Lots of transfer activity without anyone actually signing. West Ham have agreed a fee with Real Mallorca for defender Ivan Ramis, although worryingly that deal may now be gazumped. We've also agreed a £2 million loan fee for Andy Carroll, which would be a good deal for a season, though it all depends on the player wanting to come to Upton Park. And so far all the signs are that he wants to remain at Liverpool or join Newcastle, even if he has played under Big Sam before. We'd certain;ly have a threatening strike force if he did arrive, though at present a defender is what we need more urgently.
Brilliant to hear I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles at the London 2012 opening ceremony. Is Danny Boyle a closet West Ham fan? Confirmation that WHU is as much part of the fabric of British life as Glastonbury Tor, the Sex Pistols, Mike Oldfield, Mr Bean, JK Rowling, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Presumably Spurs will now be suing as they didn't get a mention. Irons!
Not sure about this reported £17 million bid for Andy Carroll. Is it David Sullivan grandstanding in the knowledge Carroll won't ever go to E13? Initially the offer is for a season's loan and then a commitment to buy him for £17m the next season, which could backfire if he's not a success. As we already have Carlton Cole, a new £5 million striker in Maiga, Vaz Te, Maynard and Baldock do WHU really need another striker? The priority is surely a new centre back. Carroll is a great striker when motivated and had a brilliant half a season at Newcastle, but if it went wrong we'd be even more in debt than we are now. Can a Geordie lad cope with nights out in Essex? Given Carroll's refuelling tendencies it's a risk. On the positive side a fully-firing Carroll would virtually guarantee survival, if not a top half finish. But having invested heavily in Maiga at a much more prudent price I'd stick with him, Cole (who against Blackpool looked like he could still be a real threat) and Vaz Te. More importantly we need a quality centre back to compete with Tomkins and Reid.
Interesting that Turkish international Colin Kazim-Richards, born in Leytonstone, played in the first half of the 2-1 win at Colchester. Kazim-Richards looked something of a journeyman at Sheffield United, but his career really developed when he moved to Fenerbahce and then Galatasaray. He had a fine tournament in Euro 2008 and scored a cracking goal as Turkey reached the semi-finals. Though Kazim-Richards comes with plenty of baggage. At Fenerbahce there was an argument with fans when he was substituted, a red card for swearing at the ref, a controversial night out as his side lost while he was suspended and a car crash, events that contributed to his being loaned out to France. Worth a trial though, as he clearly has some talent.
Not a great debut for James Tomkins in Team GB's friendly against Brazil. Tomka was taken off at half-time and looked uneasy in his new partnership with Micah Richards. The pair were often exposed by the quick-thinking of Neymar and co though the whole side played poorly. The other games should be easier though and hopefully James will return to the Premiership a better player for the experience of tournament football.
Good to see the Shouty Professor back in early Europa League action last night. Thanks to Matt and his Anorak of Fire for spotting that Ruud Boffin was in goal for Turkish side Eskisehirspor and kept a clean sheet in his side's 2-0 victory over Steve Lomas' St Johnstone.
The Irons have signed Mali international striker Modibo Maiga from FC Sochaux-Montbeliard for a reported £4.7 million. It's good news that we've got someone in, as Andy Carroll was very unlikely to sign, though Maiga represents something of a gamble. We've signed him on a four-year-deal despite the fact he failed a medical at Newcastle in January because of a suspect knee. Mind you, Demba Ba failed a medical at Stoke and he did all right for us. Anyone on Newcastle's scouting radar, run by Alan Carr's dad Graham, tends to be high quality, though the lad appears top have some attitude issues, having briefly gone on strike to try and force through a move to St James's Park. He is apparently pacey and can also play on the wing, which is another option for away matches. Modibo is the second West Ham player to come from Mali, following Freddie Kanoute, who sometimes looked as if he was playing on a sun lounger but was a fine player. Modibo joins fellow new signings Diame, McCartney, Henderson and Jaaskelainen.
A mischievous thought occurs. Were G4S responsible for the security at the 1923 White Horse Cup Final between West Ham and Bolton? While researching my new e-book Flying So High: West Ham's Cup Finals (Endeavour) I've noticed several parallels between 1923 and today's Olympics security fiasco. Wembley was a brand new stadium built for the British Empire Exhibition and was only completed four days before the FA Cup Final. Oh, and no-one remembered to make the Final all ticket. There was a strong suspicion the stadium wasn’t properly ready and the perimeter defences were flimsy. The security was rubbish and there were far too few police. So nothing new there, then.
Another factor was that Wembley had been hyped as the latest wonder of the world, a stadium so vast that it could cope with any number of fans with all having a perfect view. Only then 200,000 plus fans turned up when it could only hold 125,000. The gates were shut at 1.45pm but the blokes in flat caps outside then broke through the gates and went "over the top" of the perimeter fences and the crowd ended up all over the pitch, with 1000 fans injured. The FA immediately denied responsibility saying it was all Wembley's fault (presumably they insisted they could meet targets).
If it does all go wrong at the Olympic Stadium, the Excel or the Velodrome then the authorities might learn from the White Horse Cup Final, where the crowd remained good-humoured. The arrival of the King prevented a riot and he said keep calm and carry on things like "Steady on boys!", causing the crowd to break into a rousing chorus of God Save the King. Then Billie the famous White Horse (actually a grey) and his rider PC Scorey arrived to help clear the pitch and the game went ahead with the crowd actually on the touchlines and sometimes the pitch. West Ham's Tresadern was caught in the crowd as Bolton scored their first. There's also an argument that the players believed it was a friendly and the real final would be played later when the conditions were less chaotic, so West Ham could legitimately demand a replay. The Daily Mail described the stewarding as "useless", questions were asked in the House and an inquiry was demanded.Is it too late for G4S to recruit a white horse?
My daughters have just been to The Making of Harry Potter out near Watford and can reveal that West Ham features prominently. As you may know, WHU is the only team to be mentioned in the Harry Potter series of seven books. And in the Warner Bros Studio exhibition of Potter sets, the dormitory of Dean Thomas has a West Ham scarf on the end of his bed. Wizard. Though we can't discount rumours that the Dursleys are Spurs fans...
Thirty thousand fans at a sodden Upton Park last night to watch David Haye beat Derek Chisora in the fifth round. Not a great result for ethics (it's somewhere near Brentwood), but the chairmen will be pleased with the bounty. It seems there's an appetite for watching pugilism at Upton Park so maybe we could arrange some more bouts. A cage fight between Julian Dicks and Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen would draw the crowds and I wonder if Keith Robson or David 'Psycho' Cross might be up for a fight? Or maybe a rematch of Billy Bonds versus Colin Todd… though maybe best not to involve John Hartson.
A 3-0 win at Southend yesterday and three in three games for Sam Baldock. Only pre-seaaon friendlies but anything that gets Sam's confidence going has to be good. The game was also notable for the fact that Jordan Spence scored - I'd forgotten he was still at the club having been loaned out to Bristol City. More worrying is that Reid and McCartney are our only available centre backs, what with Tomkins being in Team GB, and Macca is playing out of position. Maybe David Haye could do a decent job at Upton Park as an emergency defender...
Whatever the result of the John Terry trial, what's
remarkable is the low standard of "handbags" verbals between Terry
and our old defender Anton Ferdinand. Shagging gestures, you're smelly
gestures, a lipreader spotting the words “f***ing knobhead” and more 'c' words
than even Peter Cook and Dudley Moore could produce on a Derek and Clive
album. It's not exactly Wildean. Oh for a footballer who could produce a more
original insult, something akin to Monty Python's "Your mother
was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"
Latest government wheeze is to possibly charge VAT for playing five-a-side and raise £5 million. It will add around £1 per person to the cost of playing in a game. That's really going to help the nation get fit. Couldn't we just tax Bob Diamond's bonus? Good piece by West Ham fan Nigel Morris in the Independent today. Click on the link to read.
West Ham want to take Carroll on loan according to today's Daily Mirror. That's Andy the Liverpool striker, not Carol from Ken's Cafe, though she too could do a job intimidating the opposition. Apparently Sam Allardyce reckons that Kevin Nolan's close relationship with Carroll might make the player favour Upton Park. You wonder what Mrs Nolan might make of that, since when Carroll was having problems at Newcastle and lodged with Nolan, Carroll's Range Rover was torched in Kevin's driveway and graffiti left on his garage. Always thought Carroll was a good player at Newcastle, and he scored a great header for the Geordies at Upton Park, but he needs a decent supply of crosses. Can't really see him moving to Upton Park though.
Good luck to Gianfranco Zola at Watford. It's hard to dislike the little Italian and after the experience of Avram Grant, it's extraordinary to think that he was dismissed for keeping us up and replaced by a man whose side had just been relegated. He's a good coach and got the best out of Carlton Cole, but the big question mark has always been can he buy and sell players, as that was handled by Nani in Zola's WHU days, though David Sullivan claims that it was Zola who wanted to buy Big Fat Bennie McCarthy. Will be interesting to see how Franco copes among the physical sides in the Championship.
Good luck to 13-year-old Freddie Sears at Colchester United. As young Freddie points out: "It feels like I've been around longer than I have. I look back, and I've not had a full season under my belt. In a way, it's like taking a step back to go forward again. I'm looking forward to the challenge." Maybe with regular football he'll continue the goalscoring feats he showed in his early days at West Ham…
I'm a little worried by Spain's Euro win playing without strikers - it might give Big Sam ideas. Still, at least West Ham pioneered the concept of the "false number nine" or "ghost striker" with John Radford, Mike Small, David Kelly, Alex Bunbury, Mike Newell and others too numerous to mention.
Good news that West Ham have signed George McCartney on a two-year permanent deal for an undisclosed fee. McCartney was one of our most consistent players last season. He's 31 and maybe lost a little speed, but he proved what a good player he is under Curbishley and should have a couple more seasons left at the top level. Roy Keane paid £6 million for him a few years ago as part of his helter skelter transfer policy at Sunderland and we've signed him back for a lot less after his career went down a lot of long and winding roads, such as a loan spell at Leeds. The other bonus is that McCartney supplies this blog with an unending supply of bad Beatles puns...