Hammer's new Era? Next game maybe...

We are all disappointed today. After this promising pre-season, after the new manager stepped in and the new owners bought some - at least - interesting players most of us really thought we are heading to a new more positive era.
And maybe we are, but not against Villa.
Against Villa we did no tonly look average at the best, we looked like we did last year during those games we had no ideas, we had no clue, we had no energy, we played far to slow and we did not play like a team. And once again tried with these long balls towards Cole all isolated up front. When we thought Grant had an idea how to play with pace and width we all looked like the old team, maybe worse.
All players underachieved, but I am most disappointed with Parker. The man who is so good that he is not saleable, the man who is our real captain and the man who should push the rest with his energy and strength was totally unvisible for the first half. You can't expect that he should perform all day all night, but you can expect that he should take some responsibility. Noble tried to, but made the team slower and had very hard times to find addresses to his passes. So while noone turned up for the premier, the midfield was totally ut of order.
Even if we have counted to have Hitz out there, we can't start to cry if he is missing. It's not the loss in itself, it's how we played: alright Villa was good, they had a new youngster calle Albright, but: it took us even 20 minutes before we even had the ball. Embarrasing. Did it seem like the players wanted to be out there? "A new season, hurrah!"?

Green 5 - Made some great and important saves, but seemed also like an liability at times, should have handled their first (offside) goal better. Awful punch! Still: Had some good friends in the posts and crossbar. As always I want him to take better control of his area.
Wintson Reid 4,5 - First game for us ever, first game in the PL - and that with just two-three days with the rest of the team. So it was going to be hard. His first game was not a success, at time our new Danish-New Zeeland friend had problems where to be in his area. Often against two men. Still I thought he showed that the RB position will be his. Young and new in a team that underachieves he still showed some composture. Will be fine with better help from a new CB (da Costa) and Faubert playin a bit further down. Welcome Reid to this hard road to travel....
James Tomkins 3,5 - All players do mistakes, but at the moment young Tomkins seems to do at least one huge mistake every game. Not good enough, even if with painfully no support at all from our Captain.
Matthew Upson 4 - I've said it before: You can't be shy and be a captain, you can not possess the experience Upson do have without taking more responsibility. Did not do many mistakes as a player yesterday, but must show much more guts! It may end by seeing Ben-Haim and Da Costa teaming up soon!
Ilunga 5 - May have been standing on his heels at one of Villa's goals, should maybe have stopped one or two crosses more, and Albright was a pain in the ass for everyone, but was otherwise one of few players that I was not embarrassed by at Villa park. Showed glimpses of his capacity and had energy.
Faubert 4,5 - Not good enough, not good at all... Things may have looked different if he had ran one inch further on Cole's terrific pass and scored 1-1. Instead he lost his stamina.
Noble 5 - Was one of the main reasons why we played so slow as he wanted the ball (more than most) but never seemed to pass directly. Slow, slow, slow and bad passes is not a good combination. At least you can give him credit for his effort.
Scott Parker 4 - As stated earlier: May not have been the worst man out there, but the biggest disappointment. If he continues like this (invisible) for another game I would be happy to get 12 millions for him.
Kovac 4 - Did he manage to pass one ball correctly? Well, we can't blame him as he can't give a piss anymore as he was on his way up to Stoke for his new contract, when he was called back (because of Hitz' injury). Subbed.
LBM 5,5 - Tried, but even if he had one or two passes between him and Ilunga on the left few were the finished article. Tread water. After the game against Man City when he re-kicked his career you would have hoped for something like that again. Have not given up on him for next game though. Subbed.
CC 5,5 - Another hard game as he was far to isolated up front and he did not manage to take control of many balls, admitting that few passes at all reached the target man. One really nice move in the first half where he showed that he is fast, gave LBM a clear goalchance. In the second half he was a bit more into the game, but must be better to pick out his teammates, far to often it was like "him against the world". "What can you do but dribble?" And he failed.

Pablo Barrera 5 - Can't judge him after just 45 minutes in PL in this new environment. But those 45 minutes reminded me of Luis Jimenez. But, as I am positive, I saw that Barrera will be far more important for us!
Diamanti 4 - Well the man may be a genius at deadballs, may like noone else be able to see the masterstoke of a pass. And: May have new haircuts for every game. But that is not enough, have to convince us in other areas soon. Or be sold.
Piquionne 6 - Our best man today. Had at least energy and some few ideas during those (too few?) first PL minutes in claret & blue. Liked what I saw, and may be able to play with Cole, not instead of...

+ Liked his subs. Fast (compared to Zola) and showed what he disliked. His postinterview showed that he saw the same mistakes that we saw.
- His lineup. Parker, Noble, Kovac in the middle of the park together made us very very slow. He must have been the one to tell Green to show all his goalkicks up towards Cole. It looked like last term. Was da Costa really injured? How come the sleepy players didn't look like Jack Torrance i "The Shining"? It is a new season for God's sake!

If you stay positive you see that we only won one game away from home last year, and that was the first one of the season. So this year this has to be our only loss on away ground!


The Sale ranking list

So maybe with the exception of Sulejmani, we have no more incoming players. Still I guess we need to get rid of some faces, I suggest in this order (the new players are not included) and what I think we need to sell them (= less is of no interest, more may give a higher ranking). I have no idea what the players different salaries are so I've excluded that in my ranking.... I do however as long as possible want balance in the team.

1. Jon Spector (500 000)
2. Rado Kovac (1,5 mill)
3. Valon Behrami (6 mill)
4. Mat Upson (4 mill)
5. Freddie Sears (2,5 mill)
6. Benni McCarthy (1,5 mill)

--- for me: Stop here: So 16 millions in---

7. Kieron Dyer (1,5 mill)
8. Danny Gabbidon (2 mill)
9. One of the young keepers Stech/Kurucz (3 mill)
10. Diamanti (5 mill)
11. Mark Noble (6,5 mill)
12. Scott Parker (12 mill)
13. Junior Stanislas (3,5 mill)
14. Julien Faubert (6 mill)
15. Herita Illunga (4 mill)
16. James Tomkins (6 mill)

New players (or new contract): Hitz, LBM, Piq, Barrera, TBH, Reid.
Non sellable players with this squad: Green, Cole, da Costa, Daprela, Collison, Hines, Nouble, Edgar, Lee, Spence, Stech/Kurucz.

Of course things can change if we exchange players or buy for instance buy a new world class-striker. (As it looks right now I would NOT sell CC! - and certainly not for Yak) But this ranking is with the squad we possess right now.

What's yours?


Communication and Smart Money?

Co-chairman David S writes on the OS "I made a promise that I would not sell Scott and I will not, for any amount of money, break that promise to the West Ham supporters”.
And that is less than 24 hour after his co-chairman colleague David G says to the BBC "I don’t think that anybody ever can give a 100 % guarantee about anybody.”… “There is a never never in football, I learnt that many years ago in football”.
Obviously Sullivan never went to that lesson.
Still, that is more of a funny observation than anything else. The moral of both stories is that Parker will stay.

I must say that the symbolic value the Davids have given Scott is huge and so is, according to rumors, the pay they are offering him to sign an extension to his current deal. I should know better than to bite at that kind of rumors but if they are even close the Davids will be guilty of signing players on exactly the kind of money that they have ridiculed ever since they started to comment on West Hams finances.

Previous talk of huge salaries to Ruud v N, and what have you, I've dismissed as publicity stunt bluffs that never ever ran the risk of being called. But this?

Is Parker really a player we could never do without? Is it really wise to use a very very significant part of the money available for wages on Parker? For 5 years? ...or are there some risky clauses in his current contract they want to get out of and are willing to pay some money to do so, while securing a great footballer and winning the fans over? Again, they have previously strongly cracked down on expensive long term deals made by the previous owners, pointing out the big economic risk to the Club that these £50.000+ deals have presented. And those contracts were signed during the champagne-era while this certainly is not!
I can’t see Gollivan making that big of an exception from their own way of running a football club just to secure Parker for an additional 2 years. They are shrewder than that, right?


Who is attracting the most attractive players?

One should do what one does best and I am fairly good at worrying and being a bit pessimistic. Maybe that’s why I caught on to the Icelandic problems ahead of some optimists, and maybe that’s why I’ll miss out on the first signs of an upturn.

When I finally read the intro and highlights of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance that was released in June (the whole report is £600!) I couldn't stop myself from worrying about the future of English football in financial terms, which we all know is intimately related to the quality of football.
The report discusses the reasons for the relatively low impact the financial crisis has had on economics of football in general and the English game in particular. This is very encouraging indeed especially as there are quite few economically strained clubs at the moment who are relying on an increasing, or at least not a shrinking, flow of money to sustain their existence. It also says that the English Premier League is one of the most equal of leagues with an internal revenue spread of “only” 6 times between the richest and the less fortunate clubs. As far as I understand the reason for that being the equality in the division of TV-money. It does "bite the hand that feeds it" as "The Swiss Rambler" says in his article on the same subject by pointing out that an unhealthy part of the money made is going to player wages, threatening the financial stability of teams. The Guardian also ran a decent piece on the report.

One of the sentences that made me a bit uneasy was “A key driver to the Premier League’s success is that it’s revenue enables member clubs to attract the world’s best players, who in turn help to boost the leagues popularity”.

But are the teams in the PL attracting the best players in the world presently?
The answer to that one is not easy for anyone to give as the term “world’s best players” is more than a little subjective as well as unclear. How many players falls into this category?
If you’ll accept the votes of the international Journalists 2009, however, the 7 best players in the world all played in Spain. These were, followed by a handful of Premiere League players (although Torres and Fabregas are both linked with a move to Spain).
The 2009 Fifa Pro World XI – a world all star team based on the votes from 50000 professional players - include 5 players from the EPL (Terry, Vidic, Evra, Gerrard, Torres) and 6 from La Liga (Casillas, Alves, Xavi, Iniesta; Ronaldo, Messi).

One can conclude that the fight to be the most attractive league in the world is a two horse race, something that is further emphasized by a “most attracting league” poll done on Fifa.com where La Liga and EPL gets 41 and 36 percent respectively (yes La Liga won the poll), followed by the German Bundesliga with a distant 13 percent.
Another way to look at it may be to see if a top-class player is working in a league outside his own country. All England players in the WC get their wages from EPL clubs whereas 4 in the Spanish team found offers from foreign clubs more pleasing – premiership clubs.
‘Nuff said about this, I think I made my point that there is hardly a solid argument for the thought that England is undisputed when it comes to attracting the best players.

To get back to the original thought – if “A key driver to success” is highly debatable, isn’t there reason to worry?

The Engish cause may recieve unexpected help from.... La Liga! La Liga seem to be in an even worse financial state than the Premiership, reducing the power of the worst competitor, at least that is what Stefan Szymanski, football economics guru at the Cass Business School said in a radio interview. He said that, with the possible exceptions of Real Madrid and Barcelona, all the teams in La Liga are in financial trouble…
All but Madrid and Barca? He must be having a laugh. Barca, the team paying the wages of 5 of the 7 top ranking players in the 2009 Ballon d’Or, revealed in may that their debt was € 489 million, and that was before signing David Villa! I thought that the general consensus, and one of the main reasons for Platini’s initiative to straighten out the finances of football clubs, was that Barca and Madrid are financially unsound.

Now there are obviously other "drivers" to PL-success. The fact that the league has established itself on many foreign markets is one. These foreign markets are so important that the EPL is tipped to soon make more money abroad than domestically.
But are these markets faithful?

We may be right back where we started - what league has the most attractive players?


Just leave (him be)

Why do the Potters keep on upping their bid for Cole?
It must mean that they feel they are getting signals from G&S that they are getting close or are they just testing our resolve? I certainly can understand the reason for Stoke to want him. He is a very good player to hoist it to when nothing else seems to work, something we did way too much when he was on the pitch last season (making him look bad in the process). That is more than likely the kind of quality Stoke needs as that situation will occur even more often with them.

I read a lot into Cole being used as a “top model” for our new away kit. Flanked by players more or less guaranteed to play for us during the next campaign (Noble, Hitz, Junior) I got lured into looking forward to see Cole get to “gel” with a striking partner with pace.
I have a feeling that, given time, Remy and Cole would make a cracking partnership. I always thought that Coles target playing capacity should be a perfect platform for releasing a pacy striker. Cole had limited success with Bellamy, Sears and Hines, but they really never got a chance to build anything, and Cole seem to need time to get used to changes in the playing environment. Most of last season Cole was played alongside strikers with, let's say, other qualities. The threat a quick striker would present would take some of the defenders off Coles back, making his job a bit easier. Last year the oppositions defenders were allowed to focus on Cole too much, again making him look bad.
Benni or Piquionne are not viable options, but if the Caraglio deals comes through so is Cole I'm afraid. But at least we are doing business in the right order, getting the replacements in before we sell the "original".


I dare you! I double dare you...?

"The situation with Parker has not changed," said Sullivan. "Villa will not have enough money to tempt us to sell Scott.

"He really is not for sale."

One wonders what Sully is out to do. But even though everything Sully has said so far, including "Everybody is for sale except Parker" tells me that we'd sell Parker if a decent bid came along, in a way this is the best feeling I've had for a while when it comes to keeping Parker.

Economics and economics alone

Now a few new citations are flying around in the Olympic stadium post 2012 discussion. Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, said yesterday during a “how is it going” visit to London that

"We are keen on having an athletics track to remain and I'm confident that they will find the right solution," "We have been assured it will have an athletics track".
However, an OPLC (Olympic Park Legacy Company) official followed up on that comment by saying that

"no final decision" over whether to keep an athletics track beyond 2012 is

So what does it mean when a IOC president is “keen” on something?
Well that certainly depends on if it would affect an upcoming Olympic games per se or just what happens when the Olympic Circus has moved on.
One way to evaluate such a statement is to try to remember how many times you have seen IOC members, not from the specific country, getting involved in a discussion about what happened to a city or country after the Circus has left. Can’t remember any (bar Beijing maybe)? Me neither. No, the Circus will, as allways, move its focus toward the next Olympic Games and, as is true for any Circus manager, not worry much what the tent site looks like after they have left.

The decisions on who is going to run it after the Games and whether to keep or not to keep the tracks will be based on economics and economics alone.
If the cost/benefit analysis of taking the tracks out say they should stay, they will stay and the talk of the “Olympic Legacy” will get a last outing. If not, Sir Sebastian will have to make do with some smaller venue, maybe better suited to house the 7.500 athletics fans that will come to the annual GP show.

So what is the chances (or risk if you are so inclined) of West Ham moving there?
I’d say the chances are great that we, as I said in this post, will see the first West Ham game there in 2015. Not only on our own merits as I doubt there are any other takers with a concept that is backed by money rather than people. Money talks, and no one else should be bothered to argue with it (Coe/West Ham fans) as they have a very slim chance of winning the discussion.
In March 2011 West Ham will be revealed as the new tenants, or to be formal, there is supposed to be a decision on what the stadium will be used to and who gets to run it. Then we may also have a decision on whether the tracks will remain, but that is still something that may be changed later in the development.

Note: I'm certainly not advocating tracks at any football ground, on the contrary, but Gollivan won't care much what I or other West Ham fans say on this matter. They will be banking on that we will get over it. At least enough to go to the games.


Swiss sums it up

Well, its better to write your own stuff, but I can not restrain Bubbleview to suggest all it's readers to read another blogg as well, and the article that really wants to sum up West Ham's current economical situation.
Read Swissramble HERE.
I'm not the man to tell if everything is spot on (as a lot of the numbers are from G&S themselves), but at least most of it seems to be in accordance with the truth and is really good reading.


Between the lines

Avram has been talking as our new manager for the first times.

The latest official statements of our newly appointed manager is in line with every new manager in any team. “Happy to be here”, “relishing the challenge”, it’s a great club” etc. etc.

My favorite platitude is, however, “we want to improve”, which is a reasonable goal for a team avoiding relegation by a hairs breadth.

There are however some grains of information that may be extracted from these interviews and other official produce.
The way he talks about the squad tells us that he by no means takes for granted that there will be any significant additions to it. “If most of the players will make progress we will not need many players” is a statement meant to prepare us for the possible scenario that Hitzlsperger will be the only signing of a “proven” player this window. Or to use Grantish “someone who can play football”.
Late info/rumors points toward Barros adding his £ 5 million worth of talent to our attack but even if these rumors are wrong I guess a signing involving that kind of money may well be in the cards. As far as I can judge he can play football. With him in our books one wonders if Diamanti still will be needed? Also, Gollivan needs to show that they weren’t sh*ting us when they suggested adding additional additions. Also, one or two of the usual suspects will most likely be leaving, more than making up for the money Barros will set us back.

Grant is unusually frank about the necessity to keep Parker. On the OS he says “I can tell you that Scott Parker is important to us . He is a good football player and has quality”. While he is less optimistic about keeping Upson “We will see him when he comes back. Of course we want Matty Upson to stay at the club”.

England’s lack of success in the World Cup, and the un-applauded individual performances obviously boosted our chances to see our England internationals in claret and blue even in the upcoming season. Whether we want them to or not. I (and a few agents) was hoping for huge positive exposure for Green and Upson so we could mourn their leaving while banking some serious money. If nothing else to be able to keep Parker and Cole. On the international note, I’m sure that Parker would have been lost to us had he been given a chance to show what work rate and moral can do, also on the international scene.

Other secret messages were extractable from the release of the new away kit. Cole, Noble, Stanislas and Hitz were used as fashion plates. The odds on Stanislas, Noble and Hitzlsperger to play for us during the 10/11 campaign are pretty low, but what raised my spirits was that Cole would do a photo shoot dressed in it. I thought he would be reluctant, not only because he was afraid that those hoops that seems to have slid down from the chest to get stuck around the waist would make him look short and chubby (is this why Benni wasn’t asked?), but also because he figured he wouldn't be using it much this season. It kind of tells us that he is not in the middle of wrapping up a transfer. But then he looks a bit depressed doesn’t he? Maybe the transfer talks are not as many and as fruitful as he was hoping? But then Noble and Junior doesn’t really look too excited either in the pics on the online store. It’s all a party though when they realize that they will be offered a free high fat meal! (just go and look at the pics on the OS site if none of this makes any sense to you).

Anyone noted that Avram has been seeing a PR consultant? A bit like Tony Soprano seeing a shrink. Either that or a plastic surgeon. He is smiling like his jaws are unhinged on every picture! A smart move just the same as his trade mark sulky face seem to be the major problem people have with him.

Btw, the name of the post was chosen to lure the writer of THIS blog out of hiding.


That's better!

The ongoing discussion over whether the new leadership brings a new information policy has been a bit of a farce. The Sullivan outbursts cannot qualify as information can it? Today’s post on the official site indicates that the old rule that “information appears last on the official site” is still true but the delay is reduced.
The post addresses (or rather touches on) the manager situation and gives the official version on some players that are or are not offered new contracts. Both topics that are of genuine interest (Nothing wrong with the “Sign up for Stadium tours” and “ “Noble’s recipe for success” posts but still…). “The worst kept secret in football” is packaged as a selection process. Most likely to make sure that Grant doesn’t get carried away with his demands

The Footballer Formerly Known As the Dead Snake (TFFKAtDS), is offered a new contract.
That is a bit surprising to me considering his comments on the new owners. The offer could well be all but an insult, making it possible for the new regime to say that he chose to leave, and there is no way that it’s anywhere near the 70000 a week he is supposedly picking up today. I kind of hope that it is a decent contract and that the “love for the Club” that he expressed when rejecting that offer last summer is genuine. He is the kind of player we need in the squad, even though I hope that he won’t be relied upon to start.

I’ll be back on comments on the youngsters.


What's your diagnosis?

As a fan one more or less have to adapt to whatever happens in your Club. That adapting process can be a painful one. How on earth should I feel about the inevitable, and in my view needed, sacking of Zola and the disgusting way G&S has handled it. Can I just see them as separate incidents? Of course not, but where does that leave me?

And what attitude should I have to the economic side of their ownership? I am quite sure that the Clubs economic situation was worse than Duxbury et al. wanted us to think (even though maybe not as shockingly dire as G&S told us after the take-over) and I’m fairly convinced that there was no one else that had the economic muscle to complete a take-over. In that sense they saved us from going into administration and, most certainly, relegation. But then it is as certain that they will limit the spending on players in a way that will burst a few bubbles. We will lose some players that will be able to find better financial deals elsewhere and that is always hard to stomach. G&S will however keep some other bubbles flying as a more conservative salary policy will pave the way for a more balanced squad. Fewer peaks but also less visits to the abyss is my hardly unique prediction for next season. A bit like learning that your depression is treatable but that you will never be as happy as you used to, ever again.

That provides an effortless queue for the Grant part of this post. Grant was not my first choice, but then was he anyone’s first choice? However considering the alternatives I think it has its flipsides. One is that you can read anything you like into his “CV”. One may want to emphasize the success at Chelsea, or say he was never a part of it. One may look at his work at Portsmouth and interpret it any way one chooses. Is he the one that managed a team to relegation or is he the one that against all odds got a relegation doomed team to the FA-cup final? Loser or winner? Talk about bipolar! I see his West Ham gig as the first true test as a manager in the UK, even though his ability to get the Pompey players to perform as they did although they were already doomed to relegation may say something. My guess is that Grant will have me off the lithium and longing for excitement. Fancy that, the team known for its contempt for consistency having an outside chance of stability!

Then the Olympic stadium. If I feel divided in the other issues I’m split right down the middle on this one. It forces you to answer to the question “Do you feel it is of importance that West Ham can compete with the top clubs for players and trophies or are you fine with letting players that succeeds in our colors go on to build the back bone of ManUre and Chelsea?”. If you have a clear answer to that one, the stadium question is a no brainer. Unfortunately I don’t. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Hand me the Prozac!

Mental state and West Ham

This post transformed to the one above for technical/tactical reasons - sorry about that Allan.


Same Sullivan...

I think one can separate the team from the owners to some extent. Like the ManUre fans chant "Love united hate Glazers".

G&S are bastards, we all knew this.
However, they are the bastards that were willing to spend money to save our Club from economic oblivion and a Portsmouthian fate. No one else was. If they were forced away from the Club for some reason, what would be achieved? There are no buyers!

Zola was probably unwilling to go - why? Because he believed he had done wonders with the team and deserved another season? Maybe one can argue that one should know when a party is over, but then he was under a contract and had all the rights to try to hang on for the length of it. But he is not quite the first manager to be sacked under that kind of circumstances is he?

G&S was always going to try to avoid paying Zola off. All the abuse during the season had that sole purpose. If the rumours are true really doesn't matter, does it? The lawyers that are, or will be, involved will sort it and it certainly doesn't change my view of G&S. They are and were bastards.

It may have some detrimental implications for the future however.
What manager would like to come to our Club and risk to share Zola's fate? G&S seem to try the "we stand by our players and managers" defining "our" as people that they have hired - let's see how that hangs with the managers they are courting.

Shame Sullivan!

If it is more than a rumour, if it is closer to the truth, I think it is a real shame. If Sullivan has breached Zola's contract by saying that Franco has breached the contract himself (and not paying him a penny) cause the Italian defended his own players and asked a question when Sullivan himself went out to the media and critisised the players openly - then it's not fun anymore. It is filthy oppression. It is acting like a former Eastern dictator, thinking he can do anything he wants with people.

Zola may not have reached any hights with his team, so this is not about finding a new manager or not, it's about how G&S acts. To humilate our servant Zola this way - if the rumours are true - is disgraceful.
It will not get us any new fans, it will not get us any energy, it will probably mean that players are looking elsewhere, it will not improve our team. The opposite. We can be seen as the gready basterds and maybe – if supporting our new owners doing things like this – we are. This is not the West Ham way, no way.

West Ham fans should act and refuse to buy any season tickets before this is reasonable solved. We still got the power.

At least to do something when we find out the truth in this matter.


Quite Gianfrancly, it's for the best

The OS awards our manager of the last 2 seasons a one (1!) sentence long farewell!!

G&S have no reputation of being soft, but this is a bit too much. It ends the piece with “The club will make no further comment on this matter” – yeah right. Sully is known as the strong silent type isn’t he?
On the note of the sacking itself – I don’t doubt for a second that it was handled lousily as G&S certainly doesn’t share Zola’s suffering when having to tell a player he is not in the team for the next game. But then Zola knew this was coming and I’m sure he will be economically compensated.

“Naïve” is probably the word I will use to describe Zola while with us.
I very much liked the way he wanted us to play and his visions for the future was very tempting – all the things a player and a fan wants to hear. The image of an attacking and technically able squad will stick in the back of my mind as a icon and monument over his reign at Boleyn Ground. Unfortunately he never got us to play fluid football on the floor bar a few precious moments.

... and I very much doubt that he ever would.
One could argue that he never got a chance due to dire times. But as our manager during these hard times I still expected more, like adapting o the situation. His inability to learn from his tactical mistakes was one of my problems with him. I would fully expect a West Ham under Zola to gather in the center of the pitch and play 5 yard passes to covered players or a long ball toward Cole also next season.
My “favourite” hang up, however, was the ever-changing team sheet (even though I respect him for trying not to communicate through one as Curbs allegedly did), making it all but impossible to form a team of the players.
He was obviously liked by most in the squad, as a person, and it will be hard to find one that has not pledged his allegiance to Zola and this is what makes it a bit hard to criticize him. It feels a bit like stabbing your friend in the back. Let's see how the players will handle that.

I will most likely miss him if we, as expected, get a manager that (as main qualification) can forge out decent results from a mediocre squad.
Or rather I will miss what we never had.

Best luck for the future Gianfranco!

Money is the law

It was nice to see Zola play for us this Wednesday, he was king of the pitch in the testimonial game for Carr (and should actually be able to play in the team if he wanted to). But he may sooner than later leave us...

It was very nice to see LBM back on Sunday, with his energy and no-nonsense play he was the king of the pitch (together with Diamanti) against Man City. But he may sooner than later leave us....

I think they both could do business for us (Zola as head coach). At least we need a player like LBM, as he fights like a wounded lion each time on the pitch. A game like the one against Wolves or Fulham would have looked different with him on the pitch.

Boa Morte reacted angrily at Sullivan after our owner had said some very unwise words. So answering the owners, who had accused Zola and the players with mainly the same words, was to cost him two weeks salary (according to reports) in fines. The Portugese had to apologize. Money talks. Money rules. I do not like the way our owners handle things.....

I really would like to see us write a new contract with Ilan right now. He kept us in the PL and are the only one who can score in the box. And are about to learn some understanding with Cole, a thing we've asked for too long now....

It is never easy to be a West Ham fan, but I do wonder what team we will see in August. We all knows we need change, but if every other senior player agree with Boa Morte and Zola, and continutes to have this strained relations to our owners, then we may see too many good players leave. And an unsecure team... once again....

I do hope I'm wrong.


Way to little, still enough!

Long time no seen!

I´m sorry I haven´t been able to deliver updates the last couple of weeks. Last time was at the end of march and I was struggling to see where we were going to get the points needed to stay up. It seems we didn´t need the amount of points I thought was needed since it seems that this will be the season with least points required to stay up, ever. This, ofcourse, isn´t good enough!

Yesterday we had a splendid chance to get another three points against a Fulham side who never win against West Ham. A Fulham side thinking about the clubs biggest game ever in a forthnight. A Fulham side who wouldn´t be interested in a fight since the players wouldn´t want to risk an injury before the final. What did we do? As we´ve done quite a lot of times this season. We rolled over without a fight. We were not up to it. I´m getting really frustrated with performances like this and I don´t think I´m the only one.

We don´t seem to be psyched up at the start of the games and most of the time we´re not able to change that around during the game either. During the games we don´t seem to have a strategy how to get the ball and when we get it we doesn´t seem to know what to do with it. This is a management issue. Are you really up to it Zola? It certainly doesn´t seem so!

(Game: Prediction, Outcome, +/- from the game, +/- overall)

Aston Villa - WHU: 0p, 1p, 1p, 1p
Portsmouth - WHU: 3p, 1p, -2p, -1p
WHU - Blackburn: 3p, 1p, -2p, -3p
Total January: 6p, 3p, -3p, -3p

Burnley - WHU: 3p, 0p, -3p, -6p
WHU - Birmingham: 1p, 3p, 2p, -4p
WHU - Hull: 3p, 3p, 0p, -4p
Manchester United - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -4p
Total February: 7p, 6p, -1p, -4p

WHU - Bolton: 1p, 0p, -1p, -5p
Chelsea - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -5p
Arsenal - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -5p
WHU - Wolverhampton: 3p, 0p, -3p, -8p
WHU - Stoke: 3p, 0p, -3p, -11p
Total March: 7p, 0p, -7p, -11p

Everton - WHU: 0p, 1p, 1p, -10p
WHU - Sunderland: 1p, 3p, 2p, -8p
Liverpool - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -8p
WHU - Wigan: 3p, 3p, 0p, -8p
Total April: 4p, 7p, 3p, -8p

Fulham - WHU: 1p, 0p, -1p, -9p
WHU - Manchester City: 0p
Total May: 1p

(Prediction, +/- according to prediction, pointing towards x amount of points)

Total 2009: 18p
Total 2010: 25p, -9p, 16p
Total 09/10: 43p, -9p, 34p


James Collins may save West Ham!

Maybe it was a good idea to sell James Collins after all. At least, as he late Wednesday was one of the main reasons Hull were prevented any goals and any oints at home against Villa. Kilbane had a number of chances to score, and Hull held their heads high during most of the game, just to be prevented to deliver any goals by Dunne and Collins, to giants in Villa's defence.
You might say that we would have had more points if Collins had stayed, and I do not challenge that. Not at all. But today I'd like to thank our old redtop for a great game.
0-2 is a cruel result for Hull ( In an awkward way I actually felt sorry for them as they did a really hard try - the opposite what we saw from "our boys" the other day.) I guess the fight may be over this weekend. As long as we win against Wigan.
We demand: Just do it!


Weak ham!

I do not know if the West Ham players were told before the game not to get hurt or not to get any yellow cards? If so I can understand why we did not seem to be at Anfield at all. Not trying to create any close contact at all. Creating just one really good chance during the whole game was really, really bad (with some memories from this weekend were Wigan fought to a win against Arsenal despite 0-2 down. This was the opposite what Wigan did.)
Yes; This 3-0-loss was one of the biggest disappointments this season. Well, the fans were told that "this is not the game we got to get points in" but actually it may be, so why play a game like it was softball? Or can we win any points by trying to bore our oppontens to death? Liverpool did not have to play well to beat us, and could field a team without many of their best: Still they won very, very easily. The only good thing today was our fans. They were great!!! All respect to them.

Green 5 - Not to do at any goal, still: last year he had saved one or two.
Faubert 5 - Not as good as lately, still one of the better players in our team.
Da Costa 6 - After he missed the offside trap in the beginning he was the anchor (well a small one) in defence and it was long time ago I saw a CB dribbling so much up front as he did today. Tried.
Upson 4 - Never seen him so bad. Was not able to get connected to any of "his" players during the whole game, and certainly not at the goals where he looked weak and slow. Captain? Nah.... Maybe he had lasagna for lunch in that bus?
Spector 5 - The first goal was once again partly his fault, after that he played OK (after his standards). Can't understand why we are selling N'Gala and not Spector to Plymouth....
Stanislas 4 - Fast but weak. Gives us "something else", but not today as he did not manage anything he wanted to. Out at halftime. Disappointing.
Kovac 3,5 - Very disappointing. Does not look like a holding midfielder, hardly a football player.
Noble 4 - Against Sunderland this boy was more than excellent, today he was more than disappointing. First half he was never seen at all, second he did some good tackles but very poor with his passes. Our attackers were left totally stranded.
Behrami 5 - At least he fought a bit. Happy birthday!
Ilan 4 - As good as this guy can be in the box as useless he can be as midfielder (second half). In the first he was left really without any chance to get into the match.
Cole 5,5 - Fought but was left without any real chance to impress as he was alone up front nearlly all the time, even when he first won the ball at some few occasions there wasnät a player within a mile. Two shots in the first half, and a really huge chance in the second whre Reina did well. Subbed late to be fresh.

Franco 5 - Not much impression today,
McCarthy - Not any impression at all, but that we can see that he is not fit enough. To his defense: not an easy situation to get on, as we are already down 3-0 and Liverpool can just hold the ball.
Daprela - had some minutes to feel how wonderful it is to lose at Anfield. Like the youngster though.

Can someone (maybe Zola?) please tell me why Diamanti isn't playing? I mean he can't just have been left out because on inappropriate or bad behaviour os so? Cause then he wouldn't be on the bench would he? And if he is so hurt that he can't come onto the field why is he then on the bench? I do not understand!

So another year without a win at Anfield. Now it's 47 years! But I do not care as long as we can be a PL team next season. The problem today was that we didn't look like one! We also lost the half momentum we had after two good displays. Now we are back at square one. Next game is a must, must. Wigan can play without stress, will that be good or bad for us?? I am really, really nervous. Anyhow:
This was not acceptable, and the most really worrying thing is maybe that our big names like Upson, Noble, Green and Cole are in bad form. Please, Parker help us!


Will Wigan be our last resort?

Now it’s time for the heavy math’. As Bolton lost and Wigan only took one point in their home tie game against Portsmouth, we can now see that the "three-team-battle" has become adogfight between five or six teams involved. I do not mind. As long as we stay up. Looking at the fixtures it is Hull who looks to have the easiest schedule left and Wigan the hardest.

Round 35: Liverpool-West Ham, Wigan–Arsenal, Sunderland-Burnley, Birmingham-Hull, Stoke-Bolton, Fulham-Wolves.

We can get something from Anfield, but I do not count with it. Wigan can rock Arsenal after their loss against Tottenham and the title fight. But van Persie will be back and I can’t see Wenger accepting another loss. Sunderland will win against Burnley at home, no doubt and Stoke-Bolton may see Bolton snap a point. The most nervous game here will probably be Birmingham against Hull. A point or three for Hull, against a good, but nowadays seldom sparkling, Birmingham side may well be a good chance for Hull if they have any mental strength to came back after their frightening loss to Burnley.

So this forthcoming round may not be decisive, but it will certainly be able to give us a new agenda. A point against Gerrard & co would do magic. And we may have some points to go on when we'll meet Wigan....


Ilan in the sun!

Can you be more relieved than relieved?
Certainly you can and I guess it was more than me who felt that way when the poor referee Michael Jones blew his whistle for full time. 1-0 against Sunderland is massive, so was the players big heart out there today. With a lot of support from the stands. It was not the prettiest victory, but who cares, and we certainly deserved it.
Man of the game was our young hero Mark Noble, who really took the responsibility when Parker was not there. Another hero was of course Ilan who, with his special ability, once again gave us a crucial goal. But I want to say that every player did what they were expected to do today. And that was to fight, fight and fight. Which was enough and even better when we saw Burnley win their first away vicotry this season, against Hull! Lovely day!
35 points may now be enough to play in the top league next season and we have four games to get those four (well, I would not mind more)....

Green 7 - Made a crucial save in the second half from a surprising freekick, when his reaction was fast and spot on. Other than that, not much, so credit to the back four!
Faubert 7 - Another massive effort from our Frenchman. No mistakes, played with calm and decisiveness.
Da Costa 7,5- Another massive effort from our Portuguese. No mistakes, played with calm and decisiveness. Impressed and it looks that he will be important for us next season if Upson leaves.
Matthew Upson 7,5 - This was the best from our Captain in a long time. Gave Bent and Sunderland few opportunities and had a really strong game against one of the teams that scores most at the moment. In the offense he should stop to try to score with weak headers. Idea: Try to find try to find a teammate instead.
Spector 6,5 - Well the first half gave us (once again) some nervous hiccups with his bad ability to get rid of the ball from his area. The second 45 was better as he was less challenged. Then he also had time to go forward which also gave us a couple of really neat dribbles(!). Who had thought that? (My wife says I sound like Seinfeld mentioning the name Newman when I say Spector, but credit to him today)
Stanislas 5,5 - Not as important as against Everton, but made his contribution more in the middle of the park than on the right.
Kovac 5,5 - A pretty silent game. Worked - once more - pretty hard for the team, made some important blocks, but I do want more from the experienced blonde.
Mark Noble 8 - We hardly missed Parker today, and that really says it all. Gave everything, played smart and had wonderful tackles and blocks. We did not even once saw that he is slow today. Thanks Mark!
Valon Behrami 7,5 - One of the most important players for us today as he rallied around all 90 minutes and gave the guests no chance to calm down. He even contributed with some offensive play today, but gave away some stupid freekicks which could have cost us.
Carlton Cole 7 - Impressive display from our big man. Won nearly every header and took care of many long balls. Headed the ball nicely to Ilan for the winner and should certainly have had Gordon sent off when he perfectly saw Gordon drop the ball and he was about to put it in the net when Gordon grabbed Colewith both hands and pushed him over. But "referee" Jones totally misjudged the situation.
Ilan 7,5 - As I've said before, this man knows how to find space in the box! A natural goalscorer which now has "given" us four points in two games. Ran perfectly at Coles header. Well, he still needs to learn the physical aspect of English play, still gives us womething new and special!

Franco - We all like this guy nowadays. He comes on to fight, to play smart with his experience and to irritate the opponents. He does that very well. I would give this guy another year no doubt.
Daprela - Came on in over-time just to check out his boots.

A massive, massive win!!!! Without Parker, without Diamanti.
Happy for us, happy for the players, and happy for Zola who never gave up! Two games ago I really thought we were doomed.... not anymore!

Liverpool next!


Point of grace

So a bit of relief, wasn't it? To see the spirit! To see Faubert still fighting after Yakubu's "winning" header – and a "guaranteed" home win – and put in that wonderful cross and see Ilan fly through the air and meet the ball perfectly with his head.
2-2 was a fair result and ended the fightful spell of losses.
Everton our boogey team (oneof'em) had win after win at home in Liverpool, but still we fought, and this time fought to get something. We certainly deserved it.

After a first half where we - as guests I presume – we lay low in pour positions and just took chances with long balls up the field (sometimes to a lonely Cole), we took contol of the second half and could really have won the game. A point is a point! Vital or not may not show until the 9th of May.

Cause we haven't achieved anything yet. Looking at next weekend's fixtures it looks like we need a win over in-form Sunderland to keep us over the "drop line". I mean; Hull will take on Burnley, Wolves will meet Stoke and Wigan is at home against Portsmouth.
But if Upson can show that he is a man for the England team by putting in an immaculate performance against Darren Bent and Da Costa can keep winning headers even against Jones I think we can do it even without Parker.

Green 6 - Had he any saves in the game at all? Alright he came out in the box a couple of times, once to grab the ball in front of the feet of an opponent but not much otherwise. And not much to do about their goals either. Maybe he can leave his goalline a bit earlier sometimes.
Faubert 8 - That cross was spot-on. And this man fought and is really in form now. Great effort and no mistakes.
Da Costa 7,5 - His goal was not the most beautiful, and he was part of the defense that made pitiful mistakes at Everton's first goal. Still a great game. Good headers, good blocks, an important goal and good fighting spirit.
Upson 6,5 - Not at his best yet but better than lately. I can not understand why he shoves those long balls up the field again and again and never reach a player in claret & blue. Ever.
Spector 4 - After some good games from the American this was another showing of mistakes. He made two mistakes at Everton's first goal (the bad clearence and then just left the Russian on his own) and a useless pass right into the arms of an Everton player that led to the home teams second. I've seen enough. If Ilunga is a doubt still, Daprela should play from now on. I do not care if the youngster from Switzerland (edit) is looked upon as "too young" in an situation full of pressure. He can take it.
Stanislas 7 - Behrami was injured (or sick) in the warm-up and Stanislas came on instead. I think that was tremedous move for Zola, as we all of a sudden had speed and width, and some (if too many bad as well) good crossing. The right side is probably better for the rightfooted youngster as well. Good game with energy, even if a bit too eager sometimes.
Kovac - 6 He was alright and played for the team.
Parker - 8,5 Lovely game again. Lost some ball's unnecessarywhen the team had found themselves in the opponent's box - Parker should have made some easy passes earlier. But that is the only thing I can find to complain about. And of course the yellow card that makes us very vulnerable for the next two fixtures. Otherwise a great, great game with an effort that probably noone in PL this weekend can compare themselves with.
Noble 6 - Totally lost in the first half on the left hand side (not a good position for him) but got into the game and showed heart and a strong will. A good shot at the bar, took the corner that lead us to our first goal.
Mido 5,5 - The penalty was as naive as parts of his play. But actually fought pretty hard. ut: Gives few options that Cole doesn't already possess.
Cole 7 - Left stranded in the first half even if he fought and won balls even if he had two or three men against him. Won the penalty after a good run. Decent but not at his best yet. I think this man has to score soon.

Ilan 8 - That goal deserves credit!!! We could see it from the beginning when he came. He may not be anything peculiar in some positions, but he is something special to when it comes to get himself into the box and find room and space. Gives the team new qualities. May it continue!
Gabbidon - Came in at overtime just to check his boots I guess.

Sunderland next!


For goodness sake focus!

I’m not quite sure who needs this urge the most, the owners, the manager or the players. But it was the Fulham complaint that got me started. Let’s focus on getting the required points to stay up instead.
Of course I see what Sullivan is doing, using his default method - threat - to refrain other teams to do the same, be it teams in the relegation battle resting players against teams they’ll lose to anyhow (Wolves) or safe teams focusing on a bigger game as Fulham.
Of course it’s morally questionable to field an under strength team for several reasons but I think that West Ham is best served by everybody focusing on one thing – the game against Everton. Besides we have not been strangers to resting players ahead of vital games ourselves, the latest example being Parker against Arsenal, and quite a few fans demanded him to be rested against Chelsea as well not to risk a ban for the important games ahead. So where is the morally acceptable limit? 2 players? Three?
Go shock Everton!

And so we did!
Also, Sullivan confirms my thoughts in this interview HERE


It's not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair...

I remember once hearing another West Ham fan saying that the spring feels empty the seasons we are safe from relegation, and I laughed out loud.
Today I’d do almost anything for that empty feeling. However, I’m slowly edging toward another state, or rather survival strategy, that is best described by the John Cleese quote from Clockwise:
"It's not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand"
I’m about to accept relegation and have found myself thinking that we may have a decent squad for the fizzy pop. Comfortably numb as Pink Floyd put it.

But then the terrible feeling of hope resurfaces as I wonder if it’s the feeling of nothing to lose that is needed in our team to make our cramped performances give way. Maybe a game away against Everton is the perfect fix(ture)? They have not that much to play for and even though they have an impressive home (and away) record, motivation is a powerful force. Everton is of course heavy favorites with the bookies, but Stoke Wolves and Birmingham have all left Goodison with a point and we (Stanislas more than me, I must confess) scored against them at Boleyn Ground - when all hope was gone.
So here I am, wondering if I can stand the hope a point on Saturday would bring.

(thanks to Jolly for reminding me of the Cleese quote)


If support could kill

What does support for a manager really mean?

The latest player to back Zola is Robert Green that dubs Zola “a great manager” and the other day Mido told the press that "Everyone is working so hard for the manager. We're behind that man. He is a top manager, in my opinion, and we're all behind him". Just the other week two or three other players including Scott Parker said more or less the same thing.

But what does “a great manager” mean to a footballer.
I’m pretty sure that if players outside West Ham are asked to name a great manager Fergie, Wenger and Mourinho would all be named but Zola wouldn’t even enter their mind. So why do our players say he’s a great manager? These are players working with him every day so they should know, right?
First one must consider if they are just lying as this is the politically correct way of behaving. No one wants to look like a managerial problem so on the direct question “what do you think of Zola as a manager” they don’t have much of a choice do they? But I’m sure that some players actually do think he is a good manager. How come?
Of course the he players can like a manager for several reasons. He can be a good “man manager” making the players feel comfortable and wanted. How can you dislike that? He can avoid the hair-dryer treatment, which is most certainly appreciated by players in the short run. Also he can be accessible to the players, being there for them when they want him, which is probably a totally new feeling for players used to old-school Curboid managers. I think Zola have all these “qualities”. Zola is also apparently very good one-on-one with the players giving each player “quality” time with the manager working on (what he/they think is) their individual needs. There are a so many statements confirming this that we (almost) have to accept it as the truth. It also appears as if the training sessions are enjoyable to the players.
So the players lead a good and enjoyable life with Zola as their manager. The fact that they don’t win games with him at the helm is just a minor flaw in his managerial CV.

But the players are not the only ones backing him, almost every manager of teams we have played of late has backed Zola as well. Now, that is a League Managers Association kind of thing as they know that they could be up next and they all by default despise the sacking of any manager.
Old West Ham players also seem to get behind Zola with Julian Dicks, Don Hutchison, Ian Bishop, Tony Gale and John Moncur among those having given him their support. Some of that is maybe due to genuine support for him as a manager and some of it can reflect that they don’t want change during a season. But I bet some is also that they want to be regular nice guys not wanting to stab his back and the statement have no real relation to what they actually think of him as a manager. I’m sure pretty much the same persons will back the next manager too.

So what do we do with all this backing of Zola?
Nothing. I think their greatest value is as a post-topic, at best.


If.... we actually mention the unmentionable....

I do not want to mention the War. As we are all a bit superstitious and if some players begin to think in the same way, and if.... Well, Yes if. If we can lose against Wolves and Stoke at home and if Hull can get some energy from their last win (a win that was not hard to predict) we actually can "do a Newcastle". A team too good to go down, a team with disastrous finances but with good individual players but no team gut. We have done it before and we can do it again. Go d....
Despite the money from the Davids.... Despite that we might have a handful of players in South Africa this summer...

But what do we have next year, if we go d..... At least you can speculate.... I am not sure of most of the contracts. Some of them may give the players freedom to leave if we drop. Some may be longer than I know, the David's may offer useless contracts, who knows? But let's start anyhow.

Green - Will probably leave anyhow. Has spoken about doin a couple of years abroad, but where? It will of course depend on how he will do in an England shirt this summer, a question raised as he has been less strong in the last months then when he became England No1.
Julien Faubert - Will miss Africa, but will leave us, as I see him go back to a top team in France.
Jonathan Spector - As he won't attract any PL teams he will be here next season as well.
James Tomkins - I guess some teams will be interested, but I guess he knows that he can have use of a season in the CC, he will stay too.
Matthew Upson - Sold. How much can we get?
Gabbidon - Will be released, sorry to say, as he has been injured too many games, too many times now. But we surely could have use of an experienced CB next year. Will not go to another PL team I guess, so Cardiff or retirement....
Manuel Da Costa - Still young he could do a year in CC and grow. Guess it is up to the (new) coach and how Da Costa enjoys London. I would keep him, even if it may be a year for Spence to get a place in the first 11. If da Costa leaves it would be for an international career.
Daprela - Stays.
Ilunga - Goes to West Brom, Newcastle or Bolton. (pity)
Diamanti - How much I would like to see him here in claret & blue in CC he will have his career somewhere else. May be back in Italy - in a top team - rather sooner than later, but may also chose a career in PL. He may not attract the top four, but which ( other)team can he chose that plays as beautiful as him?
Jack Collison - A real talent that I guess could attract many teams in PL, but he do also have a big WH heart and will have an operation in his knee this summer. So stays!
Kovac - Sold the 10th of May. Germany, Russia or home....
Scott Parker - Uh, how much we will miss him. But we must understand that he wants to do another year or two in the top flight. Harry would probably be there for him....
Mark Noble - We can not sell all our central midfielders. Noble can attract teams like Villa, Sunderland and Blacckburn. Tottenham is no alternative. But we will do our best to keep him in our team and as a new Captain he might stay here with his big West Ham heart.
Junior Stanislas - Must stay. And I'm very happy about it!
Behrami - Will go back to Italy. Or Spain.
LBM - Will not be offered any new contract anyhow.
Dyer - Will not be offered any new contract anyhow. Will leave.
Carlton Cole - Will probably be sold to Arsenal for 10 millions. Anyway.
Ilan - Will leave anyhow.
Mido - Will leave anyhow.
McCarthy - Has a contract that do not expire this summer, but probably a contract that tells that he can leave if we go down. But I am not so sure that he will (if we will). At least not if he misses the World Cup at home this summer. Can be an important senior for us in the CC.
Freddie Sears - The youngster has not blossomed when on loan in the CC. Will he come back and lead the line now? Not so sure. May leave.
Zavon Hines - May be our key-player next season.
Nouble - Our new Carlton Cole must stay.

From our own ranks: Stech, Kurusz, Edgar, Spence, Fry, Örn, Montano.

This may be a very good, but much too young team - with only McCarthy, Noble and Spector at least a bit older. Will D&D buy some senior players from a Birmingham sale? If they still really will fight for the Olympic Stadium we can not do more than a year in CC, and it leaves them with a lot of more spending.

Well, anyway but looking at this it is this leaves us with another question and opportunity:

Who may be the best guy to lead youngsters to success, educate them and take that time?

It may well be Zola.

If he stays this season out, without being able to keep us in PL, the answer to our future may actually be the Italian. But what about the others, the players?


When enough isn´t enough

In my last post, before yhe Arsenal game, I wrote that we were the worst prepared team for the relegation battle (of the ones down there) because the managment or the team never expected us to be where we are at the moment. To many losses seems to have erased the little that was left of the confidence. The team doesn´t act like a team anymore.

Zola and Clarke doesn´t seem to be able to get the team going. Benni McCarthys statement about the half time speech at the Wolves debacle is a bit telling. Noone seemed to listen according to The Mirror "The manager tried but everyone's heads had dropped. We didn't really perform. Everyone's heads were in their shirts and everyone was shy to show their faces - it was really hard." Quite worrying one would think..?

I really thought Zola was going to say "enough is enough" and walk out after the game vs Wolves. Especially after the players failed to perform as they did. I thought he was to proud to take that kind of shitty performances (and I thought he could afford it). Now it seems like he´ll stay and maybe it doesn´t matter? How many times has it actually worked out to change the manager (especially with seven games to play?)? I don´t know.

I do know however that I received a letter from mr Sullivan the other day and he wrote the way a lot of us fans feels. At last someone who speaks his mind and recognise shit when he sees it. Maybe it was a publicity stunt with an agenda and maybe it wasn´t good from a psychological point of view (or maybe it was?) but it was surely refreshing.

The most important game of the season is a very worn out expression but it´s never been more valid than for this game. Every game will be more important than the other til the end of the season. At the moment it seems like the only thing that´ll keep us up is if Burnley and Hull also have stopped to gather points. We shouldn´t fool ourself. Ofcourse they haven´t. Therefor we need to gain some on our own, starting tomorrow (and I just can´t see how that´ll be possible with the last couple of games on my mind).

A win vs Stoke puts us on track for 35p. A loss and I can´t see us get more than 32p. Will that be enough? Probably not.

(Game: Prediction, Outcome, +/- from the game, +/- overall)

Aston Villa - WHU: 0p, 1p, 1p, 1p
Portsmouth - WHU: 3p, 1p, -2p, -1p
WHU - Blackburn: 3p, 1p, -2p, -3p
Total January: 6p, 3p, -3p, -3p

Burnley - WHU: 3p, 0p, -3p, -6p
WHU - Birmingham: 1p, 3p, 2p, -4p
WHU - Hull: 3p, 3p, 0p, -4p
Manchester United - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -4p
Total February: 7p, 6p, -1p, -4p

WHU - Bolton: 1p, 0p, -1p, -5p
Chelsea - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -5p
Arsenal - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -5p
WHU - Wolverhampton: 3p, 0p, -3p, -8p
WHU - Stoke: 3p
Total March: 7p

Everton - WHU: 0p
WHU - Sunderland: 1p
Liverpool - WHU: 0p
WHU - Wigan: 3p
Total April: 4p

Fulham - WHU: 1p
WHU - Manchester City: 0p
Total May: 1p

(Prediction, +/- according to prediction, pointing towards x amount of points)

Total 2009: 18p
Total 2010: 25p, -4p, 21p
Total 09/10: 43p, -8p, 35p


The 5 most annoying statements

1. "We're 100% behind the manager"
That statement may just have a tiny bit of an off key ring to it don’t you think?
Maybe a sentence from Sullivans “message from the chairman” can explain why. “I was angry and upset as every supporter in the stadium at the disorganised way we played…”
There are at least 10 other observations that turns this statement into one of the daftest from G&S yet.
Filed under "shit we need to say".

2. Gianfranco Zola insists David Gold and David Sullivan are not meddling in first-team affairs at West Ham.
"We realise the performance was absolutely appalling. We can't play like that again, and I'm sure the manager will be making changes for Saturday and I'm sure it will be a much better performance.” That couldn’t have been an owner could it?

3. "I don't think they're putting any pressure on me”
That is Zola again and “they” are the Davids of course. I’d insult your intelligence if I commented this one. Filed in the same folder as no 1.

4. “The most important thing is that they enjoy playing football”
It’s hard believing that anyone in our team is enjoying football at the moment.
I bet one of the most enjoyable feelings of a footballer is when he recognizes that his hard work pays off. Saying "go out and enjoy yourself" never worked.

5. “You're not fit to wear the shirt”
We tend to bear down hard on players not giving it all for the team. Maybe we should all take that “long, hard look” at ourselves that Matty Upson urged the players to take. Getting behind the team and “loving them the most when they deserve it the least” is nothing that comes easy to me, or most fans, but I’m convinced that even if we need to pretend, as most of us will have to, it is the most effective.


Which nail in the coffin was this, Zola?

Do you remember West Ham-Reading 0-6?? Well, that was not under Zola's regime. Just as to put some things in perspective. But anyway it's not easy to say anything clever after 1-3 against Wolves in THE important game of the season....
Yes: We dominated and had two or three times as many goal scoring opportunities as Wolverhampton. The team who had scored least goals in the league did not create much, but still did three goals! In a way this makes things even more Embarrasing.
I have defended Zola even in my sleep, but can no longer see Zola turn this ship. Sorry I want you here, but... this.... Well, I still can see the players do it, but they got to do it fast. Please grow that confidence that can build champions!
We are lucky that there are Hull, Burnley and Ports, three really bad teams out there this year. I guess they do mention us in the same sentence....
As we didn't show any creativity, even less any teamplay today. The Wolves tactics was easy to spot and understand, but our tactics were? Can someone explain please?

Green 4 - I do not care much about the English national team, but if this is the best they can get.... I mean Greeno used to save shots like this. Used to save at least one shitty shot in the game. Well, not his fault any of the goals... but not very convinving either. Back to No6?
Faubert 7 - Probably our best man out there, back from injury he showed energy and was one of few that won some 50-50-situations.
Tomkins 2 - Sorry man, but you did it against Bolton, a extremely important game, and you did it again. Situations that seems to be of no harm, turns up to be crucial against us. Won't do. I can understand that you got hurt.... I hope you can survive and come back stronger, but not sure. Off 45.
Upson 3,5 - Was lost at their second, slipped at their third. Our Captain was not even able to handle his back four. Will be sold this summer if there are any bidders left.... Will he even go to SA?
Daprela 5 - Deflected the shot which led to 0-2, but tried. Our future man, but hop to see Ilunga next.
Behrami 4 - Not good enough. Very invisible and when he went into the middle there was even less creativity than when Kovac was on the field. Yes, alright he ran but that is not enough.
Parker 7 - Well, this man showed a big heart and was self-sacrificing as always. Lost some and won some but fought! Lovely double- opportunity!At the moment he is our only man to sit next to Capello on that flight.
Kovac 3 - Disaster. Lost every ball, missed every pass. What happened, all of a sudden he looked like the player he was when he came.
Diamanti 6 - Tried and fought. That is what I demand. But not one of he best games as Wolves were good to defend close on him (and on everyone of our players). Should use his speed more.
McCarthy 4,5 - Had some good ideas, more pace than most of the others and some passes that can fit Cole when they have played more games together. But as they all were lost today, I was not satisfied. Is not up to even 60 minutes yet.
Cole 5 - Well he wanted so much, he fought and looked quite good when he came down in the field to pick the ball up. But up there not much today. Wolves had no problems to defend their box at all. Was prevented by the lack of creativity from midfield, on the other hand he is far from any form at all.

Spector 4,5 - On for Tomkins at halftime. The good thing with the American is that he can play nearly everywhere. The bad thing is that he seldom do it very well (apart from Arenal last game). Was lost on their third and conclusive goal.
Stanislas 4,5 - On for Kovac at halftime. Had big problems with the guests hard and close defending, and as he seldom goes to the left, close to the line, he was no problem at all for Wolves. Well, at least he showed some energy and had a great cross. I had expected a bit more but when Wolves do have their lead it's not easy for a young guy to make things goin...
Franco 6 - Three nice tries before he with an even nicer chip gave us our only goal. Far to late, but that is not his fault. The problem is that he when he came on looked really fast. But I guess he is the slowest man in the team....

Well, we are not doomed yet. Far from. But I think Zola is.
Stoke next.

A game for men

Tonight’s game is a decider extraordinaire.
I have heard the word “sixpointer” maybe once to many already, but one of our most important jobs tonight is to make sure that Wolves go home empty handed.

The key words for tonight’s game are commitment and composure. If Zola knows any additional ways to help the team with this he should do it even if it meant playing a side that may not be the best in every position. Almost regardless of what players we field we have the better players compared to Wolves, so it’s the team effort that is in need of boosting and has been desperately lacking. This may be the kind of game when experience outweighs talent, when understanding of the game plan, regardless of the situation in the game, is crucial.
We cannot afford another game when the fear of losing turn our game into a thoughtless ball chasing event.
Work rate is, as always, also crucial and nothing bothers me more than players not carrying their weight, but without knowing what work should be done, running is of little value. We have seen it once too many already this season.

There has been quite a few good things said about our display against Arsenal, and I am not contending any of that. However I am not sure that it has much bearing on the Wolves game. Against Arsenal we were in the very situation when we have been quite decent this season – with nothing to lose. It would have been really interesting to see what the game had looked like had Diamanti scored from the spot. That is when the composure is needed.

Tonight is all different. We are expected and more or less forced to win. In that situation the fear of losing may turn out to be an enemy much more powerful than Wolves. It’s man or mouse time.


Few causes of rejoicing but the public Spector

A bit lucky there. Portsmouth did win their game against Hull with two goals in the dying minustes - 88th and 89th. And Wigan scored their winner against Burnley in the 90th. So after todays loss against the new PL leaders at the Emirates we still have it our own hands. We are talkng about the dirty fight we will be involved in to the bitter end.
After two goals down against a 10 man Arsenal you can say that we did OK, but far from enough. When Diamanti missed his first penalty in a West Ham shirt (just before the break) we may have lost our chance in the game. Still I suggested for myself: This may be good for us as the home team won't come out to the second half like hungry tigers. We will...

Well, from then we seemed to take control of the game, but to be truthful Arsenal did what they wanted to pretty easily. They did what they needed. Not less not more. We were - apart from Cole's shot at the post late on - never able to threat.
Since Zola has taken over the team we've most of the time been able to play quite well in these games, but never been able to threaten the top four. Any of them. A couple of years ago we actually had som wins, on the other hand some truly lousy efforts. Nowadays we seem to know that we may be able to take a point but never disturb the hard opponent's enough to win three. As even Hull and Burnley do.

I do really hope that this was the last loss this season!!! With some luck and hard work it may even be so!

Green 6 - Some really good saves. Not to blame for the goals: But why has he stopped to save those penalties that he used to?
Spector 7 - After some early moments where he sold himself awkwardly easy he grew and ended as one of the very best players we had for the night. If he made a mistake he used his speed to regain the ball. As several times against Arshavin and Fabregas! He helped the others out and even ran for some attacks! Credit to the critisised American.
James Tomkins 7 - Another decent game with aggressiveness and no-nonsese. (Far better then against Bolton... of course)
Matthew Upson 5 - Not as his best as he lost out on the first goal and handled the ball clearly which gave the home team their penalty. Not a Captain on the field (as I usually point out).
Daprela 5,5 - This young guy has the right attitude, and had a fighting face during all game. Good contribution, but not a decisive effort. Well, FB's seldom have. But he will be important for us from now on, even if I'm longing to see Ilunga back to his best.
Diamanti 7 - Well he missed the penalty (I guess Almunia knew which corner Diamanti always shoots in) and he missed some other shots, but when he really had a golden opportunity he sadly chosed to pass instead. But: even if he made the wrong decisons from time to time he was one of few players that looked inspired and tried to change the game.
Behrami 5 - Ran, but was not able to influence the team today.
Kovac 6 - Ran, and had an import task to stop Fabregas and (in the first half) Song. Did pretty well, but he could not do anything going forward. I do not complain, I mean it was Song and Fabregas for God's sake...
Stanislas 6 - Happy to see him on the field from the start as he has speed, energy and (some) width, but if he shall play on the left he must sometimes go to the left and not every time move into the field. Worked hard and had a beautiful cross (from the right!)
Franco 4,5 - Well, he gave us the chance to get into the game. But apart from the attack from Vermalen - which gave him a red card and us a penalty - Francoe was never friend with the ball and did not do enough to be left on the field. So subbed, and rightly so. But maybe too late.
Mido 4,5 - A very silent game, so he is here to prove something? Well, you can see that he has a lot of football in his body, but his capacity has seldom bloosomed or really given us anything. So far. Was close to score on Stanislas beautiful cross though.

Cole 5,5 - a late sub and he does make difference as soon as he shows, but apart from that wonderful shot to the post, he seemed far away from top form and lost the ball much easier than he usually does.
Noble - Nice to see him back even if he was not given any time to shine. "As if..."
McCarthy - Hardly involved but in some few moments he showed what speed can do, and the strong, fast pass to Cole makes me dream of a beginning of a beautiful friendship... I hope to see the South African start on Tuesday. And Cole!

Wolves next. Our most important game of the season!!! (again...)


Last game at Boleyn 2015?

When the talk about a move to the Olympic stadium started again after the G&S takeover I was a bit slow to catch on. Of course I knew the Davids would be interested in selling Upton Park and renting the Olympic stadium, but so were the Icelanders.

The pre-crunch antics of Sir Sebastian Coe, olympics minister Tessa Jowell and others had me fooled there for a while thinking that a “commitment to the International Olympic Committee” was actually important.

One may say that I failed to recognize the change in scenery laid down by the credit crunch.
In a BBC interview Sullivan points out the obvious that building a 80.000 seater just to use it for a few weeks and then tear most of it down to turn it into an athletic arena with a 25.000 capacity (that will be used for athletics a handful of times each year), must be downright waste of money .
However, what he chooses to disregard is the initial investment needed to turn it into a football ground as this is supposed to cost quite a lot more than transforming it to an athletics venue. That initial extra investment is, as I see it, the only real stumbling block in his quest to move the Club.
In a situation where the UK is pressured by the EU to speed up deficit cuts, every chance of reducing costs and increasing income will be very welcome. Talk of honoring a commitment will be wasted on governments facing a harsh financial reality, but if the initial investment or the long term stability and income will be the most important is still unclear. I guess it will depend on how the initial tab can be divided.

According to Telegraph, a West Ham spokesman said: "Our position is that we want to talk and see if a way forward can be found that can retain the athletics legacy and also allow us to make sure we get the most out of the stadium”.
Now that’s a scary thought. Keeping the tracks would mean taking away a substantial part of the match day experience. People arguing that this is insignificant as “the seats furthest away from the pitch is still closer to it than the ones at Wembley” are unlikely to be football fans and misses the point by a mile. But I don’t have to convince any Bubbleview reader about that. Still, I’m a bit worried that G&S thinks that the “customers” will turn up in enough numbers to fill the 55.000, or so, seats anyway and are willing to oblige to reach a compromise with the UKA (that are hoping to land the 2015 World Athletics Championship) just to finalize the deal.

The decision on who gets that 2015 athletics gig is to be decided in November, and the deadline (?) for the final (?) decision on the future use of the stadium is said to be December so if the UKA bid fails West Hams negotiating position is strengthened.
These deadlines also mean that we will see quite a few turns in this saga yet, but as things lay it looks to me as if the Boleyn Ground will stage its final football game in 2015.


West Ham ill prepared for a relegation battle?

Another loss last weekend. This one well expected. Not least because West Ham during Zolas tenure still haven´t beaten any of the "top four". They have a new chance to change that this coming weekend when we take on Arsenal. I haven´t seen anything during the last two games that points towards a point or three, more to the contrary actually. I think we´ll get well beaten once more and our confidence will suffer another blow.

It´s not in the games vs. Chelsea and Arsenal (and Bolton since we allways loose against them) we should expect to save our season. It would, however, be nice to get some bonus points once in a while. All the other teams around us seems to do that and that´s what we did last time we were involved in a relegation scrap.

We still have some games left with obvious chances to get some points. Zola has spoken about ten more points to reach 37 and safety. The games vs. Wolves, Stoke, Sunderland and Wigan will be massive. Not only do they represent our best chances of gathering points (together with Fulham away where we usually play well). They´re also teams we fight and can´t afford to drop points against.

I think West Ham have got the most talented team in the relegation battle. Though I also think we´re the worst prepared team to be in this situation. I don´t think the managment team or the players recognised this as a possibility (though I know a lot of the fans did) last summer and aren´t mentally prepared. This ofcourse is a great disadvantage towards the other involved teams.

In the prediction made early January I hoped for another eleven points from now until the end of the season. If we get those eleven points I think we´ll survive. To get them won´t be a walk in the park though.

(Game: Prediction, Outcome, +/- from the game, +/- overall)

Aston Villa - WHU: 0p, 1p, 1p, 1p
Portsmouth - WHU: 3p, 1p, -2p, -1p
WHU - Blackburn: 3p, 1p, -2p, -3p
Total January: 6p, 3p, -3p, -3p

Burnley - WHU: 3p, 0p, -3p, -6p
WHU - Birmingham: 1p, 3p, 2p, -4p
WHU - Hull: 3p, 3p, 0p, -4p
Manchester United - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -4p
Total February: 7p, 6p, -1p, -4p

WHU - Bolton: 1p, 0p, -1p, -5p
Chelsea - WHU: 0p, 0p, 0p, -5p
Arsenal - WHU: 0p
WHU - Wolverhampton: 3p
WHU - Stoke: 3p
Total March: 7p

Everton - WHU: 0p
WHU - Sunderland: 1p
Liverpool - WHU: 0p
WHU - Wigan: 3p
Total April: 4p

Fulham - WHU: 1p
WHU - Manchester City: 0p
Total May: 1p

(Prediction, +/- according to prediction, pointing towards x amount of points)

Total 2009: 18p
Total 2010: 25p, -4p, 21p
Total 09/10: 43p, -5p, 38p


Kovac was good!

As I've been away, I was not able to watch the game against Chelski until now, and as most things have been said out there already, there are just a few things that I've been thinking about.
As opposed to many/most comments on the net I think Kovac was very good. We all know that the Czech can't offer much goin forward and - yes - he lacks feet to pass the ball like an Aquiliani.
But he has improved a lot defensivly and against Chelski he ran like a lion hunting. I think he was the main reason, together with our team spirit (and maybe Chelski's lack of the same), that we had an even game in 55 minutes. We all saw that Parker was dominating - if not the pitch, at least - the team. But I think he is offered a lot of liberty when Kovac is there behind him. Parker did a hell of a job defensivly as well, I know, but still I think they are doin quite well together. If we just had an even more creative passer in front of them.... In the last ten minutes Kovac was probably the most tired man on the field, but that is another story.

Gabbidon's come-back gave the team a less hysterical look when we defend. Maybe he will partner Tomkins next year. As I guess Upson - who once more didn't captain the team on the field or played like a CB Capello would like to have - will be sold.
Why Diamanti and Cole (the knee I suppose) was rested is still a big Q. At least Mido seemed to enjoy to play. As opposed to Ilan. Dyer also showed that he is not a finished article even if I once more would have given Stanislas more time.....
I think we played pretty alright this weekend and 4-1 was -as Zola said -flattering for the home team. But once more we let the fans down after goin 2-1 down. Why do we, once more, seem to just give up??