Thursday, July 31

Oh Carroll and Ravel: A week is a long time in West Ham politics

Made the mistake of spending a week in Brussels and Amsterdam thinking that not a lot would happen on the West Ham front in July. We were visiting the Rene Magritte Museum (Belgian painter geezer) in Brussels when Matt texted to say that Andy Carroll is out for four months. At first I thought this was some kind of Magritte-style surrealist joke, but sadly it turned out to be true. Big Andy has done his ankle ligaments on the New Zealand tour and has flown to the US for an operation.

It's all very worrying when you look at his injury record: one month out with a hamstring problem after his first WHU game in September 2012, two months out with a twisted knee in November 2012 and seven months out with his heel injury in May 2013, followed by his latest four-month setback. That's 14 months of injuries so far. Before his latest injury I was  defending AC to my 13-year-old daughter Nell who keeps telling me that AC doesn't score enough goals and is always injured, but now it seems she might be right — as she was about it being stupid of WHU to appoint Avram Grant after his Portsmouth side were relegated. Big Andy really has to get fit and put in a full 12 months now.

While at the Flanders Museum in Ypres (all about young Brits going over the top via route one against better-armed foreign opposition so no WHU links there) further texts revealed that West Ham had lost 2-1 to Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand (though at least Zarate scored from the bench), with Kouyate and Tomkins being injured by over-zealous tackling, and then we lost 3-1 to Sydney, with Demel getting injured. Now Big Sam has gone public and said the tour was a trip too far.

Big Sam also said that Ravel Morrison was not part of his plans, before being publicly rebuked by David Sullivan who stated that the board disagreed and wanted to offer Ravel a new contract. Big Sam then appeared to backtrack and say that he would offer Morrison a chance if he worked hard. And today it emerges that Ravel Morrison has been charged with assaulting two women (his ex-girlfriend and her mother) outside a bar in Manchester in the early hours of Sunday morning and then at a house in Salford. He's been remanded in custody until August 7. Innocent until proven guilty of course, but in the wrong city in the wrong place and attracting trouble again.

On the positive side, at least we're getting our crises in early…

Friday, July 18

Viva Valencia

We've finally got Enner Valencia for £12 million, so let's hope he adapts from Mexican football quickly. Perhaps it was the prospect of playing with Ricardo Vaz Te that enticed him to Upton Park, suggests Michael the Whovian. West Ham have certainly spent some dosh this summer. Kouyate was said to be £7 million, Creswell £2 million, Zarate maybe £5 million (though undisclosed) and the £12 million for Enner brings us up to £26 million, which must be our budget spent. Five players out in Joe Cole, Collison, McCartney, Taylor and Diarra, but that's still a hefty investment, suggesting the board are really trying to turn things around this summer.

Tuesday, July 15

What World Cup? Hammers force draw at Stevenage

I can report that my fellow season ticket holder Matt took his partner Lisa on a romantic mini-break to see West Ham draw 2-2 with mighty Stevenage on Saturday. He was rewarded with rare headed goals from Jarvis and Downing...

This is the Enner, my friend

Ecuador's striker Enner Valencia is having a medical at West Ham and looks likely to join for £11 million. On the evidence of his three World Cup goals the 24-year-old Valencia is good in the air (two of his goals were headers) and reminds me of a younger, more mobile and skilful Carlton Cole. His record of seven goals in 13 games for Ecuador looks impressive, while he scored 18 in 23 games for Mexican club Pachuca last season. 

Though let's hope we researched him properly rather than just going on the World Cup (where Two Bob Florin and Dumitrescu made their names before being rubbish for WHU and players are always overpriced after a good tournament). More intriguingly West Ham now have three strikers in Valencia, Zarate and Carroll, with Cole, Maiga and VazTe as back-up. How will three strikers fit into Sam's one striker at all times policy? And does the arrival of Valencia mean that Kevin Nolan will become an impact sub? Interesting times at WHU.

Sunday, July 13

London calling on new WHU crest

The new club crest has been unveiled and I think it's OK - the crossed Hammers are reminiscent of the 1960s shirts and it's a nice simple design. There's some great footage of the Thames Ironworks on the West Ham fans' poll too. I think it would be better if the word "United" was the same size as the "West Ham" and I still have some reservations about "London" having such prominence. Though if on a global scale it gets over the idea that "there's only one team in London", that can't be bad. Or is David Sullivan overestimating the influence of London branding? If we must have it, could another alternative be to include "East London" on the badges, which reflects the songs we sing and the club's heritage?

Friday, July 11

From West Ham reject to World Cup Final

The Daily Mirror has a big piece on Javier Mascherano headlined: "Argentina World Cup hero Javier Mascherano goes from Mullins' back-up to the Maracana." While the Daily Mail runs a similar story headlined, "Javier goes from West Ham reject to the World Cup Final." The Mirror does claim there were suspicions West Ham couldn't play Mascherano that often because of financial clauses in his contract, but it still seems incredible that Pards only started him five times and Curbishley didn't select him at all. And for a time Marlon Harewood was played ahead of Tevez. Hayden Mullins, now at Notts County, was an honest player — but clearly not in the same league as Mascherano, even if Javier might have had settling in problems in London. Only West Ham could manage to mess up signing two world class players and also get fined £5million for doing an iffy third party ownership deal…

Thursday, July 10

Optimism shock at Upton Park

If this carries on we might even be feeling optimistic about the new season. West Ham have got their transfer business in early and have purchased a new Argentine striker in Zarate, a defensive midfielder of some potential who has won the Belgian league in Senegal's Kouyate, a young midfield prospect in Diego Poyet and a young left back in Aaron Cresswell. Now Sky claims we're in for Ecuador's striker Enner Valencia who scored three times at the World Cup, while ESPN claims we're after Dnipro's 24-year-old Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. 

These may not happen, but it's evidence that the two Davids have got fed up with mere survival via pragmatic football and are flashing the cash because they want to create a side capable of being in the top half or better next season. It could of course all go wrong. I remember being optimistic at the signing of Mexico's Pablo Berrara by Avram Grant, who was an international star but never got going at Uptom Park. 

We'll soon see how good the new signings are, but they are surely an upgrade on Joe Cole, McCartney, Taylor, Collison and Diarra (who has just been paid off at some expense). And if we are looking at any other South Americans, I wonder if that Javier Mascherano who starred for Argentina last night is any relation to the Javier Mascherano who was kept out of the West Ham side by Hayden Mullins?

Wednesday, July 9

Seven bloody one!

Well, that was the biggest 7-1 shocker since West Ham beat Hull City 7-1 in 1990 and even Steve Potts scored…

Monday, July 7

Poyet arriving?

Strong rumours West Ham are going to sign Diego Poyet, son of Gus Poyet, on a free transfer from Charlton. He impressed in Charlton's midfield in the second half of last season winning their player of the year award and at 18 is one for the future. A future midfield of Morrison, Poyet and Noble could be exciting for both WHU and maybe England. Poyet would  also give us our best Fancy Dan midfielder flowing Barnet since Ian Bishop…

Friday, July 4

Alan Dickens lives!

The new home kit quite closely resembles the shirts from The Boys of '86 season with its thin white lines on claret. I'd still prefer blue sleeves on a WHU kit, but overall I'll be happy enough if we finish third again.Click on the link to view on the West Ham website.

Thursday, July 3

Cresswell coming

More changes at Upton Park. We've signed Ipswich Town's left back Aaron Cresswell. At a fee of around £2 million his price isn't too high and at 24 he's young to improve too. Mick McCarthy seems to rate him, though it would be interesting to hear what any regular Ipswich watchers think of him. Meanwhile WHU legend Tony Carr, the man who discovered Ferdinand, Carrick, Lampard, Cole and co is moving upstairs and former Luton and Derby manager Terry Westley is coming in to run the Academy. It says everything about TC that John Terry, Big Fat Frankie Lampard and Joe Cole (then at Chelsea) all returned to Upton Park for his testimonial. You'll be missed Tony.

Hammers Googled

Interesting developments with this right to be forgotten on Google. Wonder if West Ham will ask for the last 34 years to be erased from all search engines? Or failing that at least our relegation seasons…