Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Crystal Palace

Upton Park
K.O 12.45pm
Referee: Mike Dean
TV: Sky Sports 2
Radio: 5 Live

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Crystal Palace

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past is the replayed home clash with Crystal Palace from 1997/98. The first game had to be abandoned due to floodlight failure after West Ham had come from two goals down through strikes from John Hartson and Frank Lampard. Neil Shipperley’s double had put Palace in control before the Hammers’ comeback. The forgotten goals can be seen on the video below, along with the moment the lights went out on Lampard’s celebration.

A replay of the match was arranged for Wednesday 3rd December 1997 – Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’, recorded by various artists for Children In Need, was number one and West Ham United were to enjoy an almost perfect night against their south London visitors in front of 23,335. The Hammers went ahead in the 31st minute when David Unsworth’s raking crossfield pass found Eyal Berkovic who controlled expertly, cut inside Simon Rodger and laid the ball off for Hartson to drive in beyond Kevin Miller at the near post. The Eagles were level three minutes before half-time though when a corner from the left found Andy Linighan at the near post, Stan Lazaridis failed to deal with it on the line and Shipperley bundled home to equalise. The Hammers were not to be denied their interval lead however. Lazaridis atoned for his earlier error by providing a high, hanging cross which Hartson headed against the crossbar – Berkovic, following up, swept home left-footed to restore the hosts’ lead.

Two Hammers’ players went on to notch their first ever goals for the club in the second half. Unsworth was the first, volleying home acrobatically in the six-yard box after Ian Pearce had headed on Lazaridis’ 48th minute corner. Steve Lomas was the second, steaming into the area unmarked to power home Hartson’s cross for 4-1 on 71 minutes after good initial approach play from Berkovic and Samassi Abou.

Harry Redknapp’s Hammers would finish 8th in the Premier League in 1997/98, while the Eagles would end the campaign in bottom place and were relegated.

West Ham United: Craig Forrest, Tim Breacker, Ian Pearce, Rio Ferdinand, David Unsworth, Stan Lazaridis (Keith Rowland), Steve Lomas, John Moncur, Eyal Berkovic, Samassi Abou (Paulo Alves), John Hartson.

Crystal Palace: Kevin Miller, Marc Edworthy, Hermann Hreidarsson, Andy Linighan, Dean Gordon, Jamie Smith (Michele Padovano), Neil Emblen, Simon Rodger, Itzy Zohar, Paul Warhurst, Neil Shipperley.

The goals from this match, along with a post-match interview with Hartson and Berkovic, can be viewed by skipping to 34:04 of the video below.

Club Connections

Marouane Chamakh is injured, ruling out a playing return to West Ham United where he spent a brief loan spell in 2013. Alan Pardew, an ex-Palace player and now the club’s manager, also returns to Upton Park where he was in charge between 2003 and 2006. A large group of players have turned out for the Hammers and the Eagles. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Perry Suckling, Steve Mautone.

Defenders: Kenny Brown, Neil Ruddock, Paul Brush, Danny Gabbidon, Chris Powell, Tony Gale, Matthew Upson, Darren Powell.

Midfielders: Hayden Mullins, Carl Fletcher, Jobi McAnuff, Kyel Reid, Ray Houghton.

Strikers: Ian Wright, Jeroen Boere, Clive Allen, Johnny Byrne, Dave Swindlehurst, Paul Kitson, Dave Sexton, Freddie Sears.

Malcolm Allison and Jack Tresadern played for the Hammers and managed the Eagles, while Iain Dowie played for both clubs and also managed Palace.

Today’s focus though is on a Northern Ireland international midfielder. Michael Hughes began his career with Carrick Rangers but moved to England with Manchester City in 1988. In August 1992 he moved to French club Strasbourg for a fee of £450,000. He joined West Ham United on loan in December 1994 and made his debut in a 2-1 defeat at Q.P.R. His first goal for the club arrived a few weeks later, the third in a 3-1 home win over Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Eve. Hughes scored one more goal in 1994/95, one of the most famous in Premier League history as his guided left-foot volley denied Manchester United the title in a 1-1 draw on the last day of the season.

Hughes returned to Upton Park for a second season-long loan spell in October 1995, scoring one goal in a 2-0 win over Southend in the FA Cup third round. He had done enough over both loan spells to earn a Bosman switch to east London in July 1996. He celebrated becoming a full-time Hammer by scoring three goals in six games in the opening weeks of 1996/97: the first brought the Hammers level in an eventual 2-1 home victory over Southampton; the second was a consolation in a 4-1 loss at Middlesbrough; and the third was the clincher in a 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest. In March 1997 Hughes was sent off for two bookable offences in a 1-0 defeat at Leeds.

Hughes’ wonder strike at Middlesbrough can be viewed in the video below.

After scoring 6 goals in 97 appearances in all competitions for West Ham United, Hughes signed for Joe Kinnear’s Wimbledon in a £1.6m deal in September 1997. He scored a wonderful long-range volley back at the Boleyn Ground in the game that will forever be remembered for Paolo Di Canio’s own sensational strike against the Dons. In 2002 Hughes became embroiled in a contract dispute between Wimbledon and Birmingham. Having played three matches for Birmingham on loan, Hughes was injured before the club won promotion to the Premier League and a permanent switch fell through. Wimbledon then refused to take him back. The ensuing dispute over who held his registration continued for over a year and Hughes’ career had to be put on hold.

In October 2003 Hughes signed for Crystal Palace and was compensated by Birmingham. He quickly became a fans’ favourite and club captain at Selhurst Park, playing under former club and country team-mate Dowie and scoring the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final before defeating the Hammers in the final in Cardiff. Hughes was released by the Eagles in the summer of 2007 having scored 7 goals in 126 appearances for the club. He went on to play for Coventry and St Neots Town. Hughes, now 43, is currently a majority shareholder and co-owner at Carrick Rangers, the club where his career began.


Saturday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2014/15 is Dean’s fifteenth as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed 11 of our league matches, officiating in 6 wins for the Hammers, 3 draws and 2 defeats. Dean was the man in the middle for our 3-1 home loss to Southampton and our 1-0 home victory over Newcastle earlier this season, as well as our 1-1 draw at Swansea.

Possible line-ups

Sam Allardyce will be without the injured Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll while Morgan Amalfitano is still suspended. New signing Nene is set to claim a place on the bench.

Crystal Palace will be without injured strikers Fraizer Campbell, Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo. Campbell has been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury, while Chamakh and Sanogo will be sidelined until mid-March. Shola Ameobi, Dwight Gayle and Glenn Murray are Pardew’s remaining options to step in up front. Jerome Thomas and Jonny Williams are also ruled out but central midfielders James McArthur and Mile Jedinak are fit and available again.

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

Possible Crystal Palace XI: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Zaha, McArthur, Mutch, Bolasie; Gayle, Murray.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

Please check back after the match for the results.

Talking Point

Don't Talk Yourself Out of a Job, Sam

Guest post by Neil Clack

Twenty-five years to the day since the St.Valentines Day Massacre (Oldham 6 West Ham 0, League Cup semi-final). Was it an omen? It certainly was!

To be honest, I thought things had looked a bit ominous the day before, when I read Sam’s column in the Standard on the Friday – he was moaning already about the kick off time, that it was too many games in too few days etc, seemingly oblivious to the fact that West Brom had also played the same number of games in the same number of days. That negativity no doubt filters through to the players. We were already defeated before the match began, in my opinion.

Sam’s post-match excuses on Match of the Day on the Saturday night were virtually word for word what he had written in the Standard the day before, and, going by those words, and the way that you could clearly see the West Ham players were not giving their all against West Brom, it really did look like that, as at Forest last year, the FA Cup is just seen as a big inconvenience for Big Sam.

Sam’s a whinger, and that’s one of the main reasons he made himself unpopular at other clubs he managed, and within football, in general.

And if he’s not careful he could whinge himself out of his job at West Ham.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not one of the so-called ‘Allardyce-haters’, nor indeed do I subscribe to the view that he should go at the end of the season – I think Sam’s done well at West Ham overall, and for the sake of stability and continuity, something the club has sadly lacked over the last decade or so, I think Sam should stay. If it was down to me, I’d give him a new 2-year contract right now.

But he loses me at times, harping on about fatigue, and constantly, nauseatingly, moaning about referees after every single match, often when the referee’s got the decisions right (Nolan was offside against Man U earlier in the season – the whole world and his wife could see that on the replays. Song’s goal v Arsenal was correctly disallowed because Carroll was standing in an offside position in front of the goalkeeper’s sightline, as MOTD corectly explained at the time.

Against Tottenham on Sunday, it was a clear penalty as Song pushed Kane over in the area, and Noble was rightly booked for shirt-tugging (since when has shirt-tugging been deemed a minor incident that doesn’t merit a booking, Sam? – shirt-pulling is a dirty, cowardly, sneaky act that needs to be eradicated from the game). Sam’s post-match whingeing about the referee made no sense at all. As one of the Tottenham players said the day after, Sam really should just shut up sometimes. He’s beginning to sound like a broken record after every game, and it has no effect now – apart from making him look like an even bigger whinger than his reputation already says he is.

Considering WBA had also played 3 games in 6 days, and had also had injuries leading upto the match against us, and that Tottenham have played more games than any other club this season, including a tough game against Fiorentina on the Thursday before they met us, Sam’s words are beginning to fall upon deaf ears for many of the West Ham faithful now.

Besides, I thought it was pretty much accepted in football now, that Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid had proved the ‘rest’ theories wrong? Last season, his high-pressing, high-tempo team played two games nearly every week throughout their triumphant campaign, winning the Spanish league, and coming within a minute of winning the Champions League final, as well as reaching the semi-final of Spanish Cup, but Simeone never rested any of his players once, claiming that much of the science about player tiredness is mumbo-jumbo nonsence.

Simeone, like Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, is a protege of current Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa, whom they both played under when Bielsa was manager of Argentina. It was Bielsa who introduced Pep Guardiola to the concept of all-out attack and high-pressing when Guardiola spent 6 weeks with Bielsa, studying his methods, before taking over as manager of Barcelona.

Central to Bielsa’s high-tempo, high-pressing strategy is that every training session is intense; players have to go flat-out and give 100% in every training session, to reach a higher level of fitness. For Bielsa, the concept of tiredness and players needing resting simply does not exist – that’s something that sports scientists have invented and hoodwinked a lot of managers into believing, blinding them with stats and over-analysis.

There’s a great clip of Bielsa putting his Olympic Marseille players though their paces last summer here – just look at their faces at the end. Click HERE

Bielsa’s Marseille are currently top of the French league, but from a West Ham point of view, it’s interesting that one of the players who didn’t make it through the rigourous pre-season when he first tookover last summer was Morgan Amalfitano. Bielsa felt that Amalfitano lacked the fitness and attitude to play in one of his teams, and the rather unedifying episode that lasted most of last summer, ended with Bielsa banning the player from the training ground. We perhaps saw a flash of that indiscipline during the West Brom match, perhaps proving Bielsa may have had a point about Amalfitano?

All the current speculation over Sam Allardyce’s future at West Ham is completely of the board’s making. They have brought it on the club themselves by not giving Sam a new contract. It’s an extremely unusual situation in football (and naturally the the media are loving it!).

If Sam had had his contract extended by now, we wouldn’t be having a discussion over whether he should go or not, or whom his replacement should be if he does go. Instead, everybody would be looking to the future – the future under Sam – but under the current circumstances, it’s only natural that fans, and the media, are having arguments, and speculating over who the new manager will be.

But poor old Sam really does himself no favours sometimes, even taking on his owners in tit for tat arguments through the pages of the tabloids. He calls his paymaster David Sullivan ‘a gambler’, and how can he seriously defend the signing of Andy Carroll over the owner’s choice of Wilfred Bony? Sam’s digging a grave for himself on that one, surely? He claimed he looked at Carroll’s record before signing him and saw he had a proven record in the Premier League – proven injury record more like!

But the irony of all this is that I once saw Sam Allardyce in the flesh. At a Supporter’s Advisory Board Meeting in 2012, and do you know something, he was completely different from the way he comes across on the TV and newspaper columns. He was funny, charming, up-beat – dare, I say it, likeable even. How is it that we never get that side of him in the media, where he just moans and grumbles about offsides, tiredness, and imagined prejudices against him and his team.

The problem for Sam is that Eastenders and Essex Man and Woman don’t like whingers. They didn’t get through the blitz by moaning about it! They like humour, having a bit of a laugh, and can be a bit flash at times.

It reminds me a little of Harry Redknapp’s last season at West Ham. He too hadn’t signed a new contract (although everyone, including Harry and the Board thought it would be a formality he’d sign at the end of the season), but after the gutting FA Cup quarter final defeat to Tottenham (2-3), the season just petered out into nothing, and Redknapp’s demeanour seemed to change. Gone was the chirpy funny man, replaced by a hangdog expression who moaned a lot about bare bones, not having enough money etc.

I recently read Trevor Brooking’s latest autobiography that mentioned once again that Redknapp’s talk with the Over Land and Sea fanzine contributed to him losing his job (and Brooking should know, considering how close to Terry Brown he was, becoming technical director after Redknapp left). In a nutshell, Redknapp literally talked himself out of the job!

Please Sam, please don’t do the same

And one more thing, my mum says please stop chewing gum with your mouth open. It’s disgusting.

The Brian Williams Column


Right then ladies and gentlemen, this is how things stand on the auction front.

You may remember that on Tuesday I mentioned Russell Brand agreed to sign a copy of Nearly Reach The Sky, which is now being auctioned to stump up some money for the Bobby Moore cancer fund via the awesome Jonjo Heuerman, who completes his latest marathon fundraising venture tomorrow.

So far we have two bids of £100, plus a third WHTID regular offering to match the winning bid – thus doubling the total contribution – on the strict understanding he doesn’t get a book signed by Russell Brand. (And, no, it’s not Iain.)

It would be good if we could conclude the auction today, then I could give the money to Jonjo tomorrow. So let’s say we finish at 7pm.

The procedure is simple. If you want to bid, email me on It’s not essential, but if you’ve got a Paypal account it would be enormously helpful in getting the dosh across to me (in fact that could be a tie-breaker if the two £100 bidders choose to sit on their hands).

Alternatively, I will be freezing my nads off in the Barking Road, outside the Newham Bookshop, tomorrow before and after the game (that’s the owner’s idea – not mine!) signing copies of my new book. It is also my very strong intention to sink a few pints in the Black Lion before the day is out – and it would be fantastic to meet any and all of you in there as well. Especially if you come bearing a large cheque symbolising the astonishing generosity of what we all know to be quite simply the best fan site in the universe – namely West Ham Till I Die (shame about the spelling of “Till” – but I guess you can’t have everything!) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: COME ON YOOOOOOOU IRONS!

Predictor League Competition

Predictor League Open for Crystal Palace

You have until 11.15am on Saturday to enter the Predictor League for the Palace match.

Please check back after the match for the results.

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