Thursday, July 21

Respecting the English point

So it seems that England will now be respecting the point while needing to improve their game management and just be more clinical up front. Even if my pal Fraser wants him out already, Big Sam could still be good news for Mark Noble, Cressy and Big Andy. Though maybe Matt Jarvis and Freddie Sears shouldn't get their hopes up just yet…

Wednesday, July 20

One million views!

For those who have been keeping an eye on the total pageviews counter (it's on the right) Hammers in the Heart has just had its one millionth view since it started in 2008. Back then we played at somewhere called the Boleyn, had a fit Dean Ashton up front and Calum Davenport in defence and had just beaten Paul Ince's Blackburn 4-1. Thanks to everyone who has looked at my ramblings over he years and passed the odd comment or two. It's been emotional…

Souvenir Europa League ticket sorted (sort of)

Just ordered my ticket for the Europa League tie against someone I've never heard of (either Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus or NK Domzale of Slovenia) on August 4 — thankfully Uefa agreed to switch the date of the home leg. Now I've got to wait for a printed ticket despite being a season ticket holder, though it is a reasonable price at £15. According to my fellow season-ticket holder Matt, West Ham are saying our new access cards will be sent out next week. For the Europa and Juventus games they are issuing paper tickets. 

Matt comments "They claim these will provide a nice 'souvenir', but it is clearly a major cock-up, as the postage cost of two lots of 54,000 tickets will be considerable. The access cards will be used for the first time for Bournemouth. Clearly they don't think anyone wants a souvenir of the first league game!"

So having already bought a ticket for the Juventus game, I'll now be visiting the OS (when does it get a name?) on Thursday and Sunday and considering the important question of where's a decent pre-match cafe and where is a good pub to go afterwards. Any suggestions?

Monday, July 18

Half-price train travel for long-distance Hammers

It's good news that West Ham fans can now get half price train tickets from Abellio Greater Anglia (the train company which sounds like our latest flying winger). This means fans from Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire can all get half-price travel if they apply by August 31. You can either get a season ticket for all the home games or a flexi-ticket which covers ten matches. Fans in Germany's Bundesliga have long had cheaper public transport with a match ticket and it's a progressive sign that West Ham have teamed up with Abellio to make it possible here. Click on the link for details. With this news and a traditional-looking home kit things are looking good for the new season.

Friday, July 15

WHU drawn at home in Europa League

Unfortunately West Ham have been drawn at home in the first leg of the Europa League 3rd Round Qualifier on July 28, against either Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus or Slovenia's NK Domzale. WHU have now made an official request to swap the two legs so the home leg is played on August 4, as the Olympic Stadium can't be converted from athletics in time for the July 28 date. So we still don't know when the first game at the Olympic Stadium will be played. If Uefa refuse to swap the dates we'll presumably have to play at a neutral ground. Though I think we can rule out Millwall or Spurs…

Thursday, July 14

Big Sam for England?

There must be a few West Ham fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the news that Sam Allardyce is being interviewed for the England job. He did a solid job at West Ham, but never fitted in because he was a results-at-all-costs manager and was too brash to acknowledge the West Ham way.

It should be acknowledged he's a decent Premier League manager with a lot of experience. Big Sam kept Sunderland up last season through instilling a system and making some astute signings and he's managed at Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham without ever getting relegated and mainly improved those sides. Though if Allardyce is the best English candidate, I'd certainly prefer a foreign coach like Jurgen Klinsmann.

But if the England job did go to Big Sam, then concentrating on results might not be such a bad thing. We don't have to watch them play every week, and grinding out results and respecting points is what tournaments are all about. The team spirit certainly improved while he was at West Ham and players seem to want to play for him. A clear system and a slightly scary manager might improve things after the misery against Iceland, when Kane, Alli, Sterling, Rooney and co choked.

And at least Mark Noble might finally get a call-up from Big Sam, along with Aaron Cresswell and Andy Carroll. While Kevin Nolan will presumably be plucked from the Orient and installed as captain…

Wednesday, July 13

Ashley Fletcher looks a promising signing

West Ham have signed 20-year-old Ashley Fletcher from Manchester United. The youngster was on loan at Barnsley last season, scoring an impressive nine goals in 27 appearances for the League One side. One fact that will immediately endear him to Hammers' fans is that Fletcher scored Barnsley's first goal against Milwall in the Play-off Final at Wembley with a great turn and finish. Born in Keighley, Ashley was out of contract at United and has played for the England Under-20 side, so seems quite a prospect. He's also got 12 GCSEs which means he might be rivalling Trevor Brooking in the 'Professor' nickname stakes.

Meanwhile it's reported that the Irons have made a £26 million bid for AC Milan's Colombian striker Carlos Bacca. Wonder if we could adapt Dr Feelgood's hit Bacca in the Night… That's a lot of money for a player who is 30 in September, but should he arrive then presumably Sakho and Valencia might be on their bikes with Bacca, Carroll and Fletcher as our main strikers.