0-0 against Blackburn. A sleepy wake-up-call?

Wasn't this the game that was supposed to be the "new start"?
It certainly did not look so at all and therefore I'm very disappointed. Like a wake-up-call, but contrary as we did not show up. More yawns than shots today....
So; Where was the fight and the heart? Well, we could see it in Carlton Cole's face when he came on, but that was far too late.
The first half was the most scrappy from a West Ham side since we lost to Tottenham as we played without teamspirit and team effort. The midfielders who should captain the ship couldn''t find each other and even less find our youngster Nouble, all too alone at the top.
We acted a bit cowardly at home at Upton Park. Where was the push??? And why did we lack it? The last fifteen minutes of the game was the first time we looked to score, but so did Blackburn. Even more.
Two scrappy sides but we were the scrappier. And maybe happier then, as Blackburn was better (but far from good) during the 90 minutes. At least they had a couple of good efforts from corners and free-kicks. But we did also keep the sheet cleen...

Green 6 - Did not look happy after the game although he had another Zero and a couple of good saves. I can understand him. But Blackburn were too poor for him to be able to show his best, even if the save from Olsson was great. We know, Samba was there, but Green hardly ruled his box the way we are hoping for.
Faubert 4,5 - Had hard times as RB today. Ran, but mostly of no use. Some stupid challenges gave Blackburn free kicks in dangerous positions. Took also a very stupid shot. He may be nervous to lose his place in the first team as the transfer window is open still. And after a performance like this he should do it. Hardly from any other in our team right now though...
Edit: On Sunday morning I read that Faubert came back to this game to play just hours after he went to France where his mother just passed away. I am very sorry to hear this and of course it may have affected him during the game as well. If it was an act of heroism I do not know, I think that absense in cases like this of course is forgiven. And I guess most of us feel that way. But if you want to play like Collison and now Faubert is certainly strong. Respect!
Tomkins 6 - A good game until Roberts with an easy flick showed that Tomkins still is a newcomer. One of those that has the big heart.
Upson 6,5 - Covered well. But: As a captain he needs to push the team more when he sees that nothing happens.
Spector 5,5 - Decent but thin.'
Diamanti 5 - We need his passing ability. But as long as his passes and shots from distance are not of the same quality as when the dead ball situations we can hardly use his energy. Do want much, but did not show enough today.
Behrami 6 - Well, this guy showed heart and ran like a rabbit on speed. But creativity lacks sometimes. As today.
Kovac 6 - I thought he played well today too as the ancor from midfield. Subbed.
Noble 5,5 - As good as he was against Pompey as bad he was today. No, not really, but he was disappointing with nearly all of his passes was bounded for an opponent. Lacked quality but showed heart.
Collison 5 - For long periods I forgot he was on the field. But I can understand that Zola kept him on as we have to keep somone to lead the way from midfield.
Nouble 5 - His most silent game so far, but you can not blame him as he was far too alone up there (despite good runs and growing confidence), and had no help when he took control of the ball and tried to control it like Cole. Was happy that Zola kept him on the field when he put on Carlton, as I wanted to see him together with Cole. But the partnership never showed as they played too far from each other in those 18 minutes thay had together. It will be better times for him.

Carlton Cole 7 - Got 30 minutes today and as soon as he put his shoes on the field he made difference for the team. Not as a scorer, but he lifted us and our guests backs all of a sudden looked like Mickey Mouses when he gets afraid in the cartoons.
Scott Parker 5,5 - Good to see him back but apart from a lovely run and a ball into the box, that noone picked up, he was not able to make any difference in those 20'.
Freddie Sears 5 - Nice to see him on the field too. Guess Zola want to lift him by doin so, and he actually affected the game a bit playing closer to Cole and related on speed.

So just because we have a new regime, we will not start to play world class football by automatic. After G&S took over most fans started to think that we may end up somewhere in the middle of the table. But looking at this game, we will have to fight in the bottom still. I hope the guys show up against Burnley. Cause we can play so much better. As a team!

Best player today? It's hard to pick anyone. But this morning my 9 year old son Aron did four of his teams five goals. I guess it must be him.

At least (and last) the other teams around us failed to win as well.... and our bench today looked pretty impressive, did it not, with Ilunga, Parker and Cole all to pick.


On an Eidur hunt?

Just when we thought things had calmed down we found these guys searching for Eidur at the hotel.

Or are they just looking for the party with John Terry?
Or may I be wrong, can it be a still from the new film "Get him to the Greek" by Judd Apatow that once more sets off the marvelous actor within Russel Brand?
Photo: Glen Wilson/Universal.

A glimse of the dark side

It's always interesting to se what the selling side says about a player that is on his way.
I was looking for the Blackburn take on Bennis work ethics and found THIS post on the Blackburn area of Vital Football. I think the comments are at least as interesting and will probably show us what a West Ham forum discussion will look like in some time IF Benni gets the light of day at West Ham.

This isn't lazy journalism, it can't be, I'm no journalist!

Btw, take a look at the tottenham blogs and forums and see that they are as bewildered as we are over the Eidur soap.

Work permit issue - brilliant!

"It's close to him finally becoming a West Ham player. It's a work permit situation - that's the only hiccup and that should be resolved by Sunday."
Sunday, how about that for a fortunate timing!

Sam Allardyce has a unique insight in the workload of the UK Border Agency, especially the Benni application, I’m pleased to hear.

Where does he get it all?


Anything goes?

There are aspects of business and sports that I will always have a hard time stomaching. Basically it boils down to - anything you can get away with you get away with.

The Eidur hijack doesn't brake any laws or written rules but right now I feel it's worse than a few things that does.

Harry and Eidur may talk all week about how no deal was done and that no formal agreement is broken, or whatever, but we all know this is as lame as when Maradona talked about the "Hand of God" or Henri said he may have touched the ball but "wasn't aware of doing it".
Unfortunately neither Harry nor Eidur will lose any sleep over it.
Harry has made a career of screwing people, but I was hoping that there were values not counted in £ that still applied in Eidurs life - don't ask me why I was so naive.

I wish I could say something inspiring to lift the hopes of myself, and maybe some reader, but at the moment my limbic system has taken control over major parts of my brain much like the Talebans of Afganistan.
It hopes that Harry will wake up one day to find that his eyelids finally goes all in and refuses to open their regular 3/52 of an inch. The final "good luck" greeting on a theatre also spring to my medievally inspired areas, whereas the conspiratorily inclined part of my brain tries to find Eggy involved in some way, but surely no?
I wish we had a cup game with them coming up!

OK, so he was offered a longer contract at White Hart Lane, one that made more footballing sense to him, not forcing him to find a new (last?) club in the summer. And we did put him on hold while we chased a famous Hamburg striker, but how on earth can that matter today?
I'm hurt! (but at least I'm not a ManC supporter)


One time too much Eidur

I know that Icelanders are very angry at the Capitalits - two of the most important was BG and his son – who fooled the whole population in Iceland into it's mess and the way many went bankrupt. But has not Eidur Gudjohnsen (maybe angry at BG still?) fooled us one time too much as well? We've tried to buy him like twelve times now. Many times have been quite close. It's seemed.

This time (if reports are correct, who knows?) he has done a medical and came to Upton Park to do buisiness. Everyone thought this was sorted. Then Harry (who else) called in the dying minutes/late night, and all of a sudden Eidur seems to have changed his mind. Again.

I do not expect footballers of today to wear a badge with pride and back that special team of theirs. That was old times. They play were they see the best opportunities for themselves. At least many of them. Therefore it may not be so important, how this affair ends. It may be more of importance that Eidur - by just negotiating with Harry after his medical here - not seems to be a man of his words, not a man to trust and who is just there for the money. I am not so certain he would do our team any good. At all. He hardly seems to be the saviour with a big heart. (and he is no goalscorer! by the way) Can he prove me wrong??

Another thing is; he would probably be a bench warmer at The lane. But that's another story....

Do I look embittered? Nah, I just wait for a more bold move from g&s!

Begovic denied Hammers heroes to bag goals

Not seeing Parker on the teamsheet gave med creeps. With Utaka and Boateng out there to do business we really need Scott. But just as Parker usually (or at least leately) has played his best game not having Noble besides him, it seems that Mark also makes most of his game... without Parker. Stupid in a way... But Noble had his best game this season against Portsmouth.
Kovac did also impress me tonight. He showed, in his defensive role that he has found his feet and that he can play a clever game, picking up every loose ball that exists and covered the ground very well. Still not able to (as Joppe says in his former post) give us those crucial passes forward. Behrami showed that his marvelous energy is back and looked like a marine soldier stoppin for nu'tin, but he also missed some good opportunities when he was less friendly with the ball. So while I was very pleased in a way to see our central midfield working so well and hard, there is (as Joppe says and I thought of during the whole game) something missing attac-wise. And when Parker is back we have this unbalanced midfield again. Who to sacrifice? And who to build our offensive play on?

Portsmouth at home is no easy nut to crack. In the end 1-1 was pretty fair, as we never seem to be able to close a game. As we always seem to loose steam with fifteen minutes left.
Amir Begovic was once again the man of the match in Portsmouth, saving at least three "unstoppable" tries from the guests. (If we stay up, Ports go down and Green really would leave I would not hesitate to call this guy). Kevin Prince Boateng in midfield did also have one of his more impressive games.
We may have been a bit lucky with our goal even if we certainly deserved it. Upson/Kaboul fighting in the box and the latter put it in his own net. OR was it the chest of Upson?
But the home team was even luckier with their. Referee Marriner (again) stod just a few feet from Boateng and Tomkins when the german hit Tomkins with an ugly elbow in his face. But he let the play go on and all of a sudden Webber could score as Tomkins was missing in the defense, laying on the ground with a concussion. Awful, even if the home team finally (after 90 min) deserved it.
At least we did not drop more points than the others in the bottom of the table last night.

Green 6 - A very good save when Mokoena took advantage of a bad clearence from Behrami and shot hard, close to the post. Otherwise he did not have to do much. The goal slipped through his legs.
Faubert 6 - Looked once more a bit nervous in defence, but worked well goin forward and had some good crosses and a decent goal attempt.
Tomkins 7,5 - Our new Upson? Once again our best man in defence. Took big responsibility. Was down (a obvious foul from Boateng) when the home team finally scored and had to be substituted.
Upson 6,5 - "Scored" which was nice but I do not expect our captain and anchor to do some of the easy mistakes he did. May have been a bit nervous when his old friends from Birmingham (G&S) was there to watch their new team.
Spector 6 - Decent.
Diamanti 4,5 - No at last you get tired of someone who shoot - and pretty awful two - every time he sniff the ball. I mean, I want our team to shoot much more than they do and he has that quality to scare defences. But he also make them laugh...
Works hard, still I do wonder: Will he ever be the teamplayer that we need? We build an attack from behind, his comarades comes running and he destroys it with a too big ego. Back to a conference with Zola?
Noble 7,5 - As said before; the best game of the season for our "senior youngster". Moved well, built up most of our play, helped the defence at least hundred times with good breaks.
Kovac 7,5 - Liked what a saw. Very much involved and ran like Parker usually do. Found some space for his own play and at the same covered a lot of space. Like the rest of the team he was awfully tired last 15. Still: His best game for us?
Behrami 7 - Noone takes so much beating in a game a Behrami, noone runs like him, and noone shows so much no-nonsence attitude. And I liked what I saw today. Even if there still is a bit too much carelessness in his play sometimes.
Collison 6 - Had a wonderfull attac (with a nice flick from Nouble) where he beat two-three defenders and went very close from scoring in the same breath. Begovic made a surreal save.
Still must attac more, too often he plays the safe game. I want him to challenge more! Not so good in defence today.
Nouble 7 - His second start. Another impressing game, another game when he failed to score free with Begovic two times (good saves though), another game when he was left alone too often (the midfield has to help him much more), another game when he showed that this young guy will be a great player rather sooner than later. Remember he is just 18!

Cole - O boy, did he look like a race horse before the race. He really wanted to play. And impress. He looked lively but only had 17 minutes. During a period West Ham mainly had to defend. Subbed with Nouble, but I had prefered Diamanti as I want to see Nouble and Cole together.
DaCosta - OK. New haircut.
Stanislas - Came on very late.

Blackburn next. With McCarthy in our team??

And another point in the bag

Since the last game we´ve changed owners. There seems to be some stability starting to surround the club. Still no new players in to the team but at least noone has left and there seems to be a couple of players on their way to Upton Park between now and January 31st. To read the first post on this topic look here.

One point vs Portsmouth yesterday was disappointing. We really needed 3 points vs. one of our relegation rivals. It was really close but close, ofcourse, isn´t enough.

How does this leave us in regard to the relegation battle? Well, we lost two points (but at least Portsmouth didn´t close in on the gap between the two teams). In the last game however we gained a point vs. Villa. That leaves us with two points from two games and only one point less then "expected". If the team produce results according to the predictions below we´d probably still make it in the end with 42 points.

To explain the predictions below this is what I think we'll need to fork out from each individual game in order to survive. I´ve tried to not be to optimistic cause I don´t want to be dependent on points away vs. the top 8 or so. That means a lot of the points will have to be gathered in the next month. Will we manage?

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

WHU - Wolves: 3p (postponed)
Aston Villa - WHU: 0p, 1p, 1p, 1p
Portsmouth - WHU: 3p, 1p, -2p, -1p
WHU - Blackburn: 3p
Total January: 9p

Burnley - WHU: 3p
WHU - Birmingham: 1p
WHU - Hull: 3p
Manchester United - WHU: 0p
Total February: 7p

WHU - Bolton: 1p
Chelsea - WHU: 0p
Arsenal - WHU: 0p
WHU - Stoke: 3p
Total March: 4p

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, -1p, 24p
Total 09/10: 43p, -1p, 42p

A third Bentley not enough!

While we wait for Prince H’s game and player ratings I can’t help doing some reflecting myself.

What I miss the most in our performance last night is strangely not someone that would convert the chances, maybe because I hope that Cole, Benni or even Eidur or Nouble will. Of course it would have been nice to see Nouble bag a few but he is one for the future, and does ever so well in a PL setting.

I miss someone in central midfield that can release the attacking potential shown by Collison, Stanislas and others with attacking duties. A midfield dynamo.
I guess one could call the midfielders we have on against Portsmouth “role players” if you want to be nice, but I think they are really just a bit short on tricks.
Diamanti adds a kind of threat we have been lacking for a while. The way he strikes the ball is great, but his belief in his abilities to score from a distance is even greater. I generally don’t sympathize with players stretching their hands out in despair after not getting the pass they wanted, but Diamanti should be fined (joke!) for not to feeding Collison in a few situations yesterday. As you may understand, I don’t see Diamanti being the one to depend on for running our midfield.
Collison needs someone to depend on, in my eyes. His work rate and attacking skills are beyond doubt and the fact that one of our midfielders gets into those positions are encouraging. He delivers a mean pass from time to time but is not the central hub we need.
Noble is an enigma. I leave it at that, good game but not to be dependent on. May still need a father figure?
Behrami is impressive with his work rate, and wins the ball in positions were our opponents certainly don’t want to lose it. I’d field him any day but he won’t solve our main midfield problem.
Kover Kovac will never be a playmaker, and that could be acceptable but his passing game is below par even for a sweeper. He may be used against a team when we know we are going to defend most of the time, but against Portsmouth – NO!
That should take us to Parker, he leads by example but I find his example is more of a “OK, if no one else does it I’ll do it myself”. The solo raids of his are impressive but I find them more of a sign that there is a problem in how we build the game rather than a solution to these problems.

We won’t be able to find anyone who solves this problem during any January transfer window (not even if we get a third Bentley at Upton Park on game days) so I won’t even pretend there is such a possibility. When we have our preferred target player back it won't matter as much, we will avoid the drop anyway. However, without one Zola risk looking like a manager that lacks the ability to make the team play according to his game plan.


A Pompey game without pomp?

It won't be long until the game against Pompey. I just want to raise a warning. Most of us seem to think that this is an easy game. Pompey is in a mess and may have to sell every player they do have. And they still got so few – with players still at the African Cup – that their bench places today may be empty.
We have just recieved Gold. And Sullivan. It's a big relief. It's such an big relief that - after a few weeks, month's or decades in this situation – we may sigh deeply of relief and say "it's alright now". So while Pompeys players, like Utaka and others - are hungry and starved we may be in a bit of laid back mood. Happy-go-lucky!
We did not recieve any striker before the game, as G&S said, but that is no wonder. Pick up good strikers in two days is nearly impossible. So please stay with Nouble. He can impress again. And please do not let Cole play to early. To see him limp off would be my disaster, even worse than a loss today.
This will be a totally different game from the 2-0 at home. And it won't be any easier.
At least that's what I think. I go for a draw.


Davids! Buy Zola a pint!

Do I sense a slight distance between our manager and the new owners?

G&S were quick to give our manager support following the initial rumours that they were bringing Hughes in. They were also making it very clear that they were to give Zola funds to strengthen his squad. But after that it has been fairly quiet and I for one have been waiting for Zola's comment on the takeover.
Today we can read the Club-adapted version of his thoughts on this. "
It’s positive for the Club as we will have the stability we have been talking about for such a long time. I take it as a positive thing for everybody. We will see what happens but it’s looking good”
Picture yourself at a wedding when the father of the bride talks about his new son in law in those kind of words - I take it as a positive thing for everybody. We will see what happens but it's looking good...
Hardly a total vote of confidence, but in Zola's case also hardly surprising.

Zola used to emphasize, right from the first day he was with us, the partnership he, Nani and Duckers had struck. Countless of times he stressed that stuff were decided in unity, even though their cooperation seem to have haltered a bit lately. Duckers was the man that brought Zola here and sold the idea of the "Football Project" to him to begin with, so it's no big wonder that he is slightly reserved when the guys who have/will sack his working partner comes in.

Another sentence from the interview with Zola on the OS reads
"The Club are looking for some reinforcement but we didn't speak about a
budget. They are trying to strengthen the team and that is enough for me"
The club... They are... It's pretty obvious that Zola is not, or at least doesn't feel, as involved as he used to. He used to say "We are looking..."

As I said this is probably no biggie, I just couldn't help myself as it was so obvious. I do hope however, that they keep Zola involved enough so he feel a part of it, keep his enthusiasm (as I'm sure it's a huge part of his leadership) and so he won't se the newcomers as forced upon him.

Hey Davids, take him out for a pint! Let's see some "male bonding" here ;-)


Benni ready to take on Pompey!

According to Timesonline McCarthy has agreed personal terms with West Ham.
As I said in THIS post Benni suits me fine. Benedict is 32 and I'm hoping he can still score. He has bagged 4 in 10 games for Rovers this season but out of those one was against Forest one in a decided game against Peterborough and one was a penalty against Chelsea when Blackburn sent them out of the league cup ...
£2.5m is supposed to be the fee and his contact runs until the summer of 2012. I can only reiterate the importance of keeping the personal terms on a modest level for the players that are to stay for a while. Timesonline also takes the steam out of the work permit problem talk by pointing out that his wife is Spanish.

This is according to the slightly longer scale "squad deepening" plan. It will not improve our starting XI when all in the squad are fit, but will not leave us naked when players are out.
It also offers us the luxury of not having to be desperate in this and the next window. With one additional striker our hand is improved in the negotiation-poker game with the other striker (Eidur?). Now the negotiators (and we) can be a bit more relaxed and go find a decent right back.

EDIT: According to several reports Benni is not training with Blackburn as of 2 days and a written bid has been handed in...

Eidur? Fine!

The Eidur rumour is back again!
I usually try to avoid commenting on them as I have always thought they were too far off the mark. Just a few weeks ago I hoped it wasn't true but I and the time left in the transfer window have changed since.

West Ham and Eidur are in the same kind of situation. Neither is doing particularly well in their respective surroundings and both are a bit desperate so this time there is a true rings to it for the first time. So I dont think he want to do the same misstake as he did with Monaco by going to Liverpool to warm their bench.
Eidur is something of a joke in West Ham circles. That is not really his own doing, he has been a great footballer, it's mostly down to the previous ridiculous rumours.
He is is a fair bit past his best but may still be just the player we need to stabilize the team and help us from being dependent on academy talent for the rest of this campain.
Not one for the future but our table position is a very much a problem of the present.

Can you see I'm working on the positive side of my personality?
Just don't tell me his contract details please.


Karren Brandy? - just a name change suggestion

I have a wonderful nine year old daghter. One of her more ambigous qualities is that she is “refreshingly direct”, so to speak, and acts long before she consideres the consequenses. This, as most parents can testify, can be a bit trying. She tried to rename her younger brother once but luckily there were a few loving people present that could help her understand the problem with that. To her defense I must add that she was seven, his sister, and never went public.

There is nothing refreshingly direct in Bradys name change blunder. It bluntly shows one of her less flattering sides. I’m sure being straightforward and good at disregarding peoples feelings has served her well in her relations with G&S and other men in this game, still I have a hard time liking it.
For a vice chairman to suggest a company-name change the first week at office is rare in any business, and there is a reason. To do that in a world so heavily based on history related emotions as a football club is either downright stupid or endlessly naive. The very reason we are fans is history, recent or ”ancient”! We don’t support the players as such, we support them only if they play for our club. The club is defined by history and if you take that away you have nothing. Change the Ground, Club name, Colours but keep the players and you will be without fans.
Wimbledon anybody?

OK, so she didn’t want to change the whole name, bless her heart, she might even have realized that the West Ham part is important to us. If Bobby Moore rose for the sole purpose to ask us to consider replacing United with Olympic I would consider it before humbly asking him to give it a rest. But this was KFB for god’s sake.

Where are the loving people that can help Karren with this?


Stability but not Europe

Did you read the Wall Street Journal Europe interview with Sullivan?

It must have taken about 3 minutes to do but in the final sentence he actually says something interesting.
“… if I can bring in a billionaire investor or an Arabian prince to take West
Ham into Europe—I'd be happy to step down."

What he is saying is, what we all were quite certain of but haven't heard from the owners until now, that he does not believe he is able to do that himself.

On the other hand, in another interview he promises that he is not here just to sell on to a Russian oligarch in 5 years.
Crystal clear then - carry on!

100 k a week – how daft is that?

The initial weeks of ownership are certainly as full of job as getting the Club ever was for G&S. There are several issues that must be addressed quickly.

Making sure that the players and coaches (and fans?) are happy
The primary task must be to give the present team the condition it needs to perform. Minimize the uncertainties, instill confidence and belief in the future. The new owners can do this by supporting the players and managing staff with energy, making them feel wanted, needed even (but not irreplaceable). Making them feel a part of something interesting – not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to be a part of the rise of West Ham. This makes sense for several reasons but foremost, as most industrial leaders know, if you can motivate people without doing it through the wallet the money can be used elsewhere. Don’t sign players the Manager haven’t asked for!

Make sure we have a squad that can avoid the drop
The above paragraph is totally contradictory to the “one player on 100k a week” statement. If you make a major point of bringing down the wage bill and cutting costs, and strike down at Eggy for spending £85,000 a week on a 30 year old Swede, how can one argue that giving £100 k a week to a 33 year old Dutchman on the slope is the right thing to do?

"We can carry one exceptional player, who would make a difference on that wage,
but generally we have to bring the wages down and in the summer we would hope to
sign younger players on a fraction of those wages. We have looked at a few
players in the Championship but the reality is that it is no good if they make
the grade in 12 months time, we need them to make the grade now. We have a
crisis and you have to have a different strategy to what our long-term strategy
will be." Sullivan says.

HEY, STOP IT! This is too much Eggy for me!
Nurture the team as a unit, not the cracks in the squad! There is no doubt in my mind that with a slightly deeper PL- hardened squad there will be no drop.
G&S wants to send a message rather than hire a footballer – “we are determined”! I think we will in reality see one or two fairly low profile signings that deepens the squad in vulnerable positions. McCarthy and a Young-oid defender sounds good to me!

Sort the CEO issue
Who calls the shots with Brady in as vice chairman? We know, but will Duxbury just play dead? Duckers, I’m sure, have a great and intricate contract. He can probably be a menace if he is made an enemy. He knows stuff that can be a burden if leaked and having to deal with that would take the focus and energy away from the real tasks. So he may well be around for a while or even given a nice office and title but little influence. Whatever the solution, it must be clear who does what and this must be handled as soon as possible. Actually it may allready have been sorted.


Welcome home!

When I heard the press conference with our new owners - the local boys I haven't supported (in the take over), but will now - I actually was a bit moved.

Not mainly because Sullivan & Gold told us what a disastrous position we were in financially (with debts reaching over 102 M - I guess that depends on how you count, the lower numbers we have heard of before may not be totally wrong, just different), still they were able to give some credit to Dux as a man who have saved the club! But foremost because they really gave me the impression that they have a big heart for West Ham. Really.

It may be like in their films, fake orgasms, but being weak and hopeful I do not think so. They said that they would never had entered the race if they had not been great fans, missing out 22 (?) years ago. It will also help us that they know the football industry in and out as well.
They do hope that "Tony" (Fernandes) will step in for buying he other part of the club. It looks promising, but I doubt it. Even if Fernandes is in the same amount a true fan I guess he is more of an contractor or initiator than a financier. So he certainly would want the same amount of power. Would he be given that after this sale? Probably not. Maybe if somethig happens regarding the Olympic Stadium, a place where Sullivan wants us to play in the future.
Brady will come in, but it may be a place for Dux as well. Let's see. At least Zola will now be here at Chadwell heath and as the Davids certainly understood, it would have affected the fans a lot if our Italian was fired. Instead they will give him some money to spend!

A press conference will never be the reality in the end, and I may be too hopeful or naive, but promise; just for today!

Even if I do not like the way they have earned a big part of their money, we do now have two local boys and fans as owners. And they have already promised not to sell any of star players (it may be so Upson leaves anyway). According to them the club has had to sell for 8 millions now and 12 in the Summer if CBH was left the only owner in a week. It would have ment Coca-Cola league I guess. So they have already achieved something important!!


Support Zola&Clarke regime!

Our "friend" Iain on the blogg West ham ' till I die has started a petition to save Zola and Clarke's jobs.
I do not think that our fothcoming owner (Still hope it won't be G&S, even if it seems so now) will be stupid to sack our manager, but we must do what we can - in any way - to show that Zola has our support.
Of course he has made mistakes, still and byno doubt I think he is our best hope for a good future!
So please sign "Keep Zola petition"!!! You'll find it all HERE.

Another point in the bag

About a week ago I tried to predict wether or not West Ham would be likely to stay in the Premier League when the season is over (see that post here). My prediction sets sight at 43 points (which would be quite enough) which would mean that we´d afford to drop some, but not to many, compared to the prediction.

The point vs. Villa was one that I didn´t expect which means that we´re one point a head of the schedule so far. The coming six games including the postponed one vs. Wolves are going to be crucial for the survival plan. 16 points out of 18 would almost be to good to be true but if we take a look at the rest of the games those points are going to be the core to our survival. We can´t expect to many points in the other games. At least I don´t want to depend on it.

At the moment we´re one point up on the prediction and on our way to 44 points. Hopefully it´ll remain the same after next game as well. We´ll really need a victory vs. Portsmouth.

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

WHU - Wolves: 3p (postponed)
Aston Villa - WHU: 0p, 1p, 1p, 1p
Portsmouth - WHU: 3p
WHU - Blackburn: 3p
Total January: 9p

Burnley - WHU: 3p
WHU - Birmingham: 1p
WHU - Hull: 3p
Manchester United - WHU: 0p
Total February: 7p

WHU - Bolton: 1p
Chelsea - WHU: 0p
Arsenal - WHU: 0p
WHU - Stoke: 3p
Total March: 4p

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,
1p, 26p
Total 09/10: 43p, 1p, 44p


Battle between the claret & blues.

It may have been a while ago, but at last Robert Green dressed as our hero again, when we snapped another point against Aston Villa.
0-0 was a real team effort and most of the players and the staff did not let the turbulence around the "West ham-sale-auction" goin on, affect them. Great work from Zola! I did not expect anything today to be honest.
It's a bit strange though looking at the players individually as few had special impressive performances. Luckily our CB's were great as our England No 6!
Besides Parker - I could not see much good from our midfielders. Still the five must have done something right. As we got a very important point from a game we did not expect much at all, at least after we understood that all our senior strikers Cole, Franco and Hines were all out.
Frank Nouble (18!) started his first game for us and it could have been easier task to begin with than as an alone front man against a team like Villa. But it was a really impressive effort. Looks like a lad with a great future ahead!
Luckily enough - as well - the Birmingham-team looked a bit uninspired as well (although they have a hard fight to reach the fourth spot, they played this Thursday and may have been a bit exhausted) and were never able to step up and find any speed. That would have killed us. Maybe that was because of our midfielders!
In the end we shall be happy for the point (it also looked like that was what Zola really strived for), still it was not far from 3 points as we had some good opportunities as well.

Robert Green 8 - This man will go to South Africa this summer. His best game in months with at least three crucial saves (When he came out to block a free Carew in the end was the icing of the cake). But to be honest, he can get rid of the ball a bit quicker than trying to dribble the opponents in his own box.
Julien Faubert 5,5 - Defensivly OK, but his passing was awful and let us down in many "changeovers". Lately he has been solid, but today he came wrong from the first minute. We really need good passing and crosses from his flank.
James Tomkins 8 - Our MOTM. He fought's hard, he blocks, he made no mistakes at all; he did everything today that Collins used to do when he was at his best. But this day - no doubt - our young man was the better than our old/Villa's new red-head.
Matthew Upson 7 - Good and important effort.
Jonathan Spector 6 - I had hoped to see Drapela again after his good game against Arsenal. But Spector looks still in front in the pecking order. And after todays performance you can hardly say it's wrong. Good game, even if he had some problems with the harder challenges from Agbonlahor. But who doesn't?
Mark Noble 5 - Another man who made me very disappointed today with extremly bad passing. And when he plays at RM he looks like the slowest man in the PL. But when Parker was forced off, he took a new position in the middle of the park and improved. Have been out injured and was doubtful, but he was there and fought and will become better....
Valon Behrami 5 - Alright he fights hard, but? Cause here we have guy no 3 unable to get a single pass right. How much do they pay these guys? Improved and was more involved in the second half. Needs to find his feet soon as he will be important in the forthcoming games, where we need some terriers in midfield. So it's very worriyng that...
...Scott Parker 6 - was forced off. I'm very angry at his right thigh. It should behave much better. Parker was his usual self as long as he could play.
Radoslav Kovac 5,5 - O boy, I really thought he was about to see red when he fell Petrov. Positive: Fought and was important in our box (Villa had 16 corners), but is of little use forward. So when substituted, we all of a sudden started to threat the home team!
Jack Collison 5 - "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"?? I do not know, but this was a pale performance. We need Jack more hungry!
Frank Nouble 6,5 - Hey, a very impressing debut. He does not look like 18, and he plays much more mature than so. Took good run's (and he is really fast!) and wanted to show. What have happened if he had scored that goal - so close - after just 5 minutes? New shoes next time?

Diamanti 6 - Gave energy to the team and we improved.
Stanislas 6 - Got a bit nervous when both Parker and Kovac went off but when Stanislas and Diamanti came on, Villa was unable to hold on to their pressure and Stanislas contibuted well with his energy. Again.
Da Costa - Came on in overtime.

A bit too low numbers? I can not say that, but as a team effort, fighting for each other, during this very hard circumstances this was, as a whole, as a unit, more of a 7,5! Good game from Zola!

Out of the Icelandic frying pan

We may soon be out of the Icelandic frying pan, but until we have a clue about the details of the takeover we cannot know where we have landed.

How long will it take for us to learn the level of debt the takeover resulted in? My bet is that there will be an avalanche of rumours on that topic when the takeover is done as all the losing parts will try to brand the winner a potential catastrophe. But the truth will probably not be public until the financial report on this period is published – if even then.

It's far from certain that the debt we are so concerned about will go away with new owners. This bidding war has certainly done nothing to help. One thing that has been clear through all this is that the bidders have had a hard time convincing Rothshilds (Straumur/CB holdings) that they have enough dosh. As the banks have been heavily involved in the discussions one can also conclude that the new owners are taking over these loans in one way or the other, rather than just paying them off. This means that the banks wants to make sure that the new lot are financially solid enough to service the loans. Based on what the banks think about the new owners they may also want to renegotiate the terms.

Martin Samuels wrote in an interesting piece the other day that "...right now we are mistaking the failures of individual clubs for a malaise in English football as a whole" and I agree that there have been several big mistakes, but I like the "financial doping" metaphor used by the All Party Parliamentary Football Group to describe some of the big clubs way of running their clubs. It gives these clubs advantages in the short run albeit by risking their long term health.

I will be a bit more worried if Tony Fernandes, Intermarket or Cellino makes the deal (for this kind of problems that is,, I agree there are other concerns with the others). We know they don't have the cash to just buy the Club and pay off the loans and so how would they finance it? Loans? Investors? Probably loans secured by so called investors. This is when you build insecurity into the club (lex Glazer). On the upside the timing is probably to any new owners advantage. Even though I think that as an investment a football club will always be risky and, in an ordinary - non football inclined - investors view, suboptimal. But the risk of the finances of the world bringing the new owners down á la BG doesn't seem that big (famous last words?).
But then there is always going to be businessmen in trouble. Especially those heavily in to risk ventures, airlines for instance.
I’m not quite sure if this applies to Cellino as he seems to have come in late and with a bid that appears to have been accepted more or less right away, but my guess is that it does. He is not wealthy in the Sheikh Mansour sense of the word.

But please don't brand me anti Fernandes because I am a bit worried about where he will take us. My concern is about every future owner, even though G&S knows about the reality of owning a club and may be less prone to "do an Eggy".
Having owners that are genuine supporters are obviously also a good thing, whether they need to fly to the home games or not, but if they need to stretch their funds too far to get possession I rather they didn't.

As a burnt child I’d really want to stay clear of the fire, or at least know if I'm in it as quick as possible.


It will be Fernandes! Wanna bet?

Do you remember names like Noble, Collison and Diamanti? Well, Green, Carlton Cole and Parker then?
It's easy these days to forget that West Ham is (foremost) a football club, isn't it?
Well, I can do with a point against Villa, the Q is, can we and the players concentrate enough if we do not have a new owner by then?

Well, now I guess who the winner will be in this "auction". And yes I can only guess as I have no inside information at all. But my guess is that it's going to be Tony Fernandes and I do also think that we have the brightest perspectives with him and the money he hopefully can reach.
So why Tony? As I write this he is on his way to London again. (Right now over Luxemburg as we can see on his twitter, it may tell us something ;-D). That means that he is not out of contest. And that he has the money asked (or close to). Either he has already managed to convince the Banks, or he will go there do convince them even further. As it seems he has a long-term prospect that these who wants their debts back like. And they do have a lot to say in this issue.
Gold & Sullivan seems by many sites be out, mainly as the Banks never has liked the way of shared ownership. It is a hazard for the Banks actually. After some drastic statements in the media (about West Ham, not their stated corruption) , they've been more quiet lately. The porn men has probably to do with Charlton, and I do not mind.
Intermarket group is still a possibility as we do not know much more than Jim Bowe their CEO just passed away. I doubt though, but more with my stomach than real facts. Just reading all the sites (where they say they canät fund the deal) we really should know more by know....
The dark and late horse Cellino won't make it. He may have the money, Italian papers may say that he already has signed, but that can't be true. And as he seems to be the deft type there is still too many questions about him. Is he the Italian Harry (corrupted), is he totally free from every suspect of match-fixing and other stuff within the Italian football system. Where he seems to be involved a lot. Close to the law/legal issues. It may even be so that further investigations are goin on. And if so, I doubt any would give him the handshake and to play with their money.... If not do we have time enough to check out if he is clear? ANd by the way ESPN means that UEFA won't give him right to have one club (Cagliari) in Italy and one in England. I guess you can arrange that, but maybe not in just a couple of days. I count him out right now.

I may be totally wrong here, and may see ghosts where there aren't any. But this will be my last thoughts on this mess. soon I hope to concentrate - with a beer in hand - on football. As most of us I guess!

Check Tony's Twitter.

You may want to click the link to Tony's twitter site (to your left)

Little Italy

As everyone else I was dumbfolded by the Cellino stuff, and I have no idea if it’s the biggest scam around (a daunting task for any rumour) or the real deal.
Stories in Corriere dello Sport, la Repubblica, and Tuttomercato (that started all this), as well as the English ripoffs of these articles, says that Cellino is actually ready to bid and that he wants it done fast.
But I’ll leave that for now as there are just too many uncertanties, time will tell. I’ll also leave it to them to tell you about the Zola/Cellino connections if you haven’t heard about those already.

But let’s just toy with the idea that he comes in and have approximately the same financial muscle as, for instance, G&S.

Would it be to West Hams advantage to have an Italian owner?

I’m certainly not a xenophobic in the sense that I think that Brittish football should be left to be handled by Brittish managers and coaches. On the contrary, the imput of new ways of thinking and playing football has certainly been a major factor in developing the PL to have three teams in the last four in the Champions league last year. But I’d say it has been the successful mix of players and coaches with different background that has made that possible (and borrowed money of course). That is also one of the reasons that I was pleased when Clarke (and Keen) was appointed first team coach.

I think we have already seen some of the dissadvantages of focusing the attention in one direction. Gianluca Nani and Zola seem to have their binoculars pointed in much the same direction, giving us Diamanti, Behrami, Da Costa and Franco, but also Jimenez, DiMichele, Tristan and Savio. There is nothing strange with this! People will use their trusted contacts when doing business and with a background in Italy it’s only natural that you have those there. With an Italian owner we may not get the needed tug in another direction.
On the other hand, I’d rather have a Zola at the helm in a team where he has the trust of the owner. G&S for instance may not see Zola as the answer to our problems.
Do I? No I don’t see him as being a successful manager in a low budget team needing to play according to their limited recourses, but I’d love to see him given the economic chance to fulfil his dream. Preferrably with us.

The opposite is also scary! English owners known for their conservative view on football and an English manager with limited funds going after overprised English players and surrounding him with Academy.


The Takeover - what do the journos know?

We are now right in the middle of the bidding war that Rothshilds were hired by Straumur to make happen. And (I hope) there is more than a good chance that a deal will go through as "deadlines" are extended and the haggling seem to have reached a fairly detailed level. Still there are widely different guesses about the outcome!
Either the parties have pulled strings yesterday to make sure that their respective "contacts" have published pieces saying they are in the lead, or the situation is too hard to call.
Or both.

Jason Burt of the Telegraph, has held Fernandes as the favourite ever since Fernandes appeared on this scene. He has throughout this dire process touted any non G&S bidder as the best option. I can honestly see that as a valid standpoint but Jason is also known as the Duxbury Bugeler ("West Ham have, certainly, been indebted to some shrewd husbandry from chief executive Scott Duxbury who, throughout all of this, has stuck as much as he could to a business plan") and If Duckers is worried for his existence at West Ham he certainly wouldn't want G&S to install Karen Brady would he? So even though Burt is close to the pot this also means that his info/judgement may not be without bias.

Simon Cass of the MailOnline considers Intermarket to be in pole position despite the unfortunate death of front figure and head negotiator Jim Bowe. I confess to not knowing anything about any connection to Intermarket and considering Simons previous writings he seem to have better contacts at Arsenal and Chelsea. Actually, the piece is so short that one is led to believe that he has no knowledge to share with us - just had "write something on the West Ham takeover!" shouted at him by his editor.

James Nursey of the Mirror has yet to put anyone else forward than Gold&Sullivan. He has said that G&S are about to take control previously, but who hasn't? He has not been totally pro the Davids and recently wrote a short piece on Yeung saying Birmingham had been run like a bootcamp. Still, the Mirror has not yet published an article where they see anyone else in the driver seat. Even though they seem not to have any inside info they could be right you know.

I have previously posted my thoughts on these parties HERE, so I'll spare you my comments for now.


Death may stumble the sale

As the CEO of Intermarket group all of a sudden died this weekend you can be almost certain that it will take at least some more days until they/someone else has bought our leaking club. Do not expect any definitive news today or tomorrow....
Jim Bowe was only 59 years old. Bubbleview express our condolences. But still hope Intermarket group (who at least have told media that they will continue, for Bowe's sake) or Fernandes can calm the club with a firm and strong offer.
Rather before Upson -as it seems - will be sold.

Can we have Joe Cole back now please?

According to some media today Joe Cole is out for more. He want's better pay from Chelski as he "only" earns a million pounds every second month. The greedy man's tiny wallet needs more!
But Abra says no! He has not proved enough out there!
Let's hope they do not find a solution, Cole gets pissed and returns to his native club with no (or low) salary demands. Big chance huh?
Or what do our future owner(s) say?

The Tony Fernandes Enigma

Tony Fernandes enjoys public life it seems.
In December he took a very active part in his company's yearly party in a way that none of the owners of "my" companies ever has. Good for him and maybe for his employees I think, but it also tells me he enjoys the limelight a bit. He Twitters about his Upton Park trips and that's fine. I have never felt the need to tell the world when I go to a game, but then I realize the world wouldn't be interested. Nothing wrong with his Twittering but I think one can conclude that his public image is important to him.
Take the "Branson stewardess challenge" for an example. As Tony and Branson both own an airline and a F1 team (OK, Tony is CEO, not the owner – another hint) they made a very public pub-ish bet that the one with the team that ends up below the other in the F1 circuit will do a days job in a stewardess outfit in the other's airline. Not a bad image building publicity stunt.

It’s in this context I see the “Soon they will have an owner who will make a difference and care” Twitter message, the meetings with Zola, and his tour of the facilities. I wouldn’t be surprised if he genuinely wants to be the next owner, but so do I. What kind of priority does he give this piece of business? He may be a huge fan but he lives in an economic reality, or at least Rothchilds does, and Tony is no dummie. He knows that there is a limit to his influence over this deal, a limit where his money or his ability to persuade others to invest no longer suffice.

Supposedly there was a Bank Meeting yesterday where the Straumur appointed Knight - Rothchilds - are supposed to have met up with interested bidders, together with the banks, to try to make sure if the bidders are for real. Tony sent representatives…
He was ready to go to the Wolves game but not to a meeting about acquiring the Club? Make your own deduction.

You all need to read the Times-on-line article HERE where it says that Tony missed a deadline. In these cases a deadline is not really a deadline as a seller with this much at stake most likely would wait another day or two if he really believes it would mean getting a better bid. Missing a deadline in these circumstances, however, may show that the bidder is not able (or even wanting) to put his money where his mouth is.

This, as you may have grasped by the build-up, is my worry. Tony wants to be involved, wants to be seen, wants to be accepted and loved, wants to get media exposure.
But then so do I.
When did he realize he would come up short? When did the genuine attempt to be the next Club owner turn into a charade?
He really has nothing to lose in behaving like this has he? He will be remembered/regarded as the guy who really wanted to buy the Club but for reasons out of his control was unable to.

If I had an airline I would bet a days job in a stewardess outfit that I can take his blog and Twitter site off the “Sites of Interest” list soon.

(There is an Intermarket twist to that Rotshild/bidders meeting but if you read the Time-piece, and choose to believe it, you know and this post was on Tony)


Will West Ham stay up?

I was looking at the fixture list when it was publicised during the summer. I noticed that it wasn´t very kind to us during the autumn but would be significantly "better" from January onwards. From August to December we´d entertain 7 of the suspected top 8 teams with only Manchester City to play at home on the last day of the season (and yes, I suspected Everton to be up there amongst them, not Birmingham!). With the Premiership being as tough as it is with no easy games at all I was really concerned that we´d get in to some really difficult times (loosing breeds loosing so to speak and I´m afraid that´s what happened). With the prospect of having a sell out of our stars during the January transfer window I wasn´t less worried.

Now we´re in January and the "easy" part of the season is coming closer (it was supposed to start yesterday). Unfortunately with the self esteem shot to pieces but on the other hand with a lot of players coming back from injuries. Will we be able to resurrect the season and change it around? Well it´ll ofcourse depend a lot on what happens during the January transfer window and if we get more injuries to our key players (almost all senior players are key players at the moment due to our slimmed squad).

As most West Ham supporters are aware of 42 points might not be enough to keep us up and therefor I´ve decided to go for 43 and see what we have to do to get there. 43 points would be a perfectly safe place, wouldn´t it?

I´ve tried to avoid hoping for sensational results and therefor I´m not counting on any points away vs. the so called "top teams". Those points will be bonus points if we manage to get them.

Let´s see in the crystal bowl how the total points will be at the end of the season:

WHU - Wolves: 3p (postponed)
Aston Villa - WHU: 0p
Portsmouth - WHU: 3p
WHU - Blackburn: 3p
Total January: 9p

Burnley - WHU: 3p
WHU - Birmingham: 1p
WHU - Hull: 3p
Manchester United - WHU: 0p
Total February: 7p

WHU - Bolton: 1p
Chelsea - WHU: 0p
Arsenal - WHU: 0p
WHU - Stoke: 3p
Total March: 4p

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

Total 2009: 18p
Total 2010: 25p
Total 09/10: 43p

As we all know (or presume) it´ll probably be enough with 36-38 points to stay up (based on experience from the last couple of seasons). But without being overly optimistic 43 points is quite a realistic target.

However, there´s a lof of ifs to this argument and a lot of things that can disrupt the "game plan". For example: If the team stays together or if the club decides to cash in on a few players. If the self esteem is irrepairable. Will the team be able to pick up the pieces already during the so important January and February when 16 of the 25 points should be picked up?

Will we stay up? Well, if we perform and get the results predicted above then no problem but I guess we just have to wait and see, don´t we?

There´s a lof of questions but no answers at the moment. I´m looking forward to follow this one up during the rest of the season.

Up the Hammers!


Past Their Best Ham?

There are times that you realize that you have taken the right decision and in the same instance doing the oposite.

I decided to refrain from writing about any transfer rumours as the basis for them actually going through are so shaky. There is obviously work going on, making sure we have paved a way for some different scenarios we may be in when transfers need to be done. Agents have and will be contacted but both sides' interest will obviously depend on the situation. If we do get a new owner the transfers will hardly be the same as if we don’t, will they? So I’ll just pass on them for the time being.
But got lured astray.

West Ham has a proud history of not only being the Academy of Football but also the Geriatrics Ward of Football. During ‘Arry we saw Ruddock, Camara and Suker, just to name a few, at a point in their career that was less than flattering. Lately we have seen Tristan and Di Michele in much the same sorry shape. The mechanism is clear – we don’t have the money to get players in their prime, so we take a chance on possibly fixable damaged goods (Dyer, Dixon) or where the “best before” date has come and gone, hoping to shake some life back into them.
Sometimes this pays off big time as with Di Canio (Dixon?) but most of the time it just makes you sad.

On that very topic, the perennial Eidur rumour is here. It’s much like Easter, you know it will come but it’s a bit tricky to know when (and in both cases eggs spring to mind).
Now apparently our favourite Icelander, second only to Örn (not much competition for that spot nowadays), is not content with life at Stade Louis II as his opportunities have been limited. He competes for a starting spot along side Chu-Young Park with Serge Gapke, Frederic Nimani, Juan Pablo Pino and Yannick Sagbo. And none of them seem to have gained an upper hand in that fight.
Limited chances at Barca – OK, limited chances at Monaco FC…maybe OK, but do you see a pattern?



West Ham and SpongeBob Squarepants

All I can say is, we're in safe hands.

At least when it comes to the licensing area. The team behind the licensing success of SpongeBob and Paddington has taken on the task of making us a brand to be reckoned with in Asia. CPLG or Copyright Promotions Licensing Group, that also helps Man C says that following the involvement in the 2009 Asia Trophy in Beijing, West Ham United believe the Hong Kong Licensing Show is a fantastic chance to introduce the club to new licensing opportunities in the Far East.
"We are confident that we have been able to demonstrate that the club has the
capacity to be a licensing success, not just on a local and national level, but
also internationally."
I am in no way against trying to sell merchandise (which is what licensing boils down to). I have my fair share of kits and other WH stuff and this could be money well spent but a great bonus, if you are to gain any success in this business, is to have a good product to promote. It's not just the club's active licensing department that secures the sale of a lot of Barca, Real Madrid and Inter mercandise around the world. I think it would be something of feat to get people in Asia to line up for a kit of a fizzy pop team.
"Our participation at this event, along with CPLG Sport, further reinforces our
commitment to expanding our licensing business in the years to come."
Winning a trophy or at least staying in the PL will do wonders if we are to compete with SpongeBob.


And the bad taste prize goes to...

Last night, when my brain had long been in standby mode and I had clicked almost every conceivable link in the West Ham universe, I found myself looking at the site of David Gold.

It starts with David in his favourite pose - arms folded and the Cartier showing.

Below the picture his current positions are listed and starts out with "Chairman and co-owner of Birmingham city football club".
What did I miss? Does one of Britain's most successful businessmen not have a person updating his own internet site?

Now you may be asking how I came to the conclusion that he is one of Britain's most successful businessmen?
Easy, it says so on his site! And even gives us a humble background as the text on the homepage starts:
From beginnings of extreme poverty, shrugging aside numerous setbacks along the way, David Gold is now one of Britain's most successful businessmen.
He then decides to elaborate on the subject:

Brought up in the East End of London, David started out helping his
mother sell buttons from a stall outside their house. Moving indoors they then converted their front room into a card and sweet shop. From there, he went on to run a bookstore in Charing Cross, and before long branched out into publishing, printing and distribution.
Now David knows how to enthrall his readers right from the start doesn't he?

The site is basically a collection of links to articles about him in different magazines - articles that I have still to read - and a "profile page" where you'll find everything you already know about him. Well, the last was not entirely true as the size of his mansion in Surrey, 55 acres as it turns out, had previously eluded me.
When looking at the cover pics on the magazines a weird thing strikes me. He either has a watch on both wrists or all pics are taken from the same angle and "flipped over" when they want a picture of his other side.
I need to get a life...

A word of warning may be in place though. Those of you not into sites based on total self-glorification may find little of use in this cyber-shrine, and may also want to pass on the opportunity to get your own 1st edition signed copy of his autobiography.


Everyone back? Dream on!

Zola is as always the positive one. "Trust me”, he said in the Daily Mirror, “when we have everyone back, this team will be a different story".

That may be true but is it relevant? Does anybody foresee this happening?
We are still at the top of the injury table and 9 players will have to get back to full fitness for this to be achieved. Some are "hopeful" for the Wolves game, the OS says. If hamstrings not only had tears but also a face they would be smiling.

To get a hamstring injury back (and worse) is far easier than getting it in the first place. Also, the reasons they got them are probably still there. There is no quick fix as it's not all about doing the right warming up. It's also about training methods, training conditions, preseason work and playing schedule. In this sense, thank goodness that Christmas is over and that we are out of the cups. But the cold is still with us, and so is the physio team.
During the summer of 2008 a new physio-team was brought in by Duckers and Nani to take "Decisive action on medical matters" and to make sure we would not find ourselves in this position again". In December 2008 Italian fitness coach Antonio Pinto, with a Chelsea past, joined the crew.

I think it is fair to make the same deduction now as the board did 2 years ago - something is wrong when so many players go out with non-impact related injuries, but the solution may be another. The current fitness-buch may have to take some of the blame but then there is no fitness-/physio-team in the world that can prevent all overload related injuries. Some players just can’t take playing week in week out at PL pace. They will brake.

When teams in the top 4 need to rest players to prevent these kinds of problems they try to get away with doing so against "lesser" sides (even though Sir Alex knows now that this is not always wise). They also have PL-ready players waiting for their chance, where we need to fill the bench with 18 year olds that failed to get a game at Scunthorpe! (let it be known I think he is our future).With a paper thin squad there is no way we would ever get away with resting players against teams involved in the relegation battle. Herein lies the problem.

The Wolves game is so important that I think Zola and the staff are ready to take a chance with the health of some of the players as there are no viable options. This is also a game where the team with the best attitude will have a decent chance to take all the points so the leaders will try to get the adrenaline flowing in the players and it is more than probable that we will see two teams that go out with all guns blazing.

That sounds to me like another injury in the making and one more step away from "everyone back".


The good, the bad, and the unknown

During the nerve wrecking wait on a new owner one cannot help thinking about what may await us when the takeover is completed.
In my professional experience, one can quite often disregard what people say they will do. However, the info you get by studying what they have done previously cannot be overestimated. This certainly does not make it easy to “choose” one bidder before the others as precious little is there to evaluate.

The G&S track record seem to say that they are not going to gamble their own money (but then can you name one current owner that has put his own money at risk, barring Sheikh Mansour?) they will not flood the Club even with loaned money, and most certainly they will not spend flamboyantly or at a time that is, to cite Jack Sparrow, “not opportune”. So with them we seem to be reasonably secured from economic chance taking, also with borrowed money.
As runners of Birmingham they have solved quite a few of the squad problems by loans, a method we know all to well.

This “safety first” strategy, where feelings will certainly take a back seat to money, no matter what they say about being West Ham, means that they will most likely take the risk of going down rather than adding funds and endangering their investment. If that is their choice, be sure they have made certain that the drop will solve, not create, economical problems. It’s money first sporting success second, to them.

Their track record also says that they did take on a bleak looking side with financial difficulty in the Fizzy Pop and transformed them to a mid table Premiere outfit, granted by the aid of some lucky breaks. If they could do that with Birmingham, I’m sure they can do even better with West Ham.
Also, let’s not forget that sporting success of West Ham means more money to them, so if this relative success is achieved “wisely” they seek it too!
After talking and mailing to friends that has been more on top of the Birmingham situation fanwise, I realize that there are a few downsides to their ownership. The biggest problem most of the fans seem to have had with G&S is their flexible attitude towards the “truth”. They seem happy to lead people to believe that big things are going to happen and then not really living up to that “promise”. This is a way of leadership I cannot stand and that has also been a problem I’ve had all along with Duckers… The other dark side of G&S people mention is that they have “beriched themselves” at the expence of the club. If that is accompanied by some sort of success for the Club I cannot see that this would be a bigger problem than paying good wages to the right players or the right manager. One can dislike greed in sports, but it is everywhere to be found.

With Tony Fernandes we don’t have much of a clue what we wuold get. He seem like an easy going fella and I don’t doubt his good will or feelings for the Club. Being a “foreigner” myself I know that one can have a relation to the club that so strong that it at times borders to the unhealthy. If the Lotus F1 thing had had a few years of running, maybe we could deduct something from there, but his resilience or determination in projects that are not fundamental to his business is yet to be tested. At the surface it appears as there would be quite a difference between a West Ham run by G&S and a West Ham run by Tony Fernandes but then Tony is known for his low fare, low cost, low budget, low standard versions so maybe the difference is less than we expect? But then, we don’t even know how big a part he would play if the deal that he promise will bring “an owner who will make a difference and care” goes through. Rather than bankrolling stuff he seem to be known for bringing investors to projects and with the exception for Air Asia has not been the major contributor in projects so his views or passion may be as relevant as Eggy’s [shivers].

The part of the Intermarket group will, by necessity, be a short one as precious little is known about the real backers of the bid supposedly tabled today. This is also the most worrying part of that bid. Why all the secrecy? The nice interpretation is that the backer – if not successful in this bid – does not want to be associated with it. The other possibility is that the group contains people that most people not would welcome (back) as owners. The field is open for speculation, but as I said previously, business that does not stand the light of day is very seldom one that I would welcome.

Hopefully in a not to far future we will know who the devil (it) is…

Monday 4th of Jan: Christmas day?

We could read Tony Fernandes Twitterblog yesterday:

"1 0. West ham beating arsenal. Great half from the young hammers. Soon they will have an owner who will make a difference and care ."

We are many who hope that this will be the truth and will be it!


Out of the FA-cup and not bitter!

In the end this may be a divine loss!
Well, at least we hope so as we now are out of the FA-cup and can concentrate to survie (or even better than so) in the League.
But we coped very well in 65 minutes with a very understrength team against a decent Arsenal side.
Having the lead (Diamanti in he last seconds of first half) and some other good trials against the Gunners goalie we may get bitter as we lost 1-2 in the end. But hey, this is West Ham. And again we may take some good moments with us from this game to the much more important one against Wolves next weekend. A game we can not afford to lose.

Green 8 - Some really outstanding saves tonight. Against Arsenal he as usual seems to find his best. (Arsenal had 13 goal attempts on target) Could not prevent their goals though.
Faubert 7 - I was quite impressed today and if some, earlier had questions to ask about putting the Frenchman as a RB, few doubters will be left. Fought and ran well. But must improve (a lot) with his crosses.
James Tomkins 5,5 - Alright some good moments, coming in aid mainly for Faubert, but so many mistakes as he did today... that is not allowed as a CB. May need a rest.
Matthew Upson 7 - Let Eduardo head the winner, otherwise solid! Happy to see him on the field, as that means that he hardly is sold yet.
Daprela 7 - A really nice debut of our "new" Swiss youngster. Made no, or few, mistakes, seemed to play without nerves. Will probably challenge Ilunga after this season and will from now on be our back up here. At least if I was to decide.
Diamanti 7,5 - Another important display from our Diamant. Works his socks off. Sometimes he plays really idiotic passes and looks like a true newcomer (to all football). Still his contribution was essential. He is our "skeleton key", and seems able to open any defence. Made the badge proud and is today very important for the team.
Behrami 8 - Our best man (together with our keeper) on the field today. He may have been weak against Tottscum, this was sooo different. Defensivly he was outstanding!
Kovac 7 - No more or less: Good performance. Song may have been he midfield master, but Kovac kept his positions well and set up Diamanti with a smart pass.
Stanislas 6 - Wants to much at times. Need to think more at some moments, and less at others. He was not the only one today who should have had more shots instead of taking another dribble too much. At moments Hammers looked like a child team who do not tries to score until they have dribbled to the goal line. Still a good contribution filled with energy and a strong will to perform.
Jimenez 5 - Well, ths time he (for once) really seemed like he wanted to get involved, but in the end he hardly did. Where has the Wizard gone?? Soon gone back to Italy?
Frank Nouble 6 - A debut alone at the top against a regular Arsenal back four is not the easiest. I thik yhe youngster (18) did well. No spectacular moves, few of those fast runs we've heard that he can do. Still, showed that this man has a good future with us. Battled well.

Anthony Edgar (debut!) and Freddie Sears (back from Palace) got a few minutes.

Now a really nervy week awaits. Will we be sold, will we be able to keep our players? Will Parker, Ilunga and maybe even Cole be ready for the extremly important game against Wolves?


Sites you may have missed I

There are a few sites that I revisit that are not in the links list of many West Ham blogs. And we do need to read some stuff from non-West Ham sites to distract us from the dire news released about our Club, don't we? In a series of posts I'll present some of my "off topic" favourites.

If you know of an interesting site we have missed, please direct us to it!

First out is a site that one wish would be totally irrelevant, however, this angle on football, or any sport for that matter, is painfully important especially these days when we are struggling to escape the strangling grip of the Big Bad Puffin.

Political Economy of Football has quite a mouthful to chew and in a way they opt not to. They are like a bulletin board of snippets on these topics. Unfortunately they seldom offer any in depth articles, but they are a good starting point for further googling and may also suffice if you just like to keep reasonably up to date on these things.

One of my favourite parts of their site is the Statistics page with descriptic stats on club turnover, income, prize money, kit sponsors etc. Another interesting part summarizes financial information on UK proffessional clubs (nothing on West Ham mind you...)

A piece that I just read (I blame Santa for the delay), and that I pasted below, is on an all to familiar subject. Reading it may reemphasize importance of "choosing" the right owner. Also that we could be worse off (and may still be as we know precious little of the financial status of the "groups" that are bidding on us as I type.
Let's hope we are not ending up in the fire.

If you don't fancy what I chose, maybe they can tempt you with stuff on 'Arrys finances, Arsenes computer outburst, or the brothel visiting manager?

From the Political Economy of Football:
Championship side Watford have managed to avoid administration, but the more general lesson that emerges from this episode is that clubs can be put at risk by feuds on the board or the decisions of an individual that is funding them. Earlier in December Watford Leisure said that it required a further £5.5m to cover cash flow needs until July 2010. The company made a pre-tax loss of £2m in the year to 30 June on revenues of £23.1m compared with a £400,000 profit in the previous 12 months. Total liabilities amounted to £10.7m. The club's shares on Aim had to be suspended after the Russo brothers (chairman and vice-chairman) stormed out before the annual general meeting, leaving former manager Graham Taylor to chair the meeting. Their business, Valley Grown Salads, demanded immediate repayment of a £4.9m loan to the company. VGS has 30 per cent of the shares, Lord Ashcroft's Fordwat investment vehicle controls 37 per cent and he is backed by former chairman Graham Simpson who has 17 per cent. Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, stepped in to pay the £4.88m debt to Russo. Lord Ashcroft is viewed by his opponents as a controversial figure, but he managed to save the club for now. Sir Elton John who has had a long association with the Hornets plans to stage a fund raising concert in 2010.

Trading in Watford shares resumed on December 23rd, but they closed down 11 per cent at 6p after an initial fall of 18 per cent. Sources close to the club described the loan as 'a road map to get us through the season.' However, Watford Leisure warned that it would still need further short-term funding at the end of January while it organises a rights issue. It is hoped to make some use of money from advance ticket sales for Sir Elton Johm's 'Paying for Players' concert which will not take place until June. The funds would be paid back to be available for player signings after the rights issue is completed.


The art of acquiring and running a football club

We are getting more and more info as the sale of the club is seemingly creeping closer.
Besides the Davids and Intermarket (that jack-in-the-boxed), Tony Fernandes is rumoured to be ready to be involved in some way in a takeover.
That, of course, started a discussion on whether Fernandes is loaded enough to pull such a big deal off. But in a way that is beside the point. You don’t really have to have any money of your own. What you do have to have however, is a good relation with a bank or two.
Of course it does help if you do appear to have a few quid so the guys at the bank believes you are worthy of their services, and are willing to keep the interest down.

But let’s not get the actual wealth of a bidder be confused with if he is really going to back the club!

At the time BG bought us he was the wealthiest man in Iceland second only to his son. So there is no doubt that at the time he was a good backer. But we learned that he, as so many other owners of football clubs, actually didn’t bump us with any cash of his own. He made sure that we could borrow money, money that was never his and as the song goes “all he left us was a loan”.

So, regardless of the financial figures associated with the next owner, what is really important is that he does not do a Glazer or a Abramovich on us.
Glazer transferred a substantial part of the debt he took on for buying ManU over to the club. So in reality ManU ows banks money for the purchase of itself! This kind of money moving is not easy to figure out either, as is indicated by the time it took for journalists to find out that Abramovichs £736m backing of Chelsea was in the form of loans. Interest free loans (as it appears) but nevertheless loans. So much for sugar daddies…

So, even though the funds of our future owner makes a difference, the way he uses these fund, in the West Ham context, is the real issue.
I for one is more interested in a father that provides the mash and sausage he can afford than a daddy that feeds me sugar he got against my own future earnings.