Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Why do you support West Ham United?

In the absence of a match until the end of the month, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on why we support West Ham.

I have been working on some images over the season so far that reflects the connections fans have with West Ham and touches on the different journeys we have all made to be the supporters we are.

So, my question to everyone is: why do you support West Ham United?

Tony Hanna's Musings

Who's Going Down?

Statistically, there is still 21% of the season remaining for West Ham. In real terms, eight matches with five at home and three away. We only leave London once for a game at Leicester and in addition we have difficult away games at Arsenal and Chelsea where any points will be a bonus. We also have both Manchester clubs to play at the OS. For weeks now we have all been looking for the results of the other teams around us and hoping results go our way. If you are like me I have even been cheering on Spurs when they have played the likes of Palace and Huddersfield recently. Every little bit helps. Our destiny is in our own hands at the moment and we can only hope it stays that way. A loss against Southampton and it will not be. Every time one of the bottom half teams gets a couple of wins or a win and a draw, the points gained shoot them up the table and the feeling of impending safety sets in. When a few losses occur they are back in the mire again. That is the effect of so many teams being in the same scrap. Since that brilliant win at Huddersfield in mid-January we have taken five points from an available twenty one and we have slipped from 11th to 17th. So what is the relegation landscape looking like for the others? Here are the bookies odds and the run home for each of the clubs involved.

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West Brom are now dead and buried. With 20 points and seven games left they could mathematically still avoid the drop but they have only won three PL games all season and incredibly two of them were the first two games of the season!

Stoke City on 27 points are priced at 4/11 (73% chance) for the drop. They have played one more game than most now due to playing and getting beaten by Everton on the weekend. Their remaining fixtures are Arsenal (a), Spurs (h), West Ham (a), Burnley (h), Liverpool (a), Palace (h) and Swansea (a). I have watched them a few times recently and they are playing better than what their results are showing. Going down to ten men so early in the weekend game at home to Everton was a real blow for them.

Southampton on 28 points are priced at 9/4 (30%). Because of our reversed fixture with them at the start of the season, giving us the imbalance of three away games to start the campaign and the Saints three home games, that comes home to roost right now. It means West Ham now play five of their remaining eight at home but Southampton only have three of their remaining eight at home. Their run in is West Ham (a), Arsenal (a), Chelsea (h), Leicester (a), Bournemouth (h), Everton (a) and on the final day of the season they host Manchester City (h). They also have a fixture at Swansea (a) where no date has been determined as yet. They have taken the gamble to change manager at a late stage of the season, so whether Mark Hughes can orchestrate a “new manager bounce” will be crucial to their chances. They looked poor at Wigan on the weekend but did get a win there – something we and Man City failed to do in recent months. Taking away the two wins against bottom club West Brom, they have only won three other PL games this season which includes that 3-2 win against 10 man West Ham. Despite only recording 5 wins they can be difficult to beat as indicated by the fact they have drawn 13 matches this season – the highest amount in the League.

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Crystal Palace won on the weekend and move to 30 points which is the same as us but they are one place ahead due to a superior goal difference. The bookies make them a 7/1 chance (12.5%) for relegation. They are rated more than twice as likely to stay up than us, despite them being on the same points and having played one more game. This is obviously down to their remaining fixtures where they only have to play one more top six side. Their remaining seven fixtures are Liverpool (h), Bournemouth (a), Brighton (h), Watford (a), Leicester (h), Stoke (a) and West Brom (h). This really is the easiest run in of all the teams involved in the relegation battle. Theoretically, at least four of the teams they are yet to play should have very little to play for in terms of Europe or relegation. If Brighton win either of their next two games, both at home, you can make that five. They still have the very influential Zaha to return and for me they are the most unlikely side in the bottom six to get relegated despite being 19th in the form table (the table using only the past eight fixtures and designed to evaluate current form).

Huddersfield lost again on the weekend and are just one point ahead of us on 31 points having played one more game. The bookies rate them a 6/4 chance (40%) to bounce straight back to the Championship. Their remaining fixtures are Newcastle (a), Brighton (a), Watford (h), Chelsea (a), Everton (h), Man City (a) and Arsenal (h). Since the turn of the year the Terriors have beaten Bournemouth and West Brom and drawn with Swansea. They have lost every other PL game in 2018 and are 18th on the form table.

Swansea are on 31 points just one ahead of us but are 5th on the form table. Fifteen points and just one loss in the last eight has taken them from long odds on to go down to a current price of 9/2 (18%). They finish the season with Man Utd (a), West Brom (a), Everton (h), Man City (a), Chelsea (h), Bournemouth (a) and Stoke (h). They also have that to be arranged fixture with Southampton (h) to be determined. It is hard to fathom where Swansea are at the moment. Will their recent good run of form falter or continue? They face three of the big five in the run in but also have a couple of very winnable games.

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Newcastle are on 32 points and sit in 13th position in the Premier League. They are 20/1 (4.76%) to do the yoyo. Whilst they look safe you can never say never but their remaining fixtures are Huddersfield (h), Leicester (a), Arsenal (h), Everton (a), West Brom (h), Watford (a), and Chelsea (h). They also have an away game at Spurs where a date is to be arranged. I fancied Newcastle to go down at the start of the season but it looks like they will prove me wrong. The form of Shelvey and Diame in recent weeks has really turned their fortunes around. This pair of in-form midfielders have really given them a good balance.

Brighton are four points above us on 34 points and are rated a 25/1 chance (3.85%) to be relegated. They are 8th in the form table with 11 points from the past eight matches. Their run in is Leicester (h), Huddersfield (h), Palace (a), Spurs (h), Burnley (a), Man Utd (h) and they play Liverpool (a) on the final day of the season. They have one fixture with no date set as well which is Man City (a).

Watford and Bournemouth (both on 36 points) look to have done enough to keep them safe now and both are priced at 100/1 for the drop. So what of us then?

West Ham are on 30 points and we are priced at 5/2 (28%) to be relegated. Our remaining fixtures are Southampton (h), Chelsea (a), Stoke (h), Arsenal (a), Man City (h), Leicester (a) and Everton (h). We also have Man Utd (h) where a date is to be determined. I still think 37 points will be safe this season and it is possible 36 may be enough too. Most seasons we see one or two teams surge and play themselves out of the relegation battle with a handful of games to go. Swansea’s run has come early but at present the bottom six in the PL are also the bottom six of the “form table”. I think it is anyone’s guess at the moment. If you want another go at predicting what will happen click here

The HamburgHammer Column

No more razzle dazzle - hard graft and focus will do

Having two weekends in a row with no West Ham game sucks, but that’s what happens when one is a weekend reserved for FA Cup games (and you’re already out because you decided to prioritise the league fixtures) followed by another international weekend (once again with limited activity for West Ham players these days – does anyone actually LIKE international weekends ?).

Of course the world of West Ham never really stops turning and there are loads of things still happening, mainly off the pitch, for our glorious club at the moment.

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I won’t be talking about the board too much (again) at this point as most of the national British media have now kindly taken over having a butchers at why exactly our club may be in its current predicament, on the pitch and off it.

I understand representatives of WHUISA (which I have been a member of ever since it was founded) have been invited to a meeting with David Sullivan tomorrow to ask some questions.

Whether this will ultimately take the predictable route which previous meetings with other fan groups have travelled on or if it will indeed lead to the board sitting up and take notice for a change remains to be seen. I won’t be holding my breath, but it’d be plain rude of WHUISA not to sit down with the main shareholder and give it a right good go. What’ll happen with our club further down the road, in the summer, should be a different matter – right now the game against Southampton takes the utmost importance.

The media sometimes tends to label too many games as relegation six-pointers in order to drum up interest, sell papers or get viewing figures.
The Southampton game though promises to be nailbiting stuff, squeaky bum style, with both teams needing the three points desperately.

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With West Brom and Stoke losing we can put some daylight between us and another relegation rival if we beat Southampton, how we get that win is secondary, but beat them we must.

I reckon the vast majority of our fans are very much aware what’s at stake here and I would think the atmosphere, while being tense, could also be fantastic, bordering cauldron level, if only our team put the effort in and give the fans something worth cheering for early on.

Not even a goal necessarily, although that’d obviously help a lot, but a tenacious tackle, a fine passing combination, a cracking shot on goal, you get the picture.
A sign from the players that they want the win as much as the fans. Relegation would do neither the club nor the players any favours and whatever our club may have to go through in the next few months and years, it’ll be easier ftom the position of playing in the Premier League rather than the Championship.

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Now, I’m well aware of the new manager initial boost theory and while Southampton have some decent players and while Mark Hughes may have certain qualities as a manager, Southampton are where they are in the table for a reason. I know we lost 3:0 against Burnley, but I see them as a much better drilled and organised side than Southampton are this season. With the right application, a positive mindset and the encouragement from the home crowd hopefully we will ask Southampton a few questions on the pitch.

It’s not like Southampton have momentum on their side right now and surely David Moyes and his coaching staff have enough time now to put our team in the best shape and frame of mind for the Southampton game. Phase 1 was the warm weather break in Miami. Actually I don’t mind that move. You could argue whether a trip to Tenerife or Malta might have done the same, but the general idea of having a bit of a reboot, a change of scenery, a change of routine might do the lads the world of good.

The players will know themselves they have vastly underperformed this season, they don’t need to read a blog or online fanzine to know that. But now Phase 2 has to kick in, you’ve had your week in the sun, now go out on the cold and wet training pitch in Blighty and work on the basics needed to beat Southampton.
Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing Arnautovic and Hernandez back together from the first whistle. Also it will definitely help to finally have Masuaku back in the fold.
Somehow we have looked a much better team all around whenever he’s been on the pitch for us.

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I also would like to see an attacking lineup, even though this may leave us a bit more open at the back. But I wouldn’t expect us to keep a clean sheet these days anyway and would rather see us counter that with a lot of pace, physical presence and plenty of positivity further up the field. I’d also like to think the home crowd would respond to attacking football a lot more and surely we need the crowd on or team’s side rather than their backs.

I still have no doubt we can escape relegation through a combination of honest graft, effort and a healthy dose of good luck. Don’t forget, new manager or not, Southampton won’t arrive in London brimming with confidence. It’s our job to make sure they won’t be gaining any confidence from playing us.

That’s my West Ham thoughts for the Southampton game which still seems lightyears away. On a personal level, the weekend was mostly successful. I visited my brother at his rehab clinic again (where he will get a week’s extension to fatten him up a bit more in preparation for his final cycle of chemo).
I was trying to help with the fattening up bit by bringing some cake and we then settled down in his room with the radio on, listening to the Bundesliga Soccer Saturday programme, being elated with Hamburg SV taking a 1:0 lead at halftime only to lose 1:2 against Hertha Berlin eventually, relegation beckoning ever more fiercely now!

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The new Hamburg manager (Hamburg have now gone through 18 managers in 11 years) tried something new, a VERY young team with an average age of 23.98 years, the youngest Hamburg team fielded in 44 years, but it just wasn’t enough. The team frankly isn’t Bundesliga standard and the only positive I can take from the situation is that there is going to be another Hamburg derby next season, albeit in Bundesliga 2, between Hamburg SV and FC St.Pauli.

My Sunday was spent by watching a Concordia doubleheader with both teams winning in the freezing cold East Hamburg sunshine, but arctic winds coming in from God knows where made me question my sanity more than once while spending almost four hours alongside two God forsaken artificial pitches, watching lower league football.
But nothing warms you up better than seeing you team win (apart from some chips, hot coffee and some mulled wine!) and Cordi 2 won their away game 3:1 while Cordi’s first team beat FC Suederelbe (the Millwall equivalent of the Oberliga Hamburg) by a 2:0 scoreline.

Cordi 2 is now almost guaranteed promotion to the next level while Cordi 1 are bound to save some face late on in the season by stringing some wins together which will probably lead to a 4th or 5th place finish at the end of the season, representing failed ambition (as they were hoping to get promoted this season), but that’s football.
And frankly, with an average attendance of 150 people at home games it’s hardly comparable to West Ham’s woes in the Premier League.

Who knows what this week will bring to our much beloved West Ham United ? Good news on a postcard please! COYI!!!

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The GoatyGav Column

Weather With You - Not A Board Related Article

I’ve been an active commenter on the various articles over the last few days – I’m going to leave my opinions there and discuss something completely different. Sometimes you need a break from the depressing drudgery that’s been the life of a Hammer lately so, hopefully, most of the comments on this piece will not stray back to the events surrounding last Saturday’s game.

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Warm weather breaks are good for all of us. Recharge the batteries and come back with a clear head and refreshed vigour. That’s the idea. In contrast to the last International break David Moyes has taken the squad away this time. But is this a good thing?

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I’d suggest that it’s much needed. There are drawbacks, IMO, some of which are discussed in these paragraphs, but I believe the timing of the trip is bang on provided the work goes in at the Florida training camp. Some have opined that they don’t believe the players deserve their break and should be training harder at Rush Green but I’m not convinced that would have the desired effect.

One drawback to the preparation for Southampton, despite the respite, is the lack of competitive game-time in the three weeks leading up to the fixture. Southampton will have played a cup match beforehand and this will enable their players to retain more ‘match sharpness’.

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Another factor affecting competitive edge and sharpness is the friendly to be played at Dagenham & Redbridge. Now whilst I agree completely about the support being showed for the Daggers with this I do think it will further blunt the player’s physical acuity ahead of, what will probably prove, the most important game of the Premier League season so far. All of that without mentioning the risk of further injuries to the squad.

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Then we have the ‘New Manager’ effect to consider. Southampton, despite their league position, still have some very good players who, on their day, would give most Premier League teams a run for their money. Yes they’re underperforming, just like our players are, but the boost that Mark Hughes, or whoever else takes over at St Mary’s (at time of writing there’s still nobody confirmed in the position) could play a big factor in the outcome on the 31st of the month. By that time it’s entirely feasible that Crystal Palace could already be above us, considering they have Zaha back and play at a shaky looking Huddersfield this weekend, so a loss to the ‘Saints’ would put us in the bottom three. Then things will start looking even bleaker than they do today.

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So this one was more for discussion than a soliloquy from me. Looking back, and Dan C may well correct me if I’m wrong here, I don’t remember West Ham coming back from warm weather breaks particularly well. Maybe that’s why it’s only a week this time. Overall I believe it to be a good thing to do but there are some pitfalls that should be avoided. Some time together as a squad, completely away from the situation, may also help the team develop the siege mentality to help them pull together and get us out of trouble.

Between the two r’s (not of the Karren variety this time) of being either rusty or refreshed let’s hope the boys are the latter not the former and that Southampton’s tough FA Cup tie against Wigan means they’re that little bit more jaded than we are come the game at the end of the month. Bringing back some of that Florida Sunshine to warm the cockles of our hearts at the LS would be most welcome.


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Class Act Carrick To Retire This Summer

Earlier this week former West Ham United and England midfielder Michael Carrick announced his decision to retire at the end of this season. This piece looks back at the Academy graduate’s impressive career.

Michael Carrick was born on the 28th July 1981 in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear and was part of West Ham’s FA Youth Cup winning side in 1999, scoring twice in the second leg of the Final as the Hammers beat Coventry 6-0 on the night and 9-0 on aggregate. He made his first-team debut four days before his 18th birthday, on 24th July 1999 in a 1-1 draw away at Jokerit of Finland in the second leg of the Intertoto Cup third round. Carrick had a month-long loan spell at Swindon before a similar stint at Birmingham. He returned to Upton Park to score his first goal for Harry Redknapp’s Hammers in a 5-0 win over Coventry on the 22nd April 2000.

Carrick became a regular in the centre of midfield in 2000/01, scoring his only goal of the season in a 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa. A tall, elegant, cultured midfielder with a fine range of passing, Carrick made his England debut in May 2001 as a substitute in a 4-0 friendly win over Mexico – to date, he has won 34 caps for his country, without scoring. He was part of the squad for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups but only played one game at a major tournament.

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With Glenn Roeder now in charge, Carrick was on the scoresheet twice in 2001/02, scoring the Hammers’ consolation in a 7-1 defeat at Blackburn and, more positively, in a 2-1 home win over Chelsea. Despite the joy of scoring in a 2-0 home win over Tottenham in March 2003, Carrick and the Hammers experienced the agony of relegation in 2002/03.

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The 22-year-old stayed with the Hammers for their first season in the second tier as Alan Pardew eventually took over the managerial reigns – he was voted by supporters as runner-up to Matthew Etherington for the 2003/04 Hammer of the Year award and was also named in the PFA First Division Team of the Year. His last goal for the club came on the 17th January 2004 in a 3-3 draw at Sheffield United and his final appearance for the Hammers came in the 1-0 Play-Off Final defeat to Crystal Palace in Cardiff on 29th May 2004.

Too good for the Championship and with a lack of top-level football threatening to curtail his impressive development, Carrick returned to the Premier League in August 2004 – Arsenal, Everton, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth all showed interest before Tottenham eventually won the race for his signature, paying around £3m for his services. Carrick had scored six goals in 159 appearances for West Ham United – all of these goals can be viewed in my video below.

Carrick made his Tottenham debut on 18th October 2004 as a substitute in a 1–0 defeat at Portsmouth. He was often overlooked by manager Jacques Santini before emerging as a regular starter after the appointment of Martin Jol. His first full start for Tottenham was also Jol’s first game in charge of the club away to Burnley in the League Cup on 9th November 2004.

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Carrick scored his first Tottenham goal on 3rd December 2005, netting the winner in a 3-2 home win over Sunderland. He scored his second and final goal for the club on 8th April 2006 in a 2-1 home win over Manchester City. Carrick was one of ten Tottenham players who fell ill at a hotel just before their final game of the season away to West Ham on 7th May 2006 as the players suffered from apparent food poisoning after a dodgy lasagne. He managed to play in the game but lasted just 63 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to his former club which saw North London rivals Arsenal beat them to fourth place in the league and the final qualification spot for the Champions League. It turned out to be Carrick’s final appearance for Tottenham – after two goals and 75 appearances for Spurs, he moved to Manchester United in July 2006 for an initial fee of £14m, potentially rising to £18.6m.

Carrick made his Red Devils debut in a 3-0 win at Charlton on the 23rd August 2006 and scored his first goal for the club in a 3-1 home victory over Aston Villa on the 13th January 2007. He scored twice in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final as the Red Devils impressively swept Roma aside 7-1 on the night. His first season at Old Trafford culminated in winning the Premier League title as Carrick won his first major honour at senior level (Intertoto Cup aside…).

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Manchester United retained their Premier League crown the following season, with Carrick scoring against his old club as the Hammers were beaten 4-1 at Old Trafford in May 2008. Further success was to follow as Carrick helped the Red Devils beat Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League Final, a night which saw Academy graduates Carrick, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard Junior play on European football’s biggest stage – the Geordie midfielder converted his side’s second penalty of the shoot-out. Carrick played in the Champions League Final again the following season but his side were defeated 2-0 by Barcelona and the Catalan giants beat Carrick’s team once more in the Champions League Final of 2011.

At the end of 2012/13, Carrick was voted Manchester United’s Players’ Player of the Year and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. He was also nominated for the PFA Player of the Year Award but Tottenham’s Gareth Bale claimed the prize. To date, Carrick has won five Premier League titles, six Community Shields, three League Cups, one Champions League, one Europa League, one FIFA Club World Cup and one FA Cup in his time at Old Trafford. Now 36, Carrick is retiring as current vice-captain of Manchester United and has scored 24 goals in 463 appearances for the club in all competitions at the time of writing.

In my opinion, Michael Carrick has been a special player. From the first time I saw him live in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup Final in 1999, Carrick has always been a class above. However, under-appreciation has followed Michael through his career. At West Ham, I remember some supporters used to complain that he didn’t ‘get stuck in’ in midfield – this ignorant attitude was oblivious to the fact that, on many occasions, Michael didn’t need to tackle – his footballing brain often intercepted the ball before the need to tackle would arise. His range of passing was simply stunning – always looking for a forward pass, he was pinpoint over five or fifty yards. His midfield peers, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard both earned over 100 caps for their country – Michael didn’t even make 40. Jordan Henderson already has two more caps than Carrick won in his career.

The age-old conundrum for England at international level was always how to fit Lampard and Gerrard into an England side together without curtailing their attacking instincts – the fact that the opportunity to play Michael Carrick behind the pair of them was ignored by successive England managers is simply a crime. He could have been England’s version of Italy’s Andrea Pirlo or Spain’s Xavi. It is indicative of English football that Carrick would probably have won many more international caps had he been playing for another ‘top’ nation where his talents would have been more recognised and valued. This lack of appreciation at international level was tempered by Michael’s success at club level – he won every trophy going in domestic and European competition. It’s just a shame he couldn’t challenge for them with the Hammers.

I’m sure West Ham Till I Die readers will join me in wishing Michael a happy retirement.

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