Sunday, May 19

West Ham Player Ratings: 2018-19

LUCASZ FABIANSKI 9/10:  Proved to be a significant upgrade and very consistent. Produced great saves almost routinely.

ADRIAN: 5/10: Only given Cup games due to form of Fabianski, but a loyal back-up.

PABLO ZABALETA: 6/10: Always gives it everything and an example to others, though at 34 he is starting to look alarmingly slow against fast wingers.

RYAN FREDERICKS: 6/10:  A very tentative start but towards the end of the season started to show his speed going forward and got in some match-saving tackles. 

ARTHUR MASUAKU 5/10: Had a terrible run of winter defensive blunders, but improved when restored towards the end of the season. Decent going forward but struggles unless played as a wing-back.

AARON CRESSWELL: 5/10: Had a great game against Arsenal but has generally looked depleted by his injuries and not the player he was three years ago.

ISSA DIOP: 8/10: Admired by Mourinho and had a great game at Spurs. Had a dip when he was rested but a fantastic prospect, good in the air and capable of rampaging runs forward.

FABIAN BALBUENA 7/10: A bargain at £3.5 million. Lacking a bit of pace, but makes some great interceptions and reads the game well. Was missed when out injured.

ANGELO OGBONNA 5/10: Has gone backwards since the final season at the Boleyn. Scored a few goals and did a job but seems to have lost his pace. 

MARK NOBLE 8/10: A great season from the skipper, who has benefitted from his hernia operations. The side always looked better with Nobes in it and he showed skill going forward too.

DECLAN RICE 9/10: Great season from the young Irishman/Englishman. Did the simple things well, scored a couple of goals and made some great tackles. Made the defensive midfield position his own.

ROBERT SNODGRASS 7/10: Showed fantastic character to win over the doubters and play in nearly every game. Became a bit of a cult for his workrate and very effective corners.

PEDRO OBIANG 5/10: An inconsistent season and looks like he might benefit from a change of club.

MANUEL LANZINI 6/10: Missed most of the season with serious injury but was starting to look back to his best in the defeat at Old Trafford.

CARLOS SANCHEZ 5/10: Hardly played because of injury. Despite giving a goal away against Wolves, he looked like he might be an effective defensive shield if given a run.

JACK WILSHERE 4/10: Undoubted class but tragically injury probe — who knew? At least he ended the season on a high returning to bag an assist against Southampton.

FELIPE ANDERSON 8/10: A little inconsistent and made a slow start, but weighed in with ten goals and produced some wonderful moments of magic. Could be West Ham's talisman and has even started to tackle back defensively.

SAMIR NASRI 6/10: Still has class and made the difference against Arsenal and Huddersfield. Suffered frustrating injuries, but worth persevering with.

GRADY DIANGANA 6/10: A good breakthrough season for the young winger, who showed no fear when taking on seasoned defenders. Needs to improve defensively but a fine prospect.

MICHAIL ANTONIO 7/10: Finally looks to have overcome his injury curse and has his speed back. Scored some important goals late on and knows how to celebrate with carpet stroking and silly dance moves.

JAVIER HERNANDEZ 6/10: Always likely to score when used as a sub but looks unsuited to playing as a lone striker. Still a great finisher but will he ever be more than a super sub?

MARKO ARNAUTOVIC 6/10. Great before Christmas, then a terrible dip and sulk after his move to China didn't happen. Looked more motivated in the last few games though and still managed to hit double figures.

ANDY CARROLL 4/10: Managed to score against Birmingham but this looked a season too far for the injury-prone big man.

LUCAS PEREZ 6/10: Looks poor outside the box, but he can certainly finish and with limited chances did well to score six goals.

ANDRIY YARMOLENKO 6/10: Had a brilliant game against Everton but then his season ended with injury. Has a great left foot and will be interesting to see what he does next season.

Friday, May 17

The FA Cup Final: our day will come?

As we all know West Ham lost to Liverpool on sodding penalties in the 2006 FA Cup Final. It's interesting to note some of the teams that have reached the Cup Final since: these include Portsmouth (twice), Cardiff City, Everton, Stoke City, Wigan, Hull City, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and now Watford. All clubs that are either smaller or of a comparable size to the Hammers. 

While if you look at the League Cup since West Ham reached the Final in 1981 and lost to Liverpool, it's been reached by Norwich, Sunderland, Oxford, QPR, Luton, Oldham, Sheffield Wed, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Bolton, Wigan, Birmingham, Cardiff, Swansea, Bradford City and Southampton.

No club has a given right to appear at a Wembley Final — but surely we must be due our turn soon? For a club of West Ham's size and fanbase, WHU has significantly underachieved since the glory days of 1975 and 1980.

Wednesday, May 15

One carpet in London

Actually I think this twitter meme is pretty funny… and come on you Reds in the Champions League Final! Anyone but Spurs...

Monday, May 13

West Ham's Rocket Men shoot into the top half

Watford 1 West Ham 4 (four)

It's not often you hear Elton John's Tiny Dancer playing on the street before an away match. And indeed, inside Vicarage Road the words of Your Song are on the main stand and Rocket Man is playing over the PA. I'm with my pal Peter, a member of the Radlett posse of Watford/Arsenal fans and John an exiled Grimsby fan. We're greeted by ridiculously friendly home fans swathed in yellow at this family-friendly club. 

The sides run out to I'm Still Standing by Elton John (this has proved controversial with Watford fans as they prefer the old choice of the Z-Cars theme). It's solid Watford pressure for the first 15 minutes but West Ham defend resolutely, with Rice having a great game against the combative Doucoure and Capoue. On 15 minutes West Ham break decisively, Mark Noble plays a one-two with Antonio but still has a lot to do as he shimmies past Kabasele and stroke it into the corner. I do my best to keep quiet. 

The Hammers double their lead six minutes before half time as Antonio powers past three defenders to fire against the bar and Lanzini heads the rebound in — Manuel's first goal of an injury-ravaged season. There's still time for Fabianski to make a great stop from Deeney's header before half time.

SUNDAY NIGHT'S ALRIGHT FOR SCORING
Two-nil up at the break what could possibly go wrong? Well, Zabaleta has come on for the injured Fredericks and plays a disastrous back pass almost straight from the kick off. Deulofeu takes advantage to poke it past Fabianski. Watford then miss a good chance to equalise and it looks like being an awkward afternoon.

The game changes again as Anderson plays Antonio through with a great ball. Holebas lays a hand on the West Ham striker on the edge of the box, stops a possible goalscoring opportunity and receives a red card. It's a little harsh and it will be sad if Holebas misses the FA Cup Final because of this. Ten-man Watford keep fighting, but Balbuena impresses with his interceptions and calm defending.

WE'RE STILL STANDING

Thankfully Watford's resistance proves to be like a Candle in the Wind. West Ham put the game to bed on 71 minutes as Anderson strokes Zabaleta's cross against the post and Arnautovic, who has worked hard, pokes home the rebound for his tenth league goal. It gets better as the excellent Antonio is felled in the box and Noble strokes home the penalty.

"We want five!" is the unusual chant from the Hammers' fans as sub Jack Wilshere pokes a great chance wide and Watford's defence starts to look like Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. It's our third win in a row and West Ham go above Watford to finish in the top half.

A very satisfying afternoon's work against a team distracted by the FA Cup Final. Though in a typical example of BBC bias it's not the first game on Match of the Day. I'm left feeling almost optimistic for next season. Irons!

PLAYER RATINGS: Fabianski 7; Fredericks 6 (Zabaleta 5), Balbuena 7, Diop 6, Masuaku 6; Lanzini 6 (Wilshere 5), Rice 7 (Sanchez 5), Noble 8, Anderson 7; Antonio 8, Arnautovic 7. 

Sunday, May 12

West Ham Observer verdict

My West Ham verdict is in today's Observer. I've given the lads 6.5 out of ten for a season of carpet-bagging and mid-table solidity. Click on the link to read…

Friday, May 10

Absolutely Fabianski

Pleased for Lucasz Fabianski to win the Hammer of the Year award. When he arrived I couldn't see he was much of an upgrade on Adrian, but my mate Huw, a Swansea fan, assured me that he was a fantastic keeper and a nice bloke who appreciated the fans. This has proved to be correct. Behind a porous defence he's been remarkably consistent and we've almost become blase to his regular wonder saves. He's certainly had a lot of work to do, with I think only the Huddersfield and Fulham keepers having to make more saves. He's proved a bargain at £7 million and is now in Pole position between the Hammers' sticks. Well done Lucasz.

Wednesday, May 8

Who will be in the Hammers clear-out?

It would be no surprise if ten or more players left the Irons this summer as Pellegrini continues to reshape the West Ham squad. Certainly Andy Carroll will be going as his contract expires and several strikers could also leave. Perez is a good finisher and has scored six goals for WHU, but will surely want first-team football, while Javier Hernandez is unlikely to fancy another season as a super-sub. I'd keep Arnautovic if his head is right, but a lot may depend on his agent brother. If he still fancies making yet more money then let him go, though his head has looked better in the last two matches.

Pedro Obiang is another player rumoured to be leaving, and might benefit from a change of club. At 33 Carlos Sanchez might not fancy being Rice's understudy and it seems Adrian will be going too. It would be no surprise if Pellegrini bought a new left back and sold Aaron Cresswell, who hasn't looked the same player since returning from serious injury. Arthur Masuaku might be at risk too, although his recent form might save him. If Manuel can get another centre back then we might see Ogbonna leave, another player who seems to have lost his pace.

Then there are the loanees, the metaphorical odd socks in Pellegrini's bottom drawer. Jordan Hugill will certainly be sold if WHU can get a buyer, while Reece Oxford definitely and possibly Edmilson Fernandes will be moved on. And there's even Sam Byram, who has been injured again at Nottingham Forest, but might be sold to a Championship club. So there will undoubtedly be a lot of market activity this summer and we could easily see up to a dozen players depart.