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

March 5, 2019 Leave a comment

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 !
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WHUFC vs Manchester United EPL 2018-2019 29/09/2018

September 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Free scoring West Ham. Words never said in these pages before. But after 11 in a week and 2 comfortable wins at home in the bag, maybe we have changed into a more attacking force on a permanent basis.

Some may argue that 8-0 against Macclesfield doesn’t count. My argument is that not many pro games between any two teams irrespective of their position end up 8-0 , let alone one where the favourite hands out 3 debuts to u-21 players. Anyway, onto the main game. West Ham Man U games always seem to have something about them, whether its “Hands up if you are out of the FA cup” Fabian Bartez or Sweinstiger throwing people and balls into the goal. And obviously the last ever game at Upton Park. Winston Reid, nuff said.

Confidence was high coming into the game and the visitors seem to be in turmoil. Why I just don’t know. The reason I say I don’t know is that the squad and players available should not be having any issues. Seems to be mainly around Pogba and the lack of decent centre backs. Obviously Jose thought a defensive Pogba would cover the defensive frailties. Pogba and the rest of world seem to think he’s better further up the pitch. But Sky making it headline news with cameras at  Carrington ? Ridiculous. Would Fergie have them there ?

We started out of the blocks quickly and West Ham took the lead after 5 minutes with Anderson giving me a heart mumour, with his cheeky flick around De Gea.

Man U, as well as having an unfamiliar kit (pink ? Ecru? c.WHU 1996 ?) had an unfamiliar style. No swagger, no plan, and seemingly, no care. Is this the new Man U, or are the players staging a rebellion to off the manager ?

To be fair to them, they came back into it, forcing a couple of good saves from Fabianski. But we seem to be back on top by the end of the half, and we rode our luck as a Yarmalenko shot defected against Lindelof for our second. The second half was very much United but we seem to be really happy for them to have the ball, as we were dominating everywhere. Diop threw a tackle in on Lukaku that WHU forums are describing a Moore eske. Noble made Pogba look very poor, and PP ended up being subbed off after 70 mins. Masuaku and Anderson were linking up well on the left, to keep us ticking over. Yarma was subbed off rightly for Snodgrass. And what a sub. That fella was everywhere for the remainder of the game, harrying and breaking up play. Rashford made an impact after coming on and took his goal well.

Normally that would be a sign for WHU to collapse, but the new look hammers don’t do that, and a great pass from Noble sent Arnie through for our 3rd, and more importantly 3 points.

We rounded the game off by bringing on Wednesday’s  2 goal debutante Grady Diangana for a couple of minutes experience.

The stadium was lit, which really makes a change, and we deserved the win despite all the papers today banging on about Man U and their implosions.

MOTM was Noble by a mile. Every time this fella gets written off , he comes back and earns his stripes all over again. Having Rice just behind him, frees him into his best position.

Rice ? Just give him the contract. I understand after the Oxford fiasco, that giving a young lad a few bob can turn his head, but this is different. He now has plenty of games under his belt ,and seems to mature with every game. He also seems to be a magnet for the ball by his positioning and that is rare. If this drags out to January, we will lose him, plain and simple.

Its very interesting how MP has upgraded the team. Fabianski is a massive upgrade on the popular Adrian. Diop and Balbuena are streets ahead of Ogbonna plus 1. I think there will be a clear out in Jan ,and I see Antonio being near that door as well. He just doesn’t look right in the team any more. What’s really interesting is that all of those players were nailed on starters when fit last year, and not players I thought would be fringe this year.

Long may it continue. Phone was flat yesterday so pictures are courtesy of the Evening Standard.

 

WHUFC vs Manchester United 10/05/2018 – EPL 2018-2019

May 11, 2018 Leave a comment

And so the season winds its way to its sorry end with our premiership status once again secured due to the inadequacy of others and self harm. OK, that’s the fun stuff out of the way!

This game is usually a decent affair but the scoreline of 0-0 tells you everything. Neither keeper was massively troubled (although there was a good double save from Adrian in the first half) , and both teams were happy to play it out and see how they got on.

Although near the end things got very tasty when Pogba got some afters on Carroll that went unpunished so he thought it would fun to do the same thing to Noble about 2 minutes later.  This didn’t go down so well, and at one point Noble had him by the neck, which is no mean feat as Pogba is about a foot taller.

Yellow cards all round and the game ends in hugs all round. That’ s about it. One point off the magical 40 with Everton to come in a guaranteed Big Sam bore fest.

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About as exciting as it gets.

In other news, I have a new job, which in itself is not that amazing. However I do have this view on my journey to work every day now.

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WHUFC vs Chelsea FC 09/12/2017 EPL 2017-2018

December 10, 2017 Leave a comment

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3 games since David Moyes took over and the shoots of recovery were there to see against Man City last week. But we lost and still found ourselves adrift at the wrong end of the table. This game is usually tough, but maybe we could just improve again and realise the potential in the team.

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WHUFC vs Swansea City 30/09/2017 EPL2017/2018

October 1, 2017 Leave a comment

First post of the season and there has been a reason. I wanted to get a tell for the team this year, before I committed anything to record.

We didn’t finish fantastic last year and this year has been more of the same. Two 3 2 losses mask the fact that we were at least 2-0 down in both. A hiding off of Man U can be washed away by the fact they seem to be scoring for fun against everyone.

But in reality we are possibly 2points off where I expected us to be. So not so bad ? Wrong.

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WHUFC vs Swansea City 08/04/2017 EPL 2016-2017

April 9, 2017 Leave a comment

First off, I know its been a while. Work and other things have been taking up most of my time and I just haven’t had the opportunity to put fingers to keyboard. Even my twitter posting is down 61% for April (@mrben09)  .

Anyway yesterday was a beautiful day, and we welcomed Swansea to Corp HQ. The Swans are usually 3 points for us, but currently we are slipping down the table like a drunk octopus and although Swansea let go a winning position late on Wednesday night, generally Paul Clement seems to have turned the corner for them.

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WHUFC vs Middlesbrough 01/10/2016 EPL 2016-2017

October 1, 2016 Leave a comment

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You know what?  I will take a draw just now.

Could it get any worse? The recent few games have been a wake up call for all WHU fans, that with a big ground and a big pitch comes big responsibility.

With that in mind Slaven made some further changes, bringing in Obiang for Lanzini, and pushing Ogbonna out to left back, for another centre back change with Reid and Collins making up the back four with Byram. Personally I would have played Arbeloa and got my wish in unfortunate circumstances as  Byram was stretchered off just 7 minutes in, with I think a thigh knock.

Noble was pushed further forward to help the front man, who seemed to be Antonio or Tore. Basically we had no front man. I’ll assume Slaven wanted a point first, but it did look odd. We were getting most of the ball, but finding it difficult to break through. Adrian didn’t have a lot to do, but neither did Valdes in the opposition goal. WHU shaded the first half, but we went in 0-0.

We needed to change up top, and Slaven took off the ineffectual Tore in favour of Zaza. Tore was terrible if I’m honest, and needs to be benched if this is his best. Zaza isn’t much better, and it’s a bit worrying that if he plays 15 games we have to buy him for 20mn. Hopefully Andy Carroll and Ayew  are close to returning.

But it did give us balance to attack, and once again we had most of the ball. On 51 however, Boro had a corner and Stuani got a header at goal, which appeared to bounce off of Noble, who was on the line, but the referee and his technology ruled it over the line, and normal service at the OS had been resumed !!

But for once, we didn’t have to wait long for a response, as Payet took the by the scruff of the neck and ran through Boro’s defence to score a Goal of the Season contender and make it 1-1. Cue jubilant scenes in the OS, and atmosphere breaking out abounds.

Then Noble made way for Lanzini and it looked game on, but once again Zaza got no service and those balls that did come his way, didn’t really inspire confidence in my opion of the Italian.

So we put the run of losses to the sword, at the expense of another injured full back. Did we play well, no, but we also didn’t let in another torrent of goals. We probably actually looked better to the observer than we the fans thought we did. Every time Boro made one of their quick attacks the fans started to panic , as we seem to slip goals like a poor project manager recently.

The fans, as they were against Southampton, today were largely well behaved. The standing nonsense seems to be sorted for now. Whether the club has accommodated the move requests or not, there seemed to be no outbreaks of bother, and some areas seemed to be standing and other were seated, all with no issues. One of the standing areas seems to be to my left in the lower tier. and we got 2 new songs. “Stratford’s a shit hole, I want to go home”, and “Can we go back to Upton Park”

My new neighbour was OK today as well. So all good.

Payet will get all the headlines, but Reid and Collins were way more solid than recently today, and everyone else did their jobs, with the exception of Kouyate, who seemed very quiet. Hopefully Obiang will get a run in the team now, even if its in the space of (whisper it ) Mark Noble.

oh, there was one more talking point. Antonio had a shot from miles out near the end, the spooned off nowhere near the goal. The crowd reacted , as they do, with a collective “why do that?” moan, and Arbeloa started clapping the crowd for making that noise. And it didn’t look sarcastic either, more a “I agree with you, what the hell is he doing ?” Interesting……

MOTM – Payet.

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The Sky over the stadium was more dramatic than the game.