Friday, May 25

If the kits are United

Not that happy with the kits for next season. Call me an old git, but the home shirt should always have light blue sleeves (rather than cuffs) and a light blue trim on the collar. 

The new home shirt is basically claret and looks too much like a Hearts shirt. While the away kit is navy blue (or to give it the full marketing speak, it's 'dark teal'). Could the dark teal design be preparing us for a navy blue carpet at the London Stadium — the LLDC has previously insisted on this colour rather than claret? The away kit looks more like an old Wimbledon shirt. While it's compounded by yellow socks — which have no link to any West Ham colours. Is this some kind of popcorn tie-in? We should be playing away in light blue or white. Still, no doubt we'll get used to it. 

The best kit of recent years was the most traditional, that worn for the last season at the Boleyn. Better news is that Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds have been wheeled out to don the kits and look like they could still do a job for the boys in claret, dark teal, yellow and blue. 

Wednesday, May 23

Start Me Up

Manuel Pellegrini spent his first day with the Hammers watching a group of immobile old geezers at the London Stadium, who then tried hard not to get injured as they attempted to recreate their glory days. So that's the first training session with the back four over. After that he watched the Rolling Stones.

Pellegrini turns to drink

Things that are almost West Ham. No contest for the mineral water we'll all be drinking at the London Stadium next season…

Tuesday, May 22

It's Manuel!

So West Ham have finally got their Manuel in Pellegrini. For once we haven't ended up with a fourth choice manager, but someone who can genuinely be described as an A-list gaffer, a man who has won the league in four different countries. David Moyes did a decent job with an unbalanced squad, but Manuel Pellegrini is an upgrade. Real Madrid and West Ham are now both on the same CV.

The advantage of having a top boss who plays attacking football is that the fan base will start the season, for once, fully united. Players like Arnautovic, Lanzini and Hernandez are more likely to stay and his reputation will attract top signings. He might even know what to do with Jordan Hugill. 

It was only four years ago that Pellegrini was winning the Premier League at Man City, admittedly after a shedload of money was spent. He also won two League Cups during his spell at the Etihad. Pellegrini cut a dignified figure at City and rarely criticised referees, which is apt for the club of Greenwood and Lyall. 

There are some reservations. With Sullivan having spent £7m on Pellegrini's salary is he now going to give him the big budget he'll demand for new signings? And will Pellegrini's reputation be sufficient to deter Sully from meddling in deals? We also have to remember that winning the league at Man City doesn't necessarily guarantee success at the London Stadium, as Joe Hart can testify.

But it's still a very exciting appointment and at last the board seem to realise that they have to deliver on their promise to take us to the next level in Stratford and provide attractive football with a top class team and boss. 

Monday, May 21

Pellegrini's (Iron) Maiden appearance at the London Stadium?

Thanks to my pal Fraser for keeping up to date with Chilean daily paper La Cuerta, which has been reporting on the possibility of Manuel Pellegrini joining West Ham as our new gaffer. Apparently unfamiliar with the Hammers, they’ve settled on describing WHU as, "a team fanatically supported by Iron Maiden." 

"Good to know we have some kind of international reputation," comments Fraser, who wonders if we’ll see Manuel (and heavy metal fan Zabaleta?) down the Cart and Horses. where Maiden played one of their first gigs. He also wonders if Pelly will bring his star player from Hebbei China Fortune with him as it would be nice to see Javier Mascherano again.

La Cuerta seems convinced that Pellegrini is coming. However, Fraser does point point out that La Cuerta is "not exactly known as a paper of record, most readers buy it for the large selection of female nudes featured daily. I guess it’s a bit like Sullivan’s Sport (is that still going?)."

Sunday, May 20

Farewell Ginger Pele?

So it's probably goodbye to James Collins, the Ginger Pele, fans' favourite and a great servant to West Ham. The press stories about him being dumped by email seem to be a bit of media spin, as he already knew he was being released and the email was apparently only a written confirmation. Though the latest reports on BBC and Sky now state that his contract ends next month and the new manager will have the final say on whether he is retained.

Mark Noble made a public plea for the club to keep him at the end of the Everton game. Should we keep Ginge? In purely football terms, probably no, as he's 35 in August, he only played 13 games last season and is increasingly injury-prone. So a younger signing to play alongside Ogbonna, Reid and Rice would make sense. Though in terms of morale, his presence would help both the fans and dressing room, so on that basis he should surely get another year's contract. He plays like he cares and that's pretty incalculable in monetary terms.

Whatever happens, his second spell at the Hammers has seen Collins feature in six eventful seasons. Two of his most memorable performances for me were his role in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford during the 2006-07 Great Escape season and a towering game against Man City when we beat them 2-1 at Upton Park under Big Sam. In between his two spells with the Irons James also played in an Aston Villa side that finished sixth. 

Collins played like he enjoyed defending, getting in tackles and putting his head on crosses. It's a lost art — Rudiger showed a little of that ability for Chelsea in the Cup Final yesterday — and we need more proper defenders. While let's not forget an epic ginger beard (he was likened to Gandalf by Garth Crooks) and the fact he was always the last player off the pitch after thanking the fans. If he does go, he'll be missed.

Saturday, May 19

Managerial limbo at West Ham

Always a dangerous business taking a five-day trip to the Lake District where everything is offline. Returned to find West Ham have lost one manager and might be on the point of appointing an A-list manager in Manuel Pellegrini or, less likely, Rafa Benitez. 

Firstly, David Moyes did a decent job and was treated somewhat shabbily. He'd turned Arnautovic into a striker, clamped down on discipline in instances like those of Antonio and Carroll and done what he was asked to do in keeping West Ham up and ultimately finishing a respectable 13th. Yes, he was defensive-minded and very slow to use subs, but it would have been interesting to see what he could do with his own signings. He would probably have taken us on to be a top eight club in the fashion of Everton, which would have provided some much-needed stability. 

It seemed David Gold wanted Moyes to remain as manager, but it's Sullivan (and Brady?) who now have the main say. When he discovered that Shakhtar Donetsk gaffer Paulo Fonseca was round at Sullivan's gaff having talks, Moyes told the board to stuff their job. Ultimately Fonescu used the episode to get a better deal at his existing club. Moyes' preference for ending the culture of leaks and wanting control of transfers might also have counted against him. He should have been told to his face if the club no longer wanted him and the whole thing has been handled with a predictable lack of class. 

Dumping a middling manager is a high-risk strategy unless we can get the fabled A-list gaffer. Rafa Benitez would be classy (if also a little defensive) but has a history of complaining in public about troublesome chairman and would demand £100 million to spend and cost £6 million in compensation which might out off our parsimonious board. No arguing with what he achieved at Liverpool and Newcastle though. 

The latest likely gaffer appears to be Manuel Pellegrini, who earned he nickname of 'This Charming Man' at City and is a dignified operator. He's won the league at Man City and has done great things at Villareal and Real Madrid. At 64 he's a little old, but he would certainly be an exciting appointment as long as he's capable of working with an interfering chairman. 

And if that doesn't happen we should surely look at promising younger bosses like Eddie Howe (whom Nigel's mum thinks is a nice young man) and Huddersfield's Wagner who would certainly be our most musical boss. 

The next few days could be vital in the history of West Ham United. Unless it's all an elaborate bluff and we're just waiting for Tony Pulis…