Tony Hanna's Musings

Farewell and a Tribute to Bobby Moore

On the 21st August 2013 I wrote my first article for WHTID. Nine days later I wrote my 6th as Sean Whetstone and myself were trying to keep an article a day up for the site, working in tandem due to lack of writers. Different authors have been and gone over the years and after five years I have decided it is time for me to hang up my laptop and say goodbye as this will be my 195th and last article for the site. In the early years I mainly focused on nostalgia, more often than not based on my own experiences following the Hammers in the mid sixties and seventies. When those memories were exhausted I progressed to day to day views and in the transfer windows I put forward the bookies transfer market odds which I translated to perceived chances of players signing for or leaving West Ham. The journey has been one that has seen me make new friendships along the way with meet ups over the years – highlighted by the one at the Upton Park ground hotel that was simply special. It’s been fun writing for you lot, well most of the time lol, and I hope to see some of you again when I am next over, hopefully in 2019. Cheers

I was chatting to a fellow supporter recently who had told me about his reservations about VAR and how he might not attend games anymore should it be introduced to the PL. I reminded him about the times we first started to watch West Ham in the mid 60’s early 70’s. At that time there were only a couple of “divers” in the English game – the rest saw falling over in a tackle as weak in what was a hard man’s game at the time. The limited amount of German football we saw on TV in this era saw this possession game where they passed the ball around for ages without getting anywhere. My thoughts were if we ended up like that in England it would ruin the game. Then we saw the Italian and Spanish football on TV, full of dives and cheating. My thoughts were if we ended up like that in England it would ruin the game. So here we are in today’s game where we see 50 passes between centre backs, more back passes than forward passes and players diving all over the place and over time we have accepted it as normal in the English game. For me VAR is a necessary evil and will be accepted as easily in time as all of the abhorrent parts of the modern game which we have copied in an effort to try and keep up with the rest of the World. For me, if it (VAR) holds up play for three minutes a game and 90% of the time I can go away from a game and know we weren’t “done” by an offside goal or a bad penalty call I think I will be happier than I have been for many a season.

Finally, my favourite player of all time was Bobby Moore. As we all dream of another World Cup win it is fitting that my last piece will be dedicated to our wonderful legend.

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Born on the 12th April 1941 and passing away on the 24th February 1993, Bobby Moore made 646 appearances for the Hammers after making his debut against Manchester United in September 1958. He made his last appearance for West Ham in a cup tie against Hereford in January 1974 before moving on to play for Fulham in the twilight of his career. The footballing career that unfolded over those 16 years was only equalled by the measure of respect he went on to earn throughout the game from his peers and by those who loved to watch him play. In their history, West Ham have been at their best when they have played fast attacking football. It is ironic that the best player to ever play for the club was a defender – but one who the great Pele cited as the best defender that he ever played against.

Bobby was born in Barking, Essex. In 1956 he joined West Ham and quickly advanced through the youth set up. Malcolm Allison was a great mentor to Bobby in the early years and it was his place in the side he took when he made his debut in 1958. Malcolm was suffering from tuberculosis at the time and he never regained his place in the side. Bobby always remembered one piece of advice from Malcolm – “know what you are going to do with the ball before you get it. Always keep a picture in your mind where everyone is, that way when you get the ball you don’t have to think what to do with it.” Those words must have been ringing in his head in the last moments of the World Cup final in 1966. Bobby hung on to those words like it was one of the ten commandments. The hours he spent after training in his formative years, chatting with Malcolm Allison, Noel Cantwell, Dave Sexton and John Bond (all of whom went on to be successful managers), listening to their theories and explanations on how the game should be played, together with his natural flair for leadership, moulded the Bobby Moore that was to lead West Ham and England to glory.

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In a World of uncompromising defenders, Bobby shone like a beacon with his reading of the game and the immaculate timing of his tackles. For a central defender Bobby was not great in the air and he certainly was not quick. But there was always a calmness in his play, it was like his brain was doing all the work. He established himself in West Ham’s first team and in 1960 was called up for the England U23 side. Just two years later he was on the plane to Chile for the World Cup. He was so impressive on his debut against Peru in a pre-tournament friendly that he kept his place in the side until England’s exit against Brazil in the quarter finals. One year later, aged just 22, he captained England for the first time when the incumbent Jimmy Armfield was injured. Bobby had become the youngest player ever to captain the National side and only on his 12th appearance for England.

The years between 1964 and 1966 were iconic for West Ham, England and Bobby Moore. In 1964 Bobby lifted West Ham’s first ever FA Cup and he also became the permanent captain of England. He also went on to win the Footballer of the Year in England. In 1965 he again lifted a trophy at Wembley – this time it was the European Cup Winners Cup with a 2-0 win against 1860 Munich. A match that many say was the greatest game of football ever played on the hallowed turf. A year later in 1966 he lifted the World Cup for England in a 4-2 win against West Germany. The third time that he walked up those stairs to receive a trophy at Wembley he became a National hero.

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The three years of Wembley triumphs between 1964 and 1966 were the pinnacle of Bobby Moore’s career. But he was to play on for another eight years at Upton Park. The same successes were never achieved but that is not to say that the rest of his footballing life was dull! Bobby Moore had been Hammer of the Year in 1961 and 1963 and he was to go on and win the honour again in 1968 and 1970. Not only did he win HOTY four times but he also came second four times.

During 1966 Bobby Moore won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He was the first footballer to win the award and he was also to go on and be honoured with an OBE in 1967. England manager Sir Alf Ramsey was to say of Bobby Moore; “My captain, my leader, my right hand man. He was the spirit and heartbeat of the team. A cool calculating footballer I could trust with my life. He was the supreme professional, the best I ever worked with. Without him England would never have won the World Cup.”

Bobby Moore again captained the England side in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. They were considered an even stronger side than the one that had won the Cup four years earlier. However, the tournament was full of controversy and much was made of the fact that England were being dealt some bad cards. A fortnight before the game the England team were doing some shopping in Bogota, Columbia. Bobby was accused of stealing a bracelet and once the story leaked it was World wide news. The whole affair was most unsavoury and did little to help England’s cause. The incident appeared to have conspiracy written all over it. Bobby was arrested and then released but when England had returned back to Columbia after a game in Ecuador, he was arrested again and placed under four days house arrest. Eventually the case was dropped after no evidence was forthcoming. England eventually lost a two goal lead in the quarter final against West Germany and lost 3-2. Gordon Banks, the best keeper in the World at the time, had eaten a “dodgy lasagne” the night before the game and his replacement Peter Bonetti had a game to forget. Nevertheless, Bobby Moore had now missed the chance to lead England to successive World Cups.

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Controversy was to follow Bobby sooner rather than later. On returning to England from the World Cup, Bobby Moore received an anonymous threat to kidnap his wife Tina and hold her to a 10,000 pound ransom. He pulled out of the preseason friendlies but later in the year things took a brighter turn when West Ham rewarded him with a testimonial game against Celtic. However, in January 1971, Bobby was again embroiled in controversy. A late night drinking episode in Blackpool the night before a Cup game came to light a few days after a shock 3-0 defeat. Manager Ron Greenwood was not happy and wanted to sack all the players concerned, including Bobby Moore. The Board persuaded Greenwood that fines and suspensions should suffice. However, the relationship between manager and player had been cool for some time and now it became distinctly frosty.

A year later Bobby was to make the headlines yet again during a League Cup semi-final replay against Stoke at Old Trafford. When Hammers keeper Bobby Ferguson was kicked in the head and had to go off the field, Bobby Moore took his place in goal. Shortly after, Stoke were awarded a penalty and Moore had the audacity to save Bernard’s spot kick. Unfortunately for Bobby and West Ham, Bernard hammered in the rebound. A 3-2 defeat saw Bobby miss out on another chance of Wembley glory. Gee, it was bloody wet that night!

In 1973 against Italy, Bobby Moore won his 108th and last England cap. It was a record number of caps and he also equalled Billy Wrights 90 appearances as captain. Bobby played every minute of every match in those 108 matches. The following year Bobby Moore played his last game for West Ham.

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When Bobby Moore was sold to Fulham in 1974 I doubt many fans would have thought that he would be playing against his former club in a Wembley Cup Final the following year? Of course the Hammers won by two goals to nil, but Bobby had an excellent game. It was his last appearance at Wembley. He went on to play over 100 games for the Cottagers before ending his career in the North American leagues. Bobby had a less distinguished career after his playing days. He managed Southend United from 1984 until 1986 in what were financially difficult times for the club. This had followed short stints managing Eastern AA in Hong Kong and Oxford City. In 1986 he divorced his wife Tina and he married Stephanie Moore five years later in 1991.

It now seems absurd that the only Captain of England to ever lift the World Cup was commentating and analysing games for London radio station Capital Gold in 1990. Nowadays, players that could only dream of equalling Bobby’s stature in the game can earn fortunes in the media – post playing days. On the 14th February 1993 he publicly announced he was suffering from bowel and liver cancer. Ten days later on the 24th February 1993 Bobby Moore passed away aged just 51. Within hours the gates of Upton Park became a shrine as West Ham fans left scarves and memorabilia there as a mark of respect and remembrance. Shortly after his death, what was the old South Bank at West Ham was renamed the Bobby Moore stand as a tribute to our fallen hero.

In the years that have followed, the name Bobby Moore has become iconic once again in the lives of all West Ham fans. In 1993 The Bobby Moore Fund was formed by Bobby’s second wife Stephanie Moore. A charity to raise money for research into bowel cancer and to raise awareness of the disease. In 2002 Bobby was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame. A year later Prince Andrew unveiled a sculpture of Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet trophy near the Boleyn ground at the junction of Green St and Barking Road. Bobby is shown on the shoulders of Geoff Hurst and Ray Wilson together with Martin Peters. In the same year he was selected by the FA as the Golden Player of England as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. In 2007 a statue of Bobby was unveiled outside of the new Wembley, looking down Wembley Way. Dubbed the “Colossus of Wembley” the statue contains a moving inscription. “Immaculate footballer, Imperial defender, Immortal hero of 1966, First Englishman to raise the World Cup aloft, National Treasure, Master of Wembley, Lord of the game, Captain extraordinary, Gentleman for all time” As a mark of respect the following year West Ham retired the number six shirt that Bobby made had made his own for 16 years. The last official number six shirt was given to Stephanie Moore.

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The club now use the “Moore than a football club” slogan in much of their advertising. The years since his passing still have us remembering each anniversary of his death. But at the same time it allows those of us lucky enough to have watched him in our younger days, remember the many great times watching Bobby in a West Ham or England shirt. In my first years of going to Upton Park I used to stand down behind the North Bank goal. I can still visualise him standing guard at the near post at corners, so near I could almost reach out and touch him. Always concentrating, always impeccable. Even the way he led the team out holding the ball in an imperious way over the top of his hip demonstrated the man was all class. The little jig he did with Jimmy Greaves after the two of them became entangled in the centre circle during a match against Spurs still makes me smile as I reminisce. Oh they were wonderful days – thank you Bobby.

Dan Coker's Match Preview

West Ham's Colombian Connection

With England’s upcoming match against Colombia on Tuesday, here’s a look back at the Hammers’ only first team Colombian player.

Pablo Armero was born on 2nd November 1986 in Tumaco, a port city in the Narino Department by the Pacific Ocean located on the southwestern corner of Colombia, near the border with Ecuador. He began his career with America de Cali in his home country, scoring six goals in 108 appearances before moving to Brazilian club Palmeiras in 2009. Armero played for the Colombian Under-17 team in the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship and was promoted to the senior team in 2008 for his form with America de Cali. He received his first cap in Colombia’s 5-2 win over Venezuela. He made 48 appearances for Palmeiras during the 2009/10 season, scoring one goal against Nautico on 11th July 2009. He was also sent off for two yellow cards in a 2-1 win at Cruzeiro on 23rd September 2009.

Armero moved to Europe in August 2010, signing for Italian Serie A side Udinese. Playing left wing-back, he made 33 appearances in 2010/11, scoring two goals – the first in a 2-1 home win over Fiorentina on 11th December 2010 and the second in a 4-2 win at Genoa on 16th January 2011. Udinese finished fourth, qualifying for the Champions League and Armero was named in the Serie A Team of the Year. The club would lose to Arsenal in the qualification round though, entering the 2011/12 Europe League instead. Armero played 39 matches for Udinese in 2011/12, scoring one goal in a 2-1 home win over French club Rennes in the Europa League group stage on 15th September 2011.

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Udinese finished third in 2011/12, again qualifying for the Champions League Play-Off round, where they would be knocked out on penalties by Portuguese club Braga. Armero would score in the home leg of the Champions League Play-Off. After four goals in 91 appearances for Udinese, Armero signed for Serie A rivals Napoli in January 2013, making 15 appearances for the club before the end of the season. Napoli finished second in Serie A in 2012/13, qualifying for the Champions League group stage. On 22nd March 2013, Armero scored his first goal for Colombia, the fifth in a 5-0 home victory over Bolivia. Armero played four matches at left-back in the 2013/14 Champions League and also played 14 matches in Serie A.

In January 2014, the 27-year-old Armero moved to the Premier League, joining Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United on loan. The free transfer signing of Razvan Rat the previous summer had not worked out, with the Romanian signing for Rayo Vallecano in the winter window. Armero also found it difficult to dislodge the ever-reliable George McCartney though and didn’t make his Hammers debut until 15th March 2014 when he came off the bench for the final seven minutes of a 3-1 defeat at Stoke. He appeared again from the bench in a 2-1 win at Sunderland on 31st March, this time playing the second half in what would be his only taste of victory in claret and blue. Armero made his first start in his home debut for the club in a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on 6th April and would make two further starts for the Irons, in a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal and a 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace. Armero would be held responsible by Allardyce for the loss to the Eagles on 19th April 2014 as he conceded the match-winning penalty for a foul on Cameron Jerome. It would be Armero’s fifth and final appearance for the club.

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In June 2014, Armero was named in Colombia’s squad for the 2014 World Cup Finals; the left-back scored Colombia’s first goal in a 3-0 win against Greece in their opening group game. His goal, and his leading of team-mates in a celebratory dance, can be seen in the video below. Armero left Napoli permanently to return to Udinese in the summer of 2014 but he would join Milan on loan for the 2014/15 season, with whom he would make eight appearances. At the end of the Italian Serie A campaign, Armero returned to Brazil, joining Flamengo on loan. He made four appearances for the Rio-based club.

Armero returned to Udinese for the second half of the 2015/16 season, making five appearances and scoring one goal, in a 1-1 draw against Milan at the San Siro on 7th February 2016. He made two further appearances for Udinese in the first half of the 2016/17 season before signing for Brazilian club Bahia, with whom he made five appearances.

Now 31, Armero re-signed for his first club, America de Cali, earlier this year. He has made five appearances so far in his second spell with the club. He has won 68 caps for Colombia, scoring two goals. He is not part of the 2018 World Cup squad.

The Blind Hammer Column

The World Cup and the Premier League England Expects?

*Blind Hammer compares Premier League and National teams *

England’s defeat against Belgium was perhaps a timely reality check. Given that both sides did not field their first 11, it was a game allegedly neither was keen to win; Belgium nevertheless demonstrated greater squad depth and skill.

Despite entering this World Cup with more realistic expectations, excitement had grown after England’s initial victories. The record breaking score against a poor Panama side, in particular, awakened optimism that this side could unexpectedly advance.

The defeat against Belgium suggested that the new dawn may not be as bright as some hope. Russia’s performances against relatively poor sides also came to a grinding halt when they came up against Uruguay.

As West ham supporters we are all used to managing expectations in the Premier League. In an idle moment it started me thinking of possible equivalence between competing National sides and teams in the Premier League. Such an equivalence could guide realistic expectations.

The point is that we all know that West Ham can beat Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester city on their day. However we have realistic expectations of the chances of this happening.

So can we draw some equivalence between the status and expected performance of national sides and PL clubs? It may stretch a point but I would offer the following for discussion.

Brazil -Manchester City
As clear competition favourites Brazil have the match winning combination of stars which can blow away any side in the world .
Like Manchester City they start favourites against any team they face. Like City they are not invincible. Despite dominating large parts of a game they can have periods of defensive vulnerability.

*Belgium – *Liverpool
Belgium, as the new kids on the block, are providing the match winning performers to break the traditional mould of the World’s elite sides. This is much the same as for Liverpool who are now gate crashing the PL’s traditional top four. Both sides rely on attacking flair rather than defensive solidity.

Spain – Manchester United
Like Manchester United Spain have immense tradition and resources to draw upon. Barcelona and Real Madrid provide access to a powerful pool of football talent. Like Manchester United Spain are not the power that they once were. Despite their tradition it is not clear that they are delivering the success that their followers expect.

Argentina – Arsenal
Like Arsenal in the PL Argentina are not irrelevant to the World cup. However both are definitely a faded force. Their supporters look back to days of past glory rather than any prospects of new achievements. Both sides need serious rebuilding if they are to re-emerge at the top table.

Uruguay – Tottenham
Uruguay most resembles the Tottenham of the pack of competing Nations at the World cup. They are the outsiders unexpectedly poking their noses and elbows in at the top table. Despite the flair of Tottenham, compared to the solidity of Uruguay, they most resemble each other as the once outsiders now intruding.
France – Chelsea
In the same way it is not impossible to imagine Chelsea winning the Premier League next season it would not be a complete shock if France departed Russia with the trophy. However both sides are also in the process of starting to to rebuild. The situation is not as serious as for France and Argentina but it does take the gloss of considering either of them as the finished article at the moment.

England – Everton
England is are definitely outsiders for this competition. Nobody expects them to win it. Yet Leicester won the Premier League against expectations. Despite this I think England is higher than Leicester in terms of normal expectations. . England most resembles Everton in terms of expected performance. There is a level of consistency which always gets them out of the qualifying groups but we have rarely looked like achieving any serious hope of landing silver ware in the business end of competitions.
And finally
Colombia – West Ham
It feels most disloyal to equate West ham with Colombia on one level but this is the most likely equivalence I can find. In Rodriguez Colombia have a match winner who can perform against any competition. On their day Colombia could possibly beat any team in the World, despite this they would rarely expect to do so. Sounds familiar to me.

Of course this is all for discussion only and not for serous argument!

David Griffith

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Crossed Hammers & Three Lions: Stuart Pearce

Welcome to the ninth in a series of articles designed for international matches – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.

Today, as England prepare to face Belgium in their third and final group match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, we look back at a former Hammers and England defender – Stuart Pearce. Hammersmith-born Pearce attended Fryent Primary school, followed by Claremont High in Kenton and supported QPR as a boy. An electrician by trade, he started his career at non-league Wealdstone in 1978 before moving to Coventry in 1983. Two years later he was signed by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest and he would make over 400 appearances for the club, winning the League Cup in 1989 and 1990.

Pearce, whose brother Dennis was a Football League linesman, made his England debut at the age of 25 on 19th May 1987 in a 1-1 draw with Brazil at Wembley – he became the 999th player to appear for England. He scored his first goal for his country in a 4-2 friendly win over Czechoslovakia at Wembley on 25th April 1990 – ‘Ludo’ Miklosko, who had signed for West Ham two months previously, didn’t cover himself in glory for the goal, coming to collect a corner but failing to claim the ball with Pearce driving home the loose ball. Pearce was named in Bobby Robson’s squad for the 1990 World Cup in Italy and started all of England’s matches with the exception of the third-place play-off against the hosts. ‘Psycho’, as Pearce was nicknamed, saw his penalty in the semi-final shoot-out in Turin saved by the legs of West Germany’s Bodo Illgner.

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With Graham Taylor now in charge, Pearce captained his country for the first time in a friendly against New Zealand in Wellington on 8th June 1991 – Pearce marked the occasion by scoring his second goal for his country in a 2-0 win, a low drive from the edge of the penalty area after a John Solako cross. Pearce started all three of England’s games in the 1992 European Championships in Sweden but the Three Lions were knocked out in the group stage. Taylor named Pearce as captain on eight occasions and he scored two further goals under his stewardship, in a 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Turkey on 18th November 1992 and a 3-0 win over Poland on 8th September 1993, both from free-kicks in World Cup qualifiers at Wembley. The latter strike came when Pearce was playing outside the top flight at club level following Nottingham Forest’s relegation.

Pearce scored his fifth and final England goal under Terry Venables in a 3-1 friendly win over Switzerland at Wembley on 15th November 1995, a deflected effort which flew into the net from the edge of the area following a short corner routine. He started all five of England’s games at Euro ’96, scoring in penalty shoot-outs against Spain in the quarter-finals and Germany in the semi-finals to lay the ghost of Turin to rest. His celebration after scoring from the spot against Spain showed the raw passion that embodied Pearce’s career and is an iconic moment, both for that tournament and in the history of the national team.

‘Psycho’ captained his country for the tenth and final time in a 2-1 win over South Africa at Old Trafford on 24th May 1997. Now 35 and playing under the management of Glenn Hoddle, Pearce was named in the squad for Le Tournoi, a tournament held in France to aid preparations for the World Cup there the following year. England won the competition, with Pearce starting the opening match against Italy, which England won 2-0.

Pearce turned down a move to the Hammers in 1997 to sign for Newcastle but did team up with Harry Redknapp two years later. While at Newcastle, Pearce was awarded an MBE for services to football. He made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 win over Tottenham on 7th August 1999, the opening day of the 1999/2000 season, and even made an England return in September 1999 at the age of 37 – he became the third-oldest outfield player to appear for England after Stanley Matthews and Leslie Compton. It had been over two years since Pearce had played for England, Kevin Keegan starting him in a 6-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley on 4th September 1999 and a 0-0 draw in Poland four days later, both European Championship qualifiers. The match in Warsaw was Pearce’s last for England – he had captained his country on ten occasions, won 78 caps and scored five goals.

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Pearce made five league appearances in claret and blue before suffering a broken leg against Watford three days after his final England match – typically, he wanted to carry on playing! He made a return to action in February 2000 but only lasted three games before breaking the same leg.

2000/01 saw better times for Pearce though. He scored his first goal for the club direct from a free-kick in a 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal on 21st October 2000, with his second goal for the Irons being a typically thunderous strike in a 3-2 win at Southampton on 25th November 2000. His third and final goal for the Hammers was a stunning, low, driven free-kick to make it 1-1 in an FA Cup quarter-final with Tottenham at a rain-drenched Upton Park on 11th March 2001, a game the Irons would sadly lose 3-2. He was sent off for two bookable offences in a 2-0 home defeat to Everton on 31st March 2001. Pearce played in 34 of the Irons’ Premier League matches, with a further eight appearances coming in the domestic cups. Pearce ended the season as a 39-year-old but had played 42 matches during the campaign at the top level of English football. He was named Premier League Player of the Month in February 2001 and voted Hammer of the Year at the end of the 2000/01 season.

After being beaten to the vacant managerial post at Upton Park by Glenn Roeder in the summer of 2001, Pearce left east London after three goals in 50 appearances to end his playing days with Manchester City, who romped to the First Division title and promotion to the Premier League under Kevin Keegan.

Pearce’s first stint as a manager had been as caretaker at Nottingham Forest in 1997. He became a coach under Keegan at Manchester City before becoming manager of the club in 2005. He became manager of the England Under-21 team in February 2007 whilst still in charge at City but was sacked by his club three months later, taking the England Under-21 job full time. He guided the Under-21s to the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2007 and the Final in 2009 – his captains at both tournaments were provided by the Hammers, Nigel Reo-Coker and Mark Noble respectively. He also worked as a coach with the England senior team under Fabio Capello and was temporary England manager between February and May 2012 after the Italian’s departure. Pearce also managed the Great Britain Olympic team at London 2012. He left his role as Under-21 manager in the summer of 2013 and spent seven months back in charge at Forest in the 2014/15 campaign.

After a spell working at Portsmouth, Pearce joined former club West Ham as an assistant to new manager David Moyes in November 2017 – having played a role in ensuring the Hammers’ top flight survival ‘Psycho’, now 56, left at the end of the 2017/18 season after Moyes’ contract was not renewed.

Belgium v England

England face Belgium this evening in their third and final group match of the 2018 World Cup – it will be the 22nd meeting between the two nations. The pair have met twice before in the World Cup, with the first match being a 4-4 draw in 1954. The second meeting starred the focus of today’s piece, Stuart Pearce, and came in front of 34,520 in Bologna, Italy, almost exactly 28 years ago, on 27th June 1990, in the second round of the 1990 World Cup. England New Order were number one with ‘World In Motion’, Pretty Woman topped the UK box office and sitcom Waiting For God made its BBC debut the following evening.

Bobby Robson’s England were on the back foot early on with Belgian captain Jan Ceulemans finding Bruno Versavel with a through-ball; Peter Shilton got down low to his left to push away his left-foot shot with Mark Wright beating Marc Degryse to the loose ball. Franky Van der Elst then found Degryse on the edge of the box, he in turn played the ball onto Ceulemans who bundled past Wright before smashing a left-foot shot against Shilton’s near post. Stuart Pearce’s cross then found John Barnes but his tame effort was straight at Michel Preud’homme in the Belgian goal. Barnes was involved again soon after, turning home Gary Lineker’s cross only to be denied by an offside flag.

The Belgians hit the woodwork again when Enzo Scifo’s stunning right-foot attempt from distance smacked against the inside of Shilton’s right-hand post. Chris Waddle then put Lineker through but the striker’s touch let him down and Preud’homme blocked with his feet. Pearce was again involved, finding substitute Steve Bull whose shot was deflected before being pushed round the post by Preud’homme.

With less than 90 seconds left of extra-time, Tottenham midfielder Paul Gascoigne surged through the centre of the field before being brought down by PSV right-back Eric Gerets. Gazza’s chipped free-kick deep into the Belgian penalty area found substitute David Platt, who hooked in a super volley as the ball dropped over his shoulder to win the tie for England and send them into the quarter-finals. England would defeat Cameroon in the last eight but would be knocked out by West Germany on penalties in the semi-final. It was 24-year-old Aston Villa midfielder Platt’s first of his 27 England goals, in the eighth of his 62 caps.

Belgian defender Lei Clijsters, who played that night, passed away from cancer in 2009 at the age of 52. He was the father of two tennis-playing daughters: US and Australian Open winner Kim Clijsters and Wimbledon doubles and US Open doubles champion Elke Clijsters.

England: Peter Shilton (Derby), Paul Parker (QPR), Des Walker (Nottingham Forest), Terry Butcher (captain, Rangers), Mark Wright (Derby), Stuart Pearce (Nottingham Forest), Chris Waddle (Marseille), Steve McMahon (Liverpool), Paul Gascoigne (Tottenham), John Barnes (Liverpool), Gary Lineker (Tottenham).

Subs: David Platt (Aston Villa) for McMahon; Steve Bull (Wolves) for Barnes.

Belgium: Michel Preud’homme (Mechelen), Eric Gerets (PSV), Stefan Demol (Porto), Lei Clijsters (Mechelen), Georges Grun (Anderlecht), Michel De Wolf (Kortrijk), Franky Van der Elst (Club Brugge), Bruno Versavel (Mechelen), Enzo Scifo (Auxerre), Marc Degryse (Anderlecht), Jan Ceulemans (captain, Club Brugge).

Subs: Nico Claesen (Antwerp) for Degryse; Patrick Vervoort (Anderlecht) for Versavel.

The previous articles in the series are:

Ken Brown
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Bobby Moore
Martin Peters
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
David James

The Blind Hammer Column

Whither Kouyate?

Blind Hammer analyses Cheikhou Kouyate’s World Cup.

Cheikhou Kouyate’s World Cup has not gone to plan. During Senegal’s Qualification he was ever present. He had earnt a promotion to Captain. The 2018 World Cup was envisaged as his proudest moment, the pinnacle of his football achievements.

As Captain he faced the media to stress how important the competition was.

“”The World Cup is a competition that takes place every four years and it is not given to everyone to take part, we have the chance now to participate and we will prepare well to please the Senegalese people. We want to write our own story.”

Kouyate’s status as Captain and his evident poise in front of the media has not, however, persuaded Senegalese Manager, Aliou Cisse, that he merited a start either against Poland or Japan. Kouyate is not reported as suffering from or carrying any injury.

Kouyate appeared only as a late substitute, 7 minutes from time, to help Senegal resist late pressure in their victory against Poland. After initially struggling, manhandling a Polish attacker, Kouyate made an important tackle to help Senegal preserve their lead.

This did not persuade Cisse to start Kouyate against Japan. Kouyate was however, introduced after 67 minutes to help counter act Japan’s midfield dominance. He could not, though, prevent what was, in Senegalese eyes, a disappointing draw.

Kouyate’s introduction into midfield was interesting. It was confidently predicted before the World Cup that he would, unlike his role at West Ham, play a key role in the centre of the Senegal Defence. This was in no small part due to Aliou Cisse’s desire to build a midfield around the undoubted talents of Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Gueye had achieved outstanding performance ratings in what was an awkward season for Everton.

Yet Aliou Cisse has, so far, resisted any opportunity to deploy Kouyate in this alternative defensive role, preferring the partnership of Salif Sane and Kalidou Koulibaly.

This presents a worry for West Ham. If Kouyate is not performing at a sufficient level to force his way into the Senegal team, it becomes questionable as to whether he still has the capabilities to dominate Premiership Midfield battels in the way he once did.

There may be a ray of light for Kouyate though.

Aliou Cisse has a ruthless streak. As well as dropping his captain for the first 2 games he took no prisoners after Senegal’s disappointing draw against Japan. He expressed dissatisfaction that Senegal had twice conceding an equaliser. He had no compunction in pointing the finger of blame at Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane. He stressed the need for rigour and concentration.

The extent to which Kouyate has fallen out of favour will be illuminated by Cisse’s selections for their final game against Colombia. Cisse lambasting of his team’s defensive performance seems to suggest that there is at least a possibility of a recall for Kouyate. There may just be a chance that he can make a belated contribution to a Senegal cause which may finally kick start his World Cup. This ironically may come most significantly in a knock out game against England. If Kouyate can reclaim his place and confidence we may just have the player back we once admired. At worse a positive World Cup legacy will enhance any incoming Transfer fee. West Ham supporters should be keeping a keen eye on the performances of Senegal and Kouyate in particular.
David Griffith

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