West Ham United vs Southampton EPL 22/02/2014


Great team, great passing, great to watch, big away following, noisy away following, will upset a few big teams, too good to go down, not good enough for Europe. Once upon a time you could guarantee people would be taking about West Ham. These days its more likely that they are talking about Southampton.

Southampton came in good form, as they have held onto all season, but were running into a WHU team who themselves were on a good run. The game started (after the minutes applause for the passing of the legend that was Sir Tom Finney) with Southampton on fire and we were chasing shadows if I’m honest and it was no surprise when they took the lead after 8 minutes. The manner of conceding our first goal in over 4 games was more disappointing. There were 6 West Ham players in a row, marking space rather than players and this allowed Yoshida to ghost in unopposed to get his first goal of the season.

This seemed to wake the hammers up and our midfield in particular.  We started to see more of the ball and were closing down the effective play of the Saints a lot quicker which was starting to make them make mistakes. After 20 minutes, Kevin Nolan spotted a run from Matt Jarvis across their back line and lofted a beautiful ball into the danger zone, which Matty got onto, nuts the keeper and slots in the equalizer. To be fair if he had missed he was due a penalty as well, due to the keeper taking him out. There was a slight sniff of offside, but for once the luck was with us. 1-1

We didn’t have to wait long for the next goal, as the Hammers didn’t relent the pressure on the Saints. 3 minutes after the leveller, Carton Cole jumped out of the pack to bullet a header against the post, and the rebound came back to him (from Yoshida’s arm – another pen ?) and rifled in WHU’s second to make it 2-1 WHU after 23 mins. For the first time this season, football had broken out at Upton Park. Southampton continued their possessional play, and might of felt aggrieved not to be level at half time. Adrian did his part again and so did Guy Demel, making some key interventions and clearances.

The scoreline was interesting for me as Mrs MrBen had had her first ever football bet today. She picked WHU to win 2-1, so was hoping for a drab second half to ensure £100 quid into her pocket.

To be fair she looked good for it as the second half didn’t really live up to action of the first. WHU as usual, had  a period of play where they gave Southampton some opportunities to level, with both Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez wasting chances. However come the 71st minute, a lovely cross from Stewart Downing met the industrious Carlton Cole who nodded it down for Kevin Nolan to fire in an overhead kick from 5 yards out to bring another 3 points to Hammers. For once a comfortable win, to confirm their top half league aspirations, and extend their current form to 4 wins, one draw and only one goal conceded. And a game where the score was about right. If Diame’s speculative shot near the end hadn’t just hit the bar, but had gone in, the scoreline would of been unfair to Southampton. This game has probably won Sam the manager of the month award for Feb as well, without Andy Carroll for most of it. Things are looking good for the Hammers, and with Newcastle and Southampton slipping up more than expected currently, I don’t think we have finished our table climb. I was eyeing up Man U yesterday but their win against Palace probably makes them an unrealistic target now.

So some points of note. Sam has maintained then when the team is fit we can match anyone, and despite my reservations, he may be right. One other point is one I started last game. Adam Lallana on Sky commentary this morning, was being lauded as a cert for the plane to Brazil. Mark Noble played him off the park, and once again dominated a game with tackles, pick ups and directing play. He deserves a look in, if nothing else.

I have also decided to add a new feature to the blog, The Bloke Behind Me. Now this guy has been there some time, and comes out with the most inane nonsense,  week in week out .

So for the in inaugural TBBM, we have “James Collins has probably been our best player this season, but i wouldn’t have him in the team” Nice one mate. The only thing that will stop this feature is the 67 year old Angry John clumping him , so I have that in my influence sphere ! Nice to see Aussie John yesterday as well, coming back for a beer, even though he does live the far sticks of Essex these days.

MOTM for this week was once again Mark Noble. Another game dominated.

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The Italian Hammers contingent, gets even bigger
This man wears the no 1 jersey next season. Without a doubt.
This man wears the no 1 jersey next season. Without a doubt.

WHUFC vs Swansea City EPL 01/02/2014


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The West Ham Italian Division, welcomes our new imports.

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.

Is this really a straight red , Mr Webb ?
Is this really a straight red , Mr Webb ?
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I think the look on his face says it all.

WHUFC vs Stoke City 31/08/2013 EPL


Weather was nice, game was shit, just about sums up this one. Normally I wouldn’t be so blunt, but sometimes this has to happen.

Stoke under Pulis were sometimes castigated for spoiling the game, and being ultra long ball, etc. Under Mark Hughes this seemed to have stopped for now, with Stoke actually playing well and moving the ball around quickly and accurately.

WHU were rubbish. Let me qualify this. With 2 exceptions we actually played OK. Collins and O’Brien really stood out. Downing was exception no 1. He was soft and ineffective. However he looked like Messi compared to Maiga.

Why we kept this clown over Carlton Cole is beyond me. He has no challenge or presence, cannot hold the ball, can’t pass, and is usually out of position. All of the above can be done from the bench and do not need to be demonstrated on the pitch.

Fans frustrations are nothing new, and fans do have a habit of getting on players backs out of proportion with their performance. BUT, when you see the players getting on his case, and effectively playing around him to stop him having the ball, you have an issue. We beat Cardiff in spite of him, we might of well played with 10 men against Newcastle, and another draw with 10 men was on the cards yesterday, until Jermaine Pennant came of the bench to snatch victory for the potters.

So whats the answer? Not bringing on Elliot Lee too late against a team who have 4 defenders twice his size, thanks Sam. We now have less than 24 hours to get someone in to fill in for Carroll. Sitting on the bench of our visitors was Peter Crouch ? Season loan ? Why not !

Anything has to better than having the new Boogers up top.

MOTM : James Collins.

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Yes, we are booing you mate.

WHUFC vs Tottenham Hotspur EPL 25/02/2013


Bit late for new year, but we invited the neighbours over for a party, and ensured they left with the favours. I say left, they were stolen by one man.

This game was billed as a tribute to the late great Bobby Moore, who passed away 20 years ago (seems I was at the gates of Upton Park yesterday), and as a spectacle more than lived up to it.

There was a one minute applause, followed by a fans mosaic celebrating the man. I was in the mosaic and I have one comment. Next time, show it on the screen at the other end, or we have no idea what we are showing ! Judging by the camera flashes (plenty from the Spurs section), it was impressive enough.

Noble was replaced by Gary O’Neill in the middle, and Guy Demel was brought in at right back. The game got underway with WHU on the attack for a change. At the six minute mark there was a another break out of “Bobby Moores’ claret and blue army”, and WHU continued piling on the pressure, with Jarvis getting in crosses, and Joe Cole looking lively.

On the rare Spurs attacks it was being pointed out by the WHU faithful that Gareth Bale looked a little like a chimp. He responded by taking a goal, that on the replay was well taken ,but in play looked too easy for him. Skipping along the edge of the box he then turned to pass the ball past Jussi for the opener. WHU seemed to fall apart, and thing didn’t look good.

10 minutes later, Scott Parker (who was getting booed all night, nice one WHU “fans”) took out Carroll to give WHU a pen. Up steps Carroll in place of Noble and smashes it home. By this time Nolan was already struggling and was replaced 10 minutes later by Taylor. With none of the usual midfield cautiousness, WHU seemed to push on and finished the half well ,with Jarvis going close with an acrobatic volley.

At half time, Becks said to me “what a shambles, bloody disgrace ,etc”. No idea what game he was watching. I’m no fan of Allardyce but I tend to remember what I’m watching !

The second half was pretty quite with Bale being especially quiet if I’m honest, but you know it wont last. When he doesn’t have the ball he is constantly moving, chopping and changing markers all the time. This confuses defenders (poor lambs), and mixes up formations.

Just over a quarter into the half (an eighth ?), up pops Joe Cole, to finish off a good move between Caroll and himself, to poke it past Lloris to put the Hammers 2-1 up. Jussi spends the next 20 minutes being the best keeper in the world, making some of the most outrageous saves, including a double from Adebayour that I’m sure he still doesn’t know what happened.

At this stage a point works, and 3 would be great. Enter Big Sam. Demel comes off for Pogatetz, and we lose a goal mouth scramble for a Spurs equalizer. Then, the main thorn in their side Diame is brought off for Collison, who for all his skills is not a hard hitting midfield general. Then Sam gets his get out jail card, with hardly anything left on the clock, Gareth Bale, scores a world class goal from miles out from nothing, no run up or big swing just pure class.

So did Sam throw it away ? Based on Jussi in the second half probably not, but he could of maybe helped the situation.

The league situation is looking very precarious now, but a win against Stoke this weekend could make all the difference.

 

MOTM Everyone else will give it to Bale. But for some world class keeping in the second half, and making sure we didn’t lose 6-2, i’ll give it to Jussi Jaaskelainen

 

Can you see me ?
Can you see me ?

Viva Bobby Moore !

Big Sam or Paolo ?


In the blue !
In the blue corner
In the red corner !
In the red corner

With Paolo Di Canio leaving  Swindon the Sam out  / Paolo in bandwagon starts rolling again.

Big Sam is not best placed with West Ham at the moment. The club are closer than they look to relegation and Big Sam has no contract at the end of the season (at yet).
PDC has jacked from Swindon citing broken promises from their board.

So this leaves the average WHU fan in a stick or twist situation

Lets face facts, Di Canio will manage WHU one day. Sam will leave one day. The question is will their paths cross sooner than everyone thought?

First up, is Sam really leaving? He was brought in to do a job. That job was promotion. That was achieved, probably not how the board wanted it, but achieved anyway. Next job was to keep WHU in the premier league. At time of asking, despite my reservations, this will probably be achieved as well. So, he has done everything asked of him under the terms of his contract. Based on how he is slowly alienating the fans with his team selection and generally over cautious football (after winning them round earlier in the season), he will probably disappear at the end of the season, having done his job. Where he goes is immaterial.

PDC will either do one of two things, disappear back to Italy, after a fantastic interview on the BBC. Or bang on about how WHU are always his first love (with Celtic and Lazio). As lauded as he is at the club, switching a manager halfway through a potentially tricky season is not the way to do things. Especially when that manager has less than 2 years management experience at a lower league club. PDC will want to play different football to BFS, and we cannot do that with our squad. Kevin Nolan is never going to float past Carrick, and make sure his inch perfect pass to Noble completes, as he looks on with admiration at the deft flick of the Canning Town boy, that finds the outside of Carroll’s boot for him to bend it round De Gea.

Whether we like it or not, we are stuck with our squad, and its good and bad points. The only time to change manager is straight after the final whistle of the last match. This gives the incoming manager plenty of time the set his own team up over the summer. With no international competition this summer, the incumbent will get nearly 2 months to piece together a squad capable of playing good football in the Premier League.

So if we assume BFS leaves at the end , does PDC come in? The guy has won a championship and has got over 50 wins in just shy of 100 games. So he knows how to win games at a poor level. We have all seen how he has treated players and fans. The fans at Upton Park will put up with it as long as results go our way. Don’t forget, these fans put up with him asking to be subbed off because he wasn’t getting his own way. That one whole incident for me sullied a respect I had for one of the best players I have seen in their prime at the club. These fans forget that when it gets tough Paolo will walk away if its not good for Paolo. This man was the main man in a team that got relegated with possibly the most talented team we has since ‘86. His active rebellion, caused the like of Cole and Carrick to behave the same, and look how that ended up ! He is a manipulator, plain and simple.
That said he does have the traits a manager needs. A passion, a plan and yes the ability to manipulate.

But will players on top dollar put up with him in their faces, and slagging them off to the press at every opportunity. My opinion is they should, but reality is they won’t for long. These days it’s all in the players hands. Look at Diarra, not playing so he leaves.

David Gold has been priceless (in a good way) , retweeting both side of the comments he has been getting to ensure more column inches for WHU.

My opinion ? Sam goes at the close of this season irrespective. PDC comes in but only if he is thought to be mature enough to handle a top level position.Otherwise , and I stand by this, and have mentioned this before – Gus Poyet.