0-0 - O what a relief!

Just give you two words: "Team spirit"! I could also give you "Zola Clarke" or "Collins Upson". 0-0 against Arsenal was not our most ingratiating performance this year. We hardly had the ball, but if we just created one good chance in the whole game, that could be said can about Arsenal as well.  So as a defensive display this was topnotch. 
It looked like many games against Wenger's team usually do. They dominated with emphasis, but created not much. But this was not just our luck, it was neither a performance- of-his-life by Green: It was a team performance signed by Zola and the confidence he has given the players and how they work together, but of course our back four stood out. And most of them our ginger man James Collins! What a game he had! 
It was, if I read it correctly, the first time since 2006 Arsenal goes from Emirates without scoring a single goal. Great performance from the men who did exactly what Clarke had told'em - I guess. This makes it seven games away from home without losing! In a row! According to Sky that haven't happened for 23 years! 
270 minutes without conceding is not ordinary for West ham either.

Also knowing what a hell of a team we have, as Real Madrid's Faubert wasn't able to be a starter for West Ham! So at least we do have eleven better players than those at Bernabeu. :-D

Green 6 - can only remember one serious save in the whole game actually, even if he had some punches. Saved Adebayor's quite weak, but not easy, header.
Neill 7 - Has improved a lot lately. Good game today as well, even if I must wonder why Arsene did not put him under more pressure with the fast runners he do possess.
James Collins 9 -  There's only one James Collins! Man of the match! The Welsh defender did everything right, was everywhere - at least everywhere the ball was. Was the keeper Green did not have to be today. Found often unconventional ways of protecting the goal. Saved on the line, and had our team's best chance with a header as well.
Upson 8 - Plays very wise. Did it today as well. I like the way Clarke has told Collins/Upson to push forward and challenge the opposition early on, as soon as there is a possibility. Has a good understanding with Collins.
Ilunga 8 - No offensive excesses today, but did not do a single defensive mistake. Plays very well. hardly ever looses the ball when he has control of it.
Behrami 7 - Even Behrami looked a bit tired today, even if he kept on running as always. But even if he rightly has been honored byt the fans lately, he showed, a couple of times, today what he still miss in his game: the good pass forward.
Noble 6 - Seemed tired but did what he had to do to stop Arsenal's midfielders. Subbed late on.
Parker 8 - His hair-style is irreproachable, so is his play. Couldn't challenge goin forward, but didn't let any of the home players to go forward either. Very important today.
Collison 6.5 - Was not able to show his tricks. But surprised me with a good defensive display.
Di Michele 5 - He may have been our man of the match last Wednesday, today he should have been subbed much earlier. Gave the away the ball to easy on a couple off occasions. At least in two of them the home team created teo of their best chances. We all like his tecnical skill, but he has to protect the ball better. Helped the midfield.
Cole 6.5 - Was not able to make an impression today, and was never close of scoring, but helped the team a lot anyway. Some few good moves. 

Savio 6 - Not many minutes but was never afraid to challenge the famous opponents. We could see that he needs a bit strength to be to compete with the PL's hard CB's, but also that he has some magic in his feet and a good overview of the game.
LBM - played just a few minutes.


What planet are we on?

A player we have been trying to offload for some time since we do not feel he quite cuts it at the club is linked with a move to Real Madrid!
Mind boggling to say the least, but the official site tells us that is the case.
Let's hope Faubert will bring in some serious money!

At the same time it's official that we are signing a Czech international from Spartac Moscow on loan, just a few days after signing one of the most interesting young strikers in Europe!

Almost a bit too much for this West Ham supporters old heart.


I must confess to not quite seeing the brilliant side of this deal.
Is Kovac to be considered a multipurpose cover for the Upson, Collins, Parker and Noble? That I wouldn’t have a big problem with, even though it does not feel like a deal in line with the famous “Football Project”.
Is he a Mullins stand-in? With Hayden gone we don’t have a player that we can use to “close down the game” (if Hayden was ever any good at that, I’m not sure), but is this function a priority?
Or are we preparing ourselves for a life without Parker next season?

If he is to get significant time on the pitch, who has to make way?
One of the most important parts in developing our team and to take it to the next level is to make sure that Noble fulfills his potential. Even though Noble put on a very decent performance against Hull one could argue that he does not always shine against better sides, but are we about to field defensive and offensive lineups? Certainly there are situations that calls for changes in what players are fielded depending on what opposition we are facing, but if the manager brings in a 30 year old player to take away any significant part of Nobles time on the pitch I’m confused.

However, I have a major objection to my own reasoning in this post - Zola and Clarke have gained my full confidence, so I guess I should just shut up and enjoy the ride – but then I wouldn’t be a blogger would I?

Radoslav is in London!

We all had nightmares about this January! We all thought the worst! Trap did as well. And all the media "experts" ranked West Ham as one of the really strong CC-candidates. Just gloom!
Besides that this month has seen us to win all our games, and 13 points in our last 5, we have - besides "loosing" Bellamy - we've seem to even have strenghten our team!
 You have to ask Dux why this has been a possibility. I don't know - For now I am just happy. 
We have not only showed that West Ham believes in the future by taking Savio Nsereko to town, the board has also reacted very fast to losing Mullins. Just three days after he moved, our new defensive midfielder is in town. And if Mullins was mainly a bench-warmer, this guy is not! The Czech Radoslav Kovac is a relly talented, international player. Hard like Repka, but more talented with the ball! So very, very Welcome!

With Kovac (who start as a loan player) we do all of a sudden have three Czech players in the team!

And once again, how impressive isn't Zola/Nani/Clarke once more! Guess Ludek can have been involved in this too! I have always thought that we needs a creative midfielder, but guess Clarke saw that our defense will grow stronger with a player like Kovac in front of them. I wouldn't like to be a central midfielder in the opposite team when Parker/Kovac is together on the field.



I'm depressed! Took an expensive cab in a city where I don't live to a stupid sportsbar, to at least be able to see the second half. Well, when I came they showed every match in the whole world but our game. A game where we had 20 scoring opportunities! A game where Carlton Goal scored for his fifth PL-game in a row and levelled our 23 year old record! A game where Di Michele showed what an artist he is. A game where Mark Noble took his last penalty ever (he missed, and he has promised to stop once he missed, so... ;-D) and a game where we - for just a few minutes, but anyway -  could see Savio in his debut. Well, I missed it all!
And sorry to say - you'll for that reason also miss my player's marks.
Arsenal next - away. And with the bubbling confidence the whole team now have, we do really have an opportunity. Again! What a feeling! I'm jealous of you all who witnessed this beautiful win. 
Well, what is a 2-0-win over mediocre Hull?

Instead of my report this time I am happy to recommend Vinny's HERE. They are usually great.


So here he is.....

Action speaks louder than words

In October, November and December we were told by everybody and his puppet that West Ham needed to sell players to survive.
I wish the ones responsible for those crap articles were forced out in the public and made to repent! Some were pointing out the irrationality in that, but the fact that things are decent isn’t much of a story is it?

That kind of dooms day talk unsettles people and it must have made Zola, Nani and Dux’ job unnecessary difficult. To persuade not only the players but also the fans and the media that the Club was in a decent financial position and was not on a slippery slope of financial uncertainty that was about to throw everybody at the Club into a huge depression of Icelandic proportions.

In those situations it is something of a problem when the bloke in charge is not trusted. It took me until the ludicrous Cole to T*ttenham/Juventus rumours to be quite certain that he was actually telling what he thought was the truth. It took - “The January transfer window gives us an opportunity to show that we mean what we say” (or something along those lines). That’s a statement that would have made Dux look totally ridiculous and completely unreliable (if he has a problem with that) if we ended up selling important players without buying relevant replacement.

I must say Duxbury seem to be doing most things right at the moment and if it wasn’t for his history of delivering non-truths and the blunt way he communicates, I’d be happy with him.

So am I softening up to Duxbury here?
I don’t know, I don’t think so and it most certainly does not mean I trust the guy as I don’t believe in people changing. I’ll let his actions do the talking. However, it seems he is now in a situation that he can handle, surrounded by people he can work with and does not need to revert to half-truths and smoke screens. It may be that in that kind of a situation he actually does a decent job.

But we should not forget to keep a "watchful eye" on his doings and keep in mind that his words is sometimes of less value.


Squad reduction or why Hayden left

Last year we had one of the largest squads in the PL. Zola says that he fancies to work with a smaller squad and that suits our CEO Duxbury fine. Number one on Dux’ agenda for quite some time is to bring down the money-spending to a minimum, If you have limited funds it makes sense to spend them as wisely as possible, squad wise that means - don’t spend it on players not contributing.
A 23 man squad, including goalkeepers has been mentioned and that would leave us with one of the smaller squads in the PL. Luckily (although some will argue luck has got nothing to do with it) following the introduction of the new medical and physio team the injury list is reduced to Ashton and Gabbidon so the need for backup is reduced, at least for the moment.

So how will the Club reduce the team-size in a sensible manner?
Zola wants to sell off a few “fringe players”. That makes sense, but what is a fringe player and what is necessary backup?
I think the Zola definition of a fringe player must be “mature” players that does not get much time on the pitch. Bellamy certainly wasn’t one so only Mullins and Etherington fits that description as yet.

These must be the “mature” outfield players:
Davenport, Spector, Collins, Faubert, Upson, Gabbidon, Lopez, Parker, Bowyer, Noble, Dyer, LBM, Behrami, Cole, Sears, Savio (!),Tristan, and Ashton. In addition we have 2 players in on loan Ilunga and DiMichele.
That’s 19+2 outfielders, close to aim, however that does not leave any room for “developing” players so further reductions in mature players must be made for Zola to have the kind of squad he says he wants.
Out of those Davenport, Spector, Faubert, Lopez, Quashie, Bowyer, Dyer, LBM, Sears and Tristan have been given limited playing time lately, indicating that they may be regarded as "fringe players”.

The Club made some short term reductions by sending Quashie and Bowyer on loan and I think the Club is pretty confident that they will not burden our economy much in the future. As I understand it Bowyers contract expires in the summer and Quashie seem keen on playing football.
That leaves Davenport, Spector, Faubert, Lopez, Dyer, LBM, Sears and Tristan.

Sears is out of the question, in addition to Zola considering him an integral part of the Clubs future, his symbolic value is too big.
Davenport, Spector, Faubert, Lopez, Dyer, LBM, and Tristan remaining.

Dyer and Spector are probably not possible to sell at the moment, so regardless of what Zola thinks of them they will stay at least until the summer. LBM was almost sold to Hull (...), but he fancied to stay and fight for a place. If that meant that he didn’t want a wage cut or if he actually think he can make it with us is not clear, regardless, I doubt he will go before his contract expires next summer.
This leaves Davenport, Faubert, Lopez and Tristan as possible fringers to move.

Tristan will stay until the summer when his contract expires. He is the only tallish striker except for Cole and is necessary backup until Ashton is back.
Lopez is also on a short term contract that expires in the summer. He will not leave now since he offers cheap cover for Ilunga as left fullback and possibly left midfield.
That leaves Davenport and Faubert of the fringe players that may move during this window.

Are anyone still wondering why Mullins and Ethers left?

Davenport is likely one of the high earners and following the fallout with Zola, making it obvious he wants to play and doesn’t consider himself as backup, he could and should be one to leave. His contract expires next summer and he is one of the few “fringers” with a market value. He may still find a new home this January, or if not, at least in the summer.
Faubert wants to leave to gain first team football but states that the Clubs asking price is too high, making a move impossible. He may be a telltale of whether we actually need to reduce the squad. If we do we will find a buyer for him. But as my mate Rapidhammer was quick to point out (see comment) we have precious little cover for Neill if he leaves, even though Behrami have been played in that position too.

4 fringe players have left including the ones out on loan and no panic sales - it seems the squad reduction is a long term project.


Finally a done deal!
The Club had me almost worried there for a while when he wasn't announced.
Given the number 10 shirt indicates that Savio is considered to play a part this season. But I hope that the fans will be tolerant and not brand him a "crap buy" if he is not immediately recognizable as the Messiah.

This is an important sign of the Clubs direction. Cashing in on a 30-year old and investing in a prodigy isn’t exactly the ways of ‘Arry. It seems Zola and Nani (and Dux?) consider themselves being in the Club for the long haul!

I'm very pleased!


Savio in c&b

According to BBC the deal with Savio(ur) is done. Nsereko will be unveild as a West Ham player any time now. Read more about him further down in a couple of posts.
Or why not read a whole interview, not new, but very interesting from the "Just like my dreams" blog.

Bye then, Hayden!

So another fringe player has been allowed to leave. Hayden Mullins, 30 in March, has signed a 3,5- year contract with Portsmouth.
 I will not miss him on the field, thought he too often ran in no-man's-land and offered little but passes in the wrong direction. But usually came on late to cool things off, and close the game when we were in front. 
He was a gentleman and a team-player. Served us for more than five years and made 178 games. And four goals. Our longest servent when Ethers left (well, it depends how you count, but let's say so). We could never hear him complain, on the opposite he always behaved well and for the team's best. Played an active role to fight racism.  A bit of a quiet captain, it seemed.
So we all wish him the very best! Thanks Hayden!



Even though we only drew 'Boro away in the PL, it was a game we should have won. Our game has improved immensely since November and I will be deeply disappointed if we won't go on to the next round.
Southgate's side isn't really impressing anyone this season, not having won a PL game since the beginning of November.
Their Cup run is not easy to evaluate winning one in the League Cup before being defeated by ManUre. Their two (and only?) FA Cup wins this season are against Barrow and Wolves.

We may still have a decent Cup run this season!

Time to stop Mido, Alfonso and Downing!

Middlesbrough at home. Not a bad draw in the FA-cup at all. If our defense can keep the box free from unpleasent surprises we should win this. And be able to reach the Q-finals. 

Our first game against Middlesbrough was actually in the FA-cup too. In 1912. It ended 1-1 and we won the replay at home. Our last meeting - last November - was more than 96 years later, but also ended 1-1, after Mullins scored but Mido levelled 7 minutes from time when Collins unforgivingly let the ball slip under his jumping body at a freekick. 
At least we haven't lost to Southgate's team at home since the year of 2000! 
Most of us surely remember when Marlon Harewood scored against them in the FA-cup semi-final 2006 which took us to Cardiff and the famous Liverpool loss on penalties.
Remember the beautiful win with THESE pictures!

Of course we could have been better off, if drawn to teams like Watford, Derby/Nottingham, Coventry or the team we dislike most these days: Sheff U. But we all know the slip-ups we are used to against inferior teams (even if things may have changed with Zola). But against a team like Middlesbrough it just ain't gonna happen. We'll play our best... and we will win!

The clash will take place at Boleyn the 14 or 15th of February.


So who's up next?

Maybe our West Ham players wondered the same. Cause they did what they had to do – not an ounce/inch more – to beat Hartlepool in the fourth round of the FA-cup . It's not an easy game to go up North and meet a team that has everything to win, and an audience that cheer every time you (as a West Ham player) miss a pass, who has players who make a run at every ball - which they don't do in the PL, and who behave in a very peculiar or at least different ways on the field, like not running back when we expect them to.  
Hartlepool had a good game, with a very good goalkeeper in Arran Lee-Barrett who did some excellent saves in front of Cole's feet, and a good running right midfielder in (I think) Andy Monkhouse. We just had to fight them down.
I do not intend to rate our players here with figures, mainly because it was a very different game, partly as I was not too impressed what I saw.  And by the way: We won 0-2, with two late goal's in the first half: a Behrami shot and Noble from the spotkick. 

Hartlepool had five men in their midfield and we really had to fight there. I think Scott Parker did it tremendously well in the first half. The other three musceteers did it OK in the middle as well, but had hard times to take the initiative and really decide how to do it. They all ran well and made their player once in a while, but let's confess: we were a bit weak there sometimes.

Di Michele tried but did not have a good game at all. 
Some may think otherwise as he did not score, but I think Cole was really OK, took some kind of responsibilty. But was not able to put the ball in the net. Three times more or less free with the keeper he had one ball in the woodwork and twice denied by Lee-Barnett who came out in the right tenth of the second. 
So the torrent is broken, but even Cole could smile a bit when his third attempt hit the post.
He changed late on with Sears who had a thankless task to just run and chase the ball. But still a bit weak, I can't see - sorry - that's he is close to our first eleven yet.
That goes for Tomkins as well, our CB instead of Upson today. The young man has more to learn and made some sloppy things as a CB usually can't afford. He'll need a year or two from now on. I think.
One man who did not take his chance either was Faubert on the RB. After a start with a wonderful cross he did not anything really good at all. A pity.
Our friend Ilunga was one again very cool goin forward, but had some hard times to find where to be in the back. Had sometimes to play more as a CB and once missed his guy in a duel, where Green saved with a reflex.
Collins was on the other hand really great as the heavy strong man in the back, but as usual a bit careless when goin forward.
Green did the few things he had to do well, except an early miss, where Parker saved our keeper's blushes.
Mullins and Boa Morte came on as well, the first was invisible, the second had maybe one pass right. Well, he was not the worst man on the field: That was the referee Mason (with a little bit help from his linesmen). It was obvoius that Nelson handled the ball outside of the box, but we had a penalty. On the other hand, we picked up three yellow cards and actually not one of em should have been. Cole was pushed by their defence towards their goalkeeper and he could do nothing but fall over him, Ilunga tried to protect Cole in the same moment, when he was down and if Parkers tackle was a booking Mason could have filled the whole town of Hartlepool with yellow cards.

Even if the team was well prepared here, and we all now that's not an easy task to meet these kind of teams, I wondered if our players did not go around thinking "So who's up next?"

That's what we all do... from now!

One step closer or rehash?

According to SKY Nsereko's Italian-based agent, Patrick Bastianelli, has revealed that West Ham are poised to capture the striker after Roma pulled out of the race to sign him.
"At the moment West Ham are in pole position," Bastianelli told romanews.eu. "The situation could be unlocked next week.
"Roma were following him, but in the January market many teams - including Roma - are not entering into transactions."

I hope the previously claimed £10 million is way off, or at least depending on the impact of Savio has in the West Ham shirt.
A saying goes "whoever wins an open auction is wrong", lets Zola knows something that is not in the open...


Our 3 international summer signings

Filip Modelski, the 17 year old Polish full back suffered a knee ligament injury during the Academy Christmas break that will keep him out of the U-18's for the rest of the season.
Modelski was one of three foreign youngsters to join our Academy last summer.

Another member of that trio, Hungarian striker Balint Bajner, who has had some injury problems this season, is also out for the U-18 clash against Ipswich tomorrow due to a sprained ankle.

The third summer signing of a youth international, Icelandic U-21 player Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson has established himself in the reserves and is according to reports putting out some decent displays.

Savio the saviour?

More and more reports on the net says that West Ham has their replacement for Bellamy ready. And he is ten years younger! Savio Nsereko was voted player of the tournament this summer, when Germany won the Under 19-European championship. A tournament which also included James Tomkins and Freddie Sears in the England team, and Balint Bajner in the Hungarian. Well, even if our boys did well, Nsereko was the most successful one.
It was Nani who brought the Uganda-born player from the German club 1860 Munich to (our director's former club) Brescia when he was just 15 years. (Nani seems to continue with bringing in really young players, like he did with Filip Modelski, also 15 from Poland to West Ham last year.)

And Nsereko did well right away with Brescia. He can play in most positions, started as a striker, scored 7 goals last year, but nowadays play mostly on the left wing (3 goals this year for the SerieB side). A place where West Ham is a little bit stranded at the moment, so it is plausible that he will play a couple of games this year. Or at least make the bench. Even if it still may be early days for him. Other reports says that Nsereko will stay with Brescia until summer.

Looking at his hight (1.76) and age (born 1989) it may well look as he will compete places with Freddie Sears (1.70/1989) or Zavon Hines (1.78/1989) but even if they all are in the same mould, I guess they all can be starters in a couple of years. At least as long as we have Carlton Cole! And as long as Sears feel that he have an opportunity here.

Brescia has lately been a kind of "feeding club" to Napoli. And look how well they are doing now, with very young talent, and former Brescia players in their team. Like Hamsik. So maybe Nani thought that Brescia could share a couple of their youngsters to West Ham as well? There has been incongruous suggestions that Napoli is there to pick this player as well. Hm. At least Nserekos agent was seen at Upton Park last Saturday.

Nsereko is fast, very fast, with very good technics and even if right-footed he can score and shoot with both feet. And shoots a lot (look HERE!). Hopefully, but not certain, he can cope with the physical side of the British game as well.

So how costly was this player to buy then? The reports differs but it may well be a transfer record. At least it seems to be for Nani in is new role.

I doubt it will be 10 millions right away, as some suggest, others report the sum of 7 millions - anyway this is not a cheap buy. And it may be a gamble. But I think we should trust Nani and Zola in this one (too). I mean it's their money after all, after selling Bellamy with such a good profit. And some rumours suggest that Nsereko may be an even better prospect than Hamsik. Well, if so... I certainly don't mind.

Mirror (but they have been terribly wrong earlier, haven't they?) thinks that Nsereko will be presented in claret & blue right after the game in Hartlepool.

Still no news on http://www.bresciaonline.it/bresciacalcio/ I hope we don't get disappointed or "robbed" once more. More to follow.

Savio - worth another post!

Our technical directors widespread contacts in the footballing world (Brescia) seems to be finally paying off.
Jason Burt, the Independent (?) man with the contacts, tells us that a deal is imminent. He also reports the same figures as some previous sources - adding up to £10 million - making this more than a rumour.

Now that is a huge investment for a young and unproven player, and while the comments have been on this being a record breaking deal for West Ham, I would love to know how many 19 year old players in the world of football that has had that kind of a price tag.
Unfortunately I don’t spend much time watching Serie B, I have yet to see young Savio play, and therefore I have no opinion, so I can only hope that Nani and Zola are really good at predicting the future of a player and giving them the best possible nurturing.

The signing of a world renowned prodigy would send a powerful signal to everyone doubting the aim and plans for the Club. That signal is aimed not only at us fans or even potential buyers, it’s a signal to players, current and future, that this is a club with a vision and this is the place to be if you want to be part of something special.
Zola’s (and do I have to include Duxbury here?) aim is not just to make this team survive in the PL.
I have been more than worried that our financial position would force us to endure another few years of relying on our academy to produce players that will turn us into a team not worried by relegation but aiming for a European spot. If this comes through, and the kid is as good as we all hope he is, the European aim can prove more realistic and the wait shortened.

What kind of expectations do you have on this kind of player? Most every other player bought for that kind of money would be expected not only to go straight into the starting XI but also to dominate that position. I may be naïve but I am not worried that Zola will feel the need to play him. But how much patience will the fans have and how will it affect a young boy to have these expectations placed on his shoulders?

I’m getting a bit carried away here, we may still miss out on Savio even though I’m pretty sure that the Club is doing what they can to bring him in.
Good luck to all involved, not least the young boy.


Quashie a Wanderer - for now...

Quashie had a very short spell with us after his return from B-ham. He has now signed a loan deal with Wolverhampton until the end of the season. He will join fellow Hammer Kyle Reid who is also on loan to the Wanderers until the summer.
As I understand it his contract with us expires this summer so it seems like the "Quashie issue" is finally sorted.

It will be a pleasant experience for Quashie to be involved in a promotion race for a change! I wish him all the best for the future.
Obviously our own site is yet to comment on the fact that a senior squad player is going on loan but the Wolves official site were a little more helpful.

Zola to strengthen the defence?

According to some reports GZ is interested in Bochum's centre half Antar Yahia. Now that's a type of rumour I was hoping not to see.

Maybe I'm irrational here since I know absolutely zilch about Yahia, but that is also what worries me.
Either the "new" scouting network is showing unknown abilities in finding someone that others have missed or something is wrong.
And why would we need a center half? We have Tomkins back in the squad for cover so even if Davenport leaves we wouldn’t have a problem.

The only two reasons for an interest in a center half, that I can think of, are that he is an absolute steal and has huge potential and the manager does not want to miss out on this gem (less likely), or that someone in the defense is leaving.

If Yahia was a good option for the right sided fullback position it would be less of a puzzle… But then the most likely scenario remains - this is yet another agent/journo driven load of ****


The Football Project

Sometimes I'm bitching over stuff that could as well be applauded and sometimes I seem to focus on the good sides of something less than optimal but hey, I'm West Ham and I am true to the legacy of Contempt for Consistency!

Jason Burt of The Independent, a West Ham board backdoor to the public, wrote an interesting article last Saturday (HERE).
He reveals that there is a document at West Ham called “Football Project”.
It’s pleasing to know that the board is aware of our core business but it would be interesting to know what it contains.
Jason tells us it is a paper written by our CEO Scott Duxbury and is a economically based policy document to avoid future cock-up’s. He calls it an overhaul plan of how the Club is to be run and he mentions 4 topics in this document – scouting, the medical and fitness team, coaching and the way we buy and sell players.

Here are the policies on these subjects :
1. We shall find good youngsters and bring them to West Ham
2. We shall coach the youngsters to fit our needs
3. We shall look after our players according to common scientific knowledge
4. We shall not do daft business

Do I sense a whiff of common sense?
I’d say that there is not one mid level boss at any reasonably sized company that has not been forced to produce a document along the lines of “come up with the 4 most important changes to maximize the production at your unit”.
One can say “It’s about time” but maybe one shouldn’t criticize it when it is at last taken care of. But what really is astonishing and worrying is that the present CEO has, until lately, worked in an organization that has NOT had such a policy document, at least not lived according to it.
What is usually the hard part for the mid level boss is to be specific about how this is to be pursued. When Jason Burt comes back with an article about the action plan I’ll be very interested but I doubt that the Club will be as obliged to help him with that information.

I think there is a reason we learned about this document.
West Ham wants to emphasize that we run a “tight ship” heading in the right direction and we are not in economical trouble.
This is important for several reasons, at least two of them of current interest - to show that we do not need to sell players and to show that we are a good business opportunity.


Quote of the day

"If we don't get Kaká, it is not the end of the world. We have got Craig Bellamy."
Gary Cook, Manchester City 20 Jan.

Some men finds the best in everything!
By the way; If Arsenal has been promised to buy Andrei Arshavin for 16M, I guess 14 M for Bellamy is quite OK!

Business? - as usual!

The blocking of the Bellamy move to spuds was a real demonstration of a feeling for the fans and Club history.
Or was it? With this risk free move the board could sell a player with quite a profit and still avoid most of the let down talk. Duxbury could save some face despite statements that no important players were to leave. This was also aided by the part Bellamy played in this transfer. By taking on the familiar role of the bad guy Craig gave our CEO a smooth ride. It even awarded Dux an opportunity to do his best "hardline CEO with principles" impersonation saying to The Independent "I'll go on record and say I want to avoid selling any of our best players to Tottenham ever again. I don't want to. Why should I? They are our local rivals. It would be a slap in the face for our fans. I want to finish above Tottenham. We did it last year and want to do it this year and every single year. It's nothing against Tottenham.". Allthough I find his statement slightly contradictory, vague and lacking in credibility.
Still, I'm not as disgusted by the way things are handled by the club these days, at least compared to their performance earlier this season.
If a replacement comes in, that is.

I have stated that we will not field a worse team come February, but I may have to do a tactical retreat on that one. We will be better off in February, but I doubt that we will have a player coming in that can match Bellamy's recent form right away.
Oswaldo, or any other possible replacement, will most likely not go straight into the first team and dominate our attack, neither did Bellamy when he came back from injury, but I bet they will be one for the not so distant future.

If the Club can restrain itself from cashing in on any more of our "backbone" players, the future looks decent and with Bellamy gone a little more predictable, and that is probably a good thing.


The message from Herita!

A very happy message today! Those (few) of you who have doubted Herita Ilunga's commitment can leave that behind. I just received a message from our cool left back. Among other things I can quote, (and I hope he don't mind me doing that): 

"I'm really happy here and I hope to sign here".

Thanks a lot!

So Nani, do it right away please.

(another article on the subject further down).


So who is he?

He may not score most goals, just the most important ones. According to his agent - quoted at Channel 4 - Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is the man to fill Bellamy's boots. In a couple of days he will be wearing claret & blue! If so, things happens really fast nowadays! Probably a loan deal, but let's see. Other sources, like Mirror, is talking about a fee about 7 Millions.
Just turned 23 a week ago, the Argentinian has had a really promising career so far. Well, until this year. Something has happened between him and the coach of Fiorentina, Cesare Prandelli. Earlier suggestions has told us that West Ham were after Giampaolo Pazzini from the same club, but Osvaldo seems an even better option. Even if their new Serb Stevan Jovetic - lovely player - would be the real steal.
 It may have helped that Osvaldo also had an Italian passport when he came from his native homeland and wrote a contract with Atalanta (then in Serie B) in 2006. Just three games later he was off to Lecce (the contract seemed to be the Italian style) where he scored 8 times in 31 games. Fiorentina saw the young talent and bought him after just one season. In his first game for the Tuscany side he scored twice. He has also scored a winning goal in overtime against the rivals Juventus (where he became famous for being sent off in the same moment; he had a yellow card and celebrated the goal in "Batistuta-style"). And he made an over-head-kick goal against Torino that sent Fiorentina to the Champions league last year.
Will he be able to do the same for us? I guess Zola think so, as he has studied Osvaldo close in the Italian under-21. And Zola is usually more right than wrong.
Further down you'll find a link to his artistery. Well here as well!

As a West Ham fan I'm used to obstacles along the way, but also to never give up. I hope for this one! As well as Savio Nsereko!

Edit: Just arrived 20 Jan GMT 17.30: According to Setana: "Osvaldo has completed a move from Fiorentina to Bologna, despite an agent claiming the player was on his way to West Ham. Darro Decoud suggested on Otalian radio that the forward would go to Upton park to replace Bellamy. However, Bologna made a firm bid on Monday night and the deal has been finalised."

Benchmarking problems

With a table that looks like the present it’s not easy to interpret the results.
We beat Fulham yesterday, most other times it would not necessarily be an indication of a team in overwhelming form. However, for a team that a couple of games ago were widely talked about as being a relegation candidate to beat the team in 8th place is quite a feat isn’t it?

This table situation with 8 teams within 8 points, including West Brom at the bottom make the achievements on the pitch hard to evaluate. When we lost to spuds we lost to a team arguably in a relegation battle but since it’s called spuds it was not regarded as a telltale sign that we were going down.

The next 10 PL games includes Hull, Bolton, Man City, Wigan, WBA, Blackburn, Sunderland and …spuds. What are those? Crap teams going down or a team on the roll that is eying a European spot? Even though more than half of the season is behind us we don’t know do we?
All we know is that playing a team that will be relegated, come May, will not be easy this season.

The rotten apple

Mankind is driven by revenge and I'm no different. I hope this ridiculous money sprial that modern football has fallen into will stop soon. Very soon. But not berfore Man City has bought Kaka for 235 678 000 000 pounds. Why? Cause I don't mind to see Bellamy rot on Citys stupid bench. By the way: Don't know if he will be so very welcomed up North either. He said that he prefered a move to Harry's house. The City fans know it.  Now he has to do with Hughes'... Seems like good action again by the West Ham board. As long as Zola is able to find a good - much younger - replacement.

And all of a sudden one game seems all of a sudden much more important than any other this season: The game March 1t.

Triumph of the scorned/Triumph of trust

The Fulham game was an unusual treat. A game we dominated all over the field, even the enemy box. Fulham never found their way into the game. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to figure out if one team is good or the other bad and I’m not saying this to take much away from our performance but not having Bullard in their lineup couldn’t have helped them much.

I bet we were quite a few that wondered what the attack would be like with Bellamy out of the picture. No I don’t mean who Zola would play, it has been quite obvious for some time that he has been honing Di Michele for bigger things than the bench. Even though I have not said so in the blog I have been critical to that since DDM hasn’t been the sharpest of blades when he has come on late in the games. I would have liked Zola to give young Sears a run-out now and then, just to keep him warm and happy and showing that Zola is building for the future. But following DDM’s performance yesterday it’s a bit hard to be critical.
DDM was the biggest revelation to me yesterday, not only for his goal but for the way he was visible for longer periods than previously, being part of the team. His attitude on the pitch was that of one knowing he had been handed a chance and was determined to take it.
Even though one performance isn’t enough, those of you that have been calling him “DoMelaces” and stuff like that must feel a bit foolish today.

On the same note another target of the critics (me included) had a terrific game. What Zola has done with Cole I don’t know but to watch the composure he shows on the field now is amazing. The goals and Zolas trust must have been a huge and much needed ego-boost for him.
I for one were not expecting CC to ever quite find his legs in the PL. “A player given more chances than reasonable” is what I have thought of him, but I’ll try to remember these last games even when his scoring dries up, as it does for everybody. I just hope that CC does so himself so the confidence will not vanish with the scoring.


Cole (and a little help from our friends) is enough!

Bellamy's stupid behaviour was not able to rock our boat. Not even Konchesky's wonderful goal - out of nowhere - could rock the team, we fought back to control the game totally. This was a team win. If we want to hail one today it must be Carlton Cole. His second half was one of his best ever in our shirt. He won all balls, he won a penalty (our first in a year!), had some beautiful shots and as the glazing of the cake he did score for his fifth game in a row!!

Green 7. Not much to do. And not much to do when Konchesky shot! Albeit that, I'd give him a good mark, I mean it was his birthday! Congratulations.
Neill 7.5. A good game. Not much to do in defense, which he soon discovered and conducted the team well goin forward and calmed down the game when needed to. Not perfect, but better than lately.
Collins 7. Nowadays he goes out from the box much more often and tries to win the ball before it reaches his opponent. That's good and he did it well. The only time I saw him miss that - which of course can be costly - Upson was there in a fraction of a second.
Upson 7.5  From the telly it looked like a calm day for him. Challenged Johnson a couple of times, but it looked like it was most because Capello was in the stands.
Ilunga 7.5 Besides a stupid corner (well, a bit unlcuky there) he was very active and the team builds once again much of the start of their/our attacks from him. Good game. I'd love to see him with Dyer out there...
Behrami 7. Once again an important participation from the Swiss rabbit. Won a lot of free balls and fought hard in 94 minutes. Lost some, won some. Good game, but I hope he can develop his passes to our forwards.
Noble 7.5. Run ragged and was the heart of our team. Do not always choose the right option, but as soon he realises he have made a mistake, he comes back. Good, calm penalty. His second goal this year.
Parker 7.5. I could say the same words for Parker. Fought as always, hard as a  rock as always, but did not always find the passes. On the other hand, when we were in front, he knew exactly what do do!
Collison 7 - Some neat touches, seemed sometimes in no-man's land. I've seen him better, but anyway, we need one of these youngsters to move forward and challenge. He did exactly that.
Di Michele 7 - Despite a good goal (after Pantsil had a total mental meltdown) and good running, and a beautiful pass to Cole's goal he still has a lot to learn in the English game, not at least to find where his teammates are on the field. As a goalscorer he shall shoot a lot, and as we saw when he scored in an offside-position, he can handle the ball very, very well. On the other hand he can also – which we also saw – shoot a shot which ends in a throw-in for Fulham. Anyway, I'm pleased the way he replaced Bellamy today. It's not easy, but he did it very well.
Carlton Cole 8 - His first 45 was quite quiet. The second was second to none. As I've stated in the introduction. And I want to say it once more; those who still don't rate this guy must be - excuse me - without any know-how bout football. This was his game, he won all our balls, he won the penalty totally by himself and then scored. Five games in a row with a goal now! (Can't even remember who did that in our shirt last time? But well, I know it's a long way to van Nistleroy's record with ten games - but what the hell, this is Cole!) 
I was very much in doubt if he would manage to fight with the hard nut Haageland. Well, he could, and he came out on top! Great!
Noone had made three on Fulham this season, some where their own fault (thanks to our old friends Pantsil and Konchesky). But also: a lot of credit to Cole for this!

Subs: Faubert, Mullins, Dyer (!!- a few minutes!) did not affect the game and played not much. 

And once again: All my honour to Zola and Clarke. Once more.


Mr Golddigger has to play second violin

Now when Bellamy has reacted once again as we all know that he is born to do, as an gold-digger I hope Mr Duxberry act the best way we can. I call Bellamy disloyal, whatever Joppe says, so why help him?
Why should Bellamy have the right to decide team? One thing is clear, he does not want to play for us, but for Tottscum. If I understand it correctly, Man City has given us a higher bid for Bellamy than Harry "Mr Envelope" Redeye has. So, if Bellamy wants to leave, we can choose that we are only selling to ManC. Two millions more is not playing money. In Man C he'll probably gets less time on the pitch and it's far away from London. 
On the other hand, I see some players in Tottscum that I'd prefer to swap with: Lennon and Pavlutchenko. So even if our opponents in this negotiation knows that we - after Bellamys anger - are bound to sell, we can wait for those two millions more from Tottscum as well. Bellamy himself can pay them or they can offer a player that we are interested in as difference. I dislike both teams, and he'll be bood in any case, so I don't care, but I hope that Bellamy don't will be able to play the first fiddle in his own sale.

Bellamy unloyal - no way!

I hated the way Lampard left and also the talk surrounding the move of Rio, not to forget Defoe and come to think of it Tricky Trevor Sinclair.
Now Bellamy apparently wants a move and I find it hard to get really upset about this. Craig Bellamy is... Craig Bellamy.

Bellamy has always been true to his cause, to do what he thinks is best for Craig Bellamy. I cannot remember him calling the shirt his second skin or really trying to get us to believe that he was Claret and Blue through and through.
I never considered him being anything but a mercenary, just as most football players in the game today. But I really have no problem with that. The team with the best hired hands will win the league. What I do have problems with are badge kissing recruits saying they love the team and the manager - we know that when the opportunity comes to join a champions league side they will be off.

We shouldn't let a tosser like Bellamy wind us up. Let's use this opportunity to brighten the future of the team. To be able to sell a 30 year old injury prone player for a lot of money is not an opportunity that comes along every day. Wouldn't you love to see 'Arry do to the T-ham economy what he did for Portsmouth?

Maybe give Bellars a putter for a fare well present?


Better and younger than B***y

If we sell Bellamy with good profit, we may be able to have Pablo Daniel Osvaldo! 
IF so I'll forget the "soon-30-soon-crooked-welsh-easy-to-be-tapped-up-by-Harry-man" at once!
These clips don't tell everything we know, but it's a bit muth-watering, isn't THIS?

The Welsh Anelka?

So it is said, Bellamy wants to leave us.... This is for now pure speculation, and may be another desperate-journo-thing but let's face it as it actually was true:
He wants to go and leave for Tottscum! I haven't heard it myself from the horse's mouth, but as Craig Bellamy is the most stubborn man in the football world, and we haven't heard a word that he is commited to us, I could think it is true.
Has Bellamy ever showed any affection for any club?? We all hoped that he would show it for us - and for the "Zola revolution" - but face it he seems to be the Welsh Anelka. At 29 he has not played even a 100 games for any club!
Norwich, Coventry, Newcastle, Celtic, Blackburn, Liverpool, West Ham... and??

Well, he used our new doctors and physiotherapists to heal his fragile body. And now?
If he wants to go he will go. Rich teams may have unsettled him with their proposals. I thought he wanted to stick with Zola. It seems like I was wrong. If not, he would have stated it by now, wouldn't he? So why Tottscum then? Man C had probably better offers but Tottscum is nearby and as we all now there always seems to be a thick brown envelope when HR is around....

I'll be sad for Zola, and worried if we can't come up with a decent replacement (I can dream that behind those closed doors we actually have Dean Ashton totally fit!, and ready to bang those goals in right away). But it will be hard to stop a player like Bellamy to leave if he's not commited. And for him: money speaks louder than Zola/Clarke it seems...

We may be wrong on this: Our board can still fight, they may even do it to the bitter end (Feb 1st) but with Bellamy less convinced for our cause, and big money coming in...  Do we really want him here if he doesn't want to be? Would he perform?

But those of you who would hate our board for letting him go... I can't agree. Instead let's see how they will react, and if it will unsettle more player's or instead turn it to the opposite.
Bellamy is important for us right now, but the main subject for Zola/Clarke/Nani is to rebuild our team and with a longterm idea, bringing in new and young talent so that we can fight with the best teams in maybe five years or so. Have patience. But If I could choose I would bring Aron Lennon in as a part of the deal. Not Bent.

Well, all this is just speculation for now, so I hate this January window! (It can be interesting to read Neville Nixon here)

But if he leaves: Hopefully we can still be playin attractive football and of course - even more important - stay in the PL. Without Bellamy we may have to settle with that idea. CL may have to wait another five years... I'm pretty used to it.

Will we pass the test?

"I have some players I consider very important for the club. We want to keep those players and Bellamy is one of them."
Those are Zola’s words.

It wasn’t too long ago he publicly stated that he would walk out if players were sold that he considered vital to his team.
This may be something one says as a threat but not really mean, like the mother that says to her kids “If you don’t hurry up I’ll leave without you”, but it could also be the words of a man of principle.
Principles will always be tested and now is the time when we will see if Zola is true to his.
Will he pass this test?

However (there is always a “however” isn’t there?), this does not mean that a sale of Bellamy, even to the spuds (although that is pushing it a bit) is always bad thing. It will obviously depend on the price tag, but also if there is an adequate replacement lined up.

As a fan of West Ham one is always afraid that the worst will come true, and our test is if we can wait until the appropriate time to give our judgment of the Clubs doings.
Will we pass that test?

I for one want to wait until February 3rd to evaluate the clubs behavior during the transfer window.
Will I pass?


Why I enjoy T-hams table position

I am not one of those that see our northern neighbours as reincarnations of Antichrist. My next door neighbour is T-ham and between the banter we try to say nice things about each others teams.
That doesn't mean I enjoy when their fortune is based on our misfortune.
To see West Ham players regarding a move to White Hart lane as a step up in their career, more or less regardless of the table position, really hurts. Quite a few West Ham fans have been a bit annoyed when T-ham supporters see their club as a Big Club just because they have Big Plans that they fail to fulfil.

Since we played them, and unfortunately lost on the 8 Dec., they have failed to win in the PL, awarding them a place in the relegation zone of the table.
We know by experience how hard it is for a team in a relegation battle to get decent players in the January transfer window. This, I think, is torturing T-ham at the moment. We've seen quite a few rumours of T-ham bids being rejected.
For that kind of a team to pry away priced assets from other teams will be very expensive, as we know all too well. And then there is the issue of the personal terms. If they want top players that really dream of England (or at least International) glory and winning titles, they will have to compensate them for not providing them with a stage were the players will shine against the best.

Working against this hope of mine is their new manager.
'Arry has a way with the transfer market. He seems to be able to persuade decent players that he is the one that can give them a chance to prove themselves. Just take a look at what he brought to Portsmouth.
But after a decent run following Harrys appearance T-ham have only managed to gather 5 out of a possible 21 points since the end of November. This is hardly an impressive turnout especially considering they played Newcastle and West Brom and lost to both. They again settled in the bottom 3, now with Redknapp at the helm.

This should work to our advantage. As I see it there is no better time for them to be in the bottom 3 than during January transfer window.


To Dux, Nani, Zola and whom it may concern!

I don't know why this take so long, why You don't hurry??
What I do know though, is that it takes long enough to make the paper's speculate. A lot. And becuase of that it makes me shiver enough to become a nervous wreck.

And no... it's not about selling the club this time. Or who to buy it. It's not even have to do with the Tevez- bizznizz.
It has to do with the player that may have been our most consistent player this season so far, it has to do with the player that was voted "player of the month" in October, and it has to do with a player that has improved all the time. And it has to do with the player who don't invite offers for himself, but instead clearly stated that he loves to be a part of claret & blue. That he want's to have that contract and play for us. 

But a player with no clear contract that plays well, or more than well, will one day or another find that he may have the possibility to earn much more money in another town, or even get a contract with a club that may do him to an even bigger star. This player may be "tapped up", find a Champion league side that his agent "feel is better for him" or at least make him feel a bit uncomfortable out there on a windy training ground.
So please why wait? Why not settle it straight away? Please do give Herita Ilunga the contract NOW!
If you want to, You can see it as an order!
EDIT: Go to Herita's blog HERE and tell him we want him to stay!


Free, free, set them free...

To see Bowyer and Etherington go gave me some mixed feelings, just as Prince H describes it in his posts below.
But there are some others that I wouldn't mind if we parted company with and suddenly it seems like players that I was certain would sit their current contract out is moving so...

Faubert is quoted in the Sunday Mirror saying "I think about the France national team and the 2010 World Cup every single day. 'I've had a taste of international football, and I miss it. Maybe a return to France would help me win a recall."
I think some work on his deliveries would be more effective if he wants to play international football but there you go...
Faubert is one player who has been given quite a few chances this season but hasn't lived up to expectations. With a contract not about to expire until 2012 he may be in for a long sit. His turning down an offer by Nantes (if that was the case...) worried me, but maybe there is a still a chance to offload him in this window.

Neill is not having his best season is he? I know his contract expires this summer and we won't get much money for him, if any, but a change of captaincy is due and the money he earns is needed elsewere. Unfortunately not compatible with a Faubert move unless someone decently stable is on their way in.
EDIT: Newcastle is apparently in for our skipper. I think West Ham may approve if the money is decent as it's the last chance to cash in, but I think it must be a very good personal deal for Lucas to approve it.
EDIT: And this one is off too!

Davenport has fallen out with the manager, and was rapidly rumoured to be on his way to Bolton but that wasn't to be. He has potential and we should be able to find a new home for him. Tomkins is back and is good enough as Backup for Collins and Upson.
Zola, however, may be reluctant to let him leave since a late BIG offer for Upson may be hard for the board to turn down. Collins AND Davenport could be picked when this transfer window has closed!

LBM has lately been brought on to try to keep the tempo in the squad and regain some initiative. This rarely works and even though LBM is performing better than we've seen him in a while we could do without him. Collison and Lopez should suffice in that position. If Hull wants him, let him go. EDIT: after denying they ever made an offer Hull has now had one accepted (it's not only fortune that's always hiding, truth seems to be in there with it...). LBM is now to agree personal terms - don't be greedy Boa!
EDIT2: LBM rejects the personal terms and stay to fight for a place.

Walker to stay at Colchester is almost coming true. He will stay on loan with the U's for another month. Impress them Jimmy, make yourself indispensable!
Edit: He will stay on loan for the rest of the season.

Quashie... no furter comment. EDIT: On the other hand I cannot disregard the rumour that Newcastle is interested. Quashie - relegation fight specialist! Unfortunately relegated with 4 clubs already.
EDIT: the move that never was is off, the move that was always in the cards is on (B-ham).
EDIT: And now even that one is off...

Martin Samuel

Martin Samuel, now of the Daily Mail got himself a new fan after I read this masterpiece:

"... at the moment when an independent committee first hit West Ham United with the biggest fine in the history of the Premier League, then announced they would have done something far worse had only they got their backsides in gear earlier, [and here comes my favourite part] the Tevez inquiry pretty much decked common sense with a flying head-butt.
So to have a further investigation based on the meaning of an oral cuddle between Scott Duxbury, the West Ham chief executive, and Kia Joorabchian, owner of Tevez, cannot be classed simply as stupid.
It is post-stupid, in the way some TV shows are described as post-modern when concerned with ironic self-reference and absurdity.
Indeed, one such post-modern cartoon, the wonderful Ren and Stimpy, made by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi, actually contained a segment entitled Ask Dr Stupid, with foolish logic that pre-empted the Tevez inquiry by a good 15 years.
Yet, somehow even a psychotic chihuahua and his idiot fat Manx cat accomplice never got quite as stupid as this lot."

Thanks Martin, thanks!
Please have the guts to keep this coming also at your new position!


One point is better than none...

Guess we should be pleased with one point. We keep the distance to Newcastle right under us. But: We could have won, in many parts of the game we were the better side, played football like we've never done anything else, and had our opportunities. On the other hand Newcastle had Jonas. He must have driven Lucas Neill and Behrami absolutley mad. He owned our right hand field like it was his own pocket. And none of our players who tried to take him on had anything to offer. On the other hand we had two hard fighting attackers, a game plan and Ilunga who was awesome. 
One point is at least better than none.... Fulham next.

Green 6 - If he had been a bit luckier he could have saved the first and left the goalline for the second to fight together with Upson. But the goals was not his fault in any way, just not an astonishing good today.
Neill 4 - Sorry to say: Worst player on the field. Jonas is not easy to deal with, but our capatin came wrong in most situations. Was lucky that his disastrous own goal didn't count. 
Collins 6 - Slipped at their first goal, when Owen scored, and had some doubtful minutes after that. But grew during the game and made a couple of important blocks. Had to try to save Neills ass a couple of times, with different results. So, none of his better games, but more than decent.
Upson 7 - Beautiful block on Gutierrez late on. Can't blame him for Carrol's goal. He had two guys on his own and took the wrong one out. Still: Want more.
Ilunga 8 - Impressive: Very good defensive display, nice goin forward as well. Calm and cool. Set up our second goal. My man of the match (in our team).
Valon Behrami 5.5 - Fought as hard as ever, but wasted to many balls. Gave away a couple of stupid freekicks, and did not manage to help Neill a lot with Jonas.
Mark Noble 7 - He really wants our team to win games, and you could see that today. Gave away to many balls, missed a great opportunity (free with Given) but was involved in a lot of good sequences as well.
Scott Parker 7.5 - Important impact. Set up Bellamy for our first goal. Terrific in the middle of the park.
Jack Collison 6 - Drifted in and out of the game. His impact may not have been great, but quite solid. A favourite that may have to do better to hold his place.
Carlton Cole 7.5 - Used his strength superbly and scored a beautiful goal for the fourth time in a row! One of our most important players nowadays. Have proved all his backbiters what he can. Those who still don't appreciate him do not know what they are talking about.
Bellamy 7.5 - This man can run! Good goal taken, his energy and his anger is essential for our play nowadays. Please stay!

Subs: Neither Boa Morte, Mullins or Di Michele had any real impact when they all came on late.


Lee a loanee

I will not forget when Lee Bowyer came back for a second spell to his favourite club. I was not the only one who was sceptical. 
But to show us all wrong he came on in his first game with an amazing amount of energy. And was invovled in all three goals when West Ham won 3-1 to his old team Chalton. But that was the only time he ever looked like a possible player for the national team again. After that he fell more often than he had the ball, gave clumspy challenges more often than gave the rest of his team the positive energy he was famous for.
His first time here was 2003, and most of us remember with what (sad) result. An ankle injury did not help his cause. So we went down and he went... After 80 games with Newcastle he came back and promised that he would do anything to erase our earlier memories. I guess he also had in mind all his earlier luggage as well. As the "racist incident" outside a McDonalds, when he was together with Woodgate a late evening after a Leeds game. AS the fight with his teammate Dyer.
And yes: the bull-terrier Bowyer had became a bit wiser, at least he did not let his adrenaline show, and did not do any stupid things. At least not outside the park. He had matured. But not to that degree that his experience could lift his team or teammates. Or take the responsibility like a captain for the younger player's. He always seemed a bit lonely out there. Did you have any friends? Fought hard, but more for the colours than his teammates. He had become a fringe player and showed glimpses of what had been. 
So even if a West Ham fan we will not miss you so much Lee Bowyer. Maybe feel a bit sad myself, like for a bit sullen film character that tries hard, have dreams, but never make it. Cause something was missing.
So now at 32, you go on loan to Birmingham, and I really wish you good luck. Even if you don't make it their either (and I guess you don't) we will not see you back at West Ham either. Unless we degrade to the Coca Cola. God, let it not happen.


Inquiry, inquisition or the light at the end of the tunnel?

The Premier League and The FA are to institute a joint inquiry into the views expressed by the Independent Arbitral Tribunal chaired by Lord Griffiths in September 2008, which dealt with a compensation claim by Sheffield United against West Ham United brought under FA Rules.
The joint inquiry will examine whether the conduct of West Ham United immediately after the Independent Disciplinary Commission's decision of 27 April 2007 amounted to further breaches of Premier League or FA Rules.

These words, taken from the FA homepage, marks the starting point of yet another twist in the never ending story of the ownership, use and impact of Carlos Tevez during the Great Escape.

If you read it again, after the first adrenaline rush has worn off, you find that it will look into the outcome of the Griffith Tribunal and they came to the conclusion that we were at fault!
Is there really a need to look into that if they agree with that call?
Could this be the appeal that we were denied through the CAS route?
Could this be a way for FA and PL to get this problem back where it belongs and try to take contol over this and to prevent spin off effects in the shape of an increased number of problems being handled in the courts rather than within the football community?

Then the statement says that they will see if there were further breaches of Premier League or FA Rules, and that’s a bit more worrying.
The good (?) thing in the short term is that there will be no need to pay off Sheffield this year. The bad thing is that it will surely pour a bucket of cold water on any takeover discussions!

Bubbleview will be back shortly to expand on this.


Mess, message, messenger?

The article in the Independent today is a rare thing. A modulated piece of journalism about West Ham!
Jason Burt, the author of the article, is said to be close to the West Ham board and was the one to first publish the news that the Icelanders were in for us.
This makes this article extra interesting to “dissect” since at least some of the information probably stems from the Club.
Tipping off a journo is a somewhat smoother way to communicate to the public than through a Q&A article with a despised CEO on the official site, making it a better vehicle for the club positions – and propaganda.

The article starts out with previously known stuff about Ethers and Davenport on their way for decent money, and this adds some more credibility to these rumours. They also make good sense to me.

But what will the money be used for? Burt argues that this money will increase the possibility to keep Bellamy, Upson and Parker.
It goes without saying that selling non-essential players cannot be bad for our possibilities to keep the first team players, or even get someone new in, but it obviously depends on how much money is needed and for what? Is it to lower the wage bill so we can turn the club into a self sufficient business not in the need for extra money from the outside? And is this enough? Is it to build the financial buffer in case we need to pay Sheffield off for the Tevez thing?
Regardless, I have a feeling that at least one or maybe two high earners will be sold during the window to further reduce the wage cost, decreasing the running expenses. My guess is no different than anybody else’s – Neill is one of them. However, to speculate on the amount of money needed is really tough for one with no access to the books.

Burt then sends on the Board message that “The money gained from such transfers will be ploughed back into the running of the club”. What exactly does that mean and is the opposite even thinkable?

Burt also mentions in his article that offers for several players have been turned down by the club. He uses this partly to strengthen the feeling that no essential players will have to be sold. I don’t really disagree with that, but one must bear in mind that this would also be the usual conduct for any bargaining – turning down the first offers. Turning down offers is by no means exclusively significant for a club truly trying to hang on to players.

Please note that I, as I have repeatedly said, is not totally against a sale of any player. It all comes down to the price and the alternative. There is plenty of time for renewed and improved offers for these players.

The board has repeatedly said the Club is in economical balance, but to spot the difference between fact and a well run PR stunt is not always easy!
Some have even taken this “planning for the future” as a sign that our owner Björgolfur Guðmundsson is holding on to the club but I am of a different opinion. BG desperately need people to think that holding on to the Club is a real possibility, as the opposite will definitely be detrimental to his position during a sale negotiation.
This work, to show that West Ham is a well run club with a viable future, is of utmost importance to persuade a buyer (with less than oil money) that there are no additional costs (bar the Tevez stuff) attached to a takeover. It’s pretty much like letting the car have a service before you sell it, giving the buyer a feeling of security.
What really decides if BG will (be able to) hold on to the club is the economical situation of the holding company Hansa, not the state of the club economy as such.

The Burt article goes on stating that BG is keen to sell before the moratorium on the holding company is lifted in March.
Eh… yes... that makes sense, since after the moratorium is lifted it’s all out of his hands and he can no longer influence the sale! If he wants to have a say it’s before March or never! It doesn’t take any inside information to figure that one out.
Burt then says that the asking price is probably less than the ridiculous £250 million stated in the moratorium request (with the purpose to persuade the Icelandic legal system to grant the moratorium…). That is also something that everybody even remotely interested in this issue already knew.

To sum it up, one finds surprisingly little of news value in this article but finally someone that put information together without the aim to ride on the catastrophe wave. Just what you would expect of a journo tipped off by the club.

Fetherington has left East end

Our winger, light like a Feather, Mr Etherington has left West Ham. Our until now longest serving first team player was the one first out when Hammers now try to reduce their squad. 
After 177 games (18 subs) and 18 goals in claret and blue, he will now have three years at Stoke.

I loved to see him take his defender, and make our left hand side, particulary with Konchesky. They two together were our main threat for the lovely season 05-06. And in the year before, 2004, Etherington was voted "Hammer of the year".
But that was then, Ethers seemed after that to drift away during games, having his minds on other things.... 
And the opposition learnt that when they did attack Ethers once with force or a rough tackle he gave up, and was of no more use for us during the rest of the game.
When Zola arrived it looked like Ethers was given a new chance. Zola saw in Ethers a bit of himself maybe, the thin little dribbler, and even gave him a chance with a more free role in the middle of the field. It looked promising. But once again, he was unable to split with the gambling devil. He was even threatened by some gangster's to which he hadn't paid his debts. So he came to his employer, West Ham to borrow more money. Humiliating I guess. And it wasn't the first time, and probably not the last he gambled with his own future. And Nani and Zola saw that there were not much of a future for Ethers here as a footballer either. Maybe he will find a brighter day in Stoke instead. A smaller place with less Casinos....

Stoke will be his third club after Peterborough: Tottenham, Bradford (on loan), West Ham. I think Ethers will be a Coca Cola player next year. Anyway:

Thanks for everything and good luck Matthew....


To sell or not to sell, thats the question.

I think the tranfer rumours surrounding our Team are very interesting or at least thrilling in a Stephen Kingish kind of a way. We will have to endure more than one strong rumour about a player going off that are rubbished a day later.

The Parker story, for example, could be anything or everything. It could be an unfounded rumour to begin with, it could also be a sign that Zola actually has a word in this or it could be a way to crank up the price some more.
To me it doesn't make much sense and if I was a City fan I would be in shock. Parker is a good midfielder but would you buy him if you were building a Champions league side on a more or less unrestricted budget?

I will try to keep a pretty low profile this window (although I promise nothing). With the type of media coverage we have been getting lately, I would be surprised if not all of our starting XI players will be the target of several more or less unfounded rumours.
Also, several teams with problems and/or some money to spend will test our resolve in keeping our players. Again, the fact that they will table offers, hoping that they are dealing with a Club in desperate need of immediate cash, will not mean the players will be leaving.

A lot of stories will not necessarily be a sign of lots of sales.

Now, having said that, it will not be surprising if we sell a few and buy a few.
However, I don't think myself capable of picking out the credible ones of the rumour-avalanche we will be living in for the next four weeks.
I think I will have to do what most people will have to - hope, enjoy the ride and wait and see.

And I will, until proven wrong, hold on to my opinion that the squad will be no worse after the window closes.



Yes. As fans of a cash-strapped football club we really got to keep our calm. We know that there are more silly rumours planted by the press than fake boobs on Page 3.
But couldn't help my stomach to hurt anyway: The last one I read about did really upset me. Please let it be untrue: Nicolas Bendtner from Arsenal to West Ham? That's a player I don't rate highly. And for that young but lazy guy we would let Matthew Upson leave! Nooooo way!

I know that CB:s are one thing we really have, but I'd rather see us sell some other stars... wouldn't like to see the back of Bellamy or Parker either, but rather them. 
And certainly not Bendtner in a swap-deal. Can't see him change things at Upton Park. Cole do deliver now and he has, as well as Sears new five-year-contracts. If we DO loose Bellamy, Bendtner will not be an answer.

So: No thanks!

By the way; I've heard that Upson has a virus and can't move at all!

JUST WHEN I WRITE this there is a new rumour; that Scott Parker has agreed personal terms with Man City. It will be the rich club's second signing after Wayne Bridge from Chelsea. So, if so, Man City seems to stick with England players after all. Or at least to begin with. Loosing Parker is/would be a big loss for us, however it would be one I could bear. 
Parker is steel, when helping the defence and the best we got in that position. Yes, one of the best in all England. And he has been one of our main men this season. Still I have always wondered if he ever will be able to deliver anything offensively. If Parker leaves, it will give more freedom to Noble, we do have Mullins (who was Captain last night!), maybe not good enough... but still, toghether with ever-running Behrami they can work it out. And Collison and Dyer can be the offensive midfielders. There is also a rumour that Michael Johnson will be part of the deal. Maybe and probably too good to be a true rumour. A young (21 in February) promising player, also always running,  which would be perfect for the future. And Zola I guess. If so, I wouldn't mind this sale so much.... But not for any less than 12 M!

Edit: West Ham has today made it clear: Parker is not for sale. I'd say it's a good sign from the club, to deny that we are in the middle of a crise and will sell our stars. Let's see what it's worth in the end of the month. I'm happy to see Parker in our team for as long as Zola wants him to be. He will be one of our most important players as long as show the right attitude (At the same time, I was a littlte bit tempted by a deal that involved young Johnson....

4th round is Hartlepool away!

The team that - at least in modern time - may be most famous for a friendly (they beat ManU - containing a lot of first teamers - preseason with 6-0 1988) is our next opponents in the FA cup. Hartlepool was at least good enough to beat Stoke in the 3d round, so it's no easy game for West Ham at the Victoria Park, the 24th of January. And a few weeks ago they also won against Southend, with our Junior Stanislas in Uniteds team. But with the new reign, as we could see against Barnsley, I don't think it will be another West Ham hick-up. We'll take this one seriously enough!
Hopefully we have enough good players by then, to compete with the team from League One.


Welcome back Kieron!

Goals scored by Ilunga, Noble (penalty) and Cole gets us on to the next round in the FA Cup after, what I have heard, a decent performance.

I'm really happy for Herita, he was worth getting on the scoreboard!
The most exhilarating fact is that Dyer played for 20 minutes and looked all right (hitting the post and everything), but the run that Cole is on is also very promising! It's hard to keep the hope on a reasonable level after this

Bellamy played, I'm surprised! Neill didn't, still suffering from the sprained ankle he got against Pompey. Behrami apparently has some muscle problem he picked up during the week. Upson didn't play apparently due to a virus. What virus I wonder ...
Davenport was not in the team, no official reason why he was not named. Are we witnessing the new ruthless face of our smiling manager?


The Barnsley game - an interesting tie!

The Barnsley game is an indicator.

What is Zolas priority - league or cup?
He talks on the official site about the magic of the Cup and that he knows what it means to the supporters, but also mentions Dyer and Tomkins.

If the Cup was that important they would hardly be involved, would they?

Unless there is another reason not to play some of the squad members.

Let's hope we see the right starters tomorrow and have them cup-tied - to West Ham!