Monday, 26 December 2011

Away at Birmingham

This game has given many different views. So I thought I best do mine, I purposely left it a little while after, just so I could look back at it sensibly.

1st Half:

Well what can I say, we managed what we have so many times this season, straight out of the blocks putting Birmingham under pressure and it didn't long to pay off when come the third minute Carlton Cole uses his strength to pass the defence a power a left footed shot home into the bottom right corner, what a goal it was too and hopefully should silence his critics for a little while longer. The team kept up the pressure and we kept looking dangerous, especially out wide, Birmingham's full backs could not cope with the pace of Faubert and a few times he managed to get a dangerous ball into the box and it should have been 2-0 had it not been for an amazing save from Boaz Myhill to deny Cole his second of the game when he controlled a ball into his feet and on the turn fired at goal with great power, but the keeper was equal to it somehow. West Ham also had a decent penalty shout when a cross came in and Faubert threw his head towards the ball but didn't connect cleanly, the ball then landed right on Murphy's out stretched arm, I don't think anyone noticed it though as nobody really appealed for it. Whenever Birmingham got forward they didn't look much of a threat, struggling to find space with our defensive line holding strong and our midfield dropping to assist, every cross into the box Green gathered with most ease and it was a very good display from our keeper. Overall West Ham were unlucky to not be 2 or 3 up but that's football!

2nd Half:

This was a completely different game, Birmingham started to keep the ball and find plenty of space and you could tell this boosted their sides confidence as they probed for an equaliser, they seemed to win most 50-50 chances and not long into the half they brought on Zigic for Wood, who us Hammers remember very well for ruining our Carling Cup hopes, now here he was trying to ruin our day once more. The more pressure put on our side, the more it felt they panicked, the team start aimlessly kicking the ball towards Cole and it just wasn't working as the big man was isolated and unable to do anything too effective. We then picked up 4 yellow cards in dangerously quick succession, Nolan, Faubert and McCartney which leaves them out of the game away to Derby and also Noble who is now on his 4th of the season. Then the Birminghams pressure gave the home fans something to cheer, they finally got a goal from a set play and it would be no other than Murphy who could have handed us a gift in the first half. This really rattled West Ham and they kept kicking the ball long yet having no luck with it, we brought on Lansbury for picking who made a little change as he is confident on the ball, producing a good shot that Myhill was comfortable with and also causing another potential penalty when he challenged for the ball with Spector and the ball did hit his arm, but it may have been a harsh decision, the referee must have seen it though as he was very close and watching the action as could be seen from replays. It was tough to say who had more chances in this period, the ball seemed to just keep pinging between the two defences and no one really looked like they had the answer, the introduction of Carew for Cole made little difference as then it was Carew who looked isolated, Sears came on for Faubert towards the end and had a couple of nice runs but there wasn't much end product on our side.

In the end I think a point was very well earned, we had the first half won, Birmingham the second and considering Birmingham have not lost at home, it was a good point to take and our away record still looks good. I think the one issue I saw was our team struggled with long balls as they often ended up going to the other team or leaving our front man stuck with nowhere to go, if we are to use them in tough situations then the side definitely need to work on it as it ended up putting more pressure on our side than the opposition. Or West Ham just need to try and play it simple in those difficult situations, which may also work!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


So as we draw ever closer to Christmas, we are almost at the halfway point of the season.

Personally I would say so far so good. We sit in 2nd which is a very strong position to be in and most of all, all season we've looked a hard team to beat. I wouldn't say we have looked like dominating every game, but to be honest I didn't expect that with a new manager coming in to whip the squad into shape. Personally I can take a lot of positives from that, our defence has looked extremely good, with Reid, Tomkins and Faye all looking very comfortable at the back. Another great sign has been the form of Noble who has really shined for me since Parker left, tackling hard and distributing the ball well, Faubert on the right of midfield has also looked great, he's a very good crosser which always makes him a threat and last but not least who can miss out Baldock, this little striker has scored some good hard worked goals already and he does look like a natural, something we have lacked for a couple of seasons. Another positive is from the game against Barnsley just gone, the debut of Dan Potts, son of former Hammer Steve, not only had he just signed a professional contract but he was forced into the team following an injury to Faye, he took his chance and grabbed it, he was performing well and delivered some brilliant crosses and from most fans points of view, was the true man of the match over Nolan who was chosen by the sponsors.

I have to admit though, there have been some disappointments from the team, namely Nolan, he doesn't seem to dictate the play like he used to, although he can still score a wonder goal as he has cropped up with a couple, but I would like to see a bit more from him. The other worry I've had is the teams possession, it hasn't been as good as I know these players can deliver, we do sometimes give the ball away needlessly, instead of playing the simple pass.

I won't complain too much as like I said we are 2nd and that isn't a bad spot to be in come Christmas (especially as I was pessimistic and said we'd be in the play-offs this season). But now I feel to say some things I'd like to see over the next few months.

First possession, as I said, I know these players are more than capable of knocking the ball about and keeping hold of it, rather than trying to always go forward, I would like to see them retain it a little easier, hopefully this will come as they get more use to the pressure of being the favourites. Next I'd like to see us possibly bring in another wide player, one who could play on the left and right, just incase Taylor gets injured more this season, as we tend to lack a threat on that side when he's out, although if Potts gets more chances, then you never know as he could cross. The only other thing I really want to see is for more younger players to get their chance, Potts proved they are capable enough to play at this level and I think the fact they are young will help their performance, also we have plenty of good youngsters, Potts, Ruddock, Moncur, Montano, Montenegro, Lee, Hall, Spence and Brown just to name some and I'd like to think when they are at the club and in the match squad that Big Sam should not be afraid to try them as I truly think they would play their hearts out for the club and put in some brilliant performances. Come on Sam, give youth a chance (especially if we are winning by 3 goals).

Is there anything others would like to see? Let me know your views!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Re-opening the Hammer Crossed Heart

After watching the Derby game, I couldn't help but share my views on it all.

The first half was a horrid one for me, we went a goal down after being hit on the counter attack and saw some pretty poor defending as we conceded the goal, once the goal went in we followed this up with playing the type of football I really cannot stand, just booting the ball up to the strikers. I don't just hate this style of football because it's horribe to watch, I dislike it more because we are leaving our midfield out of the game, even though looking at our midfield, that is easily one of our strongest areas of the pitch. Every single player in our midfield is happy with the ball at their feet and can create moves with some simple pass and move playing. Fair enough we got a goal back to end the half 1-1, but it wasn't a very enjoyable half if you asked me.

Then the 2nd half kicked off and I honestly felt like I was watching a completely different team. We held on to the ball more, started trying simple yet effective passes and we began to control the game, then came a pure moment of brilliance, Cole flicked a nice ball over the head of a defender towards Collison who had to battle to win the ball and it just sort of pinged high in the air, luckily it was dropping right towards Nolan, he positioned his body and unleashed a perfectly placed volley from outside the area into the bottom left corner of the goal, it was absolutely magical and showed a quality side of Nolan that I really feel he's lacked this season. Then with the game at 2-1 our passing game picked up even more, we controlled the game much more, I know people will say 'Well it's only Derby County', but if you looked at the game from the start, the first half was exactly the same as Coventry's, a side we should dominate, but couldn't when we were shooting the ball straight at Carew, but we played that way in the second half against Coventry and thankfully it paid off, but it was down to a very lucky second goal. This time we didn't, we played in a way I knew West Ham can play, we have Nolan, Noble and Collison in that midfield and if they can knock the ball between them, then they should be able to against everyone and then exploit a mistake with on running wingers like Taylor and Faubert or maybe even O'Brien and McCartney getting forward. We won a penalty to make the game a comfortable 3-1 win and then continued to keep the ball among our players and deal with the majority of what Derby threw at us when they could. This is the West Ham I hope to see more, they finally looked a confident side with the ball, based on the second half I was impressed with everyone, nobody really put a foot wrong and they played the game in a way that I wanted us to, we may not have been overly attacking but we tried to keep the ball and work for an opening. Even players I normally despise like Piquionne played in a way that I was more impressed with, he won the penalty and had a few good runs, admittedly he had a shot that blazed about a day over but I didn't mind, because he looked like he was trying and using what he is good at, using his pace to get beyond people. I honestly hope that style of play is encouraged more by Allardyce as we finally looked like a very decent side, not just one that can always be dangerous and I hope he agrees we should play like it more, because players like Carew, Cole and Piquionne are all still effective with that style or possibly even more effective than they are when the ball is launched at them. Fair enough get the ball up the field if you're in doubt, but if there's a simple pass, then use it!

I'm a very happy Hammer after that display and I really do hope it continues that way, then I feel we can start to give players like Moncur, Montano, Sears, Fry, Spence and Hall etc a chance to step up, cause they can slot into a position and be encouraged to play how they are taught in the academy and be more confident and get a real oppurtunity.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Victory at the City Ground

This game was being billed as one of the toughest away matches West Ham will face this season, with Nottingham Forest making the play-offs consistently, yet unable to get themselves back into the big time, they would be a tough opposition for the Hammers to face in their fight to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.

Forest are renowned for being extremely solid at the back, but their attacking line always had some questions hanging over it, were they good enough to fight strong defensive lines? Here would be a good chance to find out as they faced a West Ham squad with 2 changes of note from the Leeds game. Parker had not travelled with the squad, over what is believed to be a potential transfer to our fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with Faubert replacing him, meaning a much more natural midfield, Collison playing in his preferred centre midfield role alongside Nolan and Noble, with Faubert providing width from the right and as usual Taylor on the left. The other change was at left back, where many fans had been begging Ilunga not to play there, after multiple mistakes in recent games, he had been dropped for George McCartney who plays on the left once more for the Hammers, a welcome change for everyone!

As kick off approached, we would see just how good we are away from home, with 2 wins already, it was hoped we could take that form into the stern test Nottingham Forest would be. The game was a very scrappy affair right from the get go, neither team could keep hold of the ball, especially in that final third, both teams strikers had no support when the ball was sent their way, when support did arrive for Cole, it was from Faubert or Taylor, which resulted in West Hams midfield losing width and it's shape. As the first half progressed, Forest looked much more dangerous, keeping the ball in our half and trying to calve out chances, McGugan blasting over a couple of times, then also being miraculously beaten by Green when he saved with his right foot, Findlay also came close for Forest, seeing his shot go just wide of the post, if it wasn't for these wasteful chances and a superb Green, the scoreline could have been very different. West Ham then finally carved out there first goal, the ball was knocked out wide to Taylor who drilled a low cross across the six yard box, which Luke Chambers, the unfortunate Forest defender sliced into the back of his net. West Ham benefiting from yet another own goal.

West Ham then saw there second goal come quickly after from a quick corner delivered towards the far end of the area which Tomkins headed back into the middle for Nolan to redirect the ball into the back of the net and West Ham were 2-0 up. This didn't stop Forest though who kept attacking and causing problems for the United back line, but again Forest just kept wasting good chances. A major problem for Nottingham Forest by the looks of it this season.

Just after the half hour mark Forest were truly punished for there poor finishing when a Taylor corner missed everyone and O'Brien picked up the ball outside the box and crossed a lovely ball back into the area which the tall No 9 of Cole rose to head home and score his third goal in as many games, a promising return so far from a striker West Ham are use to seeing miss his oppurtunities.

The second half saw Forest use all their subs by the 65 minute mark, with the away side still yet to use theirs, but it seemed Forest had lost a bit of hope in the second half, giving West Ham much more time on the ball and letting our midfield knock it around for fun, although the introduction of Andy Reid, a Forest favourite seemed to kick start Forest back into life. Forest managed to create a lovely passing move which was finished with Findlay slotting home from close range and seeing the score set to 3-1 by the 70th minute, had this goal came much earlier, Forest may have pushed themselves back into the match, but it definitely seemed too little too late for the home side, especially when West Ham won another corner which was poorly cleared by the Forest back line and the ball landed straight back to Taylor who crossed the ball in and it was missed by everyone apart from Winston Reid who tapped home to make it 4-1, scoring his first goal for West Ham in his career and topping off a good performance from himself.

In all honesty, the scoreline flattered West Ham and didn't do Forest any justice, who could have quite easily scored 2 or 3, had lady luck shone on them. Our defence once more was superb and McCartney now playing on the left gave a much more convincing performance than Ilunga has in a long time for us. Our midfield in the first half seemed sloppy, there wasn't much shape at times and they just couldn't dominate possesion as you'd expect they can do, but again from set pieces we were very dangerous and made this pay and having natural wide midfielders is proving to be pivotal to our success with the two own goals it's caused to help us. I am hoping with the introduction of new signings Sam Baldock and Brian Montenegro could prove to help us play 4-4-2 at home, as we don't seem to create enough at Upton Park and that could be the reason why, 4-5-1 away from home seems to be working perfectly, with our team using a solid back line as the foundation and trying to be much more counter attacking with the ball. 9 goals scored and 9 points gained away from home is a lovely stat to have so far and this can only help in our chase for promotion. If the squad can keep organised and create more at Upton Park we could yet see ourselves as the toughest team to play against in the Championship.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A point apiece at Upton Park

This is possibly one of our biggest games in this league. Everyone knows West Ham and Leeds do not like each other. The game didn't show too much hate until the last couple of minutes but still provided to be an interesting affair.

West Ham started the game brightly, keeping the ball and making Leeds chase the game, we looked dangerous from set pieces again, Sam Allardyce really has sorted out this teams aerial ability. First we had a long throw from the left by Ilunga, Cole jumped perfectly to flick the ball behind him and produce a save from the Leeds goalkeeper Lonergan. This led to a corner which was whipped in by Taylor as expected and the first man to that ball was Tomkins again, almost getting the chance to celebrate his second goal in as many games, but unfortunately for him the keeper was equal to it again. The second corner as a result saw Carlton Cole, somehow get his foot in front of the Leeds defender and guide the ball beautifully into the back of the net, Upton Park was sent in to a frenzy, as West Ham go up within 6 minutes.

Once West Ham scored, it appeared Leeds decide to up the pressure, giving West Hams players absolutely no time on the ball, making players make the odd mistake, Leeds carved out a very good chance thanks to Clayton and Gradel, but Green spotted the danger and tipped the ball over the bar. Leeds continued to threaten, with no real clear chances at goal, West Ham managed to carve out another chance around 20 minutes in with some quick one touch passing and Noble moving to create himself a little space and curling a right footer towards the bottom right corner, again the keeper being equal to it. Then something unbelievable happened, a throw in was sent in and Matt Taylor lent down to chest the ball and the ball clipped his hand resulting in a Leeds penalty, up stepped Max Gradel, a former West Ham target, he went straight for the bottom right corner but tried to get so much pace into the shot that he guided wide, West Ham let off. West Ham then had a penalty shout of their own, where Carlton Cole nodded the ball past a defender and charged into the box when the racing back defender clearly caught Coles leg and brought him down, yet the referee waves away the protests from players and the crowd.

Gradel managed to create another chance among a lot of moments of the ball bouncing up and down the pitch, each team sharing the ball, his shot was a strong accurate strike from outside the area, Green was equal to it and managed to push it wide, a lovely save from the ex England number one! The chances then seemed to be equally shared, with neither side looking overly dangerous, I was particularly impressed with how well West Hams midfield coped when forced under pressure to keep moving the ball about and another great half from Tomkins, winning the aerial battle and timing some very good tackles. Gradel had probably been their best player, creating chances from himself and others, although he wasn't having too much luck as the West Ham team didn't want to give him much time to be as much of a threat as he can be. Half time and 1-0 up, it's all looking good so far, Leeds probably had a better half overall but never created a really clear chance, but with the amount of pressure they used fatigue could easily be a factor in the second half.

The second half unfortunately for West Ham, started much like the second ended, Leeds piling on pressure constantly, keeping the ball in the West Ham half, with constant threats around our goal, a third penalty shout, this time for Leeds from a Scott Parker tackle, on initial thoughts it was a brilliant tackle but replays show Parker didn't actually touch the ball. This didn't stop Leeds though they were constantly threatening after as well and the pressure eventually paid off when the ball was slided in from the right to McCormack's feet and he slotted it home, right after Faubert had come on for Collison, 1-1 and Leeds defintiely deserved it. 2 minutes later though and the tactical sub from Allardyce paid off as Faubert delivered a beautiful ball which was slotted home, by a Leeds defender, a perfect delivery and West Ham restore their lead, 2-1!

Following on from this and Leeds' pressure continued but West Ham were fighting for this game as well, finally showing a bit more passion and both sides were creating oppurtunites at each end. Then on came John Carew for his debut for Carlton Cole. Suddenly Leeds really did look like they were starting to tire out, running out of ideas, always giving the ball to Gradel in a hope they could get past the defence of West Ham or draw fouls. Faubert and Carew linked perfectly to almost get a lovely goal, unfortunately the ball trickled wide. Faubert delivered the ball brilliantly again almost seeing another own goal from Kisnobro but thankfully for him it went wide, then West Ham had a corner which met the head of Tomkins only to be denied by Lonergan again, resulting in another corner which Tomkins headed down to Reid who smashed the ball towards goal and somehow, out of nowhere Lonergan threw himself low and deflected the ball wide, amazing goalkeeping from the Leeds United man.

Leeds started trying to up the tempo again, keeping West Ham pegged back, thankfully for West Ham they didn't get a clear target at goal. The chances then appeared to switch between the two sides, although Faubert and Parker linked beautifully to carve out a wonderful chance but were denied by the woodwork. Leeds, as dangerous as they have been just couldn't seem to create a decent chance, whether it was West Hams organised defence, along with a lack of really dangerous crosses, this game could have been very different at times. Then in the 90th minute, just like at home against Cardiff, heartbreak, Leeds' constant pressure finally paid off with a superb but far too easy to make cross was sent in and the ball was smashed against the bar, only to drop right out to a Clayton who smashed the ball home with a chance he couldn't really miss.

In hind sight Leeds were truely deserving of 1 point and had they been more lethal in front of goal, it could so easily have been 3 for them and 0 for West Ham. It's unfortunate as we had a few chances to get 2 goalss ahead but Lonergan was outstanding and that was probably a Man of the Match performance.It's tough to really say who deserved it overall so maybe a point a piece is fair. I personally feel we need McCartney to get fit fast though, Ilunga was not quick enough to close down the crosser for Leeds' second goal, which cost us dearly again. Carew looked very sharp though and Faubert played extremely well at right midfield, so we could see a lot more of those two. So 1 point from 2 home games, is slightly disappointing, but teams are always going to play their best at Upton Park, as for them it would be like us playing at Old Trafford, it's never going to be easy and our away form will probably count towards a lot more than it would normally.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


So after the disappointing start to the Championship, it appears 2 more games can turn this round into sheer delight.

I didn't report on the Doncaster game as unfortunately I was only able to use the West Ham site for the game report, which is always dodgey if you ask me as I find it a little biased, especially in our torrid season just gone. But, I can be proud, despite what sounded like a few shakey moments, we seemed to dominate the game and this time were rewarded with a 1-0 win rather than a loss, thanks to a well finished Nolan goal within 5 minutes.

Watford was a whole different story, almost a minute into the game and Watford had one decent chance to take the lead early on, not good for the nerves, yet just as I was praying for the side to wake up, they took the ball to the other end and won a corner, the delivery was met by Tomkins and West Ham were 1-0 up inside 2 minutes. The game became a little more equal for a while with both teams have chances and Tomkins always threatening from set pieces, a very pleasing sight considering we use to be terrible at defending and attacking these. Then right before the half time whistle, Joey O'Brien picks the ball up at the halfway line, makes a darting run through the Watford side and shoots on goal, his first shot is stopped but he manages to get a foot on to the rebound and slots it into the goal. 2-0 West Ham at halftime, a very pleasing sight.

After the break the two sides came out and both seemed to be sharing the chances, but West Ham never looked too threatened by Watfords attack, with Tomkins and Reid especially doing well at the back. West Ham managed to score a 3rd through Carlton Cole from a nice pass from Herita Ilunga, hopefully this can do the defender a lot of good and boost his confidence to help him play better, although McCartney could easily come in and do the job once fully fit. Parker then scored a lovely goal right before the end to make it 4-0 and West Ham record back to back away wins. Beautfiul.

If I could think of many negative points, then the ones I would say were the early chance from Watford, showing the side need to be as alert as possible from the word go and possibly the lack of possesion at times, but this wasn't very often. Also Ilungas performance at times was questionable, but like I said we always have McCartney. I would also like to see the squad with Big John Carew up front, he has tweeted that he should be fit for Sunday, so maybe he will have a role to play against Leeds!

Lots of positives to take from this match especially, another clean sheet, proving Big Sam is definitely whipping these guys into shape as they are not running out of steam. 4 goals in one game, I was worried we wouldn't be the biggest goal threat at times, as noted in the Cardiff and Doncaster games, but it seemed against Watford people were knowing each others runs better and providing good chances from the off, being threatening at set pieces as well, is all going to benefit this. We now sit in 3rd place, despite it being early days, 6 points in 3 games is good and can only help us in our quest for promotion.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Relegation Hangover?

As I start to write this blog, we have just lost 1-0 to Cardiff at home. There are a lot of people already shouting on Twitter about how it's the same sh*t different day (league). I on the other hand do not think that at all. Here is my view of the game.

First Half:

We started brightly, dominated possesion and never really looked like having any difficulty defending. Set pieces against us we were brilliant, they didn't really have any proper chances on goal, a promising sign from last season when we could defend these to save our lives. A big improvement, showing exactly why Sam Alladyce was chosen as manager. We looked good on the ball but the major problem we had was creating clear chances, Piquionne had one decent attempt, but in the first half there wasn't much else. Sears needs to work on getting to the by line and crossing, otherwise I can't see him playing much in the future unless we resort to a 4-4-2 and have him playing off of Cole/Carew/Piquionne, personally not the latter, I feel he dropped off the attack far too much for a lone striker and was never threatening in the air despite his height. I was on the other hand impressed with Reid, Tomkins, O'Brien and Taylor, the first three defended brilliantly and O'Brien also looked good going forward, this continued for the whole game, Taylor was a constant threat for us which was pleasing but he had no one to deliver to as Piquionne was never really a goal threat until later on in the second half where he hit the woodwork, but 2 chances from a striker just isn't good enough in 70 minutes. The first half ended 0-0 with West Ham being the far better side.

Second Half:

A little more equal at the start, Cardiff looked more of a threat but again never really had a clear cut chance on goal like ourselves, as the game got closer to finishing we had one really good chance from Taylors cross to Piquionne where he hit the woodwork as I said earlier, but shortly after he was replaced with Cole, who I personally felt did okay, he was more of a nuisance to the centre backs of Cardiff and despite coming on and slipping on the ball, he was up quickly and through to run, but the referee had already called for a free kick, which is a big shame as I felt he could have created something, Barrera also came on for Sears. Barrera did well also for me, his delivery is much sharper than Sears, but I don't think Sears is a completed wide man. Barrera also had a decent header for someone of his size but unfortunately the Cardiff keeper was equal to it, as he had through out the whole game and I felt he was probably deserving of a man of the match award. Then the dreaded moment, Ilunga had the ball, in plenty of space and rather than playing it quickly, he tried to turn on the ball, alerting a Cardiff player who charged at him and so Ilunga tried turning again and fell to the ground, a potential foul but nothing was given and he should have never ended up in that situation, then the Cardiff player was through, delivered a quick pass to Miller who turned away from goal but hit it very well and it went in through Greens hands and thus West Ham looked at an opening day of defeat. Green maybe could have been better there but if you think about it, the ball should never have ended up there, had Ilunga just played the ball early when he was safe.

Overall I feel we played very well and dominated the game, partly because of our midfield, but we defended well for 90 minutes, if it hadn't been for Ilunga forgetting what to do we probably would have had a well worked 0-0 draw, with a little question mark over our attacking play. Taylor was superb, O'Brien did well, Nolan had an okay debut and Reid looked much better for us. I feel Piquionne shouldn't be getting a look in this season, he was never the main threat like a lone striker should be, it's either Cole or Carew if we are playing the 4-5-1, Barrera should be given the nod ahead of Sears on the right too as his crossing along with Taylors should be threatening. I would personally like us to try a 4-4-2, which is tough as it means 2 of Nolan, Parker, Noble and Collison have to sit out but if any Premiership club has a brain they will go for Parker which means a rotation of Nolan and Noble/Collison. I would probably opt for Noble against a tougher side and Collison against teams we'd expect to win against, with Taylor on the left and Barrera on the right we have enough wide quality. Then up front I would probably opt for Carew but I feel Cole can do just as well, to partner them is the big problem, I wouldn't want to see them together as they are exactly the same, which brings the question of do we try Sears there or even risk Hines, if not then we need to sign a quicker striker and use the big man and little man tactic to full effect. The defence for me shouldn't change apart from Ilunga, he didn't have the best game, there were parts where he looked okay but he did slice a lot of passes, I would either play Spence when he is back but get another player in for now and as cover. 4-5-1 will be perfect for tough away games though as we defended pretty well as a unit for the majority of the game.

Could the lack of threat be a relegation hangover? I think not, I just feel we haven't looked dangerous in front of goal for the past 2 seasons (other than Ilan who we let go). So hopefully 2 more major signings and we will be fine, I'm still predicting us to reach the play-offs, but we need a little work up front!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

West Ham United V Cardiff City - Preview

Well the season is now less than 1 week away, it's time to let ourselves get excited, then experience all the happiness/sadness and general mix of emotions bring when you beat teams you thought you couldn't, lose to those you felt should be a walk over and see the season unfold.

As far as I am aware we don't have many injuries among the main squad that I would presume to be picked for our opening fixture. Faye being the stand out candidate of being injured, he would be a handy team mate in a fixture where the side will first experience that no Championship side is going to go easy on us and will want to make our life here an absolute misery. Especially when we are one of the favourites to be promoted/win the league. I on the other hand have said from day one that I believe we should make the play-offs, this league isn't easy and it's so tough to predict when you look at some of the teams promoted in the past couple of seasons, no one could have seen Norwich doing so well in their first season, I also wouldn't have said Swansea were a side fighting for promotion, the same could be said for Blackpool last season too. Then you see sides like Nottingham Forest who have been in the play-offs a couple of times and the same goes to our first opponents Cardiff, always there, but never quite acheived their true goal, which should always be a worry, they are always going to be fighting to be up there and the team and fans feel they have the right to be in the top flight, especially now their rivals Swansea have done it.

Now to the line up, we can be thankful we haven't lost our 2 star players over the past few seasons, Parker and Green, so I fully expect them to appear, with the injury to Faye, it makes the back line tough to decide, Reid could come in, yet Spence can also play in the middle. I think a lot of the squad will pick itself though, we've a lot of room for rotation at the start. So here is my predicted team sheet.

Green in goal.

Defenders, Spence on the left, Reid and Tomkins in the middle, O'Brien on the right.

Midfielders, Parker playing a holding/anchor man role, Nolan and Collison in the middle in front of him and Barrera and Taylor in wide positions right and left respectively.

Cole as a lone striker up front.

Subs: Boffin, Faubert, Ilunga, Noble, Stanislas, Sears and Piquionne.

I believe we will line up in a 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 hybrid formation as appears to be the case most of the time.

The reason I have chosen this squad is for these factors, Spence and O'Brien as our full backs because I feel O'Brien can play a less attacking Right Back role better than Faubert (if we are 0-0 with 20 minutes to go bring on Faubert to go for it) and Spence because I feel he did well towards the end of last season when called upon and he is a player everyone knows wants to play in claret & blue. If Reid or Tomkins pick up a knock then we'd probably see Spence go in the middle with Ilunga coming on.

Noble people may be saying should be one of the first names on the team sheet and I would normally agree, but with Nolan being captain, he is guaranteed to start and I feel Nobles stronger positions will either be that of Nolans, being the midfield dedicated to picking out passes and trying to win the ball back before relying on Parker and the defence or I could see him playing in Parkers position, Noble isn't afraid to put his foot in and he can pass for fun in that role, I wouldn't be surprised that if Parker goes that will be Nobles future position.I believe that Collison is our best midfielder going forward when it comes to being a threat in front of goal. I have also chosen Taylor because I feel he is our most creative wide player, Stanislas is very good too, but Taylor just has that little more experience to start, but I would want to see Stanislas more as the season continues, I have also chosen Barrera over Sears and Stanislas as I feel if he plays like he can, he could well be a stand out player in the Championship, with fast feet and the ability to take players on time and time again, he could end up creating a lot of chances for us although I could see Sears playing as he is better in front of goal having scored 2 pretty nice goals in pre season.

Cole up front I feel speaks for itself, he is hands down a better player than Piquionne, who I believe has been rather poor and I would happily see Nouble on the bench over him, but I do think West Ham are in desperate need of a proper goal scorer to start in the squad!

Out of the substitutes I can't see much changing although throughout the season but I would like to see players given the chance, Montano, Abdulla and Nouble all looked fairly good in pre season and I feel should be given an oppurtunity to shine, I do feel Hines will have something to prove as well, considering he felt he should get a contract offer from a Premiership team, so if he believes that's the case then he should go out there and show us why he felt that. Also I think Reid will be on the bench normally with Faye being our main defender alongside Tomkins.

I have predicted a hopeful 1-0 win for us at home in our first game, we won't create hundreds of chances but that isn't Allardyce's style, his main aim is to be solid defensively and you can't lose if you don't concede. I would setlle for a draw as Cardiff are not an easy team but I feel a little optimistic.


Monday, 25 July 2011


The season start away to Cardiff is very quickly coming closer to starting. Do people still feel the need for some signings, or even expecting people to leave? I personally answer Yes to both of these questions.

As I mentioned last time out, I feel we have a side who should be good enough for the play-offs. I still believe this is true, but at the moment I just cannot see where the majority of our goals are going to come from, especially if we continue to play this 4-1-4-1/4-5-1 hybrid formation.

To me Carlton Cole doesn't score enough goals, we should be a good target man, but I find he never knows when to shoot or pass, which causes a major problem. If we are to play this formation then we rely on goals from midfield, as well as our front man, we know Sears can finish, he's shown it time and time again and I feel given the chance for us next season, he could well prove this to everyone, but it could quite easily go the other way, let's hope not! Stanislas is also a fairly good finisher and I feel the same about Matt Taylor, who I believe is a fantastic signing. Barrera on the other hand hasn't really seen enough action to prove his true worth, but he may well be amazing after a couple of games. I feel Nouble should always be sub to Cole up front (if we keep hold of Cole), fair enough Nouble also isn't a proven goal scorer, but he does have strength and pace, so he will always be lively and good enough to bring others in to the game, he just isn't a starter yet. So I would be trying desperately to sign a striker who is known for scoring and would happily say goodbye to Piquonne, who seems to go through spells of being good and awful. I would also sell Cole if a decent offer came in, but that would increase our need for forwards.

If we sign a striker who is more likely to get us goals then I could see our formation needing to change, so that we have a target man and then the goal scorer feeding off of him, which leaves less space in our midfield, if that happens then I think that could see Barrera move elsewhere unless we keep rotating Taylor/Sears/Stanislas/Barrera. Our central midfield should be fine with or without Parker, he is a brilliant player but I feel Noble can comfortably play in a holding roll, he can pass and he is never afraid to put a tackle in, then I would have Collison and Nolan in front or rotate Nolan and Collison if we use a 4-4-2. I'd also like to see Montano play a bit on the wings this season, he's been playing really well in pre season and definitely deserves a chance to prove he can do it. We should also sell Boa Morte, we signed him when he was past his best and he never seems comfortable on the ball anymore.

Defence is another tough decision, will we see Illunga play, will we see Faubert playing? I personally think our starting line up at the back will always have Spence and Tomkins as they should be good enough for this level, I'd always have Faye alongside Tomkins as he has the strength and height that Tomkins lacks, but I feel we need another full back to start, whether it's left or right (preferrably left if I was asked) Illunga just hasn't looked like the same player when we signed him so I think if we get someone who can play there we would be fine, as Matt Fry can come on the left or Spence, but I'd feel Spence is better on the right and then we could sell Faubert and Illunga and use the money to get a right back as well, we could also do with another central defender, unless Reid suddenly becomes incredible...we shall wait and see.

In goal I personally expect Green to go, he is far too good for the Championship, but I defnitely wouldn't buy a new replacement, Stech and Boffin both look like they are more than comfortable to step up to the plate and I feel they should be given a shot. We also have Kurucz still to come back from injury and he could be just as good.

So out of the 4 signings I've heard we apparently need I would say a Left Back and Striker are the 2 most vital that we need, I would also say the others are another Striker and Centre Back, although I would have 5 and add a Right Back on to the list as cover for Spence.

I have faith Allardyce knows exactly what he is doing though as the signings we've made so far all seem very sensible, so lets just wait and see what he does.

Before our new season kicks-off we still have a big friendly against Zaragoza, which I feel will be a true test of our team and will hopefully see us using our main starting line up at first.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pre Season Test

West Ham tonight managed to win in a pre-season friendly away to FC Copenhagen. Now this is a team that have been in the Champions League and are certainly no pushovers.

This is the one and only match I've been able to watch so far but the early signs are promising. West Ham tried to keep the ball for extended periods of play, being patient in their build up and hoping for an opening to arrive, which is a good start as when Avram was in charge we couldn't keep the ball if our lives depending on it, another pleasing sign was the team defending as a complete unit, this may be down to the 4-1-4-1 formation, but it certainly worked as we didn't concede, although you could suggest we were slightly lucky at times thanks to the offside rule. The only criticsm I could possibly point out, was that we lacked the special creativity in the final third to find that opening our possesion football was giving us the time to carve out, it could be down to a lack of runs from Piquonne or it could be a missing killer ball from Noble, Nolan, Parker, Collison or Boa Morte, but this seem to change when Christian Montano and Frank Nouble came on for Collison and Piquonne, Nouble wasn't afraid to make a daring run to try to break free of the opposition back four, as Noble consistently tried to look for him, while Montano brought an incredible pace to the wing and a drive to create more chances for the team, this later proved to be the perfect move as he managed to break lose to set up Sears to score our one and only goal, but one was enough.

I was pleased to also see a team not looking to just lump the ball forward to the front man, like many people worried we would do under West Ham, we may not be an all out attack minded team, but we are playing it simple and playing it safe, I personally would rather win 1-0 by controlling a game, rather than going all out and losing 5-4 or something else ridiculous just because the team wouldn't defend. This to me is all promising signs, but as experienced before, we can have an incredible pre-season, only to see it slip as soon as the season begins, so let us hope it won't! Also if the rumours are true and West Ham are signing winger Matty Taylor from Bolton, then that will no doubt help our wide play out (and based on personal opinion, push Boa Morte out of the line up, leaving Taylor, Sears, Stanislas and Barrera for the wings and allowing Collison to play in his more natural position of centre midfield).

Although I would still add that I feel we could do with at least one more defender and a decent striker. This season I hope also lets us see more of the likes of Spence, Montano, Nouble and Abdulla as they all look determined to prove their worth for us!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A New Season Draws Near

At the time of writing this, West Ham are currently involved in a pre-season friendly against Bishop Stortford, we are currently one nil up through a rather odd Stanislas goal (or at least that is what I presume from the text update on the West Ham website).

This is my first West Ham blog, I have made a few posts here and there on my other blog but I felt that I had so many views on West Ham, that I may as well have my own blog for it! Please note this is not going to be one with constant updates about transfers and results, it will just be a fans personal view on life as a fan and what I see could help.

Everything is settled in place at West Ham now, we are in the Championship, whether we like it or not, although I see it as a blessing in disguise, we've had two seasons in a row spent at the bottom of the table, this is a chance for the team to get back to basics and rebuild for the future. We haven't lost many players yet, the main players being Jacobsen, Upson and Spector. I was shocked to see the latter go, I felt he did pretty well last season, among a culprit of under performers, Upson being one of them, who I felt was nowhere near good enough and I do not feel I saw enough of Jacobsen to really decide on him being good or not.

We haven't as of yet lost the likes of Cole, Green, Parker etc, although I will not be surprised to see Green and Parker go before the end of the season, they are far too good for the Championship and we have already bought Nolan as an obvious replacement for Parker, Green I can see going to West Brom as they have just lost their number one goalkeeper. Cole on the other hand I suspect could stay after not being able to agree personal terms with Stoke, it is clear he enjoys playing for West Ham and I do not doubt for a second that he would be a threat in the Championship, I genuinely hope this could help his compusure in front of goal and possibly make him a much better goal scorer.

I'm struggling at the moment to truely decide what players we will put out in the Championship, it appears West Ham have been playing a 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 style hybrid formation but I cannot be too sure as I haven't actually seen a match live, I have just been reading text updates. If this formation is the case and the transfers I suspect could happen do, then the squad I could guess right now would be something like this:-


Spence/Faubert, Tomkins, Faye/Reid, Ilunga/Brown


Stanislas, Collison, Nolan, Sears


If this is the case (I could be very wrong depending on new signings) then I would suggest we played Spence over Faubert, I'd probably sell Faubert given the chance and I would also sell Ilunga and buy a new left back. Fry and Brown are both decent players who I really hope get chances to shine, but we don't have much experience in the back four so I feel that could help a lot. I would play Noble in front of the back four as I felt he is a player much like Parker, he likes to get stuck in with tackles and use the muscle he has to win and hold on to the ball, if he's playing simple passes there then he can't go too wrong. I personally wouldn't feel the need to add much more to the midfield, I feel our younger players have a lot of quality to rotate in to a very succesful midfield, I also hope we keep hold of Barrera as I feel he could rotate with Sears and be pretty deadly in the Championship. Cole up front should be brilliant in the Championship, I'd also like to see Nouble play now and then off the bench or starting as I feel he has a lot going for him, with pace and strength with added height which a player like Zavon Hines doesn't really have. I'd like to see Zavon do well but at the moment I really don't know if he will, he's got pace and an eye for goal, so only time will tell, but I think he could only work in the squad with another striker there, so maybe if we are stuck in a 0-0 deadlock in a game we look like we could win then maybe bring him on and switch to a 4-4-2. I wouldn't mind seeing us buy another striker though just to bolster the front line.

With the squad we have I genuinely think it should comfortably reach the play-offs, I'm a little sceptic at us getting automatic promotion at the first time of asking, there are some brilliant teams in the Championship and it will no doubt be tough and I will always remember our first season there last time, with a squad most would have said should have reached automatic promotion, only to head all the way to Cardiff for the play-off final to see Crystal Palace fans walking away celebrating!

I suggest for now though, we wait and see what the future holds, especially in the transfer market. So far we've tried sigining sensible players who can hold their own in that league, but unfortunately we haven't had too much luck, so hopefully we will have a better chance as the season gets even closer.