Guest Post

I Just Hate International Weekends

Guest Post by IronFish

Don’t you just hate International weekends? How will we all get through the next 2 weeks? And to cap it all, we have 2 consecutive away fixtures, so between the Norwich game and the Chelski game on the 24th October, that’s a total of 4 weeks without seeing the Claret & Blue army parading the Boleyn Ground.

First of all, just want to say what a fantastic start to the season, well done Slav and well done SUGO for a. bringing Slaven Bilic to manage our team and b. for bolstering the team with some great new signings. It has never been a better time to be a Hammer, and I cannot wait to go to every home game. From January 2015 through to May 2015, I was starting to hate going to Upton Park every other week. It was dull, it was boring, it was predictable, and it was downright depressing. So, hats off to Slav and SUGO, for bringing back the excitement and the much maligned “West Ham Way” again.

But, is anyone else thinking: “What if?”……..“What if we had – drawn at home to Bournemouth, drawn at home to Leicester, beaten Norwich at home and beaten Sunderland away?” That would have given us 6 extra points……and we would be sitting on top of the Barclay’s Premier League with a massive 20 points after 8 games, and looking down on the rest. Let’s face it if we had beaten Leicester and Bournemouth, as well, we’d have 100% record and sitting on 24 points……well we can dream can’t we?

This brings me to my main question…….should we have 2 different formations? one for Home and one for Away games……and should we have 2 different starting elevens? Here’s my thinking…….so far, the 4231 format that Slaven has brought to us, seems to work really well for Away games. We look in control, look solid, and get players forward well on the break, which has worked so well so far……..3 massive away wins (Arsenil, Liverpoo & Citeh), and the 2-2 draw with Sunderland.

BUT, the main issue, seems to be when we play at Home……we don’t get forward quickly enough, we tend to look nervous and sit back, allowing counter-attacking away teams to come at us. So my suggestion, would be Away, we stick with the trusted 4231, below:



But for Home games, let’s try 442 or even 352…… below:



OR something completely different (352):


And then, what do we do with: Song, Valencia, Zarate, Jelavic, Antonio, Oxford, Collins, Hendrie, Jenkinson etc??…….so many choices…… really is the best Hammers squad we have had for years.

So, what are your thoughts? Do we need different teams & formations? What would be your BEST starting eleven, when all players are back? Could it work? As I said earlier, it’s never been a better time to be a Hammer…….and long may that continue……..BUT, what if………..????? IT’S GREAT TO BE A HAMMER AGAIN………COYI !!!!!!!!

Talking Point

I have seen the future - and it will work.

Football is a funny old game and being a football fan is a funny old pastime, hobby or lifestyle. It is very hard to resist the herd mentality, the hope or the apparently irresistible groupthink. Of course, because we have not only beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City away, but, in each case, we have done so with some style, it stands to reason that we should win every single game away from home. This is our season – and it seems strange when we don’t win, and win well, away from home.

In any other season, the team would get a hearty slap on the back and the gratitude of the entire West Ham fan base, for turning a 2-0 deficit at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light into a 2-2 draw. It would have been seen as a point salvaged rather than otherwise. Yet the reaction this season is one of instant disappointment and frustration. How on earth can we beat the Gooners, the Reds and Man City and almost lose to the club that is slap bottom in the league and in real trouble? We should also wish Advocaat well too.

Bilic hugging Advocaat - good luck Dick

We should not have to temper our ambitions just because we are doing well. Bilic is right to say it was a ‘good point’ – it was – but only from the perspective of being 2-0 in the first place. We should not have been. It is almost as though we are frightened by our very success at the same time as now expecting the moon – or three points every time we turn up for a game – home or away. Perhaps we should all take a deep breath, be very grateful for how the season has unfolded so far and then revert back to the West Ham mentality that we should all be used to by now. That is, take each and every game one at a time. Celebrate the ones that we win, commiserate with the team when we lose and pat them on the back when that mount an escape and snatch a point from defeat.

We may have earned the right to think beyond looking at the table at saying that we are still 16-21 points away from safety. We have certainly earned the right to carry on dreaming and be ambitious for our team. But, it might not yet be quite the time to assume that every time we play away, three points are guaranteed. We should treat every other team with respect and ensure that we stay full-square behind the team.

Why? Well, because that is what West Ham fans do. And, more importantly because I have seen the future – and it will work. And it is is worth all the support, dreams, ambitions and hope that we can muster. On Sunday, I went to the Olympic Stadium to watch Ireland versus Italy in the Rugby World Cup.

The less said about the rugby, the better. The Irish team did enough and was very lucky to escape with a win. In fact, they reminded me of my entire ‘career’ as a West Ham fan. Throughout the World Cup so far, the Irish team has been full of wonder and promise, sometimes playing fantastic rugby, sometimes flattering to deceive. It feels as though they might go all the way – or wilt against France next week and then get smashed by the All Blacks. Being an Irish rugby fan is very like being a West Ham fan – it the hope and dream that will kill you. It is the dreams that fade and die. But, every now and then, the magic happens.
Anyway, I did not mean to write about the rugby, but the stadium. From the moment I arrived at Stratford station, I imagined going to my first West Ham game in the stadium – and it is a really exciting prospect. It is quite a walk to the ground – certainly further than Upton Park station to the Boleyn, but it is a very comfortable walk in spacious surroundings. Bearing in mind that the Irish game was a full sell-out and some 54,000 were there, it was always comfortable. I know it will be different when we take it over, but you certainly got a sense of just how great it is going to be.

Getting in and out of the ground was excellent. We were able to walk around from our seats for the rugby game – behind one of posts – to the area where next year’s seats will be – and the views will be quite stunning. I know that others have said that it might be difficult to get an atmosphere going in the ground, but it felt like that would not be a problem. I say it ‘felt like’ because, to be honest, the Irish team never gave the crowd that much to sing about. It certainly seemed to me that it had more potential for crowd atmosphere than either Man City or Man United, or indeed the library at Highbury.

Better think of our future

The whole area surrounding the ground is not finished yet so it is not clear how smooth exiting the stadium and getting off home via Stratford would be. On Sunday it was a messy, stilted and very crowded walk back to the station – but no more than say somewhere like Chelsea with everyone trying to squeeze into Fulham Broadway, although with a much longer walk. To be fair, once in the station, the crowds dispersed quite rapidly given the choice of lines and destinations. I remain very optimistic that the journey out of the stadium will be fine and efficiently organised.

Doubtless there will also be plenty of time to explore whether it is worth looking at the walk to West Ham or Hackney Wick – who knows.
The one thing I do know is that I sat in my seat staring round the ground and was beaming with pride that next year I will be watching my team playing in one of the finest stadia in the country. All we have to do this year is make sure that we have a season that leaves us in a position where we have earned the step up that the Olympic Stadium implies.

Don’t get me wrong – I have loved going to the Boleyn Ground and, like everyone else, have a range of memories – good and bad – and emotions – up and down – from every ball kicked there. But we are moving home next year. And our new home should fit every ounce of home, ambition and dreams for every fan – dreams that won’t fade and die.

The S J Chandos Column

A tale of two midfielders!

It has been reported that the club have parted company with French midfielder Morgan Amalfitano by mutual consent. This development has occurred after Amalfitano had a well publicised spat with Slaven Bilic over some internal disciplinary issue(s), the midfielder being relegated to train with the U-21 squad in the interests of ‘squad unity.’ There had been some hope that a resolution of the situation was possible, when Bilic subsequently named Amalfitano in his 25 player squad for the 2015-16 season.

However, that obviously was not the case and it appears that the club have now reached a financial settlement with the player to leave. These events are something of a surprise when one considers the positive role that Amalfitano played last season, in Sam Allardyce’s squad, and the club’s subsequent offer of a new two year contract. Nevertheless, this settlement sees Amalfitano leave as a free agent and there will presumably be no shortage of Bosman offers forthcoming as a result. And it does demonstrate that Slaven Bilic has an aspect of iron to his management and appears not to be a coach to be crossed.

Elsewhere, it has been widely reported that former midfielder, Ravel Morrison, has stated his regrets at leaving Man Utd to join West Ham Utd in the 2011 January transfer window. Perhaps, but it ignores the fact that Morrison was effectively off-loaded by Man Utd, a club that had run out of patience with the player’s alleged indiscipline. In that sense, the move to West Ham was a new chapter and an opportunity to make a fresh start. An opportunity that Morrison briefly looked like grasping, but ultimately let slip through the advent of a number of widely reported further disciplinary issues.

As a result, Morrison wasted the opportunity offered by West Ham, ended up on a secession of pointless loan moves and ultimately got off-loaded yet again. It does beg the question whether Slaven Bilic could have had more success than Sam Allardyce in getting the best out of Morrison? Perhaps, but the Amalfitano incident shows that Bilic does not mess around on the disciplinary front! Maybe the truth is that Big Sam was probably more patient with the player than Bilic would have been? I guess we will never know now?

Regardless, Morrison is well advised to stop ‘racking over the coals’ of lost opportunities and concentrate on being a success at Lazio. He has yet another great opportunity and he should ensure that he does not waste this one. Or there will inevitably be a conclusion drawn that there is something of a recurring pattern of indiscipline and wasted talent undermining his promising career.

SJ. Chandos.

Parish Notice

It's All For Charity!

As most of you know, I present the drivetime show on LBC Radio. 4-7pm weekdays, since you ask. Each year we have a charity day called MAKE SOME NOISE, to raise money for disadvantaged children, and each presenter has an auction prize to auction off. I thought one or two of you might be interested in mine.

If you’re a West Ham fan then this is quite simply the perfect prize for you.

You and a friend could be accompanying Iain Dale in the Director’s Box at Upton Park to cheer on the Hammers as they play either Everton (Nov 7th), West Bromwich Albion (Nov 29th) or Manchester City (Jan 23rd).

You’ll also have passes to the Director’s Guest Lounge, complete with complementary light refreshments and the opportunity to mix with other celebrity West Ham supporters such as Sir Trevor Brooking, Russell Brand or Ray Winstone if they’re at the game.

That’s not all. Before and after the match you’ll go pitch side and visit the Chairman’s Suite, with a chance to meet Chairmen, David Sullivan and David Gold, as well as Karren Brady. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the player’s tunnel post-match and even meet some of the players.

The prize has kindly been donated by West Ham United. The auction closes at 6.50pm this Thursday.

So, click HERE to bid. It really is for an excellent cause.

David Hautzig's Match Report

Sunderland 2, West Ham 2. A Belated Bunch Of Musings.

Yesterday, while working with a pretty cool winemaker from Rioja, I got a text.

“No match report, what’s going on? Hope everything is OK.”

Everything is fine, if you allow for going to a family event in Boston superseding a West Ham match as “fine”. I followed it on my phone and watched parts of it on my DVR later. I probably should have mentioned my absence in my Norwich report, and I will do so from now on when I’m certain in advance some family commitment will interfere with my very well thought out priority list.

Since I have the technical ability to post some thoughts, perhaps of the random variety, I will.

Yet again, we seemed to think that because we had won those three away games that just showing up would be more than enough against the likes of Sunderland. This despite the very clear message from Slaven that those three away wins did not automatically make us a top tier team. Either his method of delivering that message to the players needs to change, or the players need a far more vitriolic outburst from the coaches. Oddly, despite my usual fear and angst regarding West Ham, I’m expecting that message to find its target. Maybe not against Palace, but eventually.

One could look at Saturday’s game as two points dropped. When you consider that Sunderland hadn’t won a game, played with ten men for over half an hour, and had only scored six goals up to Saturday, that point of view has merit. But if you accept that we are still nowhere near the finished article and that there is no such thing as an easy three points in the EPL, then you need to look at the other angle. Two-nil down inside of thirty minutes has meant certain defeat for quite awhile now. I’d have to go back to Harry and his gang in the 90’s to think of a squad where I wouldn’t immediately turn a match off at that juncture. And to be fair, I basically gave up on Saturday when the FotMob Soccer Scores app on my phone dinged to alert me of goal number two. But this seems to be a squad that is not only capable of overcoming a deficit, this looks to be a squad that expects to. That might be the single most important change that has accompanied the managerial switch.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of a Sunderland supporter, and from that vantage point Saturday was a disaster. Again, if they accepted that those three away wins did not automatically make us a top tier team, then they should have approached Saturday as a game they must win and could win. To only come out with the single point after those early goals would have left me feeling absolute and utter dread. I’ll put my Claret & Blue shoes back on now, thank you very much.

We lead the league in unforced errors leading to goals. It’s becoming as commonplace for us now as bubbles and Lawro predicting a loss. And it is worrying to a degree, as is our inconsistency. But I heard some sage words from of all people, my son’s Newcastle supporting football coach at school. “Bilic wants you to play it out of trouble instead of hoofing it. Just because it’s backfired a few times doesn’t mean it was the wrong thing to try.” I think that needs no further comment.

Dimitri Payet is, in fact, human. I’d go so far as to say he might even bleed and go to the toilet like the rest of us. I wasn’t so sure up to Saturday. Then again, he might yet turn water into wine, and when he does I’ll try to sell it.

Finally, I still hate International Breaks.

Selhurst Park, here we come.

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