Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with the Canaries

Now back in the UK I spoke with Norwich City fan Gary Gowers from www.Norwichcity.myfootballwriter.com

Q1.Which three teams do you tip for relegation this season?
Is hard to see Villa and Sunderland getting out of the brown stuff, which leaves us, Newcastle, West Brom and Bournemouth to scrap over the other spot. On the basis our crap run must come to an end some time soon, I’m going for Bournemouth join them (via a gut feel rather than any logic!).

Q2.How do you rate Slaven Bilic first season as a manager in the Premier league?
Bilic has been brilliant for you hasn’t he, and has dared to take you in a direction that was probably beyond Allardyce’s capabilities. A shrewd move by your board.

Q3.West Ham sit in sixth place in the Premier League having briefly occupied the third spot but what league position can West Ham realistically achieve this season under Bilic?
I’d say you’re capable of sneaking fifth, but do you really want it? The Europa League (as you well know) is something of a curse, so I’d settle for sixth if I were you!

Q4. Excluding Dimtri Payet If you could have any current West Ham player in your team who would you choose?
I’m am old fashioned kind when it comes to football and I admire the very British qualities brought to the West Ham party by James Collins and Mark Noble – both of whom would fit a treat into the current City side.

Q5. Do you understand what the ‘West Ham way is’ and what it means to Hammers fans. Do Norwich have a Canaries way and if so what is it?
Yep, am well versed in the old ‘West Ham way’, which I’d define as the very antithesis of Allardyce-ball. We like to think the ‘Norwich way’ – attractive possession-based passing football – is not dissimilar to your more famous version (albeit we’re struggling to produce any of it at the moment!).

Q6. Which Norwich should West Ham players fear on Saturday?
Tricky question, not least because there is no way of predicting what Alex Neil’s starting XI will be! If he plays and has plenty of the ball, Wes Hoolahan can hurt teams; equally he has days when he’s nonexistent. In truth… your guess is as good as mine. We have some decent players, but we’re hit and (mainly) miss at the moment.

Q7.14 Supporters’ Trusts came together to petition the Government for a public inquiry about West Ham’s occupancy of the Olympic Stadium. Does the fact that West Ham got a good deal bother you personally as a football fan?
The fact you managed to screw an unbelievable deal out of the government and relevant authorities is good for you! I can also see why some perceive the deal as giving you a fortuitous advantage over the rest, but that’s your luck!

Q8.How is Matt Jarvis working out at Norwich? Was he worth the £2.5m you paid for him?
He started off really well when he was on loan but then got injured. He’s yet to recapture his early season form but for £2m+ that was a decent deal for us.

Q9.How do you expect Norwich to set-up against West Ham on Saturday /Team/formation prediction?
Another very difficult one to predict for the reason given in question number 6! Neil has chopped and changed the team almost on a weekly basis to try and counteract the strengths of the opposition but, as a result, we don’t have a best XI. I’m guessing Patrick Bamford will feature somewhere, along with Robbie Brady and Jonny Howson but those aside I wouldn’t know where to begin. Hang on… Russell Martin will probably be in there somewhere (a shoo-in regardless of form). We’ll probably line up in a 4-2-3-1.

Q10.What is your score prediction for Saturday?
Well, the chances of a City clean sheet are up there with Russell Brand hitting on Delia, but I do have an inkling we could finally get a much-needed win. I’ll go 2-1 City (again armed with little by the way of logic).

My thanks to Gary Gowers Twitter: @Gary_Gowers Editor of www.Norwichcity.myfootballwriter.com

This week you get two for the price of one. I also spoke to Fenway Frank and Canary Boy from the Norwich Talk forum

Which three teams do you tip for relegation this season?
C1:Villa, Sunderland Norwich
C2:The current bottom 3 unfortunately, and we are currently in it.

How do you rate Slaven Bilic first season as a manager in the Premier league?
C1: I like him in his interviews, seems to be honest and pretty fair, you seem to be a bit more consistent too.
C2:I like him, he’s done a good job in transitioning you into a team which plays with the ball on the floor from one which, well, didn’t. Obviously you still resort to pumping balls to Carroll when you need to, but who wouldn’t with that beast on the bench.

West Ham sit in sixth place in the Premier League having briefly occupied the third spot but what league position can West Ham realistically achieve this season under Bilic?
C2:I think you’ll finish somewhere between 6th and 9th. There are four teams in with a chance of grabbing that 6th place (West Ham, Liverpool, Everton, Southampton) and it really could be any of them.

Excluding Dimtri Payet If you could have any current West Ham player in your team who would you choose?
C1: Is Alex Song still there ?
C2: Sakho, he’s a loose cannon but clearly better than any of our current strikers.

Do you understand what the ‘West Ham way is’ and what it means to Hammers fans. Do Norwich have a Canaries way and if so what is it?
C1:The Norwich way is very similar to the West Ham way, even if Chris Hughton did try quite hard to ruin it.
C2:Like Sir Alex I don’t understand what the ‘West Ham way’ is either. We were traditionally well known for playing good passing football in the 80’s and early 90’s, but we had a good decade of dross after that so I don’t think we can lay claim to it being our way anymore. If West Ham’s ‘way’ is in any way similar to our ‘way’, then I’d argue that yours perhaps went out of the window at some stage too.

Which Norwich should West Ham players fear on Saturday?
C2:Sad to say but on current form none of them. We’ve got players with the ability to cause problems for any teams but they just aren’t performing and we’ve got no momentum. Earlier in the season I’d have said that Redmond on the right and Brady on the left would have caused your full backs constant problems, but our manager has started playing centre midfielders out wide so I can’t even say that.

14 Supporters’ Trusts came together to petition the Government for a public inquiry about West Ham’s occupancy of the Olympic Stadium. Does the fact that West Ham got a good deal bother you personally as a football fan?
C1:Yeah, it bothers me a lot, why should you get a free by new stadium when everyone else has to find funding ? Karen Brady really does my head in too !
C2: What bothers me is not the competitive advantage, and who can blame for West Ham for taking it, what bothers me is the ludicrous waste of tax payers money building a stadium without a prior conversion plan. Seb Coe and Boris Johnson have a lot to answer for, the former had some crackpot idea to build a massive “National Athletics Stadium” and that’s why they had to pretty much give the thing away. I know that Barry Hearn is a spiv and was just trying to get some money out of the debacle for Leyton Orient, but he was completely right about the awful planning and would have been valuable as an adviser in the planning stage with his events experience. That stadium is the Tories version of the Millennium Dome. Like I said nothing against West Ham, but it is perhaps also a sign of how London-centric all of our governments are too. What would be the chances of say Middlesbrough ever getting a subsidised stadium for almost nothing. So for me the issue is much bigger than football, it is more about how investment in London is disproportionate to the rest of the country and negligent spending of public funds. West Ham can’t really be blamed for either of those things. Have to ask some serious questions also if Sullivan and Gold now sell the club for a huge profit, why haven’t the government put a claw back clause in to prevent those two (also spivs) from enriching themselves?

How is Matt Jarvis working out at Norwich? Was he worth the £2.5m you paid for him?
C1:He’s been out injured for a while so a bit hard to tell. The jury’s out at the moment but I think he will do well for us if we go down.
C2:Looked decent before his injury actually, hope he can contribute more before the season has finished. I’m sure we’ll get our monies worth out of him by the time he’s finished, especially if that’s involves helping us out of the league below where he’d be a quality player, I suspect that buying him permanently halfway through his loan was partially about freeing up a loan spot to allow us to bring in Bamford. Just doesn’t work out for some players at some clubs, Jarvis and West Ham were obviously just not a good fit

How do you expect Norwich to set-up against West Ham on Saturday /Team/formation prediction?
C1:Who knows? Our manager changes line ups every week at the moment
C2: Probably with a centre midfielder on the right wing, a centre midfielder on the left wing, our best left winger at left back, and our best right winger on the bench. I think you’ll beat us 2-0, we are hopeless at the moment.

What is your score prediction for Saturday?
C1: 1-1
C2: 0-2

My thanks to Fenway Frank and Canary Boy from the Norwich Talk Forum.

And finally, a couple answers that made me laugh from a user calling himself the Gaffer from the Norwich Talk forum

Do you understand what the ‘West Ham way is’ and what it means to Hammers fans?
Is it something to do with a crap song, obnoxious fans and blowing childish little bubbles everywhere?

West Ham sit in sixth place in the Premier League having briefly occupied the third spot but what league position can West Ham realistically achieve this season under Bilic?
The usual late-season collapse and a mid table finish.

14 Supporters’ Trusts came together to petition the Government for a public inquiry about West Ham’s occupancy of the Olympic Stadium. Does the fact that West Ham got a good deal bother you personally as a football fan?
The Olympic Stadium thing bothers me because basically the taxpayer is subsidising one particular football club that gets a financial and competitive advantage as a result. That would bother me for any football club, but when it’s the most obnoxious club in the country it makes it even worse.

My thanks to the Gaffer as well I think.

My prediction is a 2-0 away win which is opposite predicted by Lawro this weekend! Come on you Irons! Sean @Westhamfootball on twitter

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West Ham Ladies

Ladies to play under the evening lights in March

The West Ham Ladies chairman Stephen Hunt has announced they will be playing a match against Spurs Ladies under the famous Boleyn Ground lights on Tuesday 8th March at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £1 for kids.

On their official ticket website the West Ham ladies write:

“We welcome the players and officials of Tottenham Hotspur LFC for this very special FA Women’s Premier League match under the lights at the Boleyn Ground. We are aiming to the break the attendance record at a women’s league match on one of the last ever games at the Boleyn.Many thanks to the Chairmen and staff of West Ham United for supporting the Ladies and helping us put this match on.”

This is a recent article I was asked to write for their official programme

“Like many football fans, I followed the Women’s World Cup last year in which England finished third which seemed to ignite the interest in Women’s football in the media and with the general public. I was born into a West Ham family so will support anything and anyone who wears the hallowed badge with pride on their shirt.

I write for two well known West Ham fan websites and present a weekly Hammers podcast called Moore Than Just A Podcast. I would like to think we do our best to cover and educate fans what the Ladies team is up to but there is always more that could be done to raise awareness and encourage extra support for the Ladies team.

I am an avid follower of @WestHamLadies on twitter and always look out for their news and results at the weekend to see who is playing and how they are getting on.

Former Hammer Julian Dicks did a great job of raising the profile of West Ham Ladies and I understand the Chairman, Stephen Hunt and Manager Marc, Nurse have great ambitions for the ladies team future and I wish them all the best with those plans. I hope one day soon we see the mighty Hammers in the FA’s Women’s super league and will see them take on the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City ladies, all of which have established Women’s teams.

Who knows? One day we may see three West Ham ladies help England win the Women’s World Cup just like Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst did back in 1966. Wouldn’t that be great ambition and legacy for our great club?

I have also been encouraged by the way the West Ham online community came together to sponsor many players earlier this year with many West Ham websites and twitter accounts sponsoring some of the girls. We are all part of the West Ham family and I hope some of the success and worldwide exposure from the mens team and global West Ham brand can be shared to benefit the ladies.

With four league wins under their belt this season I still feel the ladies can push on to the upper half of the league table and surpass their local Spurs rivals in finishing higher than them this season. Here’s hoping they can turn them over on the Valentine’s day away fixture

I haven’t made it to a game myself this season but I plan to make a trip very soon to support the girls and see for myself what all the fuss is about.

Good luck for the remainder of your season and Come on you Irons!"

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Norwich v West Ham

Blast from the past

“You’d better beware, you’d better take care, you’d better watch out, he ain’t got much hair!” – fans of early ‘70s glam rock will recognise (some of) those lyrics from The Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’, which was number one on the 10th February 1973 when Norwich failed to heed the warning and the follicly-challenged Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson sealed maximum points for the visiting Hammers.

This 1-0 victory at Carrow Road in front of 32,597 was the last time West Ham United won in the league at the home of this weekend’s opponents, Norwich City. The game also saw a debut for midfielder Bertie Lutton who had arrived from Brighton a month earlier. Goalscorer Robson would go on to win the Hammer of the Year award at the end of the season.

Robson’s strike saw Ron Greenwood’s Hammers continue a march which saw them end up 6th in the First Division. Ron Saunders’ Canaries were to finish in 20th place in 1972/73, two points clear of relegation. Liverpool won the First Division title and Sunderland won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Moore, Frank Lampard, Bertie Lutton, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, John Ayris, ‘Pop’ Robson, Clyde Best.

Club Connections

A long list of players have turned out for both West Ham United and Norwich City over the years. Matt Jarvis made his loan move to Norwich from West Ham permanent and so is available while fellow ex-Hammer Gary O’Neil could also be selected. Other players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeeper: Robert Green.

Defenders: Malky Mackay, Elliott Ward, John McDowell, Kenny Brown, Calum Davenport, Steve Walford.

Midfielders: Luke Chadwick, Henri Lansbury, Scott Parker, David Bentley, Dale Gordon, John Sissons, Jimmy Neighbour, Martin Peters, Graham Paddon, Matthew Rush.

Strikers: Justin Fashanu, David Cross, Keith Robson, Craig Bellamy, Freddie Kearns, John Hartson, Tony Cottee, Ted MacDougall, Alan Taylor, Dean Ashton.

In addition, ex-Hammers Ken Brown, Archie Macauley, John Bond and Chris Hughton have managed Norwich.

This week’s focus though is on a player who is recognised as one of the best left-backs in Norwich City’s history. Mark Bowen was born in Neath, Wales on 7th December 1963 and started his professional career with Tottenham. Former Hammers player, and then-Norwich manager, Ken Brown signed the 23-year-old Bowen for the Canaries in the summer of 1987 for a fee of £90,000. He remained at the club for nine years and was a virtual ever-present. An attacking left-back who made vital interceptions and clearances, he was dubbed ‘Mr Versatile’ by Martin O’Neill in the latter stages of his Canaries career as he played in both full-back positions, sweeper, all positions across midfield and as a forward for club and country. Bowen even played in goal when Bryan Gunn was sent off at Coventry in April 1989.

Bowen spent much of his first season at Norwich playing on the left of midfield but made the left-back spot his own when Tony Spearing left the Canaries to join Leicester in the summer of 1988. He finished the 1989/90 campaign as Norwich’s joint-top league goalscorer and collected the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy that season when the supporters voted him Player of the Year. Bowen’s crowning glory in a yellow shirt was his headed goal in Norwich’s stunning 2-1 UEFA Cup win at the home of Bayern Munich in October 1993.

Whilst with Norwich, Bowen became a regular in the Welsh national team that nearly qualified for the 1994 World Cup – he won 43 caps for his country in total, scoring three goals. Norwich were relegated in 1994/95 and, after criticising his former team-mate and then-manager Gary Megson’s tactics in a local newspaper, Bowen was dropped from the first team when he was just one game short of 400 appearances for the Canaries. Norwich’s financial problems in 1996 saw them release Bowen on a free transfer and, despite interest from Leeds and Coventry, he joined West Ham ahead of the 1996/97 season. Bowen had scored 27 goals in 399 matches in all competitions for the Canaries. In 2002, in a survey to mark the club’s centenary, Norwich fans voted Bowen the club’s best ever left-back and named him in the club’s all-time XI. He is also a member of the Norwich City Hall of Fame. Bowen won 35 of his Welsh caps while at Norwich, meaning that he holds the record for being the club’s most capped international player. He was nicknamed ‘Taff’ because of his Welsh connections and also ‘Albert Tatlock’ after the grumpy old man in Coronation Street, because of his frequent complaining.

Bowen made his debut for the Hammers on the 21st August 1996 in the 1-1 home draw with Coventry. He scored his only goal for the club in a 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest on the 21st September 1996, stealing in at the back post to give the Hammers the lead with a close-range header just before half-time (video below). His final appearance for West Ham came on the 1st March 1997 in a 1-0 defeat at Leeds – later that month he was on the move to join former Spurs team-mate Ossie Ardiles’ Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse for a reported fee of £1m. Bowen had scored one goal in 20 matches in claret and blue.

Bowen returned to England and spent two years with Charlton before brief spells with Wigan and Reading. Since retiring in 1999, he has worked as assistant to former international team-mate Mark Hughes with Wales, Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham and Q.P.R. Bowen, now 52, is currently Hughes’ assistant manager at Stoke.


Saturday’s referee will be Mike Jones, who will take on his first Hammers appointment of the season. Jones took charge of our 0-0 draw at Q.P.R. last April and, before that, our 2-1 win at West Brom. Jones’ previous two Premier League games officiating West Ham had both come at Old Trafford – the 3-1 defeat in 2013/14 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

Norwich City should have Graham Dorrans fit after illness but the Canaries will have to do without banned midfielder Alex Tettey. After conceding 16 goals in his last five games, Declan Rudd could lose his place in goal to John Ruddy, who was himself dropped earlier this winter after a drop in form.

West Ham United are again without Carl Jenkinson, James Tomkins, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho, while Joey O’Brien, Winston Reid and Cheikhou Kouyate join them after picking up injuries against Liverpool in midweek. Sam Byram is almost certain to start at right-back but the recent signing is one yellow card away from a two-match suspension himself after picking up seven bookings at Leeds earlier this season and two in his first couple of appearances with the Hammers.

Possible Norwich City XI: Ruddy; Pinto, Martin, Klose, Brady; Mulumbu, Odjidja-Ofoe, Howson; Redmond, Naismith; Mbokani.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Obiang, Song, Noble; Antonio, Payet; Valencia.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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Player News

We've Got Payet, Dimitri Payet, Until 2021!

I think I am actually in love. And for once, I think you understand.

New contract signed. Until 2021. He gets it. He loves us. He’s a Hammer. He’s ours.

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Talking Point

“A glorious header”

In the 121st minute, I had concluded two things: that this had been one of the most thrilling matches I had seen at the Boleyn in twenty years of attending E13, and that if it went to penalties, we’d lose. That last point may seem negative, but I had images of a failed Arsenal FA Cup shootout and the infamous end to Cardiff in 2006. I also vaguely remember seeing a table of successes at penalty shootouts and seeing Liverpool up top and us down bottom. It was the ideal Mark Lawrenson table.

Yet football – and the beloved Boleyn – does not allow you to conclude matters before the final whistle is blown, and West Ham does not allow scripts to be written or stats to be confirmed until their eleven man have had the last word.

If there is one thing to be said about our side, it is that many commentators underrate or fail to mention many of those who make up our eleven men. Dimitri Payet is the centre of attention on the back pages and his hefty salary demands and our adoring chants have clearly gone to all of our heads. I would never question Payet’s ability, but it is evident that things have just not gone right for him in the last few games. The Liverpool game showed that even though his thinking is right and he knows the right pass, it does not always come off. Of course, the reason why you spend £10 million and allow a reported £125,000 a week salary is that he is a game changer and forget about the previous 120 minutes, his ball into the box in the 121st is all that matters now.

But it is the unsong heroes of our team: Kouyate, who even wanted to come on after his head injury, Ogbonna and Obiang, two players who constantly commit, and even Valencia and Antonio, who have stepped up without Sakho and Lanzini to be powerful dribblers and a threatening force.

Essentially, I am not sure what to make of Payet’s contract negotiations and talk of possible moves away. All that I think is: you’re an adored player in East London, but if we look to the changing face of football and the current debate about ticket prices, it depresses me that players demand so much. Because that demand puts pressure on clubs, and clubs in turn use it as – unreasonable in my opinion – justification for increasing ticket prices. We all know that ticket price revenue is nothing compared to the revenue from TV money, but player demands add pressure, but even more importantly, they further this disconnect between fan and player.

Payet deserves to be better paid than Andy Carroll, but his performance against Liverpool and recent fixtures have not been as impressive as those before. Is it because he’s thinking about his contract? Regardless, if Payet demands more money, he deserves it. But he adds even more expectation and demand from us, the fans, who know what he can do and what he is now being paid. His form has to be as good as it has been, and consistently until the end of the season, to earn his higher pay grade.

Now, onto the next two games, briefly. Firstly, fast forwarding to the Blackburn away game, I worry that we repeat what happened last year: two wins against Everton and Bristol, with one replay, and then a capitulation to West Brom. The expectation is even greater given the euphoria of the Liverpool win and Slaven Bilic’s outspoken desire the win the Cup. Yet remember, last year, Man City, Chelsea and Spurs had been knocked out by this stage and the path to Wembley looked a lot more pleasant. Furthermore, in the fifth round last year Blackburn beat Stoke at home 4-1 while we getting thrashed by Pulis’ men. We need to go into this game with the mentality that assumes we are not favourites given this is a side that in recent years beat Stoke and Swansea last year in the competition and a few years ago beat Arsenal at the Emirates. They will want another Premier League scalp.

And with this weekend’s game, well, we know from the Southampton game that we lack an attacking threat in certain games where we should have the upper hand: even when the Saints went down to ten men we didn’t step it up. 10 men of Villa is obviously a lot harder than the ten men of Southampton. Furthermore, we cannot let games like Norwich away slip us up. I was thinking the other day: how can Southampton be that high up the table? The general vibe is they are doing badly. Well compared to last season, they are, down several points from this stage last year. On the other hand, we are two points better off than we were one year ago. We need to make sure we do not slip like last year and games against Norwich – who I believe will go down – must be won and won comfortably. That should be our goal this Saturday.

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