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.


Both Alan's without work!

So it's closing time.... not for us, but for our former manager Alan Pardew, who tonight was sacked from Charlton, a team without a win in eight games. So may our old Charlton man Curbs make a come back in the Championship team? Nah, don't think so. The team is in a mess, and may be one of the biggest contenders for a place in next years league one - no matter who will be their new manager. 
Alan Pardew had a good spell with West Ham. To start with. And we will thank him for that. But before he got sacked by our Islandic board he had lost the dressing room, had - according to rumours - been a little too close to a wife of a player. But for me his biggest mistake was - handcuffed or not - to play Mullins instead of Mascherano. A mistake the new Alan continued.
Anyway good luck to both of our former managers, they do both have to find a new job now. 


Keep your Cole!

There is a rumour that Carlton Cole is about to sign a new (and improved) 4 year deal and it got me all wound up so I just couldn’t wait for it to be confirmed or denied.

This is a HUGE boost for me as a supporter, but maybe not for the reasons you think.

This is the first sign of planning for the future we’ve seen since the signing of Behrami, or at least since the financial circus started!
Zola and the board have repeatedly said that Zola is not forced to sell during the transfer window (unless to finance another player) but there have been a lot of sweet words from board members and in official statements that have been less than trustworthy, so this proof of putting money where their mouth is is very welcome (remember, IF TRUE)!.

Cole is one of the “sellables”. We could probably make some money on his departure if we were in desperate need. So this is not just about Cole, it indicates that the dreaded exodus is as unfounded as I thought/hoped it was.

I’ve said before that it wouldn’t make sense to sell the players necessary to stay up, since this would make the price of the club shrink to pre-Brown levels, and that must be our owner, BG’s, worst nightmare.

But, again, this is the first sign that the board is actually doing what they have promised to do and I feel a slight hope for the future bud inside me.
EDIT: According to the official home page its a 5 year deal but not yet signed.

The past back to haunt us?

It’s time to meet another Ferdinand on away trips.

It was weird when Rio left, to see him in strange colours (is white a colour?). Maybe I have gotten used to it by now, or maybe I don’t see Anton as that priced asset as I did Rio (I think it’s the latter) but to see Anton in stripes doesn’t feel as strange to me.

It’s obvious a bit special for Anton, being a Hammer since childhood, and he will surely be fired up for this one, and so will McCartney, as all players meeting their last team for the first time.

So Cole and Anton will face each other, one knowing the tricks and weaknesses of the other.
I figure that may work to our advantage since I really don’t think Carlton has that many tricks to hide and most center halfs (and midfielders to for that matter) already know how to take the ball away from him, so there will be nothing new compared to meeting other teams.

Bellamy is as new for Anton as for most other CB in the premiereship, many know him and many have trained with him so there isn’t really any secret weapons in his arsenal either that Anton would know of.

Maybe they both could keep a close look on Antons eyes, waiting for them to glace over and then taking advantage of his intermittent naps?
If Anton plays the way he did for us for most of last season, we have a good chance to score.


Who said we can't score?

Who said West Ham players can't score? Craig Bellamy scored the winning (and only) goal in a friendly between Wales and Denmark Wednesday evening.
Matthew Upson scored a rare one when England beat Germany 2-1 when England's other CB, John Terry, scored the late winner. According to reports Upson had a great game.
Scott Parker was unused.

So let's repeat this on Sunday please.... Well. I don't mind if the other ones in claret and blue make their impact on the scoring sheet as well.

Take a look at Upsons goal!


Behold - the future!

Before anyone gets on my back here, I am aware that there is nothing new in this but maybe a welcome review.

Study the picture to the left thoroughly! This is the Arena were we will play our home games for the foreseeable future!
A bit familiar you say? That’s because this is a picture of Boleyn Ground today.

But what happened to the grand plans, the Olympic Stadium and the parcelforce land?
Sorry to say it, but that was yet another bubble that burst.

We are again out of luck with the timing. One of the reasons for BG’s initial interest in our Club was the prospect of moving it to the planned Olympic stadium that is being built in Stratford. That would have increased capacity and in effect remortgage the ground we play at.
What I mean by that is that the Boleyn is something we own and can sell to “free capital” to be used for strengthening the club, but the Olympic Stadium would most likely have been a leasing deal, like the Man C currently has. It would be like selling the house you own and moving to an rented flat – more money in the bank (or to spend) but a higher monthly rent.
This was probably BG’s original thought of making money on the, at the time, red hot London real estate business.

The problems with the Olympic stadium were several, the running tracks around the field the biggest. The Olympic General Sebastian Coe’s wished to keep it as an athletic ground also after the Olympic games, which was something that even our very pragmatic board couldn’t accept. There were talks about retractable seats that could cover the tracks, but that fell through, supposedly over the cost but also the time ran out.

But this is all old news, why do I bring it back?
In a blog article the BBC sports writer Mihir Bose, talks about how these grand plans have been ditched in favour of a “cheaper” rebuild of the Boleyn that would (according to Bose) increase the capacity to 50 000 (previous info says this will not add up to more than 40 000+) by filling the corners and adding a second tier to the East Stand.
Finally he comes in with the obvious conclusion – not even a redevelopment will have much of an opportunity to be realised.

Where would the money come from to perform even a modest rebuild? The current owner, I’m sure, have none to spare, even after the Tevez/Sheffield affair has come to an acceptable end, and I cannot see that there is a financial institution that would under the current circumstances lend us anything.

But will a new owner mean a new and bigger ground?
In the long perspective, yes, but not until there are clear indications that the percentage of empty seats in the EPL in general and at Boleyn Ground in particular are not showing an increase.
This year has shown some scary signs of attendance going down. Several fixtures that were sold out last season has not seen capacity crowds this season, and the Arsenal game, although finally close to capacity, were on general sale for quite some time and there were still 1000+ unsold tickets the day before the game!

This is not the time to expand at all!


Appiah times ahead?

West Ham will send someone to look how the golden midfielder and free agent Stephen Appiah will do on Wednesday, when The Black stars will play Tunisia. 

At least that means we would be able to buy him, if not why would we send a scout? According to reports Newcastle and Boro will have people down there too. But if they are the only interested, we might have a chance to get him! 
They are not rich clubs either, and Appiah already knows Nani since his time in Italy. One of Appiahs closest friends Michel Essien (the injured Chelsea guy, u know?? ) is also living in London. Do we lack something (well, I know we lack a lot, but....) it's a strong man in the middle of the park who can score and who can conduct the rest of the team. At least Appiah has been such a man before. Let's see if our man have a contract signed when he flies home on Thursday?! A bit optimistic maybe, but certainly the sort of player we really could need! (and after we lost Freddie: another one for the ladies!)

Always look on the bright side of life!

Fire sale in January? I don't think so.

There is a widespread fear among the fans that there will be a big sale of talent during the transfer window. Zola has repeated the words of the board, that the squad needs to be trimmed to cut the wage bill and also if a new player is to be signed, players must be sold to facilitate this.

The scary view is of course that the owner is selling our best players as some sort of asset stripping. But that doesn't make sense does it?

In our present situation we cannot gamble on reducing the quality of the team.
Nothing would be more devastating to the Clubs economy than being relegated.
Even the risk of being relegated can be very costly to our owner, especially if he - like a lot of people (me included) think - is trying to sell the club

So, if the sale of players is for economic reasons, I can't see that we under the present conditions can even consider selling players we may need to stay up!
In a way, if we were performing great at the moment, the risk of the Club selling players the fans would like to keep would be much greater!

In a series of posts the writers of Bubbleview will present their individual thoughts of who will stay and who may go.
Please stay tuned for the first - the defenders!

This post by Dicks and Joppe!


Our young american, Jonathan Spector is not only back in training (earlier than expected), he has - according to reports - signed a three-year-extension to his contract. 
If so, it's a surprise to many West Ham fans, as he was thought to be one of those to be unloaded in the January-window, when our huge troop probably will be reduced. And I have been one of his doubters... But he is still just 22, can play at many positions, may be one of our cheaper earners and give the American fan base something to cheer about. So if this is correct, I certainly wish him all the best!


One step forward?

Is the glass half full or half empty? Is this a sort of momentum? Two points out of 21 is certainly not what we want, and one point at home gainst Pompey is not hilarious. Still the first clean sheet in 25 games is certainly something to build on. So it depends what kind of fan you are, if you're happy or sad Saturday evening - after a goalless draw at home against Portsmouth.
I'm not fond of the chances Defoe created. Which certainly told us that we are not like a iron safe yet. Three great chances that Green - our MOTM - had to save. The rest of the afternoon was very quiet for him. Bellamy had a freekick in the woodwork, Cole had a great opportunity, but James was even less tested than Green, even if we had more of the ball. Too often we held the ball instead of trying to create chances by doin just one touch with speed (When Bellamy and Collison tried that once each, it looked suddenly great) . So today was not a game to be remembered for its individual efforts. It was totally a team game. And therefore my report on our players is quite modest:

Green 8 - Three great safes, one truly a master. Not much else to do.

Neill 6 - Don't understand we he was given so much responsibility to play offensively. His crosses and passes are not good enough. Calmed us down in the defence quite good.
Collins 7 - Like him! His effort and willingness.
Upson 6 - Quiet evening. His running back looked to cost us once, when the rest of our backline had put Defoe offside.
Illunga 6 - Quiet day for the Congolese. No mistakes but not involved much forward either, which I think we need. Subbed, do not know why, maybe a bit injured.

Behrami 7.5 - I like his fighting spirit, the way he puts pressure and often wins the "second ball". I like his running forward as well, but made a few bad passes in crucial moments. Best of the ten out on the field.
Parker 6.5 - Not as good as against Everton. But still important to pick up loose balls, and work for the team. 
Collison 6.5 - When he goes into the box from the midfield position he does something that has been very rare in the West Ham team. That's good. Worked hard. Made some bad passes and bad decisions as well, but young and I'm not certain Noble easily will put Collison back to the bench.

Sears 4.5 - Not Sears game at all, even if he run much and had some good ideas. Was easily closed down when he went too deep in midfield. Subbed after 45.
Cole 5 - Maybe a little bit rusty after the layoff. Fought well, but did not make a lot of his opportunities. 
Bellamy 6 - Creater and destroyer. Made bad passes, even worse crosses, but still created some opportunities with his speed and splitvision. Takes responsibilty. Wonderful freekick in the woodwork. Just 2 inches... from being the hero.

Etherington 4 - Awful! Needs to find his right side soon or it's a waste of putting him on the field. What I liked though is that the team shaped up after he came on as he give us a width in the offence. And some speed, which make their defence more cautious.
Faubert 5 - Did OK, back as a RB for some minutes.
Mullins 5 - Against Everton Zola was questioned whe he did not take off Parker, as he was totally exhausted in the end. Now I don't know why he took him off. But when he did we all knew that a cleean sheet was the way Zola wanted it, as he put on Mullins. Bowyer had been the alternative. But I don't mind too much. Mullins did OK.


Can it be true??

Do you know the folktale about the shepard who shouted "Wolves" (not the football club, the real ones) but each time he fooled his mates.  So when the wolf finally came, noone believed him...  
Now WHUFC.com has shouted one thing that we all can doubt, as we've heard it before. But if it's true - it will hopefully make our opponents shiver a bit:  Cause according to them Kieron Dyer has resumed full training! After 15 months on the sidelines and or in hospital and rehabilitation centres.. he'll have a go. We can't do anything but wish him all the luck! If he can reach some of his earlier hights in - let's say 3 months from now, without new injuries - it can be what we need to avoid the drop! (which I am far too optimistic would be possible anyway...)

Pompey game preview

I'm confused about this game, mainly how to get the midfield and attack working so I start with the easy part.

With Upson back, Neill will be back on the right side with Collins and Ilunga completing the four. That's it.

The 4 man midfield has been great in the attack since Collison (and to some extent Bowyer) came in and provided movement also in the midfield. Collison has been in the box more often than Bellamy!
I'm afraid that going back to a three man midfield will prevent these attacking midfield movements, and may also be an additional defensive worry - and we don't need any more of those!

In any system Parker is a given in the center, regardless of his awful habit to drop too far down when starting to get nervous.
Behrami will start if fit enough, he will give us his exceptional work rate, and that is very welcome, but who will make way?
Faubert will be left out, and I will not mourn that, but will there be a place for Collison?
The left hand spot in the 3 man midfield is a tough one, Ethers or LBM. Not the strongest position i the team. I wish we could get Etherington back to pre-Bellamy ways. Since Bellamy came on Etherington has been played out of position mostly, and lost confidence. I think we'll se LBM in the starting XI.
But then, I think Zola will stick with 442 for this game to be able to play Collison in the center along side Parker.

That brings us to the attackers.
Sears and Bellamy has looked really good together, except for the minor detail that they don't score (but hitting the woodwork is pretty close so i forgive them for now).
And now Cole is back... I'm sure he will start and I'm equally sure that this will take the pace away from our attack. If we are not very careful we may revert to the "hit the target player with all balls" even if he is standing still and has 2 left feet.
A 4 man midfield will most likely put Sears on the bench.
Or is it even conceivable to start without Cole?

We miss you Paintsil!

Yes. We do mistakes. All of us. We could now see that selling John Paintsil was one!
Well, some of you would say he was not good enough. But maybe it was just the lack of will or knowledge how to teach from the West Ham coaches that was the problem. To make him play the way they wanted .

John Paintsil was a cult hero at Upton park. But just that. He did not play much, Curbs did not seem to like his sometimes unconventional style of play. Even if he always was sure of a starting place for the Black Stars he was rarely seen as more than a replacement for the Hammers. Our fans loved his energy though, his effort and the way he always tried to make the team feel good. He was a pretty good tackler but seemed sometimes to lack the understanding of how to play in position.
Well, somebody could have tought him!
(Clarke would have I guess, Illunga has been doin well since game two in his position play). 

Since he left for Fulham (for 1.5 million pounds) he has been playing nearly every minute! Roy Hodgson has shown him his faith, Painstils confidence has grown and he plays safe. 

The Fulham team has just let 10 balls passed Schwarzer by while we have let 22 goals in.
While Zamora has struggled, Pantsil seems to love playing now. And even if I haven't seen but a few of Fulhams matches, it seems that you can't fault John Pantsil for a single one of those ten goals.

If you look at our record instead, we can see that both Neill and Faubert has played bad at the same position. Against Everton Faubert was awful and Neill was - even as a CB - not much better and we could say that they both was involved in the downfall in the end. Against ManU both of their goals came from our right. Against Arsenal Faubert made an own goal (well, those things happen....), against Fulham and Newcastle (matches that we won) Neill made bad mistakes that let - on both occations - the opposition score. 

The other games: Against Hull and Middlesbrough we made old sins come alive, and let in stupid goals at a freekick and a corner respectively. (Bolton was a game that Green never will forget.) We also let our defence to get to close to our own goal - but that's another story....

Our third choice at RB has been Behrami, but I think the midfield position suits him and the team better. So if we don't start to play young Spence soon, I am worried that I will miss Pantsil more and more. He may not be a world beater, but - as we can see at Fulham - he would certainly have been my choice now!


It has been said quite often during the speculations on future owners of West Ham United that "English Premiere League clubs are attractive business propositions for investors".
Usually the TV-money is then presented as a fountain of wealth, implying that this is a completely safe investment.

Nowadays “a club as a safe investment” has a positive ring to it. This was not always the case.
There was a lot of turmoil when Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United. Here was this foreigner who had no connections with real football and just saw this as a way to make money, how did he dare? Glazer was met by the slogan "For the love, not for the money".

But then along came a totally different brand of owners. Abramovich was not primarily seeing the takeover of Chelsea as a business opportunity, but as a project he could enjoy in his spare time, and get to hang with footballers and football decision makers at the same time.
Abramovich paved the way and now we have also seen Shinawatra and the new owners of ManC - Abu Dhabi United Group.

Today this seems to be the normal profile of people being linked with club takeovers. They are not investors that sees the club as good business, nor are they connected to the particular club they are buying, but rather they are filthy-rich people wanting a football club as a cute accessory, or as Keith Harris calls it “a trophy asset", to match their filthy-rich lifestyle.
And Keith Harris should know. He is the deal maker behind the Icelandic takeover of our Club, and has also been instrumental in three other PL club takeovers the last two years.

I have always considered BG and Eggs to be “Abramovich lights”. They had no previous connections with the club and it was by no means within their core business (and it was sometimes embarrassingly obvious that Eggs enjoyed his time with the footballers), but at the same time they (or at least BG) needed the club to be a decent investment.

West Ham have been linked with a few potential buyers of late, and it seems like filthy-rich people are over represented.

Now, if filthy-rich people really want just about any club, how come several clubs are up for sale, and have been for some time?
Keith Harris says "...people are wondering: 'Should we?' Is now the time to spend the money? Should I be buying what are essentially trophy assets today?"

And if the ones that not really care about the money says this, you can imagine the hesitation of proper investors.

I'm not saying there is no buyer for West Ham, but all potential buyers will be very aware of the costs and, unfortunately, additional costs that may appear down the road.

Sheffield will get nothing! (At least not until mid-March)

First a small recapitulation on the basics of this never ending story:
A Tribunal, also called “Football Association Arbitration Hearing”, headed by Lord Griffiths, ruled that West Ham were to compensate Sheffield for using Carlos Tevez even though he was owned by a third party during the 06/07 campaign. (Please don’t get on my back for the simplification)

Now, at a directors hearing yesterday it was concluded that the process of determining the amount of this compensation, should start. This new group made up by the original members of the tribunal plus and representatives for the clubs, are to present a conclusion, or a verdict if you wish, in mid-March.

How this is to proceed and undertaken is still unsettled and are to be discussed by the clubs.

One of the things that did come out of this hearing was that West Ham are awarded the right to go through the books of Sheffield United. This of course to enable West Ham to challenge the claim of £30 or £50 million pounds Sheffield has presented.

Thanks to "Bml04" on the KUMB forum for turning my attention to the article!


More waiting, more uncertainty!

Today a verdict on whether the Sheffield attempt to stop West Ham from appealing to CAS was to be presented.
However, according to BBC, the Judge in charge of the hearing, Mr Justice Teare, will consider the evidence presented by the parties and will hand down a judgement at some time before Christmas.

The interesting thing is that this can be settled allready in November when CAS is due to present their own view on if this is a question were they think they have jurisdiction.
Have I lost you yet? Can’t blame you if I have, see the summary below.

Also expected today was the release of the reasons behind the Arbitration Panels conclusion on the Tevez matter (see previous posts labeled CAS). This would obviously have an impact on whether CAS wants to handle this issue or not. I’m confused about whether this ruling is also due “before Christmas” and if that is the case I can't see CAS wanting to jump to any conclusions.

In parallel to the CAS and High Court considerations, separate hearings will now take place were the guidelines for how to determine the damages that should be awarded Sheffield, if they end up winning all this. Representatives from the clubs as well as the 3 original members (OG’s?) from the arbitration panel will be involved in these hearings.

To sum it up: CAS will say if they want to handle the feud between West Ham and Sheffield over the Tevez deal by end of November, but even if they want to, we will still have to wait until some time before Christmas before the High Court will say that it’s OK for CAS to have a go at it.
In the meantime another group will set up the rules for how to determine how much money West Ham should pay Sheffield, if it comes to that.

This is good news in the sense that it's by no means clear that Sheffield have won this latest fight, however, it also keeps us in limbo land and I doubt that any Club buyers would like to have a £50 million uncertainty to come with the purchase.
I was hoping that today's hearing would give some kind of hint on were this was going.

The only way is up?

I took a quick look at the official site, even though I should know better than to hope for some information there.
My interest, however, was sparked by the Google ads!!
I havent seen those there before have I?
I thought that this is what bloggers, hoping to earn an extra few £, do - but Clubs? Are we that desperate?

It made me feel a tiny bit better when I found that Fulham and Brom were also having them.
But Arsenal, ManU, Liverpool and Chelsea did not...


Is common sense too much to ask?

Two cases of £30M+ importance are being heard in the High Court today.

West Ham will try to get the the Football Association Arbitration Hearing (that ruled against us on the Tevez Saga) to present the reasons and background for their decision.
This sounds like a reasonable request in a western democracy, but I don't have much hope.

The second case is on the so called injunction Sheffield filed.
That is, whether we have the right to take this issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) or not.
This is yet another question of turning and twisting the wordings in rules, regulations and laws, to make them fit your purpose.

Time for high profile solicitor Maurice Watkins, leader of our legal side, to step up and show that he is worth our trust and money!
Click HERE for some more on Watkins.

It's so sad to be as naive as I am, hoping for common sense to prevail.
Hearing will continue Tuesday.


We've seen the future - and it's bright!

We lost to an inferior team - again. Nothing good in that.
But there are several ways to lose and the way we lost yesterday may be one of the most painful but I rather have that compared to any other.

We outplayed yet another team and I think that it should be obvious to anybody that this is the way forward! There are things that must be changed, no getting around that, but to get on Zola's back would be a vote for a mediocrity!

I'm sure that there are managers out there, Curbs for instance, that would have made us gather more point from the last 6 games, but I want none of them!

Zola asks our players to play a very demanding game and as Zola pointed out already after the first few training sessions, the physical fitness is not the best.

Reverting to 442 helps, but we can all see that the steam runs out of most players come the hour mark.
I'm a little confused that Zola has not prepared the team for a slower type of holding game. We need it to gather strength in between periods of full-throttle football.

Following our first goal, Everton should be the team chasing and we can and should slow the game down a bit and take advantage of our ability to play passing football, leaving them to run their socks off to get the ball!
One episode that springs to mind is that after about 70 minutes, when it's obvious that quite a few players are tired, Green catches the ball, I think "hold on to the ball, let the boys get their breath back, but Green immediately starts an all out brake attack with 5 or 6 players running 60 yards like madmen to try to get that second goal.
That were the 5 or 6 men that "died" in the last 20 minutes.

The other reason for our breakdown is the mental game.
Several of our players have said that "Zola makes us not fear to fail" but that is exactly what most of the players do - they desperately fear they will once again fail - so they will. That's sports-psychology for you.

What is to be done about that then?
I'm not sure, we need someone to get the team to believe they can do it, and that should be the captain, but unfortunately he seems unable to do that.
The dominant midfielder is the second one to spring to mind, but Parker is one of the first to desert the midfield and fall into the lap of the back 4 when the tide starts to turn. Bellamy is the one showing most promise in this sense I think, Bu his position should be on the verge of offside and not running around in the midfield urging people to get back in the game.
Still, this is mental and should be able to change, maybe all we need is a win so we start to believe we can actually do it.

After 60 minutes I wrote: The kids are ready!
The way Collison comes in and shows everybody that he is the one for the central midfield in every starting lineup from now on, no matter who is fit, is just fantastic!
Sears shows that he is so much better than Di MIchele and should be picked every game if he doesn't need the rest. He and Bellamy enjoys playing together and this is just the beginning of that partnership!

With Collison, Sears and Zola showing what the future looks like we shouldn't be too depressed today. It certainly looks bright!


One hour of tremendously GOOD football.... (is not good enough)

24 games without a cleen sheet. 1 point in 6 games. Not happy days at Upton Park. Still I can't remember a better West ham since... ??? But now I'm talking about what we did outside the box. We dominated totally in the first 45. Totally. But we couldn't break the deadlock.
Sears had fun, and a shot that deflected on Howard into the woodwork. But not so much more.
In the second half Collison made his first goal! After a wonderful backheel by Parker he did not hesitate for one second. But at the same time that changed the game totally.
Everton woke up from their slumber and West Ham started to think how and if they could defend themselves, instead of continuing with their wonderful passing on the right side of the pitch. So I was not surprised when the cruel 1-1 came.
Lescott was totally on his own in our area! Can't say who to blame (Neill I guess, but...) but after that we conceded more after totally have lost control of the game, It took Everton four minutes to make two more. Both from Saha. Beautiful goals, but it should not happen. We left him totally on his own at both occasions. His second after a stupid misscross from Faubert. The midfield has a responsibility to to mark players. They did not. We seem to need more physio training. That is for sure. We lose games late on. This was a bitter loss. But still I see a future here. Parker guided Collison to a good game, and Bellamy Sears. Youngsters side by side with the more experienced ones.

Green 6 - Want him to dictate more in his box. Did not have anything more to do than to pick out the ball from the net. And you can't fault him for any of their goals.
Faubert 3 - Disaster! I usually see - or want to see - the potential in the Frenchman. But today he made one (!) of maybe ten crosses right, his defense was remarkable wrong. Seems to lack confidence, it's possibly the reason.
Neill 4 - Our captain is not our captain sufficent enough. Not on the field at least. And he is not good to mark his player in the box.
Upson - Had to leave the field early injured (not seriously though). Bad for us.
Collins 7 - Good game. Important for us. Strong and our only threat in the air. Likes his play.
Illunga 7 - Energy and good ideas. Plays safe, and still creates a lot. One of our better players today.
Bowyer 5,5 - The flank is not his best position and did not offer a lot forward. But I liked his raw style in the midfield which won a lot of balls.
Collison 7 - Wonderful goal taken. Looked mature on the field and dictated when we pushed forward.
Parker 7,5 - Strong! Geniously backheel. Worked hard. This is the way I want to see him. Strangly subbed late on.
LBM 6 - When Zola subbed him we lost a lot of energy where Arteta who had been quiet all day all of a sudden found space. He do a lot of mistakes, but still works and makes it hard for the opposition. Not a bad game at all.
Sears 6,5 - Wonderful first 45. Do really like to play with Bellamy. Could have scored at two occasions. Faded.
Bellamy 7 - So important for our offence. Still without a goal!

Etherington 5 - offered very little.
Di Michele - Had no time to make any impact at all.

Football is a very cruel art! Still we can't blame any other but ourselves. We could not close the game in any way! Two more goals from us, or less cracks in our defense in the end of the match(es) and it had been three points!

So what is the conclusion: We need a win! That is for sure.
Now we really struggle in the wrong end of the table. We need to have a clean sheet, 'cause the team starts to shiver in every game after about 70 minutes... They know that we usually let loads of goals in at the end of the games.
But I want to see Zolas work continue, and I want to see young players like Collison and Sears - both of whom were two of our better players tonight - continue to play.

We shall not forget that for 60 minutes today we played very, very GOOD!


Home dogs?

We are according to the bookies underdogs at home against Everton!

Everton impressed for 45 minutes against ManUre in a draw that, according to leading ManU-blogger Between_the_Lines, should have been closed before halftime.

Everton come with back to back wins, and that would probably sound good to the average “Betting Joe” but these wins came against Fulham and Bolton, two teams we thoroughly outplayed. The other teams they have won against are Stoke and West Brom and in addition they have drawn against Newcastle and Hull.
Is that an impressive CV? No, thought not.

We suffer from convertitis, that is we have been unable to convert our possession into goals, but even though this illness was still obvious against M-boro I think we showed signs of recuperating with possession much closer to the enemy goal and created more clear cut chances than in the previous 4 games.

Parker is back, Sears and Bellamy will show why they should be trusted and one of their most important players, midfielder Fellaini, is serving a one match ban.
I will treat myself to a bet, 2.60 (8/5) or above is too good to pass.
(Hopefully Prince H will write a more serious pre-game analysis...)

Ready to sell, but who is ready to buy?

As I've said before, it sounds like BG will let all of his financial interests in West Ham go and focus on what he considers his core business, as soon as a reasonable bid is tabled.

However, since the financial situation of the Club is at best uncertain, I have a hard time seeing anyone coming in for the club before the Sheffield business is sorted, if not offered at a extremely favourable price.

The Club is under an outrageous but nevertheless real threat of having to part with £30+ million! That is 35% of what BG once paid for us, or if you wish, 22% of a recently published evaluation done by BG related people.

So, the sale of the Club is depending on if anyone is willing to gamble with this kind of money, or if BG needs to cash in whatever he can as soon as possible accepting the reasonable demand by a future owner to cut the price to reflect this uncertainty – or possibly a mix thereof.

I think there is no doubt that there is a seller, but is there a buyer under these conditions?
I think not, so the sale will take place when there is a reasonable possibility to predict the outcome of the Sheffield soap. That is NOT before the end of this coming transfer window, I'm afraid.

New shirt deal imminent

SBObet. If XL was quite (eh... ok, really) ugly on our shirts our new sponsors logo Sbobet looks like sh*t. 
SBObet is a betting company based in the Phillipines but work globaly. So we will have a huge ad on our shirts from a company who calls the game we love soccer. We will have a greedy company (with a lot of rumours of match fixing allegations) on our shirts that seems to be in the same mould as our owners. It will certainly not wash anyones hands. And not West Ham's. And by the way; it seems still quite difficult to open an account there... but that may of course change if they now tries to expand outside of Asia.

The deal that seems to been approved and sealed, according to many different sites today, looks - if the sources are correct - very decreased compared with the XL deal. It's an 18 month deal that will give the club about 2 millions GBP, compared with 2.5 millions a year with XL. 
The SBObet-logo can be on the shirts already in the game against Ports...
I'm happy we recieve some money, but the SBObet is not particularly good. It seems that the board were a bit (eh...very) desperate... waiting for offers not to come. 

And I can't figure out why we - for so many games - played with those "house numbers" on the front instead of listening to the will of the club's fans, having the Bobby Moore fund for cancer research on the West Ham shirts at least until any sponsor deal was made. It had been so much better for all: The club had sold many moore(!) shirts, they would have got some credit as a club listening to their fans, and the cancer research would get some more money as well. 

I can understand that we really need some money coming our way now, I can fully understand that we do not make a deal with Dagenham Motors again, but it seems too often that the board lacks a bit of feeling for what's good for the club and it's important collaboration with their fans and the rest of the world.

I am pleased to have Zole here though ;-)


A first wisper from the horses mouth

Today one additional step towards the inevitable sale of West Ham was taken.

According to BBC, Ásgeir Friðgeirsson, our vice president and spokesperson for the Guðmundsson family, said that " [Björgolfur Guðmundsson] is evaluating all of his business interests, including West Ham".

Even though the fact that West Ham most likely is for sale hardly is news, this is the first time we have heard this from someone inside the club and so close to our owner.

There is something that does surprise me in all this though. We knew that BG would need to concentrate what financial muscle he still has in his core business and a sale of West Ham thus makes sense.

But I was fairly certain that we would be presented with a done or a almost done deal. Why is that not the case?
There have been several rumours that potential buyers have been courting BG but that BG was not happy about what he was offered. The Kremlinologist in me senses that a message is being sent here. A - "I want more bidders since I'm not happy with how this auction is going" - kind of a message.

So is the sale actually getting any closer?

Well, since it will ultimately take place, every day is one day closer, but apart from that, the fact that this story is printed (and not denied) tells us that BG is more inclined than ever to take an offer for the club, and that should be good news for all of us that wants this deal done as quick as possible.
I have heard myself saying that I would embrace any new owner just to get out of this "panta rei" situation. However, there are plenty of lousy club owners, so please, for once send us the right one!
Mike Lee, heavily associated with the icelandic takeover is resigning as non-executive director.

P.S. Every faithful Bubbleview reader already know the background to this story and the rest of you I urge to click on the label "financial" in the label list to the left of this post to read my previous entries on this topic.


Samson and Denial

Samson, the holding company used by Björgolfur Guðmundsson to purchase West Ham has been under voluntary administration for some time but today the application for an extension of this administration was contested by the German Commerzbank.

The consequence of the administration was that as long as it was on, no one could claim whatever assets were still in Samson.
Now, however, when the administrative protection is lifted, the sale of Samson assets (us for example) can be forced by the beneficiaries, who are now trying to reclaim some of the 23 billions in loans that are upset.

In plain language: The company through which BG owns us is just about to go bankrupt and will probably be forced to sell West Ham, to pay back some of the money it owes!

Now, the last word is not yet said about this since all the intricacies of the ownership of the club is still to be unfolded. There could still be some ingenious way that let's BG hold on to the club.

Are there any risk that the Club will be stripped and its priced assets sold?

Without knowing much about how these things work, I doubt that there are any financial gains to be made by doing so.
Anyone that owns us knows that the price of a club doomed for the gloom of the championship would be so much lower than one still in the EPL, and can not be compensated by the sale of a few players during the January transfer window.

What I fear in my worst night mares is that the real estate now owned by the Club is something that could be stripped from us,

Bellamy and Sears who needs who?

When Freddie Sears this summer named Bellamy as a father-figure I think most of us jumped more than a bit.
I mean we're talking Craig Bellamy here, a player as much like a father as a hand-grenade with the safety pin out!

But now we see Craig Bellamy spur his team on, giving the passers the thumbs up, his players a tap on the back and an encouraging smile and I think there is no doubt about who is in charge on the pitch.

Neill may be the official Captain, but he doesn't show the passion that Bellamy does. The slight uncertainty about Neills starting spot and overall performance is also less than optimal for a team captain and undoubtedly undermines his position on the pitch.

I remember Bellamys first substitute appearance this season when it took him about one minute to give Cole, a certain team starter the last 2 seasons, instructions on how to play his game!
That in it self may only say something about Craig, but the look on Coles face was that of a corrected academy player, and that says something about Bellamys position in the team.
When he signed for us he said that he wanted to become a West Ham legend and I believe he actually does and I think he is prepared to work hard for it to happen.

Since his last comeback from injury his match fitness has steadily improved and he can keep up his very tiring kind of a game further and further into the game.
Against 'boro he gradually faded over the last 20 minutes or so, giving them a chance to build their attack under less pressure. But that should not be taken as something negative, rather a sign of his importance in the defence as well as in attack.

And Sears, does he need Craig as his mentor?
I'm not sure, but I do think young Sears is a very positive influence on Bellamy!
When singled out by a prodigy as someone he looks to for guidance, Bellamy must feel at least some pressure to behave as a role model.

Bellamy is still disputing most every call the referee does, and his flying tackles is an integral part of his game that I really want him to keep, but hopefully the total loss of self control, that has previously been something of a Bellamy trade-mark, will be fewer than before.


Tristan's first 45

Tristan played his first 45 for West Ham tonight, when the Eastenders reserve team lost to Tottenscums reserves with 2-0. But while West Ham only had two-three senior players (Tristan, Lopez and maybe we should say Reid as well) Tottscum showed up with seven. Bajner - the hattrick-hero - came on as a substitute in the second half but had to be taken off with the stretcher. Hopefully not so bad as it seemed. Both goals came in the second half. The whole team played well what it seems, but Kyel Reid was our best man in front of Zola's eagle gaze.

Street, O'Neill, N'Gala, Spence, Widdowson, Kearns, Harvey, Reid (Lee), Lopez, Stokes, Tristan (Bajner, sub Edgar) Unused subs: Loveday, Brooks, Grasser.

The world's most influential man - a Hammer

Sometimes tomorrow the world will take a deep breath. And hope for "change". Most people will hope that Barack Obama will win the Election, and will be the President to make the world a better place. At least a little, little better...
West Ham supporters will be among his supporters, as he himself is a West Ham fan!
So Wednesday morning, European time, we can have the world's most important man as a follower of claret & blue! It can't hurt! Go for it Obama!

If you want to know a little bit more about how Obama became a hammer, read The Suns article, from whom I borrowed the picture. (www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article732401.ece)

Diego face T-ham tonight?

Not much has "leaked " about who will play in the reserve game tonight but the un-played reserves from the 'boro games are reasonable guesses, meaning Walker, Tomkins, Lopez, Di Michele AND DIEGO TRISTAN.
Will Tristan finally get a run out?

I struggle to understand why he is yet to play a second in the reserves (bar behind doors games).
It's time for some reports on what he looks like on the pitch!

Spuds: Cesar, L Butcher, Stalteri, Berchiche, Mtandari, Gilberto, Dervite, Rocha, Olsen, Hutchins, Daniels, Boateng, Fraser-Allen, Ghaly, Taarabt, Maghoma.

West Ham: Street, O'Neill, Widdowson, N'Gala, Spence, Stokes, Harvey, Lopez, Kearns, Reid, Tristan. Substitutes; Loveday, Lee, Fry, Grasser, Edgar, Bajner.

So 2 out of 5 ain't bad (?). But most important, Tristan played half a game and looked decent according to the official site.

Game ends 2-0 but that seems OK against a experienced spurs team.


One for the future - Balint Bajner

So Joppe, we lack talented youth players? Well, Balint Bajner, the new recruit from Hungary seems to be doin alright....
After three goals with his national U18 last week, he put on claret and blue this weekend. In the game gainst Southampton U18, he scored another hat-trick.
He may not be able to do the same against Ferdinand-Vilic yet, but once again: Don't count'em youngsters out.


Surprising moments - but only one point

It's not always the players.... We get frustrated when we see some player on the field we dislike. We really try to see how bad the player is, watch every move with every doubt we can procure. Before the game today I had raised some doubt over some of the players - but for the first 45 minutes noone of these let me down. Instead they showed what faith can do to a player. Zola seems to give the players faith.

In the end we lost two crucial points (and although my article below speaks something else, I'm not happy with just one point - I think we deserved more) and some of the players looked in the end very, very tired. Still all of our "benchwarmers" showed glimpses today what faith can do. And not least; what a well-laid plan can do for them. If players know what to do in every single moment, they can rely on that and become better players for a better team.

Green 8. Some crucial saves in the end, but not so much to do.
Neill 7.5. Played very well today. He is not fast, he is not running up and down the line. Still very positive influence today. Played well against people like Downing which suprised me.
Collins 6. I'm very happy he is back and today he fought like a superhero. Had a lot of influence on the game. But it's early days for him and he looked very tired in the end (maybe that's the smoking?), he causes the freekick, and then makes the common mistake to jump in the wall when the opponent shoots. Mido scored under his feet.
Upson 6.5. For the second game in a row, he lets Collins shine in the box which worries me a bit. He should have the influence of a man who is in the national team. But otherwise. Very solid.
Illunga 7. No wrongs, fights hard. Good, but not spectacular today. Good teamwork and some good runs.
Faubert 6.5. Much more calm at RM. Made a good impression on me in the first half with much commitment and some decent runs. Was not as fast as Downing, but a close call. Seemed very, very tired in the end and even uninterested.
Mullins 6.5. Great - if unconvenional - goal! The involvment in the first half was astonishing. We are talking about Mullins for G**ds sake. But when Boro put on some more pressure in the second half (mainly with Arca) Mullins was not the man to keep the ball up and change the game. When we lost our central midfield, we lost our lead.
Collison 6.5 Happy for him. He had a good game, and did not look unsecure a single minute. His inexperience never shown and he made some decent runs, could even had scored twice (I like when the central midfield tries to reach for the ball in the box - we have not had that in any games this season... until now!). Like to search for Sears. Good spirit! He will play more for us from now on.
LBM 6. Had a decent game, and I really like when he fights so hard, wins the ball back and plays tough. Was involved in our goal. Well, he made mistakes too... but absolutly OK today.
Sears 6. Loved to see his good - eh, decent - collaboration with Bellamy. Sometimes their runs made Boro's defence dizzy. Not enough efficiency though, which cost us in the end.
Bellamy 7.5. We put a lot of pressure on Bellamy's shoulders. But he had a good game today, even if I think he needs another 4-5 games to reach 100 per cent. Sometimes he makes the completely wrong decisions. But he runs like hell.

Neither Etherington or Bowyer (both late subs) had any affects on the game at all.

23 games without clean sheet and counting.
Good to see Tristan on the bench. And good to see Zola affect the game and introducing new talent. Can't blame him for his choice of LBM either. In the end we had a good game, but were unable to keep up the advantage. The midfield stopped to play with the same intensity and aggressiveness. And we only managed to score once. Still... more happy today than in the whole of October.
Soon we will have Cole, Ashton, Dyer, Parker, Noble and Behrami. Not everyone could say they should start immediately! Everton - who were very lucky today - next!

What do we prefer??

I think we need to stay positive with "just" one point today.

So do we prefer 0-0, 1-1 or 2-2? After embarrasing 22 games without a cleen sheet I would certainly go for 0-0. I think we need to get some confidence back at the back. Collins need to gel, and feel certain to start. Faubert, if playing, needs to show he can do a decent match.
I guess Green feels that his back four falls to far, gets in his lap. And will be a bit uncertain how to react sometimes. So 0-0 is boring maybe, but good for all.

But if Sears could be a "point-winner", makin 1-1 in the 87:th or something?
That would build his confidence and let us all see that we don't have to rely on Ashton/Cole...
Well, if we have 0-2 and we let Tristan in from the bench and he scores two! That would not be bad either, would it?? A kick-start that everybody would speak about for a long, long time... (Di Michele did not turn his first day success to something permanent though).

In any case I would go for 0-0!
But that will of course change any minute 'boro scores. But that will not happen today!

Seize the Mo(v)ement!

The absence of Cole is something we didn't need at the moment. But situations like these were the reason for Zola to gamble on an unfit Tristan.

However, Tristan is still not fit enough for the demanding EPL game. And rather than starting a striker that tires faster than the defenders, this has emerged as an opportunity for Zola to prove the importance of movement in attack.

As I have said too many times before, the movement, or rather the lack of movement, in our attacking game is one of the main reasons we have not been able to take advantage of our possession and to convert it to something that really bothers the opponents.

The lack of a target player will force us to attack on the floor with pace in this game. And on the surface this sounds as the perfect game for Bellamy and Etherington to shine.However, against a team that may play "safety first", the runs usually provided by Bellamy and especially Etherington is maybe not what is needed to unlock their back 4. Pace is not the same thing as movement! The area that Ethers would usually be heading for will most likely be very limited by an already retracted defence. Some other kind movement is needed.

Bowyer has shown some inspiring runs into the deep center of enemy territory in the last games, and with some options provided by other moving players this can be really interesting. Also, it will create options for the playmaker(s) and force the 'boro defence to leave their preferred positions.

So please Mr (Zola), play young Sears and show how an on the floor passing game should be done!