Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Queens Park Rangers

Blast from the past

West Ham United arrived at the Park Royal Ground, the former home of this weekend’s opponents Queens Park Rangers, for a Southern League First Division fixture on 12th September 1910 while en route to a fifth placed finish. A 2-0 victory in front of 7,000 was recorded thanks to a double from legendary inside-forward Danny Shea (pictured), who scored 186 goals for the club in 290 appearances. QPR would finish five points below the Hammers in 1910/11, in sixth position.

West Ham United: George Kitchen, William Lavery, Robert Fairman, Frank Piercy, Thomas Randall, Fred Blackburn, Thomas Caldwell, Herbert Ashton, Frank Curtis, Danny Shea, Frederick Massey.

Club Connections

A long list of players have turned out for both West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers over the years. Divided by position, these include:

Goalkeepers: Ludek Miklosko and Phil Parkes.

Defenders: Tim Breacker, Rufus Brevett, Neil Ruddock, Anton Ferdinand, Keith Rowland and Tal Ben Haim.

Midfielders: Gary O’Neil, Andy Impey, Martin Allen, Nigel Quashie, Steve Lomas, Ravel Morrison, Kieron Dyer, Yossi Benayoun and Trevor Sinclair.

Strikers: Modibo Maiga, Iain Dowie, Leroy Rosenior, Clive Allen, Bobby Zamora, Les Ferdinand, Paul Goddard and Hogan Ephraim.

Ex-Hammers Robert Green, Rio Ferdinand and Bobby Zamora are currently on the QPR playing staff. In addition, former West Ham players Dave Sexton and Harry Redknapp have managed QPR, while former Hoops defender Glenn Roeder has managed the Hammers.

This week’s focus though is on a player who is recognised as one of West Ham United’s best centre-backs of the last ten years. Danny Gabbidon started his career with West Brom in 1999 before joining Cardiff in 2001. He signed for West Ham United (along with James Collins) in July 2005 and quickly built up an effective partnership with Hammers’ homegrown product Anton Ferdinand, making 39 appearances in all competitions as the Hammers embarked on an exciting and memorable 2005/06 campaign. The Hammers finished ninth under the guidance of Alan Pardew and came within seconds of winning the FA Cup. Gabbidon’s contribution to that terrific campaign was recognised by the club’s supporters as he beat off strong competition to become the recipient of the Hammer of the Year award that season. Hamstring and groin problems during 2006/07 restricted Gabbidon’s contribution to ‘The Greatest Escape’ to 22 matches and the signing of Matthew Upson, coupled with Gabbidon’s increasing injury issues, led to tougher times for the Welsh international; indeed, injury ensured he would not play a single match between December 2007 and August 2009.

Gabbidon returned to play 11 matches under Gianfranco Zola in 2009/10 as the Hammers narrowly avoided relegation but the club would not survive the following campaign as the defender made 27 appearances under Avram Grant. After 96 league appearances over six seasons with West Ham, Gabbidon was released after relegation in the summer of 2011.

A Welsh international, Gabbidon won 25 of his 49 caps while with West Ham United. He made his Wales debut as a Cardiff player in a 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic in March 2002. Within four months of his move to east London, he captained his country in a 1-0 away defeat to Cyprus. Gabbidon announced his retirement from international football in October 2010 but reversed his decision in the spring of 2011.

Gabbidon signed a one-year contract with Neil Warnock’s Queens Park Rangers in July 2011 after impressing whilst on trial with the club. He scored an own goal on his debut in a 4–0 loss to Bolton but, on 17th January 2012, Gabbidon scored his first goal since March 2005, a header from a corner in QPR’s 1–0 FA Cup third round replay win over MK Dons. It was his only goal for QPR as, following Warnock’s sacking, Gabbidon rarely played under new manager Mark Hughes and was released at the end of the 2011/12 season. He enjoyed a spell at Crystal Palace and is now back at Cardiff as a player/coach at the age of 35. He was joint-interim manager earlier this season following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Referee

The last time West Ham United won a Premier League away game, Mike Jones was the referee as West Brom were defeated at The Hawthorns. Jones will take on his second Hammers appointment of the season as the Claret and Blue Army go looking for positive omens for the short trip to Loftus Road. Jones’ previous two Premier League games officiating West Ham have both come at Old Trafford – the 3-1 defeat last term and the 1-0 loss the season before. He is perhaps more infamous for a shocking display during our FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Stoke in 2011, when he allowed both goals for the home side to stand despite blatant infringements on Matthew Upson and Thomas Hitzlsperger respectively. He also awarded the Potters a penalty for a Matthew Etherington dive (which was saved by Rob Green) and astonishingly gave Stoke a free-kick for a tangle which should have seen James Tomkins awarded a penalty.

Possible line-ups

Former Hammers favourite Rio Ferdinand will miss out for Queens Park Rangers, as could left-back Suk Young-Yoon. Alejandro Faurlin and Eduardo Vargas are long-term absentees. After a fortnight without a game, the Hoops could have Armand Traore, Leroy Fer and Adel Taarabt available for selection.

For West Ham United, Guy Demel joins James Tomkins, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho on the sidelines.

Possible Queens Park Rangers XI: Green; Isla, Caulker, Onuoha, Traore; Phillips, Barton, Sandro, Fer; Austin, Zamora.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Kouyate, Noble; Downing; Cole, Valencia.

Enjoy the game – Up the Hammers!

Submit your match prediction

Guest Post

Passion is an Underrated Quality

Guest Post by West Ham Way

Following on from my previous article on importance of developing a coherent footballing philosophy throughout all levels of our club, I thought I’d explore the importance of what I consider to be a vastly underrated quality in football management – namely that of passion.

Passion is infectious. Passion is obvious. Passion is what inspires us and connects us. Passion is the lifeblood of the football fan, and for that matter, the footballer himself – who requires it to reach his full potential. Team spirit can be instilled through the passion of the manager, his captain, and the players themselves, or it can be felt through the energy of the fans themselves – the famous twelfth man. For a club to be all working in the same direction, for common goals, it should be present at every level of the club and in my view it is the primary responsibility of the chairmen and the board to ensure that it is. On that point it is clear that they could be doing more to ensure that it is.

Of course, the inverse is also true. A lack of passion is a cancer that eats away at a club, rapidly creating disharmony and discontent.

Take Manuel Pellegrini for example – he may tick all the right boxes as to what he says to the media, be fully on board with the clubs youth development policy, he may be a great technical coach, a great tactician, or possess any other football management skill, but it is blatantly obvious to me that he lacks passion. Sure, he might have some great players, and for a time they may play well as a team, but, when the rubber meets the road, does he have what it takes to inspire his teams? Current evidence would suggest not. If you lack passion, you are unlikely to succeed for very long, and you will quickly lose the support of fans as a result, making your position untenable.

Contrast his situation with that of Aston Villa manager, Tim Sherwood. Granted he has not been in his post very long, but his transformation of that club has been palpable. Of course, the jury is still out on his other managerial talents – which like passion are pre-requisites for building long-term success, but the whole club has literally been transformed from its utter, utter misery under Paul Lambert – whose dour disposition was the polar opposite of passion. In my view, we are crying out for such a unifying transformation here at West Ham, we can only hope that our chairmen heed our cries.

One thing is for sure, the very best managers all possess the ability to inspire their players. Mourinho inspires his teams by creating a siege mentality and selecting only those who fully buy into his approach. Ferguson was at the same time a father figure and the headmaster. Bobby Robson was just such a great man – his players loved him like a grandfather. Pep Guardiola was the La Masia top student turned club captain who won it all – every sinew in his body radiates the tiki-taka philosophy that has dominated that club for as long as anyone can remember. The common theme here is the passion that radiated from each of these coaches, surely a massively important element of the success they experienced.

Of course, like many relationships in today’s world, passion does not always last for ever. The ability of any manager to feel that passion is limited. This is the natural cycle of a modern manager – once the passion is gone, both sides move on – which, of course, is in their own best interests. But passion remains an essential element that connects the team to the fans; wherever there is none you are sowing the seeds of discontent, creating disharmony, and, like a loveless marriage, you are destined for a miserable coexistence at best.

For too long, the quality of passion has gone under the radar of chairmen in their hiring process – not least the chairmen we have had over the years at West Ham.

Passion may not be the be all and end all of important managerial qualities, but without it the clock is most definitely ticking on the relationship. Eventually the alarm bells will start ringing. Now is the time for the chairmen to wake up and realise that we fans have a urgent need for that passion to flow through our claret and blue veins once again. COYI.


News

OS Season Ticket Pricing confirmed

West Ham have finally announced their pricing strategy for the Olympic Stadium 2016/2017 season revealing some surprising large season ticket discounts and a new lower band 5 at just £289 which they claim is the cheapest in the Premier League at just £15.20 per match.

All Under 16 Season Tickets will be reduced to £99 which works out £5.21 per match. A reduction of between 51% and 61% across the current pricing for next season.

Band 1 Season Ticket holders will see a modest 3% reduction to £899 for an adult (£47.31 per match) and £450 for the over 65’s, Under 21’s and the disabled (£23.68 per match)

Band 2 Season Ticket holders will see a 7% reduction to £799 for an adult (£42.05 per match) £399 for the over 65’s, Under 21’s and the disabled (£21 per match).

Band 3 Season Ticket holders will see a massive 25% reduction to £599 for an adult (£31.52 per match) and £299 for the over 65’s, Under 21’s and the disabled (£15.73 per match).

Band 4 season ticket holders will see an impressive 23% reduction to £499 for an adult (£26.26 per match) and £250 for the over 65’s, Under 21’s and the disabled (£13.15 per match).

West Ham have also announced a new VIP area on the half way line called 1966 seats, the season ticket holders for this new area will get a padded seat with their own
name inscribed on it for £1,100 per season.

In 2013 West Ham Chairman David Gold said “It will have a facility for 54,000 which will give us the opportunity to have more affordable seating and more affordable football.”

It appears the Hammers board have gone a long way to make football more affordable with this announcement and thrown down the gauntlet to other Premier League clubs.

What are your views on the Olympic Stadium pricing strategy?

FAQ from WHUFC.com can be found HERE


The Brian Williams Column

HOW WAS THIS FIASCO ALLOWED TO HAPPEN?

It’s a strange feeling being on a train from Brighton, headed to Upton Park in the certain knowledge that West Ham aren’t going to give away a heartbreaking last-minute goal, nor be the innocent victim of diabolical refereeing decisions.

I should have been a happy Hammer knowing that nothing could go wrong on the pitch for once. But I was far from pleased as I was transported from the south coast to this nation’s glorious capital city. In fact, I had the right hump.

The reason? I wasn’t going to London E13 to watch West Ham play. This was on Saturday and, as you will all be aware, we had no game that day. I was making the trip because of the shambles that surrounded the club’s botched attempts to finalise the season ticket allocation for 2015/16.

I wanted to swap seats because I sit next to an aisle, which is choc-a-bloc with late arrivals trying to find their designated places for 10 minutes after kick-off, and equally packed with eager beavers looking to get a flyer 10 minutes before the final whistle (is it just me, or these generally the same people?). Five minutes either side of half-time isn’t funny either.

Not being blessed with X-ray vision, any action to my right-hand side remains a mystery to me unless I stand up – which only adds to the problem for the people around me. And as I sit in line with the edge of the penalty box in the south-east corner of the ground, a good deal of the action takes place to my right.

Why the club doesn’t marshal supporters properly has baffled me ever since we were all made to sit down by Lord Justice Taylor. Go to a cricket match and try taking your seat whenever you feel like it – you’ll be bang out of luck. There was a time when the convention was simply that spectators didn’t move behind the bowler’s arm; now, at well-attending matches, there are stewards preventing you disturbing those around you during play in all parts of the stadium. Quite right too. Yet at Upton Park people are regularly allowed to loiter in the gangways no matter what is happening on the pitch. And don’t tell me football doesn’t have the same breaks in play that you get at cricket. As someone who has watched an array of damaged claret and blue manhood being helped from the pitch after sustaining major injuries each requiring several minutes’ treatment this season, I would beg to differ.

Like everyone else who wanted to relocate or buy a ticket on behalf of another loyal supporter keen to play their part in our final fling at the Boleyn Ground, I wasn’t able to do so when I renewed my season ticket – we all had to wait for Friday’s renewal deadline to pass and then take part in a giant bunfight held over the weekend. And you could only participate in person or over the phone. No online or postal applications were possible at this stage.

The phone lines opened at 9am on Saturday morning. At 9.01, having listened to the preliminaries and selected Option Three as instructed, I was informed I was number 144 in the queue. That didn’t surprise me. What did was the added titbit of information that the estimated waiting time was one minute. An hour later I was comfortably down to double figures in the queue, but the repeated assertion that the waiting time would be a minute, or possibly two, which punctuated the strangled version of Bubbles that you get when you ring the ticket office would have been laughable if it hadn’t been so annoying.

Then things got exciting. Suddenly I was up to No 8. Then I went back to 50-something. Then I was in the teens. Then I went to No 37. And there I stayed as the waiting time went up to three minutes, four minutes … seven minutes … ten minutes. As it turned out, my overall waiting time was 93 minutes – each minute costing me 10p and an increasing imbalance in the systolic and diastolic readings that make up my blood pressure.

But, finally, I was head of the queue. The recorded messages were over and I was on the verge of talking to a real person and sorting out my relocation. Apple Mac users describe the spinning coloured icon that appears when their computer has crashed as the Beachball of Death. What I got next was the telephonic equivalent: the continuous Bassnote of Despair that means you’ve been cut off.

It’s not the first time it’s happened to me, although that didn’t make me any less gutted. I tried to call the ticket office again, and learned that if I wanted to hang on I would be No 133 in the queue (with a waiting time of one minute). This time I ended the call, and emailed the ticket office explaining what had happened – only to receive an automated reply explaining that everyone was busy dealing with season ticket requests and no one would have time to look at emails until Monday morning. The cat knows the look on my face that resulted from me reading that message does not bode well for him, and he wisely scarpered.

It was now 10.50. The next train to London from Brighton was the 11.08. And I was on it. I got to the ground shortly after 1pm, and walked straight up to a vacant window in the West Stand ticket office where the extremely helpful Leah found me three highly desirable seats in the East Stand Upper in a matter of moments.

Equally helpful were the stewards who were prepared to take me round to inspect my new seats, thus giving me the unmissable chance to effectively have the stadium to myself. I even had my picture taken sitting in Sam Allardyce’s seat (could we, for today at least, park the debate about who should be sat there next season?).

Move over Big Sam

The people at the ground on Saturday were a credit to the club (there wasn’t a managerial suit in sight, of course). But as an exercise it was chaos. The 10p-a-minute ticket phone line is a money-grubbing swindle at the best of times, and this was the worst of times. The whole thing was badly planned and badly executed – almost certainly by highly paid executives who failed to anticipate a demand that should have been foreseen. As it turned out, a process that was supposed to be completed over the weekend had to be extended into a third day. How did they get it so badly wrong?

A steward told me I was one of several people he’d spoken to that day who had experienced the problems I had encountered. This was confirmed when I later checked WHTID and read of the difficulties some of you had endured. Other sites told a similar story – one unfortunate supporter reported hanging on the phone for more than three hours before being cut off. Others were put through to an outside agency which was unable to sell them the tickets they required.

I was lucky in that I was able to jump on a train and sort out my problems. For one thing, I have an annual rail season ticket so the journey didn’t cost me anything other than precious time. I also have an understanding wife, who recognises the importance of these things, and grown-up children who no longer expect a Saturday morning kickabout in the park or a lift to their weekend karate class. Many other people will not be in this happy position and now face an uncertain future in what is set to be one of the most memorable seasons in West Ham’s history.

I think the club owes them an unreserved apology – and a refund for all those wasted 10p-a-minutes.

PS: If, like Sam’s weary warriors at Manchester Citeh on Sunday, you have chosen to go on holiday early this year why not take a copy of my book with you? It’s called Nearly Reach The Sky – A Farewell To Upton Park, and can be ordered from publishers Biteback here
You can also find it on Amazon, complete with some very generous reader reviews – for which I am eternally grateful.


Guest Post

West Ham UNITED?

Guest Post by Anonymous

With West Ham right now, one thing is apparent – while the sword of Damocles looms ominously above our manager – there can be no peace, no brotherhood and sisterhood among us, the fans. Everywhere you turn, people are unhappy. Some object to the manager continuing to lead our team in to the final year at the Boleyn. Others are simply tired of hearing the matter being brought up once more and are more than happy to berate those who have had enough of Big Sam.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of a managerial change, to me this discontent points to a deeper truth that we have yet to face – we are not really West Ham United right now. Shame on us. Maybe it’s the rose tinted specs that have come back out again, but I remember times when being West Ham felt like family. Of course it still is in lots of ways, but now it’s feels like a family with fairly major schism. The elephant in the room, if you like, which now both sides are increasingly reluctant to bring up, is of course the managerial situation. It is a situation that needs resolving, urgently.

It is important that the club appreciate the true nature of the schism at the heart of our club – not, as you might suspect, the issue of does Allardyce stay or go, but, more importantly, why has the fan base become so divided?

In my view, the chairmen first need to acknowledge the need to heal the split that has occurred among us fans. Maybe we need to ask ourselves once more what it means to support our great club?

What exactly are we signed up to when we are, for the most part, born into this great tradition? A lifetime of nearlys, what-ifs and maybes? Promotions, relegations, and dead season ends? A team that tries hard but produces little of real, lasting substance? Are we really content with the short-termism that has prevailed at first team level for so long? Are we really so scared of losing premiership status that we can’t try to implement a policy of expansive football in the tradition of our great club?

Whether we accept these as the trials and tribulations of a West Ham fan or not, what I cannot accept is the deep division among us fans. We simply have to find a way to heal these wounds and reunite.

Our fabled tradition – the West Ham Way – whether historical reality or not, could and, in the view of many, perhaps should become a firm philosophical identity enshrined within our club. I personally can clearly see the value of such a unifying philosophy – something that connects us fans to the passion for good football. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that a clear commitment to such a style of football would be very well received by the majority of fans. It may not get a 100% approval rating, but it would definitely be an improvement on the internal wrangling and divisive discussions that our present footballing philosophy has brought.

Another value that many would like to see enshrined within our great club is a firm commitment to youth development and progression. A coherent commitment to a certain attractive way of playing, from the earliest levels within our club to the first team would certainly help prepare youth squad players for life a the pinnacle of our great club.

Certainly having youth players used to playing the same style of football as the first team would help the manager – whoever it is – not to undermine our whole youth system.
Ultimately, whether our chairmen decide to stick or twist is not the issue here, it seems to me that, if we choose to take it, there is an opportunity here to unite the fans behind a way of playing that goes beyond the ongoing discussion over the manager’s future. If the manager can be told in what seem like extremely loose terms to ‘play more attractive football’, why can this not be expressed more clearly as a detailed commitment to a style of football that many feel is appropriate for our great club? The time has come for us to start being West Ham United once more, and I for one would welcome any actions that can help us achieve this.


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