Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Man City

Hello and welcome to my first preview of the 2019/20 campaign as I enter my sixth season of writing for WHTID. I’m also delighted to announce that my wife and I have welcomed our first baby into the world over the summer break. Our son, Joey, was born last Friday, 2nd August, at 7.16pm weighing 9lb 6oz. A new addition to the West Ham family!

Blast from the past

13th December 1930 – Ramsay MacDonald was Labour Prime Minister as the country navigated its way through the Great Depression, former Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody was born the day before and composer Peter Warlock died four days later as West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in front of 19,875.

The Hammers came into the game on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run (consisting of six wins and three draws) which had started back in mid-October with a 5-1 home win over Manchester United. City arrived in east London with two England internationals in their team, centre-half Sam Cowan and outside-left Eric Brook, while future Manchester United manager Matt Busby played for the visitors at right-half. West Ham, meanwhile, were without two of their own England internationals, goalkeeper Ted Hufton and legendary goalscorer Vic Watson. Viv Gibbins, who would be the Irons’ top goalscorer in this 1930/31 season with 19 goals from 22 appearances, was also absent.

The hosts, however, did have their other three England internationals on display in Jim Barrett, Stan Earle and Jimmy Ruffell – indeed, it was outside-left Ruffell (pictured) who scored both West Ham’s goals in this 2-0 triumph over Manchester City. He would hit 13 goals in 38 appearances during the 1930/31 season. What was now a ten-match unbeaten run for the Irons came to an abrupt end the following week with a 6-1 savaging at Sunderland.

This victory over the Sky Blues though was West Ham’s tenth win from their first 19 fixtures of the 1930/31 campaign and elevated the club into third place in the First Division table 12 days before Christmas. However, only four victories from the remaining 23 fixtures saw Syd King’s Hammers slump to an eventual 18th-place finish, only five points clear of relegation. Peter Hodge’s City ended up in eighth place – Manchester United were relegated in bottom position. Arsenal won the league title and West Brom won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Bob Dixon, Alfred Earl, Reg Wade, Jimmy Collins, Fred Norris, Albert Cadwell, Tommy Yews, Stan Earle, Jim Barrett, Wilf James, Jimmy Ruffell.

Manchester City: Len Langford, John Ridley, Laurie Barnett, Matt Busby, Sam Cowan, Jackie Bray, Ernie Toseland, Bobby Marshall, Dave Halliday, Fred Tilson, Eric Brook.

Club Connections

Pablo Zabaleta and Manuel Pellegrini welcome their former club. A large group of players join them in having represented West Ham United and Manchester City. Divided by playing position, they include:

Goalkeepers – Joe Hart, Perry Suckling, David James.

Defenders – Tal Ben Haim, Tyrone Mears, Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders – Samir Nasri, Marc-Vivien Foe, Kevin Horlock, Patrick Leonard, James Cumming, Eyal Berkovic, Steve Lomas, Frank Lampard Junior, John Payne, Michael Hughes, Ian Bishop, Trevor Sinclair.

Strikers – Paulo Wanchope, Bill Davidson, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Phil Woosnam, Justin Fashanu, Trevor Morley, Clive Allen, Lionel Watson, David Cross, George Webb.

Stuart Pearce played for both clubs and has managed Manchester City. Malcolm Allison and John Bond were also West Ham players who went on to manage City.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who spent four-and-a-half seasons with West Ham before moving to Manchester City – Mark Ward. Born in Prescot, Lancashire on 10th October 1962, Ward started his career in the youth team at Everton but, at 5’6, was told he was too small to play top-flight football. He signed for non-league Northwich Victoria in 1981 and worked in a bakery. After two years with the Vics, Ward signed for Second Division Oldham in 1983 and spent two seasons at Boundary Park under Joe Royle. By the summer of 1985, John Lyall had seen enough of the tenacious 22-year-old right-winger to bring him to the Boleyn Ground for an initial fee of £225,000.

‘Wardie’ made his Hammers debut on the opening day of the 1985/86 campaign in a 1-0 defeat at Birmingham on 17th August 1985 and scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win at Oxford on 9th November 1985. Ward’s first Upton Park goal came a week later in another 2-1 win, this time over Watford. He played a prominent part in West Ham United’s highest-ever top-flight finish that season as the Hammers finished third – his ever-present record of 52 appearances in 1985/86 was the joint-most of any player in the squad, alongside Phil Parkes and Tony Gale. Surpassing 25 appearances ensured former club Oldham received an extra £25,000 as part of the transfer, taking the total fee to £250,000. Ward’s crosses created plenty of goals for sharp-shooters Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie, while a strong work ethic ensured he tracked back to support Ray Stewart behind him at right-back. His third and final goal of the campaign came in a 2-1 home win over Manchester United on 2nd February 1986.

Ward was voted runner-up to Billy Bonds in the Hammer of the Year voting for 1986/87 but the Hammers slumped to a 15th-place finish – he made 49 appearances, again scoring three goals. Two of these strikes came in the League Cup, the first in a 1-1 second round first leg draw at Preston on 23rd September 1986 and the second in a 3-2 win at Watford in the next round on 29th October. His only league goal came in a 1-1 home draw against Newcastle on 2nd May 1987.

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The diminutive Ward was sent off twice before Christmas in the 1987/88 season, in a 1-1 draw at Wimbledon on 12th September and a 2-1 home win over Southampton on 5th December. He made 42 appearances during a campaign which saw the Irons finish 16th, scoring once, in a 1-1 home draw against Oxford on 5th March 1988. Ward made 41 appearances in 1988/89 but West Ham would be relegated from the top flight – he scored twice, the first in a 1-0 win at Wimbledon on 10th September 1988 and the other in a 2-1 victory at Newcastle on 3rd May 1989. He was sent off for the third time in his Hammers career in a 1-0 FA Cup fifth round win at Charlton on 18th February 1989.

With McAvennie and Cottee both departing before the 1988/89 season, and the sacking of Lyall at the end of that campaign, Ward became unsettled and ultimately clashed with new manager Lou Macari. Ward scored in a 1-1 draw at Hull on 2nd September 1989 and bagged a brace in a 2-0 triumph at Sheffield United on 14th October. Later that month, however, Ward missed the team coach travelling to Aston Villa for a League Cup third round tie and the PFA were called in to mediate. Ward went on to score in a 5-4 defeat at Blackburn on 25th November and scored his fifth goal of the season in a 2-1 defeat at Bradford on 9th December 1989 – it would be his final goal for the club. Determined to get away from Upton Park, his last appearance in a West Ham shirt came in a 1-0 defeat at Ipswich on Boxing Day 1989. After 14 goals in 209 appearances for West Ham United, Ward returned to the First Division to sign for Howard Kendall’s Manchester City in a £1m-rated swap deal that saw Ian Bishop and Trevor Morley move to east London. 11 of Ward’s 14 goals for West Ham United can be viewed in the video below.

Ward made his debut for City on 30th December 1989 in a 2-0 win over Millwall at Maine Road and scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on 1st April 1990. He made it three goals in as many matches by also scoring in a 1-1 draw at Millwall the following weekend and in a 3-1 win at QPR four days after that. Ward only missed two games in 1990/91, scoring 13 goals as the Sky Blues finished fifth. His final goal for City came in a 2-2 draw at Arsenal on 17th April 1991, with his last appearance for the club coming in a 1-0 defeat at local rivals Manchester United on 4th May 1991. After 18 months at Manchester City, in which he scored 16 goals in 67 appearances, Ward moved back to his native Merseyside to sign for Everton for £1.1m – the club which had released him as a schoolboy.

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After two-and-a-half seasons at Goodison Park, Ward went on to represent Birmingham as a player-coach from 1994 to 1996, with whom he won the Football League Trophy in 1995 and was named in the Second Division PFA Team of the Year for 1994/95, before joining Huddersfield. He also played for Ayr United, Wigan, Dundee and Valur in Iceland before ending his career with spells at Altrincham and Leigh RMI.

Since retiring from playing in 1999, Ward managed Altrincham from 2000 to 2001. He became involved in the supply of cocaine in Liverpool and was arrested after 4kg of cocaine was found during a raid at a house in Merseyside in May 2005. Ward was jailed for eight years in October 2005 – he was released from HM Prison Kirkham in May 2009, having served four years in Kirkham and in HM Prison Liverpool. Now 56, Ward is a regular at events involving the Boys of ’86 and attended games at London Stadium last season.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2019/20 is Dean’s 20th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed 23 of our league matches, officiating in ten wins for the Hammers, seven draws and six defeats.

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Dean refereed our final match at the Boleyn when we famously triumphed 3-2 over Manchester United. His decision to send off Sofiane Feghouli just 15 minutes into our 2-0 defeat to the Red Devils in January 2017 was later rescinded. Dean’s two Hammers appointments last season were the goalless home draw with Chelsea last September and, most recently, our 2-0 win at Fulham in December.

The VAR Official is David Coote.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United have captain Mark Noble on the injury list, but last season’s Hammer of the Year Lukasz Fabianski is available. The Hammers have lost their four previous matches against Manchester City at London Stadium by an aggregate score of 17-1, Aaron Cresswell scoring the Irons’ goal. Indeed, City are the only visiting team to have won four times at London Stadium. The Irons are beginning the season against an established top-six side for the sixth successive year. They lost four of their previous five, with the exception being a 2-0 win at Arsenal under Slaven Bilic in 2015.

Manchester City will be without Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane. Pep Guardiola has a doubt over Fernandinho but Aymeric Laporte could be available. Right-back Joao Cancelo could make his debut for the Sky Blues. David Silva has scored five and assisted two goals in his six away matches against West Ham for City in all competitions, scoring in all three of the matches he’s played at London Stadium. The Sky Blues are unbeaten in their last ten opening Premier League fixtures, winning nine.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Wilshere; Lanzini, Fornals, Anderson; Haller.

Possible Manchester City XI: Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, David Silva; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Sterling.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

Follow @dan_coker on twitter.

There is still time to join the WHTID Fantasy League. Click here. When you’ve registered your details, follow the instructions to select your team. When you’ve selected your team, you need to join The Official WHTID League by clicking on the ‘Create and join leagues’ tab on the right side of the screen (this will only appear after you have picked your team). Then click on ‘Join a league’ and then ‘Join private league’ before typing the code kje6ia into the relevant box. You have until 7pm this evening (Friday) to register before the opening round of games. Good luck!


Player Analysis

Who Will be in Our First Eleven?

There is little doubt in my mind that we now have the strongest squad we have had in the last fiftee years. Our midfield is as strong as any outside the top four. My only real worry is that we are a little light on backup strikers.

GOALKEEPERS

Fabianski
Roberto
Martin

There’s no doubt who is number one, so Fabianski gets the nod

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Reid
Ogbonna
Diop
Balbuena
Cardoso

Diop and Balbuena were outstanding last season and will undoubtedly start the season as our first choice pairing.

FULL BACKS

Masuaku
Cresswell
Fredericks
Zabaleta
Johnson

Ben Johnson could be the surprise of the season but Ryan Fredericks will be seeking to cement his first choice position. He will start as number one at right back, but I wonder whether that’s where he’ll finish. On the left hand side I would play Aaron Cresswell, but I suspect the manager may disagree, with Masuaku starting as first choice.

MIDFIELDERS

Noble
Wilshere
Lanzini
Rice
Fornals
Snodgrass
Sanchez

Here’s where the fun starts. Rice is an automatic choice and Wilshere has had a fantastic pre-season. Manuel Lanzini will surely the the other first choice midfield if we’re playing 4-3-3, but it may be that Fornals then takes one of the forward positions.

FORWARDS

Haller
Hernandez
Antonio
Yarmolenko
Anderson
Silva
Ajeti

Haller will obviously be an automatic choice, with Anderson on the left. Yarmolenko has looked good but I would have thought Michael Antonio ought to get the nod against Manchester City.

So here’s our first eleve to start with…

Fabianski
Fredericks
Masuaku
Diop
Balbuena
Rice
Lanzini
Wilshere
Antonio
Haller
Anderson

Subs Roberto, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Fornals, Yarmolenko, Hernandez

Bet I’m wrong, though.


Transfer Gossip

Transfer Deadline Day: Open Thread

This doesn’t look as if it will be a very busy deadline day for West Ham, with only one likely signing, Albian Ajeti from Basel. I won’t be able to update this page a lot during the day as I am at the Edinburgh Fringe…

14.12 Grady Diangana off on a season long loan to WBA. Gutted. But it will be good experience for him.

14.10 Tottenham are reportedly trying to flog Victor Wanyama to West Ham today. Can’t quite see this happening. He’s a very good player but we’re overburdened with midfielders and we’d have to strike a foreign player off our squad list to accomodate him.

09.01 And as if by magic, David Gold has just confirmed the signing on Twitter of Albian Ajeti. “Good morning. I am pleased to announce the signing of Switzerland international striker Albian Ajeti from FC Basel for an undisclosed fee. The 22-year-old joins the Hammers on an initial four-year contract, with an option to extend for a further two seasons. Welcome Albian.”

08.56 Albian Ajeti looks to be a certain signing. He’s a striker from Basel, with the fee being around £8 million.


Player Analysis

How to manage on less than £10 million a year

Guest Post by Rugby Irons

So we’ve all seen the preseason and we all have our opinions as to what Manuel Pelligrini has done or not done right. There are lots of all sorts on here so for one night only I am going to be Steve Pelligrini !

So firstly I would have to say that the areas we needed to change haven’t been addressed and preseason has shown up just how weak we are at full back. On the other hand the signings of both Fornals and Haller look to be quality acquisitions. We are moving towards a fearsome front line with great options although not getting Chico moved on looks a mistake. The early pre-season fitness work looked to have improved the level of fitness to previous years, but mentally there seemed a more positive attitude. This in part comes from not letting outside influences get involved. Moving her out of the front line has given a more focussed approach to the work to be done.

The first friendly was basically a run around but the Manchester City game shown a lot of real endeavour. I was able to bring players to have a look and frankly the score with VAR would have been a lot different. The Newcastle game was disappointing as the team didn’t get going and it was hard for the players in the conditions. Having said that we are still conceding too many goals from the left back position and frankly I should have changed this. The Fulham game was a good introduction to the new boys and there were real spells of quality and a clean sheet. The Berlin game showed a lot of character and the team are starting to gel although the lads coming on have all staked a claim too. Some good goals from five different players has to be good.

The Bilbao game was another slow start. We really must change our routine to get out of this bad habit and also being able to play two good halves would help. I picked Cresswell again, in the vain hope he would produce and again he didn’t. I should have given Johnson left back time knowing Arthur could come on. I should also have given David Martin the last twenty as he is bound to be needed on Saturday as Fabianski won’t be fit. The chance to get twenty minutes at home in front of a big crowd was vital exposure that he didn’t get and a mistake. As for the penalties, what a shambles that was. It should have been dealt with far better from a manager with a trophy up for grabs. Lazy in my opinion.

So , the fitness work has been done and this is my assessment of the players:

Keepers

Fabianski: The injury is a major concern . If he doesn’t play Saturday we will be in big trouble. Typical of getting rid of Adrian, just when we need him. Any length out or poor form and we will be looking up not down.
Roberto: Has not instilled any confidence and so far hasn’t made a real save of note. He looks nervy and he needs to impose himself a bit more.
Martin: Who knows? The chances to play him were not taken so I can only hope he isn’t needed to soon!

Defenders

Cresswell: He has been really poor, with or without the armband. He is no longer premiership standard and its clearly been a huge mistake not to get a real leftback in. Teams target him and his area and he comes up short. I won’t be playing him.
Masuaku: Given a new contract as to keep him, as Cresswell is so bad, and we need at least one proper left back. He will be asked to defend this season and his previous record against the better clubs is good. He won’t need to get forward and so can concentrate just on defending.
Zabaleta: Despite being older you always get 100% from him and his physicality and experience rarely let him down.
Fredericks: Should be the best right back in the Premiership but still needs to stop being so rash. Hopefully with more games and Zabaleta to guide him he could be a major player this season.
Johnson: Although very raw, he has proved in his performances at full back that he has something about him. He needs game time and injuries may give him his chance.
Balbuena: Looks a yard light from last season but still has an imposing presence. Will be a vial part of the defence.
Diop: Time to make all that promise come good. If he steps up from last season and he and the General stay fit we’ll be good.
Ogbonna: Will be the third centreback as he is a bit inconsistent. He needs to stay fit to be the other cover when needed.
Reid: Spent force for me. He won’t get to the fitness or performance levels needed from being on the bench.

Midfield

Wilshere: Has looked like the missing cog so far. He hasn’t created too much but his ability to set the pace of the game may be critical against teams trying to overrun us. Looks great to watch.
Noble. This will be another huge season. He knows he won’t be a regular starter but his influence will still be a massive part of where we end up.
Sanchez. Looks like he may be finding some form and has looked decent in the last couple of games. He won’t start many but could be a useful sub when you want to hold a win or salvage a point.
Rice: Looks a little leggy to me and perhaps should have been rested to give more responsibility to the rest. He is a major player for us but doesn’t look right on it to me. The start of the season might change that.
Lanzini: Has really stepped up and this will be his season. He wants international football and knows he has to perform to get it back. We can expect great things.
Fornals: Has come in and been understated so far. Has done enough to see his class and looks like he is settling in to the role.
Anderson: Has drifted in and out of games and needs to work on his intensity as he is capable of match winning performances.
Snodgrass . Will be needed for those cold up north midweek games when work rate is needed . He always brings s his best and that’s invaluable.
Diangana: Has been noticeably more physical in preseason and it’s made him more potent . He doesn’t create enough at this level but being with much better players should bring him on.
Yarmolenko: Despite his almost totally left footed play he can still perform at a high level and gives a little balance to the middle.
Cullen: I think he will still be loaned out before the end of the month. He has done enough to the first team squad but he will want games which he won’t get until the injures come in

Strikers

Antonio: I see him being the surprise second striker. He brings more to the attack than Chico and defensives are far more worried about his pace than the non-scoring poacher
Chico: He’s basically a spent force and has not impressed at all. He’s not going to get the service he needs as we don’t play that way. Needs a Chinese bidder .
Haller: For all that’s been said you won’t see him at his best until it’s a real match. As the promise will come good once we start.

Tactically, I’ll send the players out and let them get on with it.They are all talented and the general play is to use their skills to out play the opposition. Despite all the analysts the club employs I still don’t change things . Tactically, our attacking corners are still a mess as we don’t have anyone who can be counted on to put the ball where it’s needed from either side . We are big enough as a unit but don’t impose as we should. Defending we are as bad with two players wasted ahead of the front post and none on the posts . We have a keeper who doesn’t come and so we have to be sure we win the ball, and too often we don’t. We should also stop defending with 11 players. Leave one up. Lanzini , Fornals, Yarmelenko could all win a race v a back two of the opposition. If we leave one up , they have to leave two back. which means they can only have 7 in the box against our ten. Basics really. For free kicks stop the pointless tap to another play. Just put the extra player in the box and cross the damn thing. And on free kicks sort out who the specialist free kick taker and stick with them. You don’t need three players to decide that and then waste it. We must take advantage of attacking options and not waste them.

There are high expectations for the team this season and I will be aiming as high as possible but this season I will not mess up the Cup runs like last season. With the women having been to Wembley now it’s the men’s turn. The Cups have been an excuse to use squad players for game time, this season it will be a first team objective to get to Wembley and reward the fans. Losing a couple of places in the final league table for a Cup Final is a gamble worth taking. Get your claret ribbons ready.

We will be entering a new season with the stadium becoming less foreign as the players we have don’t have the history. If the supports stays loud and proud then it can become a fortress . It’s going to see great football this season and with VAR plenty of goals . We should be able to move up the table again this season and that is the aim.I can almost guarantee that this will be one hell of a season and one to remember . The women have made some fantastic signings and it’s imperative that we take both teams onto the next level. The club has the best supporters, now it’s time to reward them, like I get with my huge salary. Only this season I am going to earn it. Champions League and Wembley , here we come. Don’t go to bed early.


Match Report

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

After watching the TV series, I’m rereading Catch 22. It has to be one of the most hilarious novels ever. The main character, Yossarian, a bombardier, asks the doctor why he can’t be grounded as he is crazy. The doctor tells him you’ve got to be crazy to fly bombers and only a sane man would ask to be grounded, so Yossarian can’t be grounded because he must be sane to ask to be grounded.

On many levels , the whole game of football is crazy. The players are crazy, because the amount of money they earn must be the greatest disincentive to playing football. I am sure that Payet and Arnautovic went crazy, or perhaps they were the only sane ones – they took the money and stopped playing to the best of their ability.
Indeed, the amount of money swilling around the game is crazy. Now the craziness has extended to China.

The club owners are definitely crazy. Why would a billionaire waste a lot of his money, so that fans could throw coins at him and he has to hide behind a glass screen when he watches his team? Why is he not content to feed his carp and sit at home on his throne like chairs? Does a pornographer really believe he is going to achieve salvation by running a football team?

The next level of craziness is the amount of money wasted on managers. I am sure most of the fans could do the job. In fact, it would be better to have a computer programme acting as manager. It was once believed that a computer could never beat a Grand Master at chess. That was accomplished many years ago. What could be better that having a computer tracking each player’s performance – the distance they are running, the passes they make, the tackles they make and their positioning. I am sure it would be a great incentive for a player if they knew a computer was constantly analysing their performance. A computer would also analyse game plans and formulate the best plan against a particular team.

The London Stadium is completely crazy. Another £6 million was spent on removing seats over the summer and another £4 million on legal fees to get West Ham to pay more. West Ham only pay £2.5 million per year. However, everybody involved here is really crazy because the stadium is crap.

The pre-season friendlies were completely crazy. We let in an average of 2 goals per game. What is to be learnt here? Only that you’d better take a few happy pills before watching the first game against Man City. Oh, and perhaps also that we are playing the wrong system and need a few real defenders.

The fans. We are all absolutely crazy. We have this tribal like instinct to support our club, when the only factor that counts is the money a club receives for TV rights, which is then spent on mainly foreign players, in the hope they can settle down in the UK, even though they may not speak the language and are far from home. Wasn’t it better when our players came from our local area? Was football less enjoyable when I watched Moore , Hurst and Peters? Why did we not just buy a Prime Minister from abroad, rather than having Boris?

The United Kingdom is crazy. What other country in the world has four football associations and insists on fielding four national sides. When Germany was reunited, they stopped playing as West Germany and East Germany. Instead, we have suffered years of frustration and missed out on the outstanding talents of players like Giggs and Bale.

Now, we are going to suffer a year of VAR craziness. I thought handball had to be deliberate. Now, if an attacker ducks and it hits a defender on the arm, that is a penalty.

COYI, I’m bored with summer. Bring on the craziness.


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