Defensive organization for another 4 years!

Steve Clarke has signed a 4 year deal as we all knew he would when we learned that Zola had signed. I'm sure that it was a condition for Zola signing.

In September I called the original signing of Clarke "maybe one of the best 'value for money' signings of any club this year" and I don't see a reason to change that call. He is not only a vital part of the tactics and coaching he is vital in keeping the best players in the Club. I think this may be a very important part in keeping Upson.

Will he kiss the badge?

According to some newspaper articles (of the less trustworthy sort…) Frank Jr has accepted to to pull on a West Ham shirt again in a Tony Carr memorial. He will, supposedly, be joined by fellow “Golden Generation” players Rio, Carrick and "young" Cole.
I have to say I feel a bit awkward when I picture Lampard in Claret and Blue. I never fancied him much when he was with us and the way he “turned” on the Club, including the fans, after his dad and uncle were relieved was not quite to my liking. The way he celebrated his first goal against us didn’t really make his case much better with me. Brilliant player – I must admit that now – but not a fellow I’d buy a pint.
Whoever will tend the oppositions goal MUST make sure he scores!

I wonder who else will figure.


Improbable heroes, Part 1 - there is life in the Snake yet!

Us fans are often crying out for loyalty.
I usually have a hard time joining the choir as I want to think I have made peace with the thought that, with the exception of the fans, there is very little loyalty in football (there is a reason there are contracts…).

Sometimes a loud subpopulation of the fans have an inverted loyaly problem, a player they don’t like decides to honor the contract.
Regardless of the reason for Luis Boa Morte to stay with the Club, probably not all altruistic, I take my hat off to him. I have during the years had some serious problems with LBM’s abilities, but almost never his attitude.
He gets loud reviews from the Boo Boys for a long time and still almost always shows a great work rate! I have almost never heard a bad word from him during the periods when he has been side lined, and according to Zola he is a model professional during training.
I am so pleased for him that he put in that performance against Chelsea! Not only the dental help he gave Terry!

Even though I still wish that we didn’t have to rely on his services I hope the youngsters in the team pick up a few things from him – keep your mouth shut, work hard in training and always give it your all in the games.
But maybe they should turn to others for advice on finishes.

Economy first, sports later...?

The All Party Parliamentary Football Group (APFG) has spoken in its strong eunuch voice again, this time on the subject of financial instability of English football. In May 2008 APFG launched a inquiry into 'English Football and its Governance' and the report from this work was Launched to the House of Commons on the 20th and is know for all to READ HERE. APFG have, according to the Independent , among other things called for rule changes to prevent clubs from being burdened with a big debt following a sale i.e. being bought with their own money (lex Glazer?), calling the behavior “financial doping”.
If someone wants to indebt him or herself to buy a football club, and is trusted by the bankers to do so, there is the problem of an instability of the owner structure, but if the debt is then transferred to the club as happened with ManUre there is a problem of a different order. According to the articles in the Independent, the profit ManU makes is completely erased by the interest of the debt. As far as I understand, the club is not self sustainable and have to pay Glazers debt at Glazers mercy. One could argue that this is not a unique situation, that this also applies to many other football clubs but, as I see it, this just emphasizes the problem.

The indebtedness of clubs in top football has been an issue for quite a while, Italian clubs were in deep trouble already back in 2004 and Spanish clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona has been in deep debt for some time (Real Crisis), so it is by no means a PL problem.
Last July UEFA president Michel Platini talked about the debt of top European clubs being unacceptable and wanted to install some “behavioral rules” for clubs that were to play in European Cups saying “I believe it wouldn't be right not to allow clubs entry due to debt… ...I think that clubs should be allowed to participate as long as they demonstrate sustainability”.
The first time I saw this brought up in the UK was in the famous statement by FA chairman Lord Triesman last October followed (for example) in a Guardian blog entry by Richard Williams where he starts out with “The current indebtedness of England's leading football clubs ought to be filling everyone involved with profound unease”.
The message of the APFG report seem to be that the football clubs are in no way immune to the financial crisis.

Whenever I see the PL clubs financial situation is discussed the TV money always appears. As West Ham fans we know that it is not the only thing important, as all kinds of thing can go belly up. However, the cut from the TV deal is depicted as a guarantee that there will be no economic meltdown in the PL as the contract is long (?) term. In February BSkyB agreed to a contract believed to be in the excess of an astonishing £1 billion for the live TV rights until 2013. All media rights sold by the PL amounted to £2.7bn. This is an increase of 70% on the previous deals, despite the present financial situation – bubble anyone?
I doubt that there are any really certain money nowadays, XL and AIG should remind us of this. This uncertainty is underlined by the fact that several media companies are presently sweating over declines in advertisement sales (e.g. ITV).
Nick Denton, dubbed one of the most pessimistic men in the media but ruler of the Gawker empire predicts a 40% decline in advertisement spending .
A 40% decline is far more pessimistic than any other major forecasts, but maybe not totally unjustified. His assessment is based on a Morgan Stanley analysis of how economic slowdowns affect advertising and the experiences of other countries like Japan and Indonesia who experienced banking crises. According to Denton, if using their numbers, a 40% drop in advertising spending is not unreasonable. I have a hard time believing that BSkyB and the companies that they re-sell the rights to are immune if the significant reduction in ad spending will continue.

So what was this post about then?
Beats me, but it’s a blog so does it really need to be about anything?…

But maybe there is a west Ham angle in there somewhere - several clubs in the PL are not self sustainable and are dependent on the owners to pour in additional money to sustain life as they know it. This was pretty much our situation in West Ham when BG’s economy failed. Our economy had to be “streamlined” by selling some players and sending some out on loan. As far as I can see, we are better off than some other clubs in the sense that we seem to have already adjusted to a life without extra cash injections. We are however not yet adjusted to a life with a decreased income. I think it may be a good idea for the next owners not to base the expenses on an increased income also after 2013.

The 4 year contract with “Mister” Zola make me very hopeful. He must be pretty convinced that there will not be an economic disaster, at least not this summer.


So wonderful Zola - but not the game

The most happy event today was when Zola finally signed a new contract with us! Wonderful! I guess we all feel the same way. Four years! It's another important sign that we are doing something new and exciting things here.

The performance (Chelski 0-1) today then?
Soso. We could and should have had another point, but at the same time - if you don't score with those chances do you deserve anything?? So this loss destroyed my prediction of the rest of the season (see further down or
HERE) as I had one point for us against the Abramovich kids. And all is Noble's fault! ;-). No, the penalty was quite good, but Cech was better. Still I remember that Noble whould only take our penalties as long as he didn't miss - and he missed against Hull, so why did he take this??
Once again I was very impressed by Lucas Neill, and quite impressed by Boa Morte as well. It's fun that those two are the least faith in the stands. Never judge a player until Zola has been with him in training for at least 6 months! Well, thinking of Di Michele and Tristan - maybe not.
So: where are you
Carlton Cole?!?! Please come back NOW! He and Parker had made the difference today.

Green 6 - Had two great saves when he got out in the right moment. Still he totally missed the cross when Kalou scored. Well, despite that a good game.
Lucas Neill 7 -
Another great perfomance in defence. Kept Malouda quite well in his pocket. And filled in at other parts of the defence when he had too. Mediocre goin forward though and spread his passes.
James Tomkins 7,5 - Another very mature performance!!
Matthew Upson 6 - A bit pale and sold himself easy at two times which is two times two much.
Herita Ilunga 7 - Good game. Delt quite well with Kalou and still had times to go forward. Forced Kalou (?) to give Ilunga the penalty and was there other times as well. Oh, if the pass from the midfield had been better in the end, Ilunga had been there to take it.
Junior Stanislas 6 - His first 15-20 minutes was absolutely awful when he spread dangerous passes all wrong. (Only Di Michele was worse). But he grew during the game and his last 20 was as impressing as his start was bad. This is a guy who actually can handle a ball. One of few in our team a day like this!
Kieron Dyer 5
- Had no affect on the game but when he missed the golden opportunity free with Cech. And just managed a "fluffy" "shot". Are not ready yet - which we also could see in his non-existent defense work - but I can see why Zola chose to play him. I'd rather see him on a flank. Or as a striker. Well, maybe not after today...
Mark Noble 6 - Takes responsibility. But your passing have to be soo much better if you want a point from Chelski. And you got to act much faster! Missed the penalty, but it was quite well taken. I am more pissed the way he handled the midfield.
Luis Boa Morte 7 - Another really good performance today. Even if he missed a few more passes - than against Villa - he was our best man in midfield and stood up well when the russian squad came to put pressure on us. I'm happy to see that he is improving a lot. Guess it's much the way Zola handle him as well.
Tristan 4,5 - I do wonder when he will be able to learn the second touch. And first. Well, some moves was OK. He may just look like a ruined castle, but there might be something to dig out from those ruins. I doubt it will be beore the season ends though.
Di Michele 2 - I do not understand why he was on the field for so long. Missed every pass, missed every dribble, missed every shot. Was allowed to do it over and over again. Did it when the whole team had moved up to put pressure on Chelski, did it in midfield which created dangerous counter-attacks.

Savio 4,5 - One thing is good to know: He will be much better than he showed today. Tried at least!
Kovac 3 - I'm not a good player and haven't played for a couple of decades now, but I promise I would have made better passes than Kovac did today. Should I call Dux?
Sears 4 - Fresh legs, runs, runs, runs, but was not able to create much. Anyway should start next game as Di Michele from now on is forbidden on English soil....

Well, Tottenham lost as well, but played so much better than us today. Fulham won again. And to everybodys surprise Man City won. This will be a interesting spurt towards 15th of May. And that 7th spot. I am very impressed by our season in full, so I'll be pleased anyway, but I doubt that we will be able to take that Euro league place. Then Parker and Cole has to be with us from next week! Not a day later.


Reasoning before the game: Chelski.

“Mathematically we’re in the title race but we have to be honest and focus now on the Champions League and FA Cup.”
That's the words from Chelsea's Guud Hiddink and may give hope for a West Ham win. Will we at last be able not only to draw the big four, but also get a win against some of'em this season?? I think that a draw would be nice enough.
We've done that at Stamford bridge, so why shouldn't we e able to win at home?
Yes, of course we can win (it would be the first time since 2003). But I guess this will be a very different game from the draw in December, and maybe even harder!
But? Chelsea will concentrate on the game against Barcelona next week. They have given Man U the title, I saw them play less convincing football against Everton this Tuesday than in many weeks..... easy pieces then?
Nope, this will probably be a game where youngsters play youngsters. And while Chelsea can play quite relaxed with new fresh players (as the biggest names probably will be rested) who will do everything to prove themselves when they get the chance we do sometimes fail to take advantage of situations like this. And may feel more pressure than the guests. That will give the young players a lift - and therfore I'd like to play Savio as well - but I doubt it will help players like Di MIchele and Tristan.
A key man - apart from the defence and Green of course - for us may be the young Junior Stanislas who seems to play with great joy each minute. When loaned to Southend he was great against Chelski (FAcup) and he has improved since. So with huge confidence he will - once again - show what he can do. Big hopes on him.
A great loss for us is that Scott Parker can't play. He was the man to stop Mikel/Lampard (if played). Now others have to do it. The much improved Boa Morte may be a suggestion.

My team:
Neill - Tomkins - Upson - Ilunga
Stanislas - Noble - Boa Morte - Savio
Tristan - Dyer

Subs: Lastuvka, Spector, Lopez, Payne, Kovac, Sears, Hines

This selection will give us great pace at each flank and some weight and strong defence in the middle of the field. Savio and Boa Morte can exchange places (together with Dyer) and create some flow. Stanislas to help Neill?? Yes, I think Junior already has proven that he can cover well in defense too. I guess they will be up against Kalou. And I'm not afraid!

Exciting game!

PS. By the way, if not already done, you should read the Jason Burt-interview with our man Zola HERE. Really great read. Thanks!


Not a bald tell

I can't see that we again and again are linked with Mario Balotelli. Now the rumour have resurfaced again. Even with Zola on the board it's hard to see that we have the possibility to buy one of the biggest talents in European football, now more or less a regular starter in Inter Milan. Even if I like people to be optimistic - not the least when it comes to the shaky adventures of West Ham. But this must be over the top? How come the papers are taking it so seriously? Just to tease us or to think that we'll buy their papers?


"A villable" point!

I promised Joppe one point and one we got. Looking at the statistics we could see that it was an even game, but as we saw it we could be happy with that draw. Still we could have won: Villa had their chances... most of them went wide, at the same time Friedel made a couple of great saves.
Last time we met Neill was unlucky to give Villa the only goal in the match by a deflection. Today he was one of the best players on the field.
And I don't know how many times I rued Tristan. He was awful and I couldn't understand why he was left on the field. "Zola what are you doin" was a comment used at least ten times in the last 30 minutes. Bur once more, I was wrong, he was right.
This could be a very important point and if you look at my hopes for the last six games, we do start as I thought: LOOK HERE.

Robert Green 7 - Good game, but not too much too do actually. Lovely save when Hesley came through.
Lucas Neill 8 - Today he really played as a Captain, and even if he spoilt a pass or two he aslo created some stuff and kept Ashely Young at bay. He knows that he is so much slower than Young, but played with that in mind. Great game.
James Tomkins 7 - Good game again, I prefer him in the middle, a place he had after Collins went out injured. No wrongdoings, but the way he "handled" Carew in the dying minutes was quite different! Will be in our first eleven next seaseon whatever happens...
James Collins - started the game as a CB but had - once again - problem with a leg. Had to go off quite early...
Upson 7 - Had some problems with Carew and even looked tiny beside the Norwegian. Still very reliable at the back.
Ilunga 6,5 - Had some ups and downs. Created some great crosses, failed sometimes when he had to cover for Upson or the others at the back. Still kept Milner very quiet this evening and worked well with Stanislas.
Boa Morte 8 - Today we saw some of his best! 2 shots went wide, but still worked really, really hard and found his mates with clever passes! At least his best game for West ham this season. Harshly booked for a dive. Did also had a great opportunity that the impressing Friedel saved with his knee! Great!
Mark Noble 7,5 - Liked what I saw most of the game. Took great responsibilty in the middle of the park and was very creative. Fell back after 45 a bit. And sometimes he should be quicker with the ball, even if he himself is a slow player. But when Parker is injured we rely a lot of the young man.
Kieron Dyer 5,5 - (came on as a sub) Mr Invisible for 45 minutes! Came on after Collins went off and seemed totally lost in the middle of the park. It was hard to even find him and we wondered if he still was on the field. But when Villa fell back in the last 15 minutes he created some space for himself and had the assist for our goal. Needs more time to be the player we know he can be.
Junior Stanislas 7,5 - Another great game. At least for the first half, well the first 30 was marvelous! Created three really great chances and was free with Friedel who was a bit lucky to save. Moved well, was creative with the ball, found his teammates and took responsibilty for the team as well. Worked well with Ilunga, but also for himself. And once again with Boa Morte! He has the right mentality as well. May sooner than later be our first choice in this position! And he' is only 19!
Tristan 5 - Well, as I said was crap for the whole game and I rued that Zola kept him on the field. At the end he saved us a point with his second goal in PL. Thanks a lot!!!!! Still far too slow and looses the ball to easy. Can this goal give hime some time to recreate what he was? I doubt.
Di Michele 4 - No! I'm starting to loath his flicks and I do wonder how he can give the ball to the opposition over and over again, even at times it seems far easier to pass the ball to a West Ham player. Well, maybe Tristan was worse, as Di Michele have good moves but at least the Spaniard scored!

Dyer (see above).
Savio 5 - Did not have much time, had a bad shot and another opportunity when he should have shot but may have been affected by his first miss and chosed to play instead. With Stanislas doing so well, it may take some time for him to get a start again. But we do not we need to worry yet. Will be important for us next season.
Sears 6 - had just 10 minutes but looked very lively and good today. Villa were on their back-heels and even if they always get nervous in the last quarter nowadays, Sears may have helped them to achieve that. Much better today!

Let's say that it's easy to get a bit embittered: Heskey hurt himself in the England game at our Cole came on instead. He injured himself too. Heskey is now ready to play and then scores! A bit nasty I think as Cole is still out and is sooo deeply missed!

You could always rue missed chances, and be happy for the opponent when they are unable to convert, but I think we should remember that we were really wirth that point! Not bad against Villa who was close to have their regular team (Agbonlahor was out) while we was without so many players and still played so well!

Ad even if we oose our seventh spot tomorrow (when Tottscum layes Newcastle) remember: It's only temporary!
Chelsea next!


July 3013!!!

Herita Ilunga has finally put the pen to the contract, the club so long has said already were sealed. But no worry anymore. Our Mr Magic has fiannly left his loancontract with Toulose behind and will be a West Ham-player until July 2013.

Read the news from his own blog HERE. And send him some congratulations as well!

He says: "My goal is to keep developing as a player here, working for the manager and his staff. I am very happy to be here and there is a great atmosphere with my team-mates. /---/The fans here are incredible because they are always behind the team. Sometimes they help us to get the victories but even when we lose they are always there for us. They have played an important part this season and we hope to give them a special present at the end of this season by qualifying for Europe."

To the official site Zola says: "He /Herita / has never missed a game and his standard has been top. I don't remember one game where I wouldn't have given him a good rating. He has been incredible."

Bubble-view is very happy for this! Now we are waiting for Zola/Clarke and Green/Upson as well!

Russell Brand...

is always in our hearts! Read Oliver Holt's The Mirror column/article HERE

Or take the evening to listen to his very good radioshow together with Noel Gallagher HERE. You'll find everything wou want to know about Steve Lonmas and Barack Obama as well. Well, close shave...


Six games left for 7th spot!

As I've said before 7th spot is for me as a fan not that important. We've already achieved what I had hoped for this season (and more, if you remember the days of gloom just 6 months ago). And I have said before that loosing the points against West Brom and Blackburn may have been it. Not the loss to Tottscum yesterday. We have 8 players in the physio room, some of them our best. Still we are a good team: So why shouldn't we do what we can? I had a look at those six games we have left. Any chance?? Definitely! Over-optimistic? Who knows? At least I'm not afraid to give points to our opponents in the race as well.

West Ham today: 44 points

Aston Villa - West Ham 1-1 1p
West Ham-Chelsea 0-0 1 p.
Stoke - West Ham 2-2 1 p.
West Ham- Liverpool 1-4 0 p.
Everton-West Ham 1-2 3 p.
West Ham - Middlesbrough 3-1 3 p.

9 more points! We play good football against Villa, and Luke Young is taken care of by Tomkins. Di Michele finally scores and Savio is our man of the match. We took points from Chelsea earlier this season and we do it again, thanks to terrific defending created by Clarke and our top players. Stoke is strong at home and despite a lead we have to do with just 1 point. Liverpool is once again far to strong for us, but then we surprise all winning against Everton - finally!. Cole is back and proves his worth. Middlesbrough is by now a CC-club! West ham finish with 53 points!

Fulham today: 43 points

Middlesbrough- Fulham 0-2 3 p
Fulham - Stoke 2-1 3 p
Chelsea - Fulham 4-0 0p
Fulham-Aston Villa 1-1 1p
Newcastle-Fulham 0-0 1p
Fulham-Everton 1-3 0p

8 more points! Fulham will have another good away win next round and fights to win another three points against Stoke. Chelsea will show that they can play good fooball after just a draw against West Ham. Fulham will have to pay. Then to draws against Villa and the still fighting Newcastle. Good points for them, but then fails to convert against Everton (creates goals on counterattacks) at home. Fulham do it well, but do not reach West Ham. 51 points!

Tottenham today: 41 points.

Tottenham-Newcastle 3-1 3p
Man U - Tottenham 2-0 0p
Tottenham- West Brom 2-1 3p
Everton-Tottenham 2-2 1p
Tottenham - Man City 3-2 3p
Liverpool - Tottenham 3-0 0p

10 more points! Newcastle have another lousy game against Tottenham, but then the londoners can do nothing to stop Man U at Old Trafford. West Brom is close to get a point at White heart Lane, but Keane scores in the dying minutes. So 3 more points. They do fight well against Everton, but Jagielka and Lescott stops at home Modric and co from more than one point. Man City can not play football away from home and gets nothing in London either, even if Bellamy scores. Liverpool wants to finish good, even if they can't reach ManU. And they do. Woodgate is embarrased. Tottenham finish with 51 points.

Wigan today 41 points

Wigan - Man U 0-2 0p
Blackburn - Wigan 1-2 3p
Wigan-Bolton 2-2 1p
West Brom-Wigan 0-0 1p
Stoke Wigan 1-1 1p
Wigan- Portsmouth 2-0 3p

9 more points! Wigan like to draw this spring, which cost them a better finish, even if the win away against Blackburn and at home against Portsmouth makes their season better than expected.

7th spot is ours!!!!

Four for Zola!

When I yesterday watched the postmatch reactions from Zola on Sky I went worried when our manager was asked about what he should do in the Summer to improve the team. Not becuase he said what he shall say in that moment, that he just care for the moment now, and the next game and not what's happens later on... but because I thought for a moment, I saw some flickering in his eyes. Of course I interpreted that immediately as he has signed a precontract with Chelsea or whatever. Any catastrophe you could possibly think of. But if there are any truth in what Guardian reports today, I can stop to worry. Read the article HERE. The only, but very important word, that still give me creeps in the article is "in principle". That gives me butterflies once more....

Hopefully he will agree that new four year contract! He - and Nani and Clarke - has done something tremendous here. They have given this club new hope! It should be awarded right away. And the hope will grow so much more if he - when he - sign that contract The Guardian is speaking about.


Russian roulette

Slipping to a narrow defeat is worse against a team like Tottenham than most others. Still this 1-0-loss att White heart lane was not a loss that hurted more than others this time. We lacked too many of our best players, still we played OK and were not much worse than Spurs with all their best players ready to play. You can beat Sunderland without our two dominating players this year, Cole and Parker as well as Collison, and Behrami. But not Tottenham. At least not with Ledley King in the team. Still: It was just a lovely taken goal from a substitute and natural goalscorer that differed the sides this Saturday. While Tottenham had Bale, Chimbonda, Cudicini, Dawson, Zokora, Pavlyuchenko and Bentely on the bench we had Lastuvka, Payne, Lopez, N'Gala, Sears, a still not ready Dyer and Savio. So when both teams needed a push of energy, well... our bench was not as powerful as theirs... Still I'm very, very proud of having three 19 year old players there, as well as Stanislas and Tomkins on the field. And at least this was a real effort - as opposed to last game against Spurs, from our boys.

But no points against Tottenham this year either. It may be crucial to reach 7th spot in the end. But as I promised Joppe, we will at least take a point from Villa next week.

My ranks:

Green 8 - Probably our best player today with some really good saves. Could do nothing on Pavluchenkos goal.
Tomkins 5,5 - Had to play RB, which is not his place on the field, so he had some problems with Keane and Assou-Ekotto just because his unaccostomed place on the field. But surprised me by goin forward and doing it quite well. May have to be satisfied with a place on the bench next game which is very unfair, but could Zola drop Collins or Upson now? Tomkins would probably be better than Neill as a RB in just a few games, but Zola won't drop his captain.
Collins 8 - Great game, even if he was one tiny micro-second to late when Pavluchenko feinted him in the box and then scored. But our ginger Welsh did very well otherwise, blocked shots as usual, won headers and cleared tha ball of the goalline.
Upson 7 - You don't see much of Upson in the games and sometimes you winder if that's becuase he is doin his job so well or if it' cause he let's Collins take more responibility? Missed an important header but played with big confidence and did it well.
Ilunga 6,5 - Besides an misjudged tackle on Corluka he played very, very well in defence (and Lennon had to change flank). But get's less possession goin forward nowadays. Could have had the ball a couple of times from his teammates to put a cross in, now he just had to stay there and watch. Something for Chadwell heath Tuesday morning!
Boa Morte 6,5 - Very important for us today, as he dig in and never stops running. Was great help for the defence today - at a numerous of times. And teased the Tottenham players with his rough play. Liked that. Still, he needs to provide something going forward as well. We did not see any good passes to Stanislas today ;-). I disliked to see him subbed first.
Noble 7 - His first half was excellent and then probably our best player as he found his teammates over and over again, worked hard and stole the ball. Seemed to show Huddlestone who is the better of the two young midfielders. Seemed more tired in the second half and becuase of the fatigue he misplaced far to many passes.
Neill 6,5 - I prefer to see him as a defensive midfielder rather than RB, and the idea from Zola was not bad. Involved a lot which triggers him. His rough style suits him better as a defensive midfielder. Still very immobile. Specially sideways. And will not be the one to find us fast counterattacks. Will be dropped to the benefit of Parker next game.
Stanislas 6,5 - Showed we he should be in the team, once every tenth minute or so. Was not as dominate as last time, but agin showed great versatility and workes hard as well even if he disappered sometimes. But O God if Di Michele had tried to pass him instead of taking that bad sht, Stanislas could have been our Saviour this time around too.
Tristan 4,5 - Yes, he had a beuatiful run when he tricked himself past three players in the midfield. But that was about it. Let Savio or Dyer - or Bajner - start next game. He does not provide our team enough right now.
Di Michele 5 - He have promised us goals but if his effort free with Gomes is his best shot... forget it. Runs well, has energy works hard, and do sometimes find the gaps between the opponent defence, but far to self-absorbed. Looses the ball far to easy and misjudges his passes. As he is not a natural goalscorer he should be able to look up and see where his teammates are even close to the box. He could have found Stanislas at two occasions instead of a shoot at every (bad) opportunity. Not pleased with him today.

Subs: Dyer 5 - (n for LBM) I wanted to see him from the start. We all now that he can't last for a full game yet, but couldn't he have more than 20 minutes now? Came in to late and in an hard situation which did not do his qualities any favors.
Savio 5 - (On for Tomkins) Also too late sub. Was not able to find his feet.
Sears 4 - And this man had lost his shoes? Used his few minutes on the field to fall all the time.

I think we really could have had a draw here, and that wouldn't have been unfair. In the end the opportunities could have gone our way, but the hosts were the lucky guys on the roulette wheel this evening. All thanks to the expensive Russian sub. But let's face it: if one team should have won this game it was - sad to say - the right team that won. With Cole on the pitch, he or someone around him would have scored that equaliser we never were close to get.

The loss of Cole (and Parker) may be too much to bear from now on. I don't see that the 7th spot is crucial in any way. I think this season will be considered as terrific anyway. But if the team really want to hold on to that we needs at least one point from Villa and one from Chelsea in our next two games. Not impossible att all, but we need to play better than this and to be able to create our own chances. We all know that we have a really strong defence, but to cope we need to push forward as well. I would continue to play Stanislas and Boa Morte too (if we need), but Tristan? No way. Rather Hines! We could have done with a clever player like Modric though...


Warming up!

They say that we can win games against everyone but Liverpool. But to be honest it looks like Tottenham is our bogey team. We haven't won against them since 2003. A modern classic is when we 2007 lost 3-4, but still it was the beginning of our "great escape". Anyone who saw that game will never forget it. How Tevez scored his first (after 19 games) and jumped into the laps of the waiting fans, how Zamora scored "a winner" five minutes from time and how Noble cried after the game like a modern warrior. I rather forget last game, which we lost 0-2 at Upton Park and the team was more pale than an magnecyl. And I certainly could use two or three of them after the game. It looked like noone even tried, and for me it was the worst game of our season. Last year we lost 4-0 at White Hart Lane.
It won't happen again. Even if we are without our match winners like Carlton Cole, Collison and Behrami. But I do really hope Scott Parker can play. We will not know before referee Martin Atkinson blows. Cause even if Palacios will not play for Harry, we may need that stability Parker gives us in the middle of the field with Jenas and Modric trying to find Bent and Keane at the top.

Zola do also have to play Stanislas and Tomkins after last match performances. Totteham may be different quality than Sunderland, but he needs to give them faith again. And I think they'll manage. Collins would do a terrific job, but he has to take a place on the bench once more.

Before the Sunderland game Zola spoke a lot about Tristan. Then he started with Tristan (not very good, but one of his better performances). Now he has spoken a lot (well, at least once, it may be the internet journos that write the same interview over and over again) about Dyer. So I guess Dyer is ready for his first start. Interesting, he may be able to tease a lot with Cudicini and Chimbonda.

If Parker will play I'll go for this team:

Neill - Tomkins- Upson - Ilunga
Dyer - Noble - Parker - Stanislas
Di Michele - Tristan

Our top forwards may not scare anyone (but West Ham supporters) but I guess we have to have a strong man up there if King will play, and if he won't anyone can score. Even those two! An alternative is to play Stanislas to the right and put Dyer as top forward and let Savio slip into the left. But it may be better to have Dyer to help Neill...
I will certainly use Boa Morte sometime in the game as well, he had a good game last time and we may have to have a terrier to put more pressure on the home team. But let's start with good hopes of three points.

Tottenham may have become much better since Harry arrived. But even if they do have world class names in their side, they do seldom look like a team. Keane has to do too much and the other ten guys seems to play more for themselves than the badge. (No wonder as they've but everyone but King and most of them this season). That may be our biggest chance tomorrow, because if it's something we can do under Zola/Clarke it's winning games as a team.

I guess this may be Tottenham's last chance to reach the 7'th spot. And I do think we need at least one point to keep it. Our matches do seldom finish goalless. This won't do either: 2-2. Noble and Stanislas! Or can Dyer get his first??

Super Carr

This blog has an ongoing discussion about our Academy.
I usually take the stand of questioning the West Ham unique ability to produce young talent, arguing that many teams, not only us, have a prolific youth policy.
Prince H certainly advocates the common (nothing condescending in that!) idea that we are the Academy of Football and that we are very special in that sense.

I think maybe it has been made a bit too much out of the golden generation of Rio, Lampard and Cole. If we then add Carrick (that came at the age of 15) and Terry (that left at 14) we seem to get the best of both worlds. That pretty much goes for Glen Johnson as well.
ManUre had a decent bunch with Giggs, Beckham, the Neville brothers, Scholes, Butt, Savage et al. but are not claiming the same status. Ah well.

Now the SUN ARTICLE about Tony Carr does talk in favour of the Prince being right, you be the judge of that. It hails a true West Ham hero undoubtedly more important than most of the players he has guided through the academy ranks. He also makes a good point in that the people finding the talent is also to be acknowledged, a task that is of utmost importance, now also on an international level (a la Arsenal), if we are to keep introducing youth players in our starting XI. We seem to be on the right track there, as Prince H has pointed out, with quite an international group in the youth program.
Tony has his job cut out for him!


Christiano Montano or youth football

Those of us not being able to ever attend any Little Heath action are obviously curious about what it looks like.
"Team rocket" on KUMB posted a link to a Youtube clip about one of our youth players - Christiano Montano. To me it's also a tribute to youth football in general as well as 5 and half minutes of joy.
Thanks Rocket for trawling that deep in the Youtube swamp!

Evening Standard...

The latest post by Prince H got me thinking, it usually does, and this time it turned my interest to the handling of the Tristan drunk driving issue. It also nicely serves as a vehicle for one of my hang-ups – double standards.

If you think double standards are when you've bought one too many tabloids, let me explain the concept.
When a player in the other team dives you hate it but when a player in your own team dives (yes, it happens!) you feel a need to take a look at all the replays to see if it was all that bad after all. If he really unmistakably did dive, you end up disliking it at the most. Recognize the feeling?
While I’m all wound up here I might as well get my other favourite “on the field example” of double standards off my chest:
With 2 minutes remaining and a team is trying to hang on to a result someone gets the ball down to the corner post were he fishes for a corner or a free kick or just tries to let the time run out.
I find this unbearable! When I saw this the first times, by Italian players incidentally, the only thing that held me from going berserk was the knowledge that it would be unthinkable in England…
Sit down, light a candle and some incense, maybe play your favourite whale songs on the stereo and look deep inside yourself to find out if you really think it is as annoying when West Ham players do it (yes they do, they do) as if Ronaldo does it when we are pushing for an equalizer?

OK, back to the issue of Tristans drunk driving. I have no doubt that this was known by the manager already right after it happened back on January 25th. For some reason this was not acted upon by the Club, as a matter of fact, this is yet to be commented on by any Club official as far as I know. Could it possibly be that as long as it wasn’t public knowledge the Club would wait to take actions? To be fair it could, I say could, be due to Tristan having waited until now to accepting the charges, but I sincerely doubt that.
When Carlton was in a similar situation (bar the crash) in September he was fined 2 weeks wages by the Club. The issue was, as far as I remember or find evidence of on the official site, only commented on in a post on another topic saying that he needed to focus on the football, or something.
If the managers talk about this kind of behavior as being unacceptable they should act like they think it is. How can they be taken seriously on issues like this if it’s not enforced in some way that hurts. Fined 2 weeks pay? Give me a break, no professional footballer in the PL but Matty Etherington would care! These guys should be cleaning the boots for the academy players for a month. Not to act in accordance with your statements is not good for any reputation, just ask Duxbury.
This could of course have been handled in an efficient but discrete way within the club without us knowing, and if so I apologize, but if it will stop at 2 weeks allowance to be taken away it's in no way acceptable.

Tomkins and Noble to dominate our side for another 4 years!

Tomkins and Noble sign extensions to their present contracts keeping them with us until 2013. As far as I know this is an extension by 2 years of the Noble contract but I’m unaware of the previous contract form or length we had with Tomkins.
This is not surprising but nevertheless it is of great importance that we keep these jewels not only with us, but on long term contracts that the club and the players are content with.


Another young striker in??

I don't know how many strikers still in their teens we need? Hines, Sears, Bajner and Dixon are certainly in our books. Savio can be seen as a striker as well. Accordig to reports (even with picures HERE) we seems to have signed - or will sign - another one: Charlton's Danny Uchechi. An Nigerian international who has yet to be played in Charlton's a-team (may have been because problems with a work permit) but played well for Nigeria U23, still 18 (if you can believe what you read) when the team won the Intercontinental cup.

On the same day we read that Tristan has admitted to drink-driving in the middle of London. As he has not been a success on the field (even if he looked a bit better against Sunderland) I guess you have to prove something special off the field to get a prolonged contract. This can't have helped his cause. I guess he will play some games until Cole is back, and that will be it. Can't see him here for another season. It's another thing if your already on a contract, combined with thefeeling that you're the special guy. Then a club will always be behind you.

So next year, Uchechi may be playing instead of Tristan. And it all happened in one day!


I was, as quite a few others, going to write a post on how Anton was measuring up compared to the boys in our new defensive line. But as the game turned out to be the stage for two other West Ham Academy players I feel uneasy doing so. I still have, shall we call it, “feelings” for Anton.

Anton was, in a sense, always unlucky to be the kid brother of Rio – a player that stood out in any group even at boy level according to the ones that saw him at the time, but apparently Anton was never that dominant as a boy.
I was hoping for Anton to develop into a more mature player, but while he was a West Ham player I was always slightly worried with him in the center of defense. Now, as I am a generally worried person I was trying not to read too much into that feeling. Antons “absentmindedness” was always slightly disturbing, and I can only think of one period when I was really pleased with him and that’s when he played alongside Gabbidon in the 06/07 season. That’s when I think he showed what he could become.
At the time of his departure last summer I was as dumbfounded as anybody. Unfortunately that was at a time when Bubbleview didn’t exist so I don’t have anything written down on the matter, but I know that even though I couldn’t see the logic at the time, there was no feeling of disgust in the manner that filled me at the time of the departure of his big brother and the others in that “Brat pack”.
In some interviews during the run-up to the Sunderland game Anton commented on coming back to the Boleyn in very emotional words and laying it on quite thick, leaving me with a feeling that he actually is homesick! After Sbragia singled out Anton as handing us the Tomkins goal, something I feel is a bit harsh myself, it doesn’t feel right to go on about us being better off without him, although that is my uncontroversial feeling, especially with Tomkins seemingly turning the corner from prodigy to mature player as we speak. Let's hope Anton can fulfill his footballing dreams, whatever they are.


Georg Grasser: An Austrian With West Ham United

To be part of a West Ham community is a cool thing. This article is by fellow blogger RapidHammer, and some of it appeared on his brilliant blog albeit in German (see my site-list). RapidHammer was kind enough to translate it for Bubbleview. Enjoy his article and information!

The first team from Europe that was able to gain victory on professional level against an English side was a team from Austria, “Hakoah Vienna”. The English club defeated on its own ground by 0-5 in 1923 was West Ham United. Some 85 years later a young midfielder from Austria came to East London to prove again that Austrian players are able to compete at the highest level. Georg Grasser tells us how his transfer to West Ham United was made possible, which are the main differences between England and Austria and what goals the young midfielder has set. He spoke to Austrian blogger “RapidHammer”.

In autumn 2007 a youth team from the academy of Grazer AK played three friendlies in London against Tottenham, Charlton and West Ham. Georg Grasser, a left footed midfielder, impressed in the game against West Ham and got invited to East London for a one week trial. In August 2008 Georg Grasser’s transfer from GAK to West Ham’s “Academy of Football” was effected and the then 17 year old moved from the Styrian capital Graz to East London.
His choice of club was motivated by Grasser’s conviction that he would have the best prospect of further development within West Ham’s “Youth Academy“. He has signed a 2-years-contract with the Hammers. At the end of this spell the young Austrian will be able to leave on free if West Ham does not offer a new contract, Grasser explains.

The Academy of Football
“They made a good and fair offer,” says Grasser who now follows in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and the legendary Bobby Moore. Recently players from the Academy integrated in West Ham’s first team were 19 years old Freddie Sears and Junior Stanislas as well as 20 years old Jack Collison and James Tomkins. Mark Noble, still only 21 years old, has already played on highest level for years.

“We try to create the best possible environment,” says Tony Carr, head of West Ham’s Youth Academy, who brought young Georg Grasser to East London. “My instruction to all the coaches is to bring positive comments.” Yet, even within a structure that costs upwards of £1million to run annually, the West Ham academy can only cater for about 15 players in each age group, and still many youth coaches are working almost on free.
A player can join one of England’s Football Academies, which are run by every Premier League club and by some other football league clubs, at the age of nine, but players under 12 years must not live more than one hour’s distance from the club, players up to Under 16-level not more than 90 minutes. Usually at the age of 16 it is decided if a young player is offered a three-year-contract as a “trainee” or not. In theory it is possible to sign a professional contract at the age of 17, but most of the players are given more time to establish themselves as regulars within the Youth Team and the Reserves.
It was some months before Georg Grasser’s 18th birthday when he moved from the GAK-Academy to the famous "Academy of Football“ and signed a two-years-contract. Though Grasser turned 18 on October 3rd, he still can play in the U18 but the young midfielder has also become a regular in West Ham’s reserve team.

Change has been hard
The change from football in Austria to West Ham’s U18, which competes against nine other teams in the Premier Academy League, has been “a very hard one,” says Grasser. Though he had been a member of a football academy in Austria which he describes as “a good place” for his development and had just broken into the first team of GAK (the club from Graz won the championship in 2004 but now plays in the third tier of the Austrian league system), he had “not even been close” to the physical level of his fellow players at West Ham. The U18 in England "corresponds to U19 in Austria“, the young Styrian says.
The training is very challenging, says Grasser: “We are drilled playing one-two” and also in training “everybody wants to win the game”. It took some time until the young Austrian got adopted to speed and hardness of English football, but meanwhile even the official website of West Ham United has acknowledged that “Georg Grasser is fitting in well.“

Living football
Johnny Ertl, another Austrian from Styria playing in England (with Championship side Crystal Palace), tries to explain what English football is like in a more ribald manner: “You have to work your ass off. That’s what the crowd wants to see here,” he says. Commitment, speed of play and even the air pressure of the ball are different from Austria, the 26-year-old who also came to England last summer explains “Everything is done on high speed and the net-playing time is 5 – 7 minutes longer than in Austria”, Ertl believes.
Georg Grasser sometimes meets up with his fellow Austrian in London. There is a circle of friends calling themselves the “Kernoel Connection” named after the pumpkin seed oil which is one of Styria’s gastronomic specialities. And Grasser is at one with Johnny Ertl when they speak about the attitude towards football in their new place of domicile: “They live football,” Georg Grasser says. “It’s an incredibly good feeling to play football in an environment like this.”

West Ham have provided for Georg’s workaday life at East London. The youth players who don’t live nearby stay at a big house in Romford, Essex, not far from West Ham’s training centres at Chadwell Heath and Little Heath. The players are given the opportunity to attend coaching courses and to pass the UEFA-B-coaching exam. A referee course has already been passed successfully by Georg Grasser. And every Wednesday morning the youth players must be swotting in a “college” where the get education enabling them to continue studies at several university institutions in England.

Step by step
As to his future Georg Grasser who has been lucky not getting seriously injured so far tries to go step by step. He has already managed to reach the first aim he had set: he now plays regularly not only in the U18 but also in the Reserves. After the reserves games against Arsenal and Aston Villa in March coach Alex Dyer told the official website that he had really been pleased with the application and attitude of the young players. Georg Grasser was one of the players the manager mentioned by name after the Villa game saying that the U18-midfielder had been doing very well in playing in front of the defence.
“My ambition is to stay a professional, hopefully in the best possible league”. Grasser is aiming high, but he also knows that in football everything can change very quickly. “I try to take one step after the other,” he says. “You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.” Asked if he has some kind of a “life motto” Georg didn’t want to tell us: “Something like that can also be very restrictive,” the 18-year-old says.
It would be "the highest" for Georg to play for the Austrian national side as his friend Johnny Ertl did who has earned seven caps. Grasser was a member of the Austrian Under 18-squad but last autumn he was not called up to the U19 which reached the last qualifying round for the Under 19-European championship in Ukraine in 2009. “Of course I was disappointed about the manager’s decision,” Grasser said at that time, but it also gave him the opportunity to concentrate on his acclimatisation at his new club.
In March Georg was called up again and earned his second Under 19-cap in Austria’s 2-0 friendly victory over Belgium last Wednesday when he came on as a 75th minute-substitue. One day later Georg Grasser was even featuring on West Ham’s official website. “Grasser has impressed the club’s Academy team and reserve team staff with his tenacity and passing ability since joining West Ham last summer,” one could read there. The teenager now hopes to keep his place in the Austrian Under-19 for the upcoming qualifiers against Serbia, Hungary and Finland in a tournament in Serbia in May.

“Can we have a little game?”
Back in London Georg Grasser has resumed the daily training sessions at the Little Heath Youth centre in the morning. And in the afternoon the exercises mostly take place at Chadwell Heath where Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke are overseeing the senior team’s training.
“As we work in the same area there are contacts with the ‘first team’ too,” Georg Grasser, who is simply called “George” by the other players, tells us about the reserve’s training sessions at Chadwell Heath. Sometimes the players from the first team take an active part in the training of the reserves and then it can happen that somebody says: “Can we have a little game, please?” Georg Grasser against Scott Parker, Carlton Cole or Matthew Upson – of course it won’t be easy to leave a mark in a game against these players. But if a young player manages to succeed in a training session like this he will be able to forge ahead with the club that is called “The Academy of Football”.
“My ambition is to play as a professional in the best possible league,” Georg said about his intended career. Perhaps this could even be the Premier League.



What a team!

What a team we have!!!
No Carlton Cole, no Scott Parker - the two contenders of best player of the season - no Savio, no Kovac, no Collison and no Behrami today. The two latter ordinary midfield players. And certainly no Ashton. StiLl! Still we were able to win against Sunderland. 2-0 after goals by our new wonder kids Stanislas and Tomkins. Why should we play with people over 25, when we have the Tony Carr boys? Well, I shall calm down. But this victory was very pleasing. Boa Morte played an important part and showed why we have to have these guerilla fighters as well. And Ilunga seemed great as usual. But now to the youngsters: Stanislas had a big impact. And in his first PL start he scored! So did Tomkins. I mean had a big impact - and scored! So happy days for them. We should not forget Noble though. Still so young and able to take this responsibility. Great. And Stanislas, what to say, it was very hard to see that he is a newcomber. Lovely handling of the ball, and still took responsibility in the defense. And had more opportunities as well!
Well, I was not able to attend the game and saw just parts of it on an lousy streamer. But wasn't he da man of the game??

Sorry for Spector who had a concussion. But great to see Collins back (who came on as a substitute). He is great and Tomkins was not to bad having to slot in at wingback. While Neill moved forward to a defensive duty at midfield.
Dyer had another opportunity to a sub-performance which was great once more. If he'll be able to stay fit, he'll be great for us next season. Look at it. If Stanislas will keep on taking his chances (and it seems he will!), if Savio finds his way into this team as a new newcomber, if Dyer stays fit and healthy, when Behrami and Collison will be back, if Ashton will come back and Cole once more proves every moaner wrong. What a team!!

(Maybe a right back and maybe a offensive midfielder in the middle of the park... then we can go for fourth spot!)

Even if Sunderland looked like a Coca cola-team, what a team WE have! Thankyou Zola for trusting these young players and giving them opportunities, and thankyou Tony Carr for once more educate these top notch ones!! This proved that we have a team with depth, a thing many of us has quesioned. The youngsters proved that!

(no player ratings from me today as I was not able to see the game in full)