Friday, May 30

Oh Teddy Teddy Teddy… went to West Ham and he coached us all!

So West Ham's new attacking coach is Teddy Sheringham. As a player for WHU he was a great signing by Alan Pardew and even at approaching 40 he still played with real intelligence. He's played for some top managers like Ferguson, Clough and Redknapp too, so let's hope he can impart some insights to Carroll, Zarate, Cole and even Modibo Maiga. Expect a large consignment of barn doors, bovine posteriors and banjos to arrive at Chadwell Heath any day now…

Thursday, May 29

Hammers sign Zarate kid

West Ham have signed striker Mauro Zarate from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina, where he was top scorer last season with 13 goals in 19 games. The 27-year-old has clearly got some pedigree having played in the Argentina Under-20 side with Aguero. Zarate scored four times in 14 games while on loan at Birmingham in 2008, so Sullivan, Gold and Brady should know something of his character. At Lazio he scored 25 goals in 102 games and had a brief loan spell at Inter.

He’s also got an, ahem, interesting disciplinary record and reputation, having been in trouble for being pictured apparently giving a fascist salute with the Lazio Ultras while suspended for insulting a referee (he claimed not to know the salute's significance or to have heard of Hitler or Mussolini) and was also in trouble for for going on holiday with his family in the Maldives when he was meant to be having treatment in Argentina.

No mention has been made of what fee we have paid for him, which suggests it must be quite a lot. The club has been quick to post a clip of Zarate scoring with a stunning overhead kick, so let’s hope he can provide the entertainment promised. He certainly looks the sort of player who can benefit from the physical presence of Andy Carroll…

Saturday, May 24

Hit the road Jack and George

So Joe Cole, Jack Collison and George McCartney are definitely being released by West Ham. A previous blog dealt with Joe Cole, but it's also sad to see the 33-year-old 'Linda' McCartney go. He's been a great signing on a free transfer and has given us three years' service of quiet consistency. He didn't complain when played at centre back and saw off the challenge of Rat and Armero last season, so let's hope we can finally sign a good young replacement. Sadly his departure will ruin all my "Get Back McCartney!" jokes too.

Jack Collison looked like being a great player under Zola until that terrible knee injury, but he came back well to star on our play-off semi-final win at Cardiff, and  has the admiration of everyone at Upton Park for so bravely play against Millwall after the death of his father in a motorbike accident. It doesn't look like his knee will stand top-level football anymore, but let's hope he gets a good club at Championship level.

Thursday, May 22

Who will be West Ham's attacking coach?

Still no word on who will be WHU's new attacking coach. Fellow season-ticket holder Matt has already suggested it will be Kevin Nolan, who'll tell the lads to lump it towards the big man, boss. Or maybe Kevin Davies. John Radford might be available along with Iain Dowie who could teach us how to score ugly goals. David Kelly and Mike Small could teach our strikers new ways of getting caught offside, while Trevor Morley could suggest going down like a rag doll very time Bish plays you in. While John Hartson might have some interesting refuelling suggestions and Paolo Di Canio would be brilliant for the first half an hour until he walks off. Though if That's Entertainment is what we want, perhaps we should just get in Paul Weller as Style Counsellor.

Tuesday, May 20

Allardyce stays

So the board has just announced it's retaining Sam Allardyce, though the key part of its statement is surely this section from Gold and Sullivan mentioning the West Ham Way:

"We have a very clear vision of how we want West Ham United to operate under our joint ownership. Although not everybody understands the West Ham Way, we do and we respect it as we have been supporters all our lives. We believe this is about a philosophy that is not just about the style of play, but the whole ethos that surrounds the Club. Sam was asked to give us a detailed presentation on his vision for next season and during this he assured us that he can deliver that ethos to West Ham United and we have agreed to support him with the resources that he needs. We have mapped out a way forward with him that will ensure our much-deserving fans have more to cheer about next season."

On one hand you have to be careful what you wish for, as Allardyce keeps teams up. But this is his last chance at WHU and he has to produce more entertaining football. Big Sam can't claim not to have any idea what the West Ham way is, as his own chairmen are very clear they do know what it is. He's also been forced to agree to a new attacking coach, which is hardly a vote of confidence in his methods. Many fans will be disappointed that he hasn't gone today, but he's surely been told that things have to improve and hopefully instructed to be less arrogant in his dealings with the fans. Now Big Sam has to prove that he can get the Academy flowing again and with better players create a proper West Ham side

Allardyce has basically been retained after a vote of not much confidence. And if things don't get better — including, as well as better football, scoring from set pieces which is supposed to be his side's strength — then he could still be gone by Christmas.

Farewell Joey Cole

No surprise that Joey Cole is on how way, though every Irons fan will wish him well. Joey still had an eye for goal scoring three times last season, but it looked as if his legs had gone after too many injuries and he wasn't mobile enough for the modern Premier League. He's won stacks of medals at Chelsea, but never really been given a chance in the middle behind the strikers which many thought would be his best position. 

Cole's departure means that West Ham fans are no longer so haunted by the 'golden generation' of talent that escaped the club after relegation. Rio Ferdinand is on his way out at Man United, Jermain Defoe has moved to Canada, Michael Carrick can't have long left at Man United, Frank Lampard is probably in last season at Chelsea and only Glen Johnson has a few more years left at Liverpool. 

And interestingly, the Daily Mail claims that one of the things that may cost Sam Allardyce his job is the stalling of the Academy production line. The club that produced Cole, Carrick, Ferdinand and Lampard should be finding more talent, yet since James Tomkins no Academy products have become first-team regulars

Saturday, May 17

Two-nil and someone else f••ked it up!

Phew. 2-0 and someone else f••ked it up in the FA Cup Final. I was waiting for Paul Konchesky to get the winner late on. Arsenal fans going wild - expect a run on designer cheeses and white wine in Highbury tonight…

Tuesday, May 13

Big Sam stays — for now

The Guardian reports that after today's board meeting no decision will be made on Sam Allardyce's future until another board meeting in ten days time. Wonder if the Davids are waiting to see how season ticket sales go… or is Sam is being sent on a ten-day crash course to learn the West Ham Way?

Monday, May 12

Obliging opponents for the Champions

Manchester City 2 West Ham 0

We're in Homerton for a house-warming and it's into the Adam and Eve with host Matthew, who's meant to be out shopping, to see West Ham win the league for either City or Liverpool. My WHU pal Matt texts early to say that he and Lisa are at Platt Lane for the Under 18 play-off, before moving on to the National Football Museum and then the match. His ideal day.

The Hackney-brewed Railway Porter is very palatable in the Adam and Eve, though there's a bizarre dispute in the pub as it starts with Liverpool v Newcastle, only for various groups off West Ham and City fans to harangue the bar staff and get it changed to the City game after five minutes. West Ham are playing in a horrible new kit that looks like a navy blue t-shirt and go into familiar containment mode. Adrian makes a fine save from Zabaleta and we defend reasonably well, until Nasri is allowed to shoot from distance. Adrian is a little slow getting down to it and it's 1-0 to City. City hit the post before the break.

The game is settled soon after half-time when Dzeko turns and finds Kompany who pokes home following a City corner, West Ham are obliging opponents against an admittedly multi-talented side. Taylor has a shot wide and Carroll fluffs his one half chance in a colourless performance. Aguero misses a sitter for City and Adrian makes a decent block with his feet, Carlton Cole and Joe Cole come on and the inevitable soon happens.

There's a massive pitch invasion and Matt texts "I know it is a big deal beating a team with Joey O'Brien and Carlton Cole in it, but this is a bit over the top!"

We've finished 13th which is better than expected at Christmas, but ended with a whimper in this game. The players can put on their flip-flops, while the fans wait for clarity on the managerial situation. An interesting summer awaits. Meanwhile thanks to Lisa for the pics of Citeh's big day:

Friday, May 9

Question time with Dicksy

More pics of the Stop! Hammer Time podcast with Julian Dicks. Plenty of blokes with shaved heads and as Phil Whelans joked, the pub was decorated "in the style of a Ukip meeting in Norwich." David Dimbleby look out… Click on the link to hear the podcast.

Thursday, May 8

An evening with Julian Dicks

Enjoyed an audience with Hammers legend Julian ‘Biffer’ Dicks at the Stop! Hammer Time live podcast last night. Some 70 Hammers fans gathered in the upstairs bar of The Horse at North Lambeth, where Dicksy was interviewed by Phil Whelans, Sam Delaney and Jim Grant. I found myself sitting with former stadium announcer Jeremy Nicholas, who was waiting for Mr Moon to arrive, and Chris, an Australian Hammer, while supping some rather good Ilkley Black real ale.

Fortified by bottles of Budweiser, Julian is not exactly Alan Shearer, being as uncompromising a pundit as he was a player. Dicks had some very funny tales of always being covered by a fog of smoke in chain-smoker John Lyall’s office and how Lou Macari called him a “fat bastard” and he called him a “f**king midget” back. Macari wanted the side to play long ball but Dicksy and the lads "said bollocks to that!". He had some sympathy for Billy Bonds though, recalling, “I must have been a c**t to manage”. He’s clearly no fan of West Ham’s current “s**t football” and was quick to tell us that “Prozone is bollocks”, and controversially that Trevor Morley was a much better striker than Andy Carroll (he does seem to have a claret and blue-tinted view of the Billy Bonds side that, after all, did got relegated). 

Dicks said that none of the current back four can play football because they can’t pass a ball thirty yards and that Winston Reid is an average defender.He doesn't rate Morrison much either. Dicksy also said that modern players are all muscular clones and reminisced about the time when West Ham players were all mates and went out together and players stayed after training to practice their skills. He ended up by advocating removing Big Sam and getting a West Ham man in as manager. Then it all ended with cries of "Julian Julian Julian!" Next time maybe he’ll say what he really thinks… Click on the link for the Stop! Hammer Time podcast.

We're gonna win the League, tra-la-la-la-la

Looking forward to seeing West Ham win the league on Sunday. Ironic Liverpool's hopes now resting on Downing, Carroll and Joe Cole…

Sunday, May 4

Tottenham Hotspur… It's happened again!

West Ham United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0

In Ken’s CafĂ© Matt has been working the night shift and has only slept for two hours, so Lisa is worried he might not have the energy to swear at the ref with his usual gusto. Michael the Whovian is carrying a sealed box marked ‘fragile’ that he’s picked up from the sorting office, which appears to be a metaphor for our season. DC arrives offering more tickets than Ticketmaster and leaves a single behind Ken’s counter for The Gav (delayed in the Blackwall Tunnel) to collect. The early kick-off is putting a strain on Ken’s resources, as I head off to the game leaving Michael, Matt and Lisa still waiting for their orders.

A lot happens in the first ten minutes. Adrian boots a clearance straight at Kane and the ball bounces just wide of his post. West Ham force a couple of corners and Diame has a header that bounces on top of the bar, while a Spurs break on the right sees Sigurdsson and Eriksen find Adebayor in a good position only to sidefoot tamely to Adrian.

Then the latecomers from Ken’s arrive and Fraser (wearing special end of season blue suede shoes) points out that McCartney is up against Lennon, so he’d better Get Back and may need some Help. From then on it’s all the Hammers and Downing has a great game, getting crosses in and spraying the ball around nicely. Diame is having a fine match too and we start to look like we want it more than Spurs.

Downing races past the defence and is about to get a shot away only to be hauled down by Kaboul. It’s a straight red for the Spurs man and though we celebrate we’re also waiting for Big Sam to start saying, “it’s always difficult to play against ten men.” From the resulting free kick Andy Carroll belts a shot towards the top corner only to be thwarted by a great save from Lloris. From the corner Andy Carroll rises brilliantly at the back post to get in a header that deflects of Kane’s head into the back of the net. Carroll runs to the Chicken Run claiming it, but it goes down as an own goal.

“It’s happened again… it’s happened again… Tottenham Hotspur… it’s happened again!” chants all four sides of the gleeful Boleyn Ground.

Downing produces another great cross, Lloris punches clear and then has to make another fine stop from Matt Taylor’s half-volley. This is odd – we’re playing really well. West Ham go two up a minute before the break. Noble is brought down and Downing shoots the free kick straight through Spurs’ feeble wall.

The Bobby Moore Stand is now chanting,“Oh when the Spurs go 2-0 down!” We go in two-nil up at the break, though Nigel does text to say that Spurs were 3-0 down at WBA before coming back to draw 3-3.

Yet the second half begins with more West Ham dominance. Lloris is having a fantastic game. Downing gets another good cross in from the right and the Spurs’ keeper produces a fine save from Diame’s acrobatic overhead kick, before Taylor shoots wide. Andy Carroll then flicks on and Kevin Nolan looks certain to score with a trademark volley only for the keeper to block with his knee.

“Can we play you every week?” chant the Irons’ fans. Aaron Lennon starts to Imagine all the people laughing at the Spurs. And then a mischievous chant goes up of: “We want you to say, we want you to stay, Tim  Sherwood… we want you to stay!”

There’s something of a carnival atmosphere in the Bobby Moore Stand. There’s a group of fans in surfing shirts waving palm trees with a banner “Hawaiian Hammers We Wear What We Want”, next to the mysterious “West Ham I’ve Got Chickens in my Backyard” banner.

I can see a little bit of hope for next season here. It’s not exactly champagne football, but we’re creating lots of chances and if Downing could play with this confidence in a side that isn’t fighting relegation West Ham might do something.

Matt has a shout at Diame for dribbling into trouble, just for old time’s sake, but apart from a Soldado volley wide West Ham’s only worry is when Rose dribbles through and Adrian makes a great save to tip it over.

If we could play Spurs every week we’d be top of the league. The sun comes out in appreciation of West Ham securing safety. We go down to the lower East Stand for the lap of appreciation as the players come on with their kids. Adrian does some showboating with a red hat and waves a Spanish flag matador-style before giving his flag to the fans. Fraser almost cheers Big Sam.

A fine day ends with two cigars for Fraser and a trip to the Black Lion where we respect the pint, which is a very good drop of Old Bob, and watch the relegation of Cardiff and Fulham with impunity. It’s been a strange and sometimes infuriating season, but beating Spurs three times is something to remember. And now all we have to do is stop Manchester City winning the league next Sunday.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Demel 6 Tomkins 6 Reid 7 McCartney 6; Downing 8, Diame 7, Noble 7, Taylor 7, Nolan 7 (Jarvis 5); Carroll 7 (C Cole 5).