Happy New and angst-free year!

Happy New Year all Hammers fans!

We wish a year of peace of mind and a situation where we can start to believe in the future again!
We especially hope for a prosperous year for those of you that are regular visitors and commenters - no one mentioned, no one forgotten but you know who you are! We hope that some of that good fortune will rub off on the Club.

Joppe also promises to do his best to crawl out of his depression and be more positive about things - if he find a reason to...

Team against Arsenal

With all the injuries Prince H talked about in his last post and the fact that we'll have a hard time coping with any more you wonder what team we will field in the Arsenal games.
Upson will hardly be played as he is bankrolling the january recruits and is "worth more to us alive".
Behrami is on the comeback trail and either need a few games to get in shape or need to take it slowly - hard call.
is so precious to us at the moment that I'd rest him. The problem is to find any replacement old enough to drive a car. I would try Spector in defensive midfield and (in total disagreement with my last post) N'Gala in defence somewhere. Unfortunately I think Zola feels obliged to play Diamanti.
Sears is recalled from Palace where he failed to score in his 18 appearances for them. He'd be my choice ahead of Nouble against a weaker side where he could hope to play some balls he could use his pace on. On his + sides is also the fact that he has has been playing competitive football this season. But we'll need to have some kind of target player looking person up there to keep their back four from making base camp on our side so I'll go with Nouble.
Green is hardly enjoying his stay with us at the moment and I'm sure that he would jump at a chance to join a top 7 team. Maybe he should be rested to give him a chance to get his spirit back, but as Kurucz is out this won't happen.

So instead of Behrami, Gabbidon, Ilunga, Noble, Parker, Dyer, Hines, Cole and Franco (suspended) who would all "normally" be in line for a start, we could end up playing

......................... Green
Faubert - Da Costa -Tomkins - Spector
......................... Kovac
Collison - Jimenez - Diamanti -Stanislas
........................ Nouble/Sears

Our chance lies in..... let's not fool our selves, we don't have one.
(But then that's what I said before the Chelsea game as well).


A whole team off!

Hi! Hurrah, once again we are the leader of the pack!
We have just beaten Everton and are in the top of the league. Of course I am talking about The Premier Leauges injury table.
Five of nine of our lost men have problems with their hamstrings! Can't our physio do anything to make these hamstrings softer, warmer, stronger??

I am certain I should be able to lend some guys from the reserve team (Edgar? Grasser?) to make "our best team on cruches" complete. Sorry, but two things are not correct: having Behrami in it is a bit of cheting as he is close to full fitness, and I can't find a goalkeeper. Maybe on Sunday?
On the other hand, I do not count on Dean Ashton anymore....

Could we please get some news about Hines knee soon? According to Physioroom Carlton Cole is closest to a return, but I guess Parker and Noble will be with us sooner rather than later? May we see all of'em against Wolves (10th Jan).

Anyway. Our team:

Behrami - Gabbidon - Davenport -Ilunga
LBM - Noble - Parker - Dyer
Hines - Cole

Could they be the answer to beat Arsenal this Sunday?

An Academic Question

West Ham – the academy of football. Taste that!

Even though I’ve always thought of that statement as more than a bit arrogant the fact that we have produced a string of talent has made it possible for us to play against the best teams in English football for quite a few seasons.
We have had the opportunity to bring on recruits fresh from, or in some cases still in, our famous academy. We’ve seen them “get their chance” a lot the last season or two, and by the famous Duckers-epos “The Football Project” this necessity was transformed into a virtue and a cornerstone.
Zola was lured here partly by his interest in forming and honing young players and there is little that gets the blood of a supporter flowing like a lad from the academy taking his first bow at Upton Park, not to mention scoring on his home debut. And I still get the shivers when I think of the Noble penalty against Liverpool a few seasons ago, a shiver that would not have been even close to the same if yet another hired gun would have put it away. Some boys get away with badge kissing!
But would it be possible to point out a few problems with this talented youngster thing without being branded as anti-academic?

It takes a great deal of coaching guts to resist the urge to field a player before they are ready (or the situation is right) when there is a lack of cover in a position.
“If they are good enough they are old enough” is often used as a way to rectify this in “throw them in at the deep end” situations.
However, there is a huge difference between being good enough to be the new boy in an otherwise stable lineup and good enough to be thrown into an ever changing squad like ours this season where the youngsters cannot rely on their surrounding teammates to tell, show or even know, what should be done.
The lack of composure and cool shown by our side of late may have several reasons. Lack of the right on/off the pitch leadership or the lack of, or trust in, a game plan are all possible reasons, but it is certainly not helped by the number of youngsters and the relatively in-experience in our side, in crucial positions at that!These poor lads have also been used as reasons and explanations for not getting proper replacements for lost players. To gain the most of the talents of Sears, Collison, Nouble, Stanislas, Tomkins, Hines, N’Gala etc and to help them fulfill their potential these young lads need to be schooled, not only technically and tactically but also into the premiership game.

It’s not only if a player is good enough that is the question, it is also if the team and the leaders are good enough to give him what he needs to succeed.


Not really West Ham

A strange sense that West Ham are not really responsible for our teams performance has crept up on me and seem to have infected the mindset of quite a few fans on West Ham related sites and forums. There is a clear sign that more people than usual are trying to distance themselves from the present results as well as from the present XI. Even though “we’re better than this” and “if it wasn’t for…” are probably the most common thoughts in the heads of fans on the losing side, I think we have taken it a step further.
“It’s the Puffins fault, we’ve had a continuous drain of talent and have not been able to buy the right players for the Zola way of football, and on top of that we’ve had our most valuable players injured.” are the current mantras.
Now this is all true but it is in no way unique to the 2009/2010 season or, for that matter West Ham. We’ve lost talented players to better paying/performing sides before and it would be downright naïve to hope that it will not happen in the future. There are, believe it or not, also other teams that have experience of limited transfer budgets, and the need to finance a reshaping of a squad by the sale of players. Take a look at Fulham where funds have been scarce but where the leaders adapts the way of playing football to the situation. They are fielding West Ham rejects for crying out loud!

An intriguing question is, would we win football games with the Fulham squad?

Obviously not having the players that we fancy hamper our performance, but the job of the executive leaders at the club is to get on with it and work with the situation at hand. Adapt the game plan to the current situation and maybe realize that adding one or two players to the existing squad may not transform it to a squad able to play 433 against a well organized PL side with great success. The players we field are West Ham and it’s West Ham that is losing the games, not the Icelanders! Fix the obvious things that are wrong with the team performance instead of blaming our lack of fortune on the financial crisis and the greed of some Icelandic creditors!

Why on earth did I write this shitty post today? Not quite sure, but I blame the Puffins!


West Hamstring with no edge

After twenty minutes we had lost both Ilunga and our "General Generator" Scott Parker to injuries, and the small Croatian had scored his first for the home team after his long lay-off. There was very, very little in West Hams favour then, and it really looked like our players understood that as well.
When we lost Parker there was noone in the first half who knew what to do or who to lead our team forward. We were not lucky with their first goal either. After a counterattack with Lennon as always "PL:s Bolt", the ball fell (un)luckily to Modric who shot in the ground, the ball bounced over Green's arms and into the net. Just 11 minutes gone.
But as we've said before the goal also showed a problem that we have had in defence all season. All players are just looking at the ball. Noone saw Modric coming behind them. And there were loads of players who should have been able to pick him up. Can Mr Zola please fix this problem??
After 1-0 and those injuries I thought we were dead and buried. Well, we actually were, even if we had a better second half and even a period of about ten minutes where we threatened a nervous home team. In that spell though, Defoe scored their second in another counterattack.

After the break we showed more heart, Diamanti most of all, but Tottenham with King, Defoe and Modric back in the team were this day a superior team. At least our defense had a really good game.
I've tried to find any news about Ilunga and Parker but at this moment found none. And with Franco - with a fifth yellow card - also off the FA-game against Arsenal I guess we will see Alex Dyers young men have a go....

Green 6,5 - A couple of misunderstandings between him and his defenders, and in a perfect world he should have been able to steer Defoes first shot differently, still a good performance. And more resolute than lately.
Faubert 6,5 - Another good performance from our French guy even if he has to practise those crosses over New Year. Battled well.
Tomkins 7,5 - Has improved very much lately and this performane was really good from our youngster.
Matthew Upson 7,5 - I could only find one mistake during the whole game. Really concentrated on his task, which he handled very, very well. MotM.
Ilunga 5 - Fought hard against Lennon, looked solid, then he had to be taken off. Early! Never ran back when we lost the ball when they first scored in their counterattack. Probably injured already. Another hamstring?
Collison 5 - Had the same problems as the last game. When we expect him to push forward he lacks the last "damn hell". He retreats when he has a chance to win important space, and even a goal chance. And especially when Parker was forced off I expect this young man to be a more driving force. Maybe hard words, but who else to rely on in these moments?
Parker 5 - Looked like he was goin to fight as usual, but all of a sudden he was off for Jimenez. Just after their first goal. Another hamstring?
Kovac 7 - Another really good game from Kovac and by miles our best midfield man today. Fought hard. Too bad he can't make a pass. He is not the man that can "conduct" the team, but that's not why he is here.
Behrami 4 - We are so happy that he is back! But this was not impressing, he is not ready for a game like this yet. Fought yes, but did a lot of mistakes, and as with Kovac, sorry he can not make good passes.
Diamanti 6 - Totally invisible in the first half, it was not his game at all. Grew after the break and took responsibility with some great moment's and good passing. Not that it did help, but that is what we like to see.
Franco 5 - Tooooooo lonely up front with no help. I doubt even Cole could have made it today. Yellow-carded and will miss the Arsenal game. Maybe best so. Wolves is far more important.

Jimenez 3,5 - At least he was behind our goals against Pompey, this time he had nothing to offer. Plays like a (uninspired) teenager against men. I doubt that he will be with us after January.
Spector 5,5 - Decent performance, at least if you go out to the kitchen to grab something in those "moment's" he always have.
Stanislas 6 - Tried. As always a bit too hard.

This did not look like a "all for one, one for all"-performance. We were tired after our important game against Pompey 48 hours ago. And we do very seldom perform against Tottenham. So to lose Parker after just 11 minutes was just the destiny for another loss. Atleast I was impressed by the defence today (mainly Tomkins, Upson, Kovac).

Wolves (Arsenal) next! And the frightening January window :-S

Agreeing with Whinger?

Arsene D'whinger had another trademark outburst, this time about the long throwers. As far as I understand he wanted them banned in some way.
Some of you may recall THIS post that I wrote after our encounter with Delap et al. last season, where I spill my guts over the Stoke way in general and the long throwing Delap in particular. I remember thinking I was really clever when suggesting that "throw in gloves" was to be the next thing. It didn't take long for that to come true did it?

But the real problem in my eyes is not so much the long throws as such as the way they distort the "flow" of a game. We are used to the way corners staccatos (is that a word?) a game and the problem with the long throws, as I see it, is the time it takes to get the ball in play.
If there is a limited time for a throw in to be taken, short enough not to allow the center backs to take a 50 m jog into the box, the problem should be solved.
Is the referee committee listening?


Goin for 10th spot?

So this was the essential win, a temporary breath or just the beginning of a new era?

Of the teams we have behind us at the moment all but Pompey have had less games played, on the other hand it's just four points more to reach Sunderland in tenth position....
An even league which we hopefully can take advantage of.
For the second time in a row we showed these necessary big hearts. So even if Parker once more was the big organiser and mean machine in the team, we did also have others who gave us surprising efforts!
After a nervy start we showed at least that we are a better team than Portsmouth, and won for the first time (!) ever at Upton Park against the blue sailors.
I think the main difference from games like the ones against Birmingham is that we've stepped up a gear mentally. All players are working for each other and all of a sudden you can see midfielders and even defenders in the opponent's box. And if we can continue to fight like this we will soon be off the bottom. Newcomers in the team like Franco and Diamanti have surely understood it all!!!

Green 6 - Still a bit nervy, should as we always suggest leave his line a bit more often (and with a more reliable attitude) and I still do not likte those many long kicks. But made a great save when Piquionne (a great player) came through in the second half, may have been crucial. His first cleen sheet since August! Keep'em comin'!
Faubert 7 - Probably his best performance for us since the beginning of the season. Fought hard, showed heart and took great responsibility. Not to say that his opponents were the hardest in the league. Anyway: Good.
Tomkins 7 - Kept first Piquionne quiet and then Kanu. After some nervy games this was up to the youngsters standards. And he have to continue like this on Monday!
Upson 6,5 - It's of course Matthew Upson who can give the defence the stability back. Like this performance which gave us our first clean sheet since 1931. Still this was a bit sloppy at times from our Captain. A few misjudged moments could have cost us. Otherwise solid.
Ilunga 7 - This is the way we used to see him. Fighting hard in defense, good movement goin forward. made some crucial blocks, and few mistakes. Dindane was useless when it was Ilunga against him, so next it's probably Lennon! Show courage!
Jack Collison 6 - Well, even if his miss when he shoud have scored was bad, those things happen. I was pleased with most of his moves goin forward, but less impressive to work for the defense. Sometimes these go together and our young Welsh turns a bit cowardly. Moves for safty instead of challenge - which we all know he can do. Can also play faster! Still: Had at least three good opportunities!
Mark Noble - - Why not change our team name to West Hamstring? I do not know how many players who have had to be taken off this season for injuries to their hamstring?? Noble as early as after 20 minutes today. Had nobig effect on the team in those minutes though.
Scott Parker 8,5 - Once more MotM! His big heart and fighting spirit is not only his, it is a big influence on the whole team! Started actually a bit sloppy, but who remembers that? Soon, he became on of the main men in the PL this round. May we keep him forever!
Radoslav Kovac 7,5 - Ups, this player can run! This man can also influence the team with hard tackles and good moves! Lovely performance in the middle of the park. And our Chech makes his best contribution - by miles - for claret & blue! So far! (Well, he did well against Chelski too) May be important for Parker as well, as he gives Scotty more room to improvise a bit. Most of us have asked why we bought this man back this season, he (and Zola/Clarke) may give us the answer now! People grow differently into a new team. Goalscorer! (His first since he became Cl&bl permanent).
Alessandro Diamanti 8 - I think our entertainer No. one already has answered those who dismissed him and thought he was the wrong answer to save us. Nowadays he has so much more than a lovely left foot (still sooo important) he fights, and he has started to (try to) find his teammates and become a teamplayer. He can change gear and affect the team in a "spiritual" way! Still makes those silly things, but we may need them sometimes as well! Another good goal from the spot!
Guillermo Franco 7 - Tested late before the game and got the nod. I didn't know and even if it was far from his best game for us we were few who recognised he played with a knock. Still worked very hard, and clever as always! He is not fast but has a big toolbox, and somtimes he should be able to use it even more, like looking up to find teammates in even better positions. But I'm happy to see him here, not least because he is a great teamplayer. And he seems to like it here!

Subs: Jimenez 6,5 - (on for Noble 20th) At times very invisible, still involved in both our goals. So happy for him, as our Latin loan has been struggling a lot to find his feet in this league. When Jimenez was given the freekick out on the right I cursed that Diamanti had been taken off, but the Chilean answered right away: Lovely, sublime freekick to Kovac.
Behrami 6 - (on for Diamanti, 71t) - Well, came on when Pompey tried to get something from the game and pushed us hard. I do not know how much Valon affected the game, but it all of a sudden looked more positive for us again.
Nouble - If this guy really run as fast as he looked like, he must be given more than one minute and a half in each game!

So I do not care that we did not look like world beaters against a poor team like Portsmouth. Or that we may not played beautiful like Arsenal at their best. We won, we played with big heart, we kept a clean sheet and more players than Parker and Franco showed that they want to help us through!

Spurs next!



What a wonderful win! And a clean sheet!
At least we will stay safe until Monday!
My match player report will be for you to read tomorrow, if interested.
But one thing is certain already, our old man Mullins was not MotM....


The death of West Ham is far too exaggerated!

This was by far the most of fighting spirit I've seen in our team since..... hm... maybe our loss to Tottscum (3-4) two seasons ago...
1-1 against a pretty blunt Chelsea – who was given a point by the referee, and another goal from Diamanti – is not bad for a start, but the way we really fought was above all.

Have they already hired that psychoanalyst or was this just a way to show Zola and Clarke their faith? I think it was the latter. The first half was pretty even, the second was Chelsea's, still we should have won this. Franco's header in the dying minutes was fabulous, Carvalho's push at the Mexican was a penalty (not rewarded) for sure and Upson's challenge on Sturridge was cut clear and another shame for the referees, as Chelski were given the chance from the spot....
Still just one point, but if we can continue like this - with the same heart - even against more beatable, less well-organised teams, we can do what we did last year!

Green 6,5 - A little bit shaky from the start, but saved well after that, not least when Zhirkov had his chance in the end.
Faubert 6,5 - Agressive, good. One of his better games as RB.
Gabbidon 7 - Solid as a rock, until the hamstring (?) once again haunted him. Had to be taken off after only 20. The hand ball? Nah....
Upson 7,5 - Thank God he is back! And not only his name, but the true old Upson!
Ilunga 6,5 - Involved, good. Went forward again! And doin it all of a sudden against Chelski may show Upsons important role.
Collison 6,5 - Much better today than lately. I like his runs cross the field up front. May miss sometimes when we play defense, but less often today. Was tripped by A Cole and gave us the penalty.
Kovac 6 - I am not so fond to confess this, but we really needed him today. Did much better than lately, still a weak link as he can not take a pass and often play to far from his opponent at the moment. Still, useful today and helped the midfield as he took responsibility!
Noble 7 - Much better today than lately. Fought soooo hard, took his freekicks and corners much better that lately.
Parker 8 - We've all seen Parker run like hell, fight like hell, being our heart! Still his effort today was on top of all his former games, at least in these senses!
Franco 7,5 - His best game for us, even if he did not score this time. He is an intelligent player and a class-act and showed it once more with his moves. Won more headers and held up the ball well (well, mostly). Has already got used to the PL!
Diamanti 7,5 - Well, sometimes he still think he plays in Italy and acts the dead bird, but this time he used his skills to find his teammates much more than earlier. Good. And even if sometimes he looks like a player from my back-yard, in the next movement he may be world-class. If not yet, he can be the next big hero for us. A true entertainer. Scored the penalty.

Sub: Tomkins (on for Gabbs) 7,5: Except for one weak effort he came on and did tremendously well, kept his concentration and kept Drogba quiet.

So those of you who says we have bought the wrong players: I'd say: Franco is a really good additon to our team, so is Diamanti!! They can even be the difference when we conclude this season.

Today was a true team-effort, and I can say that all players did what they were there to do! Thus: Congratulaitions to all. Not least our beloved Zola/Clarke. The have made some mistakes, but they have had too much sticks (as they cant buy, but just sell) , and this showed that they can, and probably will be, the answer to most of our problems. Also, thanks to our fans, Upton Park was on show today!

Well, I really loved the performance today, still we must know that Chelsea lacks a bit of form. And that our next game, against Portsmouth is far,far more important than this one! Sorry!

Happy Christmas!!!


Deep down

As I said in the earlier post, who cares who plays well and who doesn't in i decisive game like the one against Bolton. This game is a team effort more than any other.
But: Now we had another loss, even if good intentions in the second half with a injury-stretched-squad and we are deep into sh*t.
There was some individual faults though that separated the teams tonight and looking at the players Bolton actually had better individuals. Stronger and less nervous. (Hello, it's boring Bolton I'm talking about). Well we had many bright players off with various resons, but who cares?
I stood right behind the goal last time we lost to Bolton 1-3, a game were actually Green made the same odd mistake flipping the ball and gave it to the opponent, well a carbon copy of the he did yesterday. As our England No 1 said before the game: "You don't get much bigger than Tuesday's game.". Stronger and less nervous. When he walked off the pitch I couldn't find a more lonley man in the world.
Whatever happens this loss leaves us in a very bad shape this January and how that affects us selling, buying players, selling the team (or not) I am not the man to tell.....
I must say that the ugly way we started and the ugly way we played in was maybe the way to do it. Just banging the ball upwards was not the way to do it without Cole. Franco, Dyer/Stanislas and Diamanti can hardly win a header against those tall defenders still we changed things around a bit and maybe the boring tactics from our leaders was right. If individual mistakes had not been....

Am I totally blind or? Noone discuss Lee's goal, I think Ilunga is clearly on the right side when the ball is played, but noone else seems to see the offside, so I guess I'm at least colour-blind (claret).

Green 4 - His mistake at their second cost us very very much. The curse of a goalkeeper. But why should he be affected by the rest of the team?
Faubert 5 - Bolton tried his flank a lot. Not totally convincing, he did at least OK and fought. The best we have for the RB.
Tomkins 4 - Poor guy. Have I ever seen a player so nervous?? After his first mistake, they came one after the other. Their third goal just the exclamation mark. Time for another selection this weekend again as I think Da Costa will take his place if Upson will be out still. If not earlier he can learn his trade in the CC....
Gabbidon 7 - Our best player along Parker. No mistakes as I saw it. Really convincing game.
Ilunga 5,5 - Looked better today. Was really a part of the build-ups. May find his best soon again. It better be soon.
Collison 5 - Far from his best he had his moments.
Parker 7 - Like a lion once more. Our lung and heart, but not enough this time.
Kovac 5 - Did not like to see him at the teamsheet. But: This was the best I've seen from him so far.
Dyer - Was happy to see hom back, also as he can be the difference for us in a gae like this. But it was chilly and after just 20 he was off... Once again. Will we ever se him again? I doubt it.
Diamanti 5,5 - Beautiful goal. Otherwise very silent evening.
Franco 5,5 - Not his type of game, still moved well and tried hard.

Stanislas 5 - On for Dyer. Well, at least things seem to happen.... Nice try. Even worked in defence today.
Da Costa - Played five minutes up front. Should have been on instead of Tomkinsmuch earlier and I think it would have been right for Nouble to get those few minutes at the end in stead. Even if I can see Zola's idea, it was desperate. May be an idea to hold onto though.



.... I do not care - not at all - which eleven players who will play for us and Mr Zola. As long as they perform. As long as we'll keep a clean sheet. And as long we will have 3 points with us home!


Can it be worse?

As I was unable to follow the game other than on whufc.com you'll have to discuss this loss yourselves. No marks from me.
Another huge Q:n is ; can we really rise from this situation? It seems that we do not have enough leaders out there. Parker seemed far from one today (like he was the other day, gainst Burnley) of the few moments I was to follow from a stream (and he should be the one), Diamanti is energetic but do push himself more than others and our young veteran Noble is below-par (even if his sending off - for the second yellow was an awful miss from the referee as Noble really took the ball well).
Clarke and Zola changes their team all the time, so who do they trust? At least it seemed (the shy, not Captain-substance) Gabbs did really well, and I'm happy about that, cause he should play in a back four that I want much more soild (why do they have to change it every game?) and not changed every week if not new injuries occur. I'd go with Faubert, Da Costa, Gabbs, Ilunga until Upson is back.... The "only" player they seem to be sure of is Kovac who had played more minutes last games than anyone excpected, and if he has convinced Zola/Clarke to continue game after game it's too beyond me..

Today Wolves won, and all other contenders for relegation had one point, including Portsmouth. So no big changes in the bottom. That could be worse. But on the field?? Tell me.....


Takeover rumours heating up!

Yesterday there was a public presentation by Straumur where they presented what has been going on with their debt during the first 6 months of moratorium, and what their plans are for the future if they are trusted with an extension of the moratorium by the Icelandic court this Friday.

Even though rumors about Gold and Sullivans interest in West Ham has been going on since last summer, the last week or so a rumor has been growing that David Gold and David Sullivan was to table a bid this week. This offer to Andrew Bernhardt, or rather Straumur, supposedly consists of a “nominal fee” for West Ham while accepting to take over the debt.
Today this rumor exploded in articles by WH owner linked Burt of the Telegraph, the Mirror and on the BBC website.
To me there is a nice connection between these two events.

Straumur painted a picture stretching over 5 years during which they hoped to regain some or most of the money owed. What is clear is that they are planning on this process taking time and rather find more funds later than less fund now. One reason for this prolonged process is that by doing it this way the so called “unsecured claimholders” will likely regain more of their money.

Another bit of info seemed to be apparent in the presentation – that Straumur has no funds to inject to boost any needing company – hence Straumur should be interested in help to do so.

Enter Gold&Sullivan. If what they have leaked to the press is accurate they are willing to take on the debt of the Club and to pay the current owners a “nominal fee” for a controlling post in the Club and an option to buy the remaining share “at a later date”. The willingness of the current owners to let a part of the Club go at this time probably lies in how this option is designed. G&S are also to inject some transfer funds to build the value of the Club and secure premiership survival. Some rumors say that in addition to this the current owners will be handed continuous payments during the period up to a certain date or their sale of the remaining share, whichever comes first.

To me this makes a lot of sense. That’s why I have fallen into the trap of commenting on it. Straumur reduces its risk of having a debt ridden Championship side in their asset portfolio without being able to do anything about it while securing a future payment through the option.

Having said this, the current owners must still, obviously, be prepared to turn Gold and Sullivan down if the offer is just too low to make financial sense, or perhaps if an offer from the Intermarket Group is for some reason preferable...


O, for f**k's sake, 0-4

I do not think that we would have had much of a chance picking points against The Champs with Cole, Upson and many others out.
So losing is, even if we got a good record, not so much to complain about... in itself. But the way we did it!
So: I'm very disappointed today... when will we stop to let these loads of goals in? When will Clarke show these lads how to defend?? When will the team start to act like a team defending?

It was good taken goals from ManU, no doubt about it (even if the third really looked offside for me), but it was not hard to see that we did not work like a team in those moments. The first (time: 45,30 in the first half which was decisive) one was a good act from Scholes but still a(nother) foolish disaster from Kovac who easily moved away(!) from Scholes when the redhead was to shoot. Kovac went behind (!) him instead of trying to take it cool and block the shot.
Green was there to touch Scholes shot but was not able o hold it. Maybe if he had been well?? The second (Gibson shot) was a beauty, and impossible to defend, the third (who looked like offside to me) came from our right flank where Anderson passed with ease a good one behind our defenders in the box. I think either Spector, Collison, Kovac or Diamanti really have to put some pressure early on here. Valencia ran well, and our CB:s found themselves standing on their heels. The fourth one was close to the same, but from our left where Ilunga did not manage to prevent the low cross. As it was from a fast break and an unorganised midfield we only had Tomkins and Spector in the middle. And Tomkins did not look behind him, left Rooney unmarked to protect the first post while Spector had little chance to run for Rooney. So the two last goals was all up to players who did not know what to do in certain situations. Tomkins (who I like and has a great future with us) was on for the good Da Costa. Maybe the Portugese had a knock, but changing the back four nearly every game does not help our cause.
Looking at ManU:s defence it seemed to be in shatter (From the 34th minute they had a back 4 consisting of Evra, Carrick, Brown and Fletcher), but what did it help without our man "strong as a gorilla"? We missed Cole like a headache tablet when having a hang over, but I think a key moment was when Hines had to leave the field (injured). He had a good first half and absolutley made a fool out of Neville a number of times. I guess he had done so to a player like CB Carrick as well, if he had had the chance in the second half to counterattack a coupe of times more. He had scored I presume, or put up Franco. So he was surely missed too.

Green 5 - Subbed late on as he was felling ill. I think understand why with our goalrecord.... Not his best game even if not at fault with the goals. But if feeling sick, I think it is a shame not to give Kurucz a rare start.
Spector 6 - A really decent performance from the American. I mean from his standards. Made some mistakes, but do also need more help from the midfield.
Tomkins 5 - Covered well helping Spector, but lacked a bit of match-practise and made a mistake at the last goal. Even if I do not blame him for this, but our coaches.
Gabbidon 6 - So, so but at least pretty solid and will play better with Upson and even Da Costa beside him. Was the last man and not close enough to Giggs when he passed the ball to Gibson at their second, so no wonder he hesitated. Did probably take the right decision.
Ilunga 5,5 - I think he is to raise his game a bit from time to time, but he is maybe more than others dependent of having solid players around him. He knows he can't do it alone and even if he had a wonderful cross today it's far to rare these days.
Collison 5 - A great player who did not make any impact today.
Kovac 3 - During the game I called him our new Mullins. But that was evil. To Mullins. But Kovac do also tackle far to seldom, play too far from the players he should cover, can't pass a ball and looks sometimes like a grandmother out to shop but (by aliens) is transformed from the mall to the football field without knowing how. Was at fault for their first decisive goal and couldn't cover any ground at all. Sorry to say: May be our worst buy since Camara (who at least only was on loan).
Parker 5,5 - Parker in the game against Burnley may be the best performance I've ever seen from him. This was not close. Not at all. Started with his circles, and never got any further. I guess Scholes is a tougher opponent....
Junior Stanislas 5,5 - At least this guy tried a lot. Faded and did not well defensivly. Still I give him credit for his Energy and the ability is there somewhere.
Franco 6 - Isolated up front - and he is not the type of player to be - but moved well and fought.
Hines 6 - Sorry to see him injured as we all could see that when if sometimes failing he gave the defenders a hard time every time the ball was feeded to him. Off at halftime. One of our best player's so far. Was even was to fast for the referee... who missed how he was held down by the United defenders. Hope he'll be back very, very soon.

Diamanti 6 - Well, the Energy is there And we saw one really great freekick (do not mention the the others, please). We do like that someone take shots, but he has to learn to find his teammates as well. Now! When this guy learn how to be a teamplayer I will be very happy as he then can be the special player we all longing for.
Dyer 4 - Was he on?
Kurucz - Debut. Late sub, nothing to do.

Now it's time for Birmingham, a team that are much more solid than we are, and haven't lost for six PL games. So no easy points, not at all. Still we have to win three! Look at it brightly: Before the game against Fergie's men, we had a decent run as well. Please do not mention the goals we concede.... Do we have to be this fragile? How I can long for LBM!


Life sucks and then you die.

We lost to a title contending team, nothing too upsetting about that.

There were all sorts of negatives to take from this game, however, but I'll focus on Green being replaced. Regardless of the reason this is NOT a good sign.
If we had an owner Zola would have just about time to pack his bags.


Shaky back 4? Back 8 you mean!

The general consensus seem to be that our back four is a bit off, and the blame for this has fallen on virtually every player to figure in our defensive lineup.
Upson doesn't care, Ilunga doesn't track back, Tomkins is not what he was last year, Spector lacks speed and talent, Gabbidon is still not match fit, Collins is gone, Da Costa is still not quite up to the English (?) game. My favorite objection so far is one that I picked up at KUMB, Faubert is .... French!
Even though I have agreed with most of the above at one time or another (I mean Faubert is French isn't he?) fortunes (or Clarke/Zola) hasn't made it easy for us.

In the first 14 games this season 8 defenders and eleven (11!) different defensive lineups have been tried! Eleven! Only Faubert has been used in only one back-four position (but then he's been used as a winger...).
No back 4 lineup has been fielded more than twice!
To put this in some perspective, Burnley started the last 5 games with the same 11 players.

The reason for a finding is usually the most interesting part of it and here is a discussion in place.
The "bare to the thread squad" is a given reason and the sale of Collins is another, and related, reason. We just don't have decent backup, forcing us to play people out of position.
Spector is one example and when I read that he relished the opportunity to play in the center of defence with the US squad I almost panicked!

But does Zola and Clarke have a part in this?
My impression was that they may, as I thought I remembered some unnecessary changes, but after going back and checking the lineups I'm not sure they have had much of a choice. Most changes have been forced, and giving Tomkins the chance after Collins left may well have been the right thing to do.

So, even if I think that my first pick is less than a good PL line (Spector, Da Costa, Upson and Ilunga) there is a desperate need to let whatever 4 is preferred a good chance to "gel".

A letter was sent...

West Ham officials must believe that there is a desperate need for good news.
In 17:th place averaging 1 point a game and with a financial situation that is as grey as the latest November, indeed they are right.
Usually when times are dire, and there are no lingerie related stories available, the PR officer of the official site releases stories about the ladies team, the new stadium tour dates, another statement from DiCanio, or an interview with a player stating that everyone in the squad is “buzzing”.

This time the board wanted to kill two birds with one stone. To show that there is progress at the club and that Duckers is still alive. So they had Duckers present what he has been working on since he has been cut off from the real action – a letter!
This is a letter to get the approval to start to work on the new training ground. Not a decision to do so mind you, the decision was to send a letter.

Whats next?


Carlton scare

It's been reported that, even though a scan is not yet performed, it's likely that the knock/twist Cole got to his right knee resulted in ligament damage. If that is the case it could be months before we see him on the pitch again.

I usually don't comment on this kind of rumors but as it would have an enormous impact on our chances to stay up I can't help myself this time.

Scare update: the initial 4 months rumor is now commented by under cover club puppet Jason Burt of the Telegraph, who reports that Cole will face only a four to five weeks at the sideline. Let's hope that his info and the quality of that prognosis is good.

Second scare update: As you already read in PrinceH's comment, the OS released a "it may not be as bad as the rumours say" statement saying that he will not need surgery. It seems as my first hunch may be right. Less than the tabloids but more than the official "don't worry" report by Burt.


West Ham-Burnley 5-3

Piuuhhh! Should we be extatic after five wonderful goals (when did we do that last time?) or unhappy for conceding three after that? Well, this time I'll stay happy. We really, really needed the win and after a nervy start we took control over the game completely. And after Franco had hit the crossbar the goals came dropping in. A lot of players played really well, and the grandmaster of the plan was Parker who had a wonderful game. So did Franco. I missed the guests last goal (in the 95th) but looking at the newcomers first two (who both came from our right) it's hard to blame any specific player, our new CB-duo looked actually really good....

Green 5,5 - Dropped one ball quiet early and was hardly tested, but he hasn't looked so solid lately and I want him to take control of his box much more. Sometimes he just stays at his line instead of a) work further out or b) govern over his outfield players more. Not bad at all, even if he could have taken control of some crosses better (maybe even one of their goals) but I may ask if something happened mentally since he really became England No 1?
Spector 5,5 - A surprise for me, I thought Faubert was to continue. Started with some bad passes but grew during the game. Hulls both goals came from his side, at one he was not present at all, the other one he had no chance to stop the cross. Still he made a bold move and gave us a good penalty, even if I want him to develop his offensive skills much more. Nearly all our attacks came from our left.
Da Costa 7 - Well, this young portugese is a good player. He showed that today as well.
Gabbidon 6,5 - Good to see him back at his preferable place, should have been much closer to his player when Burnley scored one of their goal, otherwise calm and settled. With him as a backup we do not have to worry too much about Upson.
Ilunga 6 - Good to see him back too. Had a great first half and much of our play started from him in the first half. Went a bit fatigue and could with a little faster feet maybe stopped one of Burnely's goals.
Collison 7,5 - Looks more and more "uninterchangeable" for us. His best game after he came back and another good goal with his head!
Kovac 5 - I can understand that Kovac with his experience has a part to play in a game like this. Sorry he (once more) never delivered. Fought, but often in no-mans-land. Or if you want to see it in a more happy way: Covered the ground which is so important... Must ask though: When will he learn to make an easy pass? Noble need to play in his position next game. Must say Kovac gave Parker more freedom to work forward!
Parker 9 - Not only the best player on the field. Probably the best player in PL this weekend. At least noone can have worked harder. THis time his hard work also gave a brilliant result. Showed what a Captain can do, and made many more beautiful offensive runs than he uses to (Partly because a defensive player like Kovac was there behind him!). Which gave our wingers and frontmen better quality to work with. Had a wonderful game defensively as well...
Stanislas 7 - What a striking goal!!! I am happy he was to play all 90 minutes even if looked very tired in the last twenty. It will make him an even better player. Even if Parker, Ilunga and others had to cope without him defensivly in the end. Had a terrific first half and to have the width that Stanislas give us, and also the "cool energy", shall not be underrated.
Cole 5,5 - Far from one of his better games. Came off at halftime with a injured knee, I'll pray tonight that it is not as bad as we fear.
Franco 8 - This guy is a terrific player who works tirelessly, who moves well, who find his teammates well and scores! He is not tall but do also had a couple of better-than-good headers! Few new players has so easily adopted to the english game! Really impressed!

Hines - 6,5 Came on at halftime for Cole and gave the team a terific spark and energy. AS well as freekicks! Is very hard to tackle. And light as a feather and exceptionally fast he relly moves well out of reach from the defenders who are lost or has to foul him. Still a bit uneven. And somteimes fall too easy.
Jimenez - Came on for Franco and with a new haircut he as able to arrange a penalty. And his first (I think) goal in PL. I guess he played mainly to have another cahne to learn our game, but I do doubt he ever will.... These minutes was OK though.
Faubert - Came on for Collison in the last minutes to help Spector on the right.

Overall: We can not concede these easy goals, because the players minds and the audience hearts can't cope with that. 5-0 to 5-3 is not that impressive. But even if this was another game where we fell apart defensivly (fix it now Clarke!), I'll stay puzzled but happy! We won! We scored five goals!!!

Anyone who knows where Behrami was?

ManU next!


Another must-must win

I think the team tomorrow (today) is easy to foresee. With Matthew Upson out (thigh/hamstring) and Ilunga back (hopefully after some days in full training) Gabbs can be back in his preferable position and Ilunga of course in his. An alternative is of course Tomkins (also back after a minor knock) but Da Costa and James together looks a bit too unexperienced for my taste. Tomkins and Da Costa may look more solid in the air, but Burnley is not the best team talking about headers and I think Gabbidon, who hade a really good game on the left against Hull, will suit Da Costa, also impressive since he got his chance. Diamanti seems still unfit which I really feel is sad, as a game against hard-fighters Burnley may give us some chances to strike with free-kicks.
It will be nice to see Parker as our captain though, it always looks like he is the true one on the field.

So I will go with:
Faubert Da Costa Gabbs Ilunga
Noble Parker Collison Stanislas
Cole Franco

I'd rest Behrami, he looked a bit fatigue against Hull and we need some creativity and width witch Stanislas will give us. Hines will certainly get his chance from the bench, if needed.

Bench: Stech, Spector, Behrami, Kovac (don't know why, but he will be there for sure) Dyer, Hines, Nouble.

Nervous? Of course.... But even if we should have won quite comfortably against Hull I can't see that just more one of their goals should be counted. So from my point of view it was not the way we dropped the gols against Hull (who by the way won again in midweek, they are not THAT bad) that made me angry, it was the way we just stopped our own creativity and started to look too much on our opponents... Please, do not do that against the fresh newcomers...


Follow the money - Financial Times on stats in football

I don't browse through Financial Times on a regular basis but maybe that has to change.
Simon Kuper has written a really interesting ARTICLE on the use of stats in football. Or rather the future of stats in football.

We are already on that path as we are fed possession percentages and stats of corners, shots on goal, meters covered etc. etc. every time we watch a game. Also, Opta Stat and "Chalkboards" has fuelled quite a few of my discussions. But that is all descriptive stats feeding us the numbers, leaving us to be ignorant although on a higher level.

Mike Forde, Chelsea's performance director, talks about that in the FT article - the problem of using the numbers as a basis for predictions and actions. He gives an interesting correlation between possession ad outcome of a game, but I won't spoil that for you. You really should read the article.
The future is in feeding the right numbers into the right algorithms and to make the right deductions from them.

This is still in the far future I guess, and many would add "I hope" as this way of looking at sports has always turned people off.
Most people are content in believing the experts or their own analytical capacity.
Fair enough, but I'm off to buy "Moneyball"!


Why are they feeding us crap?

There is an interesting but confusing PR-war
going on fuelled by the delay in making the financial-books public.
The amount of debts we carry has been the fundamental discrepancy.

Some stories say we are fine as the debt is managable (approx £45 m) after having renegotiated the terms of the loans down to a level where the turnover (approx £90m) can carry it. One example of this financial optimism is the article by owner pipeline - Jason Burt of the Telegraph - painting a picture of a club in decent economic shape going in the right direction and with a prosperous future.

Other say we're deep in the brown stuff, carrying more debt than the £100 m Straumur wants for us, triggering the Sullivan rumor/offer were he supposedly said he'd take on our huge debts for nothing (if he got the Club along with it).
The Intermarket Group's view seem to be somewhere in between.

This PR war is nowhere as obvious as on KUMB and the "West Ham for sale" thread were posters claiming ITK status are fighting a war to convince the fans that their view is the only reasonable.

But now back to my original question.
The real economic discussion, the evaluation of the Club, the debt and a possible bid for it, is not exactly a public hearing. It is going on inside a few London (?) offices by people having access to all the necessary financial information.
So why are they feeding us all this crap? What good is it for the respective sides to have this going on in the press?

Or are they actually preparing for the situation after this has ended, to gain acceptance for actions to come, may it be transfer funds that never appears or the sale of a player we were supposed to keep?


Daft fouls costed us 2 precious points!

2 goals up after 11 minutes then you know we're in trouble.

Da Costa, the player that impressed me most in the last game certainly had a troublesome first half. After making questionable decisions in several situations he daftly fouls some harmless Hull player after 25+ minutes ... 1-2. We all knew what was about to happen didn't we?Even if the collective nervous breakdown was not as obvious as in previous games, Hull certainly found all the motivation they needed.

Gabbidon wasn't the best player on the pitch but still my MOTM. He's been out for so long and is played in an unfamiliar position and he puts in a great performance. With a Stanislas in front of him, who was not really up to his defensive duties, he didn't have an easy task but did very good considering.

I'm a bit disappointed with how we play the game. Even one man up we don't have the skill to run the show, and we are talking about Hull for crying out loud! I'll come back to this in a later post. But the short version is that I think we are not trying to dominate games with short passes. We are a team that plays on the brake but in stead of outside players darting along the sidelines as we've had in Konchesky/McCartney-Etherington, we now play a high speed passing game. The result is pretty much the same though - after 8 seconds of possession we either have a chance or lose the ball to the opposition. We seem un-capable of using the passing game to put a lasting pressure on any team, not even a one man down Hull!

I hope you all noted that the future was on the pitch for the last 20+4 minutes! Starters Stanislas and Collison was accompanied by Hines when he came in for Behrami. I think they all did well.


None of our business!

Rumors are flying, or maybe shuffling along, about possible buyers of the Club.
There are several direct and indirect rumors of several persons/groups interested in buying the club.

The first part of the puzzle - are there any interested in buying?

The most talked about propable new owner at the moment is the one represented by the Intermarket Group. The Intermarket Group, in its current state is not our future owner. They represent a group that for some reason is not interested in revealing their identities. This secrecy has hampered the Intermarket Groups credibility as a serious bidder, forcing them to go public about having persuaded Rotshilds (current owners appointed representatives) that they have the required financial muscle. If the strongest rumor is true they have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Club and even if that does not necessarily mean that a due diligence process have started I can't see the reason for such an agreement if a closer look at the West Ham books is not at hand. A due diligance process closes the books to other potential bidders and the Straumur creditors will want to make sure that they chose the one that will make the best offer first.
Of course a formal bid will not be tabled before any buyer have been through due diligance.

David Gold, West Ham fan and former Birmingham City owner have, following a period of denial, repeatedly stated that he is interested in a West Ham takeover and he is also my favourite to end up as our owner. As “Pink Palermo” wrote on KUMB: “I really want to believe the fairytale of billionaire west ham fans (Intermarket group) saving our skins, but if they were super super wealthy like the Citeh fella they would have bought the club by now, not be pissing around demonstrating they've got proof of funds”. (please note that Pinky has an agenda of his own of some kind and mysteriously appeared on KUMB around the time of Golds sale of B-ham, has since produced 1000 posts (!) and is always restating that due to huge debts West Ham is worth approx. £1…).

Even if Gold is my favorite to do the deal he is not necessarily my favorite owner, whoever that may be.

Then there are a few other direct or indirect rumors about other groups having shown interest in a West Ham takeover.

A rumor about a group called Nuram Investments surfaced the other day. That rumor may be more than a bit shaky as there seem to be only one source for this and no followup.

Now the Sun (!) says that Sullivan (the Gold and Sullivan of B'ham Sullivan) has offered £0 (!) for a 50% share of the club in exchange for injecting £40m into it and turn it into a profitable business...
Well, by the time we are profitable and the remaining 50% can be sold for a reasonable amont of money Straumur will no longer exist and therefore will not be able to enjoy the success, so there is no reason for them to be interested in that kind of bid.

Another rumor was generated more or less as a consequence of 2 ITK-rumours rumours not matching - meaning there must be 2 different bids - ah well, thats the quality of some rumors.

The second part of the puzzle – the owners inclination to sell - may reach a turning point at the Hilton Hotel Nordica in Reykjavík on December 1st when the creditors of Straumur will hold a meeting to discuss a extension of the Straumur moratorium beyond the current deadline of December 11th. The Icelandic court is officially deciding if the moratorium will be extended, but the Dec. 1st meeting will most likely decide if Straumur can go on playing the waiting game, or if they will be forced to accept the best bid tabled.

What we as fans must learn to live with is that the seller in this case does NOT resemble someone selling a puppy and wanting the best family to have it. The Straumurs creditors couldn’t care less about us and sees West Ham as any asset to be sold to regain as much as possible of what Straumur owes them. “We cannot afford to be picky” is a common comment among fans as is “we need to get it right this time”, but all we can do is wait and hope that the new master will be good to us.


Short term loans of good players is the threat!

Last year at this time I wrote THIS and THIS post about the effect of our table position on the likelyhood of key players leaving in the January transfer window.

As far as I’m concerned only the names have changed since then and the owners, regardless who they are, will not dare to endanger our PL status as this will be disastrous for the asking price of the Club (or their investment - if sold).
I’m confident that we will stay in the Premiership with the present squad but the margins are so small that there is no room to worsen it.

Ergo, key players will stay for the rest of the season?
Yes, but for the lingering threat of short term loans.
If an Italian striker with World Cup ambitions is willing to take a short term deal before moving on in the summer or a French Arsenal target wants to show his worth in the PL, or something in that vein, some of our most important players may be in jeopardy.

This would be acceptable for people with only short term interest in the wellbeing of the Club but of course a great blow for those of us that has invested 40 years in supporting it…

Btw is that a claret/blue/white scarf?


Money on it's way?

Well, we've read this a hundred times before. We've said that next time, we deserve better, just like SJ Chandos (now on "West ham til I die") do now. Still: Nice reading HERE


Another sticky, stinky 0-pointer against Toffees

So three days after the game I was able to pick up the copy and no doubt we were a bit unlucky.. no points against Everton again but a loads of chances in the second half. We did not play bad. We were the better team. But... And the loss of Carlton Cole is huge.
But I do wonder if the way we always seems to loose energy in the first half - after about 15-20 minutes - and more waits for the game just to continue. It's like Zola/Clarke wants this relief to the game and this kind of "acting", which you can see as a bit of cowardness, seems to cost us in more games than this.
I know we can't run like monsters during all 90 minutes. Still, if we are not able to kill games off (which we never can) with our first energy we need to find something else to hurt our opponents but play a waiting game. Can speed make up for the energy? Or team smartness? Movement? Not losing control, liability, or power as indiviudals, but still able to find the team spirit even if the energy level lowers? Just to keep the opposition not to rise their own power and spirit?

Green 6 - Not much to do at all. Were never able to see Sahas first shot and was a bit unlucky on their second.
Faubert 7 - Really impressive game. Had a lot of help defensively by Behrami but did play like a modern FB. Back to want we want and need?
Da Costa 7, 5 - I'm not so sure that we will miss Ginger sooo much. This boy seems to take his chance like a full pro. I can't really remember a mistake, plays with a lot of comfort and smoothness. And he can not only jump as high as Ginger, he can surely pass a ball too!
Upson 6,5 - As always I miss him to show us that he is the captain in the team. Had a decent game but with 100 percent luck (?) he could have been helping Green with both of their goals.
Spector 6 - Not involved much but he did things totally OK. Moved forward and took care of most thing on his unfamiliar place on the field.
Collison 6 - Started the first 20 very bright, but all of a sudden we did not see anything more. Was subbed halftime. Was he injured from the start?
Parker 8 - Great game. Man of the Match. What stamina, what energy!!
Behrami 7 - Very, very important for the team, one of his better games lately. Still I expect even more offensively.
Jimenez 4 - Another disappointment from the Chilean. It looks how I felt when I hadn't been playin basket (which I did) for fourteen days and still thought I could go out on the field and do my very best. Which I was never able to, the legs were always to weak after a lenghty layoff. Jimenez legs do also seem to weak, but still he seems to think he can do it. Will not start against Hull, I'm quite certain.
Hines 4 - After the matchwinning performance it's not unusual that a young player will come back with a nightmare game. So for Hines who were unable to do anything right for all 90 minutes this time. Still think that it was good by Zola to play him. Will hopefully learn a lot from this game. One out of the three golden opportunites should be a goal. At least he moved good out there....
Franco 7 - Important contribution. Moves well, meets the ball well and I liked the way he moved to Hines just after a missed opportunity just to push the youngster on. I like this guy!

Stanislas 6. On at halftime. Good contribution with speed! Nothing spectacular today but gives the team new energy, width and new opportunities. Will need a goal in one of his next three games I guess.
Diamanti 7 - Well on in the 56th (JImenez off), and what a difference a diamanti can give. Explosive energy will and commanding the field with surgical passes and loads of failured shots. Do we like this guy? Well, next time his contribution will lead to a win everything will erupt! Can Zola keep him outside of the first eleven longer? Well: Yes I suppose so, only the team knows if he can do 90...



A(nother) loss that really shouldn't have been.
Kate Perry as a new West Ham-toy.
The awesome victory for David Hayes (a devoted Millwall-fan) against Valujev.

Hard weekend.


Speedy recovery Ilunga!

Lately I have been a bit fed up with Ilunga’s lack of commitment. He seem to be interested in the attacking part of the game but strolls back to retake his position as left back. What pisses me off is that he undoubtedly has the talent and he is OK defensively when he puts his mind to it, but too many times we find ourselves without a left-back when the break is on.
My theory is that this is one important reason for the shaky look of our back 4. Ilungas absence stretches the remaining three players too much and leaves holes that are not easily covered.
Now this happens in every team in every game, the back 4, as well as some of the midfielders must be prepared to take on defensive duties of a player that has “gone missing” for one reason or another. But the reason for not being there must be a good one! Ilunga does not seem to be able to present any reason other than lack of interest for his defensive duties! How this can be tolerated by Zola and Clarke is confusing to say the least.

On Wednesday Ilunga was replaced by Spector after a few minutes and even though it was a blow for the team and Ilunga, I was very eager to see what kind of impact this would have on our defensive game.
But Villa refused me any opportunities, at least during the first half of the game.
Again and again Heskey, Young or Agbonlahor tried to outpace poor Faubert – but didn’t really get passed him. They did create the corners and it almost seemed as if this was their primary goal. (no wonder 10 out of 15 Villa goals has come from dead ball situations). However, this left Spector with an easier task. Eighteen times (!) Villa chose to attack on their left side compared to 4 on Spectors side and 4 in the middle during the first half.In my eyes Fabert had a brilliant game but why Villa kept at it is beyond me!
In the second half the stats evened out a bit as NRC replaced Heskey, but still they charged down Fauberts side twice as many times as on Spectors.

So basically, the jury is still out – Spector did well in that game, also when attacking but let’s see how he performs against another opponent!
But then, the best thing would probably be that Ilunga got well and understood that a speedy recovery of his left back spot after we lose possession is vital for our defensive game!

Optimal timing and opposition?

The most interesting questions following the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa is why we did not implode following our 1-0 goal, why we managed to keep up our game for the remainder of the game?

The games of late have been discouraging as the lack of morale and/or belief in our ability and/or game plan has resulted in a mental breakdown as soon as we have something to hold on to or lose. The Sunderland and Fulham games in fresh memory…
When we have nothing to lose however as in the Arsenal game or after the 1-2 goal by Gera in the Fulham game, or after the 2-2 game at Sunderland, we suddenly have nothing to lose and we are able to play football again.

I’m fully aware that this is a general sports phenomenon and everyone that has seen a few games can appreciate the change of face of a game that follows any goal of “importance”. However, as with the flu, the symptoms of the disease can vary significantly. West Ham of late have shown the “full blown picture”.

Why then did we not suffer from this in the Villa game?
The answer is in the timing of the goals as well as in the Villa game plan. Both goals were scored in overtime – not giving us the time for the typical “rebound nervous breakdown”. Zola had the opportunity to install some faith in the troops during the break, sending them out into the second half with a greater belief in themselves and the cause. To be quite honest, there was not that much time to show the signs of a mental breakdown after the brake either as their equalizer came only 7 minutes into the second half and a few of those minutes were used for the penalty debacle (not the save – the call!). Still, during the opening minutes of the game West Ham did not seem to suffer much from post-scoring stress syndrome.
The deduction here must be that we would be in a far better table-position if there were timeouts in football…

But the Villa style of play certainly helped. They did not, for the entire game, put our ball carriers under any significant pressure during the early buildup phase. They focused on cutting off passing opportunities, and even if this was effective in getting the ball back, they regained possession in their own half and they didn’t put the panic installing pressure on Parker, Behrami or Collison.
It can be that Villa was the optimal top 15 opponent for a team with the shakes.



Thanks Zavon Hines! U saved my evening.
Well not to mention all others, including Robert Green.
Hines first goal in PL and his injection to the team means a lot. Thanks!


The team that faded

Before the game I had accepted a draw as a pretty good result, as Sunderland seems to be a hard nut to crack at home. After the game - when we got that single point - we all seem very disappointed, and of course we should be, after having a 2-0-lead and again lost a lead when the opposition acted with only 10 men.
I saw the game a couple o hours (on the telly) afterwards but had of course read reports from fans and journalists. Most of them told me that we had a terrific first half but were awful in the second. I do not see that clearly as the first 30 minutes of the game was pretty even and we had spells in the second half that looked decent. But our last 15-20 minutes of the first half was as great as the second 15 minutes in the second half was scrappy. As Kovac, Noble and Spector all was underperforming most of the game the big change was - I would say - while Collison had a awesome first half and where Behrami was important too, that our important midfield men lost the plot (or their breath) in the second and where never close to put pressure on Sunderland or create a positive own play. That was enough.... 2-2 after a lucky second goal from Richardson. Well, they deserved it alltogehter.

The referee Mariner was bad and Steve Bruce may complain in the way Jones had to go, but I think he should be more than happy that Cana stayed on the field. He could have had a second booking three-four times. From the tv-repeats I can hardly see that the free kick that Sunderland was awarded (and gave Kovac a yellow card) which Andy Reid took so beautiful was a freekick at all. And Kovac's sending off was totally wrong...

But: I may be a little bit more positive than others here. As I was surprised by Zolas more than careful starting lineup, I also saw what we can do from here and at least we had some very good moments going forward which we've hardly seen before this season. Now we got to transform this to more than one-pointers! Can two home- games change this? First Villa and then Everton. A couple of weeks ago I would say that I would have been happy with two points from this games. Now I want six! And actually think we could have at least four!

Green 6 - Not challenged at all in the first half (besides Reids freekick where Green not acted at all as he didn't have a chance), made three very important saves in the second and was very unlucky at their second).
Spector 4 - No, he is not good enough. And when Tomkins had a pretty bad day as well, and Behrami went fatigue in the second half noone was there when Sunderland stormed down their left flank. The best moment of the Americans game came when he had a wonderful cross towards Cole in the second half, but he looked lost defensively all the times with Reid and Richardson. I can't see Faubert as a solution to our RB problems either, and once more I would try Behrami in this position. Or Gabbs.
Tomkins 5 - After a couple of great games this was not one to remember for the youngster. A handful of mistakes in the second half (after a quiet first) may have kept him awake last night.
Matthew Upson 7,5 - Great and solid as a rock in the first half. Wonderful! But faded in the second, well he did OK still, but as a Captain you need to take those rough decisions and push the team forward when it blows hard.
Ilunga 6 - Ups and downs during the whole game. Pushed the team forward when he could in a good manner, and had some harsh moments with Jones (who was rightly sent off after pushing Ilunga in the face, even if Ilunga actually acted like a dying bird in the moment as well) but also did some mistakes in the middle of the park. We've complained that he must run back to his position faster when the team loses the ball, well he did today.
Behrami 6 - Very involved! Made mistakes as he yet has to be friend with the ball, but was also very important with his fighting spirit and no nonsense play. Which we need and I like. Faded.
Noble 5 - Another not so impressive performance. While the rest of the team had a good first half and a below pair in the second I think Noble fought better after the interval. Made too many sloppy half-mistakes during the whole game though.
Kovac 4 - Did we miss Parker! His first half was pretty bad, his second was awful. He is not reliable in Parker's role. I'd rather play Noble in his position next time Parker is suspended. Kovac should be an important senior player in our squad but still looks like a teenager.
Collison 7,5 - His first half was absolutely his best in a West ham shirt ever, and one of the best of a West Ham player this season. Put up both goals and dominated the midfield. His lack of match fitness may have cost not only him but the whole team in the second as our midfield all of a sudden acted like a bust baloon.
Cole 7,5 - This man is good! His first half was excellent and even if Paul Merson may have been exaggerated a bit (or not seen Cole in the game against Mersons old team Arsenal where he was outstanding) I have to quote: "First half he was unplayable. He was absolutely phenomenal. It was like an 18-year-old playing in an Under-12’s league. Honestly, he was frightening, absolutely frightening. He was Drogba, he was absolutely brilliant." Opposed to many in the team Cole had even a decent second half.
Franco 7 - The surprise of the day. This certainly does not look like a new Tristan! His first goal may have been an easy tap-in. But he played very mature the whole game and I think he can be important for us from now on.

Subs:Diamanti 5 - Came on late in a game which does not suit him. Our players where tired and he was not able to fight down Sunderland by himself. One decent shot though. I would have started with him.
Hines 5,5 - Some very good moves. Should have been given more time.

Please do not look at the table yet!
Villa next!


414 days

Today we can count in 414 days since Dean Ashton played a game for his team. Since his first start the 1st of February 2006 - three years and nine months ago tomorrow! - he has started 43 games and subbed 13. Well, 19 goals as well is not that bad. Zola does not know - it seems - when he can be ready for our next game. In small letters: Pity!
Today our manager could confirm another setback as Dyer is injured again.... just as he was ready after last injury. The poor bloke has managed 6 starts and 9 subs for West Ham since he arrived in August 2007.

Well, that has nothing to do with our game against Sunderland which I would like to see as follows:

Behrami Tomkins Upson Ilunga
Diamanti Collison Kovac Jimenez/Stanislas
Cole Hines

I guess my hope won't be fulfilled. But a point would do, Sunderland is a very strong team at home, so we'd better put up another fight like the one we did in the second half against Arsenal. I suggest that Hines scores his first PL goal!


All of a sudden: Energy!

I'm sorry if I misspell things today, as my palms are still wet of sweat. What a finish, what a game! 0-2 down against Arsenal after one heavy mistake and another goal too cheap. We playes allright, created as much as Arsenal did but still was far away from any points. So two changes: Diamanti and Hines instead of Novle and Zola and all of a sudden everything changed. Zola usually make his changes far too late. But not today. Diamanti and Hines both had the opportunity to change the game. And they did. Carlton Cole had been awsome, but far too alone (as usual). But all of a sudden he had som players to play with. All of a sudden we had 2-2! And I will not apologize! The penalty was not the easiest one to spot, but on the other hand it's easy to that Parker should have had one moments earlier. This may be the moment that can change things! All of a sudden few things looks impossible as long as we have the spark of energy that Diamanti and Hines put in the game.

Green 6 - Well, was he at fault at the first goal when he ran into Tomkins and was unable to reach the ball (it fell to van Persie for an easy tapin)? Yes, probably. But things happened very fast and Tomkins did not see a thing. On the other hand Green had two really good saves in the game, on in the last dying minutes which saved us a point.
Spector 5,5 - Did not convince me, but on the other hand played more safe than Faubert. Well, most of the times. He may not be the answer, but I'll give him a couple of more games... Weaker than Faubert but less foolish mistakes.
Tomkins 7 - Another good game from the youngster as he took responsibilty in the middle and to help Spector out. Was strong in the air and fought hard.
Upson 6,5 - Good game.
Ilunga 6 - Better than lately and tried to push forward. Which is not the easiest task against Arsenal, but was level with Sagna. Missed a few good crosses though.
Valon Behrami 6 - Important fighter for us, but far from his best yet after his injury. He can handle his opponents, soon he has to be able to handle the ball too.
Mark Noble 5 - Rans like hell, tries to be everywhere and do the corners as well as the free-kicks. But very little happens. When he put the questions, and goes to the head of the game he must be able to give some answers too, force some kind of conclusion. The speed is lacking, even if he contributes with other things, like his big heart. I'll rest him to give others a game now.
Scott Parker 6 - Good first 45, disappeared after half-time. Before he raised his energylevel again and firstly wasn't awarded a penalty that I think should have been given and later on was given wo yellow cards. The second one was an awful mistake by and insecure referee. He controlled the ball after he - in a very decisive monent - came in front of Eduardo (?), was pushed down and given a yellow. Stupid decision.
Jack Collison 5,5 - Few things happened here, but he progresses from game to game after his lengthy layoff. And in the end he actually had new energy to give the team. We do also have to remember that our midfield had very good opponents today.
Guillermo Franco 4,5 - A bit like Tristan in his debut. Could't affect the game at all. But good in the air despite quite small.
Carlton Cole 8,5 - King on the pitch. So strong, so impressive. Awsome. And a goal as well! My wife told me that Cole will play in "a better" team next year. Hopefully not, but the other players have to lift themselves to his level, now he is too often left stranded on his own like a whale. Well, he was given some help when Hines and Diamanti came on.

Diamanti 8 - He may shoot too often and sometimes try to reach his teammates running around him instead of trying too much on his own. On the other hand he gave us the energy so much needed. He gave us the weapon of his left foot. The freekick was great, the penalty even better! Liked his old hairstyle better.
Hines 7 - Gave us the energy so much needed as well. And pace! I want this youngster to start!
Kovac 5 - Late introduction, just given a few minutes as he will probably start next game, when Parker is out.

A new dawn!
Sunderland next!


Still hope!

Just a link to WesthamtilIdie and an article I do agree with totally: HERE


Is Zola too afraid?

No, I did not see the "incident" where Robert Huth thought it was a K.O. contest he was invovled in and swung Upson to the ground.
I was actually not able to see anything of the game, but some video highlights after the game. And it really looks that Faubert is at fault for both goals. The second should never be able happen at all.
So another loss. Another game we should have won. But did not.
One thing is clear though. You have to critisise Zola for his substitutions. They have always been too late. But today was a really disastrous example. We had to get some points. But our first change came when there was just 12 minutes left. And Hines (who I wanted to see from the start) came off replacing... Diamanti! Far too late, but as important: Why not Kovac or Faubert or Noble?
Diamanti is a threat and the minute after he had been taken off we had a great chance with a free-kick close to the box but no Diamanti left on the field. Stupid.
Stanislas came on even later (then replacing Kovac) and Franco got ONE ! minute (in his debut). Why??
I do not know if there are some statistics that teams loose if they make the offensive changes too early. but I do not care: I did not know that Zola/Clare were so afraid of losing that they did not dare to win.

Arsenal next....


At last (?)

Long time no see, and sure we have missed the breath of Premier League. We are many that have spoken less about West Ham than we usually do during this break, as we try not to demonstrate too clearly that we are all a bunch of maschochists.
We have also really tried to avoid all the papers imaginable as one may contain a Premier League table.
And we have in silence seen, but not spoken too much about, our new record, that we are the club that have the first keeper to be red-carded in an English shirt. (Well, all because of a former Hammer has lost the plot, we know).
Hopefully - and this I do mean - we have not listened to those porn-men Gold & Sullivan when they say they want to buy their "beloved" club but - as they see it - not for any money at all, as it it totally bankrupt. Which they of course want to tell the world.

So now is the time to go back to the field. And Zola has spent his time to tell everyone that he will stay (as we already has told you - and him) and that he now is finally convinced how to best use his players. We have a nearly fit squad (Dyer is missing and the pizza man, I've forgotten his name by now) to grab three points against the surprisingly strong Stoke. They have Fuller, Kitson, James Beattie, Tuncay and Etherington as more or less threats which is not a bas selection. They have Delap, Shawcross and Lawrence and are hard to beat at home. Still we usually do. But would we be able for once cope with an early home lead? There's a lot of questions and I'm not the one to answer them this time. As there is to many insecuritys after our weak sart of the season. Another loss against Stoke will leave us on as many points as during the season 2002-2003. Still I have faith in this team. I have faith in the manager and I will support him and the players as long as they fight until they bleed. One player who will not bleed tomorrow is Scott Parker, as he is suspended. Not a good game to loose him, but tell me one game that is....

So that leaves me with this formation:

Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga
Diamanti, Behrami, Noble, Collison
Cole, Hines

Sub: Stech, Gabbidon, Da Costa, Kovac, Jimenez, Stanislas, Franco.

I can't see Franco start, but it's hard to see him left out for another game. I mean he played over 80 minutes for Mexico last weekend. Nouble on the othe hand has played three games in a week and needs a rest. We could maybe save Da Costa and put in another youngster as Gabbs and Kovac can be cover enough. Jimenez is a good player, but he need to convince me a bit more and as Collison is back and we may need Noble (another one who has to convince me) on the field when Parker is gone I'll sacrifice Jimenez this time around. Diamanti is needed as freekicks may be our solution against the hard men in red and white. And I really would like to see Hines and Cole together in a 442- formation. Hines scored two in his debut for England U21 last weekend and was the match-winner. You do not put a player like that on the bench.