Thursday, October 31

Spurs away

So, another routine 3-0 win at white Hart Lane and we'll be in the Capital One Cup semi-final…

Wednesday, October 30

Into the last eight!

Burnley 0 West Ham 2 (Capital One Cup)

Never thought we'd get through this, but in the end a great away win thanks to late penalties from Matt Taylor and Jack Collison. As Sam points out we defended the last half an hour with a back four of Chambers, Ruddock, O'Brien and Potts against a side that's top of the Championship with two in-form strikers. It took the wiles of Nolan, on as sub, to finally win a penalty. Some valuable game time for Carlton Cole too. Though as the Guardian points out today we started with a strike force of Maiga and Cole, who have not scored for a combined total of 27 games! Good to get a result for a great turnout of 2000 Hammers fans. Should make interesting viewing on TV tonight and we stand every chance of landing a Chelsea or Man United in the quarter-finals.

Tuesday, October 29

Weakened side at Burnley

Not sure about the line-up of squad players tonight at Burnley. The team is : Adrian, Tomkins, Maiga, Taylor, O'Brien, Diame, C.Cole, J.Cole, Potts, Ruddock, Chambers. Yes, we need to rest some of the senior players who played at Swansea, but we also need to remember that the Capital One Cup is also our best chance of winning a trophy. It gave Swansea the greatest day in their history last season. We're only playing Tomkins and Diame who started on Sunday and it would have been nice to see a few more regulars like Reid, Noble and Jarvis or Downing selected. Still, a big chance for Carlton Cole. And it's not Neil Ruddock in the team by the way, but Pelly. 

Monday, October 28

Respecting the point

Swansea City 0 West Ham 0

Another credible point on the road, with WHU having conceded only one goal and a penalty away from home all season. If only we could win at home…

Looking at the MOTD highlights we have the better of the first half with Downing having a couple of early efforts and Demel sending a free header just over the bar late on. Our best chance comes straight after Jussi makes a fine save from Michu. Vaz Te breaks swiftly and finds Ravel Morrison, who pokes wide of goal when he should hit the target or find Diame in the box. Noble's back header almost embarrasses Vorm too. Sadly Vaz Te then has to go off after possibly dislocating his shoulder, reducing  our striking options even further.

Swansea improve in the second half and Jaaskelainen makes a superb save from Bony. It's good to see Carlton Cole make his second Hammers debut as a sub and he makes a difference. In fact it's extraordinary to see a West Ham forward win a header in the box to create a half-chance and then force a save with a flicked back-header. Swansea have a late penalty claim when the ball hits Joe Cole's elbow from short range, but it would have been a very harsh decision had it been given.

Best moment of the game is when Big Sam is caught laughing at Chico Flores rolling on the ground after a clash with Carlton Cole. The Swansea man has to be restrained from confronting Big Sam for taking the piss out of his dodgy theatrics. Might laughter reduce simulation in the modern game?

We just have to keep nicking points and hope Carroll eventually gets fit to inspire a run after Christmas. Meanwhile, at least playing Carlton Cole would give us a new option up front.

Saturday, October 26

When Morrissey met Bobby Moore

Unlikely West Ham reference in Morrissey's number one bestseller Autobiography. On page 68 he writes of his amazement at seeing the New York Dolls' album cover in 1972 at a time "when young men were assumed to want to look like Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves and Terry Venables." Mozzer also mentions his dad taking him to see George Best play for Man United at Old Trafford, only young Stephen faints… and the rest is musical history.

Wednesday, October 23

Bench marks

One of the papers pointed out that Manchester City's bench cost around £120 million on Saturday. This included Dzeko (£32m), Lescott (£24m), Jovetic (£22m), Kolarov (£20m), Milner (£19m) and Zabaleta (£7m). While we're sweating on our star £16 million signing Andy Carroll (City would pay that for a kit man) and our bench had a value of around £12m, with Jarvis at £9m and Taylor at £3m the only players to cost fees.

Tuesday, October 22

Orwell tribute side?

Is Big Sam trying to create a George Orwell tribute side? Nigel points out: "In Nineteen Eighty Four, O'Brien torments Winston over his terror of a Rat." While Matt adds: "If you want a picture of the future of supporting West Ham imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever. The Hammers have been Down and Out with George Parris and in London. And please don't mention The Road to Wigan Pier…" While sometimes watching WHU can feel like a Homage to Catatonia… 

Sunday, October 20

Manchester, so much to answer for…

West Ham United 1 Manchester City 3

Plenty of familiar faces in Ken’s CafĂ© in the hours before kick-off. My old mates Mark and Ian from Shenfield School are on the bacon baguettes, along with Mark’s two sons, eager to get into the ground for the pre-match entertainment (surely not as good as young Billy on plate duties). Jo from Whitstable arrives and reveals she heard the score was 3-0 at White Hart Lane and immediately assumed we’d lost.

Matt’s been clearing out his football annals and is dispensing old On A Mission From God and OLAS fanzines from 2000, while Highway Star Nigel arrives with My Woman From Tokyo (or is it Kew?) saying that Deep Purple at the Roundhouse was the gig of the year. There’s even a cameo from DC and the Wee Man.

At this point I dig out my Morrissey Autobiography, purchased from the Newham Bookshop, causing Matt to wonder if there will be Panic in the West Ham defence while Fraser later suggests that Some Goals Are Bigger than Others. Michael the Whovian claims to be at the New York Metropolitan Opera House (or is he just secretly watching the newly discovered Web of Fear?)

Surely miracles can’t happen twice in a fortnight? Manchester City haven’t won away all season, which is ominous. Sure enough City look slick from the start with Silva dominating midfield and Aguero looking sharp, despite the chants of “You’re just a shit Carlos Tevez!” Noble has a good game and Diame tries hard as a ghost striker but apart from one Diame shot wide we rarely threaten. Though we are playing exclusively on the floor in our new wingless formation.

Reid has to make a good tackle to deny Negredo early on. City score after 16 minutes when Reid and Tomkins appear to freeze and are beaten by a straight ball through the middle as Aguero slots calmly home.

Aguero has another shot saved and the ball is cleared after an almighty scramble. Reid makes another rare mistake and Toure gets in a powerful shot well saved by Jussi. Matt wonders if it's "Rolling Rat" after the full back wins a free-kick with a theatrical fall. West Ham rally a little to force a series of corners at the end of the first half, but City look like a side purchased by the richest club in Britain. 

At half-time we’re relieved it’s only 1-0 and CQ dispenses the lucky aniseed balls. But even they can’t help us as early in the second half Aguero wins a free kick on the edge of the box after being sandwiched by Reid and Demel. Aguero is then given the freedom of Upton Park to head in the free kick, being ignored by Nolan and Vaz Te. Jussi gets a hand to the ball but can’t keep it out. The City fans amuse themselves with cries of: “David Moyes is a football genius!”

A pitch invader suddenly emerges from the Lower East stand and is eventually tackled by three stewards after a lengthy chase across the pitch. “He showed quite a turn of pace,” muses Matt, wondering if the miscreant can play as a striker.

At least WHU show character at this point. We really give it a go with Rat prominent on the left and advancing to curl in some decent crosses. Suddenly we’re back in the game. Rat crosses, Downing heads to Morrison who scoops the ball into the box, and the previously ineffective Vaz Te scores with a brilliant overhead kick. We text Michael the Whovian but for some reason he doesn’t believe that Vaz has scored. 

City nearly reply with a third as Negredo wallops our bar. At this point Allardyce should surely bring on a striker but we continue to cross towards a Carroll-shaped hole. Allardyce brings off Jarvis for Vaz Te, which is strange, as Vaz has just scored. Jarvis pulls back a couple of inviting crosses but no one is on the end of them.

On 80 minutes City break with menace yet again. Toure finds Aguero who flicks on to Silva who scores with a delightful curled shot. Game over, and finally Big Sam brings on Petric. But it’s no disgrace to lose to City at the top of their game and you feel Morrison will benefit from a game against world-class players.

We retreat to the Central, where Jim Morrison appears to be playing in the front bar, and have a solitary pint before joining the queue at Upton Park tube. Should Cole or Petric play next week? Or do we persevere with ghost strikers? Let’s hope Swansea City are exhausted after the Europa League, because WHU need another result.

MATCH RATINGS: Jaaskelainen 6, Demel 6, Rat 7, Reid 5, Tomkins 5, Downing 7, Morrison 6, Noble 7, Diame 7, Nolan 5, Vaz Te 6. 

Saturday, October 19

Competition in defence

In the excitement of winning at Spurs it's easy to forget the changes WHU made in defence. Not sure why Big Sam dropped Collins before the Hull game as he'd been one of or best defenders this season, but Tomkins had a great game at Spurs and helps us distribute the ball from the back, rather that hoof it up towards Carroll (who isn't there) in the style of Ginge. Tomka is also more of a threat at set pieces. Joey O'Brien was also unlucky to be dropped as he's played well so far, but presumably Rat was bought to play (and did fairly well against the dangerous Townsend) and Demel appears to be Allardyce's favoured man at right-back, possibly because he's more intimidating that Joey. But with O'Brien and Collins keen to get their places back it can only be good for the team and also gives us the option of a five-man defence with wing-backs in some games.

Thursday, October 17

Ravel with a cause

Quite a week for Ravel Morrison. He's followed his goal against Spurs with a wonder chip in training for England Under-21s and then two more in the game against Lithuania, the second another stunner. So it's almost a relief that he's got in a bit of trouble too, having an argument with Wilfried Zaha when the Man United winger wanted to know why he wasn't passing to him. Norwich's Steve Redmond had to separate the pair after Ravel pushed Zaha. It's proof to his suitors that Morrison is not yet the finished item and hopefully the incident will give Ravel something to ponder too. Probably the worst thing that can happen for West Ham is if Roy Hodgson picks Morrison as a wildcard for the World Cup and he has a great tournament, alerting the world's biggest clubs. Hopefully Big Sam will insist to Roy that he's nowhere near ready for the World Cup… even if he really is.

Wednesday, October 16

Maiga scores!

Never mind England qualifying for the World Cup. Something even more sensational happened last night. Modibo Maiga scored with a header for Mali during their 3-1 defeat by South Korea. Is he about to go on a run for the Hammers?

Tuesday, October 15

Always believe in Carlton Cole (eventually)

Meet the new striker - same as the old striker! West Ham have finally signed Carlton Cole on a three-month deal having beaten off stiff competition from, erm, West Ham, while Carlton got fit. It certainly increases our options up front and is good news for everyone except Modibo Maiga. We now prefer either no strikers or a player who's been out of contract to our £4 million signing.

When Harry met Billy

Some interesting comments about his fall out with Billy Bonds in the serialisation of Harry Redknapp's new book Managing: My Autobiography in the Daily Mail. Harry says of joining Bonzo at West Ham: "He was a fantastic fella. But in the Premier League world of modern football, he was increasingly a man out of time… West Ham had been relegated, bottom of Division One with a stupidly low points tally. They were a shambles. Bill was upset that I said it publicly, but the club was too easy-going." 

Clearly much of the friction resulted from Redknapp, despite being number two, being the manager of the side in all but name. His hands were all over the transfer deals and great player and decent man that Bonds was, you do feel West Ham would have struggled had he remained in sole charge. The board realised this when Bournemouth approached Redknapp to become manager, and panicked, offering to move Bonds upstairs and make Redknapp manager. 

Redknapp writes revealingly: "Billy clearly feels I overstepped the mark as his assistant. He says I gave interviews before matches on Sky discussing tactics but that is certainly not my recollection of it. Yes, I was direct in my approach at times but it was Billy who asked for my help. Once I had accepted that invitation I wasn’t in the business of being relegated. I was at West Ham to have a proper go. I still do not understand why Bill would take that personally. It was as if he wanted me to do a job, and then when I did that job and it got noticed, he didn’t like it."

Ironically the combination that might have worked well would have been Redknapp as manager and Bonds as assistant. Meanwhile it's fair to assume Christmas cards will not be exchanged. 

Tuesday, October 8

Ravel time

Every paper seems to have an article on Ravel Morrison today. The Daily Telegraph has a nice story from Lee Clark, who at Birmingham told Ravel he could be the best player since Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne. Morrison looked dumbfounded as he had no idea who Gazza was. Since he left Manchester at least most of his problems appear to have been about timekeeping rather than police-related, and after his spell at Birmingham, Ravel appears to have properly matured. Now Big Sam, Nolan and the rest have to keep him grounded - and away from Essex nightclubs. But if he maintains this level of progress we'll soon be fending off offers from all over Europe. It's important we keep Ravel and have genuine hope moving into the Olympic Stadium in 2016.

Sunday, October 6

Lasagne is a dish best served cold

Tottenham Hotspur 0 
West Ham 3 (three!)

Manage to catch the game in an East London boozer that serves good beer. It's a nice day for a pint with Lisa and Matt even if we are sure to lose 4-0 with Defoe getting a hat-trick. And we're playing with no strikers. Still, we start well, making headway down the flanks with Downing delivering a dangerous cross that Nolan heads wide, Reid just fails to connect with another header, and we're playing in neat triangles with our six midfielders and quick to the ball. We can hear Twist and Shout from the away fans. Tottenham's defence is dumbfounded by the ghost striker Spanish-style formation of  tactical genius Grande Samuel Allardicio. The best chance of the half comes after a clever chipped free kick from Noble that Nolan volleys just wide, while Red just fails to connect with a corner. We're happy with 0-0 at half-time.

Spurs step it up at the start of the second half, with Jussi saving a one-on-one with Defoe. But he always seems to score against us. Could it be our day? The excellent Tomkins, sporting Mr Rocheser-style sideburns, produces a fine save from Lloris after a Hammers corner. "You know West Ham could win this," suggests the commentary team. Surely not?

Morrison, Noble and Diame are dictating play in midfield and we're keeping the ball on the ground. On 66 minutes we win a corner. Winston Reid connects, the ball rebounds off Nolan and back to Winston and bang, it's in the net! YEEEEEEEES! An away goal. Extraordinary. Who put the ball in the Tottenham net? Winston Winston Reid! We glance at the clock. Oh no, 24 minutes left.

Surely we'll defend deep and bugger it up as normal. Only Noble slips a ball thrpough a ball to Vaz Te who outpaces Walker on the left and shoots straight at Lloris. The ball rebounds straight back on to Vaz's knee and into the net! YAAAAAY!!!  Less the Hand of God and more the Knee of Vaz. "Now I'm really worried," says Matt. We text Michael the Whovian in delight to inform him his favourite player has scored. Meanwhile Nigel is dancing in the lanes of the New Forest where his mum lives.

Two-nil and we effed it up? Remember the Cup Final? This can't be happening. Or can it? on 79 Diame spins brilliantly to release Morrison in his own half. He advances with deceptive pace into the Spurs half, skips round the lumbering Dawson and then the static Vertonghen and chips the ball over Lloris. The ball trickles over the line as Ravel turns away to nonchantly celebrate. OHMYGGGGGGGGGGGOOOOD!!! EAT LASAGNE SPURS! THREE GOALS IN 13 MINUTES! "He made that look like a training ground goal," muses a gobsmacked Matt. "But he should have followed it up before celebrating." We're seeing something special here.

It's all Bubbles now. You wait all season for one away goal and then three turn up at White Hart Lane. The Spurs fans think there's a fire drill and the West Ham section goes effing mental. Lord Sugar! Sir Gary Lineker! Ricardo Villa! Christian Gross! AVB! Small Paul Ince! Chas and Dave! Can you hear me Chas and Dave? We're giving your boys one hell of a beating!

Joe Cole comes on and we nearly score a fourth. We haven't won at White Hart Lane since 1643. The whistle blows. Allardicio, still looking like Gene Hunt with his tie undone, smiles and clenches his fists. "Will Andy Carroll get his place back?" I muse. Matt and Lisa contemplate buying matching West Ham onesies. We go effing mental too and order more bottles of light ale. It's time to text all those Tottenham fans and offer lasagne for dinner. Clearly a dish best served cold.

Will we ever score away?

Interesting stat from the BBC preview of today's game: "Every one of the other 159 teams in the top seven divisions in England scored more away goals than West Ham last season." The only time we scored twice away last season was at QPR. We're now in the bottom three and heading to White Hart Lane where we hardly ever win, and Jermain Defoe is certain to score. All of which makes me feel that, football being football, Modibo Maiga will get a hat-trick and we'll beat them, to quote Micharl Palin, "8 bloody 1!". Nurse, the screens.

Friday, October 4


Anyone fancy a Hammers onesie? Now in stock at the Hammers Store. Not sure what Gok Wan would make of this, but think I'll stick to my retro 1970s away shirt. Stiill, might be useful for keeping Andy Carroll in one piece.

Tuesday, October 1

Collison out, Danny Dyer in?

Jack Collison has gone on loan to Bournemouth and may play at Leeds tonight. Regular football should do him good. Jack looked like becoming a great player in the Zola years, but sadly his knee injury now means we have to manage his appearances. Meanwhile Danny Dyer is the new landlord at the Queen Vic in EastEnders. Another missed opportunity for Big Sam? He could surely do a job up front for West Ham, being youngish, fit, a geezer and, of course, well hard.