Happy New Year - at least according to Duxbury

Our beloved CEO Scott Duxbury has finally gone official and there is a Q&A published on the official site HERE.
He said what he is supposed to say in the present situation, but to be quite honest I was expecting an even vaguer statement.

This actually strengthens my belief thet there will be no weakening of the squad during the transfer window and as things lie, that's good enough for me.

I may be a bit naive since he has more or less lied to our faces previously, but now the credibility of Zola, Clarke and Nani is connected with these "promises" so it is a bit harder to do a 180 this time.

And for the sake of clarity I'll state the obvious: I don't think there are any untouchables in the squad. For the right money, go ahead and sell if an improvement is lined up.
I'd hate to see our young talents go, but since that won't happen we don't have to worry about that.

Is there a future after all?

Now how about this!
West Ham is linked with a BUY of a decent player!
OK, so the news was really that we have failed in the bid, but still. If the agent isn't just full of it, it tells us that we show some activity in the transfer market after all!

The quote from Sentana is: West Ham have failed in a bid to sign Inter midfielder Luis Jimenez, according to the player’s agent.
It could be interpreted in several ways, but I fail to find one that is worrying.

But he certainly sounds like a West Ham transfer since he has been out for most of the season so far...



This was a rumour that I was eagerly waiting for.
According to the Mirror (OK, I know...), Scott Duxbury (OK, I know...) has talked to key players in the squad assuring them there will be no "fire sale" this January.

Robert Green, presumably a T-ham target, said: "We've been assured as senior players that there won't be a fire sale.
That's something the "Duck" has to tell the players, whether he intends to sell or not, just to keep key players from demanding a transfer.
But this is also the reason for me trusting the rumour, if the Club indeed starts to sell regular starters, the rest of the most important players will start an exodus by themselves requesting and pursuing transfers, and that the club cannot have.

Zola has repeatedly threatened to quit if the Club do sell, what he considers, the important players and even though these comments have been somewhat softened lately, they are still firm enough for me to believe Zola thinks there will be no such "asset stripping".

We will se some "sellable" players go during the window, but I believe the backbone of the team will be intact, and the quality of the squad will be no worse come February 3:rd.


Tristan trusted!

It's interesting to watch the players after a goal.
I certainly don't mean the daft and ”rehearsed" celebrations, the ring kissing, the God-pointing (or Mum-pointing), the (sometimes so obviously) hypocritical badge kissing or that cradle nonsense, not to mention the corner pole dancing.

However, what happens right after a goal may tell us something about what is going on in a team.
Sometimes you see some big ego player running alone toward the corner post after a dead simple tap in, not even bothering to recognise the brilliant pass that made it possible, and sometimes you see someone really making sure that everybody recognises were the credit should go by ducking the other team mates to find the "brain" behind the goal.

After Tristans goal, a ball deflected off his legs, everybody jumped him almost as if he had pulled some great magic number. Tristan must really be appreciated by his team mates since everybody were genuinely happy for him. Cole, a player under a lot pf pressure lately, showed no grudge either, proving that he may be at least as big a person as he is a striker.

If a player of Tristans pedigree has made himself this popular even when he has not been played, who on the bench can be complaining!


More Happiness!

I'd like to thank Ricardo Fuller today! Not mainly for the three points. Because, it's not easy to play against a team with ten players who defend like an handball team, but Ricardo Fullers action today will at least ease the shame our player's Bowyer and Dyer (probably) still feel, when people are talking about fighting footballer's. From now on everyone will name Fuller instead.

• As I was unable to attend or see the game today (but the goals: and Tristan is NOT off-side(!), Cole did very well with his first and Collins should let his hair grow back, so he can start to think again! Awful miss at Faye's goal) I am unable to give the players any marks. So instead I'm just enjoying our six points this Christmas weekend. And all of a sudden we are tenth!
Can't see us fall down to the relegation zone again. (Except if BG is stupid enough to sell our players.) Good day's work!


HAPPY Boxing day!

So Happy aren't we? Both Bellamy and Cole scored and young Collison as well, we came from behind and we won!!! So important! For Zola, for our players, for us! Three points already this Christmas Weekend. Four goals, the first time since the Blackburn game in August. Can we hope for another threepointer on Sunday?? Well, for now... let's stay HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!

Green 8 - Some crucial saves. And as I said sometime earlier, he is so good at spot-kicks that when the opponent sees that Green is goin in the right direction they try to curl it a little bit further, with the result that they shoot ouside the post. Maybe that's not the reason every time, but most of'em.
Neill 5.5 - No, not his game. Had hard times to cope on his flank and even if the decision to award Crouch a spotkick when Neill hold him was harsh, or even wrong, it is of no surprise that Neill was involved. Taken of after 45, due to injury.
Davenport 7 - A bit unpolished at times, but had a good game overall.
Upson 8 - Played like the national team player he is. Solid as a bank safe. As opposed to some games lately he did not fell into Green's lap, but went up with "his" player far in front of the box, which for me seems better. At least if the other backs know what to do in those moments. 
Ilunga 6.5 - Kept his flank clean, lost the ball twice, but fought and won the ball back on both occasions. More offensive runs than lately. Which is good too.
Behrami 6 - Not as impressive today as lately, but did not seem to be affected by the injury from the Villa-game. Runs as usual, but lack's a bit of confidence when he actually has the ball. Sometimes when he dribbles I think LBM is on the field.
Parker 8 - Lovely defensive game, one of his better in our shirt. Fought really hard and won so many tackles and loose balls as well. No small-talk here. Bang! Still miss a bunch of offensive passes.
Noble 6 - A bit weak once more. A bit to often he runs in no-man's-land. Did not offer the back for help enough and did not make much of his corner's. A bit hard really, because I want him to be a force on our field, and I think he should be there. But need's to step up a bit. At least from this game.
Collison 7.5 - This young man has really grown in the last month's. Scored his second, set another one up, played with confidence and offered much both ways. Shot one in the woodwork. I'm really impressed once more!
Cole 7 - Had less long ball's from the defence to try to win, which improved his game over-all. Found Bellamy better and fought relly hard. Was able to hold the ball up. Missed some good passes as well, but what the heck... he scored again! Not his hardest, but at least he was there in the box. I think he had learnt from Zola in recent weeks.
Bellamy 9 - Well, he missed a sitter and a couple of passes, but with his pace and - not the least - his Energy! he surely must be one of the better players in the PL this round. Scored twice, made his team look good. And we can't sell him now can we? His best game for us ever. So far.

Faubert 6.5 - Came on at halftime. Solid game at the back, and I like his "patented" crosses. When they work. Nothing special, but a good game. I also like to see him playing with Behrami, they have found some common understanding.
Boa Morte 7 - Well, I give him a good mark, for the few minute's he played. IF someone doesn't have more time, they don't. But set up Bellamy's second with a wonderful pass, and helped the team over-all.
Tristan - Played just a few minute's but if he will play against Stoke, I do wonder if he can cope with the pace? Regarding these few minute's I doubt. Had a wonderful fire of a shot. So we all know that he can truble any goalkeeper.

My Christmas prayers !

If I dared to ask for something from this game it would be a win.
If I, against better judgement, asked for something more it would be that at least one our strikers found the back of the net.
If I were totally unrealistic I would have asked for a goal by Cole, to end his drought and prove his critics (myself included) wrong.
If I were totally outrageously pushing my luck I would secretly ask for a reasonably comfortable win.

But I know I should just hope for a ball in the woodwork from Bellamy and another decent performance.

Point or points?

A new game in a couple of hours, but few news - except for those tabloids who think we will sell every good player we have next week. 
SO what team will figure today? I guess we will start with what we have in manpower. And that is not Sears. He may be on as a substitute, but I hardly see him start against those fullbacks who more look like Belgian Blue cattle than nice little footballers. And Tristan? No, he will begin against Stoke, when Bellamy will rest. But not now - cause he will be too hard treated in a game like this. So yes, it's Bellamy and Cole up front. Whatever you may say...  Cole is the one who must fight hard against the tough and rough Porstmouth players and it's Bellamy who will have to run in eights round Campell.
And the rest of the team? I guess Davenport will continue even if Collins is fit, but after a couple of weeks out as a back... But even if they had some defects in last game, Zola won't leave hard fighting midfield players like Behrami or Parker out. They may be needed today.
Even if I would like to see much more pace and much more width - like players like Ethers/Lopez and Faubert can give us – and even if I like to see Collins start, I think these eleven men will show up:
Neill - Davenport - Upson - Illunga
Collison - Parker - Noble - Behrami
Cole - Bellamy

As Portmouth has dry gunpowder up front, but lacks much in midfield, not at least now when Diarra has been sold, I go for a narrow Hammers-win. We play quite well away from home and I think Noble will score his first in ages....


Santa Will Come!

A Merry Christmas to all Hammers out there!

Last night I dreamt that our defence let loads of goal's in against Stoke! And it was only deflections - all of' em. Well it doesn't matter, cause this night was before Christmas Eve, and we all know Father Christmas will come as our saviour. For that reason we will take six points out of our next two games. 

So: Happy Christmas to Hammers all around the world!

PS: It's Santa to the right, and Lee Bowyer on the left.



Unluck. Villa won on a goal they did not deserve. They were very, very lucky. West ham did one of the better games this term. At least at home. So  we were unlucky then? Partly. But it's not just unluck when you loose these kind of matches. Cole could have had three (or even four), Bellamy two and Davenport three. So 8-1 to us! 
If if not was if...

You do really have to score those vital goals, cause if you do not - you will end up losing this kind of games. We will probably celebrate Christmas on place 18. So Championship next? Can hardly see that with this kind of play we showed today. And one day Bellamy and Cole will start to score. Believe me. Or why should you?
They both played well until....  We were the better team, if we don't get to pissed today, we may get six points out of our next two games.

Green 8 - Really nice double-save in the dying minutes of the first half. But not much tested during the 90.
Neill 7.5 - Unlucky scoring the own goal. Quite impressive during the game and actually played like a Captain! (The picture shows when Neill was unlucky last time!)
Davenport 6 - Three good opportuniteis to score - two with his head. Not as good as against Chelsea, a bit fragile but OK.
Upson 7 - Did not have to do much in his own box, I do want more initiative. To dictate more in defensive and show a little more in the offensive. No mistakes
Ilunga 7.5 - Great game again. Takes big responsibilty, showed nice glimpses in offense, and played calm in defense. Nice little trikes as well. The pass to Bellamy was delicious.
Collison 7.5 - Great game again. Will soon be hard to place on the bench again. More of a offensive threat than any other of our midfielders today. Shows no respect... and that is a good start.
Parker 4.5 - As good as he was against Chelsea as bad was he today. He may have been ill? Cause he was taken of at halftime after a couple of lousy passes. The worst was right in the path of Ashley Young who free with Green should have scored.
Noble 6.5 - Fought hard and did not give Berry and the others on the guest's midfield any peace. The heart of our game today, but still disappear's during periods.
Behrami 6 - Also a fighter. And was better on the wing today than in the middle of the park where he stroll's a lot. 
Cole 6 - Three or four great chances today. But Friedel made to great saves, one was misplaced and one was the "ordinary Cole". But besides that he had a good game with his feet, ran well and found opportunites to do fins his teeammates or to thing's with the ball. Well, not scoring then....
Bellamy 6.5 - Two great chances today, some passes could have been better. But always a threat with his run's. Until the goalline then... I guess he will not be beset with his missed opportunites as Cole will be though. 

Mullins 5 - Came in at halftime. Right then we started to play the best 15-20 minute's of the game. So in a way he allowed the other three on the midfield more free reins. That's nice. But I was not impressed otherwise.
Bowyer 5 - Some energy maybe, but he came on when Behrami was hurt and I don't see him as a PL-player no more.
Tristan - Was just given 7 + 4 minutes. Too little too late.

We all know it by now: We have problems, we can't score. Bellamy have made two all season, Cole three with soooooo many opportunites. At least Zamora has only scored one! If you do not score you will never win games. Still. The game against Tottenham was a failure. But otherwise we play much more like a team in these last games. Zola started too optimistic, tunred back to a more careful way, but from there we seems to play a bit more offensive football again. And we play quite well. Collison and Noble seems to be important to that kind of game. I really think we can and will conquer the demon's on Boxing day. 

With or without Cole and Bellamy. Tristan or Sears.

Don't mess around with the starting XI

Last game didn't just show us a team that gave us their all, but also had some skills, and that against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge!
I think Collison and Noble put on admirable performances and good enough against Chelsea should be good enough against Villa.

I'm ever so pleased that all the reports from the reserve game have said that Lopez had a brilliant game. It's understandable that one hopes that the next player will be the Messiah, and I'm sure Lopez will get opportunities to shine for the first XI but I think it's a little bit too much to hope that a good run out in the reserves equals a starting position today. Actually I hope that Zola sticks with the same midfield that started the game last week and connected quite well I think.

This season we've seen a lot of changes in the team. Without having looked, I doubt that we have started with the same team two times in a row and many of our players have been asked to play in several positions.

One of the things that is typical of many successful teams is consistency, the ability to start the same players many games in a row. To act as a team it surely helps to know what the people around you are doing, and also what the players around you expects of you.

So don't throw in Lopez just yet, give Behrami, Noble, Parker and Collison another game together, they can only gain from experience.


Ambani to take over?

The World's 6th richest man, the Indian Anil Ambani has according to reports been seen at Heathrow. Well, I guess he is a common guest to the biggest airports around the globe. But still, there is now renewed rumours that he came to meet our East End boys. And that he will use some of his money to purchase West Ham. The 49-year old telecom-capitalist has earlier said that he was interested to buy Tottenham. But as West Ham now is for sale, and of course has a much bigger potential that Scum ever will, there may be something to this story. I guess if this do have any substance, Zola do not have to worry any longer who to sell and buy. Abanis money will make it possible to be a top club. If the Indian wants to. And we (!?). But I'm sure I've heard those word's of promise before. Being a top club... At least I don't think Eggert ever made it to the cover of Time.

It's not the first time he has been connected with a takeover of West Ham, as you can see here.

The future's so bright...

Jack Collison signes a new 5 year deal!

A long term deal with one of the most promising young footballers in our books, that's not a christmas present for Jack, as it's called on the official site, it's one for the fans.

It's third on my list after a new owner and a striker that actually can score.


One for the future - Josh Payne, update

Josh will complete his three-month loan stay with Cheltenham Town after this weekend's home match against Walsall and has up till now made 10 starts and two sub showings.
He scored on his debut in the 2-2 draw with Stockport County and is said to have played particularly well in the 1-0 home defeat by Leeds United.

Josh is described as an "energetic player who has good close control and an eye for goal". Fellow midfielder Ian Westlake rates Josh highly, comparing his style of play to Gus Poyet, even if he may have to work a bit on his skills to make it all the way.

Westlake, an experienced player, in Cheltenham on loan from Leeds, also says "He can go on to be a really good player, he just needs to know when you use magic and when to give it simple."

Josh joined West Ham from Portsmouth in 2006/7 and captains the under 18's when at home.
He broke into the reserves in september impressing Martin Allen at Cheltenham in a game against Chelsea.

Allen says about Josh "He's a lovely lad but more importantly, I know he's a good player."
Welcome home Josh!


The sale of West Ham has begun!

According to the Icelandic news site Newsfrettir the sale of West Ham is formally on!

In a court hearing it was announced that Hansa ehf, the company through which Björgolfur Guðmundsson owns West Ham, was surprisingly granted a prolongation of the moratorium (background HERE).
This is bad news for the ones wanting a forced and quick sale of the Club since it, as far as I understand, gives BG until March before he formally can be forced to sell.

But interestingly it was stated that "...the sale process of the most valued property of Hansa, WH Holding ltd. that owns the football company West Ham united has now begun."

As the faithful reader knows, this is in line with what we have been saying at Bubbleview, but it has been a much slower process than I anticipated that I some days almost lost hope.

At the very least, this is one step closer to the club finally being sold. However, even if I firmly believe that it does not make any sense to either buy or sell the club after the transfer window, I cannot help but to worry about the fact that the moratorium is past Feb. 2nd.
I don't feel totally at ease quite yet.

The information from the court hearing has forced BG to send out his spokesperson - Asgeir Fridgeirsson – to give us his take on the situation.
Fridgeirsson says that BG is looking at offers (what else is new…) and he doesn’t miss the opportunity to tell us that there is a lot of interest in the Club.
He also said that "We are reviewing the asset, looking at what might be the value of the club''.
But fortunately, he doesn’t decide on the value of the Club. The value will be what is agreed upon between him and a buyer.
And I don’t think it’s all aces in BG's hand.

Fridgeirsson also tries “We don’t have to sell…” but I think that depends on what time frame you are talking about.
Come March (if the Court will not grant another extention of the moratorium) BG will actually have to sell, or at least give up his control of Hansa ehf and West Ham holding.

Ince sacked

Former West Ham midfielder Paul Ince has to find a new club. Again. He was this Tuesday sacked as manager from Blackburn after just three wins in 17 games. And not any three-pointers since September 27th. At this moment Blackburn is five points beyond West Ham. I don't mind if they continue their bad run...

Long contracts - a bad thing?

Cole seems to be my theme of late, but this post is not about him really...

The topic of this post is a wide open door, but it has been spotted closed recently, so I figure I could use some cyberspace to violently try to kick it open.

It's not exactly a hot topic but the 5 year deal we handed Cole a few weeks ago can be used as an example, as it is in this context long term deals has been discussed lately.

Cole is a player I think is below starting XI quality, his first touch has improved but is still below par, his dribbling is non existent, his in the box abilities are questionable and he doesn't score on a regular basis but...

Signing Cole, as well as most other players, on a long term, is good business.

This gives us some much needed security, not constantly finding ourselves in a "blackmail" position when players (or at least their agent) demand a pay rise or threatens to quit since the contract runs out in less than a year. But even in a not so "blackmaily" situation, Who is in the best spot to renegotiate his contract, a player with 4 years or one with 2 years left on his contract?
The contract, nowadays, is more like options really. By having long term deals we are giving our selves some control over the player situation. We are still, most of the time, able to sell the player if finding him surplus to requirements, not risking him going on a Bosman. It's not like everyone in the PL stays the duration of his contract, is it?

We have to many under par first team players at the club at the moment, we pay their rather high salaries every week, and we are unable to find buyers for them. This could be an argument for shorter deals but the wage bill problem we find ourselves in at the moment has it's roots in the desperate situation 2 years ago. With the spending happy Eggert Magnússon at charge of the wallet we did some lousy business, but this shouldn't be taken as a sign that most long contracts are evil.

Obviously there are players that shouldn't be handed long contracts. Players past their best or known injury prone ones can be exceptions but as a rule handing a decent player a long term contact should be applauded.

Next topic: Signing players on long term deals if the PL bubble bursts can be a catastrophe...


Coleoscopy - Chelsea away edition

Since the discussion about Coles pros and cons is quite vivid and stuff is said about him that I cannot really agree on, I have set out to get some numbers on his performance.
These numbers obviously also reflects the way he is used, and I am more than aware that these kinds of summaries do not give us the complete picture.
I have collected numbers from his last 3 games and will present them shortly but I will post this now as a post game analysis.
Discuss if you wish, disregard if you want. Variables described below.

Headers won 8, lost 4

Head to teammate 3

Feet won 10 lost 9

Attacking with feet 5 (out of the 10 won)

Shots on or off 3 (including that ball that hit him just in front of the goal)

He wasn't used as much as a long ball receiver today, maybe because of the increased creativity on the midfield, so he headed the ball less than in previous games. His success rate, 3 out of 12,(meaning the amount of headers that turns into something positive) is approximately his average.
Today he surprised me by not losing the ball as soon as he had it at his feet, and tried to attack with it more than usual. Or is that my misconception of him...

Headers - hardly needs explanation. "won indicates all plays with his head, "lost means that somebody beat him in a duel.

Head on - headers that are directed to team mates or areas where a teammate should have been (I have given Cole the benefit of the doubt)

Feet - if he used his feet to deliver the ball to a teammate or a shot it's a "won", if he lost the ball to the opponents it's a "lost"

Attacking feet - if he played an attacking ball (Cole gets benefit of the doubt)

(Disclaimer - obviously I have missed one or two, nothing substantial I'm sure)

That's more like it!

Great point, and a very decent game!

This was far from the panic stricken display at Liverpool. Even though we cannot claim that we controlled the game, we controlled the ball once in a while and the passing was so much better. One shouldn't be that surprised maybe, since Zola gave Parker some creative help by fielding Collison and Noble instead of Mullins and Faubert.
Prince H has given you a nice match report so I'll confine myself to comment on the "newcomers".

Hats off to Zola for having the guts to play Collison, and Collison repaid the faith by having a great game. His ability with the ball and total lack of respect for these high profile players is admirable.

Davenport also put on a great show! Even though I still want Collins in the team it's really impressive that Davenport can do his part in the defence. The "chemistry" between him and Upson may not quite have been there but that is not to be expected. They were playing Anelka, JC and Drogba!

Noble seem to have benefited from the times on the sidelines. This was one of his better performances this season. When he is at his best he is quite a nice combination of hard work and flare. Build on this son!

With the exception of Collins instead of Davenport, this will be the starting XI we'll see for quite a few games. But we should really try Sears in stead of Cole.


The Energy was back! A great point taken!

I was not the only one who thought that Chelsea would win quite comfortably. Not after West hams act of apathetic display and lack of any energy against Tottenham. But it's like that. West Ham surprises you when you least expect it. 
I wouldn't say Green or our back four was put on the amount of pressure I would have expected for 85 minutes of the game! Why? Because today we had a terrific midfield! And also two strong men up front who also contributed to our terrific defensive play. After Tottenham I wondered if a West Ham midfield really excisted at all, at least they were absymal, now I guess I' have to eat my West Ham underwear for those words. 1-1 at Stamford Bridge! Not bad, not bad at all!! 

Robert Green 7 - Three class saves, one small blunder when Parker saved on the line. But I expected him to have to work harder for the point.
Lucas Neill 6 - Not threatened. Some stupid moves which could have cost us, but once again really OK.
Calum Davenport 7.5 - It was hard to see that it wasn't Collins but Davenport who played today. Which is a good mark. Talked a lot and seemed to take great responsibility. When Chelsaea scored he had to take just one step from Anelka. And that was enough for the attacker. But it's hard to blame Davenport for that, someone had to try to get to Lampard who also made a terrific flick with the ball.
Upson 7.5 - Good performance, not less not more.
Ilunga 7.5 - Had a lot to do with Bosingwa put rarely lost a ball all night, and could even put some pressure going forward sometimes. Against Chelsea! Not bad. Blocked Joe Cole once who was just about to score. 
Jack Collison 7.5 - I really wanted to see him in the field today and I did. And he didn't fail. On the opposite he played against Chelseas as he hadn't done anything else all his life. Good moves, terrific little dribbles as well, and good defensive work. 
Mark Noble 6 - Important contribution. But after his break from football he has some work to do - still - he seemed dogtired after 55 minutes. But of course after a lot of running.
Scott Parker 8.5 - As bad as I saw Parker on Upton Park last Monday as good was he today. Our man of the match!! Lovely! (it seems he likes to play the defensive part in the centre of midfield against really hard teams better, than anything else.)
Valon Behrami 8. This man is in good shape! Can someone tell me how many miles he ran today? Pur a lot of pressure on the Chelsea players. Lovely game from him!
Carlton Cole 6 - Yes, he could and should have been the man who gave us three points today. But two lousy finishes stopped him from that. Still he had a great working rate today and fought tremendously hard. He even made some good moves and was (many more times than usual) able to hold the ball up. Much better today than last displays.
Bellamy 7 - Finally! A goal! Not as visible as against Tottscum, but the goal was well taken and his speed and fighting spirit put a lot of pressure on Alex and the others. Could have been given a penalty if it had been someone else but him.

Subs. Mullins (for Noble), LBM (for Collison) and Di Michele (for Bellamy) played all very short.

The squad will not be worse in February!

The latest wave of posts and articles on the theme " Zola threatens to quit Hammers if players are sold" seems to have been started by the Mail this time around. It is a catchy theme and gives people, especially the not so informed, the feeling that something has happened (=readers/clicks).

Fortunately nothing has happened, there is no new signal from the board and it still doesn't make any sense to sell players that will be needed for staying up.

BG, more than anybody, needs this club to stay up or at least or at least look like it has a good chance of staying up.
We seem to agree that BG is not selling the club at the moment because he is hanging on for a better bid than the one (ones) that he has seen so far.
If that is the case, do you think that he will get more or less for the club if key players are sold?

A new owner wants to buy a PL club, not a championship club, so they realize that they need to invest in the club, just as BG and Eggs did 2 years ago. This makes it likely that the squad will be as good or even better after the transfer window than before it opens.

The only reason for a sale of players that we consider important to the team is that Zola makes another evaluation.
For example, he may be inclined to bring in a prolific striker and sell one of our midfielders.
I may not necessarily agree with his judgement, but that's another post.

Will the energy be back today?

Noone expects West Ham to come home with anything from their visit to Stamford bridge today. After three games with points we were once more desillusioned against Tottscum, a game which ment so much for many of us. Not mainly becuase we lost on Boleyn once more, not that we did it against a pretty blunt neighbours but the way we did it. Where were the aggression when most wanted, most needed? The Energy?

Expect things to change today, we are playin our manager's old team! But expect us to loose. We can hardly score and our midfield is so inferior to Chelsea's that we have to hope for another astonishing defensive display. Upson want to continue his good spell against Terry on the other side. So do Collins. 
 I will hardly see us loose big either. I can't actually see their players do more than just take the three points. Cause they don't want to humilate Zola or Clarke. Old heroes never die.

Three points for Chelsea would be happy days for them as Pool, Arsenal and ManU all were unable to win yesterday.

I hope we'll start with Collison but guess we will begin with Mullins. It would be nice to see Tristan have a go, but I guess we will continue with Cole. Sears will probably have a place on the bench. The only change I guess we will really will see in our starting-11 is to have Behrami back on the right and LBM on the left midfield. And I guess we will show much more heart!

Losing today will see us drop even further down, 'cause Newcastle will probably take some points from Portsmouth. But don't worry too much, we will surprise Aston Villa! We will even win! Then. 


Hey Mister - I can score!

The reserve game played Thursday was staged to give our long term absentees Dyer and Spector some long awaited action.
I can't help nourishing a naive hope that the return of Dyer will be the rebirth of the West Ham midfield.

However, the most important thing coming out of that game can very well be the return of Sears to the starting lineup.
Maybe not for the Chelsea game, I can't see Zola putting Cole on the bench for this one, but scoring two goals in front of the manager, when the focus was supposed to be on someone else, cannot be bad.
We are desperate for a player that has scored outside practice, even though they played an inexperienced American XI.
Sears and Bellamy had some pretty good things going on during Coles 3 match ban, and they deserve another shot at it.

Another positive is that Collison seems also to have had a good game, and it could be enough to force his way back into the team, again I think Zola will settle for Hayden's defensive style again against Chelsea, despite his shortcomings (but he had a decent first half against T-ham).

That reserve game can have been what was needed to persuade the manager that Sears and Collison are more than our future!

A good understanding?

"We´ve got a good understanding together/.../"

At least that´s what Carlton Cole thinks about his partnership up front with fellow striker Craig Bellamy. His feeling is totally contradicting what I´ve seen when I watched them play together this season. Their understanding is nowhere to be seen!

He continues to talk about the partnership and how to develop it "Once we´ve worked on our relationship then I think we can enjoy success if we start getting more chances. /.../"

If my memory doesn´t fail me I´ve read these kind of statements before from CC. It was last year from Christmas and onwards when he and Dean Ashton played together quite a lot and they didn´t seem to be able to connect.

Fair enough that he wants to work on it but how long is it supposed to take to be able to understand each other? How hard and difficult could it be? And what have they actually been doing on the Chadwell Heath before? Answers on a postcard...

It makes me wonder...


The Captain leads by example

The Times claims that our captain, Lucas Neill is demanding improved terms to extend his stay with us, a stay that according to the running contract ends this summer.
Neill, one of the highest if not the highest earner at the club at a claimed £70000 a week, pushes his luck or at least pushes his way out of the team.

We all know that there is no chance that the current board will agree to this.
Their aim, for the last year, has been to reduce the wage bills and the board will not let Lucas wreck that project.
Obviously Neill knows this and since he will not be offered anything close to his current salary anywhere else, the only explanation must be that he is forcing his way out of the club, he plainly wants out.
To get something out of this the club will have to let him go this January, if a decent offer is tabled.

As a true captain he is abandoning the ship first...

Please tell me Times got it wrong, but it seems like the Times have a decent record of getting these board related things right.

One in, one out?

The rumours today says that Bellamy is up for sale for £6m and that Giampaolo Pazzini wants to come to the club.

Giampaolo Pazzini is described as a powerful striker (and for once not very short) and is currently warming the bench at Fiorentina, firmly kept there by fellow strikers Mutu and Gilardino.
Issuing a "come and get me plea", as it is described, is never a good indication of a transfer, but Zola knows him from the Italian U-21 and will be a good judge of his value for us.

Speaking of values, the price tag mentioned (£5-10M) is obviously too stiff for us at the moment but a loan deal may work for all parties?

I usually have an opinion on the credibility of transfer rumours but not the Bellamy one.
Craig Bellamy is one of the few that can generate some money and (maybe) not completely vital for the team.
I'd hate to see Bellamy go, he is worth a shot with a decent striking partner!

EDIT: 11 Dec, Nani denies any interest in the player saying "The truth is that Pazzini does not interest us, he is absolutely a player that does not enter our plans."
A statement strong enough for even me to believe.


A blow in the right direction?

According to the Icelandic info-site newsfrettir Björgolfur Guðmundsson is finally losing control over the sale of West Ham.

A brief brush up:
Hansa holdings ehf, the company through which BG owns West Ham, is under the threat of liquidation and as a result of that BG in November asked for Hansa to be put in a one month "moratorium".
This means that the legal system gives the company some time to sort out its business before the company that wants their money from Hansa can force Hansa to sell its assets to come up with the money it owes.
The moratorium expired yesterday and BG of course tried to renew the moratorium to give him even more time "on the ball".

And here is the real news: MP bank, as I understand it one of the claim owners, objects to a renewal of the moratorium, wanting to get what Hansa owes them. This would mean that BG loses the control over Hansa and Hansa will request bankruptcy, go into liquidation.

Now a judge of the district court of Reykjavik have 7 days to rule in this matter, but a similar request to extend a moratorium was turned down when BG's other holding company - Samson - went through the same process.

The odds are therefore decent that BG will lose control over Hansa, meaning he will no longer be deciding what will happen with the West Ham shares that Hansa owns.

Does this mean the claim owners want as much money as possible and are willing to wait, or some money as soon as possible?
As BG, the administrators of the bankruptcy will weigh pros and cons of a deal, trying to get as good a deal as possible. But since at least one claim owner is not willing to give BG more time to sort it out, one can speculate that these claim owners are more inclined to cash in as soon as possible. They may well be in a desperate situation themselves.

My bet is that if the application for extension of the moratorium fails, we will be sold as soon as any even close to decent bid comes along.

I can't wait!

Not very creative.

The first frustration came to me even before the game had started.  After a good spell on The Boleyn (the pub) we were to see Mullins on the teamsheet. Not that I dislike Mullins, but he should not be a part of our first elven at home against a team that we want to conquer. It seemed that it was only the first sign of "tooo careful".
The other day I saw QPR win against the Wolves and the CC-teams played with real intense. With few slow moments. The first half between Claret & Blue and Tootscum was instead more of 22 zombies not wanting to die - or at least mot to loose the game. Some decent moves but more of a slowfox than inspiring breakdance. After the break Tottscum begun to play better,  foremost because of individual skill by people like Modric and King. The two players that were doubtful to start. But did. Lucky us!
But we did not produce any attacking flair at all, not even after Tottscum scored. Parker had the ball, but always, always played back to the backfour. Mullins and Faubert missed absolutley everything. 
Can't understand why, but sometimes we did not turn up as a team and individually Tottscum were much better. Sad to say. Instead of a win that would have seen us up to 9th we now will have a dark December, just three points clear of the bottom three. And Chelsea at Stamford next...
We have scored four times in our last 10! Yesterday a pale Cole did not have a shot on goal (but two headers, othe last of them should really have been awarded with a penalty!) and all Bellamy's flew wide. Di Michele could have been a saviour but missed with just minute to go (Tottscums O'Hara scored their second less than a minute later). So our attack is a huge problem. But once more: The midfield lacks every creative spark. I'd rather play Collison from now on, or buy a player like Appiah. We do REALLY need someone who can fight in the middle of the park! And feed our attackers.

Green 7 - Decent game.
Neill 6 - Decent game. Responsible for some stupid free-kicks.
Collins 7 - Our best man on the field. Fought hard as usual. Don't know why he and Upson backed to to Greens lap when King - totally unattacked - was able to score the first though. Looked a bit like Konchesky today, so please get your hair back!
Upson 6 - No big mistakes (well, the fist goal was a mistake from at least one of our CB's)
Illunga 5 - May actually have been affected by the (stupid) english media storm. Had lapses of concentration and made his least impressive game so far. 
Faubert 3 - The worst performance I've seen by a West ham player this year. 
Mullins 4 - Can't pass a ball forward. Should not start in these games.
Parker 5,5 - Had no affect on the game. He ought to!
Behrami 6,5 - Runs like the Duracell rabbit and stops many attacking options for the opponents. So it's a player we like, but didn't offer much in attack.
Cole 4 - Bad game. As usual much left on his own, but still... King and Woodgate did not have to fight hard to hold him at bay today.
Bellamy 5 - Runs hard, and is sooo fast. But again to what use? Maybe he should play his teammates sometimes?? Three bad shots.

Noble 4,5 - (on 58') Lacked everything. Needs clearly a couple of games to be back to his potential. Would have prefered Collison this time.
Di Michele 3,5 - (on 73') If he had scored in the dying minute everything had been sooo different. 
Tristan  - (on 83') His debut for us. Very Welcome!!! Hopefully you can make the/some difference! 

To our defence we can say that 1-1 was really, really close, and if so, we may even have been a bit more positive with how we played. So it's a thin line..... 
But it was no happy night at Upton Park. It's actually easier to take a loss, if we plays well. And if the fan's got to choose a special game where we really DO need to play well - most of us would say Tottenham. But West Ham did not! So now: Beware Chelsea!


I need to share a comment I received on my last post.
Ironfist wrote:
Why dont you just admit you havent got a clue what your talking about, It will still take time for the team to get used to Zola'a Tactics, did you really expect it all to change over night.You should really support the Spuds as you seem to think nobody is yup to your standard.Idiot!!

I doubt that everyone dissatisfied with our game last night is a Spurs fan, but that's maybe not the major issue here. I even doubt that Zolas tactics (regular 442) is the problem, especially when it looked pretty decent in the first half.

Last night I think we saw a team that totally lack confidence and revert to panic football when they feel they are losing the game. First half was reassuring in my view, but then the problems set in.

We fall back into old sins, playing chance-ball, giving the ball away with rushed passes to players already covered. Forcing us to immediately deal with the next attack from T-ham, and the next and the next. Building their confidence and deflating ours.

It is important to use the speed of Bellamy, and try to move the ball up swiftly but I think it's equally important to let the team be confident with the ball, getting themselves into positions and not being forced to defend in panic with a lot of players out of position. Choose the times to play on the brake, but don't do it all the time.
I must confess to thinking the midfield is not quite what I was hoping for and that we do lack a "man in charge" and some tecnical quality on the ball as well as in the passes.

However, I feel we don't give the players an opportunity to show what they can do when they are forced to waste so much mental and physical energy on an unstructured game.
It must be better to fix the hole in the boat than to ask the crew to man the bilges.


I am in denial!

After a first half where we for once had some possession and used the entire pitch, we decided to go back to our hailed "team effort" football as was seen at Anfield last week.
Basically the theory behind that seems to be to give the initiative to the other team and show off our present trade mark lack of a passing game and returning the ball as soon as we recover it.

After 30 minutes of not having the ball in the second half Zola decides on Di Michele!
We're not lacking a striker (oh well actually we are, but that's not relevant tonight) we are lacking people that are able to build an attack and feed the strikers (and then we probably need a striker).

If Di Michele had scored instead of hitting the only thing between him and the goal line, Zola would have looked like a genius but to me it was a lousy call. Get Collison in and Mullins out when there were still some time on the clock.

A peek through the door

They are setting up a behind closed doors friendly this week for Kieron Dyer. Since our midfield, at the moment, plays with little attacking creativity it's a mouthwatering thought to have Dyer back in the team.

After being sidelined for over a year and following the stress fracture backlash he got this summer, he is obviously a bit short off his best. But that may still get him close to a first team comeback since the competition comes in the form of Bowyer, Mullins and Collison.

Bowyer has not impressed me in his latest games, he works hard but in some strange way it seems like he needs the team to have a good game for him to have one. Not a player to have a powerful impact on the game at the moment. Bowyer is my bet to be leaving in January.

Mullins is known as the underrated defensive midfielder. People have been saying this for as long as I can remember and I am still afraid I underrate him since I don't realy rate him that high, no matter how hard I try. I still can't get over that Pardew picked him before Masherano. Pretty good 78 minute sub when we need to buckle up, but not a starter unless in a game where we hope for a nil nil draw (and even then I think I prefer possession).

Collison Is the future, but not quite the present. He is brilliant for his age, but needs to be allowed to play second fiddle for some time yet. Also Parker needs someone alongside him that can take more of the weight of his shoulders than Collison can - yet.

How I wish I could be at that reserve friendly to see how far off Dyer is!

(Btw, why behind closed doors? What is the secret to be kept? That Dyer is nowhere near fit? And why should that be a secret, are they trying to sell him? Or is someone else there we shouldn't be aware of? Some Italian youngster?)


One for the future - James Tomkins

One for the future is a bit misleading for this 19 year old footballer.
He certainly is our future, but the tall (6'3'',190) centre half broke into the West Ham first team already last season.
Admittedly partly because of the less than optimal injury situation last spring, he has so far made six appearances for the club. And bar some rookie mistakes he didn't look out of his depth in those games. I liked the way he was totally unfazed by the situation and his obvious friendship with the ball.
Tomka, as his team mates call him, is a product of our academy having been in the club since the age of 8!
Last season he signed a new long-term contract that keeps him in the club until 2011.
The U19 international starter is now on a 5 week loan deal with Derby, starting Nov 27.
Embracing the opportunity to get hardened in a tough league, he comments the stay with Derby "...I can then come back to West Ham and stake my claim for a place". Well said!

Loaned to be honed

James_Tomkins - Derby
The 5 week loan at Derby, starting Nov 25 will do him good since splendid games from Collins and Upson keeps him out of the starting XI.

Josh_Payne - Cheltenham

Junior Stanislas - Southend utd
Loaned 6 weeks starting Nov 27

Jordan_Spence - Leyton Orient
An 8 game loan stint starting Nov 25.

Kyel Reid - Blackpool
Got off on the right foot for the "Seasiders" by setting up the winning goal in his debut!

Nigel Qusahie - Birmingham City

Jimmy Walker - Colchester utd

Just a list at present, durations and progress coming up, will be updated.


Are we square?

Why on earth do the new shirt have a big blue box/square on the chest, instead of just the white letters?? Either becuase we try to print on the old XL-shirts or maybe becuase we want to win the important competition "The ugliest shirt in PL"?? 
I started to follow West Ham as an 8-year-old, not only but partly because of the teams beautiful shirts. But that was decades ago. I was very disappointed with the ugly XL - ones. But thought that we couldn't top them when it came to "misdesigned" shirts. Well, I was wrong.

See why Noble doesn't look happy here

Funny translations! - not!

Sometimes it's harder for a foreign footballer to deal with English journalists that are desperate for readers and sensations, than playin in the PL.

The latest example has hit our Yo-Yo. The Congolese only french speaking defender did an interview with a french web-magazine. In the interview he spoke very well of the club, Zola, the fans and the atmosphere in the club.  And the huge will to win, always, even against Liverpool. When he was asked why he didn't hesitate to join a "club moyen" (the french journo was the one the insulted Hammers by sayin it was a surprise that Faubert (!) did go to "such a club", and asked if it was a stepping stone for Illunga) Illunga answered "West Ham est un club de "seconde zone", sans être péjoratif" to continue to praise Hammers. So what he actually says is that we can't fool ourself, we are not a top four club. (and we should not!). Without being péjorative.  But in the English press (Setana, followed by a lot of other papers and websites) that "second zone" has been translated to "second rate". That is something else, that can bee seen as an insult. But that was not what he said. Of course it is obvious what Setana tries to do. The huge problem that it hits Illunga badly. If our fans are not aware of what have happened he can even be a new goal for boo-boys. And as a he don't have a contract, leave us for someone else. (Sign him now!) 

He does not see West Ham as a stepping stone either (which also has been quoted in English media). On the opposite he says: "I do really hope that I can stay at this club where I've become very happy". ("J'espère vraiment que je vas rester dans ce club car j'y suis très heureux")

• You can read the whole interview in french here

• You can read Illungas own blog -where he now comments the english (mis)translation of his interview as well. Read here!

Having relatives and friends in Congo, one of the most waraffected countries in the world right now, is of course a much larger problem for Illunga. Still. This is another example of a more and more obvious truth. As an English footballer you should avoid to speak to the press! As a new foreigner you shold beware even more! And as a fan and as a journalist myself, I do say it honestly but with a tear in my eye...


For once I'm not worried

The story that has been reappearing since more or less the day after the appointment of Zola has now reared its ugly head again.
I'm talking about "West Ham need to sell during the January transfer window" and clones thereof.

It didn’t take that many days on the job until Zola realized that there would be no transfer funds to his disposal. He acted as most new managers do and said what the owner wanted him to – “The squad is too big and it would be better if it could be trimmed”. Making a case for quality over quantity. That’s when it took off, “Zola will have to sell” was the headlines two months ago, and we can observe that it unfortunately still is.
We can also establish that there is nothing new in this latest version of the story, it’s still “West Ham needs money so they will off load players” + speculations on who will leave.

Zola has repeatedly stated that he is not obligated to sell any players that he want to keep. He has said this so many times that he has invested a fair amount of his credibility in this statement. So much in fact that I think he believes it to be true. And I choose to believe he is right, mainly because it makes no sense to sell players that are needed to keep us up.

The latest repackaging of this story uses Ashton as eye-catcher. The Mirror seems to be in the center of the rings on the water this time around. Their take is that Ashton will leave together with Quashie, Bowyer, LBM, Davenport, Gabbidon and Spector.

Apart from the fact that there is nothing new in this story, I dare them to come up with buyers for these players at the moment. If there are any buyers out there the headline would in my view be “West Ham happy to cash in on the surplus”. Take Gabbidon for an example, who would like to buy a player that has been out for that long and with no return date set ?Now, Dean Ashton may not be surplus to requirements, especially with the present striker situation, but to find a buyer for him today, that is willing to offer him anything close to his present pay and also gamble on his abilities and fitness, seems like an impossible task.
Should we worry that these players will leave in January? – with the possible exception of one or at best two of these, unfortunately not.


SBOBET - you bet!

Finally a shirt sponsor!

SBOBET, an asian on-line betting site finally struck a deal with us, rumoured to be worth 2.5 million pounds and lasting until the end of the 2009/2010 season.

I grew attached to the number plates but they also felt like a constant reminder of our economic state - a plate of shame...

SBOBET were implicated in some matchfixing business but were, as I under stand it, only the tool of the match fixers.
A really pleasant surprise was the possibility for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research to figure on the kits of the academy sides and junior replica shirts. I wish I could fit into those sizes!

NB the pic (photoshoped) is courtesy of Hammer9 at KUMB and is his guess what the shirt may look like.

Youngsters out of the Cup

The U-18 lose in the first round for the second year in a row when the princes of Nottingham grabbed the victory in the FA Youth Cup yesterday.
We are now out of that cup too, as conceding 3 goals and bagging one (Ahmed Abdulla 77') usually have that effect in a cup.

The team is reported to have had the initiative for much of the game without being able to convert it into anything - sounds a bit like the first team a couple of games ago.

West Ham: Street, Modelski, Brown, Brookes (McNaughton 81), Fry. Kearns (Abdulla 62), Okus (Grasser 71), Lee, Montano, Edgar, Bajner. Subs: Loveday, Hall.

How shall I put this...
I don't want anybody to think that I am, in any way, blaming any individual youth players, and it's just one game, but I think this at least is not contradictory to my thesis that our Academy at the moment is not a great force in English youth football.

Prevous post on this topic HERE


A pitch is about 70–80 yds wide!

I have to say it again, why don’t we use the entire width of the pitch?

Last night we saw three types of passes from West Ham players. One was the futile long ball towards Cole with little precision, and when it actually found its target (12 times) he immediately lost it (10 times). The second kind of pass is the one I talked about after the Sunderland game – a short pass to an already marked player, resulting in the immediate loss of possession. The third was the backward pass, sometimes combined with the features of pass number two…
In sharp contrast was the ability of the Liverpool team to deliver long passes with precision, but more importantly they knew how to find an unmarked player with a simple pass, constantly changing sides to pull apart the West Ham defense.

To find an unmarked player with a pass unfortunately demands an unmarked player, not easy to find last night, and that takes at least some (albeit not much) of the blame off Parker.
Both Faubert and Behrami were found in central positions for much of the game, not offering the possibility of the cross or the changing of side during the buildup (although one can argue that a long pass to Faubert would be a waste of effort).
Behrami works his socks off but I find his work paying off mainly when he chases the ball. Mullins will not be discussed in this context.

When an attack was launched on one side the ball was always going to be lost on that side.
We look like a team that practices on a 5-a- side pitch to improve the first touch but then fails to adapt to the bigger field during the game.

Granted, the Liverpool midfield were also working hard to cut off our passing opportunities, but we didn’t make it very difficult for them to do so.

Prince H’s post was spot on in my opinion, maybe Bellamy, in my humble view, showed what he can do even if the game was not in his favor. I don’t primarily mean his dead ball abilities, rather his work rate and his ability to find a way to charge at the goal over and over and over again – tirelessly.

Tip for next weeks training: Crosses!


Another draw for Collins! (and the others..)

Harald sent me a text on the signal: Peace of cake! We can also see that it takes some hours to bake that cake. Steve Clarke has built one now. With help from James Collins, Matthew Upson and Yo-Yo. But after the good result, 0-0 against the PL-leaders on Anfield we can also see how much we lack a strong influence in the middle of the park. 
I would say: Give Appiah a contract tonight!!! 
It was not a beautiful game from our side, and we had some help from Pool - without Torres - and their misdirected shooting. 
Still we can be proud to have taken four points from our two latest games, both away. 
During the first 15 minutes we played some promising ball while Liverpool thought they were in Italy or Turkey and started to shout at the judge at every opportunity. Stupid. But after that... it was a long day's journey into night... West Ham, most on their backheels, just created two good chances in the whole game. The first a Bellamy shot from 25 yards that struck the inside of the post but went out (with no chance for Reina) and the second a strong header from Cole just over the crossbar. Even if Liverpool (67 percent of the possession!) created some good chances - and it's hard to understand how Green could save the shot from Benayoun who couldn't believe his eyes either - the were not that many open opportunities for Gerrard's team either.

Green 8 - More than excellent save on Benayouns shot, two other important saves. Three games without letting'any in. Goood.
Neill 7 - Well, the Liverpool guys can do slalom skiing on their left, still Neill made some good stuff tonight too.
James Collins 8 - Hardly no mistakes at all (well maybe one when he sold himself a bit easy when he took a step up from the box), very important for us!
Matthew Upson 7.5 - Great game as well. Played quite beautiful defending, but lost two important headers (Hyppia and Kuyt respectively).
Yo-Yo Illunga 7 - Oh I like this man. Few mistakes, good defending and again his Hammers companeros seemed to have him as the main man to take us from defensive play to attack. Gave away two freekicks when Liverpool again and again tried to hit his arms. It looked like they really did it with purpose and the Benayoun flick was awful. Luckily the former Hammer had nothing.
Julien Faubert 5 - Bad game. Bad crosses, bad passes, bad runs - mostly. Became better during the game when he was given the ball. Showed some defensive skills in every second challenge.  Must grow sooner than later now if he wants to show his potential. Subbed late.
Scott Parker 5 - He needs to be our main character on our midfield. He was not. Was quite invisible. Collected some loose balls, but did not offer anything forward.
Hayden Mullins 5.5 - It may be so, that I don't understand football, but for me it's hard to see why we have a man that has a main task to cover ground - as long as noone else is there. As soon as a Liverpool guy goes into Mullins area he backs off, or if in front, he slowly jogs back. Well he had some decent moments as well and if he does what the coach want, he certainly does it.
Valeron Behrami 7.5 - This is something different. He offers hard work, challenge his opponents all the time and makes it hard for them to create anything. Sometimes these kind of players can be painful for the own team as well, if he won't be able to stop his player. He stopped them all night! And offered - even if few - some good offensive moments together with Illunga on our left.
Carlton Cole 6 - Once more a really ungreatful task. Good header and some good moves (specially when he was wrongly stopped by the linesman), but was never able to have any big influence on our game today. I would really have liked to see Tristan for the last fifteen minutes.
Craig Bellamy 7.5 - Also had a hard task, but still one of his best games in a West Ham shirt. Lively, good in defense as well as in the few attacks that was. Influential. Guess he loved to play against his old team. But sorry not to score.

Sub: LBM  - on for the last ten. Had a great opportunity but totally lacked confidence in his effort. Did some good defending.

Nonused subs: Lastuvka, Davenport, Noble, Collison, Tristan, Di Michele.

Good to see Noble back, even if just for the bench. Sears and Ethers were left out, I guess mainly because of the opposition. Please, let us give Tottscum even harder times than this!


Chickens in the Barnsley?

Barnsley! Well, last year the CC-team won 1-2 away against Liverpool and in the Quarter Finals they even made the only goal (Odejayi) against Chelsea and went on to the Semi. So Barnsley know how to chock their PL-opponents in the FA-cup. Still I will go for a win for West Ham when we meet in the third round. Barnsley look a bit weaker this year. They even fell to Nottingham this weekend. But who knows? West Ham have a bad habit to loose to worse teams. To play too cowardly. The Tykes are certainly no easy opposition in this cup.


Youngsters shine!

All of a sudden we have half a team out on loan.
And the latest to leave West Ham temporarily was Junior Stanislas. Who showed what a talent we have there. He scored the two first goals when Southend won 3-1 in the FAcup against Luton.
Jordan Spence was also at the winning side with his new team Leyton Orient, and Kyel Reid set up a winning goal for Blackpool when they surprisingly won away against Plymouth.
The only of our young players who lost was James Tomkins who saw his Derby lose with 3-0 against the tough CC-side Burnley.
N'gala had a weekend off and Josh Payne just played a few minutes for Cheltenham.

At least we don't have Chris De Burgh!

Today Timesonline wrote an article on the 50 worst famous football fans.

Even if we found ourselves having the second worst fan (Russell_Brand), at least we didn't have Usama Bin Laden (Arsenal), Adolf Hitler (Schalke 04) or Chris De Burgh (Liverpool)!


Out of Court Settlement - Yes Please!

The Daily Mail yesterday reported that an out of court settlement with Sheffield could be in the making.

I've been waiting for that story to emerge for some time since it makes perfect sense that both parties, at this time, would like to have this settled and to stop the uncertainty.
There is no doubt in my mind that talks like these are ongoing, but to keep the pressure on the other team and to cover for a "no deal scenario" the other, official, routes must be proceeded.

Here are some reasons for Sheffield to go for an out of court settlement:

1. West Ham will drag this "case" to every legal body thinkable and then some, we've shown our determination to do so already. The new Tribunals verdict (the amount to be payed) will of course also be appealed against to all instances, dragging this painful story into and maybe beyond the summer transfer window. If Sheffield are promoted, money would be a great boost for their bid to stay in the premiership. A decent sum now may also enable them to bolster their squad already in the January transfer window, increasing the chances of a promotion.

2. There is still an outside chance that this can be taken to CAS and that possibility may persuade Sheffield to accept a lower "payoff", instead of risking it all.

3. There is the chance/risk that the new Tribunal will come up with a very low sum for West Ham to pay, and that may also be a reason for Sheffield to settle for something less than their original bid, just to secure as much as possible. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A knee jerk reflex would be to say that "we owe those **** nothing so we should pay them nothing"! But let's look at some reasons for West Ham to take a lesser blow now:

1. The uncertainty of this issue is most likely a big stumbling block for the sale of the club. Any potential buyer would like this sorted before agreeing on a takeover price, and I want this club sold as much as BG does!

2. A potential payoff would be reflected in the price of the Club, so the money is gone for BG any way you see it. To let this affect the takeover now, for a profit in the summer when he is not around is just not in his interest.

3. In analogy to the Sheffield point number 2 and 3 above, there is good a chance that CAS will never handle this and that the Tribunal will come to the conclusion that the absurd £50 m claim is justified. I mean this bunch have come to some mind boggling conclusions already, do we really want this in their hands?

4. To drag this around the legal system costs us money! If this would drag on until the summer, the fees for Maurice and his lot will not be counted in thousands...

5. The players need to be reassured that there is a financially viable future at the club, otherwise those we would like to stay may start to jump ship at first chance.

But what is the amount that is the highest amount West Ham would find agreeable, and what is the lowest Sheffield would consider?

Let's hope they overlap!


Professional athletes?

Last week there was an incident of the kind that really makes my blood boil. These incidents happens from time to time and I ask myself, every single time, why? I´m talking about the ”arrest” of James Collins outside a night club at 3 am in the middle of the week. Sure, this one was a mistake, he hadn´t done anything wrong, he had only been to a restaurant with his wife. The police let him go on the spot after they found out about their mistake. I´m happy that it was a mistake but I´m not particulary pleased that he was at the scene in the first place (at that time, 3am, in the middle of the week, during season).

This isn´t the first time we hear about players going out during the season getting into trouble. That makes me think that it´s probably quite common (they can´t end up in trouble every single time, can they?). Why? Why don´t the take their carreers seriously enough to sacrifice such things during the season during their relatively short carreers? Why don´t they do everything in their power to become as good as possible like so many other athletes would have done (at least in individual sports).

James Collins might not have been drunk and he might have been in the neighbourhood with his wife just to grab a nice meal but at 3 o´clock in the morning?

I´d really like to see a change in mentality of the pro footballers. A couple of years ago, when David James played in West Ham, he was asked if he´d done anything to improve since they´ve seen him raise his standards the last couple of games. He told them that he´d been of the "boose" since New Years Eve or something like that. He did it to enhance his game and be a better goalkeeper. I think it was before the world cup. How come he didn´t realise this sooner in his carreer (and why didn´t he continue? He might have, I don´t know).

I guess this has something to do with individual sports vs team sports. In a team sport you get away with it when you in individual sports don´t. When there´s 11 players on the pitch you can get away with a lesser performance. When only you are in focus you won´t. Why don´t they make the best of the great opportunity they´ve received by being good in a huge sport like football?

I hope Zola took the opportunity to talk about principles and morale and how to behave like an elite athlete when he got this golden opportunity. If so, then something good might come from it. I don´t want to read about incidents like this every other month. I just want the players in ”my” team to behave like professional athletes in the future. Is that to much to ask?

Joppe the Grouch - Othello style?

When reading newspaper articles and blog entries one often finds that it's just a new take on something already written, and I don't mean the generic articles based on news agency material.

Quite often I find that the first time I read it was on the lading West Ham site/forum - KUMB.

This could mean that the posters on KUMB gets information soon to be unveiled in other media on before hand, or it could be that the so called authors of these newspaper articles have found an easy way to get information. KUMB is never more than a click away. A coming Bubbleview post on potential buyers will be one good example.

I think we can agree that most people that are really interested in what people say about West Ham, would check out KUMB.

Do you think that the group at West Ham responsible for the information flow to the press and the fans are interested in what people say about West Ham, and do you think that they are any different than other interested parties? I thought not.
Ergo, West Ham press people are looking to KUMB, as one source, to find out what is going on out there and to check which rumors are flying - and which are not!

Now let's take this argumentation one step further. If you were to do a multi million pound business, would you not only know but even like to influence what is said?

OK, how would you do that?
You could post a statement by Duxbury on the official site (or let him send an e-mail to all employees...) or you could send out a spokesperson to talk to the press). These ways have the drawbacks of all official statements- we know this is only what the Club or owner wants us to know.
Another common "trick" is to drop some information on the doorstep of a "trusted" journo that usually writes a piece on what you throw at him - it serves a purpose for both parties.

Yet another way would be to feed someone at strategical places, maybe someone considered to be ITK . However, a more direct way would be to actually plant a story by posting a hint at the appropriate forum. Are they that shrewd or am I just paranoid?

Can you really be sure I'm just paranoid?


19 + 5 = Many, many goals!

West Ham continue to plan for the future. I hope. At least giving another of our players a new improved five year contract make us all believe so. And happily it's Freddie Sears that now is ready to bang goals for us until 2013. (Well, he has only scored once in the PL so far, in his debut last March, but anyway... we all know he will be PL:s top scorer 2011 ) 
He signs the deal one day before his 19th Birthday. Which is the 27th of November.
So Congratulations Freddie!

Does this appeal to you?

We have now appealed to the High Court over the High Court decision to grant the injunction of an appeal to CAS on the Arbitration Panel ruling that favor the Sheffield appeal over the Tevez soap - or something.

Still with me? No? Study previous blog entries HERE

This means (I think) that the High Court will now decide the future of this injunction/CAS appeal, come January. So there will be no CAS-case until then (if ever).

My first reaction was to wonder if it was in our best interest to keep the uncertainty about this alive. But since the new_"Tribunal+" will not come up with their verdict on how much, if anything, West Ham is to throw at Sheffield, until March, it really doesn’t change anything.

At least the legal team led by Maurice_Watkins gets to play another day.


Three young guns

We do have three youngsters out on loan now, that we all hope can be a part of our first eleven in a couple of years. Josh Payne in Cheltenham, Bondz N'Gala in MK Dons and from now and a month, the more than promising Jordan Spence in Leyton Orient. In the meantime our reserve team will suffer... (Or what do Tristan say?)

Check out the presentations of Josh and Jordan by clicking their names or by clicking the "One for the future" label to the left of the posts.

Italian U-21 international wants loan deal = West Ham the obvious destination?

Sebastian Giovinco, 21 year old Italian U-21 international, currently at Juventus, is said to want to go on loan to get some more playing time.
This obviously alerts the press (and some blogs), and as he has played for Zola in the Italian U-21s, and said to rate Zolas advice as “invaluable”, the connection to West Ham is inevitable.

Being an attacking midfielder he plays in a position where we are in a close to desperate need, which obviously fuels the rumors further.
Another fact that may make this rumor more believable than others, is the loan del concept. We will not buy a player this January that can significantly bolster our squad, but to get one on loan may be a possibility.
This may be especially reasonable if we are about to dislodge some of the midfielders during the coming transfer window, and I fear we might.

Not being much of a fan of Italian football I must say I have no first hand information about his abilities, and it may be a hard time to find games to gamble on an unproven player, but if Zola says he is OK I won’t argue.

Cole secured for half a decade!

Cole signed a new contract yesterday (wearing a watch that indicated that it was about time, and also that he is making decent money).

I am torn when it comes to Cole, as the faithful reader may have noticed, but this is nevertheless good news, se previous post on this topic.

Quashie extending his stay at St Andrews is another piece of good news!


Saved by incompetence

93 minutes of frustration yesterday!

First I must join the chorus of appraisals for Collins and Upson (and Neill!) but apart from that, what sticks in my mind is that there are at least 2 fundamental problems with the game we played yesterday.

First : The midfield lacks a passer that possess the ability to play the ball to someone that is not already covered.
Parker receives the ball and mostly dwells on it until the enemy midfielder is all over him and he needs to just “get rid of it”, resulting in a 5 yard pass. The poor fellow on the other end of that pass is then, for obvious reasons, not more than a couple of yards away from quite a few enemies, in addition to the one marking him, giving him no time.
For a couple of games I was blaming our 3 man midfield for not being able to get some width in the play. I still think that was one reason, but the lack of ability to open the game is apparent also in a 442 setting.
It was even more obvious yesterday since as soon as Sunderland gained possession they immediately played it away from that central congested area which allowed them to get possession of the ball in our half of the pitch. Thankfully they failed to convert it into anything useful…
This problem is of course intertwined with lack of passing opportunities presented by his team mates, but still.

Second: I wrote in a recent post that most defenders and midfielders know how to strip the ball from Cole. Apart from the fact that they really didn’t have to do that yesterday, since he lost it more or less on his own most of the time, it turned out to be true again.
Cole is over-used in these games. It seems like that the first thought of many players is “feed the Cole” but unfortunately he will not score, or deliver the ball to someone in motion, or keep it up long enough to let the team advance.
Bellamy was more or less invisible yesterday, and even though all players have to answer for their own shortcomings, he was not given much to work with. How many balls delivered behind the back 4 for him to chase did you see? I cannot remember more than one!

No, the presence of a below par target player ruins our and Bellamy’s game. If Sunderland had been any better in front of goal or if Collins/Upson had not been brilliant, this would have been called the catastrophe it was. We were saved by their incompetence.


Our seven sins are erased!

For a few hours Tottenham was ahead of us in the table after a scrappy win against Blackburn. Our win was not the prettiest either, but to sooo much relief. It's like Zola said, football is a strange game, sometimes you play beautiful and come out with nothing... So I guess we have all learned that fighting is always number one, playing pretty football number two... Even if we wan't everything - always including three points. But this win was really great as we are still better off than Tottscum, and that this win with another cleen sheet make us feel so much better. Not at least as our forthcoming games will be tougher than tough.
Zola gave us some surprising changes in the team today, the only one I disliked was that Collison was out of the team and Bowyer in...

Green 6. Even if Sunderland created a lot of offensive play (mostly with Andy Reid involved) Green was actually never really tested. Did what he had to do.
Neill 6.5. Our back four were great today, although our captain the least impressive, had some hard times against Reid. But also some good clearings.
Collins 8. My man of the game. Did anyone count how many headers he won? Kept Jones, which is not so easy, quiet. Took down Cissé once which could have been a penalty or rather a free-kick, but did it so "smart" that the referee waved play on.
Upson 8. Also solid as a rock. Seemed only to benefit from his outing in the national team in midweek. Cissé did not confront him so much, and neither did anyone else.
Illunga 7. Great work, played cool and did again no mistakes. Should be able to offer even more in the offensive play sometimes, as we've seen that before. But relly good defensivly. You can't do anything but like Yo-yo!
Faubert 6. Better in his defensive work today than when we've seen him as a RB lately. So he had a decent game, not at least as he was the man behind the attack that led to our goal. But can't understand his slow play sometimes. He must be much quicker.
Bowyer 5. Not a great game. Like when he runs into the box, did some nice passes too, but can't offer anything that differs anymore.
Parker 7. Solid. Did stop a lot of counterattacks. But failed to create any offensive pressure. Well, maybe that's not mainly his work to do...
Behrami 7.5. Love to see his working-rate. How he really runes like a Duracell rabbit and annoys the opposition. Don't understand how he could miss when he was totally free, but what the heck, he scored the winner anyway! His first goal in the PL.
Cole 6.5. Won nearly as many headers as James Collins (slightly exaggerated), but failed to make them into sharp opportunites. Mainly because Bellamy was hard to find, and noone else was there, but also lacked the skill from time to time. The referee always seems to act against our strong man. Worked hard, but can't remember him having any chances in the game at all.
Bellamy 6. When totally free with the keeper Bellamy should have done much better. Not one of his better games for us, but keeps on running all the time. Subbed late in the game (perhaps cause he started to argue with the referee a bit too much)

Mullins - replaced Bowyer and did ok.
Boa Morte - late sub for Faubert. Did ok.
Di Michele - was not able to see him or the last three minutes of the game as my recorder stopped to record (which of course made be angry, nervous, irritated and.... x%€##& ) just as he was to be on.

Nonused subs: Lastuvka, Davenport, Collison, Sears.