Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Sunderland

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

Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Sunderland

Ok, enough cliches about this match being a six pointer, but I suppose it really is. If we lose this does anyone doubt we will be in the relegation zone over Christmas? But despite that I really do think we are good enough to get out of this mess, even though we now have an injury list as long as your arm. James Tomkins faces a fitness test today which let’s hope he comes through. If he isn’t fit I imagine George McCartney will deputise, seeing as we haven’t actually got any first team squad central defenders left. Demel and James Collins have been ill this week but both are expected to play. If not, we really are down to what Mr Redknapp used to describe as the bare bones. With Kevin Nolan suspended, this is the team I expect to see at 3pm.

Jussi, Demel, O’Brien, Collins, Tomkins, Morrison, Diame, Noble, Jarvis, Cole J, Cole C

Talking Point

How many men does it take to write a report on £19m Andy Carroll?

Karren Brady writing in her Sun Football Diary confirms for the first time how much we paid for Andy Carroll. The figure she quotes is £19 million, much higher than previous estimates in the media of £15 million. Karren goes on to say that a report lands on her desk every day concerning the fitness of Andy Carroll written by five men. She hints that the club are unhappy about his treatment abroad saying he “was initially treated in Holland and the States but has now returned to east London and is recovering faster. It Just goes to show there’s no place like home!”

David Sullivan speaking to BBC Football Focus this weekend says “Had we known he would be out for this long, we would not have signed him,”

“We are not a rich enough club to deal with that. You know any player can get injured, but we can’t buy a player knowing he is going to be out for half the season.
“When we signed him we were assured by the medical staff that the very, very latest he would be back was 1 September. That would have meant he would only miss two league games. If you ask me the same question at the end of the season, I hope I will be able give you a different answer and say ’Yes, it was the right decision to sign Andy Carroll. He is a fantastic player and on his day he is unplayable. We love him and that is why we signed him. He is desperate to come back; he is sweating blood in training.”

“He has been all over Europe for treatment and he has begged me to come home, He has rung me up and said ‘It is doing my head in being here, I really want to get back as soon as possible, I really want to play’ Even now we haven’t got a date that he could be back. He could be back in three weeks, he could be back in six or eight weeks. I hope he might make a contribution in the next three or four weeks, that might be 20 minutes as a sub.He is not going to be quite the player he was at the end of last season until he has played some games. He is a fantastic player, don’t get me wrong, but I only wouldn’t have signed him because I can’t have that amount of wages and that amount of transfer fee on a player who isn’t going to play a minimum 20 or 30 games a season, hopefully 38 games a season.With Carroll sidelined, West Ham have slipped into a relegation battle and face Sunderland in a crucial match on Saturday. It has been an extremely difficult season, We are not playing very well, we didn’t anticipate it and it has gone far, far worse than we could possibly have imagined.The hope this season was to be mid-table right from the start, never to be threatened by relegation, to play the strongest possible teams in the cup matches and to try and get to a cup final – that was our aim.”

“Now we have a relegation battle and, although we are still in both the cups, I don’t know if the manager will want to play his strongest teams because it is vital that we get points.I am deeply concerned. Anybody who looks at where we are in the table and is not concerned are kidding themselves. I really believe Sam is the man for the job, If he wasn’t our manager he is exactly the type of manager you would be bringing in to be the manager. Where do you get someone better than Sam to do the job that is now necessary? If you asked me what kind of season Sam has had up to now, I would say disappointing. But let’s judge him at the end of the season. I think the Newcastle manager would have been sacked by most fans after a month of the season but now he is flavour of the month.” said David Sullivan

David Sullivan is on BBC Football Focus at 12pm today

Sam Allardyce also spoke about medical staff in his London Evening Standard Column on Friday

Big Sam said “What we can do, though, is excel at recovery. Our job is to try to nick a few days off everyone’s recovery period. If the medical staff say 12 weeks, can we get them back in 11? If it is six, can they be ready to play after five and a half?That’s what I need the medical and rehabilitation people to concentrate on. I don’t care if they drag the player in at 11pm if that is what is needed. Andy Carroll, for example, now has a career fitness plan. People are saying he is injury prone, so once he is back he has to show everyone that isn’t true. That means looking after his body in the same way as someone such as Ryan Giggs has done. Giggs cured his injury problems in his mid-20s by adapting his training — and his life.”

I understand the club were unhappy with the progress Carroll was making abroad with various specialists and have questioned the initial advice to send him to these specialists. What this means for the West Ham medical staff who gave that advice remains to be seen. As I will say is Watch this space!

Talking Point

Should we gamble on Jordan Rhodes?

One can only imagine the miles of copy that has been written recently on West Ham’s goal scoring crisis and the prioritization of a new marksman in the January transfer window. The latest is Sam Allardyce’s column in today’s Evening Standard, where he talks about the transfer window and the need to sign a quality addition to our strike force. He makes the point that he could easily sign an average player, but the club face the greater challenge of signing a quality player that can go straight in to the side and make a difference. Preferably in the first week of the window! The article is also interesting for his discussion of the considerable obstacles that have to be circumvented in making a new signing, not least the machinations of players agents!

Similarly, the seemingly endless round of speculation has already started, with Obafemi Martins the latest name linked with us. Of course, a lot of this stems from agents trying to generate interest and offers for their clients. It is widely known that West Ham are targeting strikers this January, so agents will see it as a credible rumour to link their ‘want away’ charges with a move to Upton Park. On the transfer front, It is difficult to pick the ‘wheat from the chaff’ at the moment. And it will undoubtedly continue to be the case, with numerous other strikers being linked with the club.

Amidst the speculation, there is one name that stands out from the reluctant recruits, journeymen and veterans seeking a last pay day. That name is Jordan Rhodes. This Scottish international is the right age, has enormous potential and a formidable goal scoring record. It is an condemnation of the overseas focus and fear factor in the Premier League that no top level club has taken a gamble on Rhodes. But is he really that much of a gamble? Not if you look at the players goal scoring statistics. Bwin Betting football site have done just that and it makes interesting reading.

In his career to date, Jordan Rhodes scored 82 goals in 143 matches for Huddersfield and after moving to Blackburn Rovers registered 38 goals in 68 appearances. An impressive 26 goals in his first Championship season disproved any doubts that he might struggle to make the step up to the 2nd tier. And he has followed that up in his second season with 11 goals in 19 matches, a better than 1 in 2 goal scoring average. The article also makes the observation that he has scored 7 goals in 15 matches against teams currently in the PL. An indicator that Rhodes would make a successful transition to become a successful PL marksman. This evidence is reinforced by his success at international level, where Rhodes has scored eight goals in eight matches for the Scotland U-21s.and 3 goals in 11 senior appearances.

In an earlier era those goal scoring statistics would have resulted in a opportunity to play in the PL. Although it could equally be argued that, in another era, it would not have cost anywhere near the £8-10m price tag currently attached to him. Crystal Palace have been linked with a move for Rhodes this January, but Tony Pullis has scotched the rumour with the comment that Palace could not afford his services. And that remains the question for PL managers and boards, do you invest that sort of money in Rhodes’ promise or do you look for more proven and, possibly, cheaper options in the overseas markets. For instance, Alfreð Finnbogason scored 38 goals in 46 appearances for SC Heerenveen, in the Dutch League, last season and has bagged 4 goals in 19 matches for Iceland. And it is rumoured that Finnbogason’s signature could well be secured for under £4m.

Many clubs will be put off by the cost and degree of gamble attached to Rhodes. And, indeed, take the overseas route in search for new recruits. However, one feels that there is something a bit special about Jordan Rhodes as a goal scorer. He is a natural and the suspicion is that the PL club brave enough to take the plunge will be richly rewarded both in terms of goals and, at 23 years of age, the future sell-on value. That club is unlikely to be Palace, if Pullis sticks by his public statement, but could it be goal shy West Ham? Unlikely, considering the club focusing on the loan market and Allardyce’s emphasis upon ‘the final product,’ ready to go straight in to the first team.

Are the board really likely to commit £8 plus to sign Rhodes this January considering these factors? Probably not. And it is a shame, because Rhodes is that rare thing, a prolific goal scorer. He could prove to be our most exciting signing (Andy Carroll apart) since the January 2006 purchase of a certain Dean Ashton from Norwich City. I acknowledge the value for money counter-argument, but I just have this gut feeling it is a signing that would pay off big style. Could Rhodes come straight in to the first team and perform straightaway, as is required in our current league situation? That is the biggest question mark, for me. Would he take time to adjust to the greater speed and less space in the PL? Possibly, and that is not an unreasonable expectation for a player making the step up.

I doubt that there will be resources to sign Rhodes in January. And if the club can identify better, more experienced options then fine. But if they fail to sign the ‘ready made’ type of quality striker needed, then the club should definitely gamble on Rhodes over some journeyman or over the hill veteran. Even if that means investing £8m plus to get his signature.

SJ. Chandos.


WHTID Blogreaders Meetup After the Sunderland Game

Guestpost by Safehands

A couple of weeks ago there was a post about us WHTIDers meeting for a drink after the Sunderland game – these are the details …

- The Miller’s Well, 419-421 Barking Road – from the ground, go towards Barking and it’s about 100 yds on the left past East Ham High Street.
- It allows kids in until 9 pm.
- I’ve spoken to them and it fills up quickly, so don’t hang around after the game.
- They have door security so if you have problems getting in, let them know that you’re from the West Ham Til I Die blog and you’ve arranged to meet there and they should let you in. In case they haven’t remembered, I’ll remind them when I get there.

All are welcome – it’ll be good to put faces to names and I just hope we’re a happy little bunch of Hammerettes after a resounding result against Sunderland.

Onwards and upwards …

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