Saturday, February 16

No relegation for the burgundy and blue…

"You say West Ham. I say Milan street style," begins Jess Cartner-Morley's piece in today's Guardian Weekend magazine. She suggests that "burgundy and blue" is now "a thing" in the fashion world and is in fact, "top of fashion's Premier League". Though some call it eggplant and denim. Which just goes to prove that Matt, Nigel, Michael, Fraser and myself have long been arbiters of style in our burgundy and blue retro West Ham shirts. Anna Wintour may be in touch for a Vogue shoot any day now.

Thursday, February 14

Goodbye to Boleyn is big in Romford!

My sister spotted this West Ham display at Romford Waterstones recently. Good to see Goodbye to Boleyn prominent alongside Irons works by my pals Brian Williams and Robert Banks. Not sure if we need to stockpile West Ham books for March 29, but if so there are quite a few WHU tomes here... and having watched Les Miserables they might make very good barricades.

Wednesday, February 13

Declan declares!

It's seemingly taken longer than Brexit, but Declan Rice has finally come out in favour of playing for England over Ireland. His procrastination has made Theresa May look almost a model of alacrity. But he's surely made the right decision football-wise, even if his family roots might be Irish and he's already played friendlies for Ireland. At least he can ditch his England/Ireland half and half scarf now. The way Rice is developing he can be better than Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier as a defensive midfielder. This is much to Gareth Southgate's gain and now we have to ensure that Declan has a great England career while remaining a West Ham player. 

Tuesday, February 12

RIP Gordon Banks

Sad to hear of the death of the great Gordon Banks. As a kid I stood on the North Bank at Upton Park for the 1971-72 League Cup Semi-Final, when Banks made that famous save from the Geoff Hurst penalty that would have taken WHU to Wembley. Sadly Geoff hit it a little too close to Banks, but it was still a ferocious shot and the Stoke keeper did brilliantly to tip it over the bar. After two replays (and Bobby Moore having to go in goal) Stoke eventually made it to the final and won the League Cup. I first really became interested in football in 1970 and one of my earliest memories is of Banks' legendary save from Pele at the World Cup. And of course, Banks could have joined West Ham when ethics man Ron Greenwood famously turned down the Stoke custodian as he had already shaken on a deal for Bobby Ferguson. With four World Cup winners West Ham would have had quite a side. Gordon will be missed.

Monday, February 11

7-1 to the cockney boys?

Facebook has just informed me that three years ago I was sharing this aggregate scoreline of West Ham 7 Liverpool 1. It's fair to say that Liverpool have come on a bit since then, kept the same manager in Jurgen Klopp and are running Man City close for the title. While WHU were then trying to break into the top four and have gone backwards over the following three years. But still, happy memories and we have just got a 1-1 against Liverpool, though it might be a long time before we beat them home and away again in the Premier League with a 5-0 aggregate.

Saturday, February 9

Welcome point after Palace storming

Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 1

Listened to the second half of this on Radio London and it sounded like the Irons were getting battered as they tried to hang on for a plucky away win. Seems like we had the better of the first half though, and Mark Noble coolly dispatched his penalty after keeper Guita brought down Antonio. Snodgraas and Fredericks also got to work the keeper with Anderson excelling on the break.

In the second half Palace had a relentless stream of corners and McArthur missed a great chance when he fired wide of a gaping goal. When Zaha did equalise after 75 minutes it had an element of luck as his shot deflected off Issa Diop. Zaha would, of course, have been suspended if Palace hadn't appealed against his two-game ban for sarcastically applauding the ref.

The commentators were scathing about the body language of sub Marko Arnautovic, though to be fair he always looks lethargic before often doing something special. Obiang and Zabalata came on to shore things up and despite the nervy finale — including an excellent save by Fabianski from Zaha — in the end it was a decent away point against a solid Crystal Palace side. Irons!

Friday, February 8

Should Arnie walk straight back into the side?

There's a strong case for fielding an unchanged side against Crystal Palace tomorrow. Marko Arnautovic might be our best and most physical striker, but after a fine performance against Liverpool it would send out a message that if you play well you stay in, by fielding an unchanged side. 

Javier Hernandez worked hard and did well early on against Liverpool, firing just wide and producing a good save from Alisson, while Antonio was tireless throughout and took his goal well. A little humility would also be good for Arnie. I'm sure he will be needed at some stage to offer some physical threat to Tomkins and Sakho, but I'd play the same side for the first half at least. 

Meanwhile I'm a little worried by the immutable law of the ex at Palace. Assuming that Tomkins and Kouyate will both score against us, and that Batshuayi will also inevitably score as we failed to sign him on loan, we're going to have to score four to win!