Talking Point

It was puerile, self-indulgent, and I don't regret a second of it!

I thought this might amuse you. Imagine you’re me. It’s 9.46pm on Tuesday evening. You’re in the LBC studio hosting a Brexit phone-in. But your phone is flashing up football scores. And you see Spurs 2 Bayern Munich 7. It’s time to go to a break. This is what I did…

OK, it was puerile, self-indulgent, and I don’t regret a second of it!

Talking Point

Haller to halt Hodgson's Eagles?

The last three matches of football involving Pellegrini’s men have been fascinating, and illustrate where we are as a team. I do not want to touch on the disappointing loss to Oxford too much, what I gathered from that was players on the periphery who often sit on the bench in league matches are no closer to challenging what is now an established first team.

By all accounts he’s a top professional and has undoubtedly carved a great career for himself in English football but 34 year old Zabaleta cannot keep up with the pace of the game anymore. Equally, given he’s reportedly on quite high wages, one has to wonder why Carlos Sanchez is still at the club when he is not very good. It was an extremely poor performance and the only positive that I can identify is Nathan Holland getting minutes. I feel sorry for the very promising Holland that he had to feature in such a bad showing but, from reports, he was a bright spark while he was on the pitch.

Bournemouth became a really significant game following the embarrassing cup exit. Others have already spoken illuminatingly about the game so I’ll try to avoid going over well-trodden ground. It was my Dad’s birthday on Saturday, and we went for a walk as the 3pm kick offs rolled around. I was pretty nervous given our relatively poor record at the Vitality Stadium. Yarmolenko’s wonderful finish in the 10th minute settled my nerves but halfway through the walk my Mum informed me of King’s equalising goal. It sounded like a decent game as I read the match feed with both sides attacking well, a good advertisement for Premier League football. I was mightily impressed by our first goal, Yarmolenko’s left foot is brilliant and he took the goal very well but Haller’s touch from Anderson’s lofted pass was exquisite. The Frenchman plucked the ball brilliantly as he had to jump for it. The club’s record signing might not have scored since the Norwich game but he’s integral to our build up play, and I firmly believe more goals will come for him.

Looking ahead to the Crystal Palace fixture, I’m very excited as I’ll be going to the London Stadium with a few mates, one of which is a Palace fan. My Palace supporting friend is apprehensive given we have a good record against the South London side at home in recent times. Anderson’s goal last season against Hodgson’s side was superb, and hopefully he can open his account for the season on Saturday. Lanzini also enjoys playing against Palace having scored a few goals against the Eagles in the past. Palace have defended reasonably well thus far this season but have lacked creativity and any real impetus up front. Having said that, it will not be easy as we look to extend our unbeaten run. If we can limit their obvious danger man in Zaha, then I believe our talent in the forward areas should be too much for Palace. It’s safe to say my friend Dan certainly does not look forward to the match up of Joel Ward trying to defend against Felipe Anderson!

Both sides will be missing at least one key player this weekend, with our No. 1 sadly being ruled out for a couple of months, and Palace’s captain and midfield anchor, Milivojevic, is suspended. Palace like to play on the counter so we will need to ensure that, while we are likely to have the lion’s share of possession, we do not get caught out. Fabianski’s injury is a massive blow for us given the incredibly high standards he’s been playing at. The Pole was genuinely one of the best shot stoppers in the division last season and has continued that form into this season. Hopefully the 34 year old recovers quickly, but all fans have to support Roberto now. Roberto has flattered to deceive thus far but a run of consistent game time will hopefully boost his confidence and we’ll see good performances. Fans are clearly entitled to an opinion, and most fans are slightly concerned about Roberto, but to hear that some supporters booed him on Saturday is extremely poor. There is a substantial difference between thinking a player is not very good and not supporting them. We must get behind the Spaniard because booing him and abusing him on social media will not help his confidence.

I hope following the full time whistle on Saturday we will be on 15 points going into the international break, and I can repeatedly remind Dan that we just beat his side convincingly! Our defence has looked pretty solid in recent weeks with Cresswell playing well and scoring two in two games, Fredericks has looked good and Diop and Ogbonna have worked well as a duo. A clean sheet would do Roberto the world of good, and I look forward to seeing our talented attacking players in the flesh again.

By no means do I think Palace will be an easy game as Hodgson has done an admirable job with limited resources but, as I’ve previously stated, I think nullifying Zaha goes a long way to them creating very little and us getting a clean sheet. I believe we will win, the team has never lost a game when I’ve watched the game live so I hope that does not change. I’ll go with a prediction of 2-0 to us, goals from Haller and a rare goal for the brilliant Declan Rice!

Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.

Parish Notice

West Ham fans are part of Newham’s literary history

As you may or may not know, this Saturday 5th October is Bookshop Day, which is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign.

Books Are My Bag is a nationwide campaign run by the Booksellers Association to celebrate bookshops. It launched in 2013 and today comprises Bookshop Day and the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards. At the centre of the campaign is the iconic BAMB tote bag. Since the campaign launched, over a million people have worn a Books Are My Bag to show their love for their local bookshop.

Every year over a thousand bookshops around the country take part in Bookshop Day by holding special events, creating bespoke window displays and more. The BAMB Readers Awards are the only awards curated by bookshops and voted for by booklovers.

Newham Bookshop in Upton Park is one the bookshops taking part in this event and is the same bookshop that was part of many West Ham fans’ match day routine for the past four decades. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this doesn’t know about Newham Bookshop you can read more about them in this article that I wrote last year.

Calling all book loving West Ham fans!

Earlier this year Newham Bookshop won the Bookseller’s award for London’s Best Independent Bookshop, beating some very stiff competition in the process. To celebrate this achievement an oral history project called Writing and Reading Newham will be in the bookshop this Saturday to record the stories of East London’s readers and writers.

Writing and Reading Newham is inspired by local author Gilda O’Neill and funded by the Gilda Street Trust in her memory. The oral history project aims to record the stories of local people who have bought their books, worked in or been inspired to write by Newham Bookshop. The project then plans to share these stories with local schoolchildren to inspire a new generation of writers and readers in Newham.

For 40 years West Ham fans have been an important part of Newham Bookshop’s history and the shop has hosted many West Ham players, managers and related authors at events and signings to promote their books. As I said in my previous article, I’m sure that many of you have queued outside for the chance to meet one of your West Ham idols and to read the tales of their exploits and achievements; while for other bibliophilic West Ham fans browsing the overflowing bookshelves was no doubt a part of your match day routine.

If you would like to share your stories and experiences of Newham Bookshop with the oral history project and are going to our home game against Palace this Saturday, why not consider leaving home a bit earlier and taking a detour via Green Street and the Barking Road to pop in and become part of the history of the shop. Apparently the West Ham fan, journalist and author of ‘Goodbye to Boleyn’ Pete May will be calling in, so there may be the chance for a chat about all things claret and blue with him.

As part of Bookshop Day there will also be 15% off all books purchased on Saturday. Newham Bookshop still has a wider range of West Ham books than any other shop plus a well stocked sports section with a heavy emphasis on football. Even more importantly ….. there will be free cake!

West Ham fans and Newham Bookshop have been so indelibly linked for 40 years that it’s important that we are recorded in their history. As well as inspiring the next generation of readers and writers in Newham it could also help to breed a new generation of Hammers and to preserve our link with Upton Park.

Thanks for reading.

Lids x

Match Report

Streaming Football

I have a personality which thrives on adversity. I’ll give you an example. When I gamble, I don’t get much pleasure from winning, but when I’m losing, my body starts producing endorphins and adrenaline and I am totally immersed in the moment. That’s why I don’t gamble much.

So, when it comes to writing about West Ham, it’s much easier to produce articles when things are going wrong. The ground is hopeless. The owners are only out for a profit. The manager hasn’t a clue. The trainers have got it all wrong. The players are not motivated. The formation is wrong. The hots dogs are too expensive.

So, as I look at the league table and see we are fourth, I have to take back all my previous criticisms. Our first goal at Bournemouth sums it all up. A great cross by Anderson, wonderful control by Haller and a great finish by Yarmalenko. We have bought some great players, although just when we get players back from injury, disaster strikes and we have lost Fabulanski for three months.

So, as my addictive personality clicked in on Saturday, I started to search for a stream, having logged into a VPN and chosen my location as Bulgaria. This has become more difficult lately, as the Premier League have obtained a blocking order which internet providers have to comply with. It’s funny how they make watching illegal streaming of football difficult, but it is easy to watch a terrorist beheading somebody.
It is not illegal to watch a stream. The Court of the European Union has ruled that watching copyrighted content online is not illegal, although running a site is. Often the stream you are trying to watch doesn’t appear until a quarter of an hour before the game. But I managed to find two streams, one with a better picture and one with a poorer picture with sound. I tried playing both at once, watching the one with the better stream and listening to the commentary, but they were out of sync. So, I was getting the commentary a couple of seconds after the action, so I switched off the sound. I tried to cast the picture to my TV, but there was a deterioration in quality. I tried to see if I got better quality on my phone, then my tablet.

The problem was, I was so into the tech side of things, I wasn’t concentrating, so, although I watched our first goal, I had an completely neutral reaction. I thought this was strange at the time, as normally, I would shout out loud and go and hug the wife (you know do something out of the ordinary). It was as if, I had put myself into a zombie state.

That reminds me of the time we were playing Preston North End in the FA cup final in 1964, which I was watching in black and white. When we scored, I hugged my mother with the result that she suffered two broken ribs. She didn’t let me forget that for the next fifty years.

Anyway, watching football on a computer stream is a most unsatisfactory experience. I am beginning to think that listening to a radio broadcast is more exciting.

So, let me sum up the positives. Cresswell is definitely coming back to his best. The Diop/Ogbonna combination is working well. Fredericks is a work in progress – he should have more confidence to use his speed. Noble’s improvement has been nothing short of remarkable. At last we have a first rate centre forward in Haller. Lanzini is going to be a major asset. Anderson, although not always on top form, is world class. Rice has managed to get himself back to his best form – we’re going to have great difficulty hanging on to him. Yarmalenko is a revelation.

The negatives are that we have lost Fabulasnki and Antonio for the time being. The jury is still out on Fornals. And the game at Oxford demonstrated that the depth of our squad is waifer thin.

So, the moral of this tale is don’t try and watch football and hug someone at the same time.

The GoatyGav Column

A Week Of Extremes Highlights A Balancing Act To Be Achieved

Two great Premier League results sandwiched an embarrassing performance in the League Cup last week. Within six days West Ham went from heroes to zeroes back to heroes again. After a very satisfying two-nil win over Manchester United several changes were brought in for the visit to Oxford United on Tuesday night. Reminiscent of the F.A. Cup loss to Nottingham Forest in 2014, when Mr Allardyce threw too many youth team players in at the same time, with many believing that he was trying to make a point about the products of the Academy of that time, our lads went down four-nil to the Division one side.
Clearly there are some key differences between the two matches. Many more experienced players were fielded by comparison to the ‘thrown to the wolves’ game of January ’14. There is also nowhere near the same level of anger at MP compared to Mr Allardyce, although this might be down to the amount of respect that Manuel Pellegrini has shown us fans compared to ‘Big Sam’.

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I kept schtum over my feelings about Tuesday’s loss. This was partly because I was attending a trade show and didn’t get to see the game at all. I only managed to sporadically track the live text reporting from the West Ham app, and the BBC site, that seemed to be suggesting that Nathan Holland was giving the Oxford defence a torrid time in the early stages. My disappointment at going out of the competition at that stage was, and is, sizeable. In my opinion European qualification via a cup the club have never won would be tremendous, as those who read my posts on the subject will know, and it’s an opportunity lost. I don’t necessarily subscribe, however, to the idea that the strongest side possible should have been put out. The early rounds of the League Cup offer a great opportunity to play less experienced player which is invaluable. I’m convinced there’s a happy medium somewhere between the strongest eleven and a team of kids and fringe players. All boiled down, like a praise sandwich, I’m not feeling so bad about West Ham’s exit from the Carabao due to the sweetening effect of the results either side of it.

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Going in to the Bournemouth game I felt apprehensive but not to the level of recent seasons. The Dorset club are, undoubtedly, a bogey team for us. Callum Wilson seems to revel in playing against our defence and hardly ever fails to score. This time, however, I didn’t feel quite as nervous as I usually do for some reason. Perhaps it’s the fact that we are becoming a team more confident in possession. Perhaps it’s the improvements in defence that we’ve seen grow over the last couple of months. Whatever it was I was so pleased to see Yarma and Cressers on the scoresheet again. Weird as it may sound I think this result was more satisfying than the Manchester United one. A game that you wouldn’t have said would have been unfair for us to come away with all three points. It was an entertaining affair in terms of the football on offer which, probably, went some way to the satisfaction I felt at the final whistle.

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So a six day rollercoaster came to an end and we were sitting in third position. When I looked at the league table I got a feeling that I’ve not had in a very long time. Third in the table with a number of games on the board. That and the confident swagger that the team is starting to display gave me a tiny soupcon of that feeling I had in, dare I say it, ’85-’86. Hope burns eternal!

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On the downside our ‘Super Fab’ has picked up a thigh strain that looks to keep him out for a couple of months. The replacement, Roberto, is splitting opinion. Whether you like him or not it seems churlish, and counter-productive, to criticise him. He’s playing his way in and the last thing he needs is fans getting on his case. Sadly some seem to revel in criticism rather than get behind, or call it support, our lads. Let’s get behind him and let him know we’re all his. That way he definitely stands a much better chance of gaining the confidence he’s going to need.

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Another highlight of this weekend was the tremendous turnout for the Ladies match against Tottenham. Absolutely brilliant. Sadly the result was disappointing however it warmed the cockles of my heart to see so many turn out to see our girls who had a hatful of chances to score but it turned out to be one of those days. I’m sure the West Ham Women will start to win more games soon – let’s hope the first of those wins comes next time out away to Brighton.
Elsewhere the U23s remained top of Premier League 2 Division 2 courtesy of braces from Anthony Scully and Nathan Holland in a four-two win over a spirited Sunderland team. Scully is banging them in for fun at the moment. The front three of Joe Powell, Scully and Holland look like they’ve got a great understanding – combining to play some tremendous football at times. Dan Kemp also looked impressive going forward. Dimitri Halajko seems to be doing a great job and is building a competitive team. Highlights can be viewed, on the official site, at the following link .

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This season I’m finding that I can’t wait until the next game. Exciting times fellow Hammers.

Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!

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