After four straight losses...

After new backlashes, after bad play, after games where we have created very, very little up front, have had midfield players who are mediocre at the best, and a defense with enough lapses to loose games we should have won - it's important to get your own act together and remember why you love (or some sort of love-hate) your team. West Ham. It's about passion and soul. It's about support to a team who usually is the underdog. But who don't care and still plays with smartness and some sort of rifinement, combined with aggressive passion. Like Trevor Brooking used to do. Therefore I think Zola is perfect for us. He may have been a Chelsea player for 7 years (but that was pre-russian-oil-money), he may never have been an East ender building old English ships, he may have no or very little experience as a manager. But he has the skill, the knowledge of the game, the refinement, he has a plan, he knows that he has things to learn, he wants to develop the team, he loves the game and he has the PASSION!

So even if we loose a few more games, even if he makes mistakes (like too late substitutions), I'll give him and Clarke my faith for those two years Noble has been speaking about.

Some players we have may be loosers (and I support them most of the times anyway) . But I am sure Zola is no looser. He is a modern coach who will develop modern football with more than money in his mind. I want him here even if we loose three more games in a row. Cause he give West Ham hope for the future. Support him!
Thank God we don't have Harry Redknapp as manager anymore.

Please? - Boro game preview

I have decided to persuade myself that Boro away is the perfect game for a struggling 433 side like ours!

Without having seen their last game - just read the reports, Boro didn't try to run the show against ManC. However, I think they might just try to play a bit creative rather than just play on the brake against us and this should suit us fine!

Obviously Carlton will be greatly missed in this game and we are being severely and unduly punished for his "momentary lapse of reason" against Arsenal.

The latest statements are paving the way for the first game in our sponsor-less shirt for Diego Tristan. But according to reports he didn't figure in the specially-arranged behind-closed-doors extra reserve game against Southend United's reserves yesterday. What's up with this?
Zola hints that he may figure against 'boro but he has yet to play a game for the reserves!

Neill and Sears did, according to KUMB, play in this game and I think this means both of them will play tomorrow.

Zola has had a lot of faith in Di Michele, and I bet he will start again, with Bellamy and Sears as companions in the front row. Tristan will come in for Di Michele if we need a targetplayer late in the game.

Parker is doubtful, and will be hugely missed if he can't play, and the only positive I can come up with from this is that it could give Collison a chance to show that he's ready!

Etherington should, if he is handed the left hand side, have an opportunity to show that he still has good form but has been played out of position since Bellamy returned.
Move Bellamy to the right and set Ethers loose on the left and the M'boro defence will literally have a run for their money!

With Neill returning, one obvious solution to the right midfield problem will be to play Faubert there, and hand Neill a chance to reclaim a place in the team as right back.

I would really like to see Green picking up match winning glory! He is worth it!


Behrami sidelined for a month?

Behrami is said to be sidelined after a calf injury suffered in the ManU-game last night.

That is seriously bad news!

It was obvious in the Arsenal game that we lacked someone with the work-rate and endurance of Valon.
Too many of our fielded players still show signs of lack of match fitness as was painfully obvious also in the Arse game.
I was thinking the 433 may help bring out the best of LBM and Collison may be a great player in the making, but at the moment we need our best and most solid players.
The next 3 games are of vital importance!

Please, for once, give us some good new!


ManU - game preview

If I was Luke Skywalker, ManU would be Darth Vader.

While you try to make some sense out of that, I can go back to the preview.

The major mistake in the Arsenal game was to surrender the midfield as soon as we lost possession. Can't do that tonight. Unfortunately I think we will.

No, I can't see us getting anything out of this game, and neither does Zola.

His "there is never a good time to play ManU", is just short of treason.
A "we will at least try" mentality is probably the worst pre-game buildup you can have!

Never been so low before a game against Darth before.


Mike Lee interview on Curbs, Nani and the future.

BBC Radio Five Live did an interview with non-executive director Mike Lee on Nani/Curbishley.

Mike is well rehersed isn't he? No surprise questions either to get him off balance. I can't really find anything new in this.

But, instead of reading yet another transcript of the interview, please follow the link HERE and listen for yourselves!

Mike Lee is on after about 6.30 minutes about Curbs/Nani.

As a bonus you get all you want (and more) on the 'Arry move.


Arsenal - Game Impressions

Disgust is a companion of every football fan.
Tonight I feel total disgust, maybe not for the fact that we lost to a better team, but the way we did it and that we lost our target player for maybe the next three games.

Arsenal was the better team, just like we were against Hull. But when Arsenal were unable to score they had something up their sleeve – Adebayor.

If Bellamy could convert and Phil Dowd had seen at least one of the three handballs in the area, things could have been different.

In the 70:th minute my note was “we look totally exhausted, no possession, just chasing the ball. Why does not Zola field some fresh legs?”
Yes why indeed. The whole West Ham team had been fighting hard for all of those 70 minutes and these 11 players couldn’t do it anymore. If this is a fitness thing or just what happens when you play a passing team with a lot of individual skill I don’t know, probably a combination.

An immaculate Green and the woodwork had saved us several times so far but in the 75:th minute Faubert tried to stop the ball from reaching the storming Bendtner but ended up placing it in his own net.
These things happen but we fought for so long and so hard and our hopes of getting away with it were rising which adds to the pain.
The second goal is also just one of those things that happen. We had to push.

Why did we lose?

Lack of technique!
Cole is a very good target player, and he has learned to receive, turn and advance. Now he also needs to get his technique up to par and maybe Zola can teach him how to receive, turn and not stumble on the ball… I stopped counting the times he lost possession. He is no great passer either. A couple of times he had the chance to play the ball to someone running into the box, but he hesitaded every time. To me it's better to try and fail in those situations. There aren't that many!
Anyway he will be greatly missed the next 3 games since he is the best target player we have.

Lack of fight for the midfield
The midfield fell back into the lap of the back 4. This was most evident in the last 30' of the game but was noticable throughout. Parker sometimes actually merged with the central defence. This let the Arsenal playmakers to do their job without any pressure.

Parker does a tremendous job and you just know that the yellow will finally come. He does however take too much time to deliver his passes and he needs to mix the 10 yard passes with some longer ones or a one touch pass at times. Having said that, the one touch deep pass that put Bellamy almost free in the 29' is a beauty and shows us that he has it in him, just need to get it out more often. There is much more one can do from his position.

The midfield ended up in the lap of the defence quite early in the game, still hesitating to attack the one on the ball. Maybe they were afraid to concede free kicks, but this allowed Fabregas and especially Walcott, while still on, to get way to close without being under any real pressure.

Mullins, he surprised me with some good intentions in an unfamiliar position and tried some offensive play I didn’t know he had in him. But was inconsistent and frankly this position need a better player. Behrami was sidelined as a precaution and greatly missed!
When the wind had been knocked out of most of our players Behrami would have kept on running. It’s vital to have such a player against a team that makes you chase the ball a lot.

Bowyer tried and while the game was still close he did some decent runs into the box. Also were OK in the defence, and didn’t plunge in and get fooled as I was afraid. Noble can learn a thing or two from Bowyer about movement.

Bellamy and Di Michele tried and showed some really good intentions, however neither of them have the ability to beat defenders one on one. There need to be at least one striker (or at the very least one offensive midfielder) that has this ability. In this team, the only one that can do that is Ilunga!
Bellamy worked really hard in the defence as did Di Michele. But that also and inevitably used up their strength and in the last 1/3 of the game they were too tired to do anything creative.
I thought this would be the perfect game for Bellamy, finally having some room for his pace. But why didn't Di Michele come of much earlier?

Why were we close?
The attitude was great! Everybody was doing whatever they could, and still some, to get something out of this, Hats off to the whole team for the determination.

Green showed us how good he can be. I feel sorry for him. He deserved to be the hero today!

Collins! I couldn’t in my wildest dreams believe that he would be this good in his first team comeback. I’m deeply impressed.
Upson was less dominant in the center, but maybe because he now had someone to share the responsibility with. Very good performance of both of them against a very difficult opponent.

Neill had a virus and I can’t see him get back into the centre of defence unless the injury list grows.

However there is no room for Neill on the wings either.
Ilunga did well against a lively Walcott and with one or two exceptions were in the right place at the right time. He was not as offensively inclined today but that just tells us that he knows when to do what. Still he delivered some nice passes and is good on the ball. As I already said, sadly he may possess the best technique in our side.

Faubert also had a decent game and didn’t loose the ball as much as he sometimes does. Neither did he go on mindless attacking runs abandoning his right back spot too much. He can't be blamed for the goal.

The 4-3-2-1 system used today almost worked, and if we had been able to get some possession so we hadn't been forced to run our asses off for most of the second half maybe we would have gotten away with a point.
In a way we deserved better!


Wheelin' dealin' 'Arry To Spurs!

Can you believe that?
"one more than the other lot"-Redknapp is moving to north London.
Wonder how many people saw that coming!

Harry played for us between -64 and -72. I don't have any personal memories of that, but his 7 year period as manager at Upton Park is one I have strong feelings about.

His footballing strategy has been described as "one more than the other lot", and is English style 442.
His managerial idea is to pick up players on the (relatively) cheap.
Mostly the idea is to find someone that is unwanted by others for some other reason. Mostly picking up someone that used to be good and then try to squeeze out a couple of decent last seasons out of him.
This method made us "Past Their Best Ham" for a couple of years with lots of ex-decent players in our side.
One piece of shrewd business was picking up Paulo when no one else would touch him with a 10 foot pole following the "pushing" of referee Paul Alcock.
But his wheelin' ways also gave us Neil Ruddock...

He was sacked in the worst possible way in the spring of-01 (for us that is - no successor lined up) due to a controversy with the board (can't remember why at the moment) and was replaced by youth coach - useless Roeder.

Since -01 he has managed Portsmouth, twice, with a stint at Southampton in between.
As always, building a team with players at knock down prices for one reason or another.

I think this T-ham move is an opportunity for Redknapp to look good and I'm sure he will keep the Spurs up, but one for the future he is not.


The Noble art of 4-3-3

When asked about the 4-3-3 system Noble has been cited saying something like "you need a couple of years to get it right".

That can be the strangest comment yet by a West Ham player this season, perhaps only surpassed by Sears comment on Bellamy "He’s kind of like a father figure for me and seems like he’s calmed down" .

What Noble must have said is "you need a couple of ears to get it right". Now that’s a weird thing to say, but makes more sense to me.

Now if he really said “years”, I appreciate the fact that the players are leaving a safety-first, play on the break type of game and are now asked to actually play ball.
It seems like either Zola isn't getting his instructions across to him or Noble have a hard time converting them into action. But I’m really worried about his mindset.

This is the first I’ve seen of players doubting the system/leadership and
I hope that that his words are taken out of context real badly, but it has me a bit worried.


Is it too long?

When talking about a player, the discussion in articles, posts and on a lot of forums is usually focused on if he is any good.

To me that is like holding up a stick and asking someone if it’s too long.
“Too long for what” would be the obvious answer, but in the football context that question is rare.

I’ve been watching Parker the last few games and I see a player working but not having the impact on the game I would like him to have.

At the moment he is in the centre (?) of a 3 man band usually facing 4 or more opponents. Beside him is one player with a huge work-rate and a “developable” passing game and another player with huge potential but not yet dependable neither in creating nor in defending.

We are basically asking him to be the creative hub, deliver the opening passes, win the ball and looking out for Noble while covering the vital area in front of the back 4.
How is that for a job description?

Now I ask you – is Parker any good?


The Arsenal game - not a sellout!?

Can you imagine a quiet Upton Park?
I was about to write something about this very worrying fact/trend, but realised that KUMB had allready written a great piece.

Just click here to read it.



I will not comment on daft transfer rumours with over 2 months remaining until the transfer window opens. Not with this much insecurity around the concerned teams anyway.

Reserves punish Arsenal

There is one reason to envy fans of the so called bigger teams. They get reserve games broadcasted!

A fairly senior West Ham XI played a young Arsenal reserve line and won with an only goal beautifully volleyed by Junior Stanislas, converting an equally brilliant Lopez cross.

I can't say I was surprised by much in this game. The ones closest to a starting position showed why they are, meaning that Collins, Davenport, LBM, Mullins and Sears had decent games. Their attitude was great and in the first half Sears looked very good.
Zola and Clarke were there to watch and that might have been inspiring.

However, of all the players I think Lopez stood out as the one too good for this game. very active in the offence and still performed well defensively.

Mullins was Mullins, holding the area in front of the back 4 relatively clean but was also found out quite a few times.
In this kind of game with the mix of players you get, some confusion is inevitable.
Collison suffered from this I think and was mixing great stuff with, let's say less great things.

Davenport and Collins played in the center of defence. I wasn't overly impressed by any of them. On several occasions in the second half they looked quite confused. I was hoping for a rock solid appearance from these 2 and maybe this was the biggest "surprise" to me.
But again, to play in this kind of team against this kind of opposition is probably much less predictable and may in some ways be harder (but obviously in some ways easier).

I did enjoy watching Stanislas, Sears and Reid. There is a lot of potential in these boys, that's obvious. It's hard for me to predict how Stanislas and Reid will perform against men but they both seem physically ready. It's a shame we're out of the League Cup, were they could be hardened.

Young Spence on the right back did very well. He is so calm and confident on the ball. It's a pleasure to watch him play. Quite good going forward as well.

One last thing - were was Tristan? How do we interpret the fact that he doesn't make the bench for the reserves?

What are we - a kennel?

Nani, according to the The Mirror (I know, I know) points to our future, comparing us to Arsenal and Ajax. Could be flattering, but it depends in what sense, don't you think?

He supposedly says:
"They sell players, but they are always able to replace."
"We want to build that sort of organisation."

Exactly what does this mean?
Does he see us as a perpetual feeder club?

There is a substantial difference between replace and develop!

We were great - where it doesn't count! Hull game impressions

This was a bad version of the Bolton and Fulham games.

We play way to slow to create movement in the defence and do not have the players with good enough “one on one” qualities to unlock a team playing “defend and break”.
We also don’t have a midfield that can provide strikers with anything creative to work with in this kind of game.
But then, the strikers do not move enough to create options either, permitting the enemy defenders to be in the right position at all times. That Hull defence were rarely troubled.

While Bellamy could still run he did offer a moving alternative for the ones trying to build the attack, otherwise it was pretty much like having 3 target players.

Etherington is completely lost in that center/right-side position. The time it takes for him to get the ball to his only useful delivery-foot permits the defender to either take the ball away or to get into a good position. Don’t get me wrong, I like Etherington but he needs to be on the left hand side.

Noble, what is his role? For this game it may be a rhetoric question since I can’t think of one that he tried to fill. Maybe his job-description is too unclear, we all know his potential!
He looks lost trying to cover defensive areas while not doing anything when he finds them but watching the ball (a bit like Lampard used to, on his off days). He has played some stunning passes in the last games, but in this his passes weren’t even decently creative and the attack lost pace when he was in possession.

Parker had an OK first half and then disappeared. That’s all I can think of to say about him.

Then there is the problem with Faubert trying to move forward into the vacant outside midfield position, only creating a huge hole behind him were Hull could drop the ball, forcing Neill to cover and stretching the defence to create other holes in front of goal when the ball was delivered into the box on the break.

For long periods of time, in the second half, we had 3 (when Sears came in 4) players waiting for passes that never were. If the problem is a midfield that does not create anything useful, is the answer another striker?

What are the positives then?
Well, Behrami has an impressive workrate and his delivery to Coles beautiful cross bar effort is splendid. According to Setana stats we tackled 14 times, it must have been all Behrami.

Cole has a new side to his game - receive, turn and move towards the goal. That is some addition! and obviously something encouraged by Zola. His first touch and effort in that cross bar situation is superb! I usually complain about his poor first touch, but it has improved immensely!
Ilunga, tried to do what the midfield didn’t - impressive! Some say that his defence is too weak as a consequence but I don’t see this. And if so, let’s again compare with Faubert who is out of position and still does not create much.

To sum it up, I don’t think I like the 4,3,3 system (please prove me wrong) not against this kind of a team and not with too many players asked to do a job that is not what he is best at (Etherington, Noble, Parker, Faubert).
We will now face teams that will NOT play on the break. That’s the final (?) test of this system.

I used the Sentana stats to compare notes with Zola:

Zola thinks we played well and I agree, we passed the ball nicely (Passing Success: Hull-78% / WH-85%) and kept the ball within the team, especially in the first half (Possession: 40/60). But we weren't dangerous (Shots on Target 1/1!, Shots off Target 8/8), and we had the same problem as in the game against Bolton, we had the ball were we couldn't hurt them (Territorial Advantage 52/48!).


But in the meantime...

No, not ready for my views on the Hull game just yet, need to take another look first.

But in the meantime...

We were supposed to have a new shirt sponsor by the time of the Hull game.
It must have been one witha peculiar logo or one that really values his anonymity.


Too upset...

Sorry, can't write anything balanced just yet.
But I miss Deano so...
Do you remember his goals against Wigan in the opening game?
The Hull match had a few chances than were a quite bit better than those.
Could we please have a goalscorer?

Cole is sooooo close. I feel so sorry for him, and the team.
Ilunga, I love his game, but could he please score?


The West Ham Academy - our future?

After today's defeat against Chelsea the Under 18's are bottom of FA Premier Academy League Group A.
West Ham, the producers of young talent, bottom of the table?

It didn't make sense to me so I tried to find an explanation.

So we aren't the home of all future talent, but...
West Ham is still the producer of English talent - right?
In the West Ham U18 4 out of 23 are non-British. I started to look up the nationalities of the players of some other academies in group A.

It turned out that Arsenal had 12 foreign players out of 28! Brilliant, I was on to something!
But after finding that also slumping Chelsea was 12/22, whereas Charlton 2/20 and Fulham 3 of 13 I realized that there was no such easy pattern to be found.

Could it be that we produce the "creme de la creme", but our average isn't any better than the others?
I took a look at the latest U18 national side.
Disappointed! Only Spence (OK so he's the captain) is from our club whereas 3 were ManUre while Palace and M-boro had 2 players each in the squad.
Getting desperate I took a look at the England U19 and U17 sides but it was no better, actually we're not represented in the U17 side at all at the moment!

So these things go up and down -right?
Right, but at this time, when talent is starting to be looked for all over the world by more or less every club in the world, making competition for talented youngsters fierce, it is of some importance to be able to show the prodigies that if they come to the famous West Ham Academy, they get to play with the best.

Are we losing this edge of having a great academy?
Maybe not right away, we can still list quite a few active very successful players that were honed by the academy, and we were second in the group last year. And I recognise that we are fielding young players compared to some of the opposition. However, unless we end up with an owner that transforms us to a buying club, this is supposed to be the platform from which we build success.
I'm a bit worried for the future.
(Sorry about the slightly over dramatic pic...)

Joppe the Grouch has a swing - Part 1

Really nothing new to write about today, but that never stopped anyone did it?
Can't stand "(n)useless-news" so I can't help myself but to have a go at some of them.

1. "Zola keeps calm in credit crunch" - and clones of that.
What is the news in this? What is the poor guy to do? Break down and cry? Zola, as all other managers will have to work with what he's got. Any sign of not playing along with these rules is a first step towards unemployment (lately a. k.a. the Curbs rule)

2. "Zola keen to end Tigers' dream" - a c o t.
Eh... yes that sound reasonable... If an article of this kind had his views on how to do that it would maybe have some news value, but they don't.

3. "Tristan eased into action" - acot.
We are talking about a guy that almost didn't get a contract! What did anybody think? That he in one week is transformed into a starter and the saviour of West Ham? Give me a break.

Something of news value may have turned up in the flood of nothing-articles after all.
Marlon King seem to make the starting lineup on Sunday.


Collins on the road...

We received some positive news from the welsh camp this week. Two of our three injury hit welsh national team members are on their way back. Both of them played this week. Ofcourse I´m talking about Craig Bellamy who played for most of the time in both game and James Collins who made a substitute appearance in the first game and the whole second game. According to the reports both came through un-scatched.

Collins, in particular, who made his first competetive football since last December received great reviews and seems to be on his way back. Some of us would argue that he should be picked ahead of captain Lucas Neill allready in the Hull game this weekend since he played so well during the week. I´m not sure that´d be a good move at this point in time.

Considering Collins awful injury record since joining West Ham and the kind of injury he just came back from I really hope that Zola and his first team coaches are careful as to when and where to put Collins into the team. That they make sure that he really is OK before he goes out there and pulls a hamstring or something similar (if he´s done the operation I think he has). He´s been troubled with muscle injuries before and to play two games in only four days would be madness after being convalescent for more or less ten months.

I´m putting my faith in the Zola/Clarke management to make these consideration and only bring him on and in to the team when the time is right. If that´s next week or in three weeks I don´t know but as long as we´re not in a panic situation I see no reason why we should take a chance like that at this moment in time.

Crucial As Usual - Hull game preview

Sixth in the league after approximately 1/5 of the season is not a bad position to be in.
Add to that two celebrated internationals yet to figure in the starting line-up and we should be fine!

Bellamy and Collins were singled out as brilliant in the Welsh game against Germany on Wednesday (whether 2 persons can be singled out is yet to be decided by the board of education and btw I didn't watch the game).
Obviously, if they shine against Schweinsteiger, Mertesacker and Klose, they are certainly good enough to play against Dawson, Ashbee and Folan (King seems to be out) Edit 2008-10-18: King seems to be fit to play after all.

If Bellamy had a few more days to recover he would be starting alongside Cole and Etherington. However, now I think/fear that Zola will introduce him in the second half since it’s doubtful that he is fit enough to play a third full game within a week.

Collins is facing fierce competition from Neill, and maybe Davenport, for the spot alongside Upson, see Dicks post above.

Hull has played a more constructive and attacking game so far this season than most were anticipating. They pulled back and defended against Arsenal but also in the lead they pushed forward against a hapless Tottenham.
I think this may suit us well, creating a more open game than the one against Bolton, permitting fast play on the wings. Etherington may well have another possibility to shine.

Parkers performance will be crucial as usual. He has a confident Hull midfield to handle and his defensive abilities will be as vital as his creative side to make sure that Geovanni will not be as successful as in his last games.

Speaking of Geovanni and his lethal free kicks, it seems like the Tigers enjoy all dead ball situations. If my quick research is right, most of their goals emanate from corners or free kicks. To defend against those seem not to have been a priority of Mr Zola, but we need to stay sharp in front of the goal if this is to be a good Sunday.

This brings us to the last preview topic: is Green OK? He pulled out of the England squad after sustaining a knee injury during training. It’s been very quiet about this from the Club, so I fear the worst. The Butterfinger performance aside, he has done well for the club so far this season and Lastuvka’s didn’t impress in the League Cup game at Watford.

Blogs United!

As you may already know, the West Ham blogs C’Mon Yu Irons! - RapidHammer - West Ham Process - West Ham Daily News and Bubbleview got together and decided to help the Bobby Moore Fund by opening a contribution page on justgiving.com.

Bubbleview is proud to be a part of this initiative and is fully behind West Ham fans uniting to promote such a worthy cause.

All of you that wanted the club to wear the Bobby Moore fund logo on the shirt, now it’s time for you to show that you are actually willing to do what the board could't – to give a small contribution for a good cause, that will have no impact on your economy!
Or are you the kind that want others to do it for you?

You can donate by clicking on the banner to the left of this post


Plummeting in the table - at last!

After spending most of last season at the top of one table - the one on the number of injured players (http://www.physioroom.com/), we finally plummeted to a 10:th place behind Chelsea, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Arsenal, Blackburn, Hull, ManC, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
Or to be quite honest we're tied for fourth place.
The really good news, however, is that three out of the 4 listed injuries are "inherited" from last season.

Truth is, like fortune, always hiding and we know that quite a few of our first team contenders are still not fully fit after coming back from injuries.
But this is a very good first sign that the actions taken on medical, training and fitness matters the last year finally is paying off.

To keep the players we do have on our books fit may be more important than ever.

It will also be possible to introduce the youngsters when we feel they are ready - not when we are desperate for cover, as was the case when Tomkins was played last season.


CAS: We got the letter...

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has said that it might consider West Ham United's appeal.The court said, however, that it would first have to decide if it had jurisdiction to intervene in the matter.

So what they basically said, in a less dramatic, less catchy way was “We got their letter but we haven’t really looked at it yet...”

Tristan increases the average height of strikers!

As Bubbleview predicted Diego Tristan was signed.

Even though the immediate reason for signing him is as "tall guy" cover for Ashton (or, God forbid, Cole) he may turn out to be a bargain with a much wider use than that.

There is an 'Arry-like taste to this signing. Tristan has a huge potential and we all know what he once was able to do. Those of you still in the dark can take a mouth-watering trip to YouTube-land.

But in a short/medium time-frame his appearances will be limited to the end of games that either is decided or when “Mr” and Clarke feels something (anything) must be done.
A perfect example of the latter is the Fulham game, when Zola brought on Bellamy against a team that were waiting at the edge of the box. That would have been the perfect time to bring in a big guy with decent technique and not too much ground to cover.

We will be in that position again so, Diego, very welcome to a team in an economic shape that makes yours appear like Freddie Ljungberg’s at his peak!


Reason or believe - part 2

The future of West Ham united.
(now how is that for a topic?)

There seem to be 3 major angles of this story:
1. BG will sell
2. BG will not sell
3. West Ham will go bust.

The fundamentals we need to be able to do some predictions seem to me to be in place.
Let’s start with number 3, will West Ham go bust?

I think one must actually widen this to do the assessment.
The fundamental question must be: is there a possibility to run a PL club with a profit?
If the answer to that one is yes, West Ham will no doubt find an owner (the interested reader MUST read THIS masterpiece to get a picture of the financial possibilities of West Ham United).

If the answer on the other hand is no, West Ham will have all chances of going bust, in its own right so to say.
What I mean by that is, regardless of the present financial situation at the club, West Ham may (and this is important), along with several other PL clubs, go through a period of huge economic problems. That would be the “economic football bubble” bursting. However I find this unlikely. I will be back with a designated post later.

So, granted that there is no world wide football bubble bursting, West Ham have every possibility to be a very economically interesting club.

Moral: Since West Ham likely is good business in a longer run an owner can be found and the club wouldn’t have to go bankrupt!

Now back to angles 1 and 2.

BG’s focus has never been and will never be football, even as a business.
He has gone bust before and what he showed us then is that after some time of consolidation he uses his available funds to go back into Icelandic banking.

There is no doubt in my mind that he will try to do that again and everything he does now, including what he does with the Club, is to facilitate such a comeback, if nothing else to help his son to rise to the cream of Icelandic business again.

West Ham may be a good deal in the long run but not on a shorter time scale. So, BG will try to free as much money (cash) as possible, permitting him to reinvest in the banking industry.

Moral:BG will sell sooner rather than later!

So the news to be found now is who will be the buyer!

The so called "Dubai group" (Zabeel or Dubai Sovereign Wealth, controlled by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum), has resurfaced as one candidate, as The Guardian stated today, but there are several other possibilities including the BIG Indian businessman I presented to you before.

Since I think the Club is economically viable, there is no absolute reason that the buyers must be of the kind that want a club as an accessory. A BG-like person may person may still appear, allthough this businessman-group may be hard on cash (and credit) at the moment.

Reason or believe - Part 1

I have deliberately tried not to comment on all kinds of "news" that's been out lately, but let's be reasonable - that is, let's reason about them.

Transfer rumours: I'll take them all in one basket since they are likely to be equally relevant. Today is the 14:th of October, that means it's 3 and a half months until the January transfer window closes.

The economy of several clubs, including the Club, is very uncertain. The funds to buy or the incitement to sell have never been more uncertain and even if the teams had made up their minds, the players doesn't have a clue as to what a transfer would mean in terms of what other players will stay or go. Most, if not all, players will wait and see before sending their agents out on the hunt for another team. This is of course more relevant for players tempted to go to teams possibly in a financial squeeze.
To me it sounds like people are trying to guess the outcome of a game when the rules are not yet decided - such guesses are doomed to be as accurate as chance, at best.

Obviously teams and agents will try to unsettle players, and buyers will always try to "position them selves" to be in a good spot if players actually are to be sold.
However, until the pieces are present to build a puzzle that make sense I will not bother.


Arbitration and financial crisis

Things seems to conspire against our beloved club at the moment. It looks like we´re going from bad to worse. Not only do we have the whole Tevez-saga looming over the club since a year and a half. Now we also have to deal with the crise that´s hit the western world were it hurts the most, in the wallet. Iceland seems to be the worst hit country of them all and ofcourse that´s our owners origin. Rumours have it that Mr Gudmundsson will be forced to sell all his non-domestic interests in order to reduce the losses incurred by the collapse of his bank. This might happen sooner rather than later.

Regarding the Sheffield United claim vs. West Ham. The latest twist to the saga seems to be that Sheffield United refused West Hams wish to take it to the CAS to once and for all get a verdict (maybe they´re affraid of something?). Now the CAS have given Sheffield United until today to come up with reasons why this shouldn´t be examined by them. West Ham have allready supplied the CAS with their documentation regarding why they should get the opportunity to a hearing. The strongest claim Sheffield United seems to come up with is that it´s not an FA-matter and what if it´s not?

I read a little piece regarding this written by a fellow supporter this morning. A piece that makes perfect sense to me.

"If - as they claim - the CAS have no jurisdiction because it is not an FA matter, then surely we are free to just let this run through the legalsystem? We could let them take us to court for failure to pay and then we can challenge the judgement through the courts. Clearly if it's not an FA matter as Sheffield United state, then the FA shouldn't care? And if the FA do care, it becomes an FA matter and so the CAS is the correct body to deal with it."


Landsbanki bust!

According to DI http://di.se/ (2008-10-08), Landsbanki is facing bancruptcy. The English government is freezing Landsbankis English assets.
Please see posts below to appreciate the impact for West Ham United.

Trust no one!

In these days of turmoil who should you trust?
The generic answer is - trust no one but listen to all.

As we've discussed before a financial institution that says that it is in trouble is bust. Either because it actually is bust and doesn't want to say so or it will be bust by the end of the day since no one wants to do business with it because it has troubles...
Hence, no one will ever tell you they are in trouble!

In other situations when a reputation is important, truth will be equally hard to find. Either it is cleverly disguised or plainly left out of statements and comments.
Statements and comments are produced to give impressions. To try to get people to think something is going on or not going on within an organization.

Let's take some examples:

"We are using our connections to find talent all over the world" may translate to "everybody is on our backs for not doing what Wenger is doing so we turned on the tellie."

"To sign for this great club is a big step for me as a footballer" is possibly "This was the best my agent could get at the moment, but I'm off as soon as possible"

”we can confirm we have accepted Alan Curbishley’s resignation as we felt it is in the best interest of both parties” is more likely ”we gave him an offer he couldn't refuse”

“we have invested in players this summer identified by the manager who add to the quality of the squad…” actually meant “we bought one player for approx ¼ of the money we made by selling others”

"A major interest for me is to nurture new talent and see them make it to the first team" is usually "I'm aware that I will not get any money to buy success"

So one needs to be a bit careful when listening to these statements.

There are two major stories published about West Ham so far (12.05 pm) today.

One is that the financial situation of BG is of no relevance for the Club - and that is such an obvious load of c..p that it is hardly worth commenting.
The other is that there will be no funds for Zola to sign anyone in January (contradicting the first one if somebody didn't catch that) .
If you, like I do, believe that West Ham will be sold before the end of January that last piece of "news" is of no relevance either.

"Between the Lines" is not only a brilliant ManUre blog but also the place to read!


West Ham will be sold to facilitate the reconstruction of the Icelandic banking system!

As I have told you before, trading with shares in the Icelandic banks were stopped on Monday to avoid the chaos triggered by a total collapse and as a first step towards a major consolidation.

To avoid irradication of these institutions, the shares will in effect be taken over by representatives of the Icelandic government. A major owner of Landsbanki is, beside the private ownership of West Ham owner Björgolfur Gudmundsson (BG to you) and his son Björgolfur Thor Björgolfsson, the investment bank Samson.
Samson, in turn, is (surprise!) co-owned by BG and his son.

When these banks and economic institutions are reconstructed a first step will be to sell foreign (i.e. non Icelandic in this case) assets, like companies and shares in companies.

Now to the interesting part for a West Ham supporter - it turns out that the investment bank Samson is real owner of West Ham United!
For not knowing this explicitly before, I beg your pardon!

To put it plainly:
West Ham will be sold to facilitate the reconstruction of the Icelandic banking system!

Bubbleview had a strong hunch it was coming to this, but not that it would be this quick and desperate!
Thanks to the Swedish business daily Dagens Industri http://di.se/Nyheter

EDIT: According to DI 2008-10-08, Landsbanki is facing bancruptcy. The English government is freezing Landsbankis English assets.

BG is thrown out!

It was announced this morning that a government body had replaced the board of directors of Landsbanki with representatives of the Icelandic government. A nationalization being imminent.
Thus BG is not on that board any more - for how long is he on ours?

As the reader of Bubbleview is aware this is the fundament of our owners wealth that goes down the drain. Most of his other assets also sits in financial institutions, most of them closely connected, or intertwined if you wish, with Landsbanki.

The interested reader should take a look at my previous post on this matter to see how disturbing this is.

More on this later.

Diego Tristan - handed a contract, regardless?

Take a look at these players and numbers:

David Di Michele -169 (5'7")

Freddie Sears - 170 (5'7")

Craig Bellamy - 175 (5'9)

Zavon Hines - 178 (5'10)

LBM - 178 (5'10)

When watching Sundays game against Bolton it was painfully obvious that we lacked physical appearance in the attack. Especially in the last part of the game when Bolton had 11 men in their own half of the pitch and 8 in the box.

Cole has really developed his game compared to previous seasons, and is slowly winning me over, but is not the physical type regardless of his size. Also, Carlton has been a blessing during our time of injury despair but what if he gets injured?

With Ashton out for the best part of the season and only the above mentioned strikers in our books, Zola must be very tempted to get a player in that he hopes can provide something other than pace and passing skills.

I'm not only talking about winning headers when Faubert drops the ball into the box, I'm talking about someone that create room for himself and others in front of the goal.

To sum it up: I have a feeling that Diego 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) have a good chance of being signed even without impressing in training, and regardless of "a less than monastic lifestyle", just to offer something different compared to what we've got.


Landsbanki – a firm foundation?

According to the leading Swedish industrial daily magazine “Dagens Industri” The Icelandic financial institutions Kaupthing Bank, Exista, Glitnir Bank, Landsbanki Island, Straumur-Burdaras Investment Bank och Sparisjodur Reykavikur were moved to the so called “observation list” earlier today (Monday).

The reason for this is said to be “substantial insecurity over the pricing of the shares in these banks” This means that the trading with these shares are being stopped.
Iceland's Financial Services Authority requested the move.
The OMX Nordic Exchange in Iceland said "This decision is made in order to safeguard the equality of investors while awaiting an announcement.''

Iceland's prime minister Geir Haarde has confirmed the country's major banks have agreed to "sell their foreign assets and decrease their activity abroad", as pressure mounted for the government to secure a rescue deal for its ailing financial system.

At a midnight press conference last night, he said no decisions about an economic bail-out had been made "at this time". He then convened all Icelandic MPs at the parliament building to discuss more options into the early hours of the morning.

Before the prime minister spoke last night, Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, who with his father - West Ham owner Björgolfur Guðmundsson's - owns 40pc of Landsbanki, left with two top ranking Kaupthing officials. None was prepared to comment, but Landsbanki is thought as the only player having the economic muscle to buy the newly nationalized Glitnir bank.

Both Landsbanki and Straumur-Burdaras Investment Bank are, as the Bubbleview reader already know, major parts of Björgolfur Guðmundsson's economic foundation. The board was last week reassured by BG that the Club's finances will not be affected by Iceland's troubled banking sector.

This is less and less reassuring to me.

Thanks to http://siggisig.blog.is/.

Inevitable rumour - Anil+WH = BIG Club?

I should hold myself too good to be spreading a rumour like this but I obviously am not…

According to Sunday Mirror (!) the sixth richest man in the world - Indian Anil Ambani - is believed to be desperate to buy a Premier League club, and has been linked with Everton and Newcastle United.
Now he is said to have turned his attentions to West Ham United.

Anil, nicknamed BIG due to his brand names have the word “BIG” in them (BIG TV, BIG FM…) is reported to be upset by the asking price for Newcastle.

Is there any substance in this rumour?

Well, not many will be “ITK” enough, but that won’t hold them (us?) back, will it?
To me it sounds like a journalist putting 2 and 2 together.
There is someone out there that wants a football club and there is a Club with an owner with a (possible) interest in selling at the right price = a story!
It could also as well be “leaked” to a hungry journalist in an attempt to unsettle the owners of Newcastle and/or Everton.

However, I do think Björgólfur Guðmundsson (BG to us) is willing, if not forced, to sell the Club. When and to who remains as uncertain as before the Sunday Mirror article.


Bolton match impressions - I told you so!

OK, I didn't tell you so, but some of my fears came true anyway.

You just know these things will happen don't you? People were talking "top of the table" not understanding that this is a century long jinx for West Ham united.

But West Ham almost had me fooled there for half an hour, dominating the game, making me think that we had Bolton by the bolts. But then there was Greens howler - enough said about that. 0-1

Up to that terrible minute there were so many positives, Nobles razor sharp deep passes, Parkers passing and Behramis work rate, Ilungas impressive over all performance.
But how on earth can we concede so many fouls in our own half of the pitch? We all know that set pieces are the number one Bolton threat!

How on earth can we lose the ball in the build up phase so many times in one game? I counted 8 times and I was pretty forgiving when counting.

What are the main differences compared to the Fulham game then?
Well, Etherington didn't really come into play as much but on the other hand Di Michele was better now. Cole had the same sloppy first touch as a week ago, Parker was dominating the center mid field again and Behrami worked his socks off today too.

The main difference was that Bolton punished us when Fulham failed to.

I dont think that this game was any worse, we just weren't as lucky this time.
With just a tiny bit of luck it could have been a different outcome.

If the soap in Greens hands had worn off before the 30' and Jääskeläinen had been just an inch misplaced for Coles beautiful attempt from just outside the box in the 50' we could have come away with something. But in a way that's beside the point.
The main point is that there are some fundamental shortcomings in West Ham United.
One is the lack of an alternative to Cole, another is the sloppiness in the buildup phase when we lose too much possession (Noble is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to me) and a third is that we lack ability to transform possession into finishes. We weren't sharp enough in the last 1/3 of the field, don't know why yet.
Apart from these, in my view fixable problems, our players showed an impressive attitude with everybody working hard for each other and and that can take us pretty far.


Bolton game preview - "Clash of Cultures"

It's time for our troops to get the extra thick shin-pads out and prepare to dig in.

Tomorrows game will be a test of the back four I think. Bolton is known for punishing teams with set pieces and dropping balls into the box.
The central defense will probably consist of Neill and Upson and they must play a better game than against Fulham.

Something to look out for of is that our back 4 and the 3 midfielders (i presume) will be under so much pressure that their delivery will be poor thereby loosing possession too close to home, when our team is pushing forward (on the other hand, I always worry about this - but for a good reason).

However, if we get our passing game going and make the Bolton side fear our attack we have a good chance of dominating this game.
As a thinker at KUMB said "a decent start will go a long way...".

I doubt that there will be any changes in the starting lineup compared to the Fulham game. I haven't heard of any new injuries (now how about that!) and the other ones closing in on match fitness (Bellamy, Collins, Tomkins, Bowyer) won't get more than possibly a run out.

Bellamy looked really good when he came on against Fulham and he may be the one closest to a starting line comeback, but I think Zola will play Di Michele from start anyway for two reasons.

First, I think he wants to give the italian another chance to show what he's got and second, I doubt Bellamy is back to full fitness.

However, with fresh legs his pace will torment any side and if Bolton have a lot of possession late in the game, he will force them to keep more players close to home.
Now, if we are one down and they post 8 in the box his speed will be of little use.
I would prefer if Megson would play Elmander as a lone striker rather than giving him the chance to torment Ilunga from a right midfield spot. Ilunga will have a good test of his pace if this happens!

Whatever we do, we must not get a "we'll beat this inferior side anytime" attitude.
This will NOT be an easy game.
It took 60 minutes and a referee error for ManU to score (from the spot) and Zola seem to want to underline the importance not to underestimate Bolton considering his statements running up to this game.
There will be no easy games this season as Hull and Sunderland has showed Arsenal (with possible exception of ManUre at home).


Follow up on Landsbanki - a trustworthy reassurance?

The Telegraph says that that BG has reassured fellow directors that the club's finances will not be affected by Iceland's troubled banking sector. Telegrapharticlehere
The reason for this is that Guðmundsson's Landsbanki has realized assets worth £300 million by selling them to Straumur-Burdaras, the investment bank.

One analysis is that there is a problem with our owner’s major economic base after all, however it is trying to be sorted.
The sale of these assets may be the quickest way to cash in when the wind starts to blow.

It takes more than BG's word to make me feel completely at ease.

Especially since there is a twist to this deal.
Two of the major shareholders of Straumur-Burdaras are Samson Global Holdings SARL and Landsbanki itself! That means that Landsbanki is voting for a deal with itself…
The second twist is that Samson Global Holdings SARL is equally owned by Björgólfur Guðmundsson and his son Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson through holding companies.

This means that in effect, Guðmundsson/Björgólfsson are moving money around between their own companies.

Can I sense a bit of bias in this affair?

When will they need to realize some (or more) of the £85 million they used to buy West Ham?

Edit 2008-10-03, 5.07 PM:
According to IcelandReview.com Icelandic Prime Minister Haarde commented on the economic crisis when adressing the parliament saying:

“It will take the international financial community and the world economy a long time to recover and everything indicates that the situation will worsen until we will see the shore

On the topic of Icelandic banking he said that:

"This was not the last misfortune that will befall the Icelandic bank system"
“Icelandic banks, like all other banks in the world, are up for a great defensive fight with the aid of governments and public institutions. I assure you that my government will never stray away from its policy of securing economic stability in every way possible and will make the sacrifices necessary,”

Now are you reassured?


I’ll be always blowing real estate bubbles - and a new owner?

As I presume you know, the major economic base for Björgolfur Gudmundsson, our chairman and owner, is his ownership of a substantial part of the largest bank in Iceland – Landsbanki.

To have a banker as the owner is not the most comfortable position in times of credit crunches.

To have an Icelandic banker as the owner may be even worse since the currency rate of the Icelandic króna has been in free-fall the last days and the economic state of Iceland is shaky. This is reflected by the fact that that Standard & Poor’s (provider of independent credit ratings) had downgraded the credit rating of the Icelandic state and that Moody’s (ranks the credit-worthiness of borrowers) is considering lowering the rating of Iceland’s largest commercial banks, Landsbanki and Kaupthing.

The other day Glittnir, the third largest Icelandic bank, was nationalized, or rescued if you wish, by the Central Bank of Iceland that bought 75 percent of its shares for 600 million euros which the bank was desperate to get. Otherwise it would have been unable to pay its debts and would face bankruptcy.

How does this affect Landsbanki and West Ham?

OK, hold your horses, one thing at a time, first – how will this affect Landsbanki?
Now that’s a tough one. Banks and other financial institutions appear to be just fine until the day they run to governments for help. We’ve seen this again and again, with Lehman brothers, Fortis and Glitnir being recent examples.

A statement saying “We have sailed through rough seas in the financial turmoil but was now heading into calmer waters and stability” seem to be the economic equivalent of ”The board is fully behind the present manager”.

The very day Glitnir gave up, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, major owner and chairman of Landsbanki Bank, and son of our chairman, met with Icelandic Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, allegedly to discuss the possible merger of Landsbanki and Glitnir Bank.
BTB refused to comment on anything, leaving the door open for speculation on the economic solidity of Landsbanki.
But an Icelandic newspaper Fréttabladid claims Landsbanki are interested in merging with Glitnir.
Now, if that mean that both banks need to be secured or that Landsbanki sees an opportunity to buy Glitnir for a song, is too early to say.

OK, how will it affect West Ham?

Well, take away the economic foundation of a clubs owner and you may be able to guess what may happen.

Still, on many West Ham forums this has sometimes been commented with “West Ham is funded with BG’s private money”, insinuating that the fact that almost half of the value of his shares have “disappeared” in less than a year will not affect us as a Club.

When BG once bought his shares in Landsbanki he likely funded the deal with borrowed money – that’s what businessmen do.
This loan was probably given with these same shares as security, much in the same manner a bank uses a house as security for a house loan.
However, if the value of these shares are falling close to or below the size of the loan, the lending bank may feel insecure.

Maybe insecure enough to urge BG to pay some of it back and in turn forcing BG to sell some of his other “private” assets – for example his share of West Ham united. This is a part of so called credit crunch”.

If a businessman has so much money/assets that he can shrug something like this off, he is a Russian oligarch or a Saudi oil sheik.

Well BG is not that wealthy. He needs his project to be economically sound and this is also reflected in all sorts of statements from the club the last year or so saying that “The club is being run on sound football and business principles…”. BG is quoted as saying " …[buying West Ham] is also a business opportunity. English football has become a very high-worth entertainment, like Hollywood films. There is a great deal of television money and you can see commercial opportunity flowing from that."

But this is not the only economic reason to do business in east London.

At the time of the takeover in 2006 it was widely speculated that West Ham would get a good deal when “taking over” the newly built Olympic stadium. Making it possible for West Ham owners to redevelop the existing West Ham site.

Thus, a “sound business principle” at the time when BG bought the club could well have been the possibility to make an Icelandic Króna or two on land speculation.
But this has taken a few turns since 2006 and the Olympic stadium does not look like a viable option. The Parcelforce depot and other alternatives may also have economic merits, but at this time of instability in the land-market it must be a bigger gamble.

Even though an Eggert Magnusson spokesperson once said "…people don't come into football to make money...”, most people that come into football are not immune to losing money either, or even immune to economic possibilities going up in smoke.
Today The Guardian hinted that a fresh bid had been placed for West Ham, but was turned down by BG (Guardianarticlehere).

The Guardians conclusion was that BG “wants to enjoy his football for a while”.
At first I thought this felt reassuring, but if true, it could also be a first step in a bidding process.

If BG doesn’t consider his West Ham venture to be “economically sound” while his economic muscle may be needed to consolidate his financial base, maybe the conclusion will be that he no longer can afford his pet anymore, and we can look forward (?) to a new owner.
Edit: Now there is rumour that a second bid has been placed, not rejected, and that the bidder is an east european businessman.
For this post I am in deep debt to http://www.icelandreview.com/


Reserves in Action

The second string was in action again last night. This time vs. West Bromwich Albions.
I think there were a couple of notable points worth mentioning.

1. Young Freddie Sears got four goals. His goalscoring gunpowder is still dry. Let´s hope he can continue score all the way in to the first team in a not to distant future.

2. James Collins made his first competitive game (if a second string game can be considered
competitive) since his knee injury in January. It lasted for 70 minutes before he made way for Bondz N´Gala. Hopefully he was unscatched. Welcome back Collins!

3. The team was quite experienced with players like Collins, Davenport and Bowyer on the team sheet. They were accompanied by a couple of other players with first team hopes and experience like Lopez, Collison, Reid and Sears together with highly rated youngsters like Stokes and Stech. Even though this was the case we let our quite inexperienced opposition grab three goals. One would guess it was a couple to many for the liking of the watching trio of Zola, Clarke and Keen.

4. Alex Dyer was in charge of the team according to the official site. I knew Keen was promoted to first team coach but I´ve missed that Dyer was equally promoted to reserve team coach. Or maybe is that spot still vacant?

5. In the match report afterwards we could read that both Zavon Hines and James Tomkins is on their way back from knee injuries. Tomkins has been injured quite a lot in his still relatively short career, let´s hope he can stay injury free in the future and we might see a bright one!

Disregard the posted by note below - all credit goes to Dicks

Get off Ashtons back!

I wasn’t going to comment on Ashtons injury since it has been obvious for some time that he will be out for a bit.
But some comments I read are in the line of “let’s get rid of this injury-prone moneygrabber” and I totally disagree.

Maybe this discussion is better taken on a general level.

When a team signs a player there are countless of “ifs” involved. The major one, for any team, is - will he perform?

For some players the size and numbers of ifs increase and since some teams are not willing to gamble on these players, the price will automatically go down.
Hence, a player with a big if, for example in the shape of a suboptimal injury history, will be cheaper than his equally competent twin brother.

For clubs not able to pay the highest prices and not the highest wages, but are willing to gamble a bit, this can be good (or bad) news.

Remember the "‘Arry era" when we were “Past Their Best Ham”?
I can count more players with problems than I care to from that period (often players on decline), that were picked up for cheap, hoping that it would still be possible to squeeze out a decent season or two out of them (he still does this at Portsmouth, but on a slightly higher level).
That gave us Paolo but also Ruddock…

What I’m trying to say here is that a number of uncertainties are packed into every deal.
It could be the question of motivation or ability but also future injuries. They should all be reflected in the price and the offered wage! If the ifs are too big, offer the player “pay-per-view”, and see if he takes it.

Then to the tricky question of who is responsible for the sick leave?
Is the footballer the one at fault for getting injured? Or is it perhaps the medical staff that told him and the club that he was fit to play (when he actually wasn’t), or is it the club that provided him with an inferior medical staff, training facilities and rehab possibilities?

Can you imagine the legal consequences this will have if we would take away a players pay when he suffers something so intimately connected with his job as a footballer as an injury?
We will spend more time following transcripts from courts than on the game itself.

I may be convinced that there are advantages in cutting the pay checks of players lacking the right motivation, but please, get off Dean Ashtons back!