Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Pardew: More beans for Keane
Alan Pardew has appealed to West Ham's beancounters to allow him to sign Roy Keane at what is, by any standards, a hugely inflated weekly wage.
"I'm sure there would be a queue of clubs interested in taking Roy, but if there was any chance he would come here, I hope we would try everything to get him to West Ham," Pardew told the Evening Standard. "We do have a wage structure, but for a player of Roy's calibre I would ask the chairman and the board to do everything they could."
Given that his wages at Old Trafford were in the reported region of £90,000 a week, one would expect Keane to sign on a one-year contract at perhaps £60,000 a week.
Given that most of West Ham's squad are probably being paid between about £10,000 and £20,000 a week, this is a huge gamble, and for what benefit?
West Ham are halfway to safety now, although we should still be wary of relegation, and realistically we're not going to end up in the top 6. At best Roy Keane would make the difference between being, say, 15th and being 13th. Yay. At worst he would drain our coffers, sit injured on the bench, and upset the team spirit that Pardew has worked so hard to build. I think the risk is too great.
Monday, November 28, 2005
A valiant performance by West Ham was not enough against a Manchester United spurred on by the memory of George Best, as the Red Devils put on a show worthy of the occasion.
As the old saying goes, West Ham started brightly. Man U had the ball for the first 30 seconds from kickoff, then the London club won the ball and Teddy Sheringham sent Matty Etherington sprinting down the wing in enough space to fit a small European province. Anton Ferdinand's brother (Rio, I think his name is) neglected to come across to challenge Matty, and Silvestre also failed to track Marlon Harewood's run. Matty's ball to Marlon was accurate to an angstrom* and perfectly weighted, Marlon didn't waste the chance and slid it past Van Der Sar. The clock read 52 seconds, and the West Ham faithful went bananas.
It was worth spending a paragraph on that lovely goal, because the rest of this report is going to be pretty much all about Manchester United.
Sir Alex's men showed how to pass the ball in very tight spaces as West Ham tried to close them down. Roy Carroll showed his determination against his old club by saving brilliantly from Van Nistelrooy and Scholes. That's not to say West Ham weren't causing problem for the Man U back line, with Silvestre very lucky not to have been sent off after pulling Harewood down just outside the box. However, Bart Simpson's alter ego adjudged the Frenchman not to have been the last man and gave him only a yellow. Yossi's free kick deflected wide.
Man U hit back by forcing another good save from Carroll, pushing away a low shot from Rooney.
Towards the 40 minute mark, Silvestre left the park, having looked very shaky against a fired-up Harewood and being replaced by a funny looking bloke by the name of G. Neville. Wes Brown was given the task of keeping Marlon quiet, and he didn't really achieve that until the big man got weary towards the end.
As the first half would on West Ham had taken the sting out of Man U and were starting to take some shape, and the Irons went into the break a goal to the good.
Early in the second half Repka - who hasn't been exactly world-class lately - gave the ball away and made a fool of himself trying to win it back from the lively Jee-Sung Park. The South Korean fed the ball to Rooney, who twisted past Danny Gabbidon and shot past Carroll.
At some point Harewood had a chance but side-footed tamely to Van Der Sar instead of knocking the skin off the ball. Yossi was also looking lively, winning the ball in tight situations but unable to penetrate enough to provide, or get, a goal.
The Man U pressure paid further dividends later when Carroll somehow failed to punch away a corner, and O'Shea headed in to make it 2-1 to the visitors. Van Nistelrooy almost made it three with a superb chip that came off the underside of the bar, and then Carroll was back to his best to deny the Dutchman by stealing the ball from his feet. It wasn't as though West Ham were playing poorly, but Man U were the better side.
Wayne Rooney should have been sent off after viciously hacking at Gabbidon, but like the irritating little f*cker schoolboy that he is, got away with only a yellow. He followed that up by missing an open goal.
Alan Pardew summed the match up well when he said afterwards, "We came up against a team that was very focused on doing a job with some outstanding players. We had some outstanding performances to lead at half-time but the quick goal knocked a bit out of us. Then we saw the real power of Manchester United. We worked hard and made them play to their maximum so I can't ask for any more. They gave everything they had."
West Ham remain in the top ten on the Premiership table and sit at ninth with a game in hand over eighth-placed Manchester City.
* I bet that's the first time that phrase has ever been used in relation to football.
Carroll 7: His only mistake led to the goal and dropped him a point. Some great saves kept the scoreline reasonable.
Repka 5: Once or twice his enormous experience paid dividends, but he could not keep Park quiet and his distribution and crossing, even when given time and space, was very poor. Indirectly at fault for the first goal.
Ferdinand 7: Better than his brother, who left the club five years ago. Dealt with a difficult attacking force very well and was calm under pressure.
Gabbidon 6: Defended fairly well against a brilliant Rooney but sometimes chose the wrong option. No more long balls please Danny.
Konchesky 7: His usual game, which is a compliment.
Benayoun 7: Showed his silky ball skills but could not get any end product. Fought hard and came into the game more as it went on.
Mullins 6: Won the ball a few times and showed pretty good distribution. The four central midfielders (Mullins, Noble, Fletcher, and Smith) seemed to cancel each other out, which I guess means the West Ham duo played well, but I can't really remember much about it.
Noble 6: Slightly out of his depth here, but seemed to learn and got more involved towards the end. Showed glimpses of what he can do. Needed the early booking to calm down, but that meant that he was quieter in a playing sense too.
Etherington 8: Credit where it's due. Matty played great today and is becoming more of a fighter. Backed himself against a good defence and did not give Brown, Neville, or Rio an easy time of it. Faded in and out but gets an extra point for pure effort. Great assist too.
Sheringham 6: Good distribution but doesn't last more than 45 minutes. Should be used as a super sub. Very unfortunate to be booked.
Harewood 8: Did great in the first half, winning every high ball and causing lots of problems for the Man U defence. Seemed to weary as the game went on and would benefit from a fitter parner, i.e. Mr Zamora.
Dailly (on for Mullins) 6: Did a job.
Zamora (on for Sheringham) 6: Showed some good touches but no real impact. By the time he comes on, the team is tired and can't benefit from his hold-up play.
Newton (on for Etherington) 6: On late.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Friday, November 25, 2005
* I don't know whether to laugh or cry. West Ham United have released the following statement:
"FOLLOWING our announcement on 19 August 2005, the Club have today released the following further announcement to the Stock Exchange Regulatory News Service. The Board of West Ham United notes the announcement made by Media Sports Investments Limited this afternoon stating that Kia Joorabchian and his consortium are no longer interested in making an offer for West Ham United. Accordingly, West Ham United is no longer deemed to be in an offer period for the purposes of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers."
They added: "The Board is delighted with the performance of the team this season. It remains focused on ensuring that the Club consolidates its position in the Premier League in the remainder of the season for the benefit of shareholders and supporters."
The would-be investors said: "Media Sports Investments makes reference to its announcement on 18 August, 2005 of its potential interest in making an offer for West Ham United plc. MSI is now no longer interested in making an offer for West Ham, as they believe that they would not be able to reach a consensus on the valuation with the directors of West Ham. MSI continues to review other opportunities in the European football market."
Good news: we won't be a puppet in the hands of a squillionaire and get the opportunity to do it the REAL way instead of the Chelsea way. Bad news: Terry Brown is still in charge. Encouraging news: He seems to have learnt his lesson - albeit years too late - but things are definitely looking on the up.
* In other news, Petr Mikolanda has gone out on loan again, this time to Swindon Town for a month. He snubbed a move to Sheffield United to do so - heh heh heh. I guess his first team opportunities at the Boleyn are limited with the introduction of loanees David Bellion and Jeremie Aliadere, but Alan Pardew wants to keep the young Czech striker available.
* And although Pardew isn't saying so, Roy is almost certain to start against his old club this weekend. "Roy is fit again and we've worked him very hard this week," said the gaffer. "Of course, it would mean a lot to Roy to play in this game, but it would a lot to Shaka too. Roy would obviously be highly motivated against his old club, but I haven't taken a decision yet and it is a hard call. Shaka has played really well for us since he came into the side, while stats would suggest that Roy is one of the best goalkeepers in the division. Certainly one stat, shots on goal that are saved, he is the best in the League."
So, Roy is a better keeper and would be highly motivated for the match. You don't have to read between the lines to see who'll be starting against the Red Devils then. Pardew also told the official website a little bit about how and why Roy was signed.
"We had no doubts about Roy's ability when he came to the Club," he said. "He is class goalkeeper who, one high-profile incident aside, always performed excellently when I saw him play for United. He wanted to play first-team football and that is a great psychological area in which to pick up a player. We were desperate for him to come and were aware that he was not going to sign for United because he wanted to play regularly. As soon as we got through the playoffs I flew out to see him while he was on holiday, with the use of Gareth Southgate's villa, because we were so determined to bring him in. Obviously the injury to Jim in the Final made it all the more important to sign a goalkeeper. Perhaps playing for us suits him better than United, because he is busier. You need a lot of concentration to play in goal for a team like United, but that might be a little bit harsh on Roy because he is a top goalie and we're delighted to have him at the club."
* The auld warhorse (if you can call him that) Don Hutchison has left bottom-of-the-Championship Millwall by mutual consent for, of all things, lack of first-team action. That is to say, Don's unhappy that he's not playing enough, not the other way round... Equally ironically, he's gone straight to Coventry as cover for their injured midfielders. By the way, Millwall are bottom of the Chamionship - I know I already said it but it was news worth repeating.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Pardew: Keane's got my number
West Ham has become the one millionth football club to express an interest in Roy "you know what a nemesis is, don't you" Keane. "We have a great base here of young players, a good squad and a good spirit and to jump to the next level we need to bring in real quality players," said Alan Pardew. When asked whether he'd offer the Cork hardman a contract, he hinted at an interest. "I wouldn't dismiss it. I haven't explored what Roy wants to do because that is probably what is going to happen - it will be what Roy wants to do. But certainly I haven't closed the door on bringing a player of his stature to this club because that is the sort of player we want to look at."
"I would not put it out of the question because we want to acquire great players," added Pardew. We're trying to let people know that this is a good club, and that it's run well. If Roy Keane is interested in coming to talk to us, then no problem. I think we need to find out, like all clubs in the Premiership, what Roy Keane's ambitions are and what he wants to do. If he wants to keep playing in the Premiership, every club in the division would be involved, I'm sure. He is a quality player. I want to attract quality players here. If he wanted to come to West Ham, I'd talk to him."
On the game against Keane's former club this weekend, Pardew feels the 34-year-old midfielder's absence will help West Ham. "When you lose a player like that it is always disruptive mentally. Ruud van Nistelrooy has already said he felt it was a big blow."
Pardew has also spoken about the alleged racist abused levelled at Egyptian striker Mido at White Hart Lane last weekend. The West Ham boss said: "It's never nice and I don't approve of it at all. That is not the right image we want to set. We are in the middle of a multi-racial community and we want to portray ourselves as a good young team with good fans. The fans are the heartbeat of this team."
He added: "I will apologise to [Spurs]. It is very difficult because it goes on in most games. Sometimes it goes unreported, sometimes it doesn't. But that doesn't mean to say we should accept it."
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
West Ham's oldest fan
Ward out on loan
Promising West Ham youngster Elliot Ward has been loaned out to Plymouth Argyle for a month.
Ward, who has found himself lower down the pecking order since the inspired signing of Danny Gabbidon, has only made one appearance for the Irons this season - as a substitute in the 2-1 loss to Bolton. However, his impressive displays partnering Anton Ferdinand in the Championship (and subsequent playoffs) suggest that Ward's rising star has only temporarily been delayed...
The defender is expected to go straight into Argyle's first team, who will play Sheffield Wednesday on the weekend.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Never say die!
Anton Ferdinand is the hero at the Boleyn after scoring an equaliser on the final whistle against Tottenham Hotspur overnight.
Mark Noble made his first Premiership start in the absence of injured Nigel Reo-Coker and will have done no harm to his future aspirations after a good display against Edgar Davids. However, Tottenham pretty much ran the show for large periods of the game, Noble and Mullins unable to stamp their authority in the centre of the park despite all their industry. The well-organised Spurs midfield passed the ball very well and it was difficult for West Ham to get into the game.
On 16 minutes Tottenham made use of a disruption on the sidelines involving Paul Konchesky, and caught West Ham's two centre backs out of position with a lofted long pass to striker Mido. Shaka Hislop was caught in two minds whether to come out or stay on his line, and Mido made the veteran pay for his indecision by lifting a sweet header over the stranded Irons keeper.
Earlier, Mullins saw a nice left-foot strike flash just wide of the post and Yossi Benayoun saw his own shot curve past the same post, but Tottenham had the early chances with Keane, Davids, and Jenas all threatening the West Ham goal at times.
Davids soon got a yellow card after an aggravating tackle on Sheringham, and the elder statesman's petulant response earned him a yellow of his own. Teddy really needs to learn to keep himself in check.
Mark Noble later had the ball in the net but was correctly adjudged to be offside.
Soon after half-time Shaka Hislop was back to his world-class best (and I can say that now that he'll be in the World Cup), blocking Keane in the area.
At the other end Paul Robinson made a stunnning save on 68 minutes, miraculously getting a hand to Teddy Sheringham's powerful shot to tip it over the bar.
West Ham grew into the game as the clock ticked on, and made their tenacity count with their last touch of the game: Anton Ferdinand nodding in from a corner. It wasn't hard to see coming and the celebrations were quite something to behold.
Hislop 6: Pretty solid, out of position for the goal but he wasn't well protected for it. Other than that a fine display.
Konchesky 7: Good reliable work from Konchy. Got forward in good positions and defended well too. Kept his head when he could have lost it.
Ferdinand 7: Blocked most of Tottenham's attacks except the one leading to the goal. Otherwise a fine display and got a goal back.
Gabbidon 6: Same as Anton except for the goal!
Repka 6: Sometimes dubious defending, but did put one or two good balls forward.
Etherington 7: Didn't start well but, surprisingly for Matty, took the game by the scruff of the neck and did some good work down the wing. It was great to see him bowl over a Tottenham player for a 50/50 ball - more of the same please Ethers!
Mullins 6: Could not control the midfield, but worked hard and did not give the ball away.
Noble 6: Same as Mullins but also went on a good run and had a goal disallowed for offside.
Benayoun 5: Didn't get involved and strayed out of position too often.
Sheringham 6: Quiet for long periods but put in some good passes. His petulance is getting out of hand.
Harewood 6: No service, but also didn't go looking for the ball often enough. Was just getting into the game when he got subbed.
Newton (on for Repka) 6: Did OK, scared everyone with a suicidal pass to the opposition in front of the area.
Zamora (on for Harewood) 6: Tried but really just continued where Harewood left off. Looks good when he heads down the wing - possibly could play there in future.
Bellion (on for Etherington) 6: Not much impact.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Decent enough bloke!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Paint me gobsmacked!
I'm on record as saying that I'd be gobsmacked if Australia qualified for the World Cup. Well, as the title of this article says, paint me gobsmacked.
It's an old cliche, and an almost-as-old cliche to claim that it's an old cliche, but football really is a game of two halves. I've never seen Australia play as poorly as they did in the first half, but have never seen them play as well as they did in the second half and in extra time. What happened? I reckon it was a combination of two things: an enigmatic Dutchman by the name of Guus Hiddink, and the ever-smiling spirit of Johnny Warren. Lately, all things are going right for the sport in this country, and I can't help but think the great Australian is pulling some strings with the big boss in the sky.
My player ratings:
Schwartzer 10 - Hero of the day. Started shakily like he did in Montevideo but again grew in confidence and soon took command of the box, giving Uruguay no chances with his safe hands. And as for the penalty shootout, I'll use his own words: "FUCKING A!!!!"
Popovic 6 - Looked as shaky as he did for the first leg, and earned a stupid yellow card. Substituted early more out of tactics (and the yellow) than his performance though.
Neill 7 - Made himself big. Occasional lapses but generally handled Uruguay very well. Cool as ice for his penalty.
Vidmar 7 - Failed to mark on occasion but put in some critical blocks and tackles. Saved off the line as well, and took his penalty.
Chipperfield 7 - Helped a lot by Kewell, but Chippers played very well and showed that he could defend as well as get forward. But why did he pass backwards when he had a clear shot at goal?
Grella 8 - Dodgy start but blocked the central channel for the rest of the game. Good passing and tackling. Nullified Recoba, which is saying a lot.
Culina 7 - Assisted Grella well. Didn't really notice him much to be honest. Put in some tackles, gave away a few fouls.
Emerton 6 - Has the talent but not the determination or the brain. Made the wrong decision too many times. Also he was too slow to react, and should have been substituted before the cramp.
Bresciano 8 - Caused Uruguay lots of problems and scored a fantastic goal. The image of him standing triumphant like Cantona after the goal will live a long time in my memory.
Viduka 8 - Got no service at all, but battled hard for 120 minutes in a long, difficult physical battle with the Uruguayan back line. Drew two defenders for the whole match, which opened up the wings (particularly the left side for Kewell) and allowed Australia to keep the pressure on. His brilliant touch-on for Harry Kewell tore up Uruguay's defence and led to the goal. Normally I'd drop a point for his poor penalty attempt, but not this time - he deserves his 8.
Kewell (sub) 9 - Hell must be freezing over because I never thought I'd see the day when I'd describe Harry's performance as "steely and determined". Chased every ball, went from corner to corner, tackled, crossed, passed, scared the shit out of the Uruguayan defence, and generally made a complete menace of himself down the left side. His back-heel started the move that led to Australia's goal. Took his penalty very well too. A match winning performance, outshined only by Schwartzer's nerves of steel.
Aloisi (sub) 7 - Did his job when he came on and nearly got a goal but was a fraction too slow. Took his penalty well.
Skoko (sub) 6 - No time to make an impact.
And I'll give Guus Hiddink a 9. Australia had no shape for the first half hour or so and looked absolutely dire, but Hiddink's courageous substitution of Popovic early on showed that he was not afraid to take risks in order to adapt. Knew what he was doing. Still needs to do something about Australia's defence though - they are often caught out of position and don't handle set pieces at all.
There's a long way to go before Australia realises Johnny Warren's dream of winning the World Cup, but as the Chinese say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That one's for you, Johnny.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
U21s go out
Anton Ferdinand has earned praise for a good performance against France U21s as the young England side bowed out 3-2 on aggregate overnight. Ferdinand played well throughout and denied France a goal with a superb block late in the second half, but it was to no avail when Kieran Richardson later went to ground in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Former (and possibly current) West Ham targets Dean Ashton and Darren Bent also played; Bent scoring with a header and Ashton coming on as a late substitute.
Reo-Coker fractured ankle & other bidnet
* A CT scan on Nigel Reo-Coker's ankle has revealed a hairline fracture, which means that the influential midfielder will be on the sidelines for six weeks. It's unclear who Pardew plans to replace the England U21 captain in central midfield, since Mullins, Fletcher, and Dailly all have a similar style of play and West Ham need someone to make late runs into the box. Yossi Benayoun fits that mould, so perhaps the Israeli playmaker could pull the strings from the centre while Shaun Newton fills in on the right.
Or, here's a radical idea. Play Mullins and Fletcher/Dailly as two holding midfielders, with Zamora and Aliadere as very attacking wingers, Yossi in the hole and Harewood up front. Harewood isn't really suited to the lone striker role so he would be receiving the ball to feet from the two wingers and Yossi.
Either way, I reckon the team would benefit from Yossi being in the middle anyway. The only problem so far has been, how do we fit him in with NRC and Mullins, who are (and should be) almost automatic selections? It's a compromise no matter what you do, so it'll be interesting to see what Pardew does now that NRC is out of the picture.
* Another challenge is what Guus Hiddink will do against Uruguay in tonight's WCQ playoff. I think we've established that Australia's back line doesn't have enough pace, but there aren't many options for Hiddink. Tonight is a real acid test for the new manager and I for one will be very interested to see what tactics he employs. The Dutchman is being very coy about his selections but the news sources reckon Bresciano and Cahill will both play, so to me that suggests that Culina and Thompson are making way. I'm guessing it will be something like a 3-1-4-1-1 with Neill as sweeper, Grella in front of the defence, and Dukes on his own up front: Schwartzer, Neill, Vidmar, Thwaite, Grella, Chipperfield, Cahill, Bresciano, Emerton, Kewell (or possibly Thompson) and Viduka. We'll see.
* Back to the United Kingdom where West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon is going from strength to strength, looking right at home in the Premiership and now being tipped for captaincy of the Wales side. "I am not expecting to be named captain, but if it does happen one day I will be delighted and it will be a great honour," said Gabbidon. "I captained Cardiff after Graham Kavanagh left to join Wigan last season and if I do it that will be the biggest achievement of my career so far. I do not think I am a natural leader, it's something I have to work hard at. I am more of a leader through my performance rather than bawling and shouting. That is where I could improve my overall performance. I have never really thought of being Wales captain, but it is certainly something that excites me. It is one of the greatest honours."
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Bits & Bobs
Viduka 8 - excellent performance, looking very sharp lately indeed, but waned with time
Kewell 6 - flashes of talent, and tried hard, but unfit
Emerton 7 - poor in first half, couldn't pass the ball. Tried hard and got better as the game went on
Thompson 6 - a couple of good moments but almost invisible
Grella 5 - started well but Uruguay's quality got the better of him and he started giving away pointless fouls, poor marking, distribution was good though
Culina 6 - Not bad, had a couple of good shots
Popovic 4 - Had a torrid time, nearly gave away a penalty, poor marking
Chipperfield 5 - Poor defensively, had a good first 20 minutes but that's it
Vidmar 5 - too old, too slow, made errors, but kept Uruguay at bay somehow
Neill 6 - same as Vidmar, also took too many risks
Schwartzer 8 - started shakily but grew in confidence and made a couple of fabulous saves from crosses
Bresciano (sub for Thompson) 6 - did not really get into the game, missed a fantastic opportunity for a goal
Aloisi (sub for Viduka) 6 - bizarre substitution, didn't do much
* West Ham are looking to sign 29-year-old Angelos Basinas, who was released by Panathinaikos and is now looking for a club.
* Paul Konchesky got his second cap, as a substitute in last night's brilliant 3-2 win over Argentina. He seemed to fit into the squad.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Good Luck Australia!
Thursday, November 10, 2005
As you've probably read by now, our very own Paul "Psycho II" Konchesky has been called up for England's friendly against Argentina. Sven's decision clearly stems from Konchy's authoritative displays for West Ham and the left-back can only improve.
Not so good news for Nigel Reo-Coker, who hurt his ankle playing against the Baggies and is out of the England U21 squad. It's unlikely that the youngster will play against Spurs next week.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Stick Your Blue Flag up Your Arse
Here's the scenario...it's the last day of the season and Chelsea lead Wigan by 2 points going into the last round of fixtures. 3rd placed Sunderland are 12 points adrift despite winning their last 12 games on the spin. West Ham are confirmed 6th in the premiership being 4 points in front of 7th placed Spurs and 4 points behind 5th placed Man City.
Half time score comes through from Stamford Bridge that Chelsea are losing 7-0 to already relegated Birmingham and have had Lampard,Cole and the on his way back to Upton Park for a fiver Glen Johnson all sent off. Birmingham are playing like men possessed in honour of Steve Bruce who was found dead in his flat with an exploded stomach and globs of fat dripping from the ceiling like janolan caves stalagmites. On the floor beside him sits a single empty wrapper from a wafer thin after-dinner mint. On the terraces the Zula Army have completely humiliated the Head-Hunters stomping more heads than the recently crowned world whack-a-mole champion Stuart Slater.
West Ham & Wigan are locked at 0-0 as Marlon tries to break a 34 game drought while Zamora sits unused on the bench for the 32nd consecutive game.
What do you want to happen in the 2nd half at Upton Park?
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Teddy keeps the points at Upton Park
A hardworking performance saw the Irons dominate the Baggies in the first half without scoring, but the veteran striker put Dailly's knock-down into the net after an hour.
Yossi Benayoun came close with a one-on-one, while Harewood, Ferdinand, and Sheringham had other chances.
Shaka Hislop was injured in a clash with Kanu and Steve Bywater made his first return appearance for West Ham in the Premiership.
West Brom gave the Londoners a few scares in the second half but West Ham held on for the win. The Irons are now somewhat settled in eighth in the Premiership, but with Manchester United and Liverpool yet to play.
West Ham: Hislop (Bywater 60), Repka, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Benayoun (Newton 90), Reo-Coker (Dailly 45), Mullins, Etherington, Sheringham, Harewood.
Subs Not Used: Bellion, Zamora.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Jay J. Okocha
Rumours say that Jay Jay Okocha is on his way out of Reebok - some people say Hidetoshi Nakata has nudged the Nigerian sideways out of Big Sam Allardyce's spotlight.
The man who Alex Ferguson should have bought instead of SahahahahaHAHAHA could be on his way to the bountiful land (if you're a footballer) of Qatar, but I reckon Pardew would do well to consider bringing the former £14 million playmaker to the Boleyn.
Look at us now. Mullins and Reo-Coker are doing a sometimes-adequate, sometimes-spectacular job in midfield. Etherington is doing nothing and is too lightweight, as many of us feared he would be. While Shaun "10K" Newton is doing a great job as a reliable bolstering substitute, it's doubtful he'll ever put in a 9/10 or 10/10 performance. And lastly, our Diamond is certainly showing the brilliant lustre and hardness of his nickname, but one man a midfield does not make.
Jay Jay would fit well into our squad. He's vastly experienced in the Premiership. He's big, powerful, creative, and scores a few goals (like the one against us in 2003 that pretty much sent us down, but that's another story). He could provide cover and competition for Yossi (not that the Israeli needs a reason to put in 100%). He could play as support to Marlon and Z-Man while Yossi plies his trade on the wing and Matty gets splinters. A player like this gives a manager many more options, and I can't help but think Pardew's a little short on options, at least until January.
Pardew could offer a moderate figure for the playmaker's services in the next transfer window. If we don't get him, or he wants bigger wages, then fine, let him go. But you never know your luck. Allardyce might not be too keen to let him go, in which case, no harm done.
On the minus side, Jay Jay is 32 years old and has two years to run on his contract at Bolton. He didn't score at all last season and is yet to get on the scoresheet this season too.
Pardew: No More Sales
In a recent interview with the press Alan Pardew stressed his understanding of the West Ham fans' biggest disappointment of the last few years, and said that he will be keeping the young talent already at the club.
"I think if you asked any true West Ham supporter what their biggest grievance of the last period was I think selling our best players would be number one on the agenda," the West Ham manager said. "It is old news but it is evident most weeks for England and in the Premiership."
Pardew is now confident that he does not need to sell any players for financial reasons, and in fact may be able to buy players who are capable of playing in the Champions League. "I don't have to sell anybody, which is fantastic news for the West Ham fans with the young players we have got on board already. When I arrived that was a key thing I had to stop. If I sell a player now it will be on my agenda."
Thanks to the Irons' good start to the season, Pardew will be able to look to higher quality players to bolster the squad. "The one problem I had in the summer was convincing some really good players to come to West Ham. Now players can look at us and see we have done really well so perhaps they would like to come now. We are certainly getting more calls from agents anyway. We are armed with a budget for players who could potentially play in the Champions League. It's not Chelsea's budget, or Manchester United's, but it will give me a chance to bring success to the club at some point."
Pardew also revealed that he shrewdly made sure that the West Ham board promised him the support he needs to bring the club to the top of the Premiership, before he signed his new five-year contract. "There was a lot of talking regarding the future because the investment was important to me. I'm not striving for mediocrity. I want us to achieve things and the figures that were talked about gives me a good chance."
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Noble gets Call
Young midfielder Mark Noble has been called up to the England U19 squad for next month's friendly with Switzerland. The fans favourite has only played in two matches so far this season but has been a regular in the West Ham reserves. With the recent run of poor form shown by first-team midfielder Matty Etherington, Noble will no doubt relish the chance to play a more competitive match and perhaps squeeze his way onto West Ham's starting sheet.