the fan base and the club has changed dramatically over the past few years, and we should now demand this level of team from our board.

MOTM Declan Rice. All day long. Happy birthday !

Little bit wobbly.