Friday, June 30, 2006


Australian Arrested in Italy

An Australian man has been arrested in Italy for an assault on a local man following the football match between Australia and Italy.

Witnesses say the 28 year old Australian man was 20m away when the incident happened.

The victim suffered a fractured skull, a cardiac arrest and has since developed diabetes as a result of the incident. He is expected to recover in a few minutes.


Luke Young & Carlton Cole

Reports are that we are close to finalising signings of Luke Young from Charlton & Carlton Cole from Chelsea for a total of UK5.5m.,,27-2250347,00.html

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Chris Cohen leaves, Boro chasing Steed

* Academy graduate Chris Cohen has joined Yeovil Town permanently for an undisclosed six figure fee.

The versatile 19 year old said, "I had a good loan spell here and it was the best deal for me to come back. I am however a little sad to be leaving West Ham. There's an element of that when you leave any club - especially a club that you supported as a boy. But sometimes you just have to move on. And I'm going to try my best for Yeovil Town; that's all that matters now."

It's a good move for him - he needs to focus on his playing and not whether he can break into the West Ham first team. I expect we haven't seen the last of this talented youngster, who can play in the centre or left side of midfield and defence.

* In other news, Middlesbrough have made a £5 million offer to Fulham for their midfielder Steed Malbranque. It would appear that Alan Pardew would need to dig deeper if he wants to bring the French 26-year-old to Upton Park, but £5 million is a bloody big bundle.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Aussie escapades are over

And so, what is arguably the greatest achievement in Australian sporting history ends. What a way to go out - a dramatic and controversial penalty moments before the final whistle. And the irony that the unwitting and possibly innocent culprit Lucas Neill, without doubt Australia's player of the tournament, would be the man to ultimately trigger the final act that was to send his team home.

It's been a magnificent trip and to make such a sudden exit, just as Australia were starting to look as though they would score in extra time, is gutting. May 13th springs to mind.

They played quite well, passing the ball confidently (particularly in the first 20 minutes or so) and really just saw the Azzuri at their defensive best. There's not much you can do about that (although having some more width and maybe bringing Kennedy on instead of Aloisi might have helped, but Italy did look very, very strong defensively). The fortifications held, and we had no ideas.

Was it a penalty? I dunno. I thought so, but everyone else seems to think it wasn't. If it was, it was soft. In my mind if you're going to give a penalty in the last 5 seconds of a World Cup match, it's going to have to be a two footed head high Kung Fu kick - you REALLY want to be sure of it. Having said that, it happened quickly enough that I find it hard to blame the referee - to me, it looked like a penalty, even after several replays. I reckon Neill was impeding the player without actually attempting to play the ball. Grosso definitely played for the penalty, as had many of the other Italians throughout the game, but he was still impeded. As Fozzie said, some refs will give it and some won't. What can you do. It wasn't a red card either, and we sure didn't bitch about that.

Well, I hope Johnny Warren is up there watching it on his 500 inch LCD. The Socceroos have done their Captain proud, and they can only build on it.

Player ratings

Schwarzer 7 confidence inspiring.
Chipperfield 6 a bit dodgy defensively and missed two half chances.
Neill 8 his indescretion for the penalty is barely enough to blot his magnificent record.
Moore 7 reliable again.
Culina 6 Some wayward passes and not much imagination.
Wilkshire 7 I groaned when I heard his name called out but he acquitted himself very well with a studious and disciplined game.
Cahill 7 ran around a lot, and a bit unlucky not to score.
Grella 8 defensively superb.
Bresciano 6 just not himself.
Sterjovski 6 couldn't get involved.
Viduka 6 tried too hard

Aloisi 6 ineffective



Forget about whether it was or wasn't a penalty. That was just gut-wrenchingingly, agonisingly cruel. We haven't seen cruelty like that since, hmmm, May 13th....

Monday, June 26, 2006



According to rumour Steed Malbranque is about to have a medical and will join West Ham for 4.5M. If this comes off I'll be one big f*&%off happy chappy. This guys oozes class; anything good for Fulham is channeled through this lad. It's no wonder he has been linked with Newcastle and Liverpool also but rumour says those two are procrastinating and we nearly have him in the bag. My only source is the thread on West Ham Online so can not confirm that this will happen but there are a few on there who seem very confident. It was reported yesterday in that reputable rag - The News of The World.

Apparently Charlton are messing around with the Luke Young deal but we are still persisting on that front. I'm sure Pards has a plan B but I'm sure he'll also keep probing at Charlton in the meantime.

Oh and England are in the quarter finals of the world cup after beating Equador 1-0 where they will meet Portugal who defeated Holland over night by the same score. A superb David Beckham freekick was enough to settle a lacklustre game.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Stone the Cro's!

We won... I'm utterly mentally exhausted after that effort.

As Dave says, match report to follow, but not till Monday I'm afraid...


Fixtures Out!

Well we start with Charlton at home which is as good a fixture as any, followed by Watford away. 6 points would be a happy and quite acheivable start to the season. I am not going to print the fixtures here as I've seen quite a lot of clamping down lately (the FA charges 280 quid to put them on your website) so I'll provide a link to Skysports here.

Let's also hope we can wreck Man United's season on the final game as we did with Spurs this year. I think we are due another Old Trafford win!

Also the Aussies played today - bring on the Italians! I'm sure Graham's match report will follow shortly! :-)

Thursday, June 22, 2006


WC06 Update

It seems a good enough time, just after half the matches have been played in the World Cup, to sit back and take stock of what's been gracing our televisions in the dead of night.

Argentina and Spain have been the highlights for me. The South Americans have played some truly scintillating football. Many, myself included, tipped them as finalists, but they have proved to be even better than expected. Despite only just returning from injury, Lionel Messi has been a delight to watch. His footwork, balance, and vision are of the rarest football beauty. Tevez and Riquelme have also shown what they can do, while Ayala and Heinze (the latter also only just returning from injury) have been reliable and miserly at the back. Their bench is frightening (Aimar and Crespo benched against Holland?) and they are really looking like world beaters.

Spain were, for once, mostly unfancied at the start of the tournament, and have duly surprised many with their quality. Torres is in fantastic form and Puyol is sharp as ever, but they have also played a pretty brand of team football where every player plays a vital part. Their passing and movement is sublime and they look as though they are really enjoying every minute on the pitch. If they can keep it up, they could go all the way.

Germany are also playing better than I, for one, expected. They haven't played any of the top teams yet but they have played a looser and faster game than in previous years. Klose can't stop scoring and they are playing out of their skins, obviously buoyed by the home support. Whether they can reach the finals is another question, but my original tip of Germany going out to Sweden in the round of sixteen is looking a little doubtful.

Three other teams carrying short odds - Brasil, Holland, and England - haven't hit their straps yet. Of the three obviously England look the least capable of lifting the cup. The loss of Owen is nothing short of a disaster and the weight of Eriksson's decision to take only four strikers is going to be a heavy burden on the rest of the squad. Rooney will be a massive factor but they will be needing goals from midfield to progress - Gerrard is obliging but Lampard is yet to find the net - and they will also need to sew the back line up tighter. They should beat Ecuador but the next round will be very difficult for them.

Brasil is cruising. I would guess they are doing only what is necessary to win, in order to build momentum and maintain fitness. Theie bench is also not nearly as strong as their first XI so they will hope nobody picks up any injuries or drops form.

Holland seem to be struggling a bit more and will need to find a bit extra if they want to reach the final. Robben and van Persie need to come under van Basten's control, while van Nistelrooy is bordering on invisible.

Of the less fancied teams, Ivory Coast have been the unluckiest. I will be missing their brand of fast but intelligent football in the elimination rounds. Drogba in particular was a very different striker than when he plays for Chelsea, showing how much he benefits from having a second teammate alongside him. Next season's partnership with Shevchenko will be terrifying.

As I've said before I'm quite impressed with Australia. Croatia is yet to come, and if we can make the final 16 then it'll be brilliant. (I predict 3-2 to us against the Croats). Our next opponents - probably Italy - are beatable, but it will be a very tough test. Very bloody tough. The group stages are not the same as the cut-throat eliminations, especially against a team like Italy who will hate to draw. Imagine if they got knocked out on penalties... for the 487th time.... by Australia. They sure as hell won't want that and will be up for it in a big, big way. So I'm expecting to go out in the next round if - and that's a big if - we do go through.

The less said about Italy, France, and the Czech Republic the better.

Overall it's been a fantastic World Cup with some entertaining games and brilliant goals. If things keep going as they have been the elimination rounds will be first class.

Here's to WC2006, let's hope it ends as well as it started...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


England brief...

Eriksson 5 complete twat
Robinson 5 very unsteady
A Cole 4 terrible for their second goal
Rio 6 OK
Terry 6 not his best
Carragher 6 adequate
J Cole 8 excellent
Lampard 7 comfortable
Hargreaves 6 good and bad
Rooney 6 petulant when subbed
Owen N/A must be gutted

Crouch 6 tall
Campbell 5 WTF?
Gerrard 7 Gerrard

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


WHU-AU hits 10,000

We just had our 10,000th hit last night (I've only just got around to making the counter visible). That's an average of about 26 a day since we started back on June 6 2005 - immediately following promotion.

Monday, June 19, 2006


History Stuffs Australia

Well, that title is a bit harsh, but I think we all knew in our heart of hearts that Brasil would turn us over. Having said that, though, it was only moments of individual class that made the difference, but tactically the Socceroos had the South Americans round their little finger for long periods.

The first half in particular was absolutely magnificent from the Aussies. Tactically superb, they stifled the Brasilian flair to the point where the world champions were visibly at a loss for openings to exploit. The Socceroos simply gave them no options. It was a lesson in tactical planning and it came off to a tee. I don't recall ever seeing a side so well organised and disciplined, covering space and breaking forward when the opportunity arose. Right from the off, the Aussies did not press the Brasilian back line, allowing them to pack the midfield and deny the Brasilians any space. It was almost as though the pitch had shrunk to about two thirds its normal size, and that's exactly the way to successfully curb an attack. When the Aussies had the ball, the pitch seemed to open up, allowing the play to flow.

As if we needed it, that 45 minutes was confirmation of Guus Hiddink's tactical genius. Critics will suggest that Brasil were not at their best, but they would have had to be at their best to get past the Socceroo fortifications. It was very, very impressive.

The initial period of the second half was always going to be the real test, and would dictate the rest of the game. The Brasilians came out with a new plan, and the Aussies were always going to have to respond to it. Unfortunately, the South Americans stepped up a notch, and the Aussies found it difficult to maintain their performance. The game opened up, and this would always suit Brasil. Sure enough, a couple of small defensive errors (Neill allowing Ronaldo the space to receive the ball cleanly, the other defenders being drawn to Ronaldo and away from Adriano, and Chipperfield letting Adriano turn onto his favoured left foot) led to a goal. The class of Brasil showed through here, as many sides would not have the talent to exploit such a small chance.

From then on, the Aussies were on the back foot. They had to score, and pushed forward. Hiddink brought off a key defender, Moore, for a more attacking lineup. He knew that goal difference was irrelevant given the draw between Croatia and Japan, so it was worth risking conceding a second.

It could have easily been a draw, with Kewell, Viduka, and Bresciano all coming close. Dida's save from Bresciano's spectacular volley was top drawer, although it may not have gone straight in. But Australia were caught short and Brasil found themselves with four players on three. The oddly-named Fred punted it in, and it was all over.

Player Ratings
Schwarzer 6 - Could do little about the goals, but commanded his area and took an excellent one-handed catch from a shot (that would have been disallowed anyway, but shows his skill - this guy could palm a bowling ball).
Chipperfield 6 - Made a few errors and tried to milk it too much going forward.
Neill 9 - Outstanding. Man of the match.
Moore 8 - Excellent. Back to his best.
Popovic 7 - Unlucky to be injured. Was having a good game till then.
Emerton 8 - One of his best games. Kept possession well and tackled well. Disciplined.
Grella 7 - Partly at fault for the last goal, but that didn't spoil a great performance.
Culina 7 - Good. Poor set pieces though.
Cahill 8 - Very lively and only subbed for his yellow card.
Sterjovski 7 - Generally very good but occasionally gave the ball away.
Viduka 7 - Held the ball up well.

Bresciano 7 - Great volley and good creativity.
Kewell 7 - Wasteful, but gave us time to press forward.
Aloisi 6 - Quiet.

I have to say that the whole was much greater than the sum of its parts. Overall I'd give the performance an 8, as a team.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


More Cardiff Photos

Here's a few can see a bunch of others here.

Giant Condom

Fanz in Da Standz

On Me Head Son

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Bleiberg: Back atcha, Aker

Dear Jason,

After reading your recent article, I would like to invite you to join me for a game of poker one day because you have displayed a tendency to show all your cards!

You quite rightly point out that soccer fever (out of politeness I will use your terminology) is sweeping the nation and perhaps the fact that you are commenting on our beautiful game reflects the fear that you have for our rising sport. As I said, you have shown your cards.

The purpose of this letter is not to knock either your code or any other code. However, I disagree with much of what you wrote.

Now that I am an Aussie, I appreciate and agree that Australians are the smartest race in the world, but the fact is that there are billions of people who follow our game and just a portion of Australians who follow yours.

Your game is at its most popular in Melbourne, and as a fellow resident of the Sunshine State I'm sure you will agree that we can't take Victorians too seriously.

As far as my memory permits, all attempts at spreading AFL to other parts of the world have so far resulted in just a handful of Australian backpackers taking part and even fewer watching from the sidelines.

In regard to the comments you made on low-scoring results in soccer, again I feel I must enlighten you on a few points.

I cannot see that rugby union has more scoring elements than soccer. If you ignore points gained for penalties and just focus on the main method of scoring, tries, then scorelines are very similar to soccer, with often just one, two or three tries being scored by the winning team.

I also recall a recent game of NRL that was 0-0 until the closing stages, but it was still a nail-biting game.

If you cast your mind back again to your match versus Adelaide, I remember that they had not scored a goal before half-time. High scoring in all AFL games?

Lack of scoring (or points) does not mean lack of action or entertainment. I trust you were watching the Socceroos against Japan? And did you see how it captivated the entire nation, with celebrations in the streets and parties all over the country?

You will also find that even though the game was televised live at 11pm and did not finish until 1am, the TV audience comfortably eclipsed that of the AFL grand final.

Jason, the world is now a lot smaller than it used to be.

We live as a global family and our sport is the very essence of multi-culturalism. It offers international and cultural exchange that no other high-profile sport can offer.

It provides its elite athletes with the opportunity to wear the green and gold and represent their country against the best the rest of the world has to offer.

It presents corporate partners with a route into a host of global markets, and furthermore, it is an industry in its own right where the top players, the likes of Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Mark Viduka, will earn more in a year than your entire squad put together.

It is not called the World Game for nothing, Jason.

You spoke about courage in your piece, Jason. Well, courage is not just about bashing people on the field in a pub-style brawl.

When John Aloisi stepped up last November to take the penalty against Uruguay, the one that secured qualification for this World Cup in Germany, he had the hopes of the entire nation on his shoulders.

It was unimaginable pressure for one man to bear, but he scored.

That, Jason, is courage personified.

You made many other points in your article that I could challenge, but in the interest of humility I will only comment on one more.

So you think that soccer is not a contact sport? Well, in fact it is; it's just not a collision sport.

If you ever care to test my theory then you are most welcome to join us for training at any time.

There remains an open invitation for you to do so, especially after your soccer-style goal against Adelaide!

Yours in Sport,
Miron Bleiberg
Head coach, Queensland Roar FC


Wardy Gone

Coventry have signed West Ham defender Elliot Ward for £1 million. I'm probably not alone in being very sorry to see him go, as he was utterly brilliant for us in our promotion season and wasn't really given a proper chance in the Premiership. Unfortunately he's just been squeezed out of a very talented group of defenders at West Ham, and he needed to try his luck elsewhere. I have no doubt that Coventry have made a great deal, we'll be seeing Wardy in the Premiership soon.

Good luck Elliot!

Also, Yeovil want Chris Cohen. I was always a fan of this young lad as well, so I wish him good luck if he does leave.


I hate Crouch

Cheating bastard.

Friday, June 16, 2006


England scrape through

A second win in two games is enough to see England through to the Round of 16 thanks to a 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the early hours of this morning.

Well, in my humble opinion, they looked like shite. The scoreline flattered them. T&T just defended the entire match and were extremely disappointing. I was hoping they'd push forward on the break at least but they hardly managed that. Shaka must really be sick of the sight of Gerrard!

England struggled to break them down and looked very lacklustre. To be honest, as an Australian who really only follows England because I know the players and because I support West Ham, it's getting very hard to continue to support such a bloody boring team. I fucking hate Sven Boring Eriksson, I hate Ashley Cole, I hate Lardarse, and I hate Crouch. Maybe it's the lack of sleep, but I'm starting not to give a shit any more - they simply don't add up to anything like the sum of their parts, Eriksson's tactics are dull as ditchwater, and they just aren't as exciting to watch as Argentina, Spain, Brasil, or, God help us, even Germany.

I certainly would like to review my initial opinion that England would make the semi finals. Unless they pick their game up dramatically they are not going to beat Germany and could well struggle against Ecuador.

One thing I'd like to mention - Rooney. Sure, the kid is brilliant, one of the best all round footballers I've ever seen. But he ain't the saviour of English football and Eriksson (and McLaren) need to recognise that. Sven just keeps talking him up and putting pressure on him. No player could live up to his hype and I feel for the lad. Bringing him into the side and expecting the team to suddenly start winning is just misguided. All the other players would naturally absorb some of that expectation and fail to perform themselves, with or without Rooney. England need all their players to perform at their peak for the entire tournament if they want to win it. At the moment, that's not happening.

Robinson 6 - Not totally convincing but okay.
A. Cole 6 - Overlapped a couple of times and got stuck in defensively.
Terry 8 - A bloody man-mountain is this fella. He might be blue scum, but he's one fantastic defender.
Ferdinand 7 - Did his job.
Carragher 6 - Adequate, but no Neville in this position. (boy, that's hard to say)
J. Cole 6 - Tried his tricks but no end product.
Lampard 5 - Very much below par.
Gerrard 6 - Barely involved apart from the goal.
Beckham 6 - Free kicks, crosses, and corners went astray too often - but the one for the goal was pinpoint.
Owen 5 - Out of sorts.
Crouch 6 - Fucking lucky to score. I'm sure Beckham said to him at half time, "Look, I know you're trying, but you can't head a ball for shit.. Next time you're looking for a cross, just stand perfectly still and I'll try and ricochet the ball off your forehead into the goal."

Rooney 7 - Lively.
Lennon 7 - Promising.
Downing 6 - Adequate.

(oh, and Shaka 6)

* In other news. West Ham have signed Jonathan Spector for a half million quid. Is he the right-back we've all been wanting, or is he cover for the other defensive positions?


Apparently England Played Last Night...

.....but the evidence is a little sketchy. Pretty much the same drill as against the Paraplegics - little fight, little effort and little point getting up for 2 hours in the middle of the night. But for the final 7 minutes we would have had to settle on a 0-0 draw against the carribean minnows. The highlight of the game was Steven Gerrard's 91st minute corker, but poor Shaka Hislop must have been thinking he was still at Cardiff. The Hammers stopper certainly did nothing in this game to tarnish his reputation, but must've had a touch of the old deja vu about him and must be thinking Steven Gerrard is taking this piss out of him.

For anybody who stayed in bed, half your luck - the result was 2-0. I will not rate the players as quite frankly, they were all well below par.


Spector Signs!

USA international defender Jonathan Spector has signed a permanent deal from Man United for 500k. He spent the majority of last season on loan at Charlton where from memory he spent most of the time at left back. However I understand this young 20YO stopper can play anywhere across the back and his versatility could make his chances of breaking into the first team better than that of of Clive Clarke. If as hoped we are to sign a first choice right back then I expect Clarke's days at West Ham to be numbered. But at 500k (small change in today's market) from what I've seen of Spector, it is probably money well spent.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Cardiff Images

Over the off season I might post the odd image or two that I took at the Cup Final. Why is it they always look so much better on the LCD on the back of the camera at the time :(

Marlon Surrounded


New Strip

In the club shop a week ago I was told there will be a new strip out 2nd week in July. Still Reebok, still Jobserve. So it's gotta be asked..why? $$$. And no discounting the current strip..

Oh yeah, I'm back in OZ :(

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Football's Coming Home: Australia 3-1 Japan

Tim Cahill has engraved his name into the annals of Australian football history by scoring the first two Socceroo goals in the World Cup finals* and ensuring an historic win against Japan last night.

Not only that but John Aloisi has elevated his status almost to divinity by scoring Australia's third in extra-time.

To be honest I thought Hiddink had got it all wrong. Australia looked very good in the opening stages but something just wasn't right about the shape. Wilkshire got a start on the right, which is baffling, while Emerton and Kewell played in the middle.

It worked but wasn't convincing. Australia had several chances without taking the advantage, while Japan attacked our leaky right flank.

Bresciano had the best chance from a Viduka backheel but the ball fell to his weaker left foot and the Japanese keeper got down in time to palm the shot away. Dukes had another, although I'm sure he'd have preferred to lay the ball off rather than shoot from the narrow angle, but there was no support. As it was, he did well to force two saves from the keeper.

Suddenly, and somewhat against the run of play, Japan were in front. A hopeful ball into the box enticed Schwarzer to come and collect, but the big fella was shoved by a couple of Japan players and the ball bounced unchallenged into the net. The ref was unmoved by Australia's protests and the goal stood. If the security people had access to tranquiliser darts I'm sure they'd have used them against Hiddink, who was absolutely ropable.

The goal shook the Socceroos, who played the next period much more nervously, but they came back into the game and, at times, laid siege to the Japan goal. However they found their opposition keeper Kawaguchi to be in a very stingy mood, having made multiple saves from various Aussies. Kewell also clipped the bar from a fair way out.

Soon after the start of the second half Hiddink rang the changes as expected, although the substitutions were probably more adventurous than most people would have predicted.

Tim Cahill for Bresciano was pretty much like-for-like but Kennedy for Moore was very gutsy move. Both players justified their selection with excellent displays - especially Cahill as it turned out. Then Kawaguchi made another superb save low to his right from a Viduka free-kick.

Aloisi was soon brought on for Wilkshire as Australia pressed forward in an insane 2-5-3 formation rarely seen in the last half century. The penalty shootout hero forced yet another good save from Kawaguchi and the pressure finally paid off in the dying minutes with a scrambled goal by Cahill after the Japanese keeper made an uncharacteristic error. Cue manic celebration as history was made but the young midfielder wasn't finished yet. Aloisi fed the ball across to an unmarked Cahill just outside the area and the ex-Millwall player did a very un-Millwall-like thing: took a moment to line it up, and place a magnificent shot onto the inside of the post and into the net.

That's not to say that Japan didn't have their chances, but their final ball was awful and they couldn't bury it. Their best chance was a gift from Chipperfield that allowed them to be two-on-one, but the ball was passed behind the player and he couldn't do anything with it. They were also very unlucky not to be awarded with a penalty (and an extra man) when Cahill went to ground in the box.

As Japan reeled, Aloisi struck again deep into injury time, nipping past the tired Japanese defence and slotting coolly home. It was another fantastic goal and one that may serve us well in terms of goal difference later on.

Australia at times looked world-class, and at times looked amateurish. Our fitness is definitely a major factor - Japan were becoming visibly tired as the second half drew on but Australia just kept pressuring. They were full of determination but their nerves showed through as well. The defence is a worry, and our difficulty in scoring is another. There were defensive mistakes even before we started pressing forward, and some of the passing was a bit soft. But for now, let's sit back and enjoy this moment. Ultimately, the victory was what the team deserved. No other team has scored three goals in the last seven minutes in World Cup history. We're top of the table, and will stay there with anything less than a 3-0 victory from Brasil against Croatia.

* Except an own goal in 1974, which we will conveniently disregard...

Player Ratings

Schwarzer 5: A couple of errors in judgement, a minor one for the goal (although he was ultimately unlucky to concede) and a major one when he decided to head the ball to an opposition player.
Chipperfield 5: Caught out several times and not a great attacking threat. Is much better in a back four rather than a three (or two for that matter). Made a horrible mistake near the end that could have cost us the game.
Neill 7: One of the few, along with Viduka and Aloisi, to keep their cool. Was turned just outside the area to allow a shot on goal near the end but otherwise very solid.
Moore 6: Had moments when he looked like the hard-arse defender of old. Improving every match.
Wilkshire 5: Dismal first half, looked completely outclassed and kept fouling. Improved somewhat but should really be nowhere near this squad.
Grella 7: An important force in defence and kept possession well. Will go into the Brasil game in good form.
Culina 6: Drifted in and out but a good contribution overall.
Emerton 6: Poor first half - repeatedly found out defensively and offered little in attack. Better in the second half when he was played more towards the sideline.
Kewell 6: Looked tired and out of sorts. Had a moment or two but seemed a bit breathless.
Bresciano 7: Surprisingly substituted, Marco looked like our best bet to be our first goalscorer in the first half. Apparently some kind of ear infection forced him to go off. Hoping he's fit and ready for the next match.
Viduka 8: Great support play and one of our best. Unlucky not to score with three excellent attempts, and nearly got an assist or two as well. Wasn't given much support, so it'd be good to see Aloisi alongside him.

Cahill 9: Hungry as hell and it paid off. Poached the first and thoroughly earned the second with a world class finish.
Kennedy 7: Caused all sorts of problems for the Japanese defence. Good to have him coming off the bench.
Aloisi 8: What a goal. Really looks the goods, a natural goalscorer, and Hiddink must be wondering how he can fit him into the starting XI without upsetting the established tactics.

What'll Hiddink do against Brasil? I'm thinking he really has to play Aloisi alongside Viduka so the two cool heads can play off one another. That suggests something along the lines of a 3-2-3-2 formation, if he sticks with Chippers, Moore, and Neill at the back, or maybe a 4-1-3-2 with Grella protecting the back four. Don't know who to play at right back though. We need two players in defensive midfield to protect against Ronaldinho and Kaka, but I can't see us defending against Ronaldo and Adriano with only three at the back either. I'm glad I'm not Hiddink. Kewell has to play on the wing and I'd be happy with Bresciano either in the centre or on the opposite wing.

I'm hoping we get at least a point from Brasil, so we don't have pressure against Croatia. If the Croats beat Japan or get a result against Brasil then the last game will be really huge. If we can get just one point from Brasil then we will be laughing. I think the South Americans will really want to beat Croatia because if they don't, the other two teams will know they are beatable and they could struggle to top the group. They will want to top the group to avoid Italy (presumably) in the next round. So I'm hoping they beat Croatia so that they come into the Australia game a little more relaxed. Then, I'd like a draw between Croatia and Japan which will set up a real nail biter for the last round (i.e. any two of the four teams could go through).

Monday, June 12, 2006


Fixtures now OK..

Oops! I just realised some of the WC fixtures were wrong. Well, hopefully they're right now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Paraguay 1-0 Paraguay...


Long ball, struggle for possession, win ball, pass ball backwards, pass ball backwards again, pass to keeper, long ball, repeat ad dormium.

What a boring game. If that was what we're expecting out of England then it'll be a short and uneventful Cup for them. At least, that's what I can get out of what little I saw over and through a sea of heads at the Pig n Whistle!

Sven discarded all his pre-Cup tinkering for a classical 4-4-2, and initially I thought it would be a hammering. Paraguay's defence looked awful, and even gifted a goal, but England could not make the most of it even after their keeper went off due to an injury (poor fella). After a while, Paraguay became tougher to break down although they very rarely threatened.

Eriksson's lack of strikers has already shown itself to be a problem as Owen was subbed, then Crouch looking very tired as the game wore on and with only Walcott available to replace him.

Having said all that, Paraguay are a decent side but England never looked like losing it. Things can go pear-shaped quickly in a match, of course, but the laws of probability were certainly in their favour. They won while playing poorly and that might just be a good sign.

Player ratings (note: I could barely see for much of the game so this might be dodgy..)
Robinson 5, Neville 6, Ferdinand 7, Terry 6, Ashley Cole 5, Beckham 7, Lampard 6, Gerrard 6, Joe Cole 7 (Hargreaves 6), Owen 6 (Downing 6), Crouch 7.


Shaka: T&T Hero

Friday, June 09, 2006


Bowyer returns

In a move that has stunned the Upton Park faithful, Alan Pardew has brought back controversial midfielder Lee Bowyer from Newcastle for a reported fee of £750,000.

Pardew has defended his decision, saying, "In some quarters it will be regarded as a controversial signing because Lee has had disciplinary problems in the past - both on and off the pitch. But he has matured as a player and as a person. My scouts tell me he was Newcastle's best player in the last three months of the season. I played with Lee at Charlton and I know the outstanding ability he has. Up to now he hasn't achieved what he should have achieved. But he still has time - and I am hoping that he will realise his full potential at West Ham."

Bowyer, a self-confessed West Ham fan, was originally signed by Glenn Roeder in January 2003 when the club was attempting to stave off relegation. As history relates, the club went down and Bowyer was quickly unloaded after an unsuccessful six months with the Londoners.

Pardew said, "It is well known that he was carrying an ankle injury the last time he played for West Ham, but the lad and his family have always been Hammers fans and he wanted to help the club - who were then bottom of the league - out of their predicament."

It's also difficult to look past Bowyer's dubious history, but Pardew reckons he's a changed man. "All those incidents that Lee has been involved with down the years have taught him lessons and everyone deserves another chance. I will not tolerate any other incidents, he now needs to have a clean bill of health. We had a fantastic disciplinary record last season. Lee needs to understand they are the standards we have set - and I expect him to abide by them."

Bowyer himself says, "I am desperate to do well for West Ham. I loved my time at Newcastle but this is my Club. I didn't play well last time. I had a bad ankle injury and kept playing on it which was to nobody's benefit. I see this as unfinished business - I want to show the Hammers fans what I can do. When Alan Pardew came in for me there was never going to be any other outcome."

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Aussies 3-1 Liechtenstein

Well, the Socceroos beat Liechtenstein, although it should really have been a gimme considering they are footballing minnows even compared with us. The thing I do like about Liechtenstein is that when you play them, you really do play the whole damn country, although it must be hard for them to scrape together enough natives to make a full XI plus bench.

I didn't watch the match, thanks to its 3:30am kickoff, but apparently the boys had a bit of trouble with Lucas Neill banging one into his own net, Sterjovski levelling, and then one each from Kennedy and Aloisi to save our blushes in the final 15 minutes.

"There was a bit of a lack of concentration and we can not afford to make those types of mistakes," quoth Guus. "After that sloppy period in the beginning, we started to build up a little more pace in the second half especially with some changes on the left side and we went somewhat better."

Anyone watch it and care to comment?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Young and Spector

It appears that West Ham have all but secured the signature of Charlton right-back Luke Young for a reported £3.2 million fee, potentially rising to £3.6 million depending on appearances.

Young, who turns 27 this year, is unhappy with his contract at West Ham's neighbour club. "I've grown increasingly frustrated with the way contract negotiations have been conducted by Charlton. I appreciate there has been a change in management but this does not account for the club overlooking contractual obligations to review my contract and allowing three separate deadlines to pass. I can only assume they do not want to extend therefore I have handed in a transfer request."

Alan Pardew is reportedly eyeing another defender, Jonathan Spector. The 20-year-old American is currently signed with Manchester United and has made 8 appearances, and last season went on loan spell to Charlton where he made 16 starts. Unfortunately for him a dislocated shoulder has kept him out of the USA squad for the World Cup although he has won 3 caps in the past. The 6'1" (or 6'0" depending on who you ask) Chicago kid can play anywhere across a back four, as Alan Curbishley has said: "He made his debut for Man United at left-back, and like a lot of defenders sees himself as centre back. He can play right back as well. That's what I like about him, his versatility. He's very quick, is two-footed and can pass the ball very well. He gets tight to forwards and is a very good athlete." Manchester United youth director Jimmy Ryan agrees. "He's a very strong defensive player who knows how to keep it simple very well. He's also a powerful player - one that we definitely think will develop into a very good player." No price for the youngster has yet been reported.

Monday, June 05, 2006


WHU-AU World Cup Tipping

To all of you West Ham fans in Australia and NZ (and any other Irons who might like to have a go)...

I'd like to invite you all to take part in the Foxtel World Cup Tipping & Fantasy leagues. (Either or both as you prefer).

* Germany 2006 - Predictor (quick tipping for outcome of matches)
Log in & enter your predictions. Click on the 'Leagues' link. Enter the code 3908-231 to join the WHU-AU league.

* Germany 2006 - Fantasy Team (more involved fantasy team selection)
Log in and enter your team. Click on the 'Leagues' link. Enter the code 13179-1834 to join the WHU-AU league.

Roll on Friday night! In Guus we trust, and in Sven we, well, hope...


Green, Gold, Orange, and Red in Rotterdam

The Socceroos managed to hold the Netherlands to a 1-1 draw in Rotterdam last night, despite being down to 10 men for a third of the match.

The Aussies started off very nervous, with Holland giving them very little time on the ball. The visitors reacted by giving the ball away at almost every opportunity and failing to ease the pressure. It was a classic case of big-match nerves that need to be ironed out before the Japan game.

The Orange pressure paid off early with a goal to van Nistelrooy who typically followed up a parried shot. Schwarzer was criticised for pushing the ball into the marauding Dutchman's path but I don't think he could have done much better. At this point I was thinking that it was going to be a long, drawn out hiding, but fortunately the Dutch could not score again and the Aussies came into the game more.

As the first half drew to a close the Australian side started to look more comfortable and made some opportunities for themselves, although I don't think the Dutch really got into top gear at any point.

We did perform quite well and this match will be a great learning experience. The movement of van Nistelrooy, van Persie, and Robben (among others) gave our back line some headaches and hopefully they will have learned a lot from them.

Player Ratings

Schwarzer 9 - Outstanding, kept us in the game.
Chipperfield 6 - Got good towards the end - should be worth a start.
Neill 6 - Best of a poor back four.
Moore 5 - Struggled.
Emerton 5 - Why are we playing him? His brain is on a permanent 0.5 second delay, and he's not a right back. I'd rather give Beauchamp or somebody a shot here.
Wilkshire 5 - Poor generally, and a pointless red card.
Grella 6 - Overran early on but got better.
Culina 6 - Not heavily involved.
Sterjovski 6 - Couldn't get the ball.
Bresciano 6 - Poor decisions.
Viduka 6 - Looked class but needed to score that penalty.
Cahill 6 - Good follow up both before and after the penalty.
Aloisi 6 - Looked fairly good.
Thompson 6 - Struggled.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Young to Join Hammers?

It has been reported that Luke Young has handed in a transfer request at Charlton Athletic. It is no secret that West Ham have a void at right back that needs filling and Young has been linked on several occasions. I think it would be a great acquisition, a player on the fringe of England's World Cup ambitions could be just the sort of player that would fit into Pardew's plans.

We have been slow to join the preseason transfer scramble, and the signing of Luke Young would be a good start IMO.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


World Cup 2006 Gatherings in Australia

I'm sure that, as West Ham fans living in Australia, you all support both England and Australia in the World Cup, right? Well, the unofficial gathering places of Hammers to watch these matches are listed below. If you would like to nominate a venue in your town or city, please email me or leave a comment.

Thanks DPL
The Hakoah Club, 61-67 Hall Street, BONDI NSW 2026
Tel: 02 9130 3344
Comment from DPL: They have installed 2 additional plasma screens, a 55 inch and 42 inch, in the H bar to provide greater viewing options and are also extending other services during June-July.The Club will again be decked out with both England and Australian flags and shirts for each match. Many of us are England fans but this time we also have Australia!

Pig 'N' Whistle, 123 Eagle Street, Brisbane
Tel: 07 3832 9099

Thanks Beggers
Prince Albert at Jupiters Casino

Dates and times for group matches (EST, kickoff is 30 minutes later):

1. England vs Paraguay, 22.30 pm, Sat 10 June
2. Australia vs Japan, 22.30 pm, Mon 12 June
3. England vs Trinidad & Tobago, 01.30 am, Fri 16 June (morning 1.30am)
4. Brazil vs Australia, 01.30 am, Mon 19 June (morning 1.30am)
5. Sweden vs England, 04.30 am, Wed 21 June
6. Croatia vs Australia, 04.30 am, Fri 23 June