Dan Coker's Match Preview

Crossed Hammers & Three Lions: Joe Hart

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

Today, as England prepare to face Bulgaria in a qualification match for the 2020 European Championships, we look back at a former Hammers and England goalkeeper. Joe Hart was born in Shrewsbury on 19th April 1987 and was Head Boy at his school, Meole Brace, in his final year there. He was a competent cricketer, briefly playing for Shrewsbury CC in the Birmingham and District Premier League and also spending two years in Worcestershire’s youth squads. Hart represented his hometown football club though, making his full debut for non-league Shrewsbury in April 2004, a day after his 17th birthday. He played for the club in League Two in the following two seasons and earned international recognition, winning six caps at Under-19 level for England. He was voted into the 2005/06 PFA League Two Team of the Season by his fellow professionals and he moved to Premier League Manchester City at the end of that season.

Hart spent January 2007 on loan at Tranmere in League One and joined Blackpool in a similar short-term deal in April that year. He became first-choice goalkeeper at Manchester City under Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2007/08 – he had, by this point, also made his England Under-21 debut under the tutelage of former Hammer Stuart Pearce. Hart made his senior England debut under Fabio Capello in a 3-0 away win over Trinidad and Tobago on 1st June 2008, a match which also saw West Ham’s Dean Ashton win his only senior England cap. Hart was a half-time replacement for another former Hammer, David James, in that match. January 2009 saw Hart lose his starting place at City to new signing Shay Given, although he would go on to represent England Under-21s in the 2009 European Championships, a tournament which saw Mark Noble captain the Young Lions. Hart saved, and scored, a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out against Sweden but was booked for leaving his goalline during the shoot-out and was suspended for the Final, which England lost 4-0 to Germany. Hart won 21 caps for England at Under-21 level.

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Hart joined Birmingham on loan for the 2009/10 season and was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season at the end of the campaign. He was named in Capello’s England squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, alongside former Hammer James and then-West Ham custodian Robert Green. Hart was chosen ahead of Given for the 2010/11 season by Roberto Mancini; he won the FA Cup at the end of the season and was again voted into the PFA Team of the Season as City won the Premier League title in 2011/12. Hart helped England to the quarter-finals of the European Championships under Roy Hodgson in 2012 and kept the highest number of Premier League clean sheets for the third consecutive season in 2012/13, a campaign which again saw him play in the FA Cup Final. Hart again won the Premier League under current Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini in 2013/14 and was England’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2014 World Cup, a tournament which saw the Three Lions exit at the group stage.

Hart also represented Manchester City in the Champions League, being described as a “phenomenon” by Lionel Messi in February 2015 after a performance against Barcelona in which he produced a record-breaking ten saves during the match. Hart’s performances at Euro 2016 played a part in him losing his place under new manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and he joined Torino on loan for the 2016/17 season, becoming the first English goalkeeper to sign for a Serie A club since the league’s inception in 1929.

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The 30-year-old Hart joined Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United on a season-long loan in the summer of 2017 and made his debut in a 4-0 defeat at Manchester United on 13th August 2017. He went on to keep six clean sheets in 23 appearances. Hart won four caps for England whilst he was with the Hammers, three in 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. In October 2017, Hart was targeted in his car by thieves in Romford, who stole his watch, wallet and mobile phone while he was at a petrol station. His most recent England appearance came during his time as a Hammer, in a goalless draw with Brazil at Wembley on 14th November 2017, his 75th senior cap in total for his country (he has also twice captained his country).

Despite this international clean sheet, Hart lost his domestic place to Adrian under new manager David Moyes the following month when the Spaniard came in to replace him against Manchester City, Hart’s parent club. Hart did play in a League Cup quarter-final defeat at Arsenal and played all three of the Irons’ FA Cup matches in 2018, including two ties against hometown club Shrewsbury. He won his starting place in the league back in March 2018 and kept a clean sheet in a crucial 3-0 home win over Southampton; he also particularly impressed in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea the following weekend. Hart’s 23rd and final appearance for West Ham came in a 4-1 loss at Arsenal on 22nd April 2018. He was not named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. After his season in east London, Hart joined Burnley in a permanent move in the summer of 2018. Now 32, he is currently second-choice behind Nick Pope at Turf Moor.

England v Bulgaria

England face Bulgaria today in a Euro 2020 qualifier – it will be the 11th meeting between the two nations. Hart played in the previous Wembley match between the two – a 4-0 win for England in a Euro 2012 qualifier in front of 73,246 on 3rd September 2010. Taio Cruz was number one with ‘Dynamite’, Grown Ups topped the UK box office and GMTV aired its last edition after 17 years on air.

Former Hammers Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe joined Hart in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up – it was to be a night to remember for Defoe, in particular, as he became the first England player to score a hat-trick at the new Wembley. The 27-year-old Tottenham striker was off the mark after just three minutes, slamming home a cut-back from Ashley Cole.

With just over an hour played, a save from Hart led to an England counter, with Wayne Rooney finding Defoe who tucked a left-footed shot into the corner for his second. Rooney was again the provider for England’s third with seven minutes of the contest remaining, finding substitute Adam Johnson on the right – the 23-year-old Manchester City winger cut inside before arrowing his first goal for his country into the net. Defoe completed his hat-trick on 86 minutes for his 15th goal in his 44th international appearance, Rooney creating the chance and Defoe firing left-footed into the far corner.

England: Joe Hart (Man City), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (captain, Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), James Milner (Man City), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham).

Subs: Gary Cahill (Bolton) for Dawson, Adam Johnson (Man City) for Walcott, Ashley Young (Aston Villa) for Defoe.

Bulgaria: Nikolay Mihaylov (Twente), Stanislav Manolev (PSV Eindhoven), Ilian Stoyanov (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Ivan Ivanov (Spartak Vladikavkaz), Zhivko Milanov (Vaslui), Stanislav Angelov (Steaua Bucharest), Stiliyan Petrov (captain, Aston Villa), Chavdar Yankov (Rostov), Ivelin Popov (Gaziantepspor), Martin Petrov (Bolton), Valeri Bojinov (Parma).

Subs: Dimitar Rangelov (Maccabi Tel Aviv) for Bojinov; Veselin Minev (Levski Sofia) for Manolev, Georgi Peev (Amkar Perm) for Popov.

The previous articles in the series are:

Vic Watson
Jack Tresadern
Billy Moore
Ken Brown
Bobby Moore
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Sir Geoff Hurst
Martin Peters
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
Paul Goddard
Rio Ferdinand
Stuart Pearce
Frank Lampard Junior
Joe Cole
David James
Kieron Dyer
Robert Green
Stewart Downing

Dan Coker's Match Preview

West Ham's Bulgarian Connection

Ahead of England’s European Championships qualifier tomorrow, here’s a look back at West Ham United’s Bulgarian connection.

Svetoslav Todorov

Svetoslav Todorov was born in Dobrich on 30th August 1978 and began his professional career with local side Dobrudzha Dobrich in 1996 before moving to Litex Lovech the following year. Todorov made his Bulgaria debut in 1998 and scored his first goal for the national team in a 4-1 win over Belarus in Sofia in March 2000.

After trials with Preston and West Ham, Todorov joined the Hammers in January 2001 for a fee of £500,000, rising to £2 million depending on appearances – he was one of the players bought by Harry Redknapp using the proceeds from the sale of Rio Ferdinand, alongside Rigobert Song, Christian Dailly, Ragnvald Soma and Titi Camara. The 22-year-old made his debut in a 3-0 defeat at Liverpool on 3rd February 2001 and scored his first goal for the Irons on his home debut in a 3-2 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Tottenham at the Boleyn Ground on 11th March 2001. Todorov made seven substitute appearances before making his first start in a 3-0 home win against Southampton on 5th May 2001 – Redknapp’s final game in charge of the Hammers.

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With Glenn Roeder taking caretaker charge for the final game of the 2000/01 season, Todorov scored his second and final goal for the Hammers in a 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on 19th May 2001. Roeder was given the job permanently that summer and Todorov started the opening two matches of the 2001/02 season in the absence of Frederic Kanoute. His final appearance for the club came as a substitute in a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea in an FA Cup fourth round replay at Upton Park on 6th February 2002. Having made 17 appearances for West Ham, scoring two goals, Todorov moved to Portsmouth, where Redknapp was Director of Football, in March 2002. Both of his Hammers goals can be viewed in my video below.

With Redknapp taking the manager’s job at Portsmouth in the summer of 2002, Todorov topped the First Division’s goalscoring charts with 26 goals as Portsmouth won promotion and the First Division title in 2002/03. He returned to the Bulgaria squad and scored a crucial goal in a 2-2 draw with Belgium to help his country eventually qualify for Euro 2004. Disaster was to strike for Todorov, however, when a training ground accident days before the opening of the 2003/04 Premier League season resulted in the striker damaging his cruciate knee ligament – he made his comeback at Liverpool in March 2004 but this was his sole appearance of the campaign. Further surgery on his knee was required, causing Todorov to miss Euro 2004 and the entirety of the 2004/05 Premier League season.

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Todorov returned to action in the 2005/06 season, scoring against West Ham as Pompey won 4-2 at Upton Park in March 2006, a game which saw West Ham manager Alan Pardew rest members of his first team with his priority being an upcoming FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester City. He was part of Portsmouth’s Great Escape as they avoided relegation at the end of the season, and he started 2006/07 with two goals from his opening three games. He joined Wigan on a season-long loan later in August 2006 but the switch was unsuccessful and he returned to the South Coast in January 2007.

Having fallen down the pecking order at Fratton Park, Todorov joined newly-relegated Charlton in the Championship in the summer of 2007. He injured his knee in October of that year and was ruled out for the rest of the 2007/08 season. He returned to make 13 appearances in 2008/09, scoring once, before moving back to Bulgaria and Litex Lovech in July 2009. Having won the Supporters’ Player of the Year award in 2010, Todorov moved to Ukrainian side Hoverla Uzhhorod in the summer of 2012. He left the club in January 2013 and later announced his retirement. He had won 41 caps for Bulgaria between 1998 and 2007, scoring seven goals for his country.

Todorov returned to hometown club Dobrudzha Dobrich as manager in 2013 before departing the following year. He coached Bulgaria’s Under-19 side from 2015 to 2016 and briefly took over CSKA Sofia’s reserve side in 2017 before becoming manager of Botev Galabovo, also in 2017. He has also coached at Crystal Palace’s academy. Now 41, Todorov was appointed first-team coach at Southend earlier this summer – Shrimpers manager Kevin Bond was one of Todorov’s coaches during his time at Portsmouth. The Bulgarian replaced Kevin Keen at Roots Hall, when Keen returned to West Ham to manage the Hammers’ Under-18 side.

Finally, congratulations to Ian Fowler who is the Manager of the Month for August in The Official WHTID Fantasy League!

Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Haller Shines as Hammers Beat Struggling Norwich

Firstly, I just wanted to welcome everyone back to the new season. I am sorry that I missed the first two games this season but I was away in Mauritius for August and literally came off the plan on Saturday and went straight to the game after travelling for almost a day and not getting much sleep. But I must say it was well worth the effort. Hopefully my photos capture some of the match day experience of what was a fantastic match. Looking forward to capturing a successful season for the Hammers this season.

The GoatyGav Column

Moving To A Samba Groove

I find myself, sometimes, thinking out loud. I often think that my articles take the same tone as when I’m having these audible internal conversations. My wife thinks I’m talking to her and, upon occasion, I have to explain that I’m having a discussion with myself again. Not sure what that says about the state of my mental health but, there you have it, it might go a little way to explaining my processes when writing on here.

One such subject I often find myself mulling over is Felipe Anderson’s natural tendency towards passing the ball and then standing still. It completely goes against all that I was ever told to do when playing football and all I teach when coaching the, now U15, kids I have the privilege of working with. At first I became quite animated while voicing my displeasure at, what I perceived to be, this laziness and unwillingness to create opportunities through, off the ball, movement. Now, however, I’m starting to gain a greater appreciation of South American, and more specifically Brazilian, footballing characteristics. I’m trying to remember when West Ham have ever had a Brazilian ‘Fantasista’ so I guess it’s something relatively new.

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To incorporate the ‘fantasista’ player there must be at least one Meia-Armardor, or ‘holding-playmakers’ if you prefer. With that in mind is it any surprise that Anderson has tended to influence games at the same time as the rise of Declan Rice. I’m certainly warming to Felipe Anderson, not just because of his ‘ghosting’ runs but, because he is starting to make his presence felt by tracking back and helping the team to regain possession. When he first joined the club he used to get back to help defend with all the enthusiasm of a teenager asked to tidy their bedroom. He could still do with strengthening his upper body as he’s a little lightweight and, occasionally, muscled off the ball but his technique is second to none. The mazy run from one flank to t’other, before releasing Fredericks in a threatening position, on Saturday was amazing. Weirdly footage of the run was not shared by either Match Of The Day or the club’s website’s own ‘highlights’. The site has, however, released an ‘Anderson’s Man Of The Match Performance’ video which you can view below (the, width of the pitch, run can be seen from 0.59 mins to 1.11 mins) : -

Whet’s the appetite doesn’t it? I really can’t wait for the Manyoo game now. The only thing that I’d really like to see develop is the understanding between Lanzini, Anderson and Haller. Although not just exclusively those three I feel that the trio will become a force in the Premiership if they truly ‘click’. There have been little morsels to tease us with but when they really get to know each other’s game, their runs and movement then it’s going to be extremely exciting. Already that buzz of anticipation when Anderson or Lanzini get on the ball is starting to get up to the same levels as when Brooking, Devonshire or, more lately, Payet were menacing opposition defenders.

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So should Felipe stick and not run after passing the ball in the future I won’t be on his case. I’m not convinced that we’ll ever see a complete transition to ‘Samba’ football at West Ham. If anything it wouldn’t work in the hussle and bustle of English football but you can’t deny the South American influence that’s on view in the bowl nowadays. Manuel Pellegrini’s ‘project’ is still in it’s development phase – a work in progress. The team are still not dominating possession the way that he’d clearly like us to. In fact the stats from Saturday surprised me when I saw that Norwich edged it at 51% but things are definitely going in the right direction and are more in line with ‘The West Ham Way’.

Other players apart I’m definitely starting to dig Anderson’s Samba groove. May it continue to rock the bowl for several years to come.

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Today, as I write, saw the departure of Javier Hernandez. He’s a player I like who always acted professionally, respectfully and with dignity and, from what I could gather, was a positive influence while at our club. I wish him all the best in Seville and would like to go on record to thank him for his efforts for West Ham. I will certainly welcome Chicha back should he ever return to play at the bowl again.

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Lastly I’d like to wish Aji Alese all the best for his loan to Accrington Stanley. I think he’s a real prospect and would love for him to come back to the club in January having had a successful experience at the League 1 club. He won’t, however, be joining up with the club until after his excursion with the England U19 squad over the next couple of weeks – for which I’d also like to wish him luck.

Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!

The HamburgHammer Column

Yeah-molenko!!! Europa League, 'ere we come!

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Some things in life are incredibly simple and straightforward: When West Ham score, I am usually a happy man and I don’t really give a hoot who the goalscorer is, I even cheer own goals by opposition players.

Sometimes though, a certain goalscorer makes that grin on my boat just that little bit wider and lasting longer. And Saturday was such a case when Andriy Yarmolenko found the top corner from a tricky angle. That was a very satisfying goal for a multitude of reasons. First of all, just a minute or two earlier Yarmolenko had been denied a certain goal of the month candidate by the goalpost. All through the first half, nothing had been going right for the fiery Ukrainian, not his various attempts to win a penalty, not his passing.
As in his previous appearance against Watford the game seemed to pass him by in the main.

Yet I had seen Yarmolenko do some fantastic things on a football pitch in the past, mainly for Borussia Dortmund and the Ukrainian national side. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was looking very much forward to his exploits as a West Ham player. Then he did his knee in his first season and didn’t kick a ball for a long time. Still I knew he had a lot to offer and, provided he got through his rehab alright, I figured we would get to see the real Andriy Yarmolenko in claret and blue.

That goal doesn’t make him a worldbeater just yet. Nor does it mean that he is completely back at the level he is capable of reaching. But it was a start. And it was bloody nice to see the unadulterated joy and relief when he ran towards the West Ham bench (which, don’t forget, is quite a bit of distance to cover) to thank the physios who helped him on his long road to recovery. It was a beautiful script for Yarmo, but by no means the only one in our win over Norwich.

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Apart from the first 10 minutes which were very scrappy this was a very good team performance and if we had been just a bit more clinical/ruthless/focussed it could have been a proper old drubbing for Norwich (which I have a bit of a soft spot for, having been to Norwich before and finding it a really beautiful city).
Our defence, overall, looked surprisingly solid – with Masuaku being the pick of the bunch on Saturday, reliable at the back and always dangerous when going forward.

I was gobsmacked there wasn’t a booking in the first half though, including when Sébastien Haller mowed down the Norwich skipper who later had to come off. It was good to see Haller walking over to his opponent when he had to go off injured eventually. But it didn’t surprise me as everything I have heard about Haller from those who know is that he is not a nasty player at all, just very competitive, but essentially a good guy and character to have at your club.

Haller’s goal looked like an easy enough finish, but make no mistake, that’s just because he is such an intelligent player. Look at him, checking his runs in transition, checking out the position of his opponents, making sure he stays onside, waiting for the killer pass (which arrived from Masuaku) to then put the ball in the net with perfect accuracy.
I have an inkling he will be scoring plenty of goals in a similar vein this season.

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I cannot single out a West Ham player who had an indifferent game on Saturday, everyone was contributing. Our attacking play at times was breathtaking, albeit lacking in final product too often, our creative guys like Anderson, Lanzini and Haller (backheel magician!) were, well, very creative and those are the chaps you want on the pitch to get the home crowd at London Stadium off their seats. I have rarely watched a West Ham game where I felt this comfortable throughout we would get the three points.

With the table being as close as it is (we are currently just three points behind Manchester City and in 7th place, ahead of Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea!) this promises to be a very exciting season all around, although we have already had to witness the West Ham injury curse back into the house, with Antonio looking certain to require surgery on his torn hamstring (from the Newport game) which is likely, at this point, to keep him out for 3-4 months. All the best to him of course, and a full and speedy recovery!
Perfect opportunity for Yarmolenko now to cement his place in the side, but, as per above, things are looking good for Yarmo now!

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In other news we have sold our Mexican paceman down at West Ham, Javier “Little Pea” Hernandez to Sevilla which should be confirmed later today. It does look a pretty risky move by West Ham, losing another striker at this stage when we can only replace Chicharito with a free signing basically.

The question is, however, what good does it do to keep the player (who would have been in a position to leave for nothing anyway next summer), considering he has never managed to cement a place in the starting XI and he also doesn’t seem to fit the system and style of football that Pellegrini wants to play ?

Hernandez has always been a luxury player, big name, used to score for fun while playing for Manchester United, good enough still as a super sub (if you can afford to spend £145k a week in wages for a player fulfilling that role) or as a second striker with others providing the majority of running, chasing and tracking back. I reckon he did never really fit the profile for a West Ham striker, so it’s maybe for the best to part ways in such fashion here and now.

It also gives us some money to potentially sign someone in January, if need be, and of course save the quite substantial wage packet we used to pay to Hernandez for far too little contribution on the pitch in return.

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It’s a bit of a shame that it’s another international break now, just as we have begun to hit a bit of form at West Ham. Next up, after the break, is a very tricky, but winnable tie at our fellow team playing in claret and blue, Aston Villa. At this point in time it feels really good to be a West Ham fan, let’s try to enjoy it while it lasts. Right now we have a very decent squad which is playing some wonderful football for us all to enjoy. We have even managed to keep another clean sheet!
At this rate we may struggle to find things to moan about, at least in the short term…COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Well, St.Pauli played the kind of game that West Ham fans had to suffer in the past time and time again, being 3:0 up at halftime, to see the opposition going down to 10 men after a red card – and still draw the game 3:3. A really shocking result under the circumstances!
Hamburg SV beat their neighbours from Hannover 3:0 in a game played in a friendly atmosphere as both clubs and their fanbases get on really well.
HSV continue to impress, sitting top of the table.

Concordia’s first team, like St.Pauli one day later, had a day to forget on Friday when they lost to the worst team so far this season by a 1:4 scoreline, at home as well! The only goal for Cordi came from a penalty and the away team, Buchholz, scored with basically every single chance they created, helped along the way by shocking individual errors from some Concordia players. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, I suppose!

Much better from the U23s who beat table toppers Viktoria Harburg 1:0 to snatch top spot from them while the Concordia Women’s team surprised everyone by winning their away game 5:0 which gives them a very credible midtable ranking for now – a solid position to work from in a very strong league.

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