Saturday, 21 September 2013

It's a rollercoaster

Well today we had one heck of an entertaining game against Everton, but the most painful part was seeing us walk away with nothing. The worst part of it all is, I don't feel we can blame anyone but ourselves.

The first half we looked very comfortable and Everton only seemed to be a threat from distance, seeing Morrison grab his 1st goal in the Premiership and seeing our midfield and defence look very comfortable was very pleasing to see, the only worry was the lack of clear chances we had despite dominating overall.

The second half was a completely different story, Everton decided to make some changes, the one of note that caused the most problems was Lukaku coming on for Jelavic. He seemed to give Everton confidence and almost every attack was coming through him as a target, then the first of our own mistakes came, James Collins brought down Barkley on the edge of our box, a tackle he probably didn't need to make as he was running out wide and there were other defenders back to cover, Baines hit the free kick beautifully into the top left hand corner and it was 1-1. That hurt and it looked like it was downhill from there as they continued to throw everything at us, then a glimmer of hope appeared, Petric fighting to keep a ball in play and then knocked it to Nolan who was brought down in the box, we then saw Noble comfortably slot the resulting penalty home. Straight after the penalty we saw Nolan come off for Taylor, I think Nolan asked to come off as he had run over to the touchline, but what confused me was Taylor coming on, considering we were being out played by Everton, I expected to see another defender come in to just try and defend that lead as best as possible, but what will be will be. Then, saw the second and third blows to our side in quick succession. Barkley was running at our defence and Noble was charging back and lunged in and fouled Barkley, resulting in another dangerous free kick and the centre midfielder picking up a second yellow and being sent off, two things we really didn't need. In all honesty I don't know why Noble even attempted that tackle on a yellow card, sometimes yes you may get away with it, but the way he immediately looked to the ref after the tackle, made me feel he knew exactly what was coming and I personally didn't think he got the ball, so couldn't complain. This free kick was then superbly struck by that man Leighton Baines again, but this time in off the inside of the right post, Jussi had no chance at all. Then with 10 men and an Everton side who had clearly seen their opportunity threw everything forward and eventually that man Lukaku headed home to seal the 3 points for them.

It was very hard to take, especially given the first half performance, but it seemed the half time changed left us with no answer and then saw us just struggling to hold on, but at the same time, had neither Collins or Noble lunged in, then maybe, just maybe, we could be celebrating 3 points tonight. But I do also question why we brought Taylor on, when we were clearly ball chasing for much of the second half, Petric chased everything down which was great, that's why I thought we may have stuck an extra defender on and defended like our lives depended on it and try to hold them to long shots (not the dead ball situation type though). All in all though, I really hope our players learned something here, don't lunge in on the edge of your area unless you are definitely going to make the tackle.

It was painful but there were definitely positives to take from this game, Winston Reid as seems to be the case in all matches recently is as solid at the back as ever, Petric despite not being fully fit will not give up on anything, Rat looks very comfortable in the Premier League and could build quite a partnership with Jarvis and Morrison looks more and more comfortable on that pitch each game, him and Noble compliment each other well, taking it in turns with who goes forward and seeming to be good outlets to create a goal. It's just a shame that the latter managed to go from hero to zero in a very quick space of time with a clumsy challenge, but that is football and the players need to learn from this, dust themselves down and remember that they could have won and make sure the next time that this doesn't happen.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Transfer Deadline Day - Ups and Downs

At the time of writing this it is half 8 in the evening and transfer deadline day is bringing out, the best, the worst, the funniest and the ugliest in a lot of fans.

Our fans have been hit by the bombshell from Jack Sullivan's twitter suggesting we are probably not going to be signing anyone today. Now don't get me wrong, I am gutted by it as I do feel we could have done with another striker, but at the same time I am not going to be panicking and claiming we are going to be in some relegation battle, like it appears some of our fans now think. This squad was newly promoted last season and we managed to finish 10th, now we have lost the odd player such as Gary O'Neil and Carlton Cole, but we have brought in Carroll, Rat, Adrian, Downing and have the returned Morrison. Now that isn't much of a change, which is, in my personal opinion a good thing, just look at Sunderland who seem to have bought nearly a whole new starting 11, there team just looks confused how to play together. So a few changes here and there is probably a much smarter move, I think Adrian is a good solid backup to Jussi, while Rat will be introduced to the Premiership slowly but surely and could prove to be a promising signing, but until then we do have Joey O'Brien who is doing a solid job covering and the imminent return of McCartney. Defensively I feel we are stronger, as the majority of them have been together the whole time and we now have more strength in depth and they performed superbly in the first 2 games to face 1 shot on target against them, which is a brilliant job no matter who you play against. Midfield wise, we have only really lost Gary O'Neil and have gained Morrison and Downing this year, I was a little gutted by losing O'Neil as I felt he was a solid backup player and this superbly when Noble was absent, but we have gained a great talent in Morrison who looks exciting to watch and will bring something new and unexpected to our side, along with that I still think Downing will prove to be a right coup once he hits form as he can use both feet just like Jarvis and I would always consider him to be threat on the wing. Other than this we still have the likes of Cole, Noble, Nolan, Collison, Vaz Te (although he has handed in a transfer request), who were all part of the set up that helped this side come to 10th last season, so I honestly think we are not lacking in midfield, yes we have been hit by a bit of an injury with Downing out for 3 weeks and I believe Cole out for 4 weeks, but 2 of these are international breaks, so they will be back quite quickly. Then we come to the attack, at the moment we only have Maiga fit, but Carroll is potentially returning for the Southampton game, which means yes we are short in numbers, but last season we only had Cole leading the line when Carroll was out as Maiga was shoved out wide, now I personally think Maiga could come good, he has only played a few games up top, at Cardiff he won most battles, Newcastle he was frustratingly offside for his goal and against Stoke he was poor, but then again, so was the whole team, so I don't think you can personally pin everything on him, if he can win those aerial battles more, which I'm sure he can as he has a big jump on him and possibly hold up play to spread the ball out wide a little more, then I honestly think he can be a good striker, we have already seen he can score, I remember his goal at Southampton well and most feeling he deserved a shot from that goal alone, I personally feel people are quick to blame someone, Carlton Cole last year and now this year it appears to be Modibo Maiga and I feel sorry for him as I think if he gets some confidence, he could be a threat, also with Carroll due to return, we all already know what he can do and he will boost our squad greatly when fit, but lets be honest, he didn't score loads and his fitness does seem questionable as he was injured a lot last season, so we may have to rely on Maiga more, I personally think he deserves a chance to show what he can do until January. If he isn't doing anything then by all means in that window, we will need to get down to business, but we could also try Vaz Te up top on his own too as he is by no means small so may do a job and could have chances if Maiga isn't performing.

I honestly don't see why everyone is panicking so much, yes we are missing a few players but they will be back in a few weeks, including the main one Andy Carroll, so overall I see us as a stronger squad than last season as we now have more depth, yes we are still short up front, but lets be honest with ourselves, we were last year and we finished in the top half of the table, most of our goals came from Midfield and if Carroll can stay fit and find his goal scoring boots or head for that matter, then surely overall we are stronger than last season?

It feels odd being so defensive of Sam Allardyce, as I won't lie, I'm quick to find him frustrating, but I honestly don't think there is any need for us to panic. If come January we are in a relegation scrap, then sure we might want to panic, but right now we're 3 games in and I feel we can comfortably beat teams like Cardiff, Hull, Crystal Palace and probably Sunderland as I feel their squad won't gel at all. Then I'm sure we will be tough opponents for other clubs out there as well, but yes there will be bad days at the office, just like the Stoke game, just as there were last season and seasons before, but as long as they don't become a regular habit, then we really shouldn't be so scared.

On top of this I feel my two good friends on Twitter, Mark and Lawrence (@MarkWHUFC & @Lawrenceee_B) have really made the deadline day enjoyable. Among all the panic, seeing their comical replies or sarcastic comments has actually made me still have some faith in peoples mind. I strongly recommend you give them a follow just for that.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Food For Thought

Well so far so good for West Ham you'd think so far, 1 win and 1 draw in the league, 0 goals conceded and 1 shot on target against us. On top of this we had a 2-1 cup win against Cheltenham where we saw Vaz Te score a nice free-kick and then that man from pre-season, Ravel Morrison managed another speedy goal, 35 seconds after the restart in the second half and he managed to grab a goal. In my opinion, I really do hope he gets plenty of opportunities to shine in the Premiership this year, this guy clearly has potential and it will be very exciting if the hype that seems to gradually be building up more about him, proves to be spot on. 

Now onto the main point of my article, the other day, the man who fired us back into the Premier League, Ricardo Vaz Te has handed in a transfer request. Now this to me doesn't really bother me, I felt last season, he came across as lazy at times and I don't think he is quite ready for the top flight of English football. What has got me interested though, is his statement that has been flying around since he has done this. For those of you who haven't read it, you can see this below:

"In my 10 years as a professional footballer I have never submitted a transfer request nor issued a statement. However, I am frustrated at West Ham.
Last season I was asked to change positions for the benefit of the team even though I had just scored 24 goals.The main objective was to finish in the top 10 in the Premier League and I followed my instructions to the best of my ability as the club always comes first.
As a result even though I was injured for three months no other player made more assists than me and no other winger scored more goals.
In addition, since I joined this football club no other player has scored more goals than me in all official competitions to date.
Statistics are evident to all, despite this it has been made obvious to myself and my representatives that I am not in the manager’s plans.
Therefore it is with a heavy heart that I submit a transfer request and look to join a club where my approach to the game will be appreciated."

The reason I found this interesting is because the more I look at it the more I feel he actually makes a very good point. Don't get me wrong, out of the players I have seen leave West Ham since Big Sam's arrival, I don't think he has really made a massive mistake in letting any of them go, all for various reasons, either they aren't up to scratch, they don't suit his style or they don't want to be there. Vaz Te was one of the top goal scorers in the Championship that season, we then got promoted thanks to his goal and then for the forthcoming season, he was pushed into a wide role on the right, a completely new position to him, he had played central and he had also played on the left a lot for Barnsley, but he was given the freedom to cut inside and fire at will, which is what he basically did when he joined us too. He did as Sam asked and then it seems that we have signed players to push him down the pecking order, I would say he is now third choice on the right wing behind Downing and Joe Cole (and rightly so), while he is also probably third choice centre forward behind Carroll and Maiga (again I feel this is probably right, although I do wonder if Vaz Te knuckled down in a central role, he could have potentially been challenging Maiga as he is tall and potentially strong when he wants to be), but despite him doing what was asked of him, we just carried on with our business to improve. Now I'm not pretending I know what goes on behind closed doors, but imagine Vaz Te had constantly been asking to play up front, then he gets shoved out on the right, then the following season you are cast to the bench or completely out of the starting 11. As a player I imagine that is going to hurt a lot and I do wonder if he was ever told about it or whether he was just cast to one side. I personally feel there's lots of players who must have felt in similar situations, Baldock and Maynard spring to mind, I even recall Baldock saying he was willing to try to learn to play out wide to improve his chances, but still come when we were promoted, he was shown the door (although again I feel Sam was right with this as I don't think he is ready for the Premiership, but I will be watching Maynard closely at Cardiff, as I really felt he had potential to be a very good striker and I was a little bit gutted when he left to Cardiff but this is just my personal opinion). On top of this it makes me wonder how someone like Tomkins must feel too, he was part of a strong partnership with Reid in the Championship and even played right back and defensive midfield now and then when asked, although I did feel this really made Tomkins look poor as you could see he wasn't in a comfortable position there, but then when we came up he was dropped to the subs bench for 2 major reasons, the arrival of James Collins and also the Olympics that Tomkins decided to compete in to represent his country, leaving him out of a fair few pre-season matches. I do wonder had he not gone, could he be part of that partnership or would he still have been dropped for Collins? It is hard to say. I personally would like to see Tomkins partner Reid again a few times, just to see if they could get that strong partnership back as I feel if they could, then we could have a perfect centre back pairing for a long time. At the moment though I hope JT bides his time and grabs any chances he gets with both hands, although I could see him being a potential player to hand in a transfer request to as he seems to be seeing his first team chances slowly dwindling away from him.

My main views on this whole thing and my main point of this article is, does Sam know really how to treat players when he feels they aren't up to scratch, rather than leave, most seem to come out and say something, take Diarra last year and Vaz Te as major parts of this, they haven't hesitated in coming out and slamming him for the way they were treated. On top of this, I also feel that Sam doesn't give players a chance even if they may have earned it on the pitch, although one thing we don't see is the team in training and that could be all Sam needs to really spot a players potential. My only worry about all of this, is if these players aren't afraid to come out about it, what could happen if this happened with more players, especially while they are at the club still, could this lead to unwanted problems in and around the squad, possible distractions, basically things I wouldn't want to see happen. So I hope it's just me looking way too much into this, although, the thought does cross my mind now and then. I would really love to hear other views on this, so if you do have some, feel free to comment away as I would be intrigued to see what others think, even if they are just saying I'm far too paranoid! 

Please also take note, I am not slamming Sam in anyway in this article, I think the guy has been correct on most players he has brought in and let go, he is doing a fantastic job and we are clearly a much stronger side than we ever have been, defensively especially. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Early Days

As of writing this, the season has seen us have 1 home and 1 away performance. I won't talk about the table as this is practically pointless at the moment and won't really come to light until another few games are played, but I do not blame any West Ham fan for having a little smile when they do see our current position, or more importantly our Goal Difference, not only is it a plus, but we also haven't conceded.

In our home game against Cardiff, we looked very comfortable, especially on the ball, although for a home game against a newly promoted team, I did still feel we let them have a little too much of the ball, luckily for us they seemed to lack the cutting edge that they had in their game against Manchester City, thus never really creating any chances. In that game Jussi faced one shot on goal. Credit where it is due, Sam really does seem to have got the best out of our defence, Demel and O'Brien look comfortable either side of the pairing of Reid and Collins, who have both started the season where they left off on the last. Winston Reid especially seems to be improving every game, I'm a big fan of his now, he battles for everything, strong on and off the ball and up for any header in his path, Collins on the other hand I'm still unconvinced, yes he is very good defensively, he will block everything, but as soon as he has the ball, he is more likely to look long than short, this is good at times, especially when Andy Carroll is in the side, as the big man just seems to get his head onto everything and the wide players and Nolan are always looking for it, but I can't help but feel, when he isn't in the side, our wide players aren't as eager to get near the front man, I noticed this with Carlton last year and Maiga this year a little but not as much. Whenever the ball last season especially went long to Carlton, the players such as Vaz Te, Jarvis & Nolan, just never got near him, so even when Carlton did win the ball, it ended up going straight back to the other side, it did seem Carroll brought a lot more confidence to our midfield going forward at least. I sometimes just wish Collins would happily knock it out wide or forward now and then before going long, but Allardyce probably likes this about him as it straight away gets the opposing team on the back foot, but I'd just like us to mix it up a little bit more. This could just be because I'm a fan of passing football, but I also feel we have the quality in midfield to mix it up and maybe play shorter a little more. I also feel sorry for Tomkins as it looks like he will be the third choice centre back from now on, it's an awful shame as this young player was once looking destined to become one of the clubs favourite home grown players in a while, but ever since that dreaded Olympics, it seems to have suffered him more than benefiting him, I do hope that he can get back his form though and maybe see him in the future develop a strong partnership with Reid like they had in the Championship at times. Time will tell, but I would like that to happen, it just means seeing him make the most of his potential. I can't complain though as this backline also happily kept Newcastle quiet at St James' Park, in a formidable display to keep consecutive clean sheets and a solid defence is always a good platform to build on, as you know if the opposing team can't score, then you can't be beaten.

Midfield wise, it seems this year we could potentially see Allardyce getting a few headaches. Good headaches that is, with the arrival of Downing, who is already looking to impress in Claret & Blue from what I've seen so far, it must be tough for Sam to see our best midfield. You can almost guarantee that Noble and Nolan will start, but Morrison could soon be pushing Diame for a starting spot, which I personally only see as a good thing, Diame is fantastic, but sometimes he does seem to try to do a little too much on the ball, when a simple pass could be the better option, also there were times last season where he seemed to run out of steam, so having Morrison pushing him could improve his all round performances and also give him a well earned break when he needs it, also the prospect of Morrison seems quite exciting. On the wings it is also tough who is the best two to have, Downing, Joe Cole and Jarvis. Jarvis and Downing are the more natural wide players, so you know they will get crosses in, but then Joe Cole has that little bit about him to create something out of nothing and pop up with the odd goal, so it could be a mixture, or maybe it could depend on who is starting up front, or who we are up against. You also still have Vaz Te, but I feel that possibly Sam and the West Ham faithful have run out of patience with him, I personally saw glimmers of hope in him last season, but not enough, I had hoped maybe with him knowing the potential arrivings, that he would have upped his performances in pre-season, but to me he still seems like the unpredictable player of last year, when you were never sure just whether he'd turn up or not.

Up front it feels we are still short. We only have Carroll and Maiga, while I have full faith in Andy when he is fit, as he does so much for the team, wins aerial battles, holds up play, creates and scores, he's the perfect striker mould for Allardyce's style. Maiga though, there are still a few questions, whilst against Newcastle, he seemed to do okay in the aerial battles, but he was offside when he managed to score and maybe could have had another chance, if he'd been a bit more determined to go for the ball after Downing's header across. I personally think Maiga is okay, but I know a lot who disagree, I feel given time playing in his natural position, he could show his worth as I do feel he can finish, but my only worry for him is that he is not comfortable as a target man in the Premier League, he might prefer balls to run onto and utilise his pace, or maybe balls to feet where he can try shaping up to shoot. It's a tough one, but I'm willing to give him a chance and see how he does. Whether the full West Ham faithful agree, will be a completely different story.

So overall, I feel defensively we look fantastic, which is great, not only for us Hammers, but I think Sam will be over the moon too as he likes a team that is hard to defeat and this year we could possibly be even harder, especially with the likes of Rat and Tomkins eager to come into play. Midfield I think we are good and have multiple options to mix our style of play too, again a very promising sign and hopefully it could create more diversity for Sam's team as I did feel last year that we struggled at times going forward due to lack of ideas, now with the players at his disposal, he can mix our play up without even changing formation. Up front, I'm still undecided, with Carroll fit I feel Maiga is a nice option to have coming off the bench when other teams are tired and we could utilise his pace, but while the big man is out, I'm not 100% sure yet, as I'm not sure he's f comfortable in that role, but Gold admitted last night that we are at our wage cap which means a player or 2 would have to go before another comes in. Personally I think Taylor and Vaz Te could definitely be leaving, both I wouldn't be too upset to see go either, Taylor is just getting on a bit and Vaz Te for me just isn't consistent enough, another couple that could go is Diarra, who had a massive bust up with Sam last season, so I wouldn't be surprised if he sees the lack of opportunities again this year and decides to go and possibly Collison, this one hurts me to admit as I love the guy, I think he's class, but he never really seems to have fully recovered from his injury so I'm not sure he would ever cement a first team place and whether we would need him with Morrison coming through. If 2 or 3 of these went then I think we could possibly see another striker come in, the only trouble is, they would have to be prepared to play second fiddle to Andy, which could make it tough to make a move seem appetising to a player. I just feel we need another target man type player and then we could see ourselves with one of the strongest squads we've had in a long time. I think there is reasons to be optimistic though, I would love to see us improve on our 10th place finish, although I'd be more impressed if we had a proper go in the cups this year too.

Looking at the squad we are building though, I think it is safe to say Sam will be around for a few more years, everyone knows by now I'm not his biggest fan but he is building a squad to suit his style of play and we do seem to be getting increasingly tough to beat, so I have to tip my hat to him and give him full credit for that, as in previous seasons we have probably been a bit too leaky in defence. What I would like to see though, is a bit more possession from our side in certain games, especially those we know we should beat. If we could manage that then I think we could be one of the hardest teams to come up against in the division, just because we would then have the options to go short and long even more than we already did, as we did see last season, there were moments when we played beautiful football, so I would like to see that encouraged a little more. Overall I think we have good reason to be optimistic about the year ahead and if we can continue to add quality to our side then who knows, maybe we could push up higher, but it will be tough with the teams who finished above us last year as they all have added quality to their sides too.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Upcoming Season Potential

At the time of writing West Ham have currently played 2 of their pre-season fixtures. One away to Cork City which the Hammers won comfortably 6-2 and another away to Boreham Wood which was won 3-0.

Now I know not to get too excited by these fixtures, as I'm pretty sure under a certain Avram Grant, we won every single friendly, prior to a season that I would much rather forget. None the less there have been some promising features. Mainly the inclusion of a fair few youth players, which is to be expected. Most notably for me though is the inclusion of Dan Potts and Jordan Spence in the full back positions, these 2 have been in and around the first team squad for quite a while now, so I wonder, could we possibly see these 2 feature a lot more regularly for us next season in the starting 11? I personally hope we do, as I think they've got a lot of potential and feel they will only improve with more experience, unless they go out on loan to a Championship club for a full season and we monitor their progress closely to see if they could become starting players. Another player is Ravel Morrison, West Ham fans have been calling for this young guy to be given a shot in the first team for ages and it appears after a successful loan at Birmingham City for the duration of last season, that he may well have a chance this year of breaking into the side and I fully hope he grabs this opportunity with both hands. He has managed to bag 2 goals in 2 in these friendly fixtures, so maybe he could begin to put some pressure on the midfield trio of Nolan, Diame and Noble, as well as those as back up such as Jack Collison. I personally think that if he continues to work hard and put in good performances when he gets the chance, there is no reason why he couldn't break into the first team, especially as there is no denying Nolan's age and maybe giving him a rest now and then could help improve us even further. Whatever happens, I hope we continue to see him feature in pre-season and maybe eventually see him break into the starting 11. If all of this carries on I feel it could be a very exciting time for West Ham with good experienced players and some decent young players putting pressure on those already in the first team, giving valuable competition for positions and making everyone perform to their best ability. We also mustn't forget that we've also seen Elliott Lee, Paul McCallum and George Moncur feature as well, all these players in my opinion are a bit too inexperienced to push into the first team yet, but hopefully they could all go out on loan this season, just as Morrison did and gain some valuable experience and come back to the squad stronger than ever, hungry for success and looking to get into our side.

Also today the new away kit has been shown available to pre-order now and you would receive this on the 25th July, please see below for pictures of the beautiful new away kit.

Enjoy these exclusive pictures and hopefully see you all wearing them soon!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Pre-Season Begins

It is that time of year again, when all football fans begin to get excited about what the upcoming season could hold for them and their team.

At the time of writing this, we have captured a few signings. Adrian, Rat, Whitehead and Carroll, I personally don't know much at all about Rat but I do know he is a left back and I'm certain signing him is to help us just in case McCartney has a long spell on the sidelines again, although I would like to see young Dan Potts feature a bit more regularly, but Allardyce may believe he isn't quite ready for a full season in the starting line up, which I can completely understand why. Adrian is a goalkeeper, who did have a bit of a nightmare start last season, but he gradually improved and then became one of the more successful goalkeepers in La Liga so he must be lined up as a potential replacement for Jussi in the future, although I would fully believe Jussi will be our main goalkeeper this season still, this does make me think that Stephen Henderson will soon be on his way out of the side. Regarding Whitehead, I do not know anything of this player, but I understand he is one for the future. Then the biggest signing for us thus far being that man Andy Carroll, capturing him on a permanent deal is a fantastic move in my opinion, yes we may have had to pay quite a bit, but lets be honest, Liverpool weren't going to want to lose out too much on the £30+ million they signed him for from Newcastle, the reason I feel this deal is brilliant for us is because he suits the formation and tactics that Allardyce uses. He is a perfect lone striker who is guaranteed to win the majority of his aerial battles, he isn't afraid to chase the ball down, he can hold up the ball before slotting another player through and on top of that he can also score, I have a lot of faith Carroll will be very successful for us and is a good purchase.

On top of all of this we have seen youngster Rob Hall leave to go to Bolton, if the rumours are to be believed then he has left because he wanted first team football, so he rejected a new contract, I honestly think had he stayed he would have featured in and around the first team, but he would not yet have been a starter in a mid-table side, while at a team in the Championship, he could well be a regular starter for them, I am gutted to see him go, but there was nothing Allardyce could have seriously done to make him stay and can completely see why Hall would want to feature more regularly and play more, so good luck to him. Talking about our youth players, I am hoping Potts and Spence will be involved a little more in defence, as I feel they both have the potential to be our future full backs, maybe if for once we could have a nice cup run, they would be regular starters in that side. I wouldn't be surprised now if we begin to see Ravel Morrison, a lot of fans have been crying out to see him feature, but I do think he needed that loan spell at Birmingham where he could feature more and Allardyce could analyse how he plays and where he looks most dangerous, so I feel this season will be his start to first team football. We also have the likes of Elliot Lee, Blair Turgott and possibly George Moncur who I feel might get a few opportunities to impress but overall I would expect all 3 of these players to head out on loan again, possibly to the Championship, to see how well they do.

Then we get to the rumour mill. 3 players keep cropping up at the moment, Wilfred Bony, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku. I honestly am not sure about all of these players joining, Bony is because he's transfer fee looks set to be over £10 million which I feel could be a high risk for a player who is unproven in the Premier League. The other 2 players I feel could both be great, as they are proven in the Premier League, but there are certain factors which make me feel they wouldn't join, this is all to do with the way we line up, we use a lone striker, Lukaku isn't going to want to go on loan to a club where he will be a bench warmer and possibly get 15 - 20 minutes a game when Carroll is tired, he will want to be the main striker, especially in a world cup year where he will be vying to get himself into the Belgium side. Demba Ba is the only one who I feel is possible, but I can't see this happening either, as he will either be backup to Carroll or played out wide, we saw how he stopped scoring for Newcastle as soon as they signed Cisse and started playing Ba out wide, then at the start of last season they decided to swap Ba and Cisse around and Ba started scoring for fun again, then he moved to Chelsea where he probably feels he didn't feature as much as he should have.

At the moment I feel we could do with a couple more signings, I would like to see us get a right winger especially, I feel this is the position where we are weakest with Ricardo Vaz Te, just not being up to it in my opinion, last season he sometimes looked lazy, almost scared to take his player on and I just don't think that can help us in a season where we are looking to get higher than before and hope to maybe see us in 8th or 9th. We shall have to wait and see, but that is something I really hope to see us manage.

The side is currently out on a pre-season tour and based on the pictures the players look happy to be back and it would be nice to see us grab a few wins in pre-season and take that into the start of the season, also our new home kit has been launched and I must say it's a lot better than recent years, but I feel that is what happens when your kit manufacturer goes from Macron to Adidas, I must say I am eager to see how our new away kit will look too.

Come On You Irons

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Season So Far...

Shocked to say, I'm finally doing another post. It has been a while but here goes.

At the time of writing we are just over halfway through the season, 20 games played, 11th in the table, 7 wins, 5 draws and 8 losses and a goal difference of 0. For a first season back, that is not a bad way of looking at it, especially when you see the other 2 promoted teams who finished above us are currently sitting in 17th and 19th respectively, I feel it is safe to say that Sam Allardyce and the team have done extremely well. The players we already had are doing well and those we have brought in to do a job have also been doing their part for the team. Personally my stand out player so far is Winston Reid, I just can't fault him right now, but I can go into that in more detail soon.

We have also seen the transfer window open once again and have already been fairly active in bringing in youngster Sean Maguire, Joe Cole and Marouanne Chamakh. My views on this are as positive as I can be, Sean Maguire is only young and is surely a purchase for the future, he plays up front and he had a successful trial with the club to join our development team and attempt to prove his ability to the manager. Joe Cole is a player all West Hams will remember, when he first broke onto the scene, for me personally he was one of the most exciting players I had ever seen, unfortunately his career didn't go as well as maybe some of us had hoped, although he did have lots of success at Chelsea, maybe we can get him back to how he was? Chamakh is one that I have seen a lot of split views on, but for me personally I think it could be a good loan move, he has the ability there, he proved this at Bordeaux and if memory serves me well, he started well for Arsenal until Robin Van Persie started doing so well and then limited Chamakh to limited appearance and the majority from the bench and since his career has stuttered, but he's another one who I feel Allardyce could get the best out of again. We also sound like we could still be looking for players if the rumours are to be believed so I'm sure the future will look good.

Now for the team in general, overall I'm extremely impressed, not only have we started brilliantly, but we like to mix up our play, short passes, long passes, pushing out wide and getting crosses in etc. We are lucky to have the players in our squad to be comfortable doing so. Below I'm going to give my view on some of the players I've seen and how I feel.

Jussi Jaaskaleinen - A very solid shot stopper and very communicative with the defence, even the attack at times, he seems more than capable in my opinion. At first I wasn't sure, but I feel he has proved me wrong and he looks like a solid purchase to replace Robert Green, I sometimes worry with his parrying, but I know nothing about Goalkeeping!

George McCartney - Unfortunately hasn't featured much this season due to injury, he hasn't looked bad when he has been fit but he hasn't set the league alight. Again solid, but if he is this injury prone, then we could do with an addition for this position, rather than having to play O'Brien on the side he doesn't favour.

Joey O'Brien - Was recently on the front page of one our home programmes, for being the unsung hero, for being very solid defensively. I find he gets a lot of unfounded abuse, which I feel is wrong as I have felt he has done very well, considering he has had to play left back a lot as well.

Guy Demel - I personally have been impressed by Demel most of the time, he's strong, good in the air and isn't afraid to get forward and put a cross in, not the most comfortable with tricky wingers running at him but again I feel he's done quite well.

James Collins - This man has probably had the most up and down season for us so far, fantastic in an aerial battle and good at throwing his body in the way of shots, but has also had his mistakes which you could say have cost us points at times. I think he's great when we're up against tough opponents like say Stoke, but maybe when up against a quicker side like Swansea or Arsenal then Tomkins should be favoured.

Winston Reid - For me, he is well on track for Hammer of the Year. His defensive ability has come so far since he first joined and I hope we keep him for many years to come. Strong, quick, comfortable on the ball and can pick out the odd pass. Just fantastic.

James Tomkins - We haven't seen as much as Tomkins as I would have personally liked and sometimes when he has featured, he hasn't been in what I see as his best position of centre back, but now and then in a holding midfield role or right back. Personally I've found he lacks the running for those two positions but in the centre of defence I've felt he's done well.

Jordan Spence - Hasn't started games, but has featured from the bench a few times, honestly think he could be a future right back for us if he continues to do well, maybe we will see him feature against Manchester United.

Mark Noble - Another player I've felt has done well overall, he's always running around and on his day he can boss a midfield, winning tackles and picking out good passes, now and then though he does misplace a pass or have a misplaced pass, but another who overall I've felt has done well.

Mohammed Diame - One of the best free transfers I've heard about, this guy has a lot going for him, he is good on the ball, can beat his man and can finish as shown versus Arsenal and Chelsea. I do think he does too much at times but he has been class.

Kevin Nolan - A fantastic start for our captain, scored a few goals and helped us get some valuable points on board, but recently he has seemed to have run out of steam a little, but having a game off last week through suspension, hopefully the time off will see him back to his best.

Matt Jarvis - Personally I've felt he's done very well. He's one of the few players in our squad who has the pace to knock the ball past a man and run past him, he also is always trying to get crosses in and I think in time he's going to come very good.

Matty Taylor - Solid overall, not quite got the pace for the wing like he once had, but he can definitely pass a ball and pick out a player, I'm happy with his contribution so far.

Gary O'Neil - Maybe not the best player, but determination wise I feel he always gives it his all, hassling opponents and not giving them time, but his passing can sometimes leave us questioning, but when performing well I like him, as he showed against West Brom.

Jack Collison - Has been out for the majority of season due to injury, but now he is back and I have to say he looks bright, another who is comfortable on the ball and looks ready to take on the man in front of him. Can't wait to see him show everyone what he can do and maybe be back to the Jack we saw before we were relegated.

Ricardo Vaz Te - Probably one of the few who haven't done as well as I'd hoped. The man who shot us back to the Premiership seems to not get the space and time that he had in the Championship, but maybe if he gets some confidence, he could well prove he is good enough for this league.

Carlton Cole - At the start of the season he had been on the bench mostly due to the arrival of Andy Carroll and I felt when he came on, he never really seemed up for it. Then Carroll picked up an injury and in his absence Carlton has come back in, this time he is looking hungry, winning aerial battles and bullying defenders, which, if he keeps up the form could keep Carroll out for longer than just his injury.

Andy Carroll - For me he has done very well, fair enough he hasn't scored many, but he is brilliant at winning and holding up the ball and helping to bring others into play, if he can find his goalscoring boots as well, then he could very well be one of the complete strikers, but first he needs to recover from injury.

Next up is Manchester United in the FA Cup, I have no expectations for this, it's almost impossible to call what sort of side they will bring, surely not wanting to risk their best, just to keep them in top spot and give themselves the upperhand against their bitter Manchester rivals. So the game could definitely be there for the taking. Let's wait and see. All I really hope for this season though, is that we keep up our strong return to the Premiership and solidify ourselves in this division. I personally feel Sam Allardyce deserves a new contract, even though I was one who didn't want him as manager, he has swayed me and I hope he stays, for a couple more years at least.

Come On You Irons!