Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Tough Draw for Hammers; Gabri to Join

* West Ham have drawn Bolton away in the FA Cup. It's looking to be a tough side for West Ham's Cup bogey side, particularly after the Wanderers saw off Arsenal in the last round (and in the league, actually).

* Alan Pardew is reportedly on the brink of signing Barcelona fringe player Gabri on a three-year deal. The 26-year-old can play in defence or midfield and is likely to fill the vacant right-back position at the club.

* Dean Ashton is reportedly fit and fighting for a start at Highbury. I reckon there are two things Pardew can do: he could play a 4-5-1 with Ashton up front, Yossi in the hole and Marlon out on the right (Zamora on the bench), or stick with the current formation and leave Deano on the bench.

* Just as an aside, from the match reports I've seen, Danny Gabbidon played superbly against Blackburn. It's fantastic to see him pick himself up from his poor display against Fulham - but he has showed immense mental strength and in my mind is well in the running for Hammer of the Year.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Pardew on right-back, strikers, and Football Genius

* Alan Pardew has conceded that he might not be able to sign the required replacement for Tomas Repka before the end of January. "Defensively things aren't too pretty," he said. "I feel we will struggle to get a new right-back before the window closes. We are not getting the right responses and the figures we are being quoted I am not going to pay. We have plenty of targets but teams are getting edgy now, they don't want to lose their best players. It is difficult because I don't want to bring in a stop-gap, I want someone who will take the club forward."

Erm - I would think at this stage a stop-gap would be good enough considering how low on cover we are there.

* But there aren't any worries up front. "We have scored more goals here than Chelsea have at Stamford Bridge - and Dean Ashton hasn't even pulled our shirt on yet," said Pardew. "He is a fantastic player and we look forward to seeing his first game - but he might have to wait for his chance. The transfer figures go out the window, I will pick my best team and he hasn't showed me anything yet because he hasn't had his chance. My teams always play in a cavalier style and always score goals. I like to give strikers licence to do their stuff and we are very fortunate that we have a rich vein of form in that area. Bobby carried it for us in that first half. He was terrific. This is what competition does, it pushes people. And what a terrific attitude Marlon showed after being left out of the team, to come on and put that effort in. Teddy is very important to us and he passes on that expertise to the others players. I am blessed with luxury up there. Ashton is definitely fit for Wednesday - so God knows what I am going to do!"

* The West Ham boss has also spoken out in defence of Christian Dailly, who has been booed by the West Ham crowd repeatedly this season. "The crowd can get a bit edgy about Christian and I don't know why because he has been terrific for the club, and terrific for me. In fact, I don't think I'd be standing here now if it wasn't for Christian because when I first came he was my biggest ally. I was coming into a massive club that had had a lot of turmoil and bad feeling and if you don't get the senior players to support you are in big trouble. At that time he was rock solid with me and I'll never be able to repay him for that. It is a horrible, horrible feeling that your own fans are not with you. You can be Scottish international, Scottish captain, Brazilian captain it still hurts and I hope our fans give him more support than they have done. Our fans are testing, they have tested me a few times, but we grow with it. Christian is Mr Resilient and he won the fans around today. He is an example to every young player that you have to be big and strong in this game."


Tom says goodbye

Tomas Repka has, with the help of his friend Ludek Miklosko, made the following statement to the fans of West Ham United. (from the official website)

"First of all, I would like to say thank-you to the West Ham United fans for their support during my four-and-a-half years at the Club.

"They have been fantastic to me and I am very grateful that we have shared such a special relationship. West Ham supporters are like no other fans in the world, and I am sad to be leaving them.

"I would like to make it clear that my reasons for leaving the Club have nothing to do with football, and if it was possible for me to stay, then I would.

"However, my family have now been living in Prague for the past six months, and I have to move back there in order to be with my two children, Veronika and Tomaso.

"It has been a very difficult time for me, personally, and I hope that the supporters and everyone at the Club understand that I have to do this for the sake of my children, who are the most important thing in my life.

"West Ham will always hold a very special place in my heart. I have made many good friends here and I would like to thank them all, especially Ludek, who has helped me so much during my time in England.

"There have been good and bad times during my time at West Ham United, but I am very proud that I stayed after our relegation in 2003 and helped the Club to return to the Premiership last year.

"It makes me happy to know that the team are now in a very good position, and I wish everyone at West Ham United best wishes for the future."

Sunday, January 29, 2006


West Ham through in FA Cup

* West Ham bounced back to a 4-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers after conceding a goal within the first half-minute of the match. The game wasn't televised here so I can't comment on it except to say that Pardew has a real striker selection problem - of the good kind!

* Actually that's not quite true. I'd like to suggest the West Ham fans to get off Dailly's back - what has he done to earn your wrath? OK, he's no Zidane, but he has worked hard and played out of position.

* Yossi Benayoun is in trouble after allegedly talking with Hapoel Tel Aviv without West Ham's permission. The Israel club want to pay £8.5 million for the playmaker and Yossi is quoted as saying, "There were talks recently with Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem and when the offer is seriously put to the club rather than just me, I will think."

* West Ham have been linked with a move for Lille fullback Mathieu Chalme. The 25-year-old has Champions League experience against no lesser opposition than Manchester United, and is touted as a possible replacement for the departed Tomas Repka.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Teddy rumours; Ashton & Carroll out

* There has been some stirring about Teddy Sheringham returning to Spurs but Pardew has denied any contact from the North London club. "Of course I had to speak to Teddy about it," said Pardew. "I don't want him to think I wouldn't inform him if that sort of club came in. He's too old and experienced for me to do that to him. But I've not had a phone call from Tottenham, so it's news to me unfortunately."

"I'm determined to keep Teddy here. Next year, as well. I think he's got an important role to play with the players I've got here. We've young strikers - Dean Ashton's 22, Bobby is 24-25, Marlon is as well, Katan is only young. It's fantastic to have him around, from my part, and it is annoying it's come up at this time and disruptive. But we can only deal with what's put in front of us. At the moment, Teddy seems very happy and none more so than me because I'm very, very happy with him.

"He plays a role here anyway. In terms of his performance on the pitch and what he does in training; he's an example in how to finish in training every day. Personally, I would like him to perhaps offer a little bit more on the coaching side. He's declined that, at the moment, as he wants to focus on his playing. I understand that, the age he's at, he needs to focus on his body and make sure he's in top condition. Next year might be different, maybe he'll take that role on but it's Teddy's decision not mine.

"As I say, I'm not going to answer questions that are Teddy's really. I have no problem with him contributing on the training ground, paralleled with the playing ability of course. The offer's been there since the day he stepped in the place. At the moment, he wants to concentrate on his playing and I'm fine with that."

But Sheringham's agent Barry Neville says that Teddy wants to continue playing - not coaching - at West Ham. "Teddy is enjoying himself. He is living for the moment - having a great time and he is enjoying himself at West Ham," said the agent. "He wants to carry on playing. Ted has always said he does not want to be judged by a number but by his performances. He is just focused on playing at the moment and has not given coaching too much thought. While he is still playing that is what he wants to do."

"I had a phone call about Tottenham from a newspaper on Wednesday but I just dismissed it. I think Blackburn might have made an enquiry about Teddy this time last year, but I have heard nothing since - and West Ham have told me nothing about them making a fresh enquiry."

* Dean Ashton is unlikely to make his debut until the Sunderland game, due to a groin injury that was suffered before the transfer. He'll miss the Blackburn game and the Arsenal game. Roy Carroll is also unlikely to play in the next few games due to a back strain. He sure gets injured a lot for a 'keeper, doesn't he?

* Finally, please be patient while I fix up the blog site. It's a slow process...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Goodbye Tomas; Hello Dean

It was a day of transition for West Ham United as longtime servant Tomas Repka made his emotional farewell to the Upton Park faithful, and Dean Ashton was unveiled to the crowd as a new record signing - his £7.25 million valuation eclipsing the transfer fee of none other than Super Tom himself.

However, the highly rated youngster watched from the stands rather than from the bench, and it must have been one hell of an introduction to the world of West Ham thanks to a roller-coaster match against Fulham.

The home side started poorly, failing to get control of the ball and defending on the edge of the penalty area. They were somewhat lucky not to concede early but, as is the case so many times with West Ham this season, they started picking up momentum and it once more resulted in a goal.

Fulham 'keeper Antti Niemi punched away a corner. Marlon Harewood nodded the ball down towards Anton Ferdinand's feet at the edge of the box, and rather than control the pass or lay it off, the young defender swivelled through 180° and struck the sweetest of volleys over Niemi into the net. If points were awarded for style this weekend, Anton would have his elder brother beat hands down.

West Ham had a scare when Helguson contrived to smash the ball into teammate Boa Morte when only a few yards out, but the home side were more determined. They looked to be cruising when Yossi Benayoun picked the ball up on the edge of the area, created space for himself with a couple of his trademark dummies, and then chipped the ball exquisitely over Niemi and under the bar. Two nil to the Hammers.

Going into the break, the Irons didn't look entirely comfortable in midfield but were sweeping the ball about in the final third like a top Premiership side. This was Chris Coleman's Fulham, though, and there was always that nagging doubt that comes with following West Ham.

True to history, within ten minutes of the restart the visitors had pulled a goal back. Danny Gabbidon totally misjudged a routine interception and allowed the ball to bounce behind him and into the path of Helguson, whose clinical strike rebounded into the goal off Roy Carroll's left post. It wasn't quite as spectacular as the two West Ham goals but it was very well struck nonetheless.

The rest of the half was a gaggle of half-chances for both sides, that for Fulham seemed to come about through West Ham's errors or by chance. Gabbidon, clearly shaken from his error, gave the ball away while under no pressure. Konchesky repeated Gabbidon's previous mistake, allowing the ball to bounce, and also was lucky not to give away a penalty after bundling Helguson over in the area. Then the two of them got their wires crossed and Gabbidon's attempted clearance rebounded off Konchesky. Carroll fumbled a corner and later was on the ground well outside the six-yard box, taking three attempts to snatch a ball from a Fulham player's feet.

All this was interspersed with some great saves from Carroll and a few good moves from West Ham at the other end, including a couple of fine chances that were shunned by Zamora. Then, Z-man rose high above his marker and put a great header towards the bottom corner of the goal, but was unfortunate to see it hit the post and away.

Christian Dailly came on and earned himself an yellow card (and suspension) almost immediately, making a rash tackle in the centre circle to break up a Fulham attack. It was a nice piece of professional work, actually.

Soon after, new boy Yaniv Katan replaced his mate Yossi Benayoun, and showed a bit of skill to get past some Fulham defenders, but Dailly shot the Israeli's pass high into the stands.

As the clock wound deep into injury time and the entire stadium was singing "Super Tom", the renowned hard man swept up a long pass by heading the ball into touch for his last touch of a ball in a West Ham shirt.

Player ratings:

Carroll 7: A couple of excellent saves, and was only made nervous by the players in front of him. Dropped one corner and some misplaced kicks. Worth it for the saves though.

Konchesky 5: Poor game. Distribution, touch, tackling, decision making, and judgement were all below par. We know he's capable of much more.

Gabbidon 5: I didn't even see him on the pitch in the first half, and then he made his presence felt with a horrendous error, and then let it affect his mentality in the second half. An uncharacteristic performance.

Ferdinand 8: Solid defending and a wonder goal.

Super Tomas Repka 10: "I am pissed off with [Fiorentina], I didn't want to leave, but they forced me out. I don't want to, but I'm leaving." A forced transfer out of a cash-strapped club. A £5.5 million record signing. A red card on his debut. Another one on his third game. Countless rash challenges in and around the box. More cards than a casino. Uncompromising defending, world class sliding tackles and a fiery temper. Coming agonisingly close to a goal several times. Knocking out Ipswich's goalkeeper in the Championship playoffs with a powerful cross. A surprising last-minute retirement turnaround after promotion. Cheekily showing the yellow card to a referee. Not a sick note in sight, but many a match with a bandaged head. 187 appearances (1 substitute), 56 yellow cards, 4 red cards, 0 goals, 2 assists. Endless fans' arguments about whether he is a legend or a liability. A thundering rendition of the "Super Tom" song in injury time. Anton Ferdinand looking like he was about to lose his best mate. Tears streaming down a battle-hardened face as he applauds the Upton Park crowd for the last time. And always, always, utter and complete dedication to West Ham when on the pitch. Thanks for the memories, Tomas.

Etherington 6: Quiet game, and didn't get past the defenders often, but won a lot of throws and free kicks.

Mullins 6: Not bad. Not dominant enough though.

Reo-Coker 6: Had a couple of fairly good attacking runs and covered a lot of ground but the final ball was missing.

Benayoun 7: Lively, and a threat. Great goal.

Harewood 7: Worked hard, supplied his teammates well.

Zamora 6: Came very close to a great headed goal and gave himself some excellent chances but could not find the control he needed to be really threatening.

Dailly 6 (on for Zamora): Didn't do much apart from break up an attacking move (earning a yellow in the process) and failing to get his head over the ball when shooting!

Katan 6 (on for Benayoun): Not on for long but found time enough to impress.

Newton 6 (on for Etherington): On for about half a second to kill time.

Monday, January 23, 2006


West Ham's club record smashed for Ashton

It's not known yet whether Ashton will sign in time to play against Fulham, but this is pretty exciting stuff...

Cut n paste from TEAMTalk....

Dean Ashton has agreed personal terms with West Ham and will sign from Norwich for £7.25million on Monday after undergoing a medical.

Ashton earlier revealed the chance to return to the Premiership was "too good to turn down" after the Hammers agreed a fee for the England Under-21 international.

Ashton met West Ham to negotiate personal terms on Sunday and will undergo a medical check before completing the move on Monday.

West Ham will pay £7 million plus a conditional £250,000 while a 15% sell-on clause has also been negotiated.

Ashton said: "I have had a great year at Norwich and would like to sincerely thank the fans and everyone I have worked with at Carrow Road.

"West Ham are a big club, I am ambitious and at the end of the day the chance of a swift step up to the Premiership is too good to turn down.

"I spoke to Nigel and the board and told them I wanted to pursue this opportunity."

He added on the club's website: "I'd like to thank Norwich for understanding that and allowing myself and my representative to talk to West Ham."

Norwich chief executive Neil Doncaster revealed a bid was received on Saturday and accepted following a meeting between the board and manager Nigel Worthington after the defeat by Watford.

Ashton's former club Crewe will receive £1.5million up front due to a sell-on clause included when they sold him to Norwich for £3million a year ago.

Worthington also believes the deal is in the best interests of all parties.

"We're always committed to trying to keep our best players at the club, but the size of the bid coupled, with Dean's desire to make the move happen meant that after talking it through with the board and the lad himself, we've decided to accept this offer," he said.

"If the move goes through, I'd like to place on record my thanks to Dean for his contribution and his professionalism during his time at Norwich and wish him all the very best in his future career."

Doncaster, who along with Worthington has been forced to fend off constant speculation about Ashton's future, said: "We received a bid worth a total of £7.25million from West Ham, plus a sell-on.

"That's by far the largest bid we have received and a club record by some distance, and after full consultation with the manager, the board and the player himself, it was decided it was in the best long-term interests of the club to accept this offer."

The large transfer fee will surprise many - Wigan boss Paul Jewell baulked at Norwich's demand for "silly money" before Christmas - but West Ham managing director Paul Aldridge believes it will be money well spent as the Hammers look to consolidate in the Premiership.

He told the club's website: "Alan Pardew has identified Dean as a player who can play a key role in helping the club to reach a new level, and we have therefore worked extremely hard to ensure that the transfer goes ahead.

"We are paying a club record transfer fee for Dean because we feel that, at 22, he represents an investment that can benefit West Ham for years to come at the highest level."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


No, the world hasn't ended...

I'm still trying to find the source of the site problem. Hang in there, we'll be back!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Site difficulties

You may be experiencing a problem with this site, where your browser hangs when the page is fully loaded. I'm trying to trace what the problem is - I think it might be in the Java code that runs the fixture list, so for a while that might disappear from the site. I've experienced this problem both at work and at home, with IE and with Firefox, so I'm sure it's the site and not the browser.

Anyway, please be patient till I can fix the problem!


It's Blackburn at home

West Ham have been drawn to play Blackburn Rovers at home in the fourth round of the FA Cup after defeating Norwich 2-1.

Full draw:
Stoke City/Tamworth v Barnsley/Walsall
Cheltenham Town/Chester City v Newcastle United
Coventry v Nuneaton Borough/Middlesbrough
West Brom/Reading v Torquay/Birmingham
Portsmouth v Liverpool
Leicester v Southampton
Bolton v Arsenal
Aston Villa v Port Vale
Brentford v Sunderland
Manchester City v Wigan/Leeds
Millwall/Everton v Chelsea
Preston v Crystal Palace
West Ham v Blackburn
Colchester v Derby
Charlton v Leyton Orient
Wolves v Burton/Manchester United

Monday, January 09, 2006


A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a West Ham shirt

Who is this Tomas Repka guy anyway?

Ask ten West Ham fans what they think of the Czech defender, and you will get between fifteen and twenty different answers. Some will say he is the rock of the West Ham defence and others will say he is the weakest link. He can be both in the same match. One punter might rate him a 7 for a particular performance, and another give him a 4. Is it something in the way he plays?

Perhaps it depends on what you're looking at, or at what time you chose to go and get a beer. At times, he'll put in great tackles and he will cut out any channels of attack down his side, drawing on his wealth of experience. At other times, he'll do something bizarre like pass the ball to a striker in the defensive third, or hack someone down for no apparent reason. Depending on your mood, it comes down to what you choose to see, and remember, and what you don't.

However, one thing that can't be questioned is his dedication. Whether that's to football in general, or West Ham in particular, I'm not entirely sure. But it's there, and it's a good thing, until he gets carded for a foul just outside the box.

He was - notwithstanding the transfer window - West Ham's most expensive player. Debates still rage on whether he was worth the money. He has a reputation for being a hard man, somewhat justified of course but he has mellowed in recent years and his tendency to pick up yellow cards is probably as much due to his reputation (and appearance) than his hard tackling. He is the link between the past era and the new revolution. He is rarely injured.

He's also rarely interviewed, and his English is reputedly still quite poor, so we may never really understand this enigmatic footballer. Even now we don't know when he will finish up. We all thought last season was his finale, but here he is again, back in a West Ham shirt. Now they say he will go back to Sparta Prague in January, or maybe stay till the end of the season. It's impossible to know. But it would be a shame for the man we call Super Tom to leave the club without some sort of fans' farewell.


Lets all Laugh at Tottenham; Oh Yes Lets!

Mark de Vries scored a 91st minute winner as Leicester came from two goals down to shock Tottenham 3-2 in the FA Cup at The Walkers Stadium.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Hammers fail with Zigic bid

C&P Skysports
By Graeme Bailey - Created on 5 Jan 2006

Crvena Zvezda are reported to have rejected West Ham's bid for their star striker Nikola Zigic.
The 25-year-old was recently voted Serbia & Montenegro Player of the Year and is being strongly linked with a move to one of Europe's top leagues.
West Ham have been first to make a move and are understood to have met with officials from the Belgrade club in Paris.
However, The Hammers' offer - believed to be around €10.4 million (£7 million) - has been rejected by Crvena's director of football Dragan Stojkovic.
Stojkovic, along with coach Walter Zenga, is looking to take Crvena - formerly Red Star Belgrade - back to their glory days which at their pinnacle saw them lift the European Cup in 1991.
With that in mind, Stojkovic is unwilling to let Zigic leave mid-season as the club are currently embroiled in a tight title race with arch-rivals Partizan.
However, Crvena are braced for further bids - both from West Ham and elsewhere and they could yet be left with little option but to cash in on their most prized asset.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


The Big One: £7.1m striker Zigic about to sign?

cut 'n' paste from The Independent... Thanks to Pinski for this one.

West Ham United are set to sign Red Star Belgrade's towering striker Nikola Zigic for £7.1m in what will be one of the biggest deals of the January transfer window. They have also held discussions with Chelsea over the return of their former defender Glen Johnson, who has been told he can leave Stamford Bridge this month.

Talks with 25-year-old Zigic, who is an imposing 6ft 5in tall and who will go to the World Cup with Serbia & Montenegro, were due to take place yesterday. He will follow his countryman Nemanja Vidic, who has joined Manchester United for a similar fee, to the Premiership.

West Ham have long identified a striker as a transfer priority, but they also need a new right-back as they are resigned to losing Tomas Repka. The 31-year-old, whose contract runs out at the end of the season after five years at the club he joined for £5.5m from Fiorentina, has made it clear that he wants to return to the Czech Republic and is planning to sign for Sparta Prague. West Ham will not stand in his way.

Discussions took place with Chelsea over Johnson after Monday's Premiership match between the two clubs. The 21-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge for £6m in the first flush of Roman Abramovich's cash, but has struggled to make an impact and has not impressed Jose Mourinho.

West Ham want to take the England international on loan until the end of the season with a view to a permanent move though Chelsea would prefer an immediate sale and want £4m.

Zigic's arrival appears more clear-cut, with the striker jumping to the top of West Ham's targets after a string of impressive performances, especially in the Uefa Cup. He has in the past been linked to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and is expected to make a big impact in the Premiership with his power - especially in the air - and presence.

Zigic has been tracked by clubs in England and France for the past two seasons and has scored 55 goals in 77 games.

West Ham have already had a £5.5m bid for Andy Johnson rejected and fear that the Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan, will not sell the striker at any price, while their interest in the Norwich City striker Dean Ashton has cooled. The asking price of between £7m to £8m is regarded as too high.

Ashton is still expected to leave Carrow Road but it is a deal that will probably go through at the end of the transfer window and West Ham do not want to wait. A more likely destination for the 22-year-old appears to be Wigan Athletic or Manchester City while Portsmouth are also understood to have registered their interest.

West Ham are no longer pursuing Porto's Benni McCarthy and have given up on Monaco's Emmanuel Adebayor, both of whom they tried to sign last summer. But they are considering a move for Cardiff City's prolific 19-year-old striker Cameron Jerome, who has scored 13 goals this season and who would cost up to £1.5m.

Norwich would also regard Jerome as an ideal replacement for Ashton if he leaves, while Sheffield United have lodged a bid, although Jerome's agent insists that he does not expect him to move this month.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


100K joins Hammers

Israeli striker Yaniv Katan has joined West Ham for the princely sum of £100,000 from Maccabi Haifa. Does this mean he is 10 times better than Shaun Newton? If so, we've a winner on our hands.

"All my life I have dreamed of playing in England," said the 24-year-old. "This is a very happy day for me. I hope to be very successful with West Ham United and I am looking forward to meeting my new team-mates. I only arrived in England yesterday. I wanted to come here to watch the match against Chelsea but my plane didn’t land in time! I didn’t manage to watch it on TV either, but I saw Yossi Benayoun in the evening and he told me all about it.

"It is fantastic for me that Yossi is here. We played together at Maccabi Haifa and for the national team. In fact, we roomed together on away trips with the national team, so we are very good friends and I have kept in touch with him since he moved to England.

"Yossi has told me a lot about West Ham United, he said that everyone at the club is very nice, the players are all good friends and that the supporters are fantastic. Of course, Yossi is one of the big reasons I came to West Ham United, and now I am just looking forward to being able to train with him and the rest of my team-mates."

Although he is nominally a striker, Katan suggests that a wide role suits him better. "I like to play as a wide attacking player, but the main thing I can tell the fans here is that I play for the good of the team and always give everything I have. I am so excited about the opportunity I have been given and I really can’t wait to play for West Ham United.

But he is realistic about his first team chances. "Every player wants to be successful but first of all I want to get to know my team-mates and get used to life here. Everything takes time and I don’t know when I will play. I need to make the first practice and we will see what happens after that."

Position: Striker
Squad No: 18
Born: Kiryat Ata, Israel
Date of Birth: January 27, 1981
Height: 6ft 2ins
Weight: 13st
Contract Expires: June 2009
Previous clubs: Maccabi Haifa (1990-2005)
Israeli League Championship 2001-02, 2003-04, 2004-05
Israeli Cup Runner-up: 2001-02
13 full caps for Israel

Season Club Apps Goals
2004-05 Maccabi Haifa 32 8
2003-04 Maccabi Haifa 28 7
2002-03 Maccabi Haifa 32 6
2001-02 Maccabi Haifa 27 8
2000-01 Maccabi Haifa 44 7
1999-00 Maccabi Haifa 39 3
1998-99 Maccabi Haifa 32 1

Total: 234 appearances, 40 goals (5.85 games per goal).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Blues Sink Hammers

Lively West Ham could not overcome a rampant Chelsea side overnight as their rivals eased to a 3-1 scoreline.

I've been a bit crook the last few days so apologies for the lack of posts, and the briefness of this one! I'll just make a few comments on the side.

West Ham looked much better in this match than against Charlton. In that match, the side lacked imagination and a first touch. However, the team improved for the Chelsea match, although there is still a lot of work to do.

The defence were in trouble. Crespo is a hugely dangerous opponent (much classier than Dogbreath) and you can't really blame them for conceding but they do need to work on their teamwork and positioning. Several times they were caught ball-watching, and it's frustrating to see 3 players stationary with their arms in the air appealing for offside when a Chelsea striker is one-on-one with Carroll. This happened twice in the match, to the detriment of a goal. This will not do. The defence as a whole needs to sort out their positioning and marking; mostly when to move across and switch players, and to be less reliant on the offside trap.

Having said that, the mistakes they made were partly to do with Chelsea's movement off the ball, which was superb. They were an extremely well organised side going forward and it just looked as though West Ham's defence was playing at a level lower. Robben was receiving some cracking long passes from Gudjonsen, too. But they will learn from this, I hope - Pardew should make sure of it.

Anyway, player ratings.

Carroll 9: not at fault for any of the goals, but made some brilliant saves and was reliable. Did as well as he could have, and except for one or two sliced clearances did very little wrong.

Konchesky 6: Not a good day for Konchy, defended quite well generally but passing and vision was poor. Definitely needs work on his distribution. Free kicks weren't the best too.

Collins 6: Fabulous sliding tackle near the end to deny Drogba but otherwise struggled against Chelsea's excellent movement.

Ferdinand 6: Overall did better than Collins but slightly shaky. Against a lesser side, should be comfortable and will improve.

Dailly 7: Did very well. Really solid defending, and also dribbled past one or two Chelsea players on occasion. Seems to be learning about his new position. Well done Chris, keep it up. Try to pass it sooner though.

Etherington 6: Mostly anonymous apart from some attacking moves early on.

Mullins 7: I was surprised he came off instead of Fletcher, he put in a lot of good grafting work. Not the best distribution though.

Fletcher 7: Combative, as you'd have seen. Good passing mostly. Will be challenging Mullins for his place.

Reo-Coker 8: He was everywhere and linked dangerously with Harewood. Top stuff. Lucky not to be carded for his early challenge on Essien.

Benayoun 5: Was always a moment too slow to release or dribble the ball. Tried hard but wasn't effective, and, like against Charlton, missed a great chance to score. Needs to link with Dailly more. Also there was that suicidal header to Lampard that led to the goal...

Harewood 7: Difficult to rate him in this one. He battled hard and did some fantastic build-up work but his end product was disappointing to say the least - at least once passing it directly to a Chelsea player. Took the goal very well. Definitely a threat.

Bellion 6: Didn't do much.

Zamora 6: Did his best up front, and is owed a goal by Yossi after the Israeli scuffed Zamora's unselfish pass.