Sunday, May 20

Farewell Ginger Pele?

So it's probably goodbye to James Collins, the Ginger Pele, fans' favourite and a great servant to West Ham. The press stories about him being dumped by email seem to be a bit of media spin, as he already knew he was being released and the email was apparently only a written confirmation. Though the latest reports on BBC and Sky now state that his contract ends next month and the new manager will have the final say on whether he is retained.

Mark Noble made a public plea for the club to keep him at the end of the Everton game. Should we keep Ginge? In purely football terms, probably no, as he's 35 in August, he only played 13 games last season and is increasingly injury-prone. So a younger signing to play alongside Ogbonna, Reid and Rice would make sense. Though in terms of morale, his presence would help both the fans and dressing room, so on that basis he should surely get another year's contract. He plays like he cares and that's pretty incalculable in monetary terms.

Whatever happens, his second spell at the Hammers has seen Collins feature in six eventful seasons. Two of his most memorable performances for me were his role in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford during the 2006-07 Great Escape season and a towering game against Man City when we beat them 2-1 at Upton Park under Big Sam. In between his two spells with the Irons James also played in an Aston Villa side that finished sixth. 

Collins played like he enjoyed defending, getting in tackles and putting his head on crosses. It's a lost art — Rudiger showed a little of that ability for Chelsea in the Cup Final yesterday — and we need more proper defenders. While let's not forget an epic ginger beard (he was likened to Gandalf by Garth Crooks) and the fact he was always the last player off the pitch after thanking the fans. If he does go, he'll be missed.

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