Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: West Ham v Crystal Palace

Subs: Adrian, Fletcher, Nordtveit, Collins, Oxford, Quina, Browne

Changes will be rung today with the traitor Payet refusing to play and Antonio unfit with a flu bug. I hope (although I perhaps do not expect) to see Sam Byram return at right back in place of the hapless Nordtveit, who remains one of the worst players ever to pull on a West Ham shirt. Kouyate and Ayew are at the African Cup of nations, so we really are down the bare bones. It’s possible Reece Oxford could start, but i’d have thought the impressive Fernandes would probably be preferred in midfield.

I wonder if the events of the week will have a galvanising effect on the team and get them fired up. You’d certainly hope so.

I hope we all give James Tomkins a warm welcome back, and even give Sam Allardyce a clap. I think we’ll learn a lot about the team, and maybe ourselves today.


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Tony Hanna's Musings

The Payet Saga

You could never say being a West Ham fan is easy could you? However we came to be Hammers fans, and there are lots of differing reasons, the long road through life can be hard enough without the heart strings being continually tugged by that lot in Claret and Blue. For every precious moment there are a hundred blows. For every silver lining there are a thousand black clouds. If it was not hard enough watching an underperforming side this season in a new stadium of such discontent, after all the gloss and glamour of last season, now we have Dimitri Payet refusing to play for the team. I remember when Martin Peters wanted out and went to Spurs. Gutted. I remember when it became too hard to hang on to Joe Cole and Michael Carrick and they went off to further their careers quite substantially at other clubs. Gutted. There are so many examples of this trend in our history and the likes of Frank Lampard and Jermaine Defoe have been forgiven by many as the years have passed, for their Judas like actions when they were young players at our club. For the record I don’t buy the excuse that Frank had no option to leave because his dad was sacked. Life is tough enough –suck it up.

But Payet has done this before at St Etienne and does not have the excuse that he is young and does not understand what he is doing. See what I did there? He knows exactly what he is doing. Bilic has said as much – that Payet told him of his intentions on Tuesday and Slav gave him the opportunity to change his mind on Thursday, prior to the press conference. Payet held his ground. Now this has come to a head all the ITK’s and “experts” have come out with their stories. I am no expert and I am not an ITK (though I did have a very real insider many years ago and to be honest he never told me too much). But, if you read all their stories they differ quite a bit. Some claim Payet has been disgruntled all season. Others say that this is a recent thing and the tapping up of the player only occurred just prior to the January window. Going by what Slaven Bilic said in his interview it would appear to be the latter that is closer to the mark. However, many media reports also suggest that a deal was done at the start of the season that Payet could leave at the end of the season as he wanted away then. It is all very confusing and hopefully, one day soon, the true light will be shed. Social media is in a frenzy at the moment and some of the vitriol spat at the player is understandable as fans emotions go into over drive. The situation will calm eventually as time will always heal to some degree, but if the owners are hoping that we can rebuff all offers for the player by the end of the window and he will come back and play his part for us for the remainder of the season, tis wishful thinking I think?

Talking of our owners. You know, the ones we have been banging on about for years to keep quiet – yep, you guessed it. The silence is deafening. Even young Jack must be in a straight jacket, the only way to stop those twiddling thumbs. Lovely though isn’t it? Some have said that they should at least come out and voice a support for the manager. You know, the one they might sack in a fortnight? For once they have done the right thing. Sort this out behind closed doors. An announcement has been made. No bullshit – the truth has come out. Well, as much as they need to tell us anyway at this point in time..

I was one of the ones giving Payet the benefit of the doubt for a poorer season. For me his lack of tracking back, tackling and general intensity was no different from last season. Difference was – we were winning last season. His free kicks, yep, the ones he says he never practices in training, have gone pear shaped and his corners have been even poorer. But then the whole team has been poor on so many occasions as well. I have said on the blog many times recently that Cresswell has not been offering himself anywhere near as much as last season, as an overlapping option. This surely would affect Payet’s performances, the loss of such an important foil in his game? Now I am starting to wonder whether Cresswell just could not be bothered? Why bust a gut for Payet? He isn’t trying anyway and wants away and he gets all the fans accolades to boot! Stuff him. Perhaps this is the attitude of a lot of the players? We will only know the answer to this over the next few weeks. Results won’t necessarily tell us the answer but the players intensity will.

At the beginning of the transfer window I was wondering why we were after Snodgrass? There are three much more important areas of the team that need to be strengthened. Snodgrass is a very poor mans Payet (at anywhere near his best), but he will offer similar attributes to the team with a lot more graft albeit a lot less guile. Obviously someone knew something a few weeks ago? I would not even rule out Ayew yet. I have always thought that wide left in Payets position is where he would be best suited. Time will tell.

I also wonder whether Bilic’s position has actually been strengthened by all the events of this week? He has handled himself with great dignity once again in what has been a difficult season for him. The owners might see that this could be a fresh start for the manager, especially if we can break through and make a few key signings this window. It will be interesting to see firstly how the team react this weekend and secondly how the fans react to this week’s events in the stadium? The expression “you couldn’t make it up” comes to mind with the knowledge that Big Sam is coming to play on Saturday! Those football Gods certainly know how to tug the emotions to breaking point.

Finally, the big decision that has to be made is whether the club let Payet go this window? I guess if the right offer was made we would be foolish not to accept and move on. However, from what has been said so far, Payet wants to go back to France which would rule out a big offer from say Chelsea, Arsenal or the Moaning ones being an option. Personally I doubt Marseille will stump up enough money and that will leave Mr Payet right up the creek without a paddle. Bilic has already said that Payet won’t be sold this January and that may well be the case. But as we all know too well, money talks louder than words.

If you are going to the game this weekend try and make sure that the Super Slav song gets going right at the start. Sing long and sing loud. Make sure Sam doesn’t have to cup his ear. Our current manager needs all the support he can get at the moment.

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Crystal Palace

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 3-1 victory at Upton Park against this weekend’s opponents, Crystal Palace. It arrived more than a century ago, on the 25th of March 1910 in front of 15,000 spectators.

Bela Bartok’s ‘String Quartet No.1’ had premiered in Budapest six days earlier and, a week before the game, the first cinematic version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had been released in the United States by Edison Studios, becoming one of the first ever horror films. In East London, legendary Hammers goal-getter Danny Shea (pictured) scored twice against our south London neighbours, while an own goal from 30-year-old Palace right-back Joe Bulcock completed the Irons’ goalscoring.

Born in Wapping on 6th November 1887, Shea was spotted by Charlie Paynter playing for the Builders’ Arms pub in Stratford. Nicknamed ‘The Artful Dodger’, he scored 186 goals in 290 appearances in two spells with West Ham. He died on Christmas Day 1960 at the age of 73.

Bulcock, the right-back who scored an own goal for the Hammers that day in March 1910, made 146 appearances for Palace between 1909 and 1914 having played for Bury in the Football League earlier in his career. The youngest of three brothers, he served as a private in the Welch Regiment during World War One and sadly died of wounds to the head at 36th Casualty Clearing Station in Watten, France on 20th April 1918 at the age of 39. He was buried in Haringhe Military Cemetery in Belgium.

Syd King’s Hammers ended the 1909/10 season in ninth position in the Southern League First Division. Shea finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 28 league goals and 31 in all competitions. Crystal Palace were to finish seventh, one point and two places above the Irons. Brighton were promoted from the division to the Football League as champions. Aston Villa won the league title and Newcastle won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: George Kitchen, Fred Shreeve, Bob Fairman, Robert Whiteman, Tommy Randall, Herbert Ashton, Fred Massey, George Webb, Danny Shea, William Silor, Fred Blackburn.

Club Connections

West Ham United Academy product and 2012 Hammer of the Year runner-up James Tomkins could feature for Crystal Palace, for whom he signed from the Hammers in a £10m deal last summer. Former Hammers manager Sam Allardyce, now in charge of the Eagles, will face the club he managed between 2011 and 2015. Ex-Hammer Kevin Keen is first-team coach at Selhurst Park. A large group of players have turned out for the Hammers and the Eagles. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Perry Suckling, Steve Mautone, Vincent Blore.

Defenders: Kenny Brown, Neil Ruddock, Paul Brush, Danny Gabbidon, Chris Powell, Alan Stephenson, Tony Gale, Matthew Upson, Darren Powell.

Midfielders: Hayden Mullins, Carl Fletcher, Jobi McAnuff, Kyel Reid, Ray Houghton, Michael Hughes.

Strikers: Ian Wright, Jeroen Boere, Johnny Byrne, Clive Allen, Dave Swindlehurst, Paul Kitson, Ron Brett, Dave Sexton, Marouane Chamakh, Freddie Sears.

Malcolm Allison and Jack Tresadern played for the Hammers and managed the Eagles, while Iain Dowie played for both clubs and also managed Palace. Alan Pardew played for the Eagles and managed both clubs.

Today’s focus though is on a current Nigeria international winger. Victor Moses was born in Lagos, Nigeria on 12th December 1990, the son of a Christian pastor. When Victor was just 11 years old in 2002 and playing in the street with a football bound together with sticky tape, his parents Austin and Josephine were attacked in their home and murdered. Religious riots between the Muslim majority and Christian minority divided Nigeria and Moses’ father, who had his own church, was a target. The orphaned Victor was hidden by his uncle for a week after the murder before he was flown to England for his own safety to seek asylum.

Moses, who was coached by former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Colin Pates while at school in Croydon, was offered a place in Crystal Palace’s Academy and scored 50 goals in one season for the Under-14s. He made his first team debut at the age of 16 on 6th November 2007 in a 1-1 draw with Cardiff. His first goal for the club arrived on 12th March 2008 in a 1-1 draw with West Brom. Moses made 16 appearances as the Eagles reached the Championship play-offs and signed a new contract with Neil Warnock’s men at the end of the season.

The winger scored twice in 32 matches in 2008/09 but Palace plummeted to finish in 15th position. Moses went on a run of scoring six goals in eight matches in the first half of 2009/10 and, as Palace went into administration in January 2010, the 20-year-old Moses was sold to Premier League Wigan for £2.5m. He had scored 11 goals for Crystal Palace in 69 appearances.

Moses spent two and a half years at Wigan before signing for Chelsea in August 2012. He made a loan move to Liverpool the next summer, spending the 2013/14 season at Anfield before another season-long loan move to Stoke materialised for 2014/15.

A third season-long loan took him to Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United on 1st September 2015 but not before the 24-year-old Moses had signed a four-year contract with Chelsea, his parent club. He made his debut in a 2-0 home win over Newcastle on 14th September 2015 and scored his first goal for the Hammers in his next match five days later, the opener in our terrific 2-1 triumph at Manchester City. An injury sustained at Old Trafford in early December, coupled with the emergence of Michail Antonio as a force in his stead, curtailed Moses’ progress but he did score his second goal for the Irons in our 5-1 FA Cup fifth round win at Blackburn on 21st February 2016. His final appearance for the club was as a substitute on the final day of last season in the 2-1 defeat at Stoke. Having scored twice in 26 matches for West Ham United, Moses returned to Chelsea.

Moses, now 26, has been a revelation for Antonio Conte’s table-topping Blues this season in the right wing-back position. He has also scored nine goals in 27 appearances for Nigeria since making his debut in 2012, having appeared for England at youth levels.


Saturday’s referee will be Neil Swarbrick. The Lancashire-based official took charge of two of West Ham United’s highlights from 2013/14, the 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the 2-1 League Cup quarter-final victory against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. He also officiated in two league matches involving the Hammers in 2012/13, those being the 4-1 home win over Southampton and the 3-0 defeat at Sunderland. He was the man in the middle for the controversy-laden 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal in December 2014, disallowing Alex Song’s volley from distance for offside, awarding the Gunners a penalty for a Winston Reid foul on Santi Cazorla and failing to award the Hammers an injury-time penalty for a clear tug on Morgan Amalfitano. Swarbrick was also the referee for the FA Cup penalty-shoot-out triumph over Everton in January 2015, sending off Aiden McGeady in the process.

Swarbrick’s only appointments involving the Hammers last season were for our two trips to the North East; our 2-2 draw at Sunderland in October 2015, when he sent off Jeremain Lens, and the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle in January 2016. His only Hammers match this season was the 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough in October.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United are without Alvaro Arbeloa, Arthur Masuaku, Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho. Michail Antonio did not train yesterday due to illness and is a doubt, while James Collins may not be fit enough yet to start. Dimitri Payet will not be considered but Sam Byram and Reece Oxford come into contention. The Hammers have not recorded a home victory over the Eagles since October 2003, having drawn two and lost two of the last four matches between the clubs in East London.

Crystal Palace will be without Steve Mandanda, Pape Souare and Connor Wickham while Wayne Hennessey, Scott Dann, James McArthur and Christian Benteke are fitness doubts. Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako are both on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, meaning Lee Chung-Yong could start.

Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Nordtveit, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble; Feghouli, Lanzini, Antonio; Carroll.

Possible Crystal Palace XI: Hennessey; Kelly, Tomkins, Dann, Ward; Ledley, Cabaye; Townsend, Puncheon, Lee; Benteke.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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The Mike Ireson Column

Off you pop then

So that’s that then. Dimitri Payet no longer wants to play for us.

Not a rumour, not pub talk, straight from the manager’s mouth.

This could be a messy divorce and if we are not careful negatively effect on the field performances.

It is no good anyone from the chairman down to us humble supporters crying over spilt beer. It’s been good while it lasted but now it’s over. If a player does not want to play for a club then there is no way back and ties must be severed sooner rather than later.

Whatever the reasons for Dimitri’s decision we can’t afford to have a player, however good he is, being forced to play. He won’t be able to give his best, the 10 players around him will be disillusioned and us, the supporters, deserve 11 men on the pitch giving their all.

I imagine his agent already has a club lined up for him (it looks like Marseille) and between them they are now forcing this move through. A good thing? Of course not, it stinks. But for the good of this club we must move him on as quickly as possible,

Any prolonged hoopla will only have a detrimental effect on the rest of the team and the results they achieve.

This is obviously not an overnight decision by the player and now with hindsight if this was going on behind the scenes, which the rest of the squad would have been well aware of, was it a factor in our shambolic display against Manchester City on Friday?

If your star team mate does not want to play with you it must weigh on your mind. It wouldn’t have been the sole reason we got spanked by Manchester City as we saw what a good team they were. But it would have been a factor.

We can not afford to be torn apart by one player. No one player is bigger than the club and as sad as it is he must be sold as soon as possible.

Am I angry with Payet? Well to be honest not really. It just makes me feel sad at the state of football in general. He, like many before him, has had his ear bent by his agent that there is greener (and much higher paid) grass elsewhere.

The ideals that we as supporters hold high, loyalty and commitment to the club, are a distant memory.

For every Mark Noble there are a hundred Dimitri Payet’s. Sad but true.

This sorry episode only goes to show that WE are this club. Not the players, not the manager, not the owners. US.

We will always be there. Next time you buy a shirt from the club shop and want a name on the back make it your own. Because you are this club.

Forever WE shall be West Ham till we die.


Transfer Gossip

Payet Wants Out

Breaking news this morning is that Dimitri Payet looks as if he’s played his last game for West Ham. This is what Slaven Bilic told reporters at his press conference this morning…

“We have said we don’t want to sell our best players but Payet does not want to play for us. He wants to leave. We are not going to sell him. This team, the staff, we gave him everything, we were always there for him. I feel let down. I feel angry.”

And there was me thinking that Payet was different. That he really bought into the West Ham project. That he wasn’t a mercenary. How naive of me. I have a feeling of utter dejection and being completely let down by someone who had become something of a hero to us.

We never really HAD Payet, after all, did we?

UPDATE: The more I think about this, the angrier it makes me, but let’s be realistic, there’s no point in Bilic saying he won’t be sold, because when a player effectively goes on strike, there’s only ever one outcome. He leaves. We should say to him: “OK, we’ve given you everything you’ve ever asked for, and you’ve now shat on us big style. You can go, but if no club meets the asking price, you’re staying whether you like it or not. And if you don’t put every effort into it, you can whistle for your salary.”

I’d suggest that £35 million should be the minimum asking price. it is rumoured Marseilles want him back. We paid £11 million for him, so it’s unlikely they would pay £35 million. In which case, OK. Let’s see if anyone pay that for him. If not, tell him to play or rot in the reserves.

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