Monday, March 31, 2008

West Ham After Lazio Midfielder

According to The Daily Mail West Ham are preparing a summer bid for Lazio midfielder Valon Behrami.

The Swiss international has not signed a new contract with the Italian club and in recent weeks has been linked with a move away from the club. The Mail claim that West Ham, with recently appointed Italian Gianluca Nani as Director of Football, are in pole position to sign the 22-year-old.

Villa in for West Ham's Pantsil

The Daily Mirror claim that Aston Villa are keen on West Ham's John Pantsil. Despite the injuries at West Ham the Ghanian international has not been able to break into the first eleven. French Ligue 1 side Auxerre are also reported to be interested in the player.

Despite his lack of first team opportunities Pantsil had recently talked about his joy at being at West Ham and seems to be looking forward to next season,

“We’ve had a fresh start this season. I think West Ham will be the team to watch out for next season,” Paintsil said.

West Ham 4 Reading 0 (Under 18's)

West Ham Under 18's won 4-0 against Reading on Saturday. The win keeps them top of the league ahead of Arsenal, two points behind but with two games in hand over West Ham.

West Ham's goals were all scored in the first half. The goals came from West Ham triallist Ahmed Abdulla, Junior Stanislas, Anthony Edgar and Oliver Lee.

West Ham Reserves in Action

West Ham Reserves are away to Chelsea tonight.

The game is at Griffin Park and kick off is 7pm. Admission is £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.

A win tonight would make it six wins in a row for the reserves and keep them top of the southern section table. Villa in second place are a point behind with two games in hand. Villa play Birmingham City tonight.

Sunderland vs West Ham - The Highlights

Sunday, March 30, 2008

West Ham Linked with Danny Haynes

The People say that Ipswich striker Danny Haynes is a £2 million target for West Ham. Haynes is a product of Charlton's youth academy so is presumably known to Curbishley.

Haynes, aged 20, is hardly a prolific scorer, having scored six in the Championship this season so would be presumably be nothing but a back up player at West Ham.

West Ham Push for Second Eleven of Injuries

Having had a whole side out injured for most of the season West Ham are now pushing hard to see if they can put together a second eleven of injured players.

It seems that Ljungberg and McCartney both picked up hamstring injuries yesterday. The official West Ham website is also reporting that "Matthew Etherington and Julien Faubert are unlikely to figure again this season with the decision taken to get them in shape for pre-season."

Alan Curbishley is now struggling to find enough players fit enough to put a side,

"We are completely stretched to the limit now ... It has been the story of our season - lots of people have been out injured long term and the players that have been playing have had to play every week without a break ... They are very tired, we have had people on international duty, Lucas Neill went to China, and quite a few of my players played midweek which we could have done without but we have got a bit of a break now."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sunderland 2 West Ham 1

West Ham started with Spector in for Tomkins and Cole in for Boa Morte. Sears and Zamora both didn't make the squad.

West Ham made a good start to the game. In the ninth minute Parker broke down the left, cut the ball back to Ashton on the edge of the box. Ashton's shot had Gordon beaten in goal but the ball hit the left hand post. In the 11th minute Cole shot from 20 yards and missed left. In the 15th minute Noble drove forward for about 20 yards and shot right footed from 25 yards and his shot also flew left of the goal.

In the 17th minute West Ham were finally rewarded for their early pressure. Carlton Cole passed the ball back to Freddie Ljungberg. Ljungberg shot from the edge of the box, the ball seemed to take a deflection off a defender before shooting into the back of the net.

Sunderland came back into the game a little after the West Ham goal but the Irons looked comfortable until in the 29th minute Richardson made some good ground down the Sunderland left wing. His cross was back-heeled by Murphy on the near post and Jones tapped the ball home from four yards.

After Sunderland's goal they began to dominate the game and created a number of chances. In the 37th minute however Ashton found Cole on the left-hand edge of the box and Cole smashed the ball goalwards. Gordon in goal just managed to tip the ball over. From the resulting corner Spector almost scored but headed just wide.

In the end a half of non-stop action finished with the teams on level terms.

Pantsil came on for McCartney in the second half. For the first twenty minutes it was a relentless bombardment by Sunderland of the West Ham area. An already booked Carlton Cole tried his best to get sent off, throwing the ball away and arguing with the officials. In the 65th minute Curbishley was finally forced to bring Solano on for Cole.

In the 71st minute Pantsil collided with Spector and was replaced by birthday boy Tomkins. In the 77th minute Parker managed a shot on goal from the right side of the penalty area from 12 yards out but the shot was blocked by Evans.

In the 87th minute, with West Ham having used all their substitutions, Ljungberg seemed to pull a hamstring and West Ham had to continue the game with just ten men. Five minutes of extra time were then added on so West Ham faced a torrid end to the game as Sunderland pushed on for the win.

One minute after the five minutes of extra time should have finished Sunderland scored the winner. Andy Reid lashed the ball home right footed from 18 yards.

In the end it was a poor day for West Ham, losing to Sunderland and possibly losing Ljungberg for the rest of the season.

Sunderland vs West Ham

Alan Curbishley is calling for the West Ham defence to stop conceding early goals.

"We came into March knowing we had an extremely tough month with Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Blackburn and Everton all in the top positions and we've been 1-0 down early in all five games. Against Spurs we went two down.

"We said up at Everton 'can we be nice and solid for the first 10 or 15 minutes?' only to find ourselves 1-0 down again.

"It is something we've been talking about and hoping to improve on. It would be nice for us to go into the lead, because we've had to come back in the last two games, and see what happens then."

This aim might be hampered by Upson's injury who is said to be doubtful for today's game. There are rumours on West Ham forums that Sears is definitely out but I'm still hopeful he can make the bench.

For Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones could return after recovering from a virus although international team-mate Carlos Edwards (groin) is rated at only 50-50.

I can't find any streams for today's game. If you know of any please leave a comment.

A couple of links (SopCast & TVAnts) have been added to the comments (thanks!).

Radio Commentary is on Radio London:
BBC London 94.9FM, DAB Digital Radio & Sky Channel 0152

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sunderland vs West Ham - The Predictions

Lawro says that Sunderland will "see this as a game that they can win." That seems to be enough for Lawro to predict a West Ham loss. I think that West Ham will actually see it as a game they can win. That's three points for the Irons then.

Lawro predicts a 2-1 loss for West Ham

Sky note that Sunderland have picked up seven points in seven games and that West Ham have won just four out of their last twelve games. They seem to think that both teams' current form will cancel each other out.

Sky predict a 1-1 draw

Setanta prediction to follow

Sears Struggling for West Ham

Freddie Sears is the latest West Ham player to suffer an injury. Sears has been struggling with a groin injury he picked up against Everton and may not make tomorrow's game. Zamora and Cole, however, are both expected to be available.

Matthew Upson may not recover in time so Tomkins could be in line for another start with the first team.

West Ham to Continue With Youth

Alan Curbishley says he will continue to play some of the younger players, as long as West Ham remain above Sp@~s.

“I appreciate everybody's position - they want to finish as high as they can, but I've got to think about the club as well,” Curbishley said. “I've got to mix and match a little bit. For me, it's obviously the bigger picture. I've got no doubts about putting some of them [younger players] in. But it all depends if Tottenham go above us, I suppose.”

“Every game and every point is vital, but at some stage, if they are good enough, you have got to give them a go..They bring enthusiasm and want to do well. You can see the strength of the squad.”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hines & Reid Out On Loan

West Ham's Zavron Hines has joined Coventry on loan until the end of the season.

He was watched by Coventry manager Chris Coleman last week in the reserves and could feature for Coventry in Saturday's game against Plymouth Argyle at the Ricoh Arena.

Kyle Reid has also gone out on loan. Reid has joined Crystal Palace until the end of the season. Reid could play for Palace in Saturday's Championship fixture at home to Blackpool.

Ljungberg Staying at West Ham

Freddie Ljungberg has laughd off suggestions that he will be one of the victims of a summer cull at West Ham. The national press gave reported this week that West Ham had been offering Ljungberg around to other clubs in a bid to reduce its wage bill.

"We have worked really well and I think I was voted the best player last month so I can't really complain," said Ljungberg.

"Maybe there will be [people leaving], we have a very big squad and maybe they will if they are going to bring in some players. But I think whatever the manager does to make the squad better or the team better, that is a good thing."

"I am looking forward to it [next season]. When I joined they said they wanted to build a new team and maybe a little bit like Chelsea did, they are willing to spend the money to make a great side, and that is probably the same thing we will do this summer - spend a bit and go a bit further on.

"But I hope we will still reach Europe [this season] to be honest and that would be great because it is fantastic for the club to get good experience playing in Europe."

"To be honest I am disappointed about the Everton game, I think we played quite well and maybe we should have won the game and then definitely we would have been back on track so to speak, but after three four-nils of course it is better.

"But I think we have to look forward, and if we can play like that against Everton and they are fourth or fifth, we should have won the game away, I think we can look forward and look to better things to be honest."

Trinidad Pair to Make Miraculous Recovery

With Trinidad and Tobago threatening to invoke the five day ban to stop Kenwyne Jones and Carlos Edwards playing for Sunderland this weekend Roy Keen brought in Dwight Yorke to plead his case.

The two Sunderland players were withdrawn from the Trinidad squad for their friendly last night because of injuries. However the Trinidad FA had their request to have an independent assessment of the players' fitness turned down.

This led to Trinidad imposing FIFA's 'five day rule', which would have meant the players missing this Saturday's game with West Ham. That is until Trinidad hero Dwight Yorke intervened.

Now what's the betting that both players make a miraculous recovery for Saturday?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

West Ham to Offload Ljungberg

The Daily Mail claim that West Ham have been touting Freddie Ljungberg around other clubs "as the Hammers revert to giving youth a chance." To back up their claim they point out that Tomkins and Sears have both made their débuts in the last couple of weeks.

Of course Tomkins' emergence this season as a viable centre back for the club must make Ljungberg's position on the wing untenable. Either that or The Mail think that the club are planning to play one of the most exciting strikers to emerge from the Academy down the flanks. Or (and I know this sounds unlikely) The Mail are telling porkies again.

Macca Rejects Rangers

West Ham's George McCartney has rejected rumours linking him with a summer move to Glasgow Rangers. The Mail claim the defender has been monitored for the last six months by Rangers but McCartney wants to stay at West Ham.

"I'm happy with life at West Ham - I am playing every week in the Premier League," said McCartney.

"Rangers are a massive team but I don't know if Scottish football is really up to Premier League standards."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tomkins' Dream Week

James Tomkins has followed up his Saturday debut for West Ham by scoring two goals for his country.

England Under 19's beat Russian in Milton Keynes tonight. Tomkins opened the scoring for England in the 19th minute with a header and then extended the lead in the 59th minute following up on a blocked shot.

Tomkins was substituted after 66 minutes, whilst West Ham's Junior Stanislas was brought off the bench.

The future is bright. The future is claret and blue.

West Ham Linked with Colchester Keeper

Both The Ipswich Evening Star and The East Anglian Dily Times are linking Colchester goalkeeper Dean Gerken with West Ham. The 22 year old keeper was named Colchester's young-player-of-the-season last term, and has played all but six of this season's fixtures.

The papers say West Ham may make a £500,000 offer this summer. A bid of this size would trigger a clause in Gerken's contract.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Everton vs West Ham - Highlights

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Green for England

So Green has been called up to the England squad to replace the injured Chris Kirkland after Robinson was called up for the injured Scott Carson.

Green claimed at the weekend that Capello saw him as England's sixth best goalkeeper. Capello has proved Green wrong, he obviously sees him as England's fifth best goalie.

These are the average ratings given by Sky this season for the English goalkeepers:

Green: 6.8
James: 6.7
Hart: 6.6
Carson: 6.5
Kirkland: 6.3

James Tomkins and Freddie Sears are also set to play for England in the U19s friendly against Russia at Milton Keynes on Tuesday.

West Ham in the Sunday Papers

The People claim that West Ham manager Alan Curbishley has received his first player recommendation from new technical director Gianluca Nani. He has been advised to sign Slovakia under - 21 international midfielder Marek Hamisk 20 from Italian club Napoli.

Hamisk was nutured by Nani at Brescia and has attracted interest from Italian giants Inter Milan and Juventus. He is rated at £5million and has scored six goals in 20 games this season.

The News of the World say West Ham ate set to battle it out with Celtic to land Ghana defender John Mensah. The 25 year old ace is expected to leave French football club Rennes in the summer.

He has previously played in Italy for Cremonese and Chievo and he has more than 50 caps for his country.

The Mirror say that Alan Curbishley saluted two of his emerging stars after West Ham came from behind to take a point against Everton at Goodison Park.

Curbishley said: "The way the game went after the break, we feel a little disappointed that we didn't win it.

"Certainly we grew into the game. James Tomkins made an error early on and allowed Yakubu to 'roll' him for their goal. But he hit the bar and got better and better on his debut.

"And so did we. And when we brought on Freddie Sears in the second-half, it gave us all a lift again just like last week when he scored the winner on his debut.

"He gives us something different, and he could easily have scored again with that late effort against the post.

"Everton were desperate for the three points and we were hitting them on the break. We just couldn't finish it off.

Everton vs West Ham - The Reviews

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the newspapers seem more concerned with Everton's blowing of their Champions League hopes than with appraising yesterday's game. Again, not surprisingly, Tomkin's debut and mistake for the first goal is mentioned in most of the reports. Dean Ashton seems to receive the highest praise of the West Ham players.

The Daily Mail say that "Anton Ferdinand was not the steadying influence" on Tomkins that he should have been. They claim that "Sears ... is a far more popular figure than ... misfit Luis Boa Morte." Despite making the early pressure The Mail conclude that "Everton were kept on the back foot for long periods."

The Telegraph are not great fans of West Ham's system. "The make-up of West Ham's five-man midfield meant they looked comfortable in possession but they rarely got within 50 yards of Howard's goal." They name Ashton as the man of the match and say his "powerful header for West Ham's equaliser was just reward for his great work-rate."

The Guardian run with the weirdest football report I have ever read, spending most of the article trying to compare Moyes with Foggy from Last of the Summer Wine. They end the article with a tiny bit about the game, "West Ham were a total shambles for the first 25-30 minutes, then Everton took the baton of uselessness and ran with it. On the flip side, there were some pretty decent performances from the strikers: Yakubu and Ashton both scored, while Sears and Anichebe impressed."

The Independent were impressed with Ashton and felt he scored a "terrific goal". The Times, on the other hand, call Ashton 'industrious' and "the game’s pivotal figure." They say that "on the break, the Hammers fought tenaciously." They name Ashton as their 'star man'.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Everton 1 West Ham 1

With Upson not recovering in time Alan Curbishley handed James Tomkins his first start. Sears started on the bench with Boa Morte returning to the side.

It looked like a dream start for Tomkins when he nearly repeated Sears' feat of last week by scoring within five minutes. From a Noble corner Tomkins stooped and headed the ball from seven yards but unfortunately his header hit the bar.

Three minutes later and that dream became a nightmare as he went up for a header with Yakubu and completely missed the ball. That left Yakubu clear in behind the West Ham defence and Green could do nothing as Yakubu slotted the ball home.

In the 31st minute the Everton defence tried to return the favour when the two centre backs both went for a Noble cross and both missed the ball. Ashton, six yards out, was gifted a perfect opportunity to equalise but his shot just flew wide of the left hand post.

It was a slice of luck that Everton perhaps deserved as before Ashton's miss they had a perfectly good goal from Yakubu ruled wrongly offside. With a couple of minutes of the first half left Ashton had a chance to atone for his glaring miss when West Ham were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out. Ashton bent the ball low around the wall, the ball hit the back of an Everton defender and looked like it was going to beat an already diving Howard but the keeper did well to save with his feet.

Five minutes into the second half and Sears was brought on for Boa Morte. Sears' pace and eagerness seemed to spur West Ham on. In the 54th minute from a corner Ferdinand headed the ball down to Tomkins just three yards out but the ball bounced up unkindly and Tomkins couldn't get his shot away.

In the 64th minute Baines was played through on goal and Green came out well to save at his feet. Three minutes later Neill crossed a hopeful ball into the box from the touchline and Ashton got in front of his marker and headed West Ham's equaliser from around the penalty spot.

In the dying minutes West Ham had three good opportunities to take the lead. In the 84th minute Sears pounced on a defensive error, he tried to take the ball around Howard but was forced a little wide and couldn't dig out his shot with any force. In the 84th minute Noble made some ground down the left, passed the ball onto Solano, received the ball back and shot from twenty yards just over the bar.

Then thirty seconds later Sears was played clear through on goal, he tapped the ball past Howard and the ball rolled towards the goal only to hit the post and bounce back into play.

In the end West Ham were probably unlucky not to win the game.

Everton vs West Ham Live

Today's game is live on Setanta sports so there should be a few streams available.

LiveFooty has a Sopcast stream and a TVUplayer stream.

have streams for all the main streaming software. The channels being streamed are: Fox Soccer Channel, BEN1 Sports, Star Sports, TrueSport 3,Supersport 3and WRTV.

Full radio commentary is available for the game from BBC Radio Five. The commentary is available on-line (UK only)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Everton vs West Ham - The Predictions

Sky make much of the fact that Everton need this win to catch up with Liverpool in fourth place, which will set the Toffees up for the Merseyside derby next weekend. Sky believe that Andy Johnson is almost certainly out of the game. Tim Cahill (hip) remains a major doubt, but Manuel Fernandes has overcome a groin problem and could figure.

Sky predicts a 1-0 loss for West Ham

Setanta think Everton lack options up front which could seriously curtail their game. With Cahill and Fernandes also looking uncertain they don't think they have goals from midfield either.

Setanta predicts a 1-1 draw.

Lawro seems to have been sacked (or has taken the weekend off). Damn Lawrenson managed to sneak back into broadcasting house. And he brings another classic Lawro - by claiming that West Ham are not good on the road - when nearly half our points this season have come from away games.

Lawrenson predicts a 2-1 loss for West Ham.

West Ham Team News

The official West Ham website for once has a very detailed assessment of the injury situation of the players ahead of the Everton game.

The defence looks the area where we are stretched the most. Upson 'may return' after his calf injury and Spector is due to fly back late tonight after playing late last night for the USA. Anton Ferdinand has been training fully despite feeling a groin injury before the Blackburn win and Tomkins played for the reserves this week and is fully recovered from his groin injury.

Zamora has not trained all week but could play. Cole has been hampered by a dead leg but (worryingly) Boa Morte is available again.

Lee Bowyer and Matthew Etherington are both sidelined with groin injuries.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Curbs Asked for Noble to be Dropped

It all makes sense now! Alan Curbishley has revealed that Mark Noble was left out of the England Under 21 squad at his request. Alan curbishley said,

"I went to go and see Stuart Pearce a couple of weeks ago because the last time he went away to go and play against Ireland we had to give him two days off here when he came back because he was shattered after putting so much in.

"I had the conversation with Stuart about burnout because Mark Noble up until about two weeks ago, along with Hayden Mullins, had played just about every game for us.

"It is a friendly, so Stuart has taken the opportunity to give him a rest.

"Some players haven't had a break all season and with the development of young players, you don't want to burn them out.

"It is still a learning thing for him and it will make him stronger physically and mentally for next year."

Upson Named in England Squad

Matthew Upson has been named in the England squad for the friendly with France in Paris on 26 March.

Mark Noble, who was left out of the Under 21 squad - leading to rumours he might be in line for a call up to the senior team, has not been named in the squad. Green has also been left out again.

West Ham Keeper Joins Southampton

Richard Wright has joined Southampton on a month's loan. West Ham goalkeeping coach Ludek Miklosko said on the loan,

"Richard is a fantastic lad and we thought he just needs to play. There was an opportunity for him to get some games and I just wish him luck. Hopefully he will do well. That's what he needs. He has definitely helped Robert this season. He has pushed him hard and is a great goalkeeper. He has a great attitude."

This presumably means that Jimmy Walker will step up to be the second choice keeper whilst Green is away.

Spector Expected to Start for the US

Jonathan Spector has arrived in America for their Under 23's semi-final game against Canada today. I think the winners of this semi-final game will then qualify for the Olympics. The winners will also go forward to the final on Sunday.

What does seem certain is that what ever the outcome Spector will be unavailable for West Ham on Saturday. The US agreed with West Ham to leave Spector out of the first round of the US's games in February and for him to be available for the semi-final. Presumably West Ham were hoping that the injury situation at the club would have improved by now and had not banked on Upson getting injured.

Hopefully Upson will be fit for Saturday's game.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stadium and Transfer Freeze

West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury has hinted in the Newham Recorder that despite the signing of Gianluca Nani there won't be a huge influx of new players this season. He also indicated that the new stadium if it goes ahead will be smaller than previously indicated.


"I think there will be money for signings, but I am not sure we want to use it," Duxbury said.

"I think when all our players are fit and we can play Ashton up front with Bellamy or Sears, when Faubert gets a chance, when we can play Scott Parker and Kieron Dyer in midfield, then we are capable of making the top six and that is our aim."

"If we bring in big-money signings, then we are not going to see the players who we have already, get a chance to show what they can do. What sort of message are we sending out to Freddie Sears if we buy another big-money striker?

"Obviously, we will look to bring in players where we need a bit of cover, but perhaps we will bring in a younger striker and let him learn from the more experienced players."

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson

The tone of Duxbury's responses tend to support the theory that chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has tightened the purse strings, perhaps until the economic climate improves. However Duxbury denied this charge.

"I think his wealth has gone down from £1.2 billion to £1.1 billion, so I don't think he has too much to worry about!" he said. "The situation is that he is based in Iceland, but he comes back for every home game and he is really enjoying things.

"I don't think it is a case of anything being put on hold. I think he will look to carry on the way things are for another couple of years and then he may come over and take a more hands-on role, but for the moment he is happy for us to deal with the day-to-day running of things."

New Stadium

Duxbury also reported on problems with the ex-Parcel Force site in West Ham, which is beginning to sound like a bit of a non-starter.

"There are one or two obstacles that we still have to get over. One of those is the gas holders on the site. We are currently discussing things with Health and Safety about the problems of potentially explosive structures being there, and we have asked them to come back to us with a solution."

"We could build a stadium on the site with the gas holders there, but that would curtail what we want to do in terms of a hotel and a leisure complex.

"There is also a bus depot being looked at for the site, but obviously the more of the site we can get, the better."

"In terms of the architects, we haven't got to the design stage yet, but it will be done by the same architects that designed Reading's stadium. At the moment, we are looking at a 50,000 stadium with the option of extending it to 60,000.

"It is not that we don't think we can fill 60,000 seats, but the last thing we want is empty seats. We are confident that we will be able to fill a 50,000 capacity stadium."

"The completion of the new training site is nearer to fruition than the new stadium, though we don't expect to have completed the deal until September. I can't say where the site is, but it is very near to Chadwell Heath, and the pitches are set up there already. It is just a matter of constructing the building and we will be ready to move."

Noble Not Named for England

Mark Noble has been left out of the England Under 21 squad to face Poland in a friendly at Molineux next week. This has sparked rumours that Noble may be named in the full England squad for the forthcoming friendly against France.

Pearce also left out Theo Walcott, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Aaron Lennon from his squad. When questioned about his omission of so many regulars Pearce remarked,

"You never know, there might be one or two names in Fabio's squad that make you sit up and listen."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

West Ham Reserves 2 Reading Reserves 1

West Ham fielded a side featuring Boa Morte, Tomkins, Collison and Reid. Collison opened the scoring for West Ham in the 28th minute, playing a neat one-two with Boa Morte on the edge of the penalty area before curling the ball into the far corner of the goal.

West Ham's second was an own goal from Sonko whose over hit backpass gave the Reading keeper no chance. The own goal came in the 40th minute.

Reading dominated most of the second half, piling on pressure to get back into the game but a solid performance by the defence and some good goalkeeping from Adam Street denied Reading until injury time. It was about two minutes into added on time when Reading scored. The goal came from Kitson's conversion of a Sigurdsson cross.

The Equality League

To overcome the problem of the top four clubs dominating and destroying the Premier League and the problem of the ever increasing amounts of money being spent in the transfer market I propose a new league, which I am calling the EPL or the Equality Premier League.

My league will work in the same way as the English Premier League with three points for a win and one for a draw. However teams will be deducted one point for every million pounds they spend on the transfer market.

The table below shows how my rules would effect this year's league. All the teams have been deducted one point for each one million pounds they spent in the summer transfer market (the transfer spending is based on figures originally compiled by Purely Man City)

Under my rules West Ham would move up to sixth in the table. In fact I think Purely Man City have inflated the money West Ham spent and we actually only spent one or two million more than we received in the summer - so if you add seven points to West Ham we come out equal third with Villa. On the other hand I don't want to think how far in the minus we would have been last season if you worked out that table by the same rules.

The big losers under my rules would be Man Utd, Man City and Sunderland, who all splashed out in the summer. Conversely Arsenal, who were the only club to make a surplus in the summer, would have had the championship tied up by Christmas.

(Oops - maths was never my strong point, -8 is below -2 and Sunderland should rightly be bottom not Derby.

Hang on, what am I saying - Sp@~s should be bottom!)

"I am here to build something" - Nani

Nani and Curbishley hold up a West Ham shirt
The Times today say that West Ham's new technical director Gianluca Nani will be given a transfer budget of around £28 million. They claim that he has watched West Ham several times on video and identified the areas that can be improved upon. Which The Times say is most notably in attack (although it isn't exactly clear if that is The Times' verdict or Nani's).

The Times also make much of the fact that Nani, reportedly, tried to sign Kaká, two years before AC Milan and Adriano before any other European club. Hopefully the fact they he failed to sign either player is owes more to Brescia's transfer budget than his negotiating skills.

West Ham Reserves in Action

West Ham Reserves return to action tonight after the postponement of their game last week. Tonight's game is a crunch game against title rivals Reading and the winners of this game could go top of the league. Reading currently have one point more than West Ham. Aston Villa currently lead the table, two points ahead of West Ham.

The game kicks off at 7pm and is at Bishop's Stortford FC's Woodside Park ground.

Solano to Stay At West Ham

Nobby Solano has revealed that he has been made a contract offer by MLS side Toronto but that we wants to stay in the Premier League. Solano says West Ham have spoken to him about a one year extension to his contract with the club.

“I’m under contract with West Ham,” Solano said. “They have spoken to me regarding a one-year extension. The truth is that I feel lucky to be up there in England, where the football is currently improving.

“That’s not a coincidence if the teams achieve important things in the Champions League, it shows the league has grown.

“It’d be interesting to finish my career there (Toronto). I’ve worked with the coach (ex-Newcastle assistant John Carver) and the assistant and I know them pretty well. But it’s not the right moment.

“I thank them to have thought of me and it makes me feel proud.”

Reactions to West Ham Technical Director

Here are some of the West Ham staff's reactions to the appointment of the new Technical Director, Gianluca Nani. Staring with the man himself,

"I am really proud and really honoured to be here at West Ham," Nani said. "I know this is a club full of history, full of honour. I know that West Ham play the right way.

"I know the history of West Ham. I know the fans are really passionate, like the football has to be - played with passion."

"I met Alan and Scott some months ago. We started to talk about the ambitions of the club ... and we have the same point of view."

Alan Curbishley said on the new appointment,

"In Gianluca we feel we have brought the man in who is going to help me enormously in what I need to do and push the club forward. I think that you may well see that this sort of appointment may become the norm in the Premier League. I know that other clubs have gone down this route and the manager has certainly got to be on board with everything that is done and I have been involved in the process completely.

"After several meetings and several discussions and getting to know each other, I feel that Gianluca is the person I need to help me in the recruitment area of the club - certainly at senior level and venturing down into the Academy level. It is a big brief we have given him, we are sure he is up for it. He is vastly experienced in that area. We took a good look at Brescia at what they have achieved over the years and their set-up and their infrastructure and it is something that we are lacking at the club."

Scott Duxbury, West Ham United CEO, said: "West Ham United's aims are to continue to compete successfully in the Premier League and to challenge for trophies both domestically and in Europe. A key factor in helping to achieve this is the appointment of our technical director Gianluca Nani. Many months ago, the manager and the board agreed a job description for what was required from the appointment.

"Someone who could establish a leading domestic and European scouting network, ensure the Academy and the first team have access to the best players both domestically and internationally and establish an infrastructure to ensure the successful development of all our players. The manager led the recruitment process and interviewed all potential candidates which led to the eventual appointment of Gianluca. The club now has a major opportunity to grow and develop as a leading football force in the Premier League and we are extremely pleased Gianluca has agreed to join us and be part of the club and its ambitions going forward."

Monday, March 17, 2008

West Ham Cooling on New Stadium

West Ham today issued a 'Statement from the Board'.

The statement outlined a number of aims for the club (to be achieved 'over time'):
  • Remain successful in the Premier League
  • Challenge for the main English club trophies
  • Qualify for European football
  • Nurture young playing talent
  • Develop our transfer trading policies and scouting networks
  • Utilise the best physical and medical support services for the playing staff
  • Improve our training ground facilities
  • Examine ways of expanding our ground capacity via improvement or relocation
  • Build our fan base and extend the links into local communities; and
  • Strengthen the brand image of the club both nationally and internationally.

The media in the last couple of weeks have reported that some West Ham fans were blaming Egert Magnusson for raising their expectations (which of course sounds very unlikely). Magnusson said West Ham's ambition was to play in the Champions League within a few years.

This new statement is qualified from the beginning with the words 'over time', there is no mention of the Champions League at all and plans for a new stadium has become an examination of ways to increase capacity via 'improvement or relocation'.

I don't know whether this an attempt by the club to dampen the fans' expectations (and to acknowledge Alan Curbishley's achievement this year in stabilising the team's position) or a genuine lowering of ambition by the owners.

I have a worry that there may not be much more investment in the club by the present owners.

Sears on West Ham Debut

Freddie Sears has spoken about his dream debut for West Ham.

"When he (Curbishley) said 'Freddie warm up, get ready', I was a bit shocked - it just went from there," the England Under-19 international said. "I wasn't nervous. The atmosphere and the fans spurred me on a little bit more. It was really good."

I came on, got my first early touch. Then I had a shot and it come back so I headed it in. It was a great feeling. It was unbelievable ... especially at home as well at Upton Park as a West Ham fan."

My mum and dad were in the stands, a few friends and family and my mates were all around. I am delighted, it was a good debut."

You have just got to keep going, you have got to keep pushing on. This season I have worked hard. I have to keep pushing on and hopefully you never know what could happen."

Nani - It's Official

The West Ham official site have confirmed the appointment of Gianluca Nani as the club's first Technical Director.

Nani has been sporting director of Brescia Calcio since 1999. He will join West Ham in June but has already started working with West Ham manager Alan Curbishley to identify potential transfer targets.

At Brescia Nani has been in charge of all aspects of technical development - such as the youth academy, transfers and improving training facilities. His roles at West Ham will include:

* Enhancing the international scouting network
* Working with Alan Curbishley and the Board on all transfers
* Developing the youth academy with Tony Carr
* Improving all aspects of the training ground facilities

Fred Sears - A Profile

The West Ham official site has added a profile of of Fred Sears:

Searsy, as he is known to his team-mates, joined the club as a schoolboy at the age of eleven. Citing Paolo Di Canio as his all-time favourite player, he dreams of leading the West Ham United attack at Wembley Stadium. After beginning the 2006/07 campaign as a regular substitute for the Under-18s he soon forced his way into contention with his goals earning him a starting berth. His chances of realising his hopes took a major leap forward in the 2007/08 campaign with a prolific run for the U18s - including a hat-trick against Millwall in October 2007.

By then he had already made his England bow, getting 27 minutes as a substitute in a 4-0 U19 friendly win against Belarus on 11 September. The Hornchurch-based striker then suffered a setback, however, with a broken foot sidelining him at the end of 2007. However, he fought his way back to fitness and was soon back among the goals - not least with four goals in his first three outings of 2008.

Reserve-team football also came his way, and he particularly impressed when partnering Craig Bellamy in a 1-0 win away to Portsmouth in January before a two-goal show in a 3-1 win alongside Dean Ashton at Tottenham Hotspur the following month. He had scored 25 goals in 24 matches for the youths and reserves in the 2007/08 campaign, and just signed a new deal with the club, by the time he made it on to the bench on 15 March for the visit of Blackburn Rovers. He came on with 16 minutes to play and barely five minutes later had headed the winner in a rousing 2-1 home win.

Sears, who cites John Terry as the player he would most like to play against, was born on 27 November 1989. He cites his dad Dave as his inspiration but another influence on his career is Academy director Tony Carr who claimed: "Freddie has got what it takes to force himself into reckoning with the first team".

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nani Confirms West Ham Job

Gianluca Nani confirmed at a press conference in Italy this afternoon that he has accepted the post of Technical Director with West Ham,

"From June I will take over my new position with West Ham," said the Italian. "I have conducted the negotiations in person but in the full co-operation of Brescia chairman Corioni, who I must thank along with his family.

"I have leant so much in these years with the club and for that opportunity I must thank them."

Nani's is reputed to have good contacts throughout European and South American football. He is duties are expected to include overseeing transfer negotiations and the club's move to a new stadium.

West Ham Rejects

I just love this picture! Hopefully this will be the first of many for young Freddie Sears.

Lest we forget, however, here are a couple of West Ham old boys in action yesterday.

I have to begrudgingly admit that Defoe took his goal really well. However seeing Reo Choker's own goal on Match of the Day last night just rounded off a perfect day for me.

Freddie Sears' Press Cuttings

Freddie Sears
There are only two West Ham players who really feature in today's back pages. Freddie Sears' winner and first goal for the club impressed the Sunday papers but it is Dean Ashton who seems to be the unanimous choice for man of the match.

The Express say that Freddie Sears made a 'dream début'. The paper were less impressed by the West Ham right back, they say that "Lucas Neill was caught hopelessly out of position" for Blackburn's goal. Despite Sears' impact on the game The Express name Dean Aston as their man of the match

The Daily Mail claim that Trevor Brooking "beamed a smile as wide as the Thames" when young Freddie scored his opening goal for West Ham. Alan Curbishley noted that after the game it was Sears himself who had the biggest smile, "He is walking around the dressing room, beaming."

The eagle eyed Daily Telegraph took note of Sears' "crossed-irons gesture (as) he proclaimed his support for the east London club." However the paper were just as impressed with Ashton's performance and named him man of the match.

The ever begrudging Guardian say West Ham "just about deserved to win it." However the paper were impressed with their man of the match, Dean Ashton. They enthuse that "few English strikers possess Ashton's combination of power and finesse."

The Times say Sears made the "most glorious début" but claim Ashton "played a pivotal role". They say that Ashton's "work ethic, physical presence and well-honed technique proved inspirational." The Times name Ashton their 'star man' (what is wrong with 'man of the match' you muppets).

Sears reminded The Independent of another young pint sized striker. They noticed that Sears "emulated a feat performed 25 years ago by Tony Cottee, with whom he has already been compared, by scoring on his Upton Park debut." In fact The Independent feel that Sears has "the makings of a true Hammers hero."

And who could argue with that?

West Ham Highlights

In celebrating the win I'd forgotten how shocking the defending was for Blackburn's goal. On the other hand West Ham's goals were quality.

I stole these highlights off another blog - I wonder if they'll try and do me for breaking their copyright :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

West Ham 2 Blackburn 1

Ashton watches the ball hit the back of the net
West Ham's defence, perhaps understandably, looked a little nervous at the beginning of this game. Nervous or not though there was no excuse for the defending for Blackburn's opening goal.

West Ham were attacking through Parker when he lost the ball on the edge of the Blackburn penalty area. The ball was pumped forward by Blackburn to Pedersen who was standing completely alone on the left wing (Neil having decided to take a few minutes out to book his flight to China). Pedersen was able to amble forward and cross the ball to Santa Cruz (again completely alone) in the penalty area to head the ball into the net from seven yards.

After about half an hour the crowd began to turn and a few jeers rang out. This seemed to spur Ashton into a response. In the 39th minute the ball was pumped forward, Zamora headed the ball on, Ashton picked the ball up with his back to goal, flicked the ball around his marker and spun himself around the defender in the other direction, ran onto the ball and chipped it left footed over the out-rushing Friedel. - Beautiful.

Forget about the first part of the second half (there were a couple of long shots from Zamora and Ashton and Pederson should have scored for Blackburn), because all that should be remembered is the introduction of one Freddie Sears.

In the 74th minute Noble came on for Parker and Sears for Solano. Five minutes and 16 seconds after coming on Sears got West Ham's winner. The ball was pumped forward from deep, Ashton ran onto the ball and on the touchline back-heeled the ball to Sears. Sears shot first time from 6 yards, Friedel saved the ball low down but the ball flew up and Sears ran on and his diving header hit the back of the net.

In the 83rd minute Blackburn had an excellent opportunity to draw level. Roberts shot from 6 yards out and Green somehow managed a brilliant save low down to his left. In the 90th minute Derbyshire also had a very good chance but shot tamely at Green.

However in the end Blackburn couldn't ruin Sears' day. A new West Ham legend has been born ...

West Ham vs Blackburn - Live Streaming

LiveFooty currently have one SopCast stream for today's game.

FSI have a SopCast and a TVants stream. Both are from the TrueSports 5 channel.

Radio London are providing a full commentary of today's game - BBC London 94.9FM on BBC London dab and Sky Channel 0152.

Friday, March 14, 2008

West Ham vs Blackburn - Predictions

With West Ham hitting their worst form of the season the ever perverse Lawro chooses this week to predict a West Ham win. Lawro seems to think West Ham will react positively to their recent run of defeats, "the Hammers will be going all out to get something after a run of three straight 4-0 defeats."

Lawro predicts a 2-0 win.

Sky believe Noble will return to the first team squad to replace the suspended Boa Morte and that West Ham will be hoping that Matthew Upson makes a return. Sky notice that Blackburn have not beaten West Ham on their own patch in 14 years but are not convinced that West Ham can win this one.

Sky predicts a 1-1 draw

Setanta also notice that West Ham have a good record against Blackburn at the Boleyn, winning eight of their last nine fixtures. However also note that Blackburn have lost just one out of their last 11 matches.

Setanta agree with Sky that the game will be drawn. They predict a 2-2 draw.

West Ham Team News

It looks like Matthew Upson may be back for West Ham's next game but there will be little change elsewhere in the team, according to Alan Curbishley.

"Matty Upson may be back," the West Ham manager said. "We'll find that out over the next couple of days but apart from that there's not much change.

"Bowyer's training - but he's been out since the Birmingham game. He's trained for the last week. Faubert could be starting training today but it's a bit too early."

"He's come back from six or seven months out ... it's one of these things that happens to long term injuries. We just have to make sure that we get him fit now and that we've got him available for the run-in."

"I've been saying for the last couple of weeks that I won't be fazed about putting some of the young boys in and the timing's got to be right for that. They've been with us for the last five or six weeks being slowly introduced. I've not got a problem putting them in, we've to wait and see when the timing is right.

"I think after three 4-0 defeats it might not be the right time - but it's down to me as manager to do the best for the club as well and see if I've got anything there. We've got nine games left and we'll see what happens. They've impressed me a lot and they've been with us, slowly integrating."

"At the start of the season a few of the players thought they wouldn't get too much football when the new signings came in and they've ended up getting a lot of football. For me that's made the squad stronger."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

West Ham Manager Dodging the Assassins

West Ham manager Alan Curbishley has hit out at the media claiming that certain sections are out to get him. When asked about the dreaded 'vote of confidence' from the West Ham board Curbishley replied,

"It was a reaction to the personal stuff which has been written about me. When I talk to TV and radio, I know exactly what is being said and what is going out there.

"No disrespect to them, but sometimes the written stuff gets turned around, with a source here, or a source there. It becomes a bit tiresome really. But I cannot do anything about it.

"They don't make the headlines up, but certainly there are one or two agendas out there."

Nothing to do with three 4-0 drubbings in a row then?

West Ham in Toronto

The Toronto Star has confirmed rumours that West Ham will play a pre-season friendly in the city. The game will be against an MLS all-stars team and is scheduled for July 24th.

Last season the MLS all-stars team defeated Celtic in Denver, and in 2006 they beat Chelsea 1-0.

The Daily Express have resurrected the rumour that Mark Noble may be a target for Arsenal in the summer. They say if Arsenal lose Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer, Arsene Wenger will make an £8m offer for West Ham's Mark Noble.

Bilic Flattered With West Ham Link

Slaven Bilic says he is happy being Croatia manager,

"I am flattered to see in the papers that there are some clubs interested in me.

"But on the other hand it gets on my nerves because I have my job to do, and I am not thinking of leaving it. I am 100% focused on my job with Croatia. I will never enjoy a job as much as I enjoy being in charge of Croatia, and I am very proud.

However some of the ex-West Ham defender's comments suggest he has thought about the possibility of taking over a club side,

"I think it would be stupid [to look beyond the Euros]. In football, you have to enjoy it, be ready for any situation, but you can't plan it.

"Money is important for everyone. But the first thing will be sixth sense, what I really feel and the ambition of the potential clubs or the national team.

"I am not saying that I'm going to leave, I'm really enjoying it big time. I have never enjoyed my job like I am enjoying my job with Croatia. I don't really look to move."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tomkins and Sears get England Call

James Tomkins and Freddie Sears have been named in the England Under-19s squad for the international friendly against Russia on 25th March. The game is to be played in Milton Keynes at Stadium MK.

"West Ham should be in the Championship"

Wigan nutter Dave Whelen is at it again, telling the Daily Express that "West Ham should be in the Championship." Coming from the chairman of a team with a pitch that would embarrass a Conference side that is a bit rich.

After West Ham's game at Wigan I argued that they should be deducted points for the state of their pitch. Since then the rugby league season has begun and their pitch has become even worse. There are standards that stadiums must reach and the same should go for pitches. Why should opposition teams be disadvantaged just so that Whelen can line his grubby pockets by having his rugby team playing on the same pitch as his so called football team?

His latest comments come as The Express tries desperately to create trouble for West Ham. Yesterday they printed a story saying that MSI paid insurance on Carlos Tevez. They claim that this proves West Ham broke promises to the league after they were fined £5 million last season. The problem for The Express is that they can't quite explain to anyone how this proves anything.

The Express have been told quite categorically by the Premier League that they have “seen no evidence” that West Ham broke any rules. This has annoyed The Express so much that today they have printed a story claiming that "Richard Scudamore is under pressure from club bosses" following their non-story.

To back up this claim the paper could only get the muggy runts Dave Whelen and Fulham director Stuart Benson to support their argument. Fulham are lying second from bottom in the Premier League and last year tried to exert third party influence over West Ham by asking them not to play Boa Morte against them. Since West Ham refused to break Premier League rules for Fulham they have been consistently trying to stitch the Irons up. Now they face certain relegation unless they can try and get points deducted from another club.

For a second year running we see teams facing relegation trying to escape their plight not on the pitch but by trying to stitch up another team. Sadly with the amount of money that clubs stand to lose by being relegated we will probably see more and more of these desperate attempts to stay up at any cost.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sears Signs New West Ham Contract

At last some good news. Freddie Sears has signed a new two year contract with West Ham.

Academy director Tony Carr, commenting on the contract renewal, said:

"Even though Freddie was already under contract, it is an indication that if a boy pushes on, does well and catches the eye the club will recognise that with a new contract. That is an incentive for any young player to keep working, keep improving and if they show sufficient improvement they will be able to extend their stay at the football club.

"He has been with us since a very young age. It is a real endorsement of the academy system - another local boy nurtured from a very young age into the professional ranks. We have got high hopes for him for the future." That said, Carr was rightly cautious about expecting too much, too soon, claiming "it is a bit early for him to start thinking about what he might do and what he might not do" but added: "It is another stage in his development and we are pleased for him."

Dicks Attacks West Ham Players

West Ham legend Julian Dicks says the players are to blame for recent results and not Alan Curbishley.

"I think Alan is the right man for the job," said Dicks.

"These are all professional footballers, they are earning fortunes, but a lot of them are just going through the motions. At the end of the day the manager gets the blame which I think that is wrong. It's down to the players, they're the ones out on the pitch.

"Nowadays people give them (managers) eight months or a year and if they don't do anything then they get rid of them which for me is wrong.

"I watched them against Manchester United and they deserved to beat them. I watched them against Liverpool and they deserved to beat them too.

"Obviously the last three matches have been disappointing, but I was at the Chelsea game and I think fans can appreciate players having bad days and off games but they can't appreciate players not trying.

"Apart from (Mark) Noble and the keeper (Rob Green), the players didn't try against Chelsea.
"People pay a lot of money to watch the team play and we all have bad days, but it's when people don't try or there's no passion, that's what really gets fans annoyed.

"Alan Curbishley can put his 11 players out if they don't perform then there's not a lot he can do about it in that game. Nine of the players didn't perform (against Chelsea), they didn't work they didn't show any passion whatsoever."

"I think if you get results, I don't care who you are, the fans will come around, but at the end of the day it's down to the players.

"I played with Slaven, he was a quality player and obviously he's done really well with Croatia but hopefully they'll give Alan quite a bit more time.

"They are tenth in the table, it's not a disastrous season, it's only the last three games that they've performed badly.

"But 12 goals in three games is a lot to concede, but they have Blackburn next and if they can go out, beat them and get two or three results on the spin it'll all be forgotten."

I think the players should be locked in the dressing room with Dicks for half an hour. That should sort them out.

Curbishley Flying to Milan

Alan Curbishley is flying to Milan today to have talks with West Ham's new technical director Gianluca Nani (Nani will officially take up the position at the end of the season). The West Ham manager is being flown to Milan to discuss his summer targets with Nani, who will have the responsibility for acquiring those targets during the off season.

Reactions to West Ham Vote of Confidence

The words 'dreaded vote of confidence' appear in most of the papers this morning. The Times and The Mail seem to think that Curbishley's days are numbers but the other broadsheets seem to want to take the West Ham board at their word.

The Daily Mail notice that the board's statement backing Curbishley did point out the need for 'challenges to be met'. Even more worryingly for Curbishley the paper have started weighing up his possible replacements, they say "Slaven Bilic would be a firm favourite".

The paper claim that the West Ham board are worried about Curbs' signings of players with known injury problems and also say that "reports of player dissatisfaction with Curbishley's training ground methods have not gone unnoticed."

The Mail say they are unsure that Curbs will be able to improve West Ham's results in the run in. "During seven seasons in the top flight with Charlton, Curbishley averaged fewer then three wins from the last 12 games of each campaign."

This line is supported by The Times who also feel that the board's statement yesterday suggested that they "will review the situation over the coming months." The Times also feel that Slaven Bilic would be among the candidates to replace Curbishley if he was sacked.

The Telegraph take a less negative line. They say that although the board feel "that further improvements (are) needed to keep the club moving forward, there is a strong feeling among directors that Curbishley merits support for the way he has stabilised the club after the upheavals of last season."

The Guardian also seem to believe that Curbishley actually does have the backing of the board (despite it being their sister paper The Observer who kicked it all off at the weekend by saying the club were seeking a new manager).

The paper say that owner, "Gudmundsson, has drawn together the previously disparate strands of West Ham United Holding, the plc and the football club, to form one functioning board of directors. He has driven the appointment of a technical director, the Italian Gianluca Nani, who will start work at the end of the season, and he enjoys hands-on involvement in the projects for a new stadium and training ground."

"It is seen as significant that Gudmundsson included Curbishley on the interview panel for the technical director and Curbishley is due to fly to Milan today to discuss summer transfer targets with Nani."

Flying Curbishley to Milan so he can identify his targets for next year does suggest that the board expect him to be in charge next season.

This fact is not lost on The Independent, who say, "Alan Curbishley will fly to Milan today to discuss the club's transfer plans for the summer with Gianluca Nani, who is to be West Ham United's first technical director. The meeting is a clear sign that Curbishley, despite being under pressure after a poor run of form, is expected to survive as the club's manager beyond this season."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Curbs Receives 'Vote of Confidence'

The Sun's famous Gotcha headline
Alan Curbishley today received the dreaded 'vote of confidence' from the West Ham board.

"The board of West Ham recognise that recent results have been disappointing and frustrating for everyone connected to the club," a board statement said.

"However, there is no question of Alan Curbishley's future as manager being called into doubt."

"Alan, his staff and the players have done well to put the club into the top half of the table, despite a massive injury list, and they have the full support of the board.

"Of course, there are challenges to be met and further improvements needed to keep the club moving forward. The board will work with Alan to ensure that the progress we have made is maintained and built on to deliver success and long-term stability for West Ham."

Despite a 'vote of confidence' often being seen as a last warning, in this case it does seem that any questions over Curbishley's position have been invented by the media. On Sunday The Observer printed a story quoting a 'source' at the club claiming a replacement was being sought for Alan Curbishley. That article only included one direct quote which seemed to contradict the paper's assertion by saying that the question of Alan Curbishley's management of the club had not been raised.

Today there have been numerous follow up stories to The Observer's claim - all saying that the West Ham board were refusing to confirm Curbishley's job was safe. West Ham therefore seem to have had no alternative but to issue today's statement. It was a case of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.

This whole affair does seem to be a classic media sting. The media invents a story. When the club refuse to respond to the story - the media claims that this is evidence that it is true. Then when the club do finally respond, denying the story, it is seen as evidence that Curbishley's days are numbered.

GOTCHA indeed.

Schizo Mail on West Ham

The Daily Mail can't seem to make up its mind about West Ham. Today they quote West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green standing up for manager Alan Curbishley. Asked if he thought Curbishley should be replaced Green responded,

“I don't think it would help anyone. You can understand the frustration and the disappointment with the performances that have been put in. It hurt us because two out of the three came against London rivals. It is not what you associate with West Ham United, losing games like that.

We are in tenth place and it is a massive step in the right direction from where we were last year. We can go and do something about that until the end of the season.”

However having been told by Green that he supports Alan Curbishley's management the paper then claims the manager has lost the support of the players.

"Slaven Bilic has to be the next manager of West Ham. Soon. The locals will want the Croatia manager to take charge before Alan Curbishley can do any more damage.

The players have already made up their minds. They want Curbishley out, obviously, or else why aren't they trying harder?"

Are you calling Green a liar? That could be dangerous, he is a big man.

West Ham News Round Up

Craig Bellamy should be back in training in two weeks but is probably some way off a return to first team action.

According to PhysioRoom Matty Etherington, Faubert and Bowyer are all expected to return from injury this week.

West Ham Reserves are in action tonight against Derby County (this game has been moved from tomorrow night). The game will be played at Bishop Stortford's Woodside Park home. Kick Off is at 7pm.

West Ham - 'Not Too Bad'

Despite The Guardian's claim that the West Ham board are actively looking for a replacement for Alan Curbishley and a third 4-0 loss yesterday the West Ham manager believes the club's owners understand the problems he has faced.

"I think they are realistic about it, but we'll have to see on that score because it's a results business," Curbishley said.

"Up until this week we hadn't been too bad, so we'll have to bounce back.

"We're in football and nothing surprises anybody, but I would have thought (they would understand). They are realistic about what has gone on. They get the update every Monday of the injury situation.

"Any other team that has had six or seven out every week would find it difficult. You can see the difference in teams with settled sides."

Spector Off?

Jonathon Spector has been added to the US Olympic qualifying team 'roster'.

The US side will play Cuba on Tuesday, then Panama two days later and Honduras on Saturday. The two teams in each qualifying group advance to the semifinals on March 20 in Nashville. All of which sounds like West Ham could be with very litte defensive cover for the next two weeks.

Lucky then that our defence is rock solid at the moment. West Ham have now gone ten seconds of competitive match time without conceding a goal.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Tottenham 4 West Ham 0

West Ham started with Ashton, Zamora, Parker and Spector. The more attacking line-up from West Ham almost paid off in the opening five minutes. West Ham had at least three good chances. In the fourth minute Ljungberg cut in field and shot from 20 yards, Robinson padded the ball down to Ashton's feet but got down well to block Ashton's shot, the ball then fell to Boa Morte but Robinson again got down to save at Boa Morte's feet. And that was the end of the game for West Ham.

For the next forty minutes it was nearly all Spurs. In the 8th minute the referee awarded Spurs a dodgy free-kick. Huddlestone crossed for Berbatov, who returning from an offside position, headed the ball home. Three minutes later Spurs were awarded another free-kick with the same result. Huddlestone again crossed for Berbatov who headed in his second goal.

West Ham were poor all over the pitch in the first half but in particular Ferdinand lost Berbatov for both of his goals and Lennon ran rings around McCartney. Boa Morte was guilty of a number of fouls. He was booked for a fair challenge but after that he still threw himself around and he was finally sent off for going in for a challenge with Lennon with a foot raised.

With West Ham down to ten men Spurs enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half with Ashton playing up front on his own having to feed on scraps. In the 51st minute Ashton did well to create a chance for himself, beating two defenders but shooting just over from twenty yards.

In the 55th minute West ham enjoyed a little period of possession which ended with a Ljungberg shot which was blocked. The ball rebounded out to Neill, who shot from 20 yards straight at Robinson.

Pantsil and Noble were both given twenty minutes, on for Ljungberg and Parker. Just before Parker was replaced he won the ball in midfield, passed out to Pantsil on the right wing who crossed into the box. Ashton did well to just get in front of his marker but his shot from six yards was deflected wide. That was the last of the action for Ashton as he was replaced by Cole.

With West Ham looking like they might actually go a half without conceding and with only four minutes left Lennon dummied a cross and Gilberto turned and fired home Spurs' third from seven yards. Then with barely seconds to go Bent got in front of the West Ham defence to head home a cross from close range. There was even more bad news for West Ham as Zamora was forced to play out the last five minutes with a bad injury.

Tottenham vs West Ham - Live Streaming

West Ham's game today is on TVC5, Channel 7 and TrueSports 1 via TVAnts or Sopcast via channel 43343

LiveFooty have three streams of today's game. Sopcast, TVAnts or TVAnts.

FSi have two TVAnts streams for Truesports 1

Radio Commentary is on BBC London 94.9FM, BBC London DAB, Sky channel 0152 and via the web.

West Ham Looking to Replace Curbs

The Guardian claim that West Ham are actively looking for a replacement for Alan Curbishley. The paper claims to have been told this by "a highly placed source at the club", although the story may be inspired by recent supporter unrest.

They quote their source as saying, 'Curbishley may get until the end of the season, but other candidates are being considered. And he is aware of his situation.' The Guardian seem to suggest that Curbishley is partly held to blame for the extravagant wages that players have been signed on in the last year. For example they claim Ljungberg was given a four year contract of £80,000 a week. These deals were why Eggert Magnusson was forced out of the club and Curbishley could pay the same price.

The Guardian say that Curbs is cutting a distant figure at West Ham and he is usually locked away in his office. They say his awkward relationship with the players is exemplified by his nearly blowing the signing of Matthew Upson. Apparently Curbishley had a go at Upson when he turned up to sign for the club because of the way the defender was dressed. Curbishley had to be reminded by Upson's agent that they had to come down to London in a hurry.

All this could of course be rubbish but it does not help the quickly diminishing reputation of the West Ham manager. Mind you such is the fickle nature of football fans that a win tomorrow and the last two performances will be more or less forgiven.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

West Ham Injury Update

According to the official site (which ironically isn't always the most reliable of sources) Scott Parker is fit for tomorrow's game. I suspect though that at best he will start on the bench.

They say Matthew Upson is rated as 50-50 after coming off in midweek, with the West Ham manager hopeful. "We think it is more of a kick than a calf strain," said Curbishley. After letting in four goals in succession and with the lack of cover at the back West Ham might be prepared to gamble with Upson's fitness.

The official site says Lee Bowyer is back in training but I think Sunday is probably too soon for him.

Curbs in Foot Shooting Mission

Alan Curbishley has told West Ham fans that they should be more 'realistic' and that defensive boring football is all they should expect. Well, he didn't quite put it like that, but Curbishley's attempts to claim that there is nothing defensive about his tactics and that he is constrained by injuries doesn't seem to have gone down too well with West Ham fans.

Here is what he said,

"You can't stop criticism and if West Ham fans are not happy then they let everyone know. That has been the nature over the years, but I haven't got to agree with it.

"Sometimes you have got to be a bit more realistic. Performances recently have not been what people wanted, but we have never gone out there negative in any game.

"I think the criticism of 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 is because people look out there, see one forward, and think it's negative, but half the Premier League are playing it - that is teams at the top and at the bottom.

"On a lot of occasions, certainly since we lost [Craig] Bellamy and [Bobby] Zamora, we have only had one forward left anyway. So I think you have to take it in context and be a little bit more realistic."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sp#@s vs West Ham Predictions

I'm not going to be mean to Lawrenson this week. After the last two games it is actually hard to argue with his statement that West Ham "should be pushing for a Uefa Cup place but their season is coming to a grinding halt." However I hope that Lawro's prediction is wrong.

Lawro says it will be a 2-1 loss for West Ham.

Setanta say Bowyer and Etherington could return for West Ham and Alan Hutton will be back for Sp#@s. Presumably going on recent form, Setanta think that West Ham's defence is likely to leak more than two goals.

Setanta go for a 3-1 home win.

Sky says that Jenas is doubtful for Spurs whilst Parker could make a return for West Ham. They say that Upson is rated as having a 50-50 chance of being fit and, contrary to Setanta's claims, that Bowyer and Etherington will not be fit.

Sky's prediction is a 2-2 draw.

West Ham's Defensive Game is Tiring

Matthew Upson, who suffered a thigh strain on Wednesday, believes West Ham's style of play is physically testing.

"Because we've been unable to score enough goals, every game has been tight and taxing,” Upson said.

“We need to regroup now and, given a match against our local rivals Spurs on Sunday, we don't have much time.

"Across the middle we look a bit leggy and lack the urgency to run beyond the strikers. We haven't passed the ball at all over the last two games and that's because we're not using the energy to run into space and receive the ball.

"We identified what's wrong and we need, as a group, to address it because, although we're safe, we can't afford to let the season just dwindle away."

However Upson hinted that no matter how much the players would like to play a more attractive game the management are firmly against it.

"I know the supporters are hungry for some more attacking action and flair, but it's up to the manager to decide which way he wants to go."

Dailly in Europe

Mascherano wasn't good enough for West Ham and had to trade down to Liverpool before he could be guaranteed a game. The same thing seems to have happened to Christian Dailly. Last night he played the full ninety minutes for Rangers as they beat Werder Bremen 2-0 in the Uefa Cup.

Mind you with Upson looking doubtful for Sunday's game he might have even got a game at West Ham this week.

Here's a good pub quiz question (to which I don't know the answer) - how many ex West Ham players played in European competition this week?

Dailly, Ferdinand senior, Carrick, Lumpard, Cole, Tevez, possibly Mascherano and Benayoun next week ... any more?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Upson Looking Doubtful for West Ham

Matthew Upson is a major doubt for Sunday's game, after being substituted last night with a calf strain.

"If he's out, Gabbidon and Collins are still out but we've just got to get on with it," said Alan Curbishley.

"James Tomkins is also injured - he got injured in the last reserve game so we are stretched again but it's only how we've been all season. John Spector - if he has to go in there - has done well before."

I think the defence will struggle without him. Maybe we can play six across midfield and no forwards.

West Ham, Ugly Football, Ugly Reading

As might be expected after a second 4-0 drubbing the papers are more concerned with writing about Liverpool than assessing West Ham's poor performance yesterday. Here is what I could glean from the papers:

The Daily Mail say that "Alan Curbishley (was) forced into a near-crisis meeting in the dressing room with his team after their second four-goal drubbing in five days." Unfortunately for those who think West Ham should drop the 4-5-1 formation it doesn't seem that Curbishley is quick to learn from experience,

"I heard our fans voicing their disapproval, they think that playing 4-5-1 is negative. But that is how Liverpool played tonight, even if they had top players who could change a game. A lot depends on the players that we have available and what suits them. We have been missing so many of our signings through injury, this is the best way for us to play."

The Daily Telegraph don't even mention West Ham until the very end of their match report when they conclude, "It might have been worse. Carlton Cole could have been dismissed for an elbow into Xavi Alonso's face while Lucas Neill, who cut a bewildered figure returning to the club he might have joined, might have conceded a penalty for handball."

The Guardian say that "West Ham ... hardly threatened before Torres opened the scoring in the eighth minute. The Londoners threatened even less after that." They go on to say that West Ham "caved in after the interval."

The Independent only mention West Ham to call their performance 'listless'.

The Times say that West Ham were bad at first and even worse after Upson limped off "with a calf strain." They also noticed that the West Ham fans don't seem overly impressed with their manager, "Having begun by calling for him to play two men up front, they finished by chanting'It’s just like watching Charlton.'"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Liverpool 4 West Ham 0

West Ham started with one change from Saturday with Solano in for Faubert. The first chance of the game fell to Noble who ran onto a Cole flick in the 5th minute but shot straight at Reina from twelve yards.

However that proved to be a false dawn and West Ham's one and only shot on goal in the game. Liverpool were a goal to the good within two minutes of Noble's effort. Kuyt crossed from the right wing and Torres volleyed the ball into the top of the net, right footed from around the penalty spot.

After the opening goal West Ham came back into the game for a while. In the 13th minute Boa Morte rounded Reina but his left-footed shot from the left side of the penalty area 12 yards out was cleared by Alonso. In the 20th minute Boa Morte released Cole into the penalty area but Cole was a bit slow and Skrtel nipped in to block the shot. In the 27th minute Ljungberg fed the ball forward and Cole was a little slow to react and Reina was able to rush out and put the ball out for a throw.

After that though it was all Liverpool. In the 29th minute Skrtel was the first to a Gerrard corner but his header from the front post six yards out flew over the bar. In the 37th minute Babel crossed and Steven Gerrard shot right-footed from the centre of the penalty area 12 yards out. Robert Green managed to dive and tip the ball around the post. Thirty seconds later Neill hand-balled inside the penalty area but luckily for West Ham the referee only gave a corner.

In all honesty West Ham were fortunate to reach the break only a goal down.

In the second half West Ham managed a little period of possession without creating any chances. In the 60th minute Liverpool did create a chance through Kuyt who crossed for Torres who headed home Liverpool's second goal from 6 yards.

With West Ham finding themselves two goals down Curbishley made the brave attacking decision of bringing on Spector for Upson. Torres responded to this by almost getting his hat-trick. In the 66th minute he dived onto a cross from the right wing played behind the West Ham defence and his header hit the post and then bounced across the goal before Green finally picked it up.

In the 69th minute Zamora and Ashton were finally brought on for Cole and Solano. Not that it made any difference. In the 80th minute Torres nutmegged Neill in the box and beat Green from 6 yards for his hat-trick. Two minutes later Gerrard received the ball 30 yards out and was allowed to ghost forward unchallenged and shoot from 20 yards to make it 4-0.

In all honesty West Ham were fortunate to reach the end only four goals down.

Liverpool vs West Ham - Live Streaming

LiveFooty have streams of today's game for Sopcast and TVAnts.

FSICrew has a link for channel SS5 vis Sopcast (although it actually seems to be the Chelski Champions League game at the moment 7.30pm).

Live radio commentary is on BBC London on 94.9 FM

Finally some Sense on Tevez Claims

Martin Samuel writing in today's Times is possibly the first journalist that I have read to question Kia Joorabchian's claims against West Ham rather than unquestioningly repeat his ludicrous accusations (e.g. see today's Mail).

Samuel suggests that Joorabachian like Sheffield United is chancing his arm and trying to frighten West Ham into coughing up some grubby cash.

"Sheffield United, like Joorabchian, want money, preferably in a settlement on the steps of the court, obtained if both parties shout loudly enough.

This has been Joorabchian's tactic since last summer. He claims to have a strong case, one that will send shock waves through football. In the circumstances, then, surely his best tactic would have been to have kept quiet, to have sprung his surprises in court, exposing a systematic attempt by West Ham's senior executives to lie and cheat. Instead he has conducted a campaign of vague insinuation through the media, going back to July, when he threatened to appear on Sheffield United's side in a High Court hearing."

Samuel's points out that Joorabchian is over one month overdue in handing in his particulars of claim document to the court which is normally handed in a week after launching an action. Therefore as no-one apart from Joorabchian and West Ham have seen the details of his actions he can continue to mouth off rubbish and papers like The Mail will continue to peddle it.

Essentially Joorabchian's claim seems to be that West Ham made verbal agreements to oil his already greasy palm and then failed to cough up. However as Samuel says,

"... because West Ham were attempting to persuade Tévez to stay and would have needed to keep lines of communication open with Joorabchian all conversations could be classed as the meanderings of pre-contractual negotiation, until an executed document is produced."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

West Ham Not Giving Up on Europe

Lucas Neill has urged the West Ham team to 'keep believing' that they can qualify for the UEFA cup. The Daily Mirror says that West Ham have decided not to enter the Intertoto cup, unless Chelsea or Manchester United win the FA Cup. Therefore West Ham will have to finish in the top five to get into Europe.

West Ham Stats

OK here's one more statistic that highlights our lack of guile going forward. West Ham have the joint fourth worst scoring record at home in the Premier League this season.

But on a more positive note we do have the third best defensive record away from home. To put that in context Sp@~s, who are one place below us in the table, have conceded over twice as many goals as us away from home.

We also have the highest scoring away win in the Premier League this season in the 0-5 thrashing of Derby.

I can't find the assists statistics anywhere - so if anyone knows where they can be found please leave a comment.

Monday, March 03, 2008

West Ham's Striker Statistics

With West Ham's goal scoring difficulties at the moment I thought it might be interesting to look at the ratio of goals players have scored to the number of minutes they have played.

Here are this season's results (minus Zamora whose stats I couldn't find):

Ashton 1 goal every 222.2 minutes
Bowyer 1 goal every 253.23 minutes
Bellamy 1 goal every 264 minutes
Etherington 1 goal every 451.66 minutes
Cole 1 goal every 487 minutes
Ferdinand 1 goal every 543.5 minutes

Ashton is the most prolific scorer but not that far ahead of Bowyer who is by far our most prolific midfield player. Cole averages a goal every 5 and half games.

Obviously Sears is playing at a completely different level but with more than a goal a game this season he must come in at about a goal every 80 minutes.

Teddy's Retirement

The Mail have an interesting story today entitled What happened in the world the year Teddy Sheringham scored his first professional goal for Millwall?

In football Liverpool won the league, Southampton were runners-up and Chelsea and Newcastle were in Division Two. Liverpool also won the European Cup by beating Roma on penalties in Rome (Bruce Grobbelaar's famous "wobbly knees" display).

West Ham finished ninth in the first division that season on 60 points (three points behind Arsenal).

The number ones in the music chart were:

Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), 99 Red Balloons (Nena), Hello (Lionel Richie), The Reflex (Duran Duran), Wake me up before you go-go (Wham!), Two Tribes (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Careless Whisper (George Michael), I just called to say I love you (Stevie Wonder), Freedom (Wham!), I feel for you (Chaka Khan), I should have known better (Jim Diamond), The Power of Love (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Do they know it's Christmas? (Band Aid)

Sears Scores Again

West Ham Under 18s won again on Saturday, beating Ipswich Town Under 18s 2-0. West Ham Under 18s have now won six out of the last seven games. West Ham are now five points clear of Southampton at the top of the table. Arsenal have games in hand in third place but only managed a draw at the weekend. They are eight points behind West Ham with four games in hand.

West Ham's goals against Ipswich came from Josh Payne and Freddie Sears and both were set up by Junior Stanislas. Payne scored first ,converting a Stanislas freekick, with a spectacular overhead kick. Sears scored from close range to lengthen his run to 25 goals from 24 matches at U18 and reserve-team level.

Toni In, Noble Out

If we are to believe the tabloids (and when have they ever lied) Mark Noble is to be a summer target for Arsenal. The Sunday rags say that Arsenal will lose Flamini in the summer and will then put in an £8 million bid for the West Ham youngster. It is understood that Noble has already booked his French lessons.

On the other hand West Ham are to bid £8 million for Bayern Munich's Luca Toni. Toni is believed to be very keen to give up his £80,000 a week contract and the burdens of playing in the Champions League for West Ham's new strict wages policy and the chance to play the likes of Swindon in the Carling Cup.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

No One Likes Frank Lampard

It seems that not even Millwall fans like Frank Lampard. Today's Sunday Times column from Millwall supporting Rod Liddle takes great delight in Lampard's dismissal yesterday:

"IT WAS an enormous pleasure to see Frank Lampard sent off in Chelsea’s game against West Ham yesterday. That’s because I don’t like him. I don’t like his perpetually put-upon expression, nor his apparent conviction that he is a sort of magical amalgam of Garrincha, Bobby Charlton and Franz Beckenbauer, when actually he’s Jimmy Bullard with an only slightly better haircut.

I hate it when he looks aggrieved during England games at Wembley, just after a shot of his ends up somewhere near Southall, as if fate had cruelly intervened to deflect a brilliant goalbound effort towards the North Circular and none of it is his fault at all or the consequence of him being not very good.

I hate those postmatch conferences where he explains how well he has played when England have been beaten at home by the Maldives. So seeing him sent off is always an enormous pleasure, especially - and this is the point - when the decision is utterly unjustified, as it was against West Ham. Then, the pleasure is enhanced because Lampard is forced to find an even greater depth of grief in his facial expression, because he has been genuinely hard done by."

Via: West Ham Till I Die

West Ham - Four Goals in Seven Games

West Ham have scored just four goals in the last seven games and desperately need to become more prolific in front of goal if they are to have any hope of achieving European qualification this season.

Alan Curbishley unwittingly highlighted West Ham's problem after yesterday's game.

"To go three down in five minutes against a top-four team is massively difficult," the West Ham manager claimed. "When you give yourself a start like that, there is no way you can come back."

In effect Curbishley is admitting that West Ham are completely reliant on their defence but when that fails they have no response. Essentially Curbishley is sending out teams to try and grind out results. The coaching staff at West Ham claim they have no other option because of injuries to key players. It also has to be admitted that it has worked in a lot of games.

After yesterday's result and with Zamora returning to fitness it must be time to try a different approach. However with an away game against Liverpool up next I seriously doubt we will see a different approach any time soon.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

West Ham - 'Fortune's Always Hiding'

The starting eleven today were probably the team I would have gone with myself, so I have no criticisms of Alan Curbishley. It was just one of those days.

On a more general note though I would like to ask whether West Ham's future lies with Cole or Ashton?

Carlton Cole has done a brilliant job for West Ham this season and Ashton has looked unfit and has not performed that well when he has been given the opportunity.

There have been rumours about Ashton being unhappy at being left out of the team. Whether the rumours are true or not we must be in danger of losing Ashton if he is continually left out of the starting line up.

For me Curbishley (and the West Ham boo boys) have to give Ashton some starts and accept he is going to put in some poor performances before he rediscovers his touch. Cole despite his excellent performances this season isn't going to take the club forward. Ashton, if he rediscovers his pre-injury form, could. Let's give Ashton some starts now.

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