David Hautzig's Match Report

Watford 1, West Ham 4. Bottom Of The Top.

Much has been made about the effect money has had on football. Well folks, today at Vicarage Road was quite literally about money and nothing else. Sure, finishing in the top half would be nice. In today’s universe the two million pounds per place in merit payments are nicer. And that’s precisely what we got.

The opening minutes were all Watford. On twenty seconds Deulofeu broke in and beat Fabianski low to his right, but the flag went up. Two minutes later the former Barcelona man again found himself in a dangerous position but likely took his shot a bit early and Fabianski made a routine stop. Five minutes later the pressure continued, with Watford earning a corner. Hughes tried a YouTube worthy bicycle kick but didn’t catch it fully and Fabianski made the save.

West Ham had their first opportunity at the ten minute mark when Antonio won a free kick on the left side of the Watford eighteen yard box. Lanzini stepped up and drilled it right into the first two rows behind the Watford goal. The word “wasteful” came to mind, as well as out of the mouth of Tony Gale on television. At least the ball was on the other end of the pitch for a few minutes.

The last few weeks have seen a rebirth of sorts from Mark Noble. Fantastic performances against both Spurs and Southampton had to quiet the naysayers for a little bit. In the 15th minute, he began a run with a quick give and go with Antonio. When Noble got the ball back thirty yards from goal, the most likely scenario was The Captain looking for a run by Antonio or perhaps Anderson. Going at it alone wasn’t on anyones mind. Other than Noble, that is. A little shoulder dip to his left opened him up for a shot. Which he took. And it beat Foster. It might have been the best open play goal I’ve ever seen Noble score.

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Watford 0
West Ham 1

Watford pressed for an equalizer, and again it was Deulofeu at the heart of the attack. He was on the receiving end of a cross from Pereyra, and did well to create space for himself inside the box to send a left footed shot at Fabianski that didn’t trouble our Hammer Of The Year. Moments later it was Pereyra inside the box that received the ball, but his low shot was right at the Hammers keeper. A minute after that Pereyra broke in on goal after Zabaleta slipped but his shot was blocked out for a corner. The first did nothing but create a second. The second created a throw. The throw was cleared out by Balbuena. But if the tide continued that way West Ham would be in danger of being washed away.

Remember at the start of the pre-season it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Antonio would be sold? Crystal Palace wanted him supposedly. Now, the idea of him leaving is almost unthinkable. He has the ability to use his brute strength to get out of crowded situations when he has no earthly right to do so. In the 39th minute, Noble sent a perfectly weighted ball over the top for Antonio to run onto. He did just that, but his first touch was off. No problem. He just made a new opportunity out of it, fighting his way through a crowd to get off a great shot that clanged off the bar and directly into the path of Lanzini. Thank you very much said the Argentine.

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Watford 0
West Ham 2

The Hornets came oh so close to a goal in the final seconds of the half when a corner kick came to Kabasele, who headed the ball back across the face of goal where Deeney met it. But Fabianski dove down to his right and made a point blank save. “Save of the season” was the text from Nigel.

Halftime
Watford 0
West Ham 2

Zabaleta doesn’t make too many completely boneheaded errors. The start of the second half brought just that. On the opening kick he made an awful attempt at a back pass to Fabianski and instead laid it on a silver platter for Deulofeu who strolled around the keeper and rolled it into the open net only nine seconds from the start.

Watford 1
West Ham 2

Before I could finish the annoying paragraph above, Antonio ran onto a long ball and was brought down by Holebas. The linesman immediately got the attention of the referee, and out came the red card. Harsh if I’m being honest, but I’ve lost all ability for opposition sympathy in my advanced years. West Ham did nothing with the free kick, and Watford came storming downfield. Deulofeu beat Zabaleta, and if he had gone down it could have been red for the Argentine right back. Instead he tried to find Doucoure but Anderson did his defensive work and intercepted the pass and cleared it over the bar for a Watford corner.

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Which team was a man down again?

West Ham tried to reassert their authority by keeping hold of the ball and make Watford run around a bit. Noble eventually made a pass to Arnautovic at the top of the box, and Marko tried a turnaround shot but it went over the bar.

In the 60th minute, Zabaleta again made a horrific mistake in the box that should have cost West Ham a goal. Doucoure grabbed an errant ball from Zabaleta and passed to Gray in front of Fabianski. Masuaku got in the way, Gray went down, and every West Ham supporter likely expected a penalty. It didn’t happen. West Ham broke on a counter attack, with Anderson putting a lovely through ball for Arnautovic in the box. But when he should have shot, he tried one more move. That allowed Cathcart to make a great tackle and clear the ball from danger.

The Hammers should have finished it off in the 68th minute when Antonio headed a ball into the path of Arnautovic, but his shot had no pace and was from a tough angle. Foster had very little trouble.

Remember that match two years ago against Hull when they hit the woodwork four times, and the post was given Man Of The Match? Well, Mr. Lumber was good to us today, except on the attacking end. Zabaleta crossed the ball to Anderson, who volleyed it off the far post. Arnautovic was the first to react, and he dove to get the ball where it needed to be.

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Watford 1
West Ham 3

The visitors should have made it four when Antonio got on the end of a long ball from Anderson. He tried to lob the ball over Foster, but didn’t quite put the ball high enough and Foster grabbed it. But moments later, Fememia clattered into Antonio inside the box and the referee pointed to the box. Noble stepped up and drilled it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

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Watford 1
West Ham 4

Serious question. What did the club see in Sanchez last summer? Let me know. Thanks.

Final Score
Watford 1
West 4

“Finish joint 7th with the five points we earned but we’re not awarded. Not bad.” was the text I got from my best mate Jon. Usually when I make such complaints to him he says there’s no way we could ever know. All I know is that relegation was not a realistic fear at any reasonable time this season. To that end, along with some very good wins, a top half finish, and a lot of positive play, it can be considered a season of progress. The last time we felt progress was at hand, well, we were given Sofiane Feghouli. But that was then, and this is now. Which means it could be a different approach. I hope so.

I wish all of you a great summer, and I will be back on my sofa in August with my IPad, hoping for greater heights for West Ham.

Cheers.


Book Review

Match Thread: Watford v West Ham

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

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


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Watford v West Ham

Hello and welcome to my 43rd and final match preview of an ultimately decent season for West Ham United, one which closes with the chance of a top-half finish. If I may, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my parents a Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary for tomorrow (Sunday). I’m also delighted to announce that my wife and I are expecting our first baby, due before the start of the new season.

Blast from the past

Harry Redknapp’s West Ham United arrived at Vicarage Road, the home of this weekend’s opponents Watford, for a Premier League fixture on 4th March 2000 in front of 18,619 while en route to a ninth-place finish. Madonna was number one with ‘American Pie’, Toy Story 2 topped the UK box office and the UK had just deported Augusto Pinochet to Chile to face trial.

The Hammers took the lead on three minutes when Paulo Wanchope embarked on a run deep into Watford territory before playing the ball into the penalty area for Frank Lampard to cushion a pass into the path of the on-rushing Steve Lomas who struck his only league goal of the season (his other goal in 1999/2000 had been in a 3-2 League Cup win at Birmingham).

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The Hornets fell further behind 32 minutes later when 26-year-old captain Lomas’ lofted ball forward found Costa Rican striker Wanchope who used his strength to shield the bouncing ball before hooking into Alec Chamberlain’s net. The Irons had their advantage halved 16 minutes after half-time when Icelandic forward Heidar Helguson slotted home a rebound after Nordin Wooter’s effort was blocked by Scott Minto. The goals from this match can be viewed in my video below.

Harry Redknapp’s West Ham would end the season in ninth position, while Graham Taylor’s Watford would finish bottom and be relegated. Manchester United won the league title, Chelsea won the FA Cup and Paolo Di Canio was voted Hammer of the Year, with Trevor Sinclair runner-up.

Watford: Alec Chamberlain, Nigel Gibbs (Paul Robinson), Steve Palmer, Mark Williams (Neil Cox), Robert Page, Alex Bonnot (Richard Johnson), Micah Hyde, Peter Kennedy, Heidar Helguson, Allan Smart, Nordin Wooter.

West Ham United: Craig Forrest, Rio Ferdinand, Igor Stimac, Stuart Pearce, Steve Lomas, Marc-Vivien Foe, Frank Lampard Junior, John Moncur, Scott Minto, Trevor Sinclair, Paulo Wanchope.

Club Connections

Former Hammer Domingos Quina is now on Watford’s books. Others to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:

Goalkeepers: Billy Biggar, Ted Hufton, Perry Suckling, Manuel Almunia, Joe Webster, Jack Rutherford.

Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, James McCrae, Chris Powell, Colin Foster.

Midfielders: Henri Lansbury, Alan Devonshire, Alessandro Diamanti, Stuart Slater, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Lindsay, Joe Blythe, David Noble, Jimmy Carr, Mark Robson, Valon Behrami, Carl Fletcher.

Strikers: James Reid, David Connolly, Mauro Zarate, Jack Foster, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings, Peter Kyle, Bertie Lyon.

Len Goulden played for West Ham and managed Watford, while Malky Mackay played for both clubs and went on to manage the Vicarage Road club. Glenn Roeder played for the Hornets and managed both clubs; Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.

This week’s focus though is on an England international goalkeeper who represented both clubs. David James was born in Welwyn Garden City on 1st August 1970 and grew up as a Luton supporter. He signed for Watford though and, after helping the Hornets win the FA Youth Cup, made his full debut on 25th August 1990 at the age of 20 in a 2-1 home defeat to Millwall. His strong physique and impressive athletic abilities helped him settle into senior football; he won the club’s Player of the Year award in his debut season as the Hornets finished 20th in Division Two. James’ 98th and final appearance for Watford came in a 5-2 home win over Bristol City on 2nd May 1992, with Watford ending the 1991/92 campaign in tenth place – he also earned ten caps for England Under-21s before moving to Liverpool for £1.25m in the summer of 1992. James was inducted into the Watford Hall of Fame in 2008.

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James won the League Cup in 1995 and received an FA Cup runners-up medal the following year before making his England debut under Glenn Hoddle in a friendly against Mexico on 29th March 1997. He signed for Aston Villa in the summer of 1999 and was once again on the losing side in an FA Cup Final, this time in 2000, the last Final to be played at the old Wembley.

James signed for Glenn Roeder’s West Ham United in July 2001 for £3.5m but a serious knee injury picked up in a collision with Martin Keown whilst playing for England against the Netherlands at White Hart Lane would keep him out until late autumn. The 31-year-old finally made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham on 24th November 2001 – he went on to keep ten clean sheets in 29 appearances in his first season, a campaign which saw no other Premier League team win more matches at home than the Hammers. The club finished seventh but were to nosedive the following season, culminating in relegation. James was an ever-present in 2002/03, keeping nine clean sheets in 42 appearances during a season in which he became England’s first-choice goalkeeper, replacing David Seaman.

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James remained with the club for the first half of the First Division campaign of 2003/04, seeing many of his team-mates depart in a fire sale and playing under three managers – Roeder, caretaker boss Trevor Brooking and Alan Pardew – as the Hammers adjusted to life in the second tier. ‘Jamo’ kept ten clean sheets in 31 games before returning to the Premier League with Manchester City in a £2m deal in January 2004. He had made 102 appearances for West Ham in all competitions, his final match being a 2-1 home defeat to Preston on 10th January 2004. James had retained his position as Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England number one but his return to the top flight all but secured his place as England’s goalkeeper at the upcoming Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal. My video below is a compilation of some of James’ saves in a West Ham shirt.

After two and a half years with City, James returned south to join Portsmouth in the summer of 2006. While with Pompey, he won the FA Cup in 2008 and broke the Premier League record for clean sheets and consecutive appearances. He stands fourth in the all-time Premier League appearances list with 572 games played – only Ryan Giggs, Gareth Barry and ex-Hammer Frank Lampard have played more. James moved to Bristol City in the summer of 2010 having captained Portsmouth in the FA Cup Final, James again picking up a runners-up medal after defeat at Wembley to Chelsea. The goalkeeper also played three of England’s four matches at the 2010 World Cup, having lost his place to Paul Robinson during qualification for the 2006 World Cup – former Hammer James replaced then-Irons custodian Rob Green in the tournament held in South Africa after Green’s unfortunate error against the USA, while future Hammer Joe Hart was the third goalkeeper in the squad.

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The 42-year-old James was released by Bristol City in the summer of 2012 and signed for Bournemouth in September of that year. His final appearance for Bournemouth, and in English football, was against Walsall in a 3-1 defeat at the Bescot Stadium on 19th January 2013. James went on to play in Iceland for IBV, teaming up with former team-mate Hermann Hreidarsson in order to gain coaching experience.

James was also player-manager of Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, owned by Sachin Tendulkar, in 2014, helping the side to runners-up position in the inaugural campaign of the ISL. James played 956 matches during his career and later returned to Kerala Blasters as manager in January 2018 – he was sacked last December. Now 48, James has also been a regular pundit on BT Sports.

Referee

The referee tomorrow will be Christopher Kavanagh. The Manchester-born official has refereed the Hammers on seven previous occasions, most recently for our 2-0 defeat at Chelsea last month. Prior to that, Kavanagh officiated our 2-0 home win over Newcastle in March, a game in which he awarded the Hammers a penalty for a foul on Chicharito which was converted by Mark Noble. He had previously been in charge for our 2-2 home draw with Brighton in January, our 1-1 draw at Huddersfield in November and our 1-0 home defeat to Wolves in September.

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Kavanagh was the man in the middle for our 2-0 win at Leicester last May and also issued Arthur Masuaku with a red card for spitting in an FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wigan in January 2018. He has been the man in the middle for 23 Premier League matches so far in 2018/19, issuing 74 yellow cards in those games and one red, and awarding four penalties.

Possible line-ups

Sebastian Prodl and ex-Hammer Domingos Quina are out injured for FA Cup Finalists Watford but Miguel Britos and Etienne Capoue are expected to be fit – a booking for Capoue would mean he equals the Premier League record of 14 yellow cards in a season. Hornets boss Javi Gracia has stated he will resist the temptation to rest players ahead of the Wembley showpiece six days later. Watford could do the league double over West Ham for the first time since the 1911/12 season.

For Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson and Samir Nasri are available but Winston Reid, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andy Carroll remain out. West Ham have lost only two of their last 14 league matches at Watford. The Irons could win three consecutive Premier League games without conceding for the first time since February 2014.

Possible Watford XI: Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Antonio, Noble, Lanzini, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Time for the West Ham United Hall of Fame

We all have our heroes, probably those we loved watching as a kid when football is such an easy game to watch. In later years we marvel at the players that may give their heart to the cause but maybe never get the glory – our heroes are our personal choices, many though are shared by us all. Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Bobby Moore must make the top 3 of our all-time greats, but that reason is because those of us alive witnessed them, worshipped them, adored them. Even if we couldn’t get to the game or were born years after they played, they were in the TV era so we can always see just how the great they were. But what of the players that came before? Should they not be recognised in some way as, without the players that came before, we may not have had the Bonds, Devonshire’s or Pop Robson’s come and join us? Just imagine if the club had not been promoted in 1958 with the goals of Vic Keeble. Would we have progressed to the point where six years later the club embarked on the most trophy-laden period in its history?

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Every Cup West Ham has won was won in just a 16 year period. If you through the prism of achieving our highest league standing then its 22 years, a period though that defines this club still today, and made a majority of the players from that time, not just heroes, but legends.

So what can be done to honour all our players that have contributed to the history of this great club? Well, we’ve had the failed museum but we know there is nowhere at the athletics stadium to house another. The club has taken to putting up history boards around the ground but the problem with that is, they are all temporary as they have to be removed when athletics take the stadium and if you can’t get to all parts of the stadium you are stuck at looking at just the piece you see every game.

For me the answer is simple, THE WEST HAM UNITED HALL OF FAME.

When you look at other clubs and see how they revere their history and not just the successful era’s but their whole history, all the players that have played for them, not just the clubs chosen few, and to that end a dedicated hall of fame that inducts players from all eras that have contributed to the success of the club, as without Keeble’s goals, Bobby Moore may not have played top flight football for West Ham. Without the saves of Ernie Gregory, the goals of Vic Keeble would not have made the difference.

West Ham is approaching 125 years of existence if you include the Ironworks era. According to the West Ham Stats website this equates us to using 1233 players and yet we are invariably asked to choose our top 11. So much of our history is now unknown or not spoken about. Players that did so much for the club are ignored now and I believe a hall of fame will bring much of that back into life.

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The way I see it working is somehow we draw up a short list of inductees from each decade of the club’s history. Players that played in more than one decade would be put into the decade they made most appearances. Each player would have a bio as to why it’s believed they should be added to the Hall of Fame. That shortlist is then put to the public vote. They would vote one player from each decade into the hall of fame. Naturally, the 60s & 70s and 80s may need to have more than one inductee every year, but it would allow the unrecognised or unknown players from the past that all contributed to the club being what it is today getting recognised. The hall of fame would then have a permanent home on a website so everyone could then see and read the stories that make up the legends of our past.

There is already a national hall of fame for football, which has a permanent home at the National Football Museum in Manchester and I have found that some other premier league clubs have their own hall of fame as well. I must admit the Everton hall of fame I came across is the one that I liked the most when researching this article.

So what do you think you good folk of WHTID world? Shall we give it or go, or is the past as they say, best left where it is?


The GoatyGav Column

Building Towards A Brighter Future

Reading Saturday’s match programme this morning (Monday) set me to thinking about West Ham’s true intentions to grow the squad and challenge in the League. Selling our best players is, and always has been, the main reason the club has never kicked on with a sustained strategy in my opinion. There is more to it than just that as new signings help to convince our top, existing, players to stick around. You’re probably going to struggle to keep hold of your most talented playing assets without that second aspect of investment however it’s all about keeping what you’ve got and building upon it in my view.

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Tim Crane’s “for the record” in this week’s programme included details of the sale of Danny Shea who was sold to Blackburn Rovers, for a record fee of two thousand pounds in 1913. Blackburn won the league the year Shea joined them as existing champions. Shea was in the programme because of being the record goalscorer against Southampton with eight goals in total – six of which were at the Dell, a record in itself. The inside forward, from Wapping, wasn’t the first top player to be sold however he’s much further from being the last. Like Shea many of the top players have gone on to win honours with clubs they’ve moved on to. The promise of bigger and better things have often proven too hard to resist so how can this trend of being a selling club be changed? With this view in mind I see a huge crossroads for West Ham this Summer.

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Should the club return to type then bigger clubs will be filling their boots during the next transfer window. The rich pickings of the likes of Declan Rice, Felipe Anderson and Issa Diop are receiving high profile in the Football media at present but how much growth and progress would those players make at a top six Premier League, or top-tier European League, team make? Ok, you could argue that’s a question that’s always faced players who are being tempted away from the Claret and Blue, so why would anything be any different, to convince them to stay, now? Well – quite a few variables now exist that may sway the scales in our favour.

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Manuel Pellegrini is a respected manager in world football. The former Chilean central defender has been managing for over thirty years, in six countries, winning league championships, taking the helm of such illustrious clubs as River Plate and Real Madrid, taking Malaga to a Champion’s League quarter final and Villareal to a quarter and a semi-final, both of who were also selling clubs as well as winning the Premier League with Manchester City. At West Ham Pellegrini has got the team playing ‘The West Ham Way’ which has, in turn, started to create a positive response from the fifty seven thousand strong home crowds while getting the best out of many of the playing staff. There’s a clear identity to the team and home form has delivered thirty one points this term. There’s progress being made and those, coveted, players know it.

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When the club’s owners have been determined they’ve shown that, with the exception of a certain French international from the island of Reunion, they have often managed to hang on to their top players. The quality of the squad is improving all of the time and it’s morale is directly proportional to that quality.

When you put it all together I’m hopeful that, all things considered, our high performers can be convinced to stick around and be part of something special. Manuel Pellegrini plays a big part of the attraction of staying at our club. West Ham’s owners need to begin succession planning for when MP finally moves on so that progress can continue beyond his departure.

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Away from the first team the West Ham ladies’ season reached a crescendo at Wembley on Saturday. The girls ‘done us proud’ shouted on by several thousand Hammers fans. The progress that the women have made this season is tremendous. In the semi-final at Adams Park they gave me one of, if not the, most memorable games I’ve attended this season (which included a fantastic ‘big’ birthday corporate hospitality gig with family and friends). I’ve resolved to attend more West Ham ladies matches next season when I expect they’ll have another great campaign to make us all proud once again.

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The bittersweet combination of victory, against Southampton at the London Stadium, and loss, at Wembley, was added to by the brave, but sadly unsuccessful, effort of the PL2 team to avoid relegation last week. Despite beating league champions, Everton, 2-1 in a superb performance the lads couldn’t escape the drop. Not many teams are relegated whilst being second top scorers in a league but our boys were really unlucky to go down with that record. At Under eighteen level further progress has been made with some extremely encouraging signs from many of squad. Once again this May West Ham fans can continue their fix of, post-season, football with the youth team appearing at the Hong Kong 7 a side tournament which will be streamed on-line. I really enjoyed watching all the West Ham games last year and look forward to watching again from 17th to 19th May.

Have a good week all. Let’s hope we can finish the season off with a good win against Watford next weekend.
COYI!


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