David Hautzig's Match Report

Middlesbrough 1, West Ham 3. The Healing Continues.

It was both disappointing and relieving to not write last week. The disappointment came from not being able to be part of the shared experience and joy of the win over Palace and He Who Shall Not Be Named, as well as joining in on the discourse over Payet. It’s pretty rare that West Ham are center stage in the world of football, dominating talk radio and podcasts. The relief came from being able to just experience it like a somewhat normal supporter. I watched most of the match, and then listened to the final twenty minutes in my car while driving to pick up the pizza for my sons tenth birthday party. As the kids watched Diary Of A Wimpy Kid in the party room at a local cinema, I munched on M&M’s and gazed at Carroll’s and Lanzini’s goals on my IPhone. It felt like West Ham were a sick patient who finally found a doctor that made the correct diagnosis, and the second half last week was the start of the healing process.

Yet we wouldn’t be West Ham supporters if we didn’t look at today at The Riverside with the kind of trepidation that has been a hallmark of our club. The Hammers are on a high, the opponent is falling like a stone, and a result is there for the taking. And then we lose, I don’t know, something like 3-0. I hope I’m wrong about that many more times going forward.

West Ham should have taken an early lead in the second minute when Reid found Cresswell with a lovely cross-field pass. The Hammers left back then delivered a superb low cross to Antonio that should have ended up in the back of the net, but for all of the amazing things he has done this season he is entitled to a few miscues. Minutes later, Lanzini and Cresswell tried to combine on the left side of the Boro box but couldn’t find the final ball either as a shot or a pass to Carroll. Then, in the 8th minute, the early hard work paid off when Antonio won a corner. Lanzini put the ball where Carroll wanted it, and then Carroll put the ball where he wanted it.

Middlesbrough 0
West Ham 1

The home side answered the early goal from West Ham with some sustained pressure, including a corner in the 14th minute after Traore worked the ball around Cresswell and lofted it into the box for Negredo. But as valuable as Carroll is in attack, he is equally valuable defending set pieces. He showed that as he headed the ball out of danger.

Remember the days when we couldn’t buy a penalty? It looked like those days returned in the 18th minute when Noble was clearly and blatantly blocked in the box ice hockey body check style. But Atkinson might be auditioning for a spot in the NHL when his EPL days are over. A few minutes later Antonio was fed into the area by Lanzini but he couldn’t control the ball with his first touch and Valdes was able to smother it.

Just as it looked as if West Ham were going to continue to boss the match, Middlesbrough reminded us there were two teams involved. Traore ran the ball down the center and laid the ball off for Chambers, who then sent a perfect low cross to an unmarked Stuani. All the Uruguayan had to do was slip it past Randolph, which he did.

Middlesbrough 1
West Ham 1

West Ham continued to apply pressure, and in the 32nd minute they almost asked another question of Valdes. Antonio was able to get past Bernardo with ease before slipping the ball to Carroll. The Hammer’s number nine was about to shoot but Friend slid in and made a fantastic tackle before Bernardo stepped in to deny Antonio a follow up shot. Middlesbrough came back down with some force a few minutes later, and Traore was at the heart of everything they tried, using his pace and ball handling skills. In the 37th minute he sent a low pass across face of goal that was cleared by Byram. Minutes later, he did it again only this time Negredo couldn’t quite extend himself enough to get a touch.

In the 42nd minute, West Ham began a series of play and for some reason I thought about counting the number of passes we completed. Cannot tell you why. It started with Carroll on the right, with Feghouli pointing to a spot he was running to. But Carroll showed remarkable vision and sent a long pass across the field to Cresswell. Thus began the twenty or so pass sequence that ended with a long, low shot by Antonio that Valdes couldn’t handle. There was Carroll, having as good a half of football on both sides of the pitch as he has had in years, to put in the rebound. He scores. He defends. He passes. Maybe there’s a song there somewhere?

Middlesbrough 1
West Ham 2

As the opening half wound down, West Ham looked to have been denied another valid shout for a penalty when newly born hero Feghouli was taken down in the box by Friend. Replays showed the tackle was anything but friendly (sorry, couldn’t resist) and none of the ball was touched. West Ham were awarded a corner, but that was hardly compensation.

Middlesbrough 1
West Ham 2

West Ham had two chances in the opening moments of the second half to double their lead. First, Byram crossed to Antonio in the center of the box but his header went over the bar. Then, Carroll sent Lanzini in on Valdes but the Jewel’s attempt to repeat his stunning chip from last week didn’t ark nearly enough and Valdes was able to make the save.

After those two missed opportunities for West Ham, Boro went on the offensive and had the lions share of possession for the next few minutes. A clearance for a corner by Reid on a long ball for Negredo required the defensive services yet again of Carroll, who cleared the set piece virtually to midfield. Middlesbrough came oh so close in the 56th minute when Traore sent a cross over several West Ham defenders that de Roon was able to attack. Randolph did well to dive to his right and palm de Roon’s powerful header out for a corner.

In the 63rd minute, Middlesbrough equalized. Didn’t they? How did they not? Traore, as he did all day, began the attack with a bit of ball handling that some pretty famous footballers in Spain would have been proud to claim as their own. He rolled a pass to Negredo on the left, who then sent a low cross to…..Cresswell. You know in Pro Wrestling when a good guy switches to bad guy in the middle of a performance? Cresswell switched to Middlesbrough for a second and had Randolph dead to rights. But his left footed effort went off the crossbar. Stuani was right behind him, likely yelling at Cresswell “we had an agreement”!

In the 67th minute, Carroll came off with a twinge in his hamstring, Calleri came on for reasons nobody understood at the time, and Scott Hogan probably began to shop for homes in London.

Based on today, if someone doesn’t come in for Traore with a big money offer I’ll be shocked. In the 70th minute, he made yet another run down the left that made Byram appear to be standing still. His attempted cross hit Reid on the arm just outside the box, but Boro couldn’t take advantage of a set piece from such a dangerous position.

Boro continued to press for an equalizer, and West Ham dropped further and further back. The pressure of defending deep looked to rattle Byram when a cross into the box was tracked by Randolph for an easy catch but Byram intercepted and chested it out for a corner. West Ham defended well, and created a chance of their own in the 81st minute when Lanzini lifted the ball over the Boro defense for Calleri. Perhaps if the Argentine loanee had confidence he would have taken a touch and finished the game off. Instead he tried to volley it past Valdes at the near post and sent the ball wide.

West Ham hearts fluttered with nerves in the 90th minute when Negredo was able to head a long ball into the path of Gestede. The new signing from Villa tried a bicycle kick volley but missed wide.

Someone wrote recently, I don’t know where, that if Calleri had finished off a chance he had early in the season things might have turned out differently. Based on the final ten minutes of the match, there may be something to that. And despite the stick I may get for even suggesting it, maybe it wouldn’t be such a horrific idea to keep him? His ball control in the corner was very good, and his interplay with Lanzini showed promise. And when he showed such a classy level of selflessness before he scored to roll the ball to Fernandes when he easily could have tried to drill it past Valdes, he won me over a bit. That’s not to say Fernandes wasn’t equally classy when he tried to give a goal to Lanzini but overplayed the pass. It was fitting that Calleri finished it off, deflection or no deflection. As my mate Alex said to me after the match, if we gave Zaza so much time maybe Calleri deserves some benefit of the doubt?

Final Score
Middlesbrough 1
West Ham 3

Conventional wisdom is pretty clear. When you lose your best player, you do not get better as a team. But when that player is so toxic that the very idea of working alongside him turns virtually every stomach within the club, conventional wisdom is thrown out the window. We will likely never know the full story and how the gory details affected Slaven, his staff, the squad, even the board. Nor should we. But the results, not only as shown in the league table but on the effort and commitment we have seen since the news broke, are pretty clear.

We were sick. But we are feeling better.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Middlesbrough v West Ham

Middlesbrough v West Ham
FA Premier League
KO 3pm
TV: None
Radio: WHUFC.com

Boro Starting XI

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

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Book Review

Lineup Prediction: Middlesbrough v West Ham

Subs: Adrian, Ogbonna, Browne, Quina, Fernandes, Fletcher, Oxford

Given the number of players still injured (or on strike), Slaven Bilic doesn’t have too many options today, so I suspect we will see few changes from the team that played in the second half against Palace. However, given that Carroll, Byram and Feghouli have all got knocks, it’s possible that one or more of them won’t feature from the start. It may be that Fernandes or Oxford come into the team to play some part in the match. I think we’ve all been impressed by Fernandes, and Oxford must be chomping at the bit to get some game time.

If other results go our way, we could be up to ninth by the end of tomorrow. But let’s not count any chickens. Middlesbrough are not a bad side and will be tough. Goalscoring has been their problem (ring a bell?) but defensively. We’ve let in 35, they’ve let in 22. But they’ve only scored 17 goals in 21 games, the worst record in the Premier League.

I’ll be watching the match at Lucky’s Bar in Washington DC. If you’re in town, come and join me! I’m flying back to London this evening and I really don’t want to spend 7 hours thinking about the three points that might have been.


You have until 1.55pm to enter the Predictor League.

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Middlesbrough v West Ham

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 1-0 victory at Ayresome Park against this weekend’s opponents, Middlesbrough. It arrived nearly 27 years ago, on the 3rd of March 1990 in front of 23,617 spectators.

Beats International featuring Lindy Layton were number one with ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids was in UK cinemas as the Hammers left it late to take all three points on Teesside. George Parris’ ball in was cleared only as far as Julian Dicks, who fired in a drive which Stephen Pears could only parry. ‘Mad Dog’ Martin Allen reacted quickest to tap home the loose ball with just four minutes remaining. The goal can be seen at the 1:32:16 mark of the video below.

The match marked Billy Bonds’ first win as Hammers manager having taken over from Lou Macari the previous month. Bonzo would win nine of the remaining 15 league matches, taking the club from mid-table to the brink of the play-offs.

Bonds’ Hammers ended the 1989/90 season 7th in the Second Division, two points short of a play-off place. Dicks finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 14 goals in all competitions. The left-back also won his first of four Hammer of the Year trophies, with Stuart Slater runner-up. Middlesbrough were to finish 21st, one place and two points clear of relegation.

Middlesbrough: Stephen Pears, Gary Parkinson, Alan Kernaghan, Simon Coleman, Owen McGee, Stuart Ripley, Mark Proctor, Mark Brennan, Paul Kerr (Peter Davenport), Bernie Slaven, Ian Baird.

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, George Parris, Alvin Martin, Tony Gale, Julian Dicks, Kevin Keen, Stewart Robson, Martin Allen, Liam Brady (Ian Bishop), Stuart Slater, Jimmy Quinn (Trevor Morley).

Club Connections

Stewart Downing welcomes his former club to the Riverside Stadium. Other players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Defenders: Emanuel Pogatetz, Frank Piercy, Robbie Stockdale.

Midfielders: Kieron Dyer, Gary O’Neil.

Strikers: Brian Deane, Jeremie Aliadiere, Mido.

In addition, ex-Hammers defender Malcolm Allison managed Middlesbrough from 1982 to 1984.

Today’s focus is on a former England international who started his career with the Hammers before later captaining Middlesbrough. Paul Ince made his West Ham United debut at the age of 19 in a Full Members Cup match at the Boleyn Ground on 25th November 1986 as the Hammers fell to a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea. He made his league debut five days later as a substitute in a 4-0 loss at Newcastle and scored his first Hammers goal just six days after that, in a 3-1 home win over Southampton which took the Irons into the First Division’s top five.

Ince’s next goal arrived ten months later, in a 1-1 home draw with Charlton in October 1987 as West Ham’s lack of investment following the success of 1985/86 started to take its eventually destructive toll – the Hammers were now entrenched in the bottom half of the table. Ince was establishing himself in the first team, displaying qualities of stamina, good passing ability, pace and uncompromising tackling. He scored again in a 2-1 home win over Newcastle just before Christmas 1987 and came off the bench to score in a 1-1 home draw with Luton in early January 1988.

1988/89 was a dark season in the history of West Ham but, despite the club’s relegation at the end of the campaign, the season had been a personal success for Ince. He scored four goals in as many games in November/December 1988 – the first in a 1-1 draw in the Full Members Cup at Watford, two more in a 4-1 League Cup fourth round triumph over Liverpool at Upton Park (video above) and the winner in a 1-0 victory at Millwall. Ince went on to score in the 2-1 League Cup quarter-final home win over Aston Villa which set up a disastrous semi-final against Luton, with the Hammers losing 5-0 on aggregate. With the Hammers locked in an ultimately vain fight for top-flight survival, Ince went on another mini scoring run in March 1989, notching three goals in four games – these came in a 1-1 home draw with Coventry, a 3-1 defeat at Norwich in an FA Cup quarter-final replay and a stunning strike to clinch the points in a 1-0 win at Aston Villa after he had carried the ball from his own half. Ince was voted the Hammer of the Year for 1988/89.

With the Hammers relegated and Ince’s mentor, John Lyall, sacked, Ince’s agent began angling for a move. Lyall had helped Ince through troubled school times, eventually signing him as a YTS trainee on leaving school in 1984 and Ince struggled to see a future for himself at the club without such an influential figure in his life. Manchester United agreed a fee of around £1m for the 21-year-old midfielder before controversy hit the deal. Ince takes up the story, in an interview with Four Four Two:

“I spoke to Alex Ferguson and the deal was close to being done. I then went on holiday, and my agent at the time, Ambrose Mendy, said it wasn’t worth me coming back to do a picture in a United shirt when the deal was completed, so I should do one before I left, and it would be released when the deal was announced. Lawrence Luster of the Daily Star took the picture and put it in their library. Soon after, their sister paper, the Daily Express, were looking for a picture of me playing for West Ham and found the one of me in the United shirt in the pile. They published it and all hell broke loose. I came back from holiday to discover West Ham fans were going mad. It wasn’t really my fault. I was only a kid, I did what my agent told me to do, then took all the stick for it."

Ince’s final appearance came under Lou Macari in a 1-1 Second Division draw at Stoke in August 1989. After 95 appearances and 12 goals in claret and blue, he completed his move to Old Trafford where he won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup twice, the League Cup once and the Charity Shield three times. He also won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup whilst with the Red Devils. Ince first returned to the Boleyn Ground in February 1994, scoring a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw after being on the receiving end of a hostile reception. West Ham fans would have the last laugh though as Ince and his Manchester United side were denied the Premier League title at Upton Park on the last day of the 1994/95 season, with thousands of fans holding aloft mini-banners emblazoned with the word ‘Judas’. Ince moved on to play for Inter Milan and Liverpool as well as becoming the first black player to captain England, for whom he was capped 53 times, scoring two goals.

In the summer of 1999 Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier put Ince on the transfer list and the 31-year-old signed for Middlesbrough for £1m. He linked up with his former team-mate Bryan Robson, who had by then been the Teessiders manager for five years. As club captain, Ince made 106 appearances over three seasons at Middlesbrough, scoring nine goals, before he was given a free transfer in 2002 at the end of his contract by Robson’s successor, Steve McClaren.

Ince joined Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer of 2002, where he would be playing outside a national top division for the first time since his one appearance there for West Ham in 1989. After four years at Molineux, he was named player-coach at Swindon. Ince went on to become player-manager of Macclesfield and has since had two spells as manager at MK Dons. He has also managed Blackburn, Notts County and Blackpool. He returned to the Boleyn Ground as a manager in August 2008, only to see his Blackburn side defeated 4-1 by Alan Curbishley’s Hammers. Now 49, Ince is currently without a club but his son Tom, who scored in the 2012 Play-Off Final against the Hammers, is currently playing for Derby.


Saturday’s referee is Martin Atkinson who, ironically, took charge of our last Premier League win at Middlesbrough on 22nd December 2007. 2016/17 is Atkinson’s twelfth as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed 15 of our league matches, officiating in eight wins for the Hammers, two draws and five defeats. Last season Atkinson took charge of the Hammers in our 0-0 draw at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup and refereed our 3-1 win at Bournemouth in January, our 2-0 win at Arsenal last August and the 1-1 home draw with West Brom in November.

Atkinson also refereed the Hammers’ FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford in March, when he turned down appeals for a penalty after Marcos Rojo appeared to have tripped Dimitri Payet and failed to spot Bastian Schweinstieger’s block on Darren Randolph as Man Utd equalised late on. He refereed September’s 4-2 home defeat to Watford and his most recent Hammers appointment was our 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in October, when he controversially sent off Aaron Cresswell for two very harsh yellow cards in quick succession.

Possible line-ups

Middlesbrough could hand a start to January signing Rudy Gestede up front. Right-back Antonio Barragan and midfielder Gaston Ramirez are doubts. New signing Patrick Bamford comes into contention.

West Ham United are without Alvaro Arbeloa, Arthur Masuaku, Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho. Sam Byram, Winston Reid, Sofiane Feghouli and Andy Carroll are doubts.

Possible Middlesbrough XI: Valdes; Chambers, Gibson, Bernardo; Fabio, Leadbitter, de Roon, Forshaw, Friend; Negredo, Gestede.

Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Byram, Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble; Feghouli, Lanzini, Fernandes; Antonio.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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Transfer Gossip

What Is Payet's Minimum Acceptable Transfer Value?

It’s just before midnight here in Washington DC and I’ve just had a rather unusual experience. Whenever I come to this wonderful city I always like to visit the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials late at night. Tonight I went to the Jefferson Memorial where I ran into a group of Trump supporters from Alabama, who are here for the inauguration. I interviewed several of them for my radio show but when we had finished one of them asked which team I support. As soon as I mentioned West Ham, he instantly asked about Dimitri Payet. Weird, or what!

Well the Payet saga shows no sign of ending anytime soon. Marseille are said to be about to table a new bid but I doubt if any of us seriously believe it will be anything like the £30 million the club has set as its unofficial minimum valuation.

There is little doubt in my mind that Payet has played his last game for us and will never again appear in a claret and blue shirt. I’ve got over being sad about it. Now I’m just angry.

Realistically, we have to sell him in this transfer window. Leaving it until the summer and letting his rot in the reserves would be an act of ridiculous self harm. By then he will have turned thirty and we’d be lucky to get £15 million for him.

So we have to swallow our pride and get the deal done for the highest possible price. But there has to be a minimum. I’d like to say that should be £30 million, but my suspicion is that he will be sold for £25 million plus a few add ons.

What would your minimum price be?

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