Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Fulham v West Ham

Blast from the past

Easter Monday, 6th April 1953 – Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, The Stargazers were number one with ‘Broken Wings’, the BBC introduced its iconic Watch with Mother brand for children’s programming and West Ham United secured a 3-2 Second Division victory over Fulham in front of 19,270 at Craven Cottage.

Legendary Hammers left-back Noel Cantwell made his league debut in this match, the Irons’ third over the Easter period – the Hammers had been defeated 2-1 by the Cottagers at Upton Park on Good Friday and lost 4-1 away to Swansea on Easter Saturday. The match was also 33-year-old Geordie right-back Ernie Devlin’s 70th and final league appearance for the club – he had made his debut in May 1947. Indeed, of the Hammers side that day, four hailed from the North East (Devlin, Southren, Dixon and Hooper) and three from Ireland (Cantwell, McGowan and O’Farrell).

This win in West London came courtesy of first goals in claret and blue for Dave Sexton, who scored once on what was the day of his 23rd birthday, and 23-year-old Tommy Dixon (pictured), who bagged a brace. Geordie centre-forward Dixon had only made his league debut two days previously in the defeat at Swansea and would go on to be the Hammers’ top scorer the following season, 1953/54, with 19 goals in 32 matches. He was also the first player to score for West Ham in a floodlit first team match at Upton Park, ten days after his double against Fulham, in a friendly match against First Division Tottenham. An Aircraftman in the RAF, Dixon had never played football before when an officer asked him to play left-back for the unit team while in Singapore in 1951. He passed away on 6th February 2014 at the age of 84.

Irish centre-forward Freddie Kearns would be the Hammers’ top scorer for the season with 12 goals from 23 appearances. Ted Fenton’s Hammers went on to finish the 1952/53 Second Division season in 14th place, while Bill Dodgin’s Fulham ended up eighth. Sheffield United topped the Second Division, Arsenal won the First Division title and Blackpool won the FA Cup in the ‘Matthews Final’.

West Ham United: Ernie Gregory, Ernie Devlin, Noel Cantwell, Danny McGowan, Malcolm Allison, Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Southren, Dave Sexton, Tommy Dixon, Jimmy Andrews, Harry Hooper.

Club Connections

Ryan Fredericks is unavailable for the trip to his former club. Scott Parker played for both clubs and is currently assistant manager at Craven Cottage. A decent number of players join the pair in representing West Ham United and Fulham over the years. These include:

Goalkeepers: Bill Biggar, Jan Lastuvka, Tony Parks.

Defenders: Paul Kelly, Bobby Moore, George Horler, Tony Gale, George Redwood, Kevin Lock, Jack Hebden, Rufus Brevett, John Paintsil, Paul Konchesky, Ian Pearce, Wayne Bridge, Jon Harley, Alan Stephenson, Andy Melville.

Midfielders: Luis Boa Morte, Dick Richards, George Carter, Papa Bouba Diop, Ray Houghton, Fergus Hunt.

Strikers: Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne, Brian Dear, Alf Harwood, Jack Fletcher, Roger Cross, Iain Dowie, Fred Harrison, Billy Brown, Archie Macaulay, Danny Shea, Kenny McKay, Leroy Rosenior, Bobby Zamora, Mladen Petric.

This week’s focus though is on a player who spent a couple of months with West Ham before later playing for Fulham. Alexander Davidson (known as Bill) was born in West Lothian, Scotland on 22nd September 1878. He started his career with Scottish side Third Lanark before attracting the attention of English clubs. Bill moved to Glossop North End in November 1899, with a low point arriving when he was suspended for one month for striking two Nottingham Forest players after a match at the City Ground on 13th January 1900. He joined Manchester City, then Reading and it was from the Elm Park club that he joined the Hammers in December 1902.

Described as “a fearless player but rather erratic”, centre-forward Davidson (pictured) made his Hammers debut in a 2-1 home defeat to Southampton on Christmas Day 1902 at the Memorial Grounds. He scored his first goal for the Irons in his fourth match, a 3-0 home win over Wellingborough in the Southern League First Division on 10th January 1903, and scored again in a 3-2 home win over Northampton two weeks later. He made his final appearance for the club in a 1-0 home win over Tottenham on 14th February 1903. After two goals in nine appearances for West Ham United, Davidson moved to Luton in February 1903 after just two months in East London.

Davidson moved on again, signing for Fulham for the 1903/04 season, making two appearances without scoring. He went on to represent New Brompton (now known as Gillingham), Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, Stockport, Atherton Church House, Bolton, Wigan Town, Nelson and finally Macclesfield. Bill Davidson passed away between October and December 1929 at the age of 51.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2018/19 is Dean’s 19th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed 22 of our league matches, officiating in nine wins for the Hammers, seven draws and six defeats.

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Dean refereed our final match at the Boleyn when we famously triumphed 3-2 over Manchester United. His decision to send off Sofiane Feghouli just 15 minutes into our 2-0 defeat to the Red Devils in January 2017 was later rescinded. Dean’s three Hammers appointments last season were the 3-2 win over Tottenham in the League Cup fourth round at Wembley in October, the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City in December, our 1-1 Premier League draw with Tottenham in January. He most recently refereed our goalless home draw with Chelsea in September.

Possible line-ups

Fulham are without the suspended Andre Zambo Anguissa, while Calum Chambers, Kevin McDonald and Floyd Ayite are injury doubts.

West Ham United will be without Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic, while Lucas Perez is a doubt. Pablo Zabaleta is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension.

Possible Fulham XI: Rico; Fosu-Mensah, Ream, Mawson, Bryan; Chambers, Seri, Cairney; Schurrle, Sessegnon; Mitrovic.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Chicharito, Carroll.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


The Blind Hammer Column

Options Against Fulham

*Blind Hammer reviews team options for the visit to Fulham *

Last week we achieved, in just one week, nearly a quarter of the points needed to guarantee our Premiership survival. The result is that we should have a squad which confronts the rest of the season without fear, certainly for the squad and hopefully for the fans in the London Stadium. For once positivity reigns.

The most impressive aspect of this achievement is that it has been realised against a staggering list of injury setback. On top of long term injuries to previously automatic first team picks, Lanzini and Reid, Pellegrini has seen his summer investment plan decimated. Sanchez is out for the season, as are possibly Yarmolenko and Fredericks. Wilshere, sadly, predictably has also barely figured. Perez participation is in doubt after picking up an injury against Palace. On top of this Arnautovic is not expected to return until January.

Without tempting fate, Balbuena and Diop have proved more robust recruits in defence and will again feature automatically. Ogbonna will continue an important squad role but not for this game.

Pellegrini declared that Zabeleta would need resting during December. Yet with a 7 days breather since his last outing he should be fine.

. Pellegrini famously hooked Masuaku at half time against Manchester City. Despite this Pellegrini has shown surprising faith. Masuaku was retained for Palace despite Creswell’s availability. To be fair Masuaku did little wrong. Despite this Cresswell offers more defensive solidity. Fulham have little confidence at the moment but this could change in a flash if West Ham gift them an early goal.

Defence is still a concern. Palace managed to score twice despite only rarely threatening. Whilst Cresswell has his share of defensive howlers he offers more solidity. His return may be important for our success on Saturday.

In midfield Rice is another who Pellegrini has signposted for a rest. Yet Rice’s ability to provide not only calm distribution but also to recover possession is an important part of our current composure.

Obiang is waiting in the wings to step in. However Rice’s rest, and Obiang’s chance is more likely to come in the Cup against Birmingham.

Up front, Perez’s likely absence will probably provide Antonio the opportunity to again show his versatility. I suspect that combination play with Hernandez will have featured prominently in training this week.

Carroll’s return provides a welcome bolstering to the squad. Still he seems unlikely to start despite his pivotal role in our success against Palace. One Palace commentator considered Carroll’s mere presence allowed West Ham to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Haunted by his previous success against them, Palace’s defenders were preoccupied. This allowed Snodgrass and Hernandez the space to turn the game on its head.

Despite this critical influence, Carroll showed he is still some way from peak fitness. His rehabilitation into the squad, for the foreseeable future, lies with his providing options and impact from the bench.

Fulham will be scrapping and fighting every inch. Notwithstanding, if we can avoid gifting goals there is no reason why even our depleted squad should have enough to secure a result.

COYI
David Griffith


The HamburgHammer Column

16 stone, eyes of brown - double H is back in town

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Boom! Another great trip in the bag! In the true sense of Christmas it was all about meeting friends/WHTID family members, having a jolly good time, share some banter while enjoying the odd beverage accompanied by a little snack here and there. Meeting former West Ham legends. Making sure West Ham got the three points against Palace by being the good luck charm I happen to be when watching our boys kick a ball in person. But also not forgetting about our previous/true West Ham home in Green Street.

Don’t be surprised there are no personal photos included here – I think Safehands or BSB posted one of me on a previous thread in which I clean a van, wearing a hi-viz best in a Dagenham car wash.

Apart from that (and my avatar of course) you already know my ugly boat, so in the interest of aesthetics I have decided to leave out the various pics of me clearing another plate of some local delicacy, but don’t you worry, you will hear about it regardless…so, where shall we start ? Maybe at the beginning…

Thursday, December 6th

Even less sleep due to an even earlier start this time, compared to previous trips. As my plane was leaving at 6:30am I had to be at a different bus station this time around, at 4:15am, to get to the airport on time. This would lead to an early night for me as at some point I simply couldn’t keep my minces open anymore later in the afternoon.

I had booked my airbnb room in a house in Stratford, one I had already used before, which was conveniently located in the triangle between Stratford Station, Plaistow, Upton Park and Abbey Road (DLR), hence giving me plenty of options travel-wise.

I went there straight after arrival, dropped my suitcase in my room, freshened up a bit, put on a fresh shirt and was off to my first West Ham related event – meeting up with some WHTIDers in Spitalfields, the hunting ground for a certain bloke named Jack.

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The Ten Bells Pub was my first port of call, a place where every day hundreds of tourists doing the famous Jack the Ripper guided walks convene to hear stories and down a pint in chilling memory of some of Jack’s victims who might well have enjoyed their final ever tipple in that very pub before getting their throats slashed down a badly-lit rotten side street in Whitechapel.

But I digress. First guy there was our own Ennate, easily recognisable even from behind by his quite unique hairstyle (definitely no short back and sides, thank you very much!).

We were joined by CRB, Voice of Reason, Irons1959, TorontoHammer and Iron Liddy (thanks for the West Ham books by the way, nice and unexpected Christmas present that was!).

We shared some banter and then moved on to a place nearby called Williams Ale & Cider House. Quite a lovely venue with a decent menu to pick from.
I went for the quite boring, but nonetheless tasty Fish&Chips. It was a great start to the trip, meeting all of those posters from the blog again and chewing the fat (although my fish didn’t have a lot of it) about West Ham, football, music and life in general. I was back in Stratford late afternoon, had the telly on for a while and tried desperately to stay awake, but I think I lost that fight sometime between 8 and 9pm. Another day with another highlight was beckoning though…

Friday, December 7th

Visiting Newham Bookshop in the Barking Road is part of my routine now whenever I come over to London. So I was obviously relieved to hear that the book shop would indeed NOT close its doors forever but simply move two doors further down and remain open. I had the pleasure of walking into busy refurbishment work, done by brilliant and enthusiastic volunteers, I also met an elderly gentleman in the shop who approached me about this blog and my articles.

There was also a young girl filling the shelves who is a passionate Hammer too (it was a pleasure meeting you, Etta)…and of course there is Vivian Archer.

She’s raking in all them praises and accolades from left, right and centre and rightly so. She is the good soul, the life blood and heartbeat of this shop.
As on previous trips, I got my cup of tea, my mince pie, we had a lovely chat about West Ham, the local community, Brexit and the new layout of the shop…and of course I ordered my customary three books which will be sent over to Hamburg this time though, due to weight limitations on my luggage thanks to the regulations stipulated in my flight booking.

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If you have never been to Newham Bookshop, GO! It’s only a short Antonio throw-in away from where the Boleyn used to be, on the corner of Green Street and Barking Road, down towards Canning Town, in glorious view of the World Cup Heroes statue.
If you have been to the book shop before, GO AGAIN!

The new shop, once completed, will look a little less cluttered than the original version (I quite liked the cluttered look though, it reminds me of my own basement), so it will have a more orderly layout, but the main thing is still going to be there: An incredible varied selection of interesting reading material plus a friendly and well clued up staff to help out with finding something which is to your taste.

They have loads of books on West Ham, sports and football in general, English and local London history, a gorgeous section for children’s books, classics like Dickens, Kafka or Orwell, modern fiction, philosophy, poetry, religion, photo books and tons more. I dare you to go there and NOT find at least one book you’ll find interesting! You won’t succeed.

I usually come in with the intention of buying one specific title. Which I do get. But I also ALWAYS find something totally surprising, an outside-the-box title, fantastic little nuggets I would probably never find in one of the big chain shops.

If you like reading, go on and treat yourself, take your Mystic Megs down there and let Vivian find some books for you, books you never were aware to be out there in the first place!

I didn’t venture out further into London that day (to a gallery or museum or whatever) as I wanted to keep my energy levels up for the true highlight of the trip.

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Six foot two, eyes of blue, Billy Bonds is after you!
Well, I was going after him really. Although I have obviously never seen him play for us in person as I only became a Hammer in 1996, I think I have a pretty good idea in what regard William Arthur „Billy“ Bonds is held by West Ham fans. I have seen highlights of him on DVD. So I understand that he is one of the best players ever to wear the claret and blue of West Ham. I even know some fans who consider him to be the best former Hammer, full stop, even ahead of Bobby Moore. I will not throw myself into that debate, but I was happy enough to meet the man and hear some great stories of West Ham history. “An Evening with Billy Bonds” it was called, but it was a lot more than that!
I could also conveniently tick another food box as double pie double mash was being served, get in there!

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We had booked a table for ten in a wonderful venue I knew from a previous visit, on the premises of Dagenham&Redbridge FC. The knights of the round table in our case were Iron Liddy, Mr.Lids, Hugh Jardon, Ebi from near Cologne (the most popular WHTID Kraut these days apparently) and his son (who had come over for his first ever visit to the London Stadium), the one and only Nigel Kahn, Russ (the original one), Safehands, BSB and a certain geezer from Hamburg.

Was it sheer luck or fate ? Our table was just opposite the one where Billy Bonds was sat, together with some other former players like Ray Stewart, David Cross, Steve Jones and the host of the evening of course, Tony Gale, my regular commentator for West Ham games when watching from my armchair, clutching me screwdriver!

I could literally stretch out my hand and pat Billy Bonds on the shoulder! He was later kind enough to sign a poster and a photo for me and we also had a little chat about his games in Germany.

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Someone must have told the former players there were Krauts present in the room (Ebi got great cheers, being addressed as Juergen Klopp all evening…LOL) because during a break David Cross came to our table, asked if I was one of the Germans and when I confirmed this he told me all the four words of German he had learned during his career, he also sang a song to me which was apparently in German but which I had never heard before and also couldn’t really understand the words, it sounded Irish to me, however, it was lovely chatting away with a guy whose goals I had only witnessed at home on TV in shape of a “200 West Ham Goals“ DVD.

I was surprised anyway how friendly the whole atmosphere was. The former players/celebrity guests were all totally at ease and highly approachable.
They were in good spirits, willing to have banter with the fans, sign things and crack jokes. I know they were all earning money from this, but they seemed to really enjoy being there. They clearly appreciated the fans.

They sensed the admiration and respect coming from their audience and the supporters reciprocated in similar currency.

Brilliant questions were being asked (and answered) and, not unexpectedly, Iron Liddy had saved the best for last when asking Billy if he had ever approached his wife in the bedroom with the notorious words *Six foot two, eyes of blue, Billy Bonds is after you!" Cue laughter all around and a slightly embarrassed Bonzo taking it on a very red chin at that point!

Oh, our own Russ was lucky enough to win a lovely West Ham shirt in the raffle, signed by all players of the famous “Boys of 86“ team.
And Ebi spent quite a fortune bidding for and ultimately buying an Upton Park bus sign.

Talking of fortune, that kind of left me when trying to catch (and ultimately miss) the last train back to Stratford. As I didn’t want to spend the night on a park bench, I had to bite the bullet and hire a minicab taking me back to my place for 40 quid. I know better ways to spend £40, a nice curry dinner, a new West Ham jacket, books, whatever.

But ultimately it couldn’t spoil a glorious evening spent with great people, filled with fun, banter and laughter.

Saturday, December 8th

MATCHDAY!
Having arrived back in Stratford by minicab at 2am it was a short night.
I never sleep long on a matchday anyway and this day was no different.
I was hanging around Westfield at noon already, doing some window-shopping until Russ saved me a few hours later, so we quickly walked over to the stadium, had a quick snack and a beer, together with his son and Ray the Hammer.

Usually I sit with BSB or Russ whenever I can, but BSB wasn’t there and Russ was sitting elsewhere, so I was basically on my own watching this one.
I also unfortunately didn’t get to greet Dan Coker and his dad again, neither before nor after the game at the usual meeting point at the 238 steps which was a shame as I always enjoy our conversations.

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What a game! Usually I only bring 1:0 home wins, but this was a five goal thriller, highly entertaining with some beautiful goals scored. And even the first half was captivating, with both teams going for it, despite frustration being the main feeling for the home fans throughout the first 45 minutes.

There were dozens of passes going astray and if we could only have found some better balls into their box, I am sure we would have raced into a lead easily, courtesy of Messrs Hernandez and Perez, even in the first half. The desire to play good football was clearly there for all to see.

Now, West Ham in recent years seem to have developed a tendency to score some absolute screamers against Palace for some unknown reason.
Think Payet’s dipping free kick at the Boleyn (I was behind the goal in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand when that went in!) or Andy Carroll’s bicycle kick.

And now another landmark: Robert Snodgrass scores his first ever league goal for the Hammers and what a beauty it was! Definitely in my personal top 3 of West Ham goals I have seen live and in person.

I thought it would go past the post on the wrong side of goal, the way it was bending. Judging by the slightly delayed goal celebrations in my section of the stadium other fans seemed equally surprised…and delighted when it went in! I couldn’t have written the script for the game any better.

Snodgrass has really beaten the odds, being virtually out of the club’s door already, having to read some silly and nasty remarks about him by the club hierarchy (or their offspring rather) on top of that, only to come back better, more determined and more willing to sweat blood for this team.

I usually don’t care who scores our goals, but I was over the moon that it was Snoddy who turned this game around for us. McMessi he’s called by some now. Braveheart you might call him too although Bravefeet might be more appropriate.

What do they say in East London ? Nobody likes a grass ? Well, we all love our Snodgrass now, don’t we ?

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Chicharito then timed his run wonderfully for an Anderson free kick to score a typical Chicharito goal, pouncing on the rebound, to send the London Stadium crowd into a frenzy that got even louder when Felipe Anderson scored a goal not much later that would make Payet take his ball and walk back home sulking, hanging his head in shame, before washing his hands and sitting down to eat his bowl of pumpkin soup.

Tell me what you like, the moment that ball left Anderson’s foot, curling and dipping towards goal, the guy knew exactly where it was going to hit the net and at that point he was surely already planning his celebration!

It was a great team performance, our players all look happy now (especially during the goal celebrations) and Pellegrini appears to be able to bring out the best in each and every one of them. We try to play football the right way (yes, THAT’S the West Ham way Mr.Allardyce!) and we appear to be able to do it on a more regular basis now.

Nine points out of nine, that, my friends, is what we call a winning streak in football! At West Ham we haven’t been familiar with winning streaks in recent years, but I now feel totally relaxed, optimistic and full of confidence with Pellegrini at the helm. Looks like he’s got the players behind him and if we now could somehow address our injury problems too, who knows how far we may come!

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That victory got celebrated in style with a nice Ruby in a Pakistani restaurant in Whitechapel where Irons1959 had taken me before on a previous trip. This time we were joined spontaneously by Ennate which made it even more enjoyable. We finished off the evening in style in a local pub, watching the first half of the Spurs game.

I want to thank Irons1959 for his repeated hospitality and company which really put the icing on a very tasty matchday cake.
Having a telly in my room I could even watch our goals again in all their glory on MotD before hitting the pillow.

Sunday, December 9th

No museum. No gallery. No street market. No Sunday walk in Hyde Park. Dagenham it was and that can only mean one thing: BSB time, starting with Full English at his tried and trusted caff. After losing a World Cup related bet, BSB treated me to a plate of one of the various set breakfast options and this time around I was desperate to try some Black Pudding with it…for the very first time.

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Black Pudding is quite popular in Germany too, only in my neck of the woods we don’t fry it up for brekkie, we have it cold-cut style with bread, like you’d have it when ordering a Ploughman’s. I had never tried Black Pudding before, cold or fried up, but I absolutely loved it. The taste gets even better when you try to forget what’s actually in it…LOL

After that it was back to BSB’s place (which feels a bit like home from home almost, thanks to BSB), having long chats, watching some of the afternoon’s football, getting text updates on my tablet that Concordia were losing their cup game 2:5 and the Cordi women’s team winning 5:0, and then BSB’s lovely missus Karen arrived to get busy in the kitchen preparing one hell of a Sunday/Christmas roast dinner with all the trimmings and pints of gravy to go with it. Now, some of you know me, I love my food and it shows. I can eat big portions if absolutely necessary…,-))

But even I couldn’t finish that enormous pile of food arriving from Karen’s kitchen. It was one of the loveliest roast dinners I ever had, but at some point even my tummy was waving the white flag in desperate surrender. Anyway, it was all the hospitality and more I had experienced with our most favourite cabbie on previous trips and at one point he has to come back to Hamburg so I can repay him accordingly with some generosity of mine.

Monday, December 10th

Did I happen to tell you I hate days of departure ? Not just because of leaving London behind (and missing it already).

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I headed to Westfield around noon, picked up some papers and a nice West Ham 2019 calendar and got myself to the airport with plenty of time to spare. And then things got delayed, for more than an hour. There were turbulences during the flight over the channel, so it got a bit bumpy. The plane’s parking position at Hamburg airport was so far away it could have been Bremen. In passport control things got held up by elderly Turkish people in wheelchairs due to a language barrier, it took the staff ages to find someone who could translate. Then I missed my connecting bus and had to take a detour by tube and an alternative bus route.

The bells of my local church were tolling half an hour to midnight when I entered my road. Knackered, but happy I went back into my flat, my head full of memories, emotions and thoughts. I’m actually planning another pre-Brexit trip now, maybe for the Newcastle game. Talking of Brexit, the news of the parliament vote being cancelled for the time being was the first news that greeted me when watching the late night news. God knows what’ll happen next! Which also applies to West Ham of course! COYI!!!

Thanks to each and everyone of you who shared time, banter, food, drink and joy with me during my stay! You all know who you are and your kindness is both cherished and appreciated by this particular Kraut Hammer…


The GoatyGav Column

Snoddy’s Attitude The Epitome Of Pellegrini’s West Ham

For much of the season you could argue that Robert Snodgrass has been an unsung hero. Admittedly I was surprised to see him return to the club in the Summer. Wasn’t too enamoured of the player, either, and expected him to play a bit part when injuries, inevitably, kicked in. How glad I am now that he’s making me eat my words. All it took was a manager to play him in his favoured position and show sufficient confidence in him to give him a run of games and he’s repaying that faith by the truck-load.

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With three goals and seven assists the Glaswegian winger has set up or scored more than any other player in the team including ‘Peepay’, a nickname that caught after his baby sister used to call him it, Anderson. The ten million invested in the Scottish international is now paying dividends bigtime.

It’s not often that a player is loaned out, returns, and makes a big, successful impact when they come back to the club. You could probably count those players with the fingers of one hand. The fact that Rob Snodgrass has achieved this is testament to his strength of character. Did that quality help him stand out to the gaffer and get him a run of games to prove himself I wonder? It would seem that Pellegrini likes players who show the attitude and aptitude to apply themselves properly. In hindsight it should be stated that Snodders acted with the utmost professionalism during the tough period of time he endured in his first stint at West Ham.

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In truth we all knew, even us ‘barely speaking English’ peyps who grew up in Cheshire ( ;) ), that we’d signed a good player when RS arrived from Hull. At the time his transfer may have been viewed as no more than a good bit of business from a relegated club. It was something of a mystery who signed the player being either the manager or David Sullivan. It certainly would have seemed a bit of a weird one for Slaven to have sought out considering how he utilised the Snodgrass in the team. Whatever the reality of that unknown all that really matters now is how the Scot is playing for us. On that score it’s safe to say that he’s putting in tremendous effort, having a massively positive effect and enjoying his football as much as any other time in his career. Long may it continue as I’m made up for the fella.

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Arsenal are gaining plaudits from all quarters at the moment but, with thirteen points from the last six games, our beloved Hammers sit in fourth place in the form table, one point and one place above the Gunners having scored the same number of goals as Liverpool and the Spuds in the process. Impressive stat even if five of those fixtures included teams in the current bottom seven in the Premier League. I’m not so sure the West Ham of yesteryear would have claimed thirteen points from a possible fifteen against those sides. Having played the, aforementioned, five teams in the bottom seven we face the other two over the next four games away at Fulham and Southampton. Watford at home and another away game against Burnley make up the next four providing good opportunities to put further points on the board and, hopefully, propel us further up the league.

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With attitudes like those of Snoddy, Nobes, Rice, Balbuena, Diop, Fabianski and Antonio, to name but a few, you would have to surmise that Manuel Pellegrini is keeping the squad highly motivated. The confidence is visible. Never, at any stage, did MP seem to lose belief in what he was trying to get the team doing. When all those around, in the press, social media and, in some instances, stadium, were losing their heads our Chilean manager ‘kept calm and carried on’.

Overall confidence is beginning to flow through the team. But rather than the flaky and fragile confidence, that we’re used to, it’s a confidence that has been achieved by strong belief in the system of play and clear direction passed down to the players by the manager. Even when the team are not looking particularly impressive, and things are not going our way, the style of play is adhered to rigidly. The manager makes changes if they’re needed during half times of matches. The boys didn’t play well in the first halves of many games recently however changes were successfully made indicating proficient in-game management by the manager. The Man City, Cardiff and Palace games are great examples of this. Like Snodgrass’ form – long may it continue.

COYI! West Ham 4 The Cup!


Guest Post

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